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Last Days in Monowi, Nebraska: Population 1

Last Days in Monowi, Nebraska: Population 1

Monowi, Nebraska is a near-ghost town in Boyd County, Nebraska, about 75 miles northwest of Norfolk.

GhostsofNorthAmerica.com

We first discovered Monowi when I ran across a story from 2011 about Monowi’s status as the smallest incorporated city in the nation with a population of only one.  Reuters photographer Rick Wilking wrote a nice piece on that one resident, Elsie Eiler.

Monowi, Nebraska

We were in Monowi quite early in the morning, so we did not feel comfortable knocking on anybody’s door, but we’re told the bar/cafe is open at 9am every day.

GhostsofNorthAmerica.com

In the course of assembling our book, Churches of the High Plains, we wrote to Monowi’s sole citizen, Elsie Eiler, and she told us the last funeral service held in this church was for her father, Michael Peklapp, on March 7th, 1960.

Monowi, Nebraska

A heavy rainstorm the night before we visited in August of 2014 softened the road to this church considerably and our car left with a couple inches of mud caked in the wheel-wells. Watch the video from our trip to Monowi.

Monowi, Nebraska

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Someone is storing old tires and beekeeping stuff in the church.

Monowi, Nebraska

If you attempt to send correspondence addressed to Monowi, the computer will spit out an address for nearby Lynch, Nebraska. In a world of barcodes and auto-sorting, Monowi, Nebraska is an anomaly.

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

There are quite a number of old structures, former businesses and homes, in Monowi.

Monowi, Nebraska

Terry wondered aloud after shooting a few places whether someone else may have moved in to Monowi recently, as there appeared to be a second occupied property (not shown), but we can’t be sure.

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Above: one of Monowi’s grain elevators. There was another one, but it’s long gone.

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Barring a miraculous boom of a type we can’t foresee, these are the last days of Monowi, Nebraska.

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi, Nebraska

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC





The Nebraska Resort That Almost Was

The Nebraska Resort That Almost Was

Last summer we visited the former Devils Nest ski resort, a failed resort in Knox County near Lewis & Clark lake, for a photo shoot. If you missed that, you can catch up here.

Curtis F. of South Dakota saw that piece and sent us some vintage promotional materials dating to the days when hopes were still high for Devils Nest. Click these images to see ’em full-size.

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Although the resort never panned out, the wildlife and outdoor living are still quite an attraction in this part of northern Nebraska.

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The ski resort operated for a couple years. Today, it looks like this.

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When you open the second brochure, a little pop-up raccoon character presents you with a mail return card to get more information.

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Although the yacht club actually got built, the Devils Nest Inn never did.

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Devils Nest ski resort is now abandoned. See what it looks like now, here. We chronicled our visit to Devils Nest on video too, and you can watch that video here.

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Abandoned Pineview Drive-In Theater

Abandoned Pineview Drive-In Theater

Since the advent of home video and the multiplex, the drive-in theater has been on the decline. Now, the transition to digital projection is threatening to end the drive-in for good, as more of the few remaining theaters are closing every year. This is the former Pineview Drive-In in Long Pine, Nebraska, where many magical memories were made. This site is just off Highway 20/7, on the county line between Rock and Brown Counties.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

We arrived to find the owner has thoroughly fenced the entire site and posted the property, so we respected the owner’s wishes and took our photos from outside the fence.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Pineview opened in 1954 as an independently operated drive-in theater.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Pineview Drive-In Theater

On busy nights, cashiers worked both sides of the booth.  Before the carload pricing model, your friends had to hide in the trunk until you were past this booth, lest you have to pay for every individual in the car.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Pineview Drive-In Theater

The playground was always a great place to meet other kids who went to different schools. Plenty of school days romances began here under the pink and orange hues of the Nebraska sky at dusk.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

There are others who have photographed this place at various points in the recent past.  You can see those galleries here and here.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

I’ve seen a few drive-ins in my day, but I’ve never seen one that was constructed entirely from a timber framework like this.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

We photographed the remains of another drive-in, Stardust 17 in North Dakota a few years ago.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

The gravel road on the left (above) marks the county line between Rock and Brown Counties.

Below: This is where the railroad behind the drive-in used to be.  It’s now a recreation route called the old Cowboy Trail.

Pineview Drive-In Theater

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 207 Sonic Tremor Media

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska is a tiny town in Knox County, in northeast Nebraska, with a population of 30 according to the 2010 Census.

Verdel, Nebraska

It was founded in a different spot some miles away, but Verdel boomed in 1902 when the Chicago & North Western railroad reached this spot in the rolling green prairie carpet near the junction of the Niobrara and the Missouri.

Verdel, Nebraska

Railroad passenger service lasted into the 50s and the last freight train went through Verdel in 1978.

Verdel, Nebraska

Nanza (Ponca Fort), a fortified village built by the Ponca in 1700, is nearby.

Verdel, Nebraska

This sewer opening was scary. Years of gutter runoff have widened the maw. A person could get swept right into this thing in a downpour if you lost your footing.

Verdel, Nebraska

Shooting Verdel reminded us a little bit of another place… Kathryn, North Dakota.

Verdel, Nebraska

We had only been in Verdel for a few minutes when a friendly lady stopped to see if we were looking for anything in particular. Terry told her we were just admiring some of the old buildings. She continued on to a home down the road and left us to our photos.

Verdel, Nebraska

This church was the first thing we photographed when we arrived in Verdel. The only things as good as huge, majestic churches are these tiny little sanctuaries.

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

Like many midwestern towns, the Verdel area suffered through serious flooding in 2011.

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

These structures are all right along Highway 12, the main route through Verdel.

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel is just down the road from another very impressive near-ghost town, Monowi, Nebraska.

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska

David R Morgan American Legion Post 223.

Verdel, Nebraska

The old school waits on the hill.

Verdel, Nebraska

Only the slab remains from some long gone structure.

Verdel, Nebraska

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC





Exploring Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Exploring Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest abandoned ski resort is in northeast Nebraska, Knox County, not far from the recreation areas on Lewis and Clark Lake.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest was part of a large luxury resort planned for this part of Nebraska, and this unlikely ski area actually operated for a few years in the early 70s.  A 25-story hotel was planned and there were supposed to be luxury homes as well, but, according to the Sioux City Journal:

In 1974, the Nebraska Secretary of State dissolved the Devils Nest Development Co. for nonpayment of corporate occupation taxes. Banks foreclosed on the property the following year, and the property was sold at auction to satisfy judgments in 1977.

The current owner of Devils Nest bought it in 2008.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Terry and I had been traveling most of the morning through beautiful country and we were eager to get into Devils Nest to shoot.  When we arrived, we found one of the roads into the site and we were somewhat surprised to see it was un-gated and not posted.

Update: Since we left, the property owner has contacted us and informed us the property is private. We’d like to add it’s private, even though there are some routes into the site that are not marked as such.

We began to drive down into the resort, but the road deteriorated quickly and we parked at the top of the hill, resigned to hike in.  We heard a distant rumble of thunder as we started walking, each of us carrying a backpack with sixty pounds of gear. The hike was about three quarters of a mile, first down the steep, winding road shown above, then a short uphill climb.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

As we approached the bottom we got our first glimpse of the lift machinery… this would have been the bottom of the run.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

The first lift chair I saw when we arrived.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Terry going up to get a better look.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

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Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Development still exists, but today the focus is on luxury home lots overlooking Lewis & Clark Lake. Devils Nest ski resort is just a curiosity.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

We had been searching for blue sky and white clouds most of the day, and we thought we might get lucky since the sun was shining as we approached Devils Nest, but no such luck.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Unpaid taxes notwithstanding, it was really the location that did Devils Nest in. Without any mountains, Nebraska is simply too warm to have a ski resort here. The snow making machines were constantly running and couldn’t keep up most of the time.

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Devils Nest development once had a yacht club and a golf course too.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

The former ski lodge.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Ski in, ski out.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Terry came out of the lodge and commented that he thought Devils Nest would be a perfect setting for an episode of The Walking Dead.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

I was concentrating on photos and not paying any attention to the weather when Terry said, “Did you hear that thunder?”  It sounded like it was getting closer.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

We were right about here, debating whether to make the hike to the top of the run, when a cool breeze blew in. It alarmed me right away because it had been hot and humid all day.  I looked back at Terry and said, “We gotta get out of here.”  It didn’t hit me until right at that moment that our car was a half mile away, up a very steep hill.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

We began walking as quickly as possible, shooting a few photos on the way out.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

We wore ourselves out hiking back up the access road, hoping to make it to the car before the rain came, but we failed by about two minutes. The car was just in sight when it started to pour. We got soaked, but cameras survived. See the video of our exploration of Devils Nest.

Devils Nest Abandoned Ski Resort

Read more about Devils Nest: The Nebraska Resort That Almost Was.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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