It took a year to gather the photos for this post, largely due to my own confusion about two churches named St. Michaels. I stopped in Gardenton, a tiny town in southern Manitoba, just over the international border from Minnesota, because I had been photographing some places in Tolstoi, which is just a short distance away. I hadn’t done much pre-planning or research on Gardenton, but I was pleased to discover some abandoned places I could shoot.
The divided highway which straddles this tiny country church is the only hint that a metropolitan area of more than 800,000 people lies just thirty minutes to the north. Otherwise, this serene spot on the prairie is a place out of time, a remote spot on the table-flat plains that were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz.
Struble, Iowa is in Plymouth County, about thirty miles northeast of Sioux City, and not far from another place we recently visited, the similarly-named Ruble, Iowa. According to the 2010 Census, Struble is a town of 78 residents, down from an all-time high of 327 in 1910. I was fooling around on Google Earth One day when I stumbled upon Struble, and we decided to visit so we could photograph the abandoned buildings in town. In April of 2016, we found…
In Plymouth County, about twenty miles north of Sioux City, stands Ruble, Iowa, a tiny dot on the map near Broken Kettle Creek. Ruble was founded in 1900, and was never really more than a roadside pit stop, with the store serving weary travelers and regional residents under the leadership of H.C. Marbach. The small one-room country school served area students in the early days until a larger school was built on a different site. The store once had a hitchin’…
We were out photographing some historic and abandoned places in April of 2016 and we had just decided to call it a day and head for home when we discovered this place by accident. Technically, this address is listed as Elk Point, South Dakota, but really it’s a spot along the Interstate 29, just a mile north of the Vermillion exit, about thirty miles northwest of Sioux City.
Anderson Bridge was built across the Rock River in 1900, on the northwest edge of Doon, Iowa. About thirty miles southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Doon is a town of 577 people, and the hometown of western novelist Frederick Manfred, who published 22 novels between 1944 and 1992. Anderson Bridge is a riveted Pratt Through Truss bridge, and it was open to traffic at the time of our visit in 2016. It actually looked like it was in pretty…
This is Mondak, Montana, a true ghost town in Roosevelt County straddling the Montana/North Dakota border, two and a half miles west of Buford, North Dakota, and ten miles north of Fairview, Montana. It was a smoky day in July 2014 when we took these pics on a trip that had already taken us to Trotters, North Dakota and Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel the day before. It was our first visit to Mondak, and we found three structures…
In July of 2015, we stopped in Capa, South Dakota to get some photos of a place with only one remaining resident. It was a beautiful place with plenty to photograph, but we discovered the former Catholic Church, which had been unused since 1940, had recently collapsed. Recently, Iowa photographer Dick Evans contacted us and offered to send some photos he took in Capa shortly before the church collapsed, which we’ve posted below.
One of America’s greatest scenic byways winds through the Black Hills between Spearfish and Lead, South Dakota, featuring waterfalls, thousand-foot cliffs, and roadside turnoffs where travelers can stop and photograph the sights. Spearfish Canyon is so beautiful, some scenes from Dances with Wolves were filmed here.
Not quite six miles south of Interstate 90 in the undulating green hills of Pennington County lies Owanka, South Dakota, a near ghost town with a story of bad luck and bad deeds that led to its present depopulated state. According to a number of sources, the present population of Owanka is two, although there are two more residents who ranch on the outskirts of town, effectively doubling the population.
A visit to Devils Tower National Monument gives one a sense of mysterious contentment; a degree of spiritual calm instilled by few of North America’s natural wonders. The tower is located in the Black Hills of northeast Wyoming, not far from Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore in neighboring South Dakota, and just down the road from another place we visited — Aladdin, Wyoming. It is a rare honor to visit a place like this and bask in the grandeur of the…
We visited Capa in July of 2015, near the end of a four day trip to explore some abandoned places in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. So many times, when visiting vacant, out-of-the-way places on the high plains, we find a regular, criss-cross grid of gravel roads, intersecting every mile or two, and we can easily drive right up to our desired places, but that was not the case in Capa.
On Highway 14, about halfway between Wall and Philip, lies sleepy Cottonwood, South Dakota. We visited Cottonwood at the suggestion of our friend Maya Greywolf who had been momentarily captivated by these abandoned places while passing through on a roadtrip. We had little idea what to expect, but we were thrilled at the photo opportunities when we arrived.
There were once over two hundred people in Carlyle, Montana, but today it is a ghost town, just a green, largely treeless spot on the prairie, just inside the Montana/North Dakota border. We were on a trip that had included stops at Adelaide Country School in North Dakota and Devils Tower, too, when we decided to run over to Carlyle and see what we could see. The remains of the business district (visible in the background, behind the elevators) are…
Aladdin is a former coal mining settlement in Crook County, today a tiny roadside stop in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming, just a short drive from Devils Tower National Monument. Census records indicate a peak population of 200 people during its coal mining heydey, but today, only 15 residents reportedly remain. The centerpiece of Aladdin is the 118-year old General Store which does a brisk business serving travelers on the road between Devils Tower and Belle Fourche, South Dakota….
Rockham is in Faulk County, South Dakota, about 80 miles northeast of Pierre. I visited Rockham while on a trip to shoot several neighboring places — Miranda, and Lily — and they all turned out to be beautiful places to photograph.
Miranda, South Dakota is in Faulk County, about forty miles southwest of Aberdeen. The scenery on the way to Miranda was awesome; like being adrift on a sea of prairie in places, with barely a power line or telephone pole to be seen. Miranda is an unincorporated community of about a half dozen inhabited residences, and upon arrival I was pleased to discover it had a number of vacant and abandoned places to shoot.
After I visited Hillhead in 2014, it was pointed out to me that I missed the building that was once the school. So, when I was planning a trip to shoot some places around Aberdeen in June of 2015, I decided I would travel through Hillhead again on the way back home and see if I could get a shot of the school.
If you decide to visit Crandall, South Dakota, this much is certain — you will be treated to some awesome prairie vistas on the way to this out of the way place near the convergence of Day, Clark, and Spink Counties. Crandall is an unincorporated community with fewer than a handful of residences remaining. The former gas station is historically significant as the last Standard Oil Station in the United States to use manual gravity pumps.
According to the 2010 Census, four residents remain in Lily, South Dakota, a charming little town in Day County, about 45 miles southeast of Aberdeen. It’s in lakes country and it is a beautiful drive. There are a number of fading structures in Lily (so many in fact that I didn’t even shoot them all) including a former gas station, and a church that looks like it was converted to a shop or possibly a home.