Here’s What It Costs to Buy an Old South Dakota Church

Here’s What It Costs to Buy an Old South Dakota Church

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.

Historic Rock River Crossing

Historic Rock River Crossing

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…

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Ghost Town: Mondak, Montana

Ghost Town: Mondak, Montana

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. Mondak has an incredible history as a rough and tumble outpost designed to serve liquor to thirsty North Dakotans after their state became one of the first to go dry. Mondak was founded in 1903 by businessmen intent on making money in the bootlegging and saloon trade….

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Capa’s Catholic Church, Just Before the End

Capa’s Catholic Church, Just Before the End

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.

Mining Relics and the Majesty of Spearfish Canyon

Mining Relics and the Majesty of Spearfish Canyon

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.

Bad Luck and Bad Judgment Leave Owanka Nearly Abandoned

Bad Luck and Bad Judgment Leave Owanka Nearly Abandoned

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.

Devils Tower: The First National Monument

Devils Tower: The First National Monument

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…

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The Final Chapter in Capa, South Dakota

The Final Chapter in Capa, South Dakota

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.

The Remains of Cottonwood, South Dakota

The Remains of Cottonwood, South Dakota

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.

Carlyle, Montana: Prairie Ghost Town

Carlyle, Montana: Prairie Ghost Town

There were once over two hundred people in Carlyle, Montana, but today it is a ghost town. The remains of the business district (visible in the background, behind the elevators) are secured on fenced and posted property, and are a shadow of the small town that once stood here. Carlyle’s most visible remnant is the former school standing on a hill across the road from the elevators. It appears the present owner opened up one wall on the west side…

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Tiny Aladdin, Wyoming is For Sale

Tiny Aladdin, Wyoming is For Sale

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….

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128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota

128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, 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.

The Lonely Streets of Miranda, South Dakota

The Lonely Streets of Miranda, South Dakota

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.

Going Back to Hillhead

Going Back to Hillhead

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.

Crandall’s Landmark Standard Oil Station

Crandall’s Landmark Standard Oil Station

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.

Lily, South Dakota: Population 4

Lily, South Dakota: Population 4

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.

Ghost Town: Silver City, Idaho

Ghost Town: Silver City, Idaho

This is a guest post from international photojournalist Jerry Nelson of JourneyAmerica.org. The sun doesn’t set in Silver City. It pulls a curtain across the mountains as it moves. At 6,000 feet, the ghost town sits in a bowl surrounded by 8,000 ft. mountains. The darkness settles on the western face first, then drifts across the valley floor, as though it didn’t want the day to end. Moving like a miner at the end of his shift underground, the shadow…

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Ozark Ghost: Rush, Arkansas

Ozark Ghost: Rush, Arkansas

This is a guest post on historic Rush, Arkansas from international photojournalist Jerry Nelson of Journey America. His comments are included below. Rush, Arkansas is the leftover of a zinc mining town in the Ozark Mountains in north Central Arkansas. Thriving from 1880 until 1940, the mines were important in the development of the railroads. When World War I broke out, the Rush Creek mines were at the epicenter of zinc mining in the state. Ten mining companies operated 13…

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Vanishing Tolstoi, Manitoba

Vanishing Tolstoi, Manitoba

Tolstoi, Manitoba is very tiny hamlet about 90 kilometers south of Winnipeg and was one of the earliest Ukrainian settlements in Western Canada. I visited Tolstoi during a trip to photograph some abandoned places in southern Manitoba, like Canada’s first Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is just outside nearby Gardenton, and I’ve photographed a couple more places in the area, too, like the church in Union Point, and Ridgeville, Manitoba.

On the South Dakota Prairie

On the South Dakota Prairie

We took a trip in the summer of 2014 to photograph some vanishing places in South Dakota and Nebraska, and these few photos would be the last we took on that two-day adventure.