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Back in Mondak: A Montana Booze Town Turned Ghost Town

Back in Mondak: A Montana Booze Town Turned Ghost Town

Mondak, Montana was a place built for drinkin’. When the state of North Dakota became one of the first to enact prohibition, this tiny spot on the dry, chalky prairie, near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, but just over the border in still-wet Montana, began to boom. It was little more than twenty years later when Mondak’s last real business, the bank, closed in 1925. A combination of factors–changes to prohibition laws, fires, and at least one lynching–led to the demise of Mondak, and in one final insult, the ghost town fell victim to another fire that consumed most of the remaining structures in 1928.

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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. 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 remained standing, including the former Mondak jail. We revisited Mondak in 2017, too, when skies weren’t quite so hazy.

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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