I set out for White Rock, South Dakota on the suggestion of a visitor with the intention to shoot what remains, a shoot of some significance for me since it is my first foray into shooting the abandoned in South Dakota.
Ten years ago, my fellow photographer Terry Hinnenkamp suffered a catastrophic car break down on the way to check out White Rock in a little white car he drove at the time, and I couldn’t help but think I might be tempting fate by returning in a little white car myself. Luckily, no mechanical problems.
White Rock, South Dakota is the northeastern-most town in South Dakota, so to get there from my home in Fargo, I headed straight south on I29 toward Wahpeton, but got off the interstate before I crossed the South Dakota border and headed east toward Fairmount. A few minutes later I was heading south toward the border once more, and I was excited to cross into another state on a small, friendly highway instead of an interstate. I arrived at the border, which is about a mile from White Rock, and stopped to photograph the sign above.
Right along side the road next to the border markers was this old trailer, clearly used as a fireworks stand at some point in the past. It made me nostalgic for the days when you bought your stuff at a stand alongside the road instead of a superstore with air conditioning.
Just a mile down the road, I arrived at White Rock, South Dakota. It’s on the Bois de Sioux River, and the population was listed as three in the 2010 Census.
As I was shooting, I noticed a lot of No Hunting and No Trespassing signs. I mean a lot of them. And for just a moment, I thought it was a little much.
Then I turned around and saw a couple of deer watching me from down the road. They bounded off into the trees, I walked around the corner, and scared the crap out of a deer that was just standing there, ten feet from the road. I immediately understood why they had to put up so many No Hunting signs. It’s wildlife paradise in these parts.
The caption on the monument at the entrance to town reads:
White Rock, South Dakota. A frontier town established in 1884 in the heart of a fertile grain growing area, it’s business community consisted of seven grain elevators, three hotels, four saloons, and two banks. It had a large department store, several mercantile stores, two lumber yards, two drug stores, two churches and a twelve grade school system. The top population was 600 people.
This tractor tire marks the spot of the former 1st National Bank, a building which was also the Post Office and a bar during it’s lifetime.
Sidewalks from a long gone structure.
I suspect this is the basement of what was once the church (confirmed by visitors in the comments section below). There’s a building which was once attached still standing next door, but this and a set of steps are all that remain of the building that was once here.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC