Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota is a tiny little roadside town along Highway 75 in Kittson County.  It was founded as a center of commerce for the surrounding farms and has slowly dwindled in population over the years.  Northcote was founded on the Hill Siding, a railroad siding named after railroad magnate James. J. Hill.  The largest of the farms in the area was also named after Mr. Hill.

Northcote, Minnesota

There is a nice page dedicated to Northcote on the Rootsweb site if you’d care to check it out.

Our visit to Northcote happened on a day when the sky was hazy with smoke from wildfires in Canada, lending an eerie quality to the sky.

Northcote, Minnesota

This depot was across the road from the railroad tracks which makes us think it’s been moved.

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

This bell is dedicated to the memory of Peter MacFarlane

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

Despite Highway 75 being a fairly major thoroughfare, there’s very little traffic this far north.

Northcote, Minnesota

Northcote, Minnesota

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

26 thoughts on “Northcote, Minnesota

  1. If you ever make it back up that way – or dare to after all the negative comments :-/ – the James J Hill Mansion is in Northcote and I believe you can see it from the road. It’s not technically abandoned because people take care of it, but it is sure pretty 🙂

    1. Dang! We saw that but we were unaware of its significance. It was in such good condition, it looked like somebody was living in it so we didn’t photograph it.

      1. That’s too bad you were unaware of its significance! Did you know that because of YOUR site, I became aware of Northcote last month because of the suggestions for it on your Suggestions page, and that, last month, I actually became aware of the whole James J Hill thing (spent a couple hours reading and learning about it online) because of a simple comment I read on YOUR suggestions site!?!? Here’s what the comment said that led to me investigating further, reading all about it on several different pages, and even going to Google Maps Street View to go “through” Northcote virtually to try to see the stuff I read about! Very fascinating to learn about!:

        Paul says:
        July 26, 2013 at 8:41 am
        Northcote in NW Minnesota. Especially the house James J Hill built for his son. I can fill you in with all the history of the house if you email me.

        1. The James J Hill mansion has now been purchased and is being used by a local photographer. I don’t think you’ll be able to take picture of it.

          1. I assume you meant to respond to “R” or Troy, not to me. Be careful which “Reply” button you click. Your response didn’t make sense, if you were replying to me.

  2. The Hill home at Northcote, MN has not been sold, but in fact has been owned by members of my family since 1966. The house is still an occupied residence. However, a local photographer did rent a portion of the house as a studio while her home new home was being built. Troy, if you are interested in the property, please feel free to contact me at the email address associated with this post.

    1. When I was in high school I worked for Gary Melin at Melin’s furniture, and one day we delivered a mattress to your house, George. You were kind enough to take us on a tour of the mansion. What a fascinating place it was, and I really appreciated it.

  3. I love Northcote- grew up there and had a lot of good times.
    There is a lot of stories which go with the town- just a few years ago there was an old store and a bank vault – both gone now:( The church yard was to be kept up and now they just use it to hay-

  4. I grew up 2 miles from Northcote (near Noyes and Orleans, too).
    Don’t know if you caught it, but the pink house had a string of Christmas lights up. It had been abandoned my entire life.

  5. I grew up in Hallock just down the road from Northcote. I spent most of my working life as a bricklayer and had the honor of building the brick monument for the church bell. I had a classmate who went to school in Hallock and lived in Northcote in the early 60’s. Nice piece of history there.

  6. Peter MacFarlane (name inscribed on the bell) was my grandfather. He was born in Northcote in 1884, one of 12 children. He worked as a telegraph operator for the Great Northern Railroad in Northcote and later became the station agent. In 1902 he moved to St. Paul to attend Macalester and by 1904 was working for the Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul. He went on to become their superintendent (executive director) in 1910 and remained in that position until 1956. He was a beloved leader and along with the other employees and volunteers at the Mission, he helped countless numbers of people through the mission of “soup, soap and salvation”.

    1. Interesting photos & history. I’m interested in Northcote as my Grandmother was born there in 1882. Her family was immigrating to the US from Ontario, Canada. It is unknown why they stopped in Northcote — maybe just to deliver Grandmother.

      Does anyone know if a rail line, originating in Ontario, passed through Northcote?

      Thanks, Dave

      1. Dave; Here is what I have found out. The RR that went through Northcote was a branch of what eventually became James J Hill’s rail road. The reason for the RR and the settlement is summarized in this NPS website page:/

        Good luck with your genealogy.

  7. My parents and grandfather worked on the Hill farm. I have a ledger that belonged to my grand father dated Oct.17, 1887-Dec. 4, 1888. I was told he wasthe timekeeper for the farm, but don’t know that for sure. There aren’t a lot of names in the book but probably would be recognized by people still living in the area. I was always fascinated by the stories my Mom and Dad would tell. Dad worked on the farm and Mom worked in the Hill House, babysitting for the Kiene baby, whose folks owned the place in the 1920’s. I’ve loved reading the comments about Northcote.

  8. Hi Rosemarie,

    What a treasure you have in that ledger! Wondering if by chance any McFarlane’s (MacFarlane’s) are listed? It would be too old for my grandfather but perhaps another older relation might have worked there. Thanks for checking!

  9. My father, James Florance, grew up in Northcote, His Father, Maurice Florance was a wealthy banker and farmer in the area and bought the James Hill Estate where he and my Grandmother, Florence Florance raised their 5 children.
    I have not been to Northcote in many years, but it was really great to see your photos of the area. It brought back memories of that place from my childhood. Thank you


  11. Bill. – We’re two huge silos for grain storage built on the hill farm that remained until late in the 20th century. For many years they were thought to be the largest in the world. Was a great area to grow up with much history in an obscure area

  12. I was raised in Northcote and have many fond memories of the people and all the fun times we had. When we had a birthday the whole town came over to help celebrate.
    I remember hanging around at the depot and the post office had pop and candy to buy. Fishing at the dam that at one time supplied electricity to the Hill Farm. During the summer months you can still find people enjoying the dam for a fish or two.
    Fun times and great people. The place I called home.

    1. I grew up outside of Northcote and haven’t seen it for a number of years. I was thinking of going back to visit next summer and now I’m even more motivated.
      It’s good to see names here that I remember: Hi to Tom and Adele and Dan! Does anyone know how to get hold of Wesley Hunt?

  13. I grew up on a Farm Southwest 1 1/2 miles. My Uncle Jean owned the big white house pictured. Many great memories growing up there and learning its unique history.

  14. Just to the west of the railroad at Northcote there was a group of houses that, I believe, were built for workers at the Hill Farm. When I was a kid in the sixtys the crumbling remains were still there in the open field north of the road going west from town close to the trail going into the cattle yard . Ernie McFarlane lived on the west side of the river across a bridge that is no longer there .

    1. Ernie MacFarlane was my grandfather. My father, Neil, was raised in that house. Sad to see the state that it is in, but also amazed that it is still standing. You may have known my father or his brothers.

  15. I still go to Northcote and just walk the road going through the town- many memories and will keep going there- love the people all around and the people I grew up with – their friendship will
    never die- love them all

  16. A few years back I gave a talk on the farms of James J. Hill for the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. I was fascinated about the Northcote ‘experimental’ farm and tried to locate it tonight on Google Earth. Is it just north of the dam on the river? Perhaps if I get to the Fargo meeting this July I might venture further up to see it. Strange how close I have been multiple times hunting near TRF.

    Any further info on relatives who worked there etc. would be greatly appreciated. My wife had relatives who purchased land from the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Manitoba (we have the documents yet).

    Fascinating, also was the info on Peter MacFarlane. What a wonderful legacy he left at the Union Mission.

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