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The Beautiful Plains of Sundal, Minnesota

The Beautiful Plains of Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota is in Norman County and notable for two striking structures of entirely different character.  Sundal is a loose knit collection of farmsteads with a reported population around twenty.  On the east end, the abdandoned creamery — the building with the smokestack you see below.  On the west end, the beautiful Sundal Lutheran Church.  Sundal’s parent township, sometimes spelled Sundahl, is named for a village and river in Norway.

Sundal, Minnesota

The former Sundal Creamery.

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal, Minnesota

Across the road, this home stands abandoned.

Sundal, Minnesota

This part of the state, like southern Minnesota, is decidedly more prairie than the forested lands to the northeast.

Sundal, Minnesota

Sundal Lutheran Church was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains. The plaque at the bottom of the sign shown below reads: In memory of persons buried 1881 — 1891, Original Cemetery, NW Corner, Sec. 15, Sundal Township

Sundal, Minnesota

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


Tabor, MN

Tabor, MN

Tabor is about 20 miles northeast of East Grand Forks in Polk County and is considered part of the Grand Forks metropolitan survey area.  Tabor has never been home to a railroad, a rarity in the flat plains of this part of Minnesota.  Tabor was settled beginning in 1877, primarily by Czech farmers and their families.   This area was once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz and is some of the most fertile farm land in the world.  You can read a lot more about Tabor’s history here.

As it is, Tabor is a tiny town bisected by a two-lane highway with several abandoned structures on each side of the road.  The population of the township is around 120, and Tabor appeared to have perhaps 10 or 20 of those residents.

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

Tabor, Minnesota

We were a bit puzzled by this nursery, which looks as though someone had big plans, got it all set up with a couple hundred potted plants ready for sale, and abruptly gave it up.  All the plants still sit in their pots out in the front parking lot.  They must have been there for some time because some had weeds growing out of them, and the the greenhouses look like they may have fallen victim to a windstorm or something.  We’d love to hear the story if anybody knows…

Tabor, Minnesota

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


A Haunting Abandoned Port of Entry in Noyes, Minnesota

A Haunting Abandoned Port of Entry in Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota is the most northwestern settlement in Minnesota.  It sits right on the Canadian border, and just across the Red River from Pembina, North Dakota, two miles west.  Although there are inhabited farmsteads in the area, there are very few residents (we only saw two inhabited places) in the actual town, largely due to the closure of the former Port of Entry station from Emerson, Manitoba.

In 2003, the Canadian government closed the Emerson Port of Entry.  Three years later, the United States closed the Noyes station, shuttering this border crossing for good and moving operations west to Pembina.  Near the end of its life, this station handled three trucks, three trains, fifty vehicles, and 154 passengers per day.

Noyes, Minnesota

We’d be willing to bet that despite this border station being abandoned, those cameras are still feeding video.

Noyes, Minnesota

At the time of our visit in 2013, the building was for sale. UPDATE: In August of 2014, an unknown bidder purchased the property in a government auction with a high bid of $52,113.

Noyes, Minnesota

Within sixty seconds of our arrival at the border, a US Border Patrol truck showed up and checked us out. We don’t really know if it was just a coincidence, or if they’re really that vigilant.

Noyes, Minnesota

Looking south from the Canadian point-of-view. The hazy sky cast a kind of weird light on the scene.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Whoever bought this got a sweet eight-stall garage.

Noyes, Minnesota

It’s not hard to imagine an episode of some science fiction show set in this place. An exhausted group of survivors stumbles upon this former port of entry, with burned-out cars stretching to the horizon. They wander between the lines of vehicles, forced to face the reality of families who were waiting here to cross the border when the final apocalypse came. In reality, this is the former Noyes, Minnesota border crossing, closed after a real-life apocalypse, 9/11, rendered the Port of Entry obsolete.

Noyes, Minnesota

This small stone obelisk marks the US/Canadian border.

Noyes, Minnesota

A locked gate blocks the road to Emerson and a closed Canadian port.

Noyes, Minnesota

Three steps through that gap and we would be illegally in Canada.

Noyes, Minnesota

Fargo resident James Sprague explained these ‘tracks’ in the road to us: These tar covered lines in the pavement are likely from inductance sensing loops. They detect the changes in magnetic field caused by a vehicle, person or anything with iron/steel content crossing over them. Most common applications are ground loops for traffic control signals and perimeter monitoring in security systems.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

This former roadside garden and flag pole is barely recognizable after only seven years of abandonment.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

In your mind’s eye, you can imagine the vehicles that once lined up on busy holiday weekends with their windows down and the radio playing, families heading to a favorite destination across the border… now only a memory.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Back in the day, this probably would have been your last chance to get gas before entering Canada and paying by the liter.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

The Noyes depot is still in operation under the command of the Pembina Port of Entry staff. Trains coming from Canada are processed here.

We don’t really have an explanation for it, but we left with a jittery kind of uneasy feeling after visiting Noyes. It also reminded us of another closed border crossing we once visited — Northgate, North Dakota.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2013 Sonic Tremor Media



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Lunch in Ortonville

Lunch in Ortonville

We stopped for lunch in Ortonville during our trip to photograph some places in July of 2012, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to to shoot a few places in such a beautiful little town.

Ortonville is a small resort town of about two thousand nestled on the southern shore of Big Stone Lake, right on the South Dakota border. Downtown Ortonville cascades down the side of a hill to the beautiful lakeshore, and is dotted with historic structures.  Most notable is the Columbian Hotel.  Although the Columbian looks to have gone through at least a partial restoration at some point, there was no visible activity on the Saturday afternoon we visited.  We’re not sure on the present operational status of the hotel, but it is on on the National Register of Historic Places.

UPDATE:  This hotel burned to the ground just months after our visit.  Sadly, it is gone forever.

Look at those rates!

This is the Ortonville Water Department building, dating to 1933.  It’s right along the shore of the lake.  There’s a public beach and waterfront dock just behind the trees on the right.

See a lot more photos of Ortonville here.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2012 Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Abandoned 1911 School in Louisburg, Minnesota

Abandoned 1911 School in Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg is a small town in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, about 55 miles west of Willmar, or 50 miles northeast of Watertown, South Dakota.

We visited on a Saturday afternoon and it was very quiet.  We saw two or three vehicles drive through while we were there, and there were some kids playing too, but just a little activity from what we saw.  We visited with the intention of getting photos of the historic 1911 Public School.

Louisburg, Minnesota

The Louisburg School is on the National Register of Historic Places due to its significance as one of Minnesota’s best examples of Victorian Public School Design. It was built in 1911 to replace a smaller school, and was originally intended to house two grade school classes on the main floor and two high school classes on the upper floor.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg Public School was shuttered in a consolidation wave in the 1960s and has since fallen into disrepair. The roof of this school is open to the elements and you can see through it from the right angle.  As a result, the floors are all rotted and crumbling.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

A peek through the basement window.

Louisburg, Minnesota

These are the footings from the playground equipment which was removed sometime in the last few years.  There’s another blogger who photographed Louisburg when the playground equipment was still in place.  See it here.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg was platted in 1887 and a Post Office opened in 1888. It was decommissioned in 1992.

If the census records for Louisburg are accurate, this town has gone through somewhat of an influx of residents recently.  According to the 2000 census, Louisburg had 26 residents, but as of 2010, the census tallied 47.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Emmerich’s, built in 1906, was a grocery store for a time.

Louisburg, Minnesota

A peek around the back.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

A sleepy Saturday in Louisburg.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

The Louisburg Fire Station sometimes serves as a gathering place and/or picnic spot for the remaining residents.

Louisburg, Minnesota

This monument commemorating the Louisburg Centennial is right in front of the fire station.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

The former home of the Allen family.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Homeplate on the seldom used baseball diamond.

Louisburg, Minnesota

Louisburg, Minnesota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media



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Doran, MN

Doran, MN

Just south of Breckenridge on Highway 9, Doran is a small town of about 50.  I spoke with Ron, a local resident, and he told me the structure below is the bar (on the right) and the steakhouse (on the left) which were closed about ten years ago.

Note to self:  Signs against blue sky — always a good thing.

Ron says the red building below is the last remnant of the former Doran School, which was torn down years ago.  This was once the school gymnasium.

Photos by Troy
Copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC