Mandan News

Bygone times – Historical towns in Morton County

Pioneers made their way out west to discover riches and live the American Dream. History reminds us the Midwest once had sprawling rural communities. Country schools and churches dotted each township and your neighbor was on the next forty.

An old, one-room school house at the exit to Huff Hills Ski Area. There use to be one church and one school in every district.

An old, one-room school house at the exit to Huff Hills Ski Area. There use to be one church and one school in every district.

Reminders of a former sprawling population are evident throughout the countryside. Abandoned buildings, farms, equipment and cars are found throughout the Great Plains. Take a closer look and see these abandoned features are actually remnants of a former life.

There are many reasons why rural areas dwindled. Several dissipated because the rail system failed to materialize in their area; others were former mining or mill towns; and other ghost towns disappeared because the US Highway System replaced railroads as the main form of transportation.

The population in North Dakota today is close to the same level as before the Depression, but the population has moved to the towns and cities and away from the countryside. Plus, with the oil boom more people are moving to the area.

Urban sprawl has left a once prevalent rural area spotted with historical and abandoned settlements. Histories are erased as foundations crumble; but this phenomenon does not need to continue.

Throughout Morton County historic towns, schools, churches and settlements will be documented to share their history. Let’s take a look at our rural communities with an eye to the past with the goal to build a sustainable future.

By Katie Jones, editor

Off Highway 1806 is an abandoned building amongst a farmer's hay bales.

Off Highway 1806 is an abandoned building amongst a farmer’s hay bales.