Great, plain, still emptying
April 6, 2009 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Faded Dreams, Emptied in Emmons County and Memories in McIntosh County. Three flickr photo sets of (mostly) abandoned, crumbling farms, businesses and homes in rural North Dakota. [previously] [via]
posted by dersins (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
NB: Some overlap between the sets.
posted by dersins at 11:15 AM on April 6, 2009

Love this stuff. Thanks!
posted by DakotaPaul at 11:21 AM on April 6, 2009

They wifey and I go driving around North Dakota looking for stuff like this, too; we just haven't gotten the effort up to put any of our photos online, and we don't get quite so far from the big cities. I have some excellent old maps of North Dakota with a lot of non-existent towns and long-gone railroad tracks listed, with the intention of tracking some of them down if I ever get the time. Great links, dersins!
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:37 AM on April 6, 2009

Cripes, not another post about abandonment and decay in Detr-- wait. Nevermind. Sorry about that.

Beautiful stuff. Thanks for posting.
posted by ardgedee at 11:40 AM on April 6, 2009

Interesting subject matter, but could be better executed. The photos are invariable full-frame, centered shots of old buildings. If a little more thought had gone into framing and composition, these could be more visually interesting.
posted by rocket88 at 11:49 AM on April 6, 2009

This one reminds me of the junk pile we used to play on at my grandparents' farm. I mean, PLAY ON. Can you imagine kids today being allowed within a mile of a heap of old, rusty farm implements?
posted by evilcolonel at 11:56 AM on April 6, 2009

Every now and then, when I read or hear about some place like this, I think, you know, as long as I had a broadband connection, I wouldn't mind that. I mean, I'd like to have a few other amenities--a well, a supermarket close enough for a monthly grocery run, a hospital within air-ambulance range, and a gun and ammo enough to fend off the occasional meth-running outlaw biker gang that wanted a hideout--but with my daily fix of porn, World of Warcraft, and other distractions, I could tell the world to go to hell.

Well, that is, at least until civilization fell and roving rape gangs used up my ammo; as I am dragged out, kicking and screaming, I might wish that I had stuck around in civilization and tried to help fix things.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:36 PM on April 6, 2009

If I may modify a quote from Tolkien that comes to mind . . .

"long they plowed us, fair they wrought us, clean and simple they built; but they are gone. They sought the cities long ago."
posted by MasonDixon at 12:39 PM on April 6, 2009

From one of the links in an earlier post:
As actress Angie Dickinson, who was born in the state, says, "everybody should have a little bit of North Dakota in them."
Oh, my, Miss Dickinson.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:39 PM on April 6, 2009

Halloween Jack: Even with broadband, very rural ND is as inhospitable as it was a hundred years ago; studies have shown that living rurally is more dangerous than urban areas, because when your roof leaks you're the one climbing up there rather than calling the repair-guy or your landlord, or you're riding a tractor to mow the lawn rather than paying the kid down the block to do your 50'x50' patch of turf, amongst other things like the increased amount of windshield-time increases the risk of a car accident. I've thought about it, too, but the amount of work to keep your home habitable against the elements and isolation is extreme. You might make a grocery trip once a month, but when a snowstorm comes through on day 28 and you're snowed in for a week (that 1/4-mile access road to the county road is your responsibility to plow), and the well freezes and you're out of water, keeping your furnace on is the least of your troubles. Rural ND didn't empty because kids wanted the fun of the big city; a big factor is that in rural communities, you've got people within a couple miles of your house to lean on in times of trouble. If you start losing those neighbors, there becomes a collapse event when the space between neighbors gets too great that nobody can survive anymore; it's a very Game-Of-Lifey aspect to rural life. A hospital helicopter might be able to get to you, but if you're bleeding on the ground underneath your ladder on top of a pile of broken storm windows you were trying to hang, there won't be anybody driving by to see if you're OK.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Well, AzraelBrown, you're probably right, although on the other hand there's the possibility of alternative housing, but on the third hand, that option might have issues with toxic cleanup and, who knows, radioactivity, but on the fourth hand, it would give me a chance to work on my amateur rocketry project... decisions, decisions.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:26 PM on April 6, 2009

Dude, Halloween Jack, you didn't say you were moving into a missile silo - with the proper preparations, you could lock yourself in for months at a time without any worries about snowstorms or roving meth rape gangs. That's the other component to the emptying of the prairies: there weren't enough buildings capable of withstanding direct missile hits.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:59 PM on April 6, 2009

I live in North Dakota and was raised around this kind of decay. Not particularly fond of these photographs, but nice to see them here anyway. Fargo, ND has been in the news a lot lately because of the insane flooding going on. I have a few pictures online. If seeing North Dakota in a sorry state of disrepair pleases you, you will probably be pleased by these pictures.

I also have a close friend who has made a project of photographing Every Dot on the map. I think it started with the North Dakota map, but it didn't stay there. There was a story on his project from American Public Media that was pretty good.
posted by fake at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2009

Nice pictures fake, and always pleasant to see the heartland doing what it does best. Turns badness into a gathering of cure, that is.
posted by new and improved buzzman IV at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2009

Pastor Rick's been on my Flickr list for a long time. I really enjoy his pix.
posted by Sassenach at 5:39 PM on April 6, 2009

Heh, thanks for the plug, fake. The master of the great emptiness of North Dakota is undoubtedly David Plowden. He's been doing this longer than I've been alive. He did a great interview on Studio 360 last year. (More Plowden linkery in the comments of one of my photos.) I listened to the podcast of that Plowden interview on a beautifully sunny evening just as I was passing into Fairview, Montana on the last day of last year's North Dakota photo trip. Fairview, Montana (and East Fairview, North Dakota) are in a beautiful flat green valley, looking much like the Red River Valley but on the opposite, and generally much drier side of the state.

I hope to get back to North Dakota in the next few months, and, by the end of the summer, I should have photographed every dot on the ND map.
posted by afiler at 5:49 PM on April 6, 2009

The buffalo roam again
posted by homunculus at 6:20 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this. I grew up in ND and half my family is from Emmons County (never thought I'd see it mentioned on the blue). Despite countless trips there as a child, I had no idea there were SO MANY of these buildings.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2009

What's he building in there?
posted by joecacti at 5:15 AM on April 7, 2009

Loved these pics. Creepyscarysadpeaceful.
posted by scratch at 11:19 AM on April 7, 2009

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