Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ghost Town Hunting

An abandoned building on the edge of Dewey, SD

I took the week off before Christmas this year in part because I wanted to go ghost town hunting in Western South Dakota. Ghost towns offer some pretty interesting photo ops as well as give my back road meanderings some focus and purpose. I saw a lot of country side I had not seen before and want to go back out this spring to find some more. This post shows some of what I found last month. Click on the photo for a larger file to view and enjoy!

Along the Cheyenne River in the southwest corner of the state is the old town sight of Burdock. There are no buildings left, just a sign marking the spot. I was able to see and photograph a Bald Eagle at the sight though.
The next series of shots are from Dewey, SD. Dewey lies a little further north up the Cheyenne River along the railroad line. The internet told me that Dewey was a ghost town, but I found out that wasn't completely true as there are one or two inhabited houses in what used to be the town. There are, however, several abandoned buildings including a school and a church, so I guess it could be considered a "near" ghost town.

The next two photos are of Ardmore, SD. This town lies south of Edgemont very near the Nebraska state line. I arrived just before sunset and it was eerie. It was almost like every inhabitant just up and left sometime in the 1980s and left everything as is. The only activity I witnessed was two trains rolling through just fifteen minutes apart.

I tried to visit a few more sights in the Black Hills area, but I couldn't find one and the other was only accessible via snowmobile. So I next went up to the Short Pine Hills area of northwestern SD to find Harding, SD. On my way there, I was able to capture this magnificent Golden Eagle in flight.

Here is a shot of downtown Harding. Just as I snapped this shot a gentleman arrived in his pick-up and I asked if this was indeed Harding and he told me "You are smack dab in the middle of it." We chatted for a few minutes. He was the only resident and owned everything on his side of the road. I didn't stay to much longer to explore as the day was getting late and I had a couple more hours to drive that night to get home.

The next two shots are of Huseboe or Lightcap, SD at dawn. Apparently it was originally called Huseboe due to who owned the store, then changed names when some of the buildings were bought by a man with the last name of Lightcap. There is only one building still standing on the town site now. When I was a kid I seem to remember three standing. There are remains of at least three other buildings there. Just a quarter mile to the north, the Lightcap schoolhouse still stands as well. My great aunt used to help run the store I'm told. My aunt has also told me she helped at the store one summer when she was a teenager. This site is about 15 miles north of Isabel, SD on highway 65.

The last ghost town I went to investigate was Okobojo which lies northeast of Pierre, SD. I did not shoot any photos there but I was able to spot and shoot a couple photos of this snowy owl that was perched on a round bale. I have not seen a snowy owl in South Dakota before, so I was pretty pumped to see this one.


Anonymous said...

Amazing photos. I love the fact I had the opportunity to grow up in SD. The pictures capture the beauty I so fondly remember. Also your choice of background "music" is way cool!

Anonymous said...


You are a fantastic photographer. Do you ever do photos for SD Magazine. If these towns and buildings coiuld just talk!!!

Mark Patterson

Anonymous said...

I thought I recognized some of the locations in your photographs. I was pleased to know that I had. Next time you're down this way, continue to Chadron, give us a call.
Fran Heilman