The old church at Deisem in LaMoure County, N.D., has been abandoned for years. It’s one of many places from North Dakota’s past that Troy Larson has captured over the years on his Ghosts of North Dakota blog.
By Troy Larson
Since starting a website about North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places nearly ten years ago, suggestions about places to visit have been rolling in. One of the suggestions we’ve received on more than one occasion is a place called Deisem, N.D.
So in July 2012, with my business partner and fellow photographer Terry Hinnenkamp, we set out for Deisem. Driving through LaMoure County just south of Jamestown, we turned onto what can only loosely be described as a “highway” — Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley. We discovered what was once a bright yellow line dividing two very narrow lanes is now barely visible, and gravel pokes through the asphalt in places. Traffic is nearly nonexistent.
We arrived to discover this church is all that remains of Deisem. The location is remote. We were on site for about a half-hour on a Saturday afternoon, and we didn’t see a single car pass by.
According to reports by fans on our Facebook page, Deisem was quite a happening town back in the day, and was home to a well-respected general store, which is long gone. There are various foundations hidden in the tall grass on the former Deisem townsite, though, remnants of a town now lost.
This church was reportedly a Seventh Day Adventist church, and it is now in very tenuous condition. If it survives another heavy snowfall, we’ll be surprised. In hindsight, we were quite foolish to explore the inside at all, and we would strongly recommend you admire it from the outside if you should decide to visit. It could collapse at any moment.
According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, Deisem was founded in 1880. The post office was established in 1907, but was closed for good when the store it was housed in burned to the ground on Jan. 30, 1943. The end came officially in 1984 when the railroad pulled up stakes.
As we left Deisem, I took one last look in the mirror, all too aware that we may have photographed the town for what may turn out to be the last time. At least we will have the pictures to help us remember the place that was once a center of faith and life in a little town on the prairie called Deisem.
Troy Larson is a radio industry professional from Fargo, and co-founder of GhostsOfNorthDakota.com. His first book, Ghosts of North Dakota: North Dakota’s Ghost Towns and Abandoned Places, is available now exclusively at GhostsofNorthDakota.com
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