Geocaching brings us to many places, places we’ve visited hundreds of times and places we need coordinates, a good map, and some luck while turning down deserted roads for the first time. North Dakota’s vast acreage covers many forgotten towns and buildings, ravaged by the wind, sun, and reckless explorers. We would never stumble upon these ghost towns and homesteads unless we were in search of a cache, and I’ve decided to share a bit of history of each abandoned location we come across (from 2018 and on) in a new category here on my blog: Ghost Towns and Homesteads. Come on a tour into the past with us and help keep these lost places alive. First stop – Wabek, North Dakota.
Wabek was founded in 1914 as a settlement along the railroad, a reason for many small towns in North Dakota to be formed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. From the remains, we can see that a saloon, post office, school, and a few houses made up the town during its peak, which came in 1930, noting 46 people in their census and a radio station. The saloon remained open until 2003, at least, when it hosted a few fundraisers, including a “Bachelorette Auction” and poker tournament. Even though the doors are not open for customers and a bartender doesn’t occupy the bar top, people still seem to enjoy a beverage or two in the unstable structure.
We turned off ND-23 and I immediately saw our beacon – the tall, white lettering beckoned us: SALOON. I had the J take pictures of me in the old local hangout’s doorway. Then, I began to poke around. The door was wide open, welcoming potential customers, it seemed. We’ve stepped into many abandoned structures in our quests, but this one seemed to have quite a few fixtures stored inside its leaning walls. Of course, mostly everything was busted: ceiling fans’ arms lay on the ground, scattered beer bottle glass hid in the torn carpet, cracked furniture occupied the corners, garbage from regulars resided along the bar.
After a few minutes inside the saloon, I pulled up my Cachly app and realized the geocache was closer to the road. Once I found the right perspective, the cute container was easy to find. By this time, my hands weren’t working too nimbly, due to the below freezing temperature (about 13̊F), so I took the container back to the truck and the J used a tweezers to remove the log, sign our name, and pop the sheet back in the cache. My hands were by the heaters the whole time. I then went back out, replaced the container, and took another picture. Cute bird, right?!
We left Wabek the same way we came, over the Soo Line Railroad and back onto the highway. On our way home, along 1804, we chased the sunset until darkness fell and the flares were the only lights that illuminated the prairie, frozen for the season.
What ghost towns have you visited because of geocaches? Do you prefer these lost places or well-occupied locations?
As always, thanks for reading!
Here is the link to the geocache: GC43812.