The next stop on our tour was the tiny prairie town of Gackle North Dakota. Dad went to school in Gackle and in 2004 we attended the Centennial Celebration so I was eager to get back and explore.
One thing I noticed about Gackle is that it's a town with a lot of confidence. Gackle feels good about its self. It knows it's worth something, even if no one else does. How do I know that? Well, I think it shows a lot confidence when you put up a "six hour parking between signs" sign when the only thing on the entire stretch of that side of the road through town is a feed grinder :)
Before we explored the town we stopped at the town park. I've been to this park several times since I was little. It's in a little green valley and is quite nice. One thing I've come to notice about small towns in ND/MT is that despite how run down main street or the town homes are, they usually keep up quite a nice town park. Gackle is no exception.
Mom packed us a picnic lunch which she said "wasn't much" but of course it was a feast! Bagels with many different kinds of fresh veggies and dip and chips and dessert! Yum! I was freezing my butt off in the 45-50 degree rainy weather but it was worth eating outside.
After we ate we drove to main street.
We passed by the former SDA church. Dad said it hasn't been a church for quite awhile.
We pulled around to main street and parked near one end, by the tiny library (how cute is that building!).
Even though it was freezing and the guy's shoes were wet from walking through tall grass at the farm and I was wearing shorts we walked main street for a long time just looking around. Below is a slide show of street scenes from around Gackle.
Dad said this building (below and above) was the eye doctor when he was little.
The theater was my favorite thing to photograph. I love small town theaters. Dad said he never went to this one. And it looks like it has been closed for awhile.
The building above is so impressive (I think) even in it's empty state. Dad said it was a hardware store.
Below is a slideshow of some neat things we saw around Gackle. Take a look :)
As we walked we came upon this church that looked to still be in operation. Dad pointed out the words at the top of the sign...
Dad said that growing up he was around quite a few German speaking people. My mom was as well--the adults would speak in German so the children couldn't understand what they were saying!
Above: the local post office. I loved the old mailboxes (click to enlarge)
Gackle city hall looked pretty dead when we walked by...
(below) Dad felt that the city of Gackle got it wrong when they predicted "very high" fire danger. So he changed it to "medium". Somehow I don't think anyone will notice...
Dad said this was a Ford dealership. We all liked the bright yellow truck in front of it! Robert noted that for being a former Ford dealer, it had all Chevy vehicles around it! :)
We ventured around the American Legion. This is a place none of us know much about. Dad said he and his family never went there, and he sort of implied that it was somewhat of a mysterious place to him when he was young. I had to laugh because I remember feeling the same way about the Garrison American Legion and Masonic Temple etc. I guess Adventists are a skeptical bunch :)
Water towers define small towns (for me). The Gackle water tower has quite a looming presence, especially on a cloudy day.
We walked and walked and despite the cold it was so much fun!
The building on the left was a grocery store, now it's empty. The storefront in the middle photo used to be a men's clothing store. Dad said he remembers getting clothes from there. We ducked into the building on the right. Dad just tried the door and it was open. So we poked around and found that it was the town laundromat.
A unique feature dad and Robert noticed was the old awning on the brick building in the photo on the right. A piece of history for sure! (click photos to view large)
Above: Dad found this old sign broken on the street so he fixed it!
The tastee freez was open but none of us wanted ice cream when it was so cold outside! However I do remember getting something to eat here when we came for the Centennial in 2004.
Looks as though Mallard Lanes have been closed for awhile...
We spent some time in front of the old International dealership looking at the rusted tractor. Inside someone kept some pretty amazing restored classic cars that we admired as well!
After we walked both sides of main street we high tailed it back to the car! We were freezing!
Our last stop was dad's old school. He pointed out the few windows in front of the school that were the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. He tried the doors to see if we could walk around but everything was closed.
We slowly made our way out of town and back across miles of broken high way to Cleveland.
I really enjoyed Gackle, it seems like a nice small town just trying to stay alive. I'm so glad I was able to explore the town where my dad spent so much time! Walking the streets and hearing all his comments and stories made it more than just another small town, and despite the cold it really came alive for me :)
I explore many abandoned homesteads and look up the history on each one if possible. I see many small towns that I research the history of as well. I've been photographing/researching places for years now and yet I still had not explored the small towns near where my dad grew up, and I had not explored his former farm either. Dad and I had been knocking around the idea of visiting the Clevaland/Gackle area for a year or so but we never actually went. Finally on his birthday Dad said we were going! I was so excited! The weather was bad, and I didn't get nearly any good photos but all the freezing cold temperatures, spitting rain and heavy clouds couldn't dampen our spirits! We had an absolutely fantastic time. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I'll be writing about our adventure in three installments so check back here over the next week or so and there should be a new entry about our trip! And please remember that you can click each photo to see it in a larger size! Sorry for the photo quality, I had to work with the weather which was quite unpleasant (especially considering it was 50 degrees and I was wearing shorts! ha!)
After discovering that the road had been completely moved in one spot to make way for the water that has started taking over the farmlands, we finally made it to Dad's grandparent's farm. There was a construction company trailer in front of the house and it looked as though no one was home (remodeling?) Dad said there used to be a much different house on the property before they built this one, it had been moved to a farm to the east.
The farm land was very green and lovely and I stopped for some shots of a road that stretched through several groves of trees. Dad said the road had always been a dirt track--it led to nothing major.
We finally arrived at dad's farm. It was very quiet.
Everything was beautiful and green. It looked as though no one had been there for awhile.
The house was dark and all the curtains were drawn.
Dad knocked on the door but no one answered. No one lives there anymore. That made us sad.
So we headed around the house towards the back yard.
We trekked on to the back part of the property--the grass was really long. So of course I hopped through the grass hoping not to get ticks (a big fear of mine) and apparently that method worked because at the end of the day only Robert and dad found a tick each.
I love these old gas pumps! They're really neat. And mom says that when she first saw them she was amazed--she didn't know you could have your own gas right on the farm!
Dad and Robert kept on but I took a detour into even deeper grass (an amazing feat considering my tick-phobia!) because I saw the outlines of playground equipment in the trees and had to get photos. Dad didn't seem to remember if they were his or not---auntie and uncles do you remember?
I quickly hopped through the grass over to the first building on the right where Robert and dad were. It looked like it was still in great shape! Dad said that his dad built the building back in the 50s. Click through the slide show to see what we found!
Soon we had seen all there was to see in that building so we headed over to the quonset.
On to the last outbuilding!
In the very last back building we found so much treasure! Although none of it belonged to dad and never had. Someone has stored some neat things for sure! Click through the slide show to see them all.
After spending quite awhile at the farm it was time to go. I hated to leave, the place seemed so lonely and quiet! I wish one of us could live there again. It really is a beautiful house.
We drove away and on to Gackle ND for a picnic lunch and a walk around town!
Stay tuned :)
"Anything, everything, little or big, becomes an adventure when the right person shares it." --Kathleen Norris