More than one Berlin wall has fallen

A friend of mine from Jamestown stopped in my studio a couple of weeks ago and told me about a really neat old church he’d passed on a road trip for work.  I didn’t know there was a church where he described it, and none of my resources showed it there, so I had to go check it out last weekend.  Here’s what’s left of it: Berlin Baptist Church.


My urgency was because, once we located the spot on Google Earth, I could tell that the roof had been stripped and all the rafters were visible.  It wasn’t the kind of random thing that weather or time would do; this church was being dismantled.  To be honest, I didn’t even expect it to still be here.


It looks to me like someone just plain ran out of time last year, and had to stop working on the structure.  The foundation and its windows are intact.  The floor is mostly intact as well.  The roof and walls have been removed up to the front portion of the church, where the balcony and steeple remain…for now.


This was an amazing building…and wow, what a spot!  The cemetery is on the left of this photo, in the background to the north.  To the south is a large frozen lake.  I can only imagine what this place was like in its heyday.


The frozen lake helped convey to me the bleak future for this old church.  It’s sad to see them go.  It isn’t that people quit going to church or abandoned their faith, but that so many small communities are fading away and smaller families mean fewer butts in the seats.  After a while, there aren’t enough people to keep even a small church going when you’re out on the prairie.


This was a soundly built church building.  I don’t normally crawl around or in old buildings I find, but I had to make an exception here.  Besides, it hadn’t reached this condition through deterioration.  It was still solid, just waiting to be parted out.


It got dark really fast while I was gaping in awe at this breathtaking find, so I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the sign until I was on my way out.  The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1988, meaning it was here before the Dakotas achieved statehood.

I imagine I’ll have to check in on this magnificent church’s remains this spring before they vanish for good.  So many of my favorite prairie places are disappearing, so I’m always glad to know that I got photos of them before they faded into history.  I didn’t get to see this one before it was almost completely gone, but in its current state I think it tells a moving story.

You could poke an eye out with that thing

I stumbled upon this leaning barn over a month ago.  In fact, I’d forgotten I had these photos of it!  It sure was cool, though.  I’m always worried when I see barns like this, as photogenic as they are.  With such a lean, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be standing for long.


Here’s how the lean has progressed.  It’s obvious things are well on their way.  The other side of the roof is missing in places.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.


The barn is part of a really picturesque Fallen Farm that I flew over southeast of Bismarck.  I was so focused on the barn that I almost forgot to look around.


There were some other cool buildings in the area, but I only had so much time and battery – and my fingers were getting cold.  Despite the limited flight time I was able to come away with some pretty neat pics!

Cold ones in the fridge

My weekend travels brought me to this little farmstead, where I spent a few pleasant moments with a piece of old farm equipment with the morning sun’s rays streaming from the clouds in the background to the east. Satisfied with our moment together, I turned my attention to the nearby house.

I have a policy of not entering or otherwise tampering with old buildings, but to merely appreciate them from outside. Well, I found myself drawn to the front steps for a quick photo. That’s when I noticed something amusing therein.

The refrigerator in the entry was a happy find. No, I didn’t go in for a closer look, I was happy right here. But given the temperature early Saturday morning, the idea of there being some “cold ones” inside brought a grin to my face.

And as for that old piece of farm equipment? We’ll get to that another time.


I thought I’d follow up Red with some Blue – although there’s plenty of red brick in this shot, too.  This house is built into a hillside and has a wonderful valley view.  Some of that brilliant blue paint still remains.  One of the houses I grew up in as a kid was painted this same color, by the way.  It really stands out.


Sammy Hagar could not be reached for comment.  Even though most of the prairie grasses and stalks of harvested crops are brown, I was able to find a brilliant red farm under a deep blue sky and with some rich green grass in the yard!  RGB.

When the clouds are on your side

This barn sits south of Mandan, beckoning to me every time I’m near St. Anthony.  Of course, the correct pronunciation is more like “Snatnee” – sometimes even with some h’s in there for good Cherman measure – but I won’t get mired in the details.


Some mornings I like a blazing sunset, washing the landscape with brilliant color.  But overcast mornings have their way of bringing out color, too.  First off, there are none of the hard shadows of that piercing sunrise light.  Second, the muted tones lend themselves very well to the color already present.

I’m glad I had the clouds on my side when these photos were taken.  Much of the detail of a beautiful barn like this one would be lost in shadows, and I wouldn’t have been able to photograph both sides of it in one sitting!