Jul 23 2009
One of the things we found by driving off the beaten path was the ghost town of Sims, ND. A bustling town of 1,000 people in the 1880′s, with a brick factory and railroad spur, Sims’ population decreased to just 98 by 1940. Now it’s all but gone.
The Sims Lutheran Church and parsonage still stand. The parsonage is said to be haunted by the “Gray Lady,” the ghost of a former pastor’s wife. She’s a friendly ghost, people say.
The restored church was host to First Lady Laura Bush when she visited North Dakota in 2008.
Even the his and hers outhouses are still there.
The only other thing left of Sims is this brick house.
Next door, in the pasture, there are lonely steps.
This house is down the road, across the bridge. I don’t know if it would have been considered part of the town, as it’s nearly a mile from the church.
Finding Sims isn’t hard; take the Almont exit off I-94, west of Bismarck, and head south until you reach Sims Road. Sims is just a little ways down the gravel.
I had mixed feelings about visiting Sims. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and the area was lush. The story of Sims intrigued me, and my kids thought it was great to see an actual ghost town.
On the other hand, it hit close to home. My northeastern North Dakota hometown, also once vibrant, is diminishing in population as well. When I was a child, we claimed 76 residents; now there are around 50. The old buildings on Main Street have fallen into disrepair and have been removed for safety reasons, most recently the store and the community hall. Sims is not alone in its demise. For some of these small towns, soon only the stories will remain.
Related Posts: These posts tell of other gone-but-not-forgotten places near Sims.