I've started a new project.
After traveling to 315 North Dakota towns, I'm zooming in locally here in McKenzie County to find and photograph the remaining rural schoolhouses and churches in the county. It's a big effort; a 1930 map shows dozens of schoolhouses scattered throughout the county, yet just a handful remain today (or rather, a structure of some kind marks the spot on Google Maps).
In traveling the backroads of North Dakota, I've seen and photographed dozens of these structures. The state's old churches and schools are some of the last standing relics of settlers and early communities. While cities have updated their infrastructure, rural schools simply closed, shuttered and have sat on the prairie ever since. For the most part.
But like the Gascoyne School, too many of these early structures can go so easily, and with it goes so much local history.
With the help of local historians, records and maps, I hope to find as many of these buildings as I can. In my 10 months in Watford City, I've already found a few (i.e. Squaw Gap School, Banks Church).
Interestingly enough, one rural school still operates in McKenzie County, one of four in the state. Horse Creek School, about 40 miles from Watford City, along State Highway 68, has an enrollment of six students from two families. It's in a quaint setting, nestled along a little traveled road among the buttes and grass.
So here goes nothing: Time to document history.