Welcome back and thanks for the comments on last weeks post, I appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness. This week I take you to the abandoned river town of Mannhaven, North Dakota along the beautiful Missouri River about 6-7 miles from where I grew up. It’s actually more than the old town site, it’s a place that has been near and dear to me since I was a kid. Allow me to explain. My Grandpa Isaak purchased the 276 acres of pastureland in 1950, the year I was born. My earliest remembrance is picnicking with family below the bluff on the left side of the photo below. Later as I became a little older, I rode my pony, Penny and later horse, Tom, behind about 100 cows and calves as we trailed them the 10 miles from my Grandpa’s farm to this pasture. After about 7-8 miles, we stopped for a sumptuous lunch made by my Grandma and gave the cows a rest before crossing a state highway. Up the road a few miles, the cows were finally at their destination and immediately headed to the watering hole for a drink. Now you can image an 8-10 year old kid eating dust and chasing cows just like they did on those tv westerns. It was the life and I still recall it with great fondness.
Also, during my childhood, there was a boat dock and bait shop at the River’s edge operated by Stan and Alice Hanewald. They owned a furniture store in town that also sold sporting goods. My Grandpa Miller worked for them for years, delivering furniture and occasionally staffing the bait shop during the summer. At the time, my Dad was really into fishing so we’d often head down to the landing after evening farm chores to do some fishing. Dad would sometimes rent a boat and head out onto the river and us kids would fish off the dock. I recall a few times when Dad came back, we’d caught a string of sauger or perch and he got skunked! We’d also check out the bait shop and if we had a nickel or two we would buy a bottle of pop and a candy bar. Again, living the good life!
Forward 50 years or so. The boat landing is long gone, the road is closed to the townsite of Mannhaven (apparently to0 many beer parties down in the woods!) and I’m now a part owner with my sibs and some of my cousins of the pasture land. Donna and I also own 11 lots in the townsite of Mannhaven, not sure why maybe for sentimental reasons, certainly not as an investment! When my Grandpa Isaak died, he owned 30 some Mannhaven lots so a few years ago, we divided those lots up between the cousins. So if you are looking for development property near a scenic waterway, give me a call! Financing available! Here’s a photo of what remains of the townsite of Mannhaven. Note: the deer hunting looks like it might be good too!
Maybe a little history of Mannhaven might help. This town on the Missouri River was established in 1896-97 and named after one of the originators, Henry Mann. Mann and his partners built a grain warehouse and a steamboat named the “Bismarck” to transport commodities (grain and lumber) down the river and supplies back to Mannhaven. Soon the town had a lumberyard, post office, doctor, blacksmith, newspaper, bank and several other businesses. As an aside from my research, there is no mention of a tavern for those thirsty Germans! However, the boom was short lived as the Northern Pacific railroad came to the area about 18 miles to the south, making shipping grain and supplies more economical and consistent. By the late 20’s and early 30’s there wasn’t much left in Mannhaven. Below is a photograph of the early bustling townsite. And below two photos of what it looks like today from about the same vantage point.
The area near Mannhaven is not without development however. In the late 40’s and 50’s the Garrison Dam was built about a mile and half up river as part of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program that created Lake Sakakawea to provide flood control, generate electricity, water for irrigation and recreation uses. It was one of five major dams built on the Missouri River during this period. Mannhaven is just around the corner from the Dam. Here are a couple of photos of the earth rolled dam, intake structure and the Tailrace where the fishing is terrific year around. Mannhaven is around the bend about 1/2 up river.
And here’s what it looks like in the winter as the warmer water meets the colder waters.
One of my greatest pleasures when visiting family in North Dakota is to visit the pasture at Mannhaven. It’s not as easy as it sounds, you see the road is closed so visitors have to park at the end of the road, climb a fence, and walk about 1/2 to 3/4 mile just to get to the edge of the property. Yes, it’s landlocked, that’s a whole other story! Here’s a photo taken along the ridge to the pasture, in the distance is a bend in the Missouri River.
Once arriving, this is the site. For me its a religious experience. The air is clean and fresh, the hills and bluffs majestic, the valleys with their tall grasses waving in the breeze, and the mighty Missouri creating a ribbon of blue in the landscape. Here’s one of my favorite spots to stop and gaze over the terrain.
This is very near where I would ride my pony and look over the valley below and image how it was in the “old” days. Over the years, I’ve taken family members down to Mannhaven. As we were approaching the pasture, I stopped along a ridge and peered into the valley saying to my nephews and nieces, “if you look closely, see the wagons pulled by horses with the scout out front. Then look across the valley to the other side and see the Native Americans watching their progress.” They were pretty young at the time and leaned over the edge to see what I could see. I told them they had to imagine this actually happening. Maybe too many western tv programs and movies in my past but to tell the truth I can imagine something like that happening.
On one of those walk, my niece Hannah, who was maybe 7 or 8 at the time, was always out a head of us on the walk. She’s now a junior in high school and her leadership skills have taken her far. Here she is leading the pack!
And here are some photos of our group that made the journey that day.
And here’s a photo of us heading back to the car, one of my favorite shots from the trip.
Another time, I took two of my sisters, a nephew and brother-in-law to Mannhaven. We had a great time and did a lot of walking and exploring. Here are a couple of photos from that excursion.
During another trip to North Dakota, I took my daughter, Melanie, on a hike to Mannhaven to show her how much I valued this piece of ground. Here are few photos from that walk. Melanie is standing on my very favorite spot in the whole pasture where I would ride my pony and survey the country. Last time I was there, I carefully walked around this spot since I saw a snake of some type, I think a rattler but didn’t stop to make close inspection!
The following are a few more photos of the Mannhaven pasture. The bottom photo was taken at sunrise from across the Missouri River.
Well that does it for this week and thanks for going on this nostalgic trip back to a place of my youth.
Take care and travel safe. Until next week,