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N. Dakota churches at risk of falling apart

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DURBIN, N.D. (AP) — More than 400 of North Dakota's 2,000 prairie churches are vacant and poorly maintained and at risk of falling apart, says the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The group included the churches on its June 25 list of "11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2001."

The churches, mainly founded by settlers from Germany, Poland, Iceland, Russia and Scandinavia in the late 19th century, were usually the first buildings erected when a town was settled, trust officials said.

North Dakota's population peaked by 1930, then began to decline, forcing many communities to close or demolish their churches.