Bagg Bonanza Historical Farm in North Dakota

Bagg Bonanza Historic Farm, North Dakota© 2009 North Dakota Tourism/Bruce WendtThe spacious main house, seen here from the side, was typical of the residences found on North Dakota's bonanza farms.

8025 169th St., Mooreton, North Dakota

Today’s huge corporate farms are nothing new. Back in the 1870s, on the wheat-growing plains of North Dakota, “bonanza” farms of 30,000 acres and more—among the largest in the world—sprang up after the financial collapse of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Investors took land in place of worthless rail bonds and sold vast stretches to men like J. F. Downing, a Pennsylvania lawyer. Downing’s nephew F. A. Bagg managed the 5,000-acre farm.

Bonanza farms initially thrived on mechanized equipment, modern methods, and large numbers of mostly itinerant laborers but soon foundered on declining profits. Thanks to the Bagg Bonanza Farm Historic Preservation Society, a restoration is under way. Completed buildings include the 25-room main house, bunkhouse, sheep barns, blacksmith shop, icehouse, laundry, machine sheds, and granaries. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it offers fascinating insights into the life of a 19th-century megafarm.

Open Fri. – Sun. Memorial Day – Labor Day. Admission charged.

(701) 274-8989

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