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Bagg Bonanza Farm


Fifty years ago the National Historic Preservation Act was created to help preserve the diverse archaeological and architectural treasures of America. Among those treasures were the bonanza farms with their images of agricultural abundance that helped promote the huge influx of settlers to Dakota Territory. Railroad land grants included every other section in a corridor extending 40 miles to either side of the railroad line. Eastern Syndicates purchased this land and created vast farming operations, many in the Red River Valley. Known as bonanza farms they encompassed thousands of acres of land and were overseen by managers hired by the syndicates.

When J. W. Downing died in 1913, the land was divided among his heirs. With land acquired from Downing, as well as land he had accumulated privately, Frederich Bagg moved his center of operations one mile west of the Downing Farm in 1915. The Bagg Bonanza Farm included thousands of acres.

The site chosen for the new headquarters consisted of only three buildings – the foreman’s house, a cattle barn and a granary. Bagg modified his farming operations and expanded the farm infrastructure. Many of the buildings at the Downing farm were moved to the Bagg site, including a large mule barn, the foreman’s house, four machine sheds, the bunk house and a small grain elevator. By 1930 over 26 buildings occupied the new site and more building were purchased and moved to the farm. As tractors replaced mules, the mule barns were converted to machine sheds. Other new structures included chicken coups, hog barns, sheep sheds and a power house.

The bunk house from the Downing farm, at 84 by 30 feet, became the main residence for the Bagg family and also housed the staff and a communal dining area. The rest of the buildings were arrange in an orderly, functional approach with residential buildings painted white clustered on the north side of the complex and the red utility buildings for livestock, machinery and storage to the south. The eleven acre parcel, containing over thirty of the original buildings, was accepted as a National Historic Landmark on this date in 2005.

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis


Day of the Bonanza by Hiram M. Drache; Lund Press Inc., Minneapolis, MN 1964.

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form- Frederich and Sophia Bagg Bonanza Farm 2005.

A History of Mooreton 1884-1984, Mooreton History Book Committee, J&M Printing Inc., Gwinner, ND 1984