Beginnings: At the Bagg Bonanza Farm

Visitors to North Dakota are often awed by the crops, farms and ranches that dot the landscape - the vastness of the fields, the enormity of the equipment and the legacy of one of the nation's top food producers. One of the advantages for guests to the state is the opportunity to see both historical farms and modern agriculture.

More than 20 years ago I was a tour guide at the Bagg Bonanza Farm, near Mooreton, North Dakota. I was inspired to volunteer there by my high school journalism teacher, Mr. John Wall. Mr. Wall's passion for the history of this "plantation of the north" motivated many students to volunteer there. For me, it also inspired a love for North Dakota's tourism stories.

Last week, I brought my daughters to the Bagg Bonanza Farm and they were fascinated and had a lot of questions. Since this site has a convenient location just off Interstate 29 (and only a few miles from Grandma and Grandpa's house), we'll definitely be stopping again soon.


Some fun facts about the Bagg Bonanza Farm and bonanza farming:

  • The F.A. Bagg Farm is America's only restored bonanza farm.
  • This farm has roots back to the 1870s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • As the Northern Pacific Railroad opened the great American West, bonanza farms sprung from the large tracts of land the railroad needed to sell to stay afloat.
  • Bonanza farms were known for being wealthy. F.A. Bagg had a safe on premises which visitors can see in the office attached to the Foreman's House.
  • This farm once comprised more than 9,000 acres and used teams of immigrant workers as laborers.
  • There are 20 restored buildings open to tours - the most notable is the Main House with its 18 bedrooms and dining room used for feeding large groups.
  • While the Bagg land was ultimately divided between family members and sold, visitors still see it with agricultural operation all-around in this rural landscape.
Bagg Bonanza Farm is open weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
For an immensely thorough history of the Bagg Bonanza Farm and bonanza farming, click here for the site's national historic landmark nomination by the National Park Service.