Bagg Bonanza Farm
Historic Site - Mooreton, North Dakota -
Visit America's Only Restored Bonanza Farm
As with the history of westward expansion in America, the history of the bonanza farm begins with the coming of the railroad.  In the mid-1860's, a group of entrepreneurs aspired to build a railroad across the northern territory to the Pacific Ocean.  With millions of acres in government land grants and financing from Jay Cooke and his banking institution, the newly-formed Northern Pacific Railroad began construction.  By 1872, the NP had crossed the Red River, entering present-day North Dakota.
Unfortunately, Jay Cooke went bankrupt a year later sending the NP, and the entire country, into a financial panic.  To raise the money needed to continue the railroad, the NP allowed stockholders, who held deflated stock, to buy large tracts of land at a rate competitive with land sold by the government.
One man who took the NP's offer was J.F. Downing, an attorney and businessman from Erie, PA.  Although no acreage figure has been determined in establishing the farm size necessary to constitute a bonanza farm, Downing's landholdings in North Dakota exceeded 9,000 acres, which certainly qualified his farm for bonanza status.
Bonanza farming was well established in the Mooreton area when F.A. Bagg jointed his uncle's 9,000 acre enterprise in 1886.  Mr. Bagg spent his first year on the Downing Farm, working as a carpenter and field hand for twenty dollars per month plus board and room.  The superintendent of the farm left in 1887 and Mr. Bagg was offered and accepted the position of superintendent of the farm.
Upon the death of Mr. Downing in 1913, Mr. Bagg inherited a quarter interest of the farm's holdings.  In 1915, he moved his inheritance, which included land, buildings and machinery, one mile from the Downing farmstead and began his own Bonanza Farm.
Bonanza Farms of Richland County
Bonanza farms in the Mooreton community were commonplace in the late 1800's.  The town was named in honor of Hugh Moore, who owned the Antelope Farm containing 13,200 acres in the Mooreton area.  The Adam's, or Fairview farm, located south of Mooreton, had over 9,000 acres under cultivation.
One of the largest bonanzas in the area was the Dwight farm, owned by the Dwight Farm and Land Company and headed by Congressman John W. Dwight of Dryden, New York.  One of the major stockholders in this company was John Miller, North Dakota's first governor.  Miller became president of the company in 1896, the same year he founded the John Miller Company, a grain commission firm in Duluth, Minnesota.  Eventually, the company owned 27,000 acres in Richland County and an additional 32,000 acres in Steele County.
The Bagg Bonanza Farm Historic Preservation Society, a non-profit corporation, was officially founded in October 1986, when officers and directors were elected.  The Bagg Farm was named to the National Register of Historic Places on November 14, 1985, and to the State Historic Sites Registry on May 2, 1986.  The Bagg Farm was given the status of National Historic Landmark, given by the National Parks Service in 2005.  The BA permanent office was established in Mooreton, North Dakota in 1989.
The 15-acre farm site became property of the Society in 1989 and restoration work began soon thereafter with the help of a major grant from the North Dakota Centennial Commission.
Today, the Society has over 400 members and derives its funding through the generosity of individuals, businesses, and corporations. 
All 21 buildings have been restored.

 

Visitor Hours:
Open Memorial Day Through Labor Day
Friday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Holidays, Saturday and Sunday
12:00 noon - 5:00 pm
Closed Monday - Thursday
 
Gate Fees:
Adults:  $5.00
Children (6-12):  $2.50
Under 6:  Free
Contact Information:
P.O. Box 702
Mooreton, ND  58061
(701) 274-8989

Guided tours of restored buildings and
farm site; country Store with Bagg Farm souvenirs and North Dakota products

Old-fashioned 4th of July Celebration
with games, food and entertainment; concessions; restrooms.
(handicapped accessible)