Bagg Bonanza Farm
Historic Site - Mooreton, North Dakota -
Visit America's Only Restored
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
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
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
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.
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
Children (6-12): $2.50
Under 6: Free
P.O. Box 702
Guided tours of restored buildings and
country Store with Bagg Farm
North Dakota products
Old-fashioned 4th of July Celebration
games, food and entertainment;