Ghosts of North Dakota

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Nanson, North Dakota

We visited Nanson, North Dakota, a true ghost town with zero residents in southern Rolette County, in 2012. We traveled through waving country to get there (when an occasional car or truck passed, the drivers frequently waved) and found a townsite rapidly disappearing. There were only four significant structures still standing in Nanson, and the Great Northern Railroad tracks that led to the founding of the town were long gone, too. On… Read More

San Haven Sanatorium in the 1930s

Tuberculosis, frequently referred to as “consumption” in historical documents, was arguably the most serious endemic disease and health concern of the 19th and early 20th centuries. With no “cure” to come until 1946, those afflicted with TB were prescribed rest and fresh air as a treatment, and sanatoriums like San Haven were constructed to meet the need. Susan (Thingvold) Sande of Kalispell, Montana contributed these photos of San Haven in the tuberculosis… Read More

Nanson, North Dakota

As we set out to photograph ghost towns in early May of 2012, we had Nanson in mind as our ultimate destination.  We’ve known about Nanson for quite some time but somehow we just never managed to make it there — it was time. After driving all day through an array of locations, we reached US Highway 2 and drove into Rugby for some lunch — huge double cheeseburgers at the Cornerstone… Read More

San Haven, ND

In part one, Mary, a former patient at San Haven Sanatorium, detailed her arrival at San Haven and the circumstances that led to her spending five months in the facility in 1963. Eventually this ten-year-old from Carrington settled into her time at this massive hospital and learned how to keep herself safe.

This website is a constant reminder of how things change over time, those reminders frequently coming in the form of a photograph that shows a crumbling structure, a little less stout than when we last photographed it. Sometimes though, the reminders come in the form of a story, an email from a visitor.  In this case, we received an email from a former ten-year-old patient at San Haven Sanatorium and we’re reminded… Read More

I found this postcard in a box at an antique store.  It’s a postcard of San Haven Sanatorium in 1940.  I was impressed that this postcard shows an overview of the grounds including the beautiful gardens and water feature which are now completely dry and overgrown. This postcard was sent by someone named Olga, who must have been visiting a patient named Hilda, to Mrs. Harold Wendt in Columbia, Wisconsin on February 19th, 1940…. Read More

San Haven Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in the foothills of the Turtle Mountains, a few minutes north of Dunseith. Thousands of TB patients received treatment here between 1909 and the end of the TB endemic in the 1940’s. Prior to the advent of antibiotics which brought tuberculosis under control, roughly 50 percent of TB patients died from the disease. A common remedy at the time was to surgically collapse a lung…. Read More

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven is located just a few miles northeast of Dunseith. It was founded in 1909 as a Tuberculosis Sanatorium and later became a hospital for the developmentally disabled. Over the years, San Haven grew into a huge complex of structures complete with underground tunnels to connect the complex. It was so large, it was given it’s own zip code. At one time, San Haven held over 900 patients. The San Haven… Read More