Vacant as of 9/04
Sanger, ND is a true ghost town. Sanger was also known as Bentley, ND when it was founded in 1879, named after the town doctor W. Bentley, who was also a member of the territorial legislature.
We believe the building pictured top-right was the Post Office, erected in 1881. Bentley was considered the county seat until 1884, when the county seat was moved to Center, ND and the town was re-named Sanger, for Henry Sanger, the owner of the townsite.
Early in it’s history, Sanger also had a brief battle with the nearby town of Raymond for a Post Office. Sanger eventually won out.
Sanger is located in Oliver County, on the west bank of the Missouri River. It was not easy to find. The Cross Ranch is right across the road though, so if you can find that, you’ll find Sanger. Sanger didn’t have any shortage of visitors. There were about three other vehicles that pulled up to take a look in the short span we were there.
Sanger seems to be a different breed of ghost town than those we’ve discovered in the Eastern part of the state. It’s vacant, and has been for a very long time. There are no modern structures, and everything seems as if it’s been abandoned for decades.
We received an email from Bob & Caryl Rutten of Bismarck which told of two people who may have been Sanger’s final residents. It read in part:
Sanger was in fact occupied in the late 1970′s (I believe) through the early ’80′s by Linda Whitney and David Christie, two ND visual artists who trained at UND and moved out to Sanger to set up studios. We used to read about them in the Bismarck paper now and then back in the day.
In addition to all the houses in Sanger, there several empty lots which clearly had homes or buildings at one point. Sanger’s layout is still recognizable with the vacant homes lining what used to be the main streets.
Every home in Sanger had an outhouse in the back yard.
Visiting Sanger in person, it’s easy to imagine riding up to the town in a horse & carriage. Unlike many ghost town sites in the state, there seems to be very little tampering and vandalizing of the town site. Very pure.
We tried to locate Sanger from the south, crossing the Missouri in Bismarck and heading north from there. We ended up in a maze of dirt roads and posted farmland. Eventually we found Sanger by entering from the Washburn area, about 8 miles north.
**Source Material – North Dakota Place Names – Douglas Wick
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