Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, ND

Mountrail County
Inhabited as of 6/05

Tagus was founded in 1900, on a rolling spot on the prairie, forty miles west of Minot. A railroad settlement town, it reached a peak population of 140 in 1940. It was originally named Wallace, but was later renamed Tagus to avoid confusion with the town of Wallace, Idaho. The origin of the name “Tagus” is still in dispute.

It is now primarily abandoned with a handful of residents and numerous vacant structures.

The Minot Daily News ran a story about GND several days before our actual trip to Tagus. You can imagine our surprise when we were met by two of the residents of Tagus who had been keeping an eye out for us. They had quite a story to tell.

As it turns out, Tagus has weathered way more than it’s fair share of vandalism and mean-spirited behavior. For years, vandals from the nearby areas have used Tagus as a party place. One of Tagus’ residents told us a story about one Halloween night in the 1980′s, when 300 kids showed up in this tiny town for an all-out Halloween trashing session. The Mountrail County Sherriff had been tipped however and put a stop to it.

In 2001, vandals again did their damage when they were found to be responsible for a fire which destroyed Tagus only remaining church. The spot is now marked with a stone marker. Although there are reports the fire was electrical, the resident we spoke to was adamant the fire was caused by vandals.

As you’ll see from some of the comments on this post, Tagus has been the subject of some very strange and persistent rumors and urban legends over the years, to a greater degree than any other town we’ve encountered. Our webmaster, Troy, grew up in Minot and remembers hearing them too. At any rate, if you decide to visit Tagus, please be respectful of the town. They’ve already sacrificed far too much.

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

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Tagus, North Dakota

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Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

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Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Comments
43 Responses to “Tagus, ND”
  1. Jane says:

    Is the property posted, or can we walk around and photograph the structures?

  2. sabrina says:

    Ive heard stories of a ghost on his horse walkin around, is that a common story you hear?

  3. gavin lindahl says:

    my parents grew up in the town.

  4. CP says:

    This location was the source of many urban legend including one indicating that the church which has since burned was used as the church of Satan…supposedly including an inverted cross. My belief is this is nonsense though if the church did have an inverted cross it was likely the result of vandals as mentioned in the text

    • HV says:

      I can honestly say that this did happen. My cousin used to live there, and I was at her house for the week. We would go for walks every night at around 2am, and take the same trip around town and down the highway. We walked by the church one night, and all was fine, the second night we walked by, the cross was inverted. I cant say that anyone came around that night, we were in our teens and out all night, so I think its safe to say that we would have seen or heard something. That same summer, we cut through the cemetery, and we had a 5″ thick tree branch come swinging at our heads, and that night there was definitely nobody there to pull pranks…The town is one of a kind, and extremely unusual, but its just how the town has always been, a unique treasure, that continues to live on.

  5. Bob Sodergren says:

    Hi Gavin, I lived in Tagus in the late 40′s and 50′s with Ole and Odin Sjaastad===bob

  6. Spokes says:

    From what I have heard, Tagus is supposed to be the epicenter of satanic activity/power and if Charles Manson were to ever get out of prison that is where he would go. Supposedly rituals have been seen thru windows, skinned animals left lining the streets, and a church w/ a staircase that decends and doesn’t end. The town gives me the creeps every time I’ve driven thru it!

    • Beth says:

      The town is mostly my family, I have a hard time believing that the church across from my 99 year old great grandmother, the one that my family went to for years was a bunch of Satan worshippers. Does make a good story though!

  7. Curtis Sloan says:

    My granparents Walter and Alida Sloan’s address was Tagus ND begining in1903.
    Also my parents Lyndon and Lulu Sloan farmed the same place in later years.

  8. Jo Petterson says:

    My aunt and uncle still live in Tagus. I remember as a young child wandering around town and going thru the many empty houses. Some were like the people just woke up one day and walked off leaving everything. I remember playing with things in some of the attics. If there was anything satanic going on I never saw anything. Maybe this summer when I am back I’ll have to take another look!

    • Colby Crawford says:

      Would your aunt and uncle know if any of the houses in Tagus would be available for sale? I am looking for a house.

  9. micheal s davis says:

    very nice pictures! i was there last week looking! i have a site on FACEBOOK called “NORTH DAKOTA PICTURES” , WELL WORTH LOOKING AT! THANKS for doing a good job GHOSTS OF NORTH DAKOTA!!!!

  10. brenda bowman says:

    beautiful old houses!

  11. Phil Marple says:

    My mother (Carol Berg ) taught in a one room school house just outside of Tagus in 1943 just after she graduated from Minot State College. She always said there were just good people in Tagus. Never said anything about any problems or rumors. We had asked if she had been afraid to move to a strange place and
    live in a stranger’s house. She said no but there were a lot of suitors who asked her out. Being a single
    teacher she didn’t get to date from the community; there seemed to have been a couple of families who made sure everything would be ‘under control’. I guess I am glad as my dad was from Fillmore, another ghost town of ND.

  12. James McMullen-Wendt says:

    I’ve heard the satanic stories about Tagus from several people. Including that beneath the aforementioned church is the gateway to Hell itself. I never beleived any of these rumors, but I do find it very interesting that they remain so persisent and not only in the area, but with individuals thoughout North Dakota. I was driving down Highway 2 a few years ago from Glacier National Park to Fargo and was excited to make a quick stop in Tagus. Unfortunately there was a lot of road construction and it proved difficult to find the detour so we passed on by without stopping. Gives me another reason to go back and explore more of Northwestern part of the state I guess.

  13. Harvey Jackson says:

    One time I went there with some friends after hearing a story about it. We were met by a resident who took us on a tour. He lived in an old trailer and had a freezer outside like you would see in horror movies. When we were away both cars we took had their alarms go off and when we got back nobody was there. When we went back to where the resident was he was gone but there was a knife on the floor, so we left right away.

  14. deez says:

    I’m a bomber guy at Minot AFB, been up North for about six years now. I first heard of Tagus when some of the dudes I work with took a Sunday off to go look at ghost towns. Tagus was the featured event. I did hear about the Satanic church. I also heard something about the Son of Sam killings, and their relationship to MAFB. one of the Carr brothers (neighbors to David Berkowitz) committed suicide on base. That much, at least, is documented-the suicide part, not the Tagus connection. The most detailed story I heard was from a missile cop about an event that transpired back in the 1960s or 1970s.

    For those that don’t know, there are ICBM silos all over NW North Dakota. The crews that service and operate these sites are from the air base. As one could imagine, security surrounding the crews and equipment that go to and from the site is very tight, and not even local police have the authority to interfere in their movement. At some point, a group of protesters in the local area elected to try and block one of the roads these crews were traveling on. They made their intentions known, so the local sheriff attempted to talk them out of it. He was unsuccessful, and they set up a blockade. The motorcade of Security vehicles and trucks promptly plowed right through them without stopping, thus leaving the town with something of a sinister reputation.

    I doubt this is true-being so close to Minot, I’m sure someone would remember an event like this-I suspect it would have even made national news. A lot of times events that occurred in one place will be transposed to another, so it’s possible that this was an actual event that happened nearby, or maybe even in another state.

    Anyway, that’s my $.02

    • CP says:

      Yep David Carr did “commit suicide” at MAFB in early 1978. He was living with his girlfriend who was stationed there David Berkowitz was arrested in August 1977. Thing was Carr apparently used a shotgun to shoot himself square in the face. And he wound up on the floor on his side gun a few feet away and his arms are crossed across his chest. You can see the scene photos in the book “The Ultimate Evil”. Sure dont look like a suicide. His younger brother Mike died in a one car accident early one morning in 1979 on NyC’s west side highway. Again strange because apparently he wasn’t traveling fast and his car veered off the road and somehow he broke his neck. The connection with them and the “son of Sam” is that the Carr brothers were the sons of Sam Carr and they lived in a house directly below the apartment bldg where Berkowitz lived. I’m from Minot and now live in NY so of course I had to visit this site on wharbourton Ave in Yonkers. The other connection with the son of Sam and ND is the fact that he mentioned Arliss Perry in one of his letters “stalked followed to Stanford killed”. The lovely Arliss was a newlywed from Bismarck who had moved with her husband who was attending Stanford Univeristy. She was found stabbed with picked inside Stanford’s cathedral in 1974 (two years prior to first son of Sam murder). And finally, the last son of Sam victim was Stacy moskowitz in Brooklyn. David Berkowtiz has stated in several interviews that a friend of the Carrs was flown in from ND for the murder. In a subsequent interview he said a small town in ND but couldn’t remember the name but thought it sounded like “targets”. To me that sounds like Tagus. Doesn’t mean it is true or the person came from Tagus but interesting all the same. Being a teen in Minot in the 90′s you heard all of this “stuff” and I just had to research se fact. So there you go. I doubt Tagus was ever home to devil worshipers but I’m sure some lost crazy hippie or two has passed through at some point

  15. Colby Crawford says:

    I would like to buy a house in Tagus. Is anyone interested in selling?

  16. Dave says:

    I have heard all these satanic stories about Tagus for years. I have been there many times and I never seen anything that would make me think that there was any truth to them at all.

  17. Kris Larsen says:

    We commute from Minot to the oil fields every day and have noticed on the highway sign in Berthold that Tagus is 9 miles ahead, you never see a sigh pointing to Tagus, About 3 miles out of Berthold the Highway 2 mile markers jump from 120 to 117 in less than a mile for some reason. We have started calling this the Tagus Triangle

  18. HellaNorCal says:

    i went to tagus at 0300 on easter morning 2012. i never thought id be a person telling a ghost story, but i cannot deny what myself and the rest of my group saw that morning.

    we got into tagus and backed the car onto the driveway of an abandon structure. our vehicle faced the road. before we began our adventure, we made sure that we left the doors unlocked and had a difficult time getting the interior light to go off, but it did eventually. with the railroad to our backs, we began to walk down the street. we got to the first house on the left and hopped the barbed wire. we went inside and began to explore. it was spooky, just as any old, abandon house would be. we got to the stairs leadin into the basement. the cellar door was open when we got there. my friend Justin, who had been there two nights prior, had sworn that he and his group shut that door when they left during his first trip. anyways, we traveled downstairs, looked around and went back to the main floor. soon after, we went upstairs. we came to a room which had nothing in it but a mirror and a chair. the chair faced the window, and overlooked the cemetery. as i stood near the entrance of the room, the rest of my party looked through the window. the driver of the car we took asked the owner of the car if she thought that the light in the distance was from her car. we were certain that the light was something else, as we had made sure all lights we off before we started exploring. after the building had been thoroughly explored, we began to leave. once we were about 10 feet from where we had exited the house, we heard a loud bang. it sounded like a cupboard slamming or a window shutter. those of us who live, or have been to north dakota, know that its a very windy place. however, the air was very still this night. as this bang startled us, especially the two girls in our party, we began to hurry towards the fence. upon arriving at the fance, four more bangs were heard by all. very loud and clear. these bangs were very structured. four bangs spaced about a second apart. this startled us even more. the girl began to run towards the car. myself and another friend stayed by the fence for about 15-25 seconds, looking at the house and trying to find the source of the sounds. another friend was calling for us, so we hopped the fence and proceeded to the car. as i watched the girls running to the car, then stop about 15 feet from the car and run back towards us. we began to run to them to see what their panic was. once we met up with girl, they told us that all of the car doors open. upon hearing the news, i looked toward the car and saw for myself that all four doors were wide open. this was the straw that broke the camels back. we were leaving, now. we all began to run to the car. just before i got into my rear right seat, the driver said, “what the f*ck is that?!” i looked into the field on the other side of the road. we saw two human like silhouettes. the night was lit by a bright moon and we all clearly saw these dark figures, one being a little bit taller than the other. as these figures we completely black, we could not positively identify what they were. the front of the car was facing them, so i figured once the lights were turned on, we’d find out what they were. when the lights turned on, the figured seemingly disappeared. i looked harder and saw the figures again, this time with the lights on. the light seemed to travel through the figures as if they were transparent. the also cast no shadow. we wasted no time getting out of there, so our judgement of these figures can be questioned, however i can positively say that they were unlike anything ive ever seen.

    i expected this trip to be the exploration of a typical abandon house, but it turned out to be much more. after searching for information about this town, im not surprised to find stories similar to mine. i am currently stationed at Minot AFB. im sure others here and those who hear my story will want to go see for themselves. i can only advice them to go with extreme caution and an open mind. respect the town and DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING. i plan to go back to gain more evidence to build a more complete story. i can only hope im not involved in the “actual event” that a future horror is based on.

  19. MattR says:

    I’m originally from Minot. Heard all the stories back in high school (late ’90′s). Finally visited in 2007 and UrbExed many of the buildings.

    “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” That’s the ethic.

    Met a local resident, Gaylen, who apparently lots of other visitors have met also. He lives in the trailer with the freezer outside. Hung out and visited with him for 1.5 hours in the trailer. He was pretty friendly, but I’ve heard some not so good stories about subsequent encounters with him.

    His story relating to the satanic stuff is that there is this group of devil-worshipers living on some farmstead north of town. He blames them for the church burning down and other sources seem to confirm that the fire was the result of some type of vandalism.

    Then again, that all might be part of the Tagus mythos.

    • M. torgerson says:

      there are no ghosts or truth in any of this B.S. This town produced many fine and successful people in the 30-40-50-s. I lived in the house that is shown twice-gram Ret had it then later Anderson . The turret house was a fine xample of 30s building. My uncles store
      was vandalized and burgled in the 60s by thiefs then burned down by the county .there are
      several families there plus a new home and compound some rich folk have– for the peace and quiet. there are a lot of stories from the past but mostly humor and straight talking-(there were 2 taverns and one church!!)

  20. Dave says:

    Very sad…The story about the church and the “steps to Hell in the basement,” sounds exactly like the story about Stull, Kansas. Vandals there, also destroyed the church and the surrounding cemetery. As for the “true” ghost story from above – face it, you’re out at 3 am and trespassing. It’s a shame that police didn’t find you. “IF” there were “dark figures” it’s probably the spirits of the good folks of Tagus trying to get vandals like your group out of what used to be someone’s home. Not only are you putting yourselves in danger – of being injured by hurting yourselves in these buildings, you continue to distort and bring negative thoughts to a town where once families lived and decent people went about their lives. Just because economic times changed this town, it’s sad to think that folks want to find “more” to blame for the collapse of a town. If your family had originally lived in this town for generations, I’m certain you would feel differently about it. Get a bible and learn the REAL story of how to make yourself “fireproof.”

  21. Ben says:

    Glad to see I’m not crazy. This town is scary. I heard plenty of rumors of satanic activity as a teen. Ventured there a couple times to check it out. My stories aren’t as good as some of these, but we had some freaky experiences. One of the times we were chased by a car from Tagus to Stanley at speeds well over a hundred miles per hour. At Stanley, the other car finally turned around an went back the other direction. We presumed at the time these were satanists. Truthfully, I have know idea why we were chased, or who chased us. At the time, we didn’t care to find out.

    The other time we drove through there to tease my friend’s girlfriend. We told her all the stories, just to have fun with her. She needed to go to the bathroom, so to further teased her, we told her that she’d have to go there. Well, the town looked peaceful enough, she was scared and refused. I step out of the car to show her is wasn’t really that bad. As soon as I closed the door, two huge hounds from hell appeared seemingly out of nowhere. They were growling, barking, and running full steam at me. I jumped back in the car as fast as I could, and told my friend to get the hell out of there. We sped off, and I haven’t been back since.

    • Kelly says:

      I used to work in the missile field out in the area surrounding Tagus and have had my fill of experiences in that town both adverage and abnormal sometimes borderline paranormal. I myself do not believe that satanic activity is prevalent in this town but there is a small presence of spiritual pressure. I did have an experience much like Ben did with the hell hounds and other unnerving experiences just outside the town however those were most likely due to the intended nature of my visits-recon for paranormal investigations. The experience with the hounds has convinced me never to return but then again you’d think the buckshot imbedded in my old car years ago from an older man’s shotgun would have convinced me sooner.

    • Steve says:

      My friend had the same car chase incident as you. The car was a black old style roadster and he didn’t see anyone in the driver seat (but considering it was night that wouldn’t be unusual). The difference is that the car stopped chasing them after only a few miles. It just did a dead stop and then a U-turn and headed back to town. I have to wonder how many people this has happened to and if anyone stopped to see who was chasing them.

      He also saw the inverted cross in the church but the whole place was trashed by vandals so that’s the most plausible reason.

      The craziest story he told me about his trips there was where on the way to town a sheriff had someone pulled over and he had no pants and gave him and his friends a strange stare as they drove by.

      My cousins also had some strange events happen to them.

      There is apparently a gravestone that will glow green on certain nights that they witnessed first-hand. The other thing is that there is a ‘ghost train’ that sometimes goes down the tracks and is semi-translucent which they also claim to have seen.

      Again (many years prior to knowing my friend), my cousins told me about the car that chased you out of town. So it’s pretty safe to say that that has happened to quite a few people but is just a matter of if it is an angry towns-person that wants to drive off or something else.

  22. Dan says:

    Tagus was originally a station on the Great Northern Railway, with a siding track for trains to pass each other. Some time around 1928, a highway underpass was installed to carry a road south from Old Highway 2, bypassing Tagus to the east. This bridge had two railroad tracks across the top – one for the main line and one for the siding. The siding was removed in the 1960′s.

    What maked this historical minutae vaguely interesting is that last year (2012), GN successor BNSF Railway built a new siding just east of town, using a couple thousand feet of the old siding’s roadbed and re-installing the second track across that bridge. Tagus now appears in the railroad timetable again, 0.9 miles east of where the original station was.

  23. Paul from Oregon says:

    There is a movie in all of this. Come on Hollywood!

  24. Lou says:

    A few members of my family lived there in the early 1900s, up through the 1960s: Maternal grandmother & aunt, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents. My family still owns property in and around Tegas. My great-grandmother was postmaster there for many years and owned a beautiful Victorian house just a block or two away that is now dilapidated (owned by someone else now) and mistreated, which is terribly sad; my mother, aunts, and grandmother have wonderful memories in that once beautiful, cozy home.

    The stories of Satanic activity are bogus. The residents of the town were lovely, hard-working people. I love that people still visit the town, take pics, and enjoy the creepy feel that an abandoned town lends, but hope that they have enough respect to avoid destroying or taking things away from it.

  25. Jenn says:

    My husband’s family farms right next to Tagus. He was a member if the “satanic” Tagus Lutheran Church growing up until it burned down. He said the only thing creepy about it was the old church ladies ;)

  26. Heidi says:

    In the late 80′s I remember stories about satanic activity there. The stories used to circulate early fall through Halloween. Some one actually threw red paint on the sign out by highway 2 and there were rumors of dogs being slayed etc… I used to travel frequently from Burlington to Stanley to visit family. Every time I would go alone my mother would warn me, “Just go right on by Tagus!” I live in the Stanley area now and have stopped several times as an adult at the Tagus Saloon…Always friendly people there.

    • June says:

      I love looking at the pics of Tagus & hearing all these stories. Here’s mine:
      We moved there in the fall of 1966 as newlyweds. We lived there till Thanksgiving of 1969. Or 2 oldest kids, daughters, were born while we lived there. We lived in a house that could very easily be the one in 5th pic below the story. With the hip roof & sun porch.
      We were about to move to the little cream colored house by the garage when we got a chance to buy the house with the torrent, the one with the round room. We were moving some furnishings into that house when we got a chance to move to a farmstead a few miles away. We took it, we still life there.
      The garage is, I think, the remains of the fire station. The town even had a fire truck. I know, I garage burned down, I called them to put it out.
      Nothing usual happened in all those years. At that time there was Nels’ store it was on the main drive, across from the church, on the west side of the street, the church on the east side. We lived across the tracks south of there.
      I would walk to our mail box then on to the store & buy a few supplies, I always bought a jar of olives to eat on the walk back. When our first daughter was born, I pulled a wagon with her in it. Nels closed the store before we left. It was a page out of an old magazine. It had an old round heater, with a checker board beside it, sometimes there would be guys there playing checkers, but not always. Shelves were stocked like in those old magazines. Really neat place to go to.
      I have been in the church many times for weddings & funerals. I even have pics of it. However we did not attend it regularly, it was Lutheran, and we weren’t.
      The ONLY strange thing I can remember happening in those years was during hunting season 1966. My sister-in-law & I were alone in the house in the evening, before the guys got back from hunting. We heard what sounded like footsteps walking across the upstairs. What really freaked both of us was that her little dog started grueling & his hair stood on end. We were pretty relieved when the guys came home. Of course the just pushed it off as the imagination of 2 young gals.
      One other time the was apparently a hobo following the railroad tracks, my brother-in-law went slowly driving by our house, I didn’t know why till later when he told me about the hobo. He want to make sure I was OK but not alarm me since I was home alone at the time.
      I do of the Halloween incident, of supposedly 300 young people invading the town.
      We still have relatives living within a mile of the town, & they are not freaked out about any unusual happenings.

  27. When my father was stationed at MAFB, I once went out to Tagus and took a ton of pics, including the church. I also took pics of the gravestones at the cemetery, and posted those on a genealogical website years later, giving family members who couldn’t travel to ND copies of the pics. I heard those “devil worship” rumors, but since I went in the middle of the day, I never experienced anything weird or threatening. If the rumors keep people from vandalizing these old towns, then I hope people heed the warnings!

  28. Teresa Saum says:

    My grandmother’s family farmed in Montrail County, near Stanley, for many years. My dad was Estle, a good athlete in those days but ghosts make better stories.

  29. Joe Aho says:

    I drove truck all over the US and Canada for close to 30 years. In the mid 80s I was working for an outfit out of Minot. The first time I was in Baton Rouge La In 1986, I was unloading at the port. A gentleman came up to me and said “I see you are from Minot ND”. I said “yes sir just a little ways from home”. He asked me if it was anywhere around Tagus. I told him it was like 40 miles west of Minot and asked him if he was familiar with the area around Tagus. He said “no but I know people that that is a place that is well known to them for their faith”. Asked him what that was and all he would say was people in the swamp. First I ever heard of anything like this about the area and I was born and raised in Stanley. Asked my folks about Tagus and they filled me in on the satanic rumors. Nothing against anyone but voodoo is well known in La.

  30. Joe Breen says:

    I was an USAF SP stationed at Minot AFB in 1985. We frequently drove through Tagus whenever we had duty at a particular Launch Control Facility. I remember that church specifically. I never saw anyone in it or around it, but do remember the upside-down cross prevalent over the front door.

    Funny story…We were driving back after 3 days duty and right in front of the Tagus church, the universal on our “peacekeeper” vehicle fell out of the truck. Being aware of where we were, all 4 of us stayed in the truck until a relief vehicle showed up.

    • Al Winkler says:

      Joe, I was there from Mar ’85 through December ’88. I was in 91 FMMS. I remember the stories about Tagus and had been by there a few times, always wondering when/if something out of the ordinary would happen. I seem to remember the upside down cross.

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