Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate is a fascinating near-ghost town right on the Canadian border, about 70 miles northwest of Minot. It was originally founded one mile to the north, but moved one mile south to its present site. While the original town site retained the name North Gate (with a space) this town was renamed North Gate South, and then re-dubbed Northgate (without the space) when the post office was established in 1914.

The road to the east of Northgate is the highway which formerly functioned as the port of entry, but it is now closed and well-posted by US Customs and Immigration. The new border crossing is about a half mile west.

Not wanting to attract the attention of US Customs and Immigration by driving toward the border on a farm road, we took a long walk down the road to get pictures of the former Port of Entry building. We got within twenty feet of the Canadian border.

Northgate, North Dakota

The former Northgate Port of Entry building.

Northgate, North Dakota

As mentioned by a site visitor in the comments section below, the building in the background of the photo above is the former Canadian Port of Entry building, on the Canadian side of the international border.

Northgate, North Dakota

The road to the right of the building shown above was gated when the former border crossing was closed.

Northgate, North Dakota

This is the view from inside the Port of Entry building.  The town outside is the original North Gate.

Northgate, North Dakota

The town in the background of the above photo is North Gate, on the site of the original town platted in 1910.  It is now in Canada.  It’s unclear whether anyone lives there, although we did not see any activity.

Northgate, North Dakota

To get quite specific, in the photo above, the asphalt road in the foreground is US territory.   The grassy ditch just beyond the road (where the railroad crossbuck is planted, just on the other side of a barely visible barb-wire fence) is the US-Canadian border.  The dirt road and homes at the rear are in Canada.

Northgate, North Dakota

A couple years later, we visited another impressive abandoned border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota.

Northgate, North Dakota

Terry ventured onto the road to take this photo, but we escaped without any customs and immigration entanglements.

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

These elevators are along the now closed highway which originally crossed the border.

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

There were a lot of places built in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century that were affected by changing policies at the international border. One of them, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Caribou, Minnesota, was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Northgate, North Dakota

We met a not-so-tactful Northgate resident who first asked if we were lost, and then informed us they didn’t like strangers poking around in their town. All in all, an eventful visit.

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

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

62 Responses to “Northgate, North Dakota”
  1. Tom Pence says:

    Our family went through this port about a million (it seems) times on the way to Lake Kenosee in Saskatchewan. The red brick port was always a welcome sight. Sorry to see it’s in such a sad state but if it were not, you wouldn’t have these pictures. Thanks.

    • That’s crazy, Tom. When I was just out of high school, my friends and I used to drive from Minot up to Kenosee too. –troy

    • Jim Pence says:

      I recall a gas station “in town” where we’d get gas a inside a cold bottle of pop. I think it was a red brick building back in the 60’s and seemed up and going at that time. I don’t see any picture like this. Anyone else know what I am talking about?

      • Tom Tveit says:

        There is a picture of that station above. It is below the private road pics (2 buildings together one is covered in brick paper and was the repair bay, the other was used as the store front. I remember that the owner coached the baseball team when I was in grade school (about 1960). We played against a team from North Northgate.

      • Janet says:

        Oh the best cafe in town…a little white building out along the hightway…Rawn’s had a gas pump at one time and they could serve up the best food ever. It was a real hub for everyone on the north side of the border and in the US. Hank and Leona were the owners and in the later years even supplied the Potash haulers with sandwiches and goodies while they unloaded the potash. We called it the truckstop and we loved going there.
        They had a house like building converted to cafe and a portion of the old wood framed custom building as their storage.

  2. jimmyboi2 says:

    Excellent site! Here are links to my two WordPress blog posts about my experiences in North Dakota last year:

    Feel free to pass these along to all and sundry, okay? I love the state and have had many good times there. My buddys family helped settle (or unsettle) Arena. Also Bluegrass, and another tiny spot near Arena.

  3. myrna says:

    Beautiful pictures, thanks for posting. Good reply for resident is, “I’m not a stranger, I’m a fellow North Dakotan.”

    • jimmyboi2 says:

      I like that ! Had a great time there– everyone was so friendly. I loved walking to Mass in downtown Bismarck from the hotel on the south edge of town.

  4. minneapolis says:

    Thanks for the pictures. I grew up a couple miles west of Northgate, and my parents still farm there. There is still 1 family that lives on the Canadian side of Northgate. And in the pic where you say “the house in the background is in Canada,” that building is actually the old Canadian Port of Entry building. The nice paved road that runs through the deserted townsite was built by a company that was importing Potash from a mine in Saskatchewan. They trucked it down to Northgate where it was loaded onto the railroad and shipped off to be processed into fertilizer. They stopped doing that several years ago. Love your web site, and thanks for all your hard work on this.

  5. jimmyboi2 says:

    Oh, I forgot that I had written another posting about North Dakota– this is about a trip to Minneapolis and Fargo that we made inSeptember 2000.

  6. bryce says:

    haha cool, ive gotten drunk in the north gate bar lol

  7. Koni Ritch says:

    My dad worked as the Immigration officer at this port for 4 years (’68 – ’72). We lived in a house to the left of the port of entry and the custom officer’s house was to the left of that. Great times growing up there – wonderful memories.

    • Kara says:

      I also lived in the government house to the left of the port. We lived there while my dad was stationed at Northgate Border Station from 78-80. Even though it was an out of the way place to live, there was always something to do. I had friends that lived two miles west, and also east of Northgate, and I rode my bike up to visit friends on the Canadian side too. Our dog would always get out and run up the road into Canada, and the Port of Entry guy on the Canadian side would always laugh and wave us through so we could retrieve our dog. It was a good two years we spent there. Just about the only downside is having to ride the bus to school in Bowbells.

      • Jillian Rainville says:

        I worked at the border port in 1989 as Customs and Immigration. Had a couple of pretty good guys to work along side of. Was lazy days of summer back then. All that came across was bar from the bar and these trucks that were empty and hauled something. Can’t remember the company but it was constant.

  8. diana dixon zepp says:

    I was out walking that morning and wondering what those vehicles were doing. I wished I would have come and talked to you . I live in the trailer there. I have lived in Northgate off and on all my life. Who is KOni Ritch cuz I do not recognize the name and I lived there then. There are four families on the north side and three on the south side. The bar is still in operation. Really enjoyed this site. thanks

    • frick betty says:

      Hi I enjoyed the pics as I graduated from high school in Northgate it was a thriving toun then our class was 2 boys and 2 girls and the whole class are still alive and well pretty good for graduating in43

      • Ken Leslie says:

        I was born in Northgate in1927, and lived there until 1945 when I joined the Navy. It was a wonderful place to grow up as a boy. The pictures brought back many memories. Hard to believe that a town that vibrant in the past is now a ghost town.

    • Lori says:

      Koni Ritch is Koni Grim, I do believe.

    • Karen says:

      Hi I am doing my family tree and I was wondering if anyone may have known about Patrick Walsh or James Walsh. Residing in the 1930s and 40s. Patrick was the father and James was his son who was in his 40’s according to the 1940 census. Patrick was 75 approx. Is there a cemetery there? Where are the town’s records now located?


  9. Hastings says:

    I was the best man at a wedding at the church in Northgate not that many years ago. I also remember my sister and brother-in-law crossing that border after it was closed and dragging a cone several miles under their Datsun. I too have gotten drunk at the bar in Northgate several times along with my father , uncles and cousins. .Lots of good times in the town of Northgate.

  10. Eugene Brumfield says:

    My grandparents, Jim and Maude Burke, lived in town during the 40’s and early 50’s, and had a farm southwest of town a few miles, where it eventually became their sons farm, Dwight and Evelyn Burke. I used to work on the farm. But most memorable as a kid when I’d visit grandma and grandpa Burke, I would go down to the store and buy a pack of Wings cigarettes, hahah. I did once anyhow. The store was right along the old entrance to Canada. I remember it well.. Good memories. I was back there in June, 08, and drove along the border east, looking at land I have mineral rights to for oil wells, but none then, wonder if any today.

    Eugene Brumfield
    Kennewick, WA

    • Brent Honcharenko, Rosemount, MN says:

      Jim & Maude Burke were my great-grandparents and Dwight (Dan) & Evelyn Burke were my grandparents. My mother’s name is Carol. I remember spending summer days in Northgate & Flaxton with my grandparents. My great-aunt & uncle, Leora & Hank Rawn, owned & operated the cafe & gas station in Northgate. My great-grandmother, Gertrude Jensen, lived nearby in Flaxton. I loved spending summer days at the Northgate cafe & gas station; some of my favorite childhood memeries!

    • Brent Honcharenko, Rosemount, MN says:

      Jim & Maude Burke are my great-grandparents. Dwight (Dan) & Evelyn Burke are my grandparents. My mother is Carol. I spent many childhood summer days with my grandparents in Northgate & Flaxton. My great-aunt & uncle, Leora & Hank Rawn, ran the cafe & gas station in Northgate and my great-grandmother, Gertrude Jensen, lived in Flaxton. So many great memories! I remember having hamburgers for lunch at the cafe and then if we helped do the dishes Aunt Leora would let us pick candy from behind the counter. What a treat! My older brother, Brian, still has one of the swivel stools from the cafe.

      • sue gannaway says:

        The cafe in Northgate was one of my favorite destinations to bike to in the summer. It was only a little over a mile in from my place. Your aunt and uncle always welcomed us kids coming into buy some penny candy or a pop! I remember the first time I drove past where the cafe stood and just saw the empty lot. It was so sad!

  11. Eldre Leslie Larsen says:

    It was so interesting to see the pictures and try to identify them. I was born and raised in Northgate, graduating in 1942. After 1 year of college I came back to Northgate to teach for 2 years, then my parents and I moved away. My father, George Leslie, owned the General Store. My uncle, Sidney Bennett and family, lived on the Canadian side in Northgate, Sask. Does anyone have current pictures of the old main street of Northgate? Thanks for all the comments.

  12. frick betty says:

    This is Lois (Mellom) Miller And I still live on my farm north of Northgate in Sask. And was glad to see Eldre wrote on this . I come doun to Minot every so often to visit my high school friends Betty and Richard Frick; Her and I still work at the Hostfest. Thanks for putting the pics. of Northgate we do enjoy them .

  13. sue gannaway says:

    Just discovered this site and the pictures of Northgate took me home! I grew up just west of Northgate. The old custom house was “new” when I was in high school. The land that it sits on was bought from my father Oliver Tveit. I actually made a quick trip to the farm and Northgate back in September of this year. You will find pictures posted at my flickr site:

    Nice to recognize some of the names posted in the comments section.

    • Tom Tveit says:

      The building in the pictures is the one that was replaced by the “new” one you talk about. During the time that we were in high school and college, this building was used as a home and office by the agent for IMC – the company that ran the potash loading faciliy.

    • Kristie Spooner says:

      Hey Sue, so nice to see your response. So long since I have been in touch. Recently heard from Nancy. Nice to get in touch with people you grew up with.

    • Brenda Barnett says:

      My grandmother lived in Northgate for several years. Her name is Florence Anderson. I recognize the name Tveit but not exactly sure who you are. I am Merlaine Barnett’s daughter Brenda. Do you know my grandma Anderson or my mom and dad, Merlaine & George Barnett? Loved seeing these photo’s, brought back so many memories….

      • Tom Tveit says:

        My Grandpa was Paul Tafelmyer. Your grandmother was his niece. I bought my first car from your uncle Wesley when he went into the Navy. I didn’t know your mother very well but did spend time with all of your uncles.

  14. Jimmy says:

    That white house with the arched porch: beautiful. It’s wonderful to see what care went into so many homes…

  15. Francis LaRoche says:

    I lived in NorthGate on the Canadian side in the late 50’s and early 60’s, went to school there, Mrs O. Black was our teacher ,she taught grades 1-7. My dad worked for the CNR railway and for a time we lived in the CNR bunkhouse which was near the steam engine water tower and the remains of the old NWMP detachment outpost.

    Francis LaRoche

  16. Bruce Needham says:

    I remember the fruit trucks that always came to the gas station in Northgate ND. Mom would always get peaches or apricots and make jam. I thank God everyday for the childhood I had and the experiences that helped make me who I am. Anyone remember Mouse River Park? And the rollerskating rink/barn?

  17. SKeptic says:

    Does anyone recall whether there was ever a gas station on the Canadian side?

    • Francis LaRoche says:

      Yes there was a gas station on the Canadian side in the 50’s and 60’s, the proprietor was
      Delbert Fredrick if I remember correct, this gas station sold a little bit of everthing from groceries to gasoline, I think we even got haircuts there for a while. I still have good memories of growing up in Northgate Sask, even though our family was pretty much dirt poor at the time.

      • Tom Tveit says:

        My favorite memory of that store is the GREAT English toffee they sold. A package cost a dime, so whenever we saved up that much, we would make the long trip there (1 mile) to buy one. I took my wife and young kids there in the early 80’s and bought some for them. I understand that the store closed shortly after that.

      • Pat Hill says:

        I remember your family. My dad was the CNR station agent for many years. Mrs Black was my teacher too.

  18. John Moss says:

    I lived in Northgate my father was an agent there on the U.S. side. We lived in the house with the truck parked in front. I miss the town I will go back and take some pics to show my kids were I grew up.

  19. Jill Maser says:

    I can not belive that the cafe is not there anymore. When we passed through my parents would stop and get a pop, and penny candy . Then we would get gas.

  20. We lived in Northgate from 1975-1978. My husband was the Immigration Agent there during that time. We loved our time there and the wonderful friends we made. Our youngest son was born in Kenmare and we figured that he made the 51st resident of Northgate! We ate at Hank and Leora’s cafe and bought our gas there. Our kids went to school in Bowbells. We haven’t been back in many years, but ocassionally still hear from dear friends. Sad to see the Port of Entry looking so abondoned. Suzanne Alotta

  21. Troublemaker says:

    The Canadian townsite has literally been taken over “lock, stock and barrell” by Corus Land Holding Corp. You won’t have heard a word about it in the public media; and beyond pure speculation; all that is known is that “a non Canadian entity has purchased more than 10 acres of Canadian farm land (actually “all” of section 6 Tsp1 Rge2 W2nd and the option to acquire up to another section) and the same entity has paid $30,000 to $50,000 for numerous individual lots within Northgate, SK”. The RM had literally a few hundred lots but they were disposed of Apr. 4/2012 to the same buyer without any public advertisement. My guess is that you better get your pictures; because the streets and lanes are all slated for closure; and Nothgate will soon only remain in your memories. There are facilities promised; but no one local will be a part of any of that development.
    The townsite was seen as an ongoing “liability of negative value”. It was however one of three north-south rail connections in Western Canada; and I have wagered was indeed really prime real estate which will be developed into potash, oil and grain transloading; inland terminals; possible refinery; oilseed crushing and processing facilities and maybe even a steel mill . I mean what can be done on two sections of land and 60 acres of property divided into individual lots on the 49th parallell. The BNSF rail goes right to the front door; and the CNR still owns the rail bed to the heart of the richest potash bed in the world only a hundred miles to the north west.
    Anyway, the fix was in; and the deal has been done. History will be updated further, later.

  22. that church was probably the Lutheran church there, I was confirmed there with the Bowbells class of maybe 1957

    • Tom Tveit says:

      I remember that this was not a Lutheran church, but either Methodist or Prespriterian. It was restored in the late 70’s or early 80’s by the local historic preservation society. It’s sad that there aren’t enough people left there to carry on the upkeep.

  23. Christine McMullan says:

    Does anyone remember a family by the name of LARSON with 9 children on the Canadian side? Said “children” have long ago moved away to other provinces. They played baseball against their American counterparts. I worked for one of the 9 “children” who ran a sailing magazine in Toronto, GAM on Yachint, for 50 years, and is now retired after selling the magazine.

  24. Allen Sunde says:

    Thanks for the pictures. My dad, Trygve Sunde, was a vacation relief U.S.Customs Officer between 1933 and 1936. One of the stations he served was Northgate. The red-brick Customs/Immigration House was great to see.

  25. ed says:

    I have kin that worked as an agent in the 60s 70s time frame

  26. Steven Blondo says:

    I’m trying to put together a history of Northgate – does anyone have anything to add? Please let me know.

    • U.S.B.P. Portal, ND says:

      Watch out for the international boundary! You will be contacted by phone in the morning. I trust you will be recieving an additional email or two as well. Feel free to call the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Portal or the R.C.M.P. IBET with any questions.

    • Kristie Spooner says:

      My great aunt used to be the postmistress there for several years. The post office was attached to the house.

  27. Ethan says:

    We still service the General Mills elevator in Northgate. They are building a huge oil loop on the Canadian side.

  28. Kristie Spooner says:

    I grew up south of Northgate about 5 miles. Was wonderful to take a tour back. Loved going to the café of Rawns. My husband managed the elevator there for a period of time, and would eat at the café every day for lunch. Lenora would always have something he liked made up for him. Remember when the fruit truck would stop?

  29. Michael Kummer says:

    I Michael Kummer and my late brother Jeff, lived in the old customs border house shown from 1973-1975. My step father Jack Edwards was the chief of the IMC operations at the time loading potash that was driven down from Canada and loaded onto BN rail cars at Northgate. It was the big operation in such a little town. Jack married my mother Darlene (Kummer) Edwards in 1973 and we join my mother that year and moved to Northgate from Minot. Spencer Edwards was born in 1974 and lived there until Jack’s death in 1986. Beverly Sosala, then ran the operation until the mid-90’s when it was then cheaper to transport the potash another way. It was my understanding that the old customs house is railroad property.

  30. Larry Tessmer says:

    My grandparents Nick and Elizabeth Schweyen were longtime residents of Northgate. As kids we spent many days there each summer staying with them. The gas station and small store talked about in these posts was owned and run by them until their retirement when they moved to Florida. My grandmother was the postmistress at that time. I still have an Uncle and Aunt who remain residents of the town. The gas station was moved to Lignite after my grandparents left. There were many interesting people that lived there at that time that I still have memories of. Thanks for the posts on this small town. L. T

    • Brian G Myers MD says:

      Hey Larry! I did a rotation with you and Dr Hughes in 1990-91, and Dad, Cal Myers, was a patient of yours. He died in 2012. I went to work with him in Northgate a couple times when he filled in a shift with the US Customs at the old Customs and Immigration house pictured. My grandma used to talk about going to see Satchel Paige play baseball there in Northgate.

  31. Carol Guler says:

    My husband and I were travelling North from Icelandic State Park, weren’t paying attention, just enjoying the rural drive when we accidentally crossed the border, realized what it was and got out pronto. Had a good laugh!

  32. Sharon fFreed Chrest says:

    i lived a mile south of Northgate until I started high school in Bowbells so went to the school there plus was confirmed with Virginia Knutson in the Luthern Church there. Maybe after Rev Petreson quit it was turned into another denomination. Had a good friend named Karen Burke that lived a few miles to the SE. Many trips up into Canada also as we had a cabin six miles from Kenosee. Many good times and friends there.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] We don’t really have an explanation for it, but we left with a jittery kind of uneasy feeling after visiting Noyes.  There is something very post-apocalypse about visiting abandoned government facilities like this.  It also reminded us of another border crossing we once visited — Northgate, North Dakota. […]

  2. […] We don’t really have an explanation for it, but we left with a jittery kind of uneasy feeling after visiting Noyes.  It’s not hard to imagine you’re living post-apocalypse when visiting abandoned government facilities like this. It also reminded us of another closed border crossing we once visited — Northgate, North Dakota. […]

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