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Category: San Haven, ND

Rolette County
Abandoned in 1987

San Haven Sanatorium in the 1930s

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Tuberculosis, frequently referred to as “consumption” in historical documents, was arguably the most serious endemic disease and health concern of the 19th and early 20th centuries.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 era. The photos were taken by her aunt, Nora Thingvold, in the 1930s.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Inside San Haven Sanatorium, part two

Inside San Haven Sanatorium, part two

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.

We never wandered the halls unless we told the nurses where we were going so I did not associate with too many more of the residents. We knew there were men on the other hallway because we were never allowed on that end. We had to tell them when we wanted to go to the bathroom because we shared the bathroom with all the ladies on end of the hall. As I told you before, no shower, just a bathtub, two stools and two sinks. Sometimes when I went to the bathroom I would see blood in the sinks.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Inside San Haven Sanatorium

Inside San Haven Sanatorium

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 that sometimes it’s a change in our culture which leads to abandonment.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
San Haven Postcard 1940

San Haven Postcard 1940

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.  It reads:

Dear Mabel,

How are you all?  Seems like I’ve been gone a month.  We’ve seen so many people we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years.  Hilda is so much better.  Doesn’t look as though she had gone through an operation.  I’ll be home soon.  Olga

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Haunting and Abandoned San Haven Sanatorium

Haunting and Abandoned San Haven Sanatorium

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. One can scarcely imagine the suffering that took place here.

San Haven Sanatorium

Years later, San Haven would become a home for the developmentally disabled,

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
San Haven Sanatorium

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.

San Haven Sanatorium

The San Haven facility closed in 1989.  More reading on the facility can be found here and here.

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven is now closed to visitors. A trespasser died a few years ago when he fell down an elevator shaft.  As noted by site visitor Mariah Masilko, the WPA Guide to 1930’s North Dakota indicates it was officially dubbed a “Sanatorium” as versus “Sanitarium”.

San Haven Sanatorium

These photos contributed by Emma Katka in 2011.

San Haven Sanatorium

See San Haven Sanatorium as it appeared in 2012.

San Haven Sanatorium

See San Haven as it appeared in the 1930’s, during the tuberculosis era.

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven Sanatorium

San Haven Sanatorium

Photos by Emmak Katka, original content copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.