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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Tuberculosis, frequently referred to as “consumption” in historical documents, was arguably the most serious endemic disease and health concern of the 19th and early 20th centuries.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.
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.