Bonanzaville is a historic attraction of the Cass County Historical Society in West Fargo, North Dakota. The 12-acre site is home to over 40 historical buildings and over 400,000 artifacts that interpret the history and heritage of the Red River Valley. Bonanzaville refers to the large ‘Bonanza’ farms that existed in the Red River Valley in the late 19th century.
The large farms harvested mostly wheat, conducting large-scale operations made possible by recent developments in farming machinery. The Historical Society has been collecting buildings and moving them to the grounds of the Red River Valley fair since the 1960’s. In addition, museums at the site include the Eagles Air Museum, the Eugene Dahl Car Museum, the Law Enforcement Museum and Telephone Museum. Additional exhibits in the Pioneer Village are housed in the Melroe Tractor Building, Moum Agricultural Building, Horse Drawn Vehicle Building and Medical Display Building. The Cass County Museum features an overview of the history of North Dakota, including exhibits on Native Americans, bonanza farming and homesteading, and the industrialization of North Dakota.
The Pioneer Village is open from May through October. The collection of buildings dates back to the 1800’s when North Dakota was first organized as a territory. Among the oldest buildings is the Transgrud House, built in 1860. The Habberstad Cabin was built in 1897 and originally located along the shores of the Sheyenne River in Kindred. The Arthur Town Hall was originally built in 1890 and includes stained glass windows from North Dakota State University’s Little Theater Company. The Brass Rail Saloon and Hotel from Page is furnished just as it was 100 years ago, absent of indoor plumbing. The Cass-Clay Creamery is a replica of a 1920’s small town creamery with furnishings from an actual creamery in Kenmare. A harness shop from Addison demonstrates horseshoe, saddle and harness repair. A blacksmith shop from Tower City is outfitted with its original hammer and forge, among other historical tools. The Dobrinz School was built in the late 1800’s and served as a school in Mapleton Township for close to 100 years before being moved to the property. A total of 43 buildings make up the collection at Pioneer Village.
History: The Cass County Historical Society was formed in 1954, and became an official non-profit organization less than one year later in 1955. The organization’s first museum was based on a core collection donated by North Dakota’s Pioneer Daughters. The collection remained at North Dakota State University until 1972 when the Historical Society was finally able to build a museum building on their own, thanks to land donated by the Red River Valley Fair. Bonanzaville is currently run by the Cass County Historical Society and is funded through a combination of donations, admissions fees, and rental fees for weddings and private events.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Facilities at the Pioneer Village are available to be rented for weddings, conferences and special events. Special events open to the public include December’s Christmas production, Christmas on the Prairie, and accompanying dinner. Paranormal Investigations and Ghost Tours take place each weekend throughout October. Pioneer Days is an annual event that takes place each August. Pioneer Days is the longest running, and largest, event in the Fargo area. Pioneer Days offer live demonstrations of blacksmithing, printing, and other crafts. Family-friendly activities include hay-stack coin hunts, face-painting, games and a tractor-pull. Several booths offer pioneer-era food such as biscuits and gravy. Other summer events include an old fashioned 4th of July celebration and the Fiber Arts Festival held each July. Talks on the history of North Dakota and the region take place throughout the year.
Educational programming includes school group tours, with formats specifically designed to suit the state of North Dakota’s curriculum guidelines. Fall History Day takes place each October and is a day-long event of interactive programming suited for children ages 6-18. Group tours are also available for adults and may be targeted towards a specific area of interest.
Past and Future Exhibits: The Cass County Museum is open year round and offers rotating exhibits. Past exhibits have included an exhibit on the Nazi book burnings in partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. An exhibit on the history of Jewish settlement in North Dakota, was mounted in partnership with several local Jewish Centers. “North Dakota 125 Years: An Anniversary Exhibit” opened with a keynote speech by Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley.
1351 W. Main Ave, West Fargo, ND 58078, Phone: 701-282-2822