The Haunted North Dakota Sanitarium

The San Haven Sanitarium is left abandoned with cases of paranormal activity

The San Haven Sanitarium, located in N.D., has been abandoned for years; however, some believe that those who died may still haunt the halls of the building. The Sanitarium first housed patients in Nov. 1912. Now only trespassers and ghost hunters travel onto its properties. 

The San Haven Sanitarium was originally created to treat and care for those with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can severely affect the lungs. At the time of discovery in 1882, tuberculosis had killed one out of every seven people living in the United States and Europe, according to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Starting in 1875, the U.S. started building sanitariums to move those suffering from tuberculosis out of their homes, preventing the spread of the disease to their families.

Tuberculosis patients in the 1900s, prior to the creation of the antibiotics, were treated with proper nutrition, fresh air and sunshine. In the San Haven Sanitarium, they would place the patients’ beds in front of windows to allow for their treatment. 

When the San Haven Sanitarium first opened in 1912 near Dunseith it only housed 12 patients but quickly grew to 140 that same year, according to Only in Your State. This location was chosen near Dunseith because of the higher altitude, less snowfall, drier atmosphere and favorable conditions for patients with tuberculosis, according to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. 

The building was solely used for tuberculosis patients up until 1957 when the building opened for the developmentally disabled, renaming the building the San Haven State School for the Feeble Minded. 

The building eventually closed down and patients were transferred to their individual community facilities. In 1989 the facility was abandoned by the state officials and shortly after the land and building were purchased by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa people.

According to the Travel Channel, “The building was constructed on Chippewa land, which some eyewitnesses believe could be the root of the property’s problems.” The building has since had the reputation of being haunted by former patients and others who died on the property. According to the Minot Daily News, “at least 1,000 people died at San Haven, with many buried on the property in unmarked graves.”

Those who enter the building have said that they have seen floating apparitions and have heard a baby cry on the property. Some who enter the building claim that they have been attacked by an unknown spirit and walk away from the building with injuries. 

According to the Travel Channel, “Back in 2001, a 17-year-old fell 40 feet down the elevator shaft to his death.” The site was also the location of a Ghost Adventure episode which aired in 2016. In the episode, the crew talks with others who have been affected on the site and explore the property themselves. They also recorded a spooky Electronic Voice Phenomenon on the property.  

Since the residents and state officials evacuated the facility, the abandoned building slowly deteriorated with time. From the beautiful facility that it was, vandals and lack of upkeep destroyed the property. Currently the building is in ruins with broken windows, peeling paint and fallen walls. 

The building contains controversy on the suspicious activity that now occupies the site. Some believe that mistreatment of patients occurred when the building was still open; although many former employees have come forward to denounce these theories. The property now marks one of the most haunted sites on N.D. land. According to the Travel Channel, the spirits are restless in this house of unimaginable pain and horror.

The building is on private property and is not open to public tourism or visitation; however, there are still those who dare trespass on the property to see the mysteries of the haunted San Haven Sanitarium themselves. 

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