A Haunting Abandoned Port of Entry in Noyes, Minnesota

A Haunting Abandoned Port of Entry in Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota is the most northwestern settlement in Minnesota.  It sits right on the Canadian border, and just across the Red River from Pembina, North Dakota, two miles west.  Although there are inhabited farmsteads in the area, there are very few residents (we only saw two inhabited places) in the actual town, largely due to the closure of the former Port of Entry station from Emerson, Manitoba.

In 2003, the Canadian government closed the Emerson Port of Entry.  Three years later, the United States closed the Noyes station, shuttering this border crossing for good and moving operations west to Pembina.  Near the end of its life, this station handled three trucks, three trains, fifty vehicles, and 154 passengers per day.

Noyes, Minnesota

We’d be willing to bet that despite this border station being abandoned, those cameras are still feeding video.

Noyes, Minnesota

At the time of our visit in 2013, the building was for sale. UPDATE: In August of 2014, an unknown bidder purchased the property in a government auction with a high bid of $52,113.

Noyes, Minnesota

Within sixty seconds of our arrival at the border, a US Border Patrol truck showed up and checked us out. We don’t really know if it was just a coincidence, or if they’re really that vigilant.

Noyes, Minnesota

Looking south from the Canadian point-of-view. The hazy sky cast a kind of weird light on the scene.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Whoever bought this got a sweet eight-stall garage.

Noyes, Minnesota

It’s not hard to imagine an episode of some science fiction show set in this place. An exhausted group of survivors stumbles upon this former port of entry, with burned-out cars stretching to the horizon. They wander between the lines of vehicles, forced to face the reality of families who were waiting here to cross the border when the final apocalypse came. In reality, this is the former Noyes, Minnesota border crossing, closed after a real-life apocalypse, 9/11, rendered the Port of Entry obsolete.

Noyes, Minnesota

This small stone obelisk marks the US/Canadian border.

Noyes, Minnesota

A locked gate blocks the road to Emerson and a closed Canadian port.

Noyes, Minnesota

Three steps through that gap and we would be illegally in Canada.

Noyes, Minnesota

Fargo resident James Sprague explained these ‘tracks’ in the road to us: These tar covered lines in the pavement are likely from inductance sensing loops. They detect the changes in magnetic field caused by a vehicle, person or anything with iron/steel content crossing over them. Most common applications are ground loops for traffic control signals and perimeter monitoring in security systems.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

This former roadside garden and flag pole is barely recognizable after only seven years of abandonment.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

In your mind’s eye, you can imagine the vehicles that once lined up on busy holiday weekends with their windows down and the radio playing, families heading to a favorite destination across the border… now only a memory.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

Back in the day, this probably would have been your last chance to get gas before entering Canada and paying by the liter.

Noyes, Minnesota

Noyes, Minnesota

The Noyes depot is still in operation under the command of the Pembina Port of Entry staff. Trains coming from Canada are processed here.

We don’t really have an explanation for it, but we left with a jittery kind of uneasy feeling after visiting Noyes. It also reminded us of another closed border crossing we once visited — Northgate, North Dakota.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2013 Sonic Tremor Media



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15 thoughts on “A Haunting Abandoned Port of Entry in Noyes, Minnesota

  1. I lived in Emerson, Manitoba. Noyes, MN while in the USA had a strong connection to Manitoba. Some of the children attended school in Emerson, played hockey and baseball there and some people and businesses even had phones that were on the Emerson exchange. Conversely, some people from Emerson had postal boxes in Noyes, often purchased groceries from the general store, or had a beer in the café/bar that was located a stone’s throw south of the border. Gasoline was also a bit cheaper and was available at the service station. Romance knew no boundaries and it was not unusual for cross border marriages. Border crossing was generally easy for locals. Of course a street ran right into Emerson from Noyes, although illegal many people slipped back and forth with out any interference. During recent times during flooding Noyes actually became part of Manitoba. By a special treaty between Canada and the USA ,the southern dike that protected Emerson was built to include Noyes, MN. When the dike is closed off Noyes is cut off from the USA. Recent events however have necessitated stricter border regulations. Interestingly the old Canadian Customs building has been renovated and is now leased by the USDA as an inspection facility for cattle entering the USA.
    Oh the times have changed.
    Yes there are many stores in the these old ghost towns. Noyes has many more, especially from the days of prohibition. Alas that is a whole ‘nother story.

  2. I started working for one of two custom house brokers that were in Noyes, Minnesota back in 1970. In the summer of 1971 Norman G. Jensen, Inc. bought the other firm and we moved into their bigger building up closer to the Customs building shown in these pictures. In the last year, that property has been sold back to the original family that owned that business that was purchased back then. Now, 43 years later, Norman G. Jensen, Inc. has been purchased by another large firm, Livingston International Inc. and my life in the brokerage world will turn into a wonderful retirement. Many drives up and down that road from Pembina to Noyes, Minnesota in the 18 + years we were located there. Fond memories!

  3. That’s my hometown, I grew up there, my father worked at he depot for the BN/BNSF for 34 years. I remember the store building with the broken awnings being a grocery store, then later a duty free shop. The small building just beside that was a gas station when I was very young. I worked as an intern in the now closed customs building. My grandfather was a Customs officer and worked in that same building for many years before I was born. There are many stories and memories I could share, but there’s way too much for a post right now. I hadn’t been to Noyes for nearly 10 years but made a visit this fall, it’s changed a lot, it seemed like what was remaining of the town was sad, quiet and patiently waiting for the people to return.

  4. I remember the old days with the duty free shop and the gas station had like treats for us kids and soda. Man I sure do miss it. I am originally from St . Vincent now I live in TRF. My uncle Ronney Cleem is caretaker of Noyes government buildings.

  5. My mom grew up in noyes and then later to st. Vincent. While in noyes, her dad worked for the railroad and my mom lived in two different boxcars that were right off of the tracks. My grama, betty anderson, worked at the cafe there, which is where she met and married my granpa, post world war two. They lived in a space above the cafe before moving into the boxcar.

  6. I just happened to key in Noyes MN and was very surprised to find all of this info! The wife and I retired and moved to Indianapolis, IN, four years ago. I am building a model train layout and recently purchased a used plastic building that immediately reminded me of the old general store in Noyes; I have spent hours researching old family photos and slides of that building with the intent of modeling both the store and gas station next door into my layout. My father lived with his uncle and aunt and their five children and worked in the store and gas station. Karl and Aagot Rustad owned both businesses through the 1930’s, 40’s, until 1956 when Mrs Rustad and her son Oliver sold out and retired in California. She was the postmaster for the Noyes post office (located in the back corner of that store) for many years, and the family had living quarters in the back of that two-story building. Dad was clerking one day in about 1934 when two young girls came in and struck up a conversation; they were residents of Emerson and that began a courtship that led to the marriage of Lloyd Hodges and Esther Hoffman, my wonderful parents on Nov 18, 1937. They were married in Hallock and the wedding dinner was at the Hoffman home in Emerson. Mrs. Rustad also served for years as a maitron for the U.S. Customs and would often be called up to help meet the needs of people that would have to spend the night at the customs building. So my siblings and I have fond memories of visiting and passing through that area annually. We also have great-grandparents buried in cemeteries in Humbolt, MN, as well as Emerson, Manitoba. Thanks again for the great pictures and write up about the north end of Highway 75! Would be great to hear from others that have an interest in the Noyes area!

    1. My wife and I moved to Noyes in August 1971 when I accepted a teaching position in Humboldt. We lived one house down from the Port of Entry building. I started my 31 year government career as a temporary Customs Inspector, assigned to the Pembina Customs office. I worked inspections at Noyes and Pembina for six months before transferring to Detroit. There were seven families in Noyes, along with the store/post office. Since I taught all the high school math and some of the high school science classes, many of the young people who attended school during the 1971-1972 school year attended my classes. The graduating class at Humboldt that year was either 4 or six students.
      While I was an inspector, some winter days we would only have 10-12 cars a day come through Noyes. The main highway from Winnipeg to Grand Forks went through Pembina, I am not surprised the port is now closed.
      We had to go to Hallock or Grand Forks for and real shopping.

      Thanks for the memories.

    2. I started working out of thief river falls Minnesota when I transfered there September of 2014. We used to run to Noyes and swap trains with a Canadian crew out of Winnipeg. Long story short. Thief river crews run to Winnipeg and all the high seniority goes south. I always though it was a charming ghost town.

  7. My wife and kids and I Passed through the entry every Memorial Day on our way to Whiteshell Provincial park East of Winnipeg. I remember being stopped on the Canadian side on one of our trips back to the states. The inspector asked if he could look inside the camper we were pulling. Even though we had nothing illegal in the camper I was very nervous. After going through our camper the inspector, who must have known I looked nervous, said everything was alright. He said the reason he wanted to look inside was he and his wife were going to get a camper and wanted to know what ours looked like inside. With that he thanked us and wished us safe travels. One of many fond memories about Noyes crossing.

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