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.
We’d be willing to bet that despite this border station being abandoned, those cameras are still feeding video.
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.
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.
Looking south from the Canadian point-of-view. The hazy sky cast a kind of weird light on the scene.
Whoever bought this got a sweet eight-stall garage.
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.
This small stone obelisk marks the US/Canadian border.
A locked gate blocks the road to Emerson and a closed Canadian port.
Three steps through that gap and we would be illegally in Canada.
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.
This former roadside garden and flag pole is barely recognizable after only seven years of abandonment.
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.
Back in the day, this probably would have been your last chance to get gas before entering Canada and paying by the liter.
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