Abandoned, lifeless and creepy- these 3 words more than perfectly sum up the ghost towns of the state of Oregon, USA. From discarded old mining towns to abandoned logging regions, Oregon has it all. Although there are over 300 documented abandoned towns in Oregon, here’s a look at 14 of the most spectral ones.
A few obliterated gravestones in an unkempt cemetery are all that remains in the barren city of Auburn which once had a thriving economy with a population of over 6000.
In 1861, a prospector named John Adams walked into an indistinct location in Wasco County looking for gold. Soon, one of the members in Adams’ mining party, Henry Griffin, unearthed a gold reserve in a spot (known as Griffin Creek) that attracted a host of settlers to the place.
With the gold reserves getting depleted at a fast pace because of the large number of miners aiming at it, the settlers gradually left the town, making it deserted as declared by the Salem Statesman in 1864.
The seed for Shaniko, originally called Cross Hollows, was planted when the first European Americans poured into this region after gold got uncovered in Canyon City. Gradually being converted to the “Wool Capital of the World”, after the first three sales of wool brought in a record profit, this city become immensely populous, and a trading centre for cattle, sheep, wheat and wool.
However, its importance decreased when in 1911, the Oregon–Washington Railroad and Navigation Company started using an alternate line linking Bend and Portland, which was more direct and less time consuming.
The Columbia Southern line was closed down permanently in 1966. By 1982, Shaniko had turned into a ghost town, recording a population of a meagre 37 as per the 2014 consensus.
The town got its name from its history of the numerous antelope grazing on the valley that it had settled upon. As it continued to function as a resting stop for prairie wagons transporting goods and passengers, the population increased rapidly, making it a hub for cattlemen. Its importance increased further with the opening of a post office in August 1871.
However, the entire town was destroyed by a fire in 1898 wherein merely one building on the main street survived. Although the town was restored soon, it began to fade away alarmingly fast after the neighboring town Shaniko became the terminus of the Columbia Southern Railway. Even today, it continues to be one of the best ghost towns of Oregon in terms of spookiness.
Bridal Veil of Multnomah County was founded in 1886 as a boom town for timber logging when a logging company began to harvest timber on the Larch Mountain nearby and built a corresponding sawmill. The timber reserves began to run out by 1936, during which a fire destroyed the mill. The Bridal Veils Lumbering Company then ceased its operations and gave up ownership. A year later the whole town was taken over by a company named Bridal Veil Lumber and Box , making wooden cheese boxes, which too closed in 1960.
Another reason for the population decline was the epidemics of small pox and diphtheria that afflicted many. The local cemetery had its last burial in 1934. Presently, President of the Bridal Veil Historical Preservation Society Geri Canzler, her husband Rod and a few volunteers acquired the exclusive right to maintain the cemetery. Post the demolition of the Bridal Veil Community Church in 2011, all that still stands in the town is the US Oregon Post Office and the cemetery.
Twenty years of four devastating forest fires between 1933 and 1951 ruined the wilderness in Idiotville, besides destroying lumber worth almost half a billion dollars. After the fires, recovery camps like Ryan’s camp were set up in a few locations, but reaching the sites were time taking. Despite all the toil and trouble, the attempts at recovery were futile. Since the very project wherein the cons weighed more than the pros bordered on idiocy, the town soon came to be popularly known as Idiotville. The town with the amusingly graphic name now lies deserted with absolutely no traces of prior inhabitation.
The history of this town is as peculiar as the way it attained its name. Two young amateur prospectors known as the Greenhorns had strolled into a camp in the Blue Mountains looking for gold. Legend has it that when they accidentally stumbled upon a chunk of rock that was way more valuable than gold, the town soon began going by the name of Greenhorn. After this discovery, the little camp began to grow into a well- functioning town. By 1895, the population had reached over 3000 people. However, the mineral reserves started to run out soon. It became harder and harder to break- even and within a short time, the city of Greenhorn turned into a ghost town without a single soul in sight.
Golden, Josephine County is a long abandoned town in Coyote Creek that was once a gold mining spot. Although the goods store, the Church, the carriage house and a few houses are all that’s left behind, Golden Heritage District has now been declared as a State Heritage site in the National Register of Historic places.
Named after the Donner und Blitzen River, the now- abandoned ghost town of Blitzen acquired its first post office in 1915 which served as a rural delivery site till February 1943 until it closed down.
Although there are a few run-down buildings still standing in the ghost town, there seems to be no trace of this morbid town ever being inhabited.
The town of Boston, which moved west and relocated to become Shedd, is currently an unincorporated community. Since the railroad was built in Shedd instead of Boston, the post- office and the buildings in Boston moved to Shedd to be near the railroad after 1871.
The National Register of Historic Places has listed the Boston Flour Mill and Oregon’s oldest operating water-powered mill at the site that was earlier known as Boston Mills. It is one of the only two gristmills that are still running. As per the last census, the total population of Shedd, Oregon was 204.
Sumpter happened to be a gold-mining boom town in 1899. After the construction of the Sumpter Valley Railway line, the city expanded further towards a collection of deep-shaft gold mines. The population grew considerably as ranchers, miners, timber companies, and breweries settled in for business. However, the gold reserves began to get depleted. Soon after, a raging fire broke out in 1917. Dynamite was used to tame the fire, which in turn annihilated about a dozen blocks of the towns.
As of now, only a few establishments remain which is used as retail shops.
This teensy ghost town once housed the largest apple orchard in the country. Established in the 1870s, it acquired its name after Andrew J. Dufur and Enoch Burnham Dufur, the local land-owning brothers.
As per the 2013 population consensus, only 604 people reside in this little community. A hotel, a log cabin, a school and a museum are a few of the most noticeable structures which still remain of t he town.
Also known as Buncombe, this puny southern Oregon town is regarded as a ghost town by the Buncom Historical Society. Originally a mining town, the Chinese miners were the first settlers after the discovery of gold in the neighboring Jacksonville and Sterling Creek regions. The town also drew in a substantial number of farmers and ranchers looking to trade from here. Several facilities like a general store, saloon and post office was built.
However, by 1918, all the gold in the area was exhausted with the town being abandoned by 1920. Soon, the buildings fell prey to wear and tear, many of which were later burned down.
Today, only three buildings of this tiny town remain – the cookhouse, the post-office and the bunkhouse and are preserved by its respective historical society.
Owing to the railroad facility in Shaniko which enabled the shipping of wool, the town of Ashwood became dependent upon sheep ranching for their livelihood in 1900. Then by 1920, it turned into a center for gold and silver mining. However, as the treasure chest began to run out, the locals were forced to return to agriculture and threshing to sustain themselves. Still underdeveloped and mostly unkempt, there is very little that is remembered or revered in this town, whose population census is not conducted formally.
Divide, a historic town and a spot loved by hiking enthusiasts, acquired its name from the fact that it demarcates the boundary of the Willamette and Umpqua river in the north and south as well as the Coast Fork Willamette river and Pass Creek in the east and west.
This town is completely off the radar with no population census conducted formally for it.
The 14 listed ghost towns in Oregon are enough to tickle your tastes for the ghoulish. Many of these towns serve as great heritage sites with an engrossing history that are bound to attract those that love to explore long- forgotten towns haunted by ghosts of the centuries past.
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