Ghost Town of Maxville Oregon (Vincent)

Ghost Town of Maxville Oregon

Maxville was a small company lumber town in the Wallowa’s known for being multi-cultural town in days when Segregation was still the norm. Unlike many other multi-cultural towns such as the Columbia River like Clifton that had Japanese, Chinese, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian populations, Maxville had African Americans as a significant portion of the population.

Originally an lumber camp, the population grew big enough that a company town was founded as Vincent on December 14th, 1914. It was named for Vincent Palmer of the Palmer Lumber Company. Oregon Post Offices 1847-1985 says that the town was moved 6 miles South West from the “old” location at what would become Maxville. But, that would have had to happen after Maxville was founded.

The Vincent Post Office was closed (and never reopened at another location as far as I can tell,) on October 12, 1923. Which was the same day the Maxville Post Office was opened. The Post Office was named in honor of J.D. MacMillian. (Yeah, I don’t know the connection either.)

Sometime between after Vincent was founded and before Maxville was, the Bower-Hicks Lumber Company took over operation of the town.

In 1923 60 Black men and their families moved to Maxville to work for the lumber company. I currently don’t know much more history about the Black families and their day to day life, but the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in Joseph Oregon is dedicated to them. I plan on visiting it as soon as this next summer, and I’ll see if I can stop by the old town site too.

Maxville Post Office remained in business until March 31, 1933 when operation was moved to Promise. The town site of Maxville was completely dismantled in 1943.

Ghost town of Chitwood Oregon

Ghost town of Chitwood Oregon

Chitwood Oregon is a familiar name to many travelers due to the fact that it is the location of one of Oregon’s remaining covered bridges. Unfortunately for the discerning tourist, Highway 20 was recently built to bypass the town completely so the bridge isn’t as on display as it used to be.

The town was built as a stop on Yaquina Route of the Oregon Pacific Railroad that linked Yaquina City (now a ghost town itself by the standards of this site,) and Albany Oregon. Construction of the railroad took nearly four years, from 1881 to 1885. The station stop here was named after local settler Joshua Chitwood.

Due to Chitwood becoming a stop for the steam trains to take on wood and water, the population grew enough that a Post Office could be established. That was opened on July 12th, 1887 with James B. Chitwood as the Postmaster. A school was opened the same year. I am not able to locate where either building was located.

Sometime in the very late 1890s the Corvallis and Eastern Railroad ran a spur line from Chitwood up to a sandstone quarry ran by the Victor Sandstone Company. The sandstone was used for building material, and was likely shipped all across the Willamette Valley. Sandstone mining across the state seems to have been non-existent by 1897.

But for the brief time it was in production, the quarry brought still more people to the town. At it’s height the town supported a Dance Hall (said to be quite rowdy,) the Post Office, a train station, a telephone office housed in the Geo. T. Smith General Store, and directly across the Covered Bridge, the Pepin Grocery Store

The town’s main street, called R.R. Street ran parallel to the railroad. Today this road just leads directly to private residences all within the former town’s limits. It is still served by the covered bridge that was built in 1930. It connected the town to the recently built highway.

A second bridge was a mile west of town, so it likely was on Highway 20 at Trapp Creek Road. The third was an unnamed Railroad bridge, built by the Corvallis and Eastern Railroad, likely about 1/8 of a mile south of there, crossing the Yaquina River. This one was likely replaced with the more modern rail road bridge that is there now.

Unfortunately like so many of the ghost towns talked about here, the rise of the automobile, and technology that allowed highways to be built in straighter lines caused the death of Chitwood. The population had shrunk enough that the post office was closed in June 30th, 1945. Both stores closed down within the decade.

The Pepin Store saw a fire in the mid-1950’s after it had closed. Embers from that fire lit the bridge on fire too and it only saved by a bucket brigade. The Pepin Store was supposedly either burned down by the fire, or torn down in 1984. Since there are pictures of it below in 1961, we can assume that it was removed in 1984.

The Geo. T Smith Store was still standing until the late 1990s (or possibly early 2000s, there isn’t a firm date,) when it was torn down also. Interestingly the spots where both stores were are matching flat pieces of dirt where today many people park to take photos of the remaining covered bridge.

Taken by Ben Maxwell in 1955 we see the George Smith Store and Telephone Office in the foreground. The covered bridge, and behind both the Pepin Grocery Store.

Taken by Ben Maxwell in 1955 we see the George Smith Store and Telephone Office in the foreground. The covered bridge, and behind both the Pepin Grocery Store.

Two views of Archie Pepin’s Grocery store. Both are from 1961, after the fire. Photos were taken by Ben Maxwell from the Oregon Historic Photos Collection.

Archie Pepin's grocery store 1961

And then on the Highway 20 side of the bridge is the George T. Smith Store where the telephone office was located. An educated guess says the Post Office was likely also in this building.

George T. Smith Store was found at Chitwood on August 3, 1966

George T. Smith Store was found at Chitwood on August 3, 1966

Sensing the end, Ben Maxwell managed to take quite a few pictures around town on September 4th, 1961

George Smith home in Chitwood, Oregon, 1961-09-04

George Smith home in Chitwood, Oregon, 1961-09-04

Abandoned Garage - 1961

Abandoned Garage – 1961

I presume this was the Dance Hall - photo taken in 1961

I presume this was the Dance Hall – photo taken in 1961

storage building 1961

Labeled as a storage building by Maxwell, this looks like it might have been a modest home at one point. Taken in 1961

This cheeky sign was photographed by Maxwell in 1965.

And again in August of 1966

Chitwood Oregon Downtown - 1966

Chitwood Oregon Downtown on RR Street – 1966

Note that the garage looks to be in a tiny bit better shape 5 years later.

If you know anything about Chitwood, or have recollections of growing up here, please comment below. We’d also be interested in pictures of the train station, the school, the Dance Hall, and the quarry, and their locations if known.

Irving, Ghost town in Eugene Oregon

Irving, Ghost town in Eugene Oregon

Once it’s own town, it was one of several small communities in what was known as the River Road Neighborhood. Now part of the Santa Clara neighborhood in Eugene, the town lives on only in name.

Platted by the Oregon and California Railroad in 1870, on the donation land claim of Jame Peck, the town appears to have been home to early railroad workers. It was situated such that workers were isolated from Eugene. (Eugene’s Historic River Road, November 2005)

The plat ran south from lrvington Road along Peck Street, which is now Prairie Road. The area
between the five blocks of building lots and the rail lines was identified as “depot grounds”. An later undated “Plat of Irving” map shows an additional three blocks across Peck Street.

The Post Office established on January 24th, 1876 was misspelled “Irvine”. This mistake was corrected though, on October 17th of the same year.

The town was substantial enough that by March 1889 the Morning Register newspaper included “Irving Items” in its coverage of surrounding communities. Like many small town papers, this was mostly local news such as birthdays, residential comings and goings and bulletin type news.

Again, trusty Ralph Friedman captures a glimpse of early Irving in “In Search of Western Oregon”

“Irvington Rd. Turn L. 0.1 mile on R, Irving Christian Church, built 1853, moved here from site of Irving. (Ed, interestingly, from what I can tell another historic church building appears to have been moved to this exact same spot in 2013) Return to jct. Cross road 0.1 m, site of Irving. In 1915 in had pop. 100, stores, HS, PS, three churches, Grange. Now there is nothing to indicate existence of town.”

Unfortunately the town’s post office was closed on May 31, 1919.

Town or no, the area was good crop land. Originally wheat, it was diversified into fruit and vegetable production that was shipped out on the rail. The Allen Orchard Company and later Chambers Orchard Company both operated east of the depot decades.

Today, nothing exists of Irving from those days. As pointed out above a historic Church building looks to be on or very near the site of the first church, but it is a totally different building.

The Wikipedia Article for Irving brings up some interesting, and contradictory, additional information.

“Irving was a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Valley Line between Eugene and Junction City, first named “Halletts” when the line was built in 1872. J. L. Hallett had built the first 100 miles of the line and supervised the construction of the rest of the line to Roseburg. In 1876, the name of the station was changed to Irving, probably for William Irving, who was a settler in the area.”

“Irving Christian Church (now known as the Sonrise Christian Church) was moved from the Clear Lake area, two miles east of Fern Ridge Reservoir, in 1899.”

Note that the Southern Pacific took over the Oregon and California Railroad sometime between 1884 and 1887, over a decade after the original town plat was filed. Additionally, I can find no information or knowledge of “Hallett” outside of Lewis McArthur’s incredibly useful “Oregon Geographic Names.” Especially in any information about either railroad’s history.

If you know anything more about Irving or Hallett, please comment below!

Ghost Town of Airlie Oregon

Ghost Town of Airlie Oregon

Airlie was the southern-most station of the narrow gauge railroad owned by the Oregon Railway Company, LTD. It was named for the Earl of Airlie of Scotland, who was president of the company. The railroad reached Airlie in September 1881 but financial difficulties with the company kept it from expanding further.

An post office headed by Joseph A. Dalton was established here on September 5th, 1882. The first iteration of it lasted just under a year and a half. The office was closed on February 11th, 1884. A new location was found for it and it reopened on September 14th, 1885.

The Oregon Railway Company was acquired by Southern Pacific in 1890 and soon after the railroad was converted to standard gauge tracks. Small amounts of wheat and passengers were its main exports.

The 1908 version of Polk’s Oregon & Washington Gazetteer listed the businesses in Airlie. They were two general merchandise stores, a meat market, Hoffman & Jamieson’s Warehouse, and Norton, Wiley & Son, Hop growers. The 1915 version doesn’t even mention those businesses, merely a daily “stage” to Wren for 50 cents. Even the railroad station was slow enough that it was also the Wells, Fargo & Company’s express service and the Postal Telegraph office. The Station Master even ran all three.

By the 1900s even that traffic was so small that the railroad’s business consisted of a single gas powered self propelled rail car. It was a custom built car by the Independence & Monmouth Railroad who held the contract to provide service along the line. It made twice daily trips to Monmouth and Dalles. There is no mention if this is the “daily” stage mentioned in the Gazetteer though.

Airlie-Railroad-Station-1909

Mennonite Farmers moved to the area in 1913 and built a church in 1914. Ten years later it was closed. The Mennonites had moved on due to “poor soil conditions.” The railroad line was abandoned in 1927 and almost completely torn out by 1929.

In “In Search of Western Oregon“, Ralph Friedman writes of “Airlie, in land at ease with nature. Named for the Scottish Earl of Airlie, town was S terminus of narrow gauge line of Oregonian Railway Co., Ltd., of which Earl was president. Later, tracks acquired by SP RR but no rails now. In 1915 Airlie was a right lively burg, with HS and PS, Grange, several lodges, church, businesses, pop.100. All gone.”

Main Street in Airlie Oregon

Evangelical church in Airlie, Polk County, Oregon, 1941

Evangelical church in Airlie, Polk County, Oregon, 1941

Another view of J.F. Wienert's General Store in 1942

Another view of J.F. Wienert’s General Store in 1942

For those interested, the Cole Brother’s Circus apparently still exists as the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Circus

Camp Adair was established in 1941. From what I can tell, it looks like the main road through town was the western edge of the Camp’s land. This spared the nearby cemetery and the general store, but appears to have taken out all the buildings on the east side of the road. (An fate that nearby Tampico did not share) The Post Office was closed on June 15th, 1943 and never reopened. Even after the Camp was disbanded in 1946 and the farm land reclaimed.

Airlie General Store and Gas Station - 1963

Airlie General Store and Gas Station – 1963

The above picture in 1963 is the last evidence of the General Store and Gas Station. I believe it was located on the corner of Airlie Road Maxfield Creek Road, but there isn’t much visually to confirm that. If you know for sure, or know when it was torn down, please comment below.

Despite it’s history, Airlie is still a step above many other ghost towns here. The town name is remembered in two local businesses, the Airlie Winery and the Airlie Farm Bed and Breakfast.

If you know any more history about Airlie, or have recollections of living there. Please comment below!