Sharksville, Oregon, or a place to stay dry

Name: Sharksville, Oregon
Class: A8
46.179546, -123.906167 (approximate)

Directions: Located at what is now Astoria’s docks near Pier 3.


Sharksville was named after the USS Shark, one of many ships that sunk at the Columbia River Bar. Part of the wreck, with three cannons attached, floated down the coast and gave Cannon Beach it’s name.

Sharksville, Oregon

The United States Navy Schooner, USS Shark was dispatched to Honolulu Hawaii on April 1st 1846 for repairs and preparation to travel to the Coast of the Pacific Northwest. It’s mission was to map the mouth of the Columbia River, explore the Columbia River area further, show the American Flag to ascertain the attitudes of settlers along the Willamette River, and if necessary, provide arms to American Settlers in the area. She was ordered to return early September of that year.

Under command of Lt. Neil M. Howison, a promising young Naval Officer who had been given command of the already famous ship by his command officer. They arrived at the Columbia River on July 15th, 1846 and were able to successfully pass over the bar on July 18th, despite a minor grounding that seemed to have caused no damage.

She unexpectedly arrived six days later at Fort Vancouver, surprising the Hudson Bay Company who had not expected the visit, and the officers of the HMS Modeste which had been dispatched by the British just in case a war with the United States over the Oregon Country broke out. Along with the Modeste, the HBC had three vessels docked at Fort Vancouver.

Lt. Howison, no doubt in an effort to not spark a war during fragile peace talks, encouraged American Citizens in the area to await a peaceful resolution to the question of who the Oregon Country belonged too. This put him in the good graces of all involved, from settlers and local Newspapers, to the officers of the Hudson Bay Company and the Officers of the HMS Modeste.

He explored the area, met Provisional Governor George Abernethy, and spent a significant amount of time in the Willamette and Tualatin Valleys documenting agricultural, political, nautical and mercantile information. He sent his officers to gather information also, while much of the crew and the Shark stayed at Fort Vancouver.

During their visit, everyone seemed to be on cordial terms. The HMS Modeste helped unground the USS Shark when she found some shoals at the mouth of the Willamette River. The crews helped put out a fire at the Fort, and games were organized and participated in by all involved.

But not all was rosy, US Naval Regulations confined sailors to the ship. But the lure of good wages and land made at least four desert the ship. One of the earliest printed pamphlets in the Oregon Country was an advertisement of reward for their return.

The USS Shark left Fort Vancouver on August 23, 1846. Lt. Howison was apprehensive as though as another American Ship had hired the only pilot, a Native, a few days before. This ship, the Toulon, was found to be grounded itself just below Fort Vancouver. The USS Shark spent three days helping it get off the bar.

Finally, they arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River on September 8th. Despite his reservations, he attempted to cross the bar on September 10th. Almost immediately the tide forced the ship towards the breakers and the sand bars. Despite his best efforts the ship hit the bar and began to break up in the tide.

The first boat away was lost, along with the ships gold and it’s papers as the crew tried to abandon ship. Luckily all were saved due to ropes dangled overboard. They managed to wait out the tide and were able to successfully abandon ship the next morning, with no crew lost. They found shelter in a small shack that had been built by members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition forty years later, and firewood was gathered from the Sloop of War, USN Peacock that had wrecked there earlier.

Over the next several weeks, the crew built a larger house on Point George while Lt. Howison attempted to charter another ship. The two buildings were dubbed “Sharksville” by the crew. He and the crew also further explored the area and were furnished with supplies by the Hudson Bay Company. They also worked to scavenge anything they could from the wreck of the Shark.

Native Americans reported that a portion of the hull had grounded south of Tillamook Head. Howison sent Midshipman Simes to visit, but he found that two of the guns were inaccessible. He did manage to get the third one above the high water line but the weight was such that it was not worth dragging over the mountains between what is now Cannon Beach and Astoria.

Two more crew members deserted, but the Toulon returned in October. This time with news that the boundary question had been settled at the forty-ninth parallel. Lt. Howison was able to secure passage on a schooner owned by the Hudson Bay Company, the Cadboro, in November 1846.

In all, members of the crew spent ten months here before being rescued by another naval vessel.

Oregon History Quarterly Vol 109, No. 4

Cherryville Oregon

Name: Cherryville
Class: Unknown
GPS: 45.3670643, -122.1550842
Directions: From Sandy, Oregon, drive East on Highway 26 for six miles. East Cherryville Drive is on the left. The Post Office was at this corner. The rest of the town was likely spread out along Cherryville Drive.


Oregon Geographic Names says it was named after the Cherry trees in the area.

Ralph Friedman says in his book “In Search of Western Oregon” – ‘Cherryville, genteel vacancy of the past. There may have been a flurry of wild cherries here once but they went out with the burg. In 1915 population was all of 50 and town had PS, Church, Commercial Club. Oregon State Immigration Agent, laboring to bring folks here, noted: “Water supply from mountain streams, always cool and pure.” Water still Good.” He then says the Cemetery dates to 1888 but appears older.

Bear Flat, Oregon

Name: Bear Flat
Class: A6
GPS: 43.1054133, -121.3808492
Directions: From Klamath Falls, Oregon drive north on Highway 97 44.8 miles. Turn right on to Silver Lake Road. At 34 miles you’ll come to Bear Flat. The community was on the right hand side of the road.

I spent a while debating on including this location or not as it didn’t seem to ever be a real town. has seven separate locations named Bear Flats, none of which seemed to be a populated place. Oregon Geographic Names only lists the one in Wallowa County. And this is one of the two locations in Klamath County.

Bear Flat, Oregon

I’m including it here because it was inhabited of sorts, there was a general store that sold provisions to travelers on the way to Silver Lake. The building that the store was in has been moved to Collier Memorial State Park just north of Klamath Falls and restored. (rebuilt? I’m not really sure!)

Bear Flat, Oregon

“Built in 1908 for travelers going to the Silver Lake Settlement. Many a pound of dried apricots and prunes passed over the counter. The extension of the roof in the back was a shelter for hanging hides and storing firewood. Give a through to the pioneers of yesterday. Coming by foot, or horse to shop at the Bear Flat Store.”

If you know anything more about Bear Flats, please comment below.


Ghost town of Butteville Oregon (Butes, La Butte, Buteville, St. Alexcie)

Name: Butteville (Butes, La Butte, Buteville)
Class: E4
GPS: 45.261984, -122.841268
Directions: From I-5 south take the first exit after Willsonville (Boonesville) towards Champoeg. Butteville is about three miles before Campoeg State Park.

Champoeg is often credited as the first established town in what is now Oregon and one could be forgiven for thinking that because of it’s prominence in history as the birthplace of Oregon. Yet other communities were springing up along the Willamette River, among them the location that would become Butteville.

In his book, “Journal of Travels,” Joel Palmer writes of Butteville in 1845. [zotpressInText item=”TICBMGJX” format=”%num%”]

“Eight miles from Pudding River is a village called Butes. It was laid out by Messrs. Abernathy and Beers. There were but a few cabins in it when I left. The proprietor had erected a warehouse to store wheat they might purchase of the settlers, who should find it convenient to sell their crops at this point. At this place are some conical hills called Butes, which rise to considerable heights; the sides and tops of them are clothed with tall fir trees, which can be seen from the valley for sixty miles.”

George Abernety and Alanson Beers planned for a town that would compete with Champoeg and ship wheat and other produce to Hawaii and China. It wasn’t until 1850 when Francois Xavier Matthieu, built a store there that the town started growing. Matthieu was a well known carpenter, ex-Mountain Man, and ended up being the last of those who voted for Oregon Statehood at Champoeg to die. He was a well liked man in general having been elected as Constable. His store became a hub of commerce and the center of town.

On April 9th, 1850 a post office with the name of Champoeg was opened here. [zotpressInText item=”WNP8V6D6″ format=”%num%”] Matthieu was also the postmaster, meaning the post office was likely in his store. On September 9th, 1850 the name was changed to Buteville (with one T.) The spelling was fixed sometime in the 1860’s but there is no firm record of that.

While he didn’t establish the town, it’s thought that he likely platted it in 1851. This has led to him being erroneously credited Butteville’s founder. [zotpressInText item=”WMKUNXUD” format=”%num%”] That was the same year the first Steamboat docked at Butteville. This signaled further growth for the region and the town in particular.

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon

Another survey in November of 1859 by R.V. Short added land to the southwest corner of town. The revised plat map included all of Butteville under the name to St. Alexcie, but the name didn’t stick for very long.

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon

Unlike a lot of other river towns, Butteville survived the flood of 1861. The bell from Champoeg’s Episcopal church was found nearby and hung in the Butteville Episcopal Church. Ralph Friedman reports that the Butteville Community Church built a new church at this site in 1930 and inherited the bell.[zotpressInText item=”49FAU84G” format=”%num%”] But that church no longer exists either, so I do not know the current location of this bell.

The start of Butteville’s downfall came as early as 1871. The Oregon & California railroad bypassed the town, but took much of the shipping business with it. The town managed to stay around for many decades though. It wasn’t until 1905 that the post office was closed.

Today, there is very little left of the town. The 1911 Mansion facing the river still exists and is in good shape. The Butteville Store was donated to Oregon State Parks in 2001 and is now run by the Friends of Historic Champoeg. The towns original school and jail are now at the nearby Newell Pioneer Village next to the Champoeg State Heritage Area.

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon

Ghost town of Butteville Oregon


[zotpressInTextBib showimage=”yes” download=”yes”]