Ghost Town of Clifton Oregon

Ghost Town of Clifton Oregon

The first known settler in Clifton Oregon was Henry Harrison Hunt, who came over the Oregon Trail in the 1843 Wagon Train. He built a sawmill in 1845, but was only in the area until 1851. It’s generally accepted that Stephen G. Spear named his farm Clifton after the cliffs in the area, but there is no records that I can find about what year that would be. It became the site of gillnetters, until a salmon cannery was built in 1873 by James W. and Vincent Cook. It’s possible that the Cook brothers bought Spear’s farm, opening up the second salmon cannery in Clatsop County.

There were enough citizens in the area for a Post Office to be opened January 6, 1874. It was ran by Vincent Cook.

The Astoria and South Coast Railway was built through the area in 1898 and rapidly became not only the main street, but the major communication route in and out of Clifton with four daily trains to Astoria. Before that citizens had to pack over a very rough trail, or by boat along the Columbia River.

Old Lewis and Clark Explorer railroad in Clifton

Jobs at the Cannery were split among racial lines. Italian, Yugoslavian and Greek immigrants fished the heavy salmon runs in the Columbia. Chinese immigrants worked in the cannery and lived in bunkhouses above the town.

Clifton Oregon

When the cannery closed in 1906, the Chinese moved on. But rest stayed and the city quietly split up among ethnic lines. Italians in the lower part, Greeks at the top, and the Yugoslavians occupied the middle part. Clifton continued as a logging supply town. Five local logging camps received supplies from here.

At it’s height, the town had two stores, one of which housed both the school and post office. It had two saloons, one of which had a skating rink and dance hall upstairs. The town never had a fire department, jail or city hall. The dance hall burned to the ground in 1921. Reports differ as to if it was rebuilt or not. Later a separate school house was built.

By 1930 the logging camps had all closed, having exhausted the old growth trees in the area. US Highway 30 came through the town in 1937. By 1950 the town was pretty much gone. One of the two stores and church closed. Houses were dismantled and used for lumber. The second store closed in the 1960′s and became the office of the town’s caretaker, who was employed by Bumble Bee.

Now days the town isn’t even on the main road any more and little remains of this once busy town. The the occasional freight train pulled through, and from 2002-2005 the Lewis and Clark Explorer Passenger Train through.

The train tracks now have a couple of landslides over them, and there is no plans to reopen it.

Clifton, Oregon

This the first house in town. Below is the other side of it.

Clifton Oregon

The next house is across the street from the remaining general store. I believe the building towards the back is the remains of one of the canneries. In person the pilings of another building can still be seen in the water.

Clifton Oregon

Above the town is what looks like a small farm in Google Earth. Unfortunately “No Trespassing” signs are all over the place so I didn’t want to investigate further.

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