Ghost Town of Galena Oregon

Ghost Town of Galena Oregon

You have to go out of your way to get to Galena. It’s not on any of the main roads, but it is one gorgeous drive.

Galena Oregon

This is the first “old” building you see coming in to Galena from the south side.

Galena Oregon

An old house there in Galena. Didn’t get a better picture as the owner was coming around the front with a broom in her hand and an angry look on her face.

Galena Oregon Building

On the same road is a ton of old homesteads and farms.

Galena Farm #2

Galena, Oregon

Galena Farm

Galena Farm

These are only a few of the abandoned farms along the road. After a while it got to the point of “why bother to stop.” There seriously are that many!

12 Responses to “Ghost Town of Galena Oregon

  • The second to the top photo of the house with a little blue shed to the right was last owned by Cody and Marnie McConnel. They inhabited the dwelling roughly between 1955 – 1970 (If someone knows more precisely, please post). The building was an old stage coach stop years earlier. Cody and Marnie moved into it so Marnie would be more central to be able to drive children out their in “Far Country” to school every day. The McConnels built a new house on down the road a few hundred yards. Both have now died so I don’t know who inherited their property. Cody and Marnie had two children: Terry & Marnie Jo. Terry was my age (born 1946); Marnie Jo a couple years younger. The best memories of my living in Bates was going down to Terry’s and spend at least a night with him. Most memorable were the times he fired up his dad’s WW 2 Willie’s Jeep and we would head up into mountains and scout for wild game. Elk was the most desired to scout for. Back in the late 1950’s mule deer were so plentiful that it was nothing to see hundreds of them on a trek. Now you’re lucky to see half a dozen. Terry was the “official” Major of Galena; Sherriff; Treasurer; You Name It. I was the only one in our life time who ever voted, and I voted for Terry to fill all those positions.

    (I don’t know how much space this will give me so I’m going to make this a Part 1 and try a Part 2 on another post).

    • We bought the McConells “new” house from the grandchildren. We have heard so many good stories about Marnie!

  • Galena – Part 2:

    While visiting with Terry, his mother Marnie often spoiled me rotten by cooking Chicken Fried Steak for dinner. The meat she used was often elk, though sometimes venison. Marnie in my book was one of the BEST cooks in all of Oregon, and I declare she made the very BEST Chicken Friend Steak I’ve ever eaten – period! I loved being around Terry’s dad – Cody. He had the coolest sense of humor. I loved it when he would ride with us in the Willie’s Jeep … out scouting in the mountains and canyons for anything live we could see. He was always trying to get me to laugh one way or another, and what always amazed me is that he usually kept a dead sober face while I busted a gut laughing. I don’t remember of Cody not chewing gum either. Cody knew the old mining/lumbering history of that area going back into the 1800’s. Cody hurt his back severely falling timber working for the Bates Sawmill years earlier, so he lived in pain all his waking moments until he passed. Riding in the old Willie’s Jeep was extremely hard on his back so he didn’t ride with Terry and I all that often. Terry was born a hemophiliac (severe internal bleeder) which was a very serious affliction. He loved playing sports and roughing it like the rest of us kids, but he didn’t dare risk getting hit very hard or it could kill him. Because he didn’t have a chance to excel in sports, he decide to excel in being a marksman. Terry could handle shooting a .243 caliber rifle without fear of bruising his shoulder (light recoil), and to this day I have never seen a better shot than what Terry was with that .243.

    (Go to Part 3)

  • Part 3:

    While riding the desolate roads in the Grant County high country in the Willie’s Jeep, our primary wild game to spot was coyotes. There were a lot of them in those days, so there was no problem shooting them. I don’t remember the name of Terry’s pet dog now (most incredible dog I’ve ever known!), but his dog would ride in the back of the jeep with it’s front paws on the cab — elevating his head above the cab to see ahead in any direction he wanted. His dog had eyes like those of an eagle. He could spot coyotes so far away — and when he spotted one, he would bark. When he barked, you had to try to figure out where he had spotted it; it would sometimes be so far away. But he always pointed his eyes in the direction of the coyote, so that helped us greatly. I witnessed Terry shooting coyotes nearly a mile away. All he had was a 4X scope on his rife and the Jeep to rest his rife on. Though I shouldn’t be sharing this publicly, Terry shot more HUGE bull elk and Bucks with that .243 than most hunters have harvested with their much larger caliber rifles. Terry always took either a head shot or a neck shot with that .243 … or he wouldn’t pull the trigger.

    (Go to Part 4)

  • Part 4:

    Terry took head and neck shots at big elk and big muleys at 300 – 500 yard distances with his .243 and rarely missed. I brag Terry up because he never bragged himself up. That was the wonderful person he was.

    Terry spent so many years of his life in the hospital getting blood transfusions because of his bleeding disease. It was never easy for Terry. The few times I’ve been able to fly out from Michigan to visit Grant County, it’s hard for me to drive through the little ghost town of Galena because of Terry’s absence. Nothing remains the same does it … except wrinkles becoming more pronounced and the memory keeps getting worse … which is mainly why I’m recording what I’ve recorded here. Tomorrow might be too late.

    • Hello Norm! Thanks for stopping by and telling your story. Terry seems like an incredible guy!

  • What a great story about Galena. Loved reading about it. Our family has property on the middle fork so my heart lies in this county.

  • Your story is incredible, I could read this all day long. I have lived in Oregon for 60 years

  • My grandfather, Louis Mckinney, and his 9 siblings grew up here. He spent the rest of his life in Baker City. It seems like my mom may have driven my grandfather and I out here 35 years ago to see the area. That whole side if my family has passed away now. Wish I knew more about their time in Galena.

    • My father, Walter McKinney, was born in Galena. He was the brother to Louis McKinney. My Grandparents, James and Samatha McKinney lived here. He was one of 11 siblings, all have passed away. Louis was my uncle. He had a daughter by the name of Ferrell.

  • Wow!! That was an incredible story and my husband, Mike & I really enjoyed reading it. My grandmother, Myrtle Kimberling bought the old home across the street from Cody & Marnie many years ago. Probably 50 or 60 years ago. To our knowledge It used to be a store, gas station and stage coach. My grandmother loved the property but never did have a way to ever go there. She was able to go just one time and spend the night in a camper. The buildings started to wither & she ended up giving the property to my parents, Ted and Charlotte Stratton, who took great care to try to maintain the weathered structures. We now own the property and my husband has taken on the tremendous job of trying to restore the buildings. We never new Terry, although he sounds like he was quite a guy!! We did visit Marnie the last couple years she was alive and would take her crab and the makings of a crab salad, which she really enjoyed. Her friendly dog with two different colored eyes would come visit us across the street while we camped there. They always had a dog. You’ll be happy to know that a ball park-field in John Day was named after Terry!! He really must have been loved! As I write this, my husband is all packed and ready to leave to go back to Galena with a load full of lumber to continue his task of renewing the buildings on our property across the street from Cody & Marnie’s. When she passed away their house was passed on to their grandson, I believe, and since then it has been sold. I hope you find your way back to Galena. You will be pleasantly surprised to see people love it as much as you and have found that precious hidden jewel of a town and although most can’t live there, come back often. If you ever do come back and you see us working on the property across the street from Cody and Marnie’s, please come and say hello and share more of your stories. Mike and Susan Miller

  • Can’t sleep from lower back pain (had a four-level lumbar fusion cage surgery early summer, and still healing from it), so on the computer surfing. I truly appreciate all those who are posting here. GREAT READS! KEEP POSTING! About 10 years back now (late 2016), I had a chance to stop by for a few hours and visit Marnie. Took her a pie from Chester’s in John Day. Grabbed some flowers and blessed her with those as well. Her eyes lit up. I can still see her appreciative smile. I ALWAYS loved to get Marnie to talk about her life. She was second to none in sharing her “True Life Eastern Oregon Experiences.” She would share them with serious calmness — yet there was always a quirky like smile that accompanied them while she spoke. Her eyes lit up telling stories. My kind of lady! You had to be locked in on her lips and eyes to catch that “alluring – humor in this experience I’m sharing with you, so lock in your humor radar, Norm.” When her “one of a kind” fried chicken dinner for me (Seasoned with top-secret Galena seasoning that chefs around the world would pay millions for!) was served and we polished it off with Hallmark Card commercial’s heart-warming McConnel coffee and Chester’s pie … I was able to get her talking about her memories of people she had encountered during the winter storms that would descend on that region of the world usually after New Years. After hearing story after story of people being stranded (often freaked right out of their minds due to the remoteness of the area!) … she shared of hearing that customary knock on her door during the wee hours of the morning: “Can you please help me!!!!!!?”

    Marnie referred to them as “City Slickers”. Anyone NOT from Grant County and west of the Cascade Mountain Range was a “City Slicker” to her pretty much. Know doubt in her mind … “City Slickers” were to be pitied. “Too Busy! Too rushed-rushed!”, she would say. “Don’t know what REAL living is all about!”

    Lost hunters came to Cody’s and Marnie’s. There were many of them over the years. Bugg-eyed – freaked out – panic striken “City Slickers.” They got calmed down. They got fed. They got a good night’s sleep until rescue came in a almost heavenly cocooned warm and comforting spare bed. Car breakdown folks were happy to find live bodies in Galena: the McConnel’s residence. None were ever turned away. None were forced to wait until the McConnels woke up at daybreak to come to the door. Someone always opened the door when the desperate knock was heard.

    There’s folks like McConnels all over the world. But none BETTER than Cody and Marnie. WHY? Because I say so. I voted myself to be the U.S. Ambassador of Galena, Oregon. Terry seconded the motion.

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