Ghost town of Hoskins Oregon

Name: Hoskins
Class: A2
GPS: 44.676272, -123.467843

Directions: From King’s Valley, drive south along Kings Valley Highway. Take a right onto Hoskins Road, following the signs to Fort Hoskins.

Description:
Hoskins sprung up after the buildings from Fort Hoskins were sold at auction when the the fort was closed on April 16th, 1865. Buildings from the fort were moved to nearby towns, including what would become Hoskins.

It was not until 1891 that the town’s population was big enough to necessitate a post office though. Jonathan N. Hoffman was the first post master when it opened on March 2nd of that year. In 1900 a covered bridge was built across the Luckimute river.

Construction of Valley & Siletz Railroad

Construction of Valley & Siletz Railroad. The Byington Frantz House is on the hill. From the Ben Maxwell Collection

The town thrived for a few decades with the arrival of the Valley & Siletz Railroad, incorporated by Cobbs & Mitchell Lumber Company in 1914. Hoskins would become the railroad’s headquarters where several diesel engines and a couple of self-powered passenger cars were stationed. The 40 mile railroad connected Independence with the logging town of Valsetz and was mostly used to move lumber, although it did business in agriculture and passengers.

Valley-Siletz Railroad at Fort Hoskins

Valley-Siletz Railroad at Fort Hoskins looking east from over the river. In the right corner is the Hoskins Covered Bridge. From the Ben Maxwell Collection

The second Hoskins Covered Bridge was built in 1938 over the Luckimute River. It was destroyed in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, which blew several fir trees into it, irrevocably damaging the structure.

As the timber industry shrunk over the next few decades, the town shrunk too. The Postmaster closed the post office for the final time on December 31, 1958 in favor of a rural post office out of Philomath that only lasted an additional 7 years. The railroad was sold to Boise Cascade who discontinued and removed the section containing Hoskins in early 1979.

Ralph Friedman states that the big white house on the hill, 0.1 mile west of the Tavern used to the be Fort’s Hospital.[. Unfortunately neither of these landmarks exist. In addition, The Hoskins Covered Bridge was already gone when he visited in the late 80s. All that remains is the Franzt-Dunn House, and the Fort.

Frantz Grocery Story at the railroad station of Hoskins, Oregon, 1942

Frantz Grocery Story at the railroad station of Hoskins, Oregon, 1942. From the Ben Maxwell Collection

Frantz Grocery and Hoskins Covered Bridge

Frantz Grocery and Hoskins Covered Bridge. From what I can tell, the location of the grocery store is now just a dirt field. From the Ben Maxwell Collection

Interior of C.L. O'Kelley's grocery store - 1959

Unknown Children in the interior of C.L. O’Kelly’s Store in 1959

Interior of O'Kelley's grocery store at Hoskins - 1959

Interior of O’Kelley’s grocery store at Hoskins – 1959 – C.L. O’Kelly and wife (?)

railroad yard at Hoskins

railroad yard at Hoskins

Looking East aross the river

Looking East aross the river

Abandoned school at Hoskins - 1965

Abandoned school at Hoskins – 1965

Please comment below if you know anything more about Hoskins, or it’s history.

Bibliography:

3 Responses to “Ghost town of Hoskins Oregon

  • Name: Phillip Hays

    Email: [email protected]

    Subject: Ghost town of Hoskins Oregon

    Comment: I enjoyed your post about Hoskins, Oregon. I have been working on a history of the town and getting oral histories from some of the folks who grew up there.

    There are a few errors.

    1. Hoskins existed before the Army built Fort Hoskins in 1856. Sort of. There was already a settlement in the area but it didn’t have a name that anyone remembers. This was just scattered houses on farms in the area. The lumber mill was in operation on the river below the fort to the north west. It was the focus of the community and is one of the reasons the fort was located there.

    2. There is no good evidence that any of the fort buildings were moved into Hoskins. One building was sold, but there is no record who bought it or what happened to it. The Commanders House was moved to Pedee about 1869. We moved it back to the fort in 2012. The fate of the other buildings is mostly unknown, but archaeological digs show that the old barracks was burned and the ruins were pushed into a low spot and covered with dirt.

    However, there is speculation that the white house on the left of your second photo (the V&S Cook House) is one of the officers houses from the fort. The reasons for this speculation are:

    a) Other photos of the house from the front show it to be exactly the same size and proportions as the Commanders House.
    b) The front of the house has three doors/windows on the upper level like the houses in the 1861 Fort Hoskins painting (but it doesn’t have a roof over the upper porch).
    c) The Cook House was previously down river near the Frantz Mill. It was moved/built there by Samual Frantz. Later it was a private residence and the Hoskins Hotel. After the railroad came through in 1914 the house was moved to the position shown in the photo and used as a cook house.
    d) Samual Frantz owned at least one of the officers houses after he bought the fort property. He could have moved the house down from the fort and to the site near the mill.

    3. The big white house on the hill behind the store in your first picture was not the Frantz-Dunn house. It is quite a bit different from the Frantz-Dunn house. The Frantz-Dunn house was off to the right of the picture. The house in the picture was the Byington Frantz house. He was the brother of Samual Frantz who built the Frantz-Dunn house. I am trying to determine when the Byington Frantz house was built. There is an oral history with one of the Frantz family from the 1930s that says Samual Frantz lived with his brother while the Frantz-Dunn house was being built, but there are other records that dispute this. SOme say he lived in the Commanders House until after the new house was built.

    4. Neither the Byington Frantz house nor the Samual Frantz house (Frantz-Dunn House) was the fort’s infirmary building. Both were built after the fort was abandoned. The Frantz-Dunn house was built on the fort hospital site about 1869, perhaps beside the old hospital building. Archaeological digs have not found any trace of the hospital building.

    ****

    Benton County owns the fort site and the Fort Tavern site. They are in Fort Hoskins Historical Park. I have recorded more than five hours of oral history with Audrey Theurer who ran the Fort Tavern and lived in Hoskins when she was a child. Her grandfather ran the V&S Railroad for a while. She is a member of the Fort Hoskins Advisory Committee and a Hoskins historian. She remembers the Byington Frantz house up on the hill behind the tavern. It was on the fort site a bit north of where the officers houses had been. Both Samual and Byington farmed on the old fort site.

    Earle Greig also lived in Hoskins when he was a child. He remembers playing with some of the Frantz kids at the Byington Frantz house. I am working on his oral history. He is also a historian and has compiled the genealogy of many of the Hoskins families. He also has hundreds of photos of Hoskins and the kings Valley era.

    ****

    I have been on the Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Advisory Board since 1990 (before we bought the fort property) and am currently Chair of the Board. The history of Hoskins and the fort are one of my hobbies.

    Phil Hays PhD

  • From Phil Hays:

    Rick,

    There are several versions of the history of Hoskins and the fort. Dave Brauner has been working on the history of the area for many years and has published a book about the fort, “Fort Hoskins, An Illustrated History.” Much of what I know came from his book. He an I have been friends for years.

    The fort did have a hospital. If you look on the map on your Fort Hoskins page you will see it at the bottom which is actually the south-east corner of the fort. It was down the hill quite a bit below the parade ground, officers houses and barracks. As I said, the Frantz-Dunn house was built on the old hospital site.

    ****

    One of the big mysteries is how the Commanders House was moved to Pedee. One legend has it that the house was floated down the Luckiamute, but if you have ever stood on the banks of the river you will realize that it is too narrow for the house to pass. The rumor says they built a splash dam up stream and blasted it to release a torrent of water to float the house to Pedee. But splash dams weren’t used until about 20 years after the house was moved.

    A newspaper story in the Salem paper in the mid 60s says the house was moved to the Pedee location on logs – but there is some question how much of the move was made that way. Did they move the house all the way from the fort to Pedee (about 8 miles) on logs?

    You suggest that the house was disassembled and floated to Pedee. Apparently there is some truth in that. After we got the house back to the fort we stripped out all of the modern Sheetrock and were delighted to find that virtually the entire original structure is still intact! It was put together with wall studs mortised and tenoned into the wall caps and under framing, and held together with large wooden dowel pegs. It had lath and plaster inside. This was original – we have an Army inspection report from 1858 commenting on the lath and plaster. All of the lath and plaster were removed at some time, but the original plaster marks are visible on the wall studs and other framing. And in a few places some of the boards with plaster marks have been moved from their original positions. So it is possible the house was disassembled and moved in pieces.

    But how it got to Pedee is a mystery.

    Why it was moved to Pedee is no longer a mystery.

    1. The Army lease for the fort property from Henry Van Peer (who also owned the sawmill) states that there was a house on the property, and if it was destroyed the Army had to leave a house of equal or greater value when the fort was abandoned. That explains why the Commanders House remained.

    2. We have a document that indicates that Van Peer didn’t own the house. It was owned by Samuel Coad, a carpenter who built a lot of buildings in Kings Valley. Two of his houses are still standing in Dallas, Oregon.

    3. As it happens, the Army hired Sam Coad to build the officers houses at Fort Hoskins. And after we moved the Commanders House back to the fort we discovered that some of the lumber in the house had been used previously in another building. Speculation – maybe Sam Coad disassembled his first house and used parts for the Commanders House. After all, when the Army left Coad would end up owning the Commanders House.

    4. When the Army abandoned the fort it appears that the Commanders House remained at the site for several years. Then about 1869 it was moved next to Coad’s mother-in-law’s land in Pedee.

    Now how’s that for a story? It took several people going through records from the Army, Benton County and Polk County to piece it together.

    ****

    On your Fort Hoskins page you have a Ben Maxwell photo of the Condon House (Commanders House) when it was in Pedee in 1959. I did an oral history with the woman at the left in the picture, Colene Condon Lamberty. We met at the house after it was moved back to the fort and walked around in it for an hour and a half while she recounted stories of growing up in the house. It was quite interesting because she remembered some of the modifications that were made to the house and could put dates on them.

    The house is almost the same as Coad built it in 1857, but there are two new doors inside. Colene said her mother didn’t like having to walk from the bedroom to the parlor, then into the hall and back to the dining room and kitchen, and complained about it quite a bit. So one day she used a chain saw to cut a door directly from the bedroom to the dining room. The saw marks are quite visible and it is clear that the door wasn’t created by a carpenter!

  • The children in the photo are very well known. In fact, the boy still lives near the area of the old store(four miles up river).

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