Ghost town of Ordnance Oregon

Class A4

Built in 1941 to service the nearby Umatilla Chemical Depot. The town is now mostly abandoned and taken over by the Depot itself.

Do you know anything about this town? Have you ever lived here? Please leave your recollections in the comments below!

8 Responses to “Ghost town of Ordnance Oregon

  • Ordnance was my home town. I spent my first three plus years, after coming home from St. Anthony’s Hospital in Pendleton, where I was born, My family lived on Bomb Street. We left in 1957, bound for northern Idaho, but my parents had many friends and we always visited the Hermiston area, so I have watched the decline of Ordnance.

    Your information is wrong in that the US Army Ordnance Depot does _not_ own the property on which the ghost town sits. The US Department of Defense (DoD) is indeed responsible for it being built and when we lived there, it was housing for workers on Defense projects, the most obvious being the Depot itself. My father qualified in that he was a construction worker on the McNary Dam, a US Army Corps of Engineers project. But, in the middle of the 1960s, the number of residents had declined with the increase in ready availability of automotive transport and the temptations of great choice in lifestyles in nearby Hermiston. So, the DoD put the entire town up for auction. A local agribusiness entrepreneur, state senator, and adviser to state governors, Stafford Hansell, bought the town, surrounded the entire town with fences, tore all the doors off all the units, and placed watering troughs throughout, and made the entire town in to a pig farm. That lasted for a couple of decades and, after Stafford passed, the pig farm disappeared. For years, though, it was a notorious location along the highway, then the new freeway, where auto passengers were forced to roll up their windows in a futile attempt to shut out the stench of pigs as they passed the town. So far as I know, the Hansell family still owns the property. I actually exited the freeway a couple of years back to visit the site…it was posted with Hansell Agriculture signs.

    At the time I lived there, the town ‘commercial district’ was right on US Highway 30 and had a gas station, a market, a barber shop and a concrete slab indoor space that was used as a roller rink. The curiosity which most enjoy hearing about Ordnance was the town’s street names. There was the Highway and 1st, 2nd, and maybe a 3rd avenue, but the cross streets were Arsenal, Bomb, Cannon, and Detonator streets. We lived on Bomb Street.

  • My family (including grandparents and 3 sets of aunts and uncles and of course all the children) moved to Ordnance in December of 1947. We lived there while we were all building homes in Hermiston so were only at Ordnance for about 2 years. I lived on Explosive street first, then we moved to an apartment on Cartridge street. I know Bomb and Amitol were 2 other streets but do not remember the “D” name. Some of the apartments were furnished, others were not. I remember the coal bins at the street side where coal was delivered for the heating of our apartments.
    As kids we enjoyed going to the little store and the movies (cost was 10 cents for a movie ticket) that were held in the small complex there. There was also a grade school and my older sister attended at least through the 4th grade but I don’t know if any higher grades were there. We kids would play in the desert area just west of Amitol street where we would find agates in the sand and of course lots of large crickets that resided there. Roller skating was hard on the roads because they were not very smooth so we skated in the roller rink area (the concrete slab).

    My parents lived in Hermiston until their deaths in 2000 and 2003 and on our many visits there we would tell stories to our kids about how we once lived at the “pig farm.”

    If there is ever any further info regarding Ordnance, I would love to hear about it. I am putting together my life story and of course want to include that period of my life.

    • Hello Lana! Thank you for stopping by. We’d all love to know more about Ordnance, but I suspect a lot of it maybe buried in governmental archives.

      • Now I’d love to see a town map with street names. I know we lived on ‘Bomb Street’ and remembered others as ‘Arsenal’, ‘Cannon’, and ‘Detonator’ streets, but Lana says ‘Cartridge’ and ‘Amitol’. In looking at the street plan on Google Maps, it’s obvious that there were more than four ‘alphabet’ streets, so ‘Explosive’ makes sense. Was there an ‘F’ street?

  • In 1946 my parents moved myself and 3 sisters to the ordinance. The second story apartment they were renting caught fire from another renter putting a lit cigarette into the office trash can. Office was the first floor. My father was not a veteran so he could not get help from the government. We lost everything in the fire.
    We lived at the Ordinance for a year or so. It was a friendly place to be. There was a groundskeeper that I remember would give us a ride on the cart he drove around the area. It was similar to a golf cart. We were happy there
    Eventually we moved back to California where some friends of my parents offered us an
    8′ x 24′ mobile home in their yard to rent, and then they bought the house of their friends.

  • Bill Linder says: I also grew up at Ordnance. We moved into Hermiston in late 1955 as they were going to sell it. Streets I know were Bomb, Detenator (which I lived on), Fuse, Springfield, Explosive, Cartridge, Amitol, Arsenal and Cannon. I believe there were a couple more but can’t remember the names.
    I went through the fifth grade at the grade school (the sixth grade class was in the same room). We were bussed into town starting my sixth grade year. They had sunday school in the community center for us kids. I remember Mrs. Blame (sp) as our teacher.
    We had a post office, 5 and dime, grocery store, fountain, hair salon and a locker for cold goods to be stored. We went to the maintenance shop and signed out tools and push lawn mowers to use and than signed them back in.
    I remember we had ice boxes, the old wood cook stoves and heating stoves used either coal or wood. It was a great place to grow up.

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