Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns
I get asked quite often “Of the three hundred Ghost Towns of Oregon, which ones should I visit?”
Golden Oregon is one of the best preserved Ghost Towns in Western Oregon. It is now part of the Oregon State Parks and is being preserved as part of the park program. It is located an easy drive off of I-5, making it one of the most accessible ghost towns for travelers driving up from California.
Also off of I-5 near Jacksonville (a historic town, and great stop in it’s own right,) is the much smaller town of Buncom Oregon. It only consists of three buildings, but the town is well preserved by locals and hosts the annual “Buncom Day” and event that includes food booths, a parade, and a number of family friendly fun events. It is highly recommended, all proceeds go to preserve the town.
Central Oregon’s high desert area plays host to a large number of ghost towns. Unfortunately the weather may preserve old buildings too well. Many have been removed and reused over the decades so few full towns exist. But what does is still worth the visit.
Boyd Oregon is another very easy to visit town. Located only 11 miles from The Dallas, the town has two striking features left. One is a massive grain elevator made of heavy timbers and well preserved. The other is the old mill owner’s stone house. The house is most visible in the winter, but can still be glimpsed in the spring when the historic bushes and trees around it obscure it from the road. Keep in mind that both buildings are on private property.
South East of Boyd by about 17 miles is Friend. The buildings consist of a well preserved church (including it’s still functional outhouse,) and general store with another attached building next to it. The Church is on Public Property and can be easily visited. The General Store is technically on private property but is also viewable.
Shaniko Oregon is likely one of Oregon’s most photographed ghost town. This is because it embraced it’s ghost town status a long time ago and became a tourist roadside attraction. By no means does this mean it is kitschy and full of “Made in China” gifts though. But it does mean that many buildings in the town from the unique design of the school to an old barber shop are quite well preserved.
Mitchell Oregon is part of the forgotten Oregon. Located in almost the geographic middle of Oregon, it was once a fairly decent tourist town itself. Even that has fallen off though, but it is still worth a visit if you’re driving along Highway 26 in central Oregon. Make sure to stop by the Painted Hills while traveling through.
Of every town on this list, Hardman Oregon is the hardest to get too. The roads aren’t bad, it is just far from most other destinations. But, it is well worth the side trip if you are traveling along Highway 26. The town has a permanent population of about 25 people, and a summer population of 50. Many preserved buildings and homes are here, and almost all are great picture opportunities. The Hardman Community Center doubles as the town’s historic center and meeting hall.
Galena Oregon is probably my personal favorite ghost town. It is located along the “Up Middle Creek Fork Road,” which is a beautiful drive. The road follow the river below and is on the “Old West Scenic Bikeway.” The town itself is a collection of old homes with few services. Along the river though are a number of abandoned and decaying farms, along with lots of wildlife. This should definitely be on your to visit list. Also nearby is another ghost town, Susanville Oregon. Alas, this one is closed to the public as it is on private property.
Sumpter Oregon is the most famous of a ten ghost towns that were once connected together by the Sumpter Valley Railroad along the Powder River. Today the town hosts the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area (maintained by Oregon State parks,) the Sumpter Valley Railroad, a small, but nice logging museum, and lots of camping. Many people stay the summer here panning for gold. If you go, be sure to visit the other nearby towns like Granite, Bourne, and Whitney below.
Despite it’s location near the rich gold fields along the Powder River in Eastern Oregon, Whitney Oregon was a saw mill town. At it’s height, three saw mills worked 24/7. Logs were shipped in via the Sumpter Valley Railroad, turned into lumber and shipped out again to all the gold mining towns. At it’s height, 150 people lived here. All that remains are a half dozen homes, about half of which are still occupied by a few die-hard residents.
I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns list. If you’re interested in seeing what other ghost towns Oregon has, visit my comprehensive Ghost Towns of Oregon map. Please comment below if you feel I’ve left out any must see ghost towns!