Ghost town of Govan Washington

Name: Govan
Class: B2
GPS: 47.738784, -118.822732
Directions: From Wilbur, Washington, head east on Highway US-2 for 6.6 miles. Take a left on Bodeau Rd, at the intersection, take a left. Govan was located here. You’ll see the school house from a ways away so it isn’t hard to miss.

Ghost town of Govan Washington

The 1905 School house in Govan Washington

Description: Govan is another one of the many ghost towns in Central Washington that have died off as agriculture has become more mechanized, and the car took over from the railroads as the primary method of transportation.

Govan was originally established as a railway station on the Central Washington Railway in 1889. It was named for construction engineer, R.B. Govan [zotpressInText item=”XXKXVTIW” format=”%num%”]who worked for the Washington Central Railroad at the time. In the fall of 1890, a large sandbank in the area was discovered causing a boom town. The sand was used for construction of the railroad as it was extended through Govan and west to Almira.

Govan didn’t really become a town until 1898 though. In addition to the railway depot, there was a population of 76 people and several merchants had stores there. They petitioned, and were granted, a post office charter.

Just four years later, in 1902, Judge J.A. Lewis and his wife Penelope were murdered with an axe. The murder is still unsolved, but it is speculated that it was a robbery as the Judge was known to have kept large amounts of money at home.

Less then a year later, C.S. Thennes was killed by a masked gunman in the Govan Saloon. As far as I have been able to find, this murder it also unsolved.

Based on the population and the number of merchants in the town, you would think that Govan would be a more impressive ghost town. Alas, a fire in 1927 wiped out the town’s business district. People rebuilt, but it was never the same. Route 2 bypassed the town in 1933, and Govan started sinking immediately.

Even Govan’s cemetery wasn’t safe from destruction. All eight graves were moved to Wilbur for an unknown reason.

Ghost town of Govan Washington

Abandoned Homestead in Govan Washington

The town has the 1905 School House which is absolutely terrible shape these days, and a couple houses. [zotpressInText item=”VB558W5D” format=”%num%”] Various sites around the internet claim that the school house is haunted, due to the towns unsolved murders.

A few homesteads still exist and at least a few residents still live in town near the school house.

If you know anything about the history of this town, please comment below. If you can shed any information on the murders or why the graveyard was moved, it would be appreciated.


[zotpressInTextBib showimage=”yes” download=”yes”]

3 Responses to “Ghost town of Govan Washington

  • Took a motorcycle ride out to Govan in June 2016 and the steeple and flag pole on the school house has partially collapsed. (Probably in the huge wind storm of Nov. 2015) The other two buildings west of the school are almost completely consumed by vegetation.

  • according to the book ‘from Pioneers to Power’ in 1951 the Govan school bell was acquired by the Grand Coulee Zion Lutheran Church in 1951, and I believe is still there.

  • My 2 times Great Grandfather and Grandmother lived there. Names were Selden Anderson Hicks and Miriam Irene Shaw (Hicks) They ran the Hick’s Drug Store in Govan. They were also Farmers. I have a photo of them standing in front of there house in Govan. They took care of their Grandchildren for awhile when their Mother passed away when they were still Toddler’s. They are found in the School records for a few years in Govan. Miriam died in Govan. I don’t know if she was buried there or not. Selden died years later in Spokane.

Leave a Reply