Ghost town of New Era Oregon

Name: New Era
Class: H5
GPS: 45.300853, -122.658354
Located around the intersection of S Highway 99E and South End Road, about five miles south of Oregon City.

Origin of the name is unclear, there are two stories of it’s origin. According to Oregon Geographic names “Several persons have told the writer that the naming came about as the result of the construction of the railroad as far south as the mouth of Parrott Creek, which made it possible for Willamette River boats to stop there and deliver produce. This was hailed as a new era in river transportation as boats would then not have to go to the falls below at Oregon City.”

He goes on to say “…it should be noted that one correspondent has informed the compiler that a local family were spiritualists and devoted to a publication called the “New Era“, and named the place on that account.” [zotpressInText item=”WNP8V6D6″ format=”%num%”]

We do know that there was a religious colony here for some time. We do not know it’s origin, or what happened to it. It’s possible it lasted for some time though, the post office was established on January 5th 1876, and closed on January 31, 1940.

To deepen the mystery even further, I recently drove “through” town. Not a single building here looked to be older then about 1960 or so. Many such ghost towns will have a barn, maybe an outbuilding, or an older house around them. New Era has a small collection of homes that are all newer, or so remodeled that nothing remains of their original form.

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13 Responses to “Ghost town of New Era Oregon

  • New Era has a number of buildings from the 1800s including a large farm and the religious colony mentioned. They are not at Southend and Hwy 99e however. They are on S New Era Rd near the Warner Grange.

    • Thank you for stopping by Dave! I’ll update this next time I’m in the area.

  • The town was said to be founded by my Great-Great Grandfather, Joseph Parrott sr. He came west in 1843 when my great grandfather was 6 months old, arriving in the valley on Christmas Eve, 1843. He took up claim where the town of New Era was founded. I’m not sure of any religious activity, but they were well known beekeepers. He was the postmaster there, as was one of his grandsons, Orvin Parrott. He helped construct the first courthouse in the area with a hew that was used on the Eerie Canal, which is now in the possession of the Oregon Historical Society. He also was one of the jurors at the trial of the Indians that were executed for the Whitman Massacre. I’ve found some mention of him in “This Side of Oregon”,Where the author found newspaper articles on him from the time, and in an article or two in the Goldendale Sentinel. He was buried in the Zion Cemetery in Canby after his passing in 1926.

    • Andrew! Thank you so much for stopping by! Would you by chance have any pictures or other stories you’d like to share?

      • I tried to reply with a link to an article. I don’t think it worked… No pictures of the area that are in my possession…

  • There are lots of substantial ruins in that area. There’s a closed park near the lower tip of the islands north of your map pin, on the other side of 99. Take the walking path past the park bathroom and you can’t miss them.

  • Rick,
    I recently came into possession of more family history. Today I found an article, or rather an interview with my Great Grandfather. He was very young at the time of the naming of the town, but it’s the best info I have come across to date. He actually died at the spiritualist camp as caretaker in 1923. The author wrote in an article titled ‘Impressions and Obsessions of the Journal Man’.
    “New Era is located on my father’s donation land claim.” Said Joseph Parrott when I visited him recently in his cabin on the hill near New Era. “About 50 years or so ago the Grangers bought seven acres from us, built a store, put up a warehouse and started a town which they called New Era. Their plan was to supplant competition with cooperation and thus introduce a ‘new era’, so they called their proposed town New Era. But their plans never got any further toward realization than a name.”

    “Father took up 640 acres here as his donation land claim in 1845. he donated five acres on the crest of the hill to the First Spiritualist organization of Clackamas county. They use it as their summer camp each year. yes, the grove makes a fine place to spend a month, or six weeks in the summer. From the road in front of the grove you get a fine view of the lake and also of the Willamette River as well as the highway with it’s never ending stream of autos and it’s occasional team of horses.
    I hope this helps solve the mystery of how the town got it’s name…

  • New Era Spiritualist Church is alive and well and has Sunday Service every Sunday at Ten Thirty AM. All are welcome. The Ministers and I are working on the history from the start. The buildings have been built at various times and there are some fairly old. Two Ministers live on the property and I would hardly call it a Ghost Town. A book was written by Steve Arendt that was almost totally wrong in every thing he stated. It was easy to see he did not contact anyone from the church and the Historical Society. You are welcome to contact me at [email protected] for anymore information.

  • Lawrence and Amanda Ferguson, relatives of mine, were living and farming in New Era in 1900 and still there in 1904. I do not have any details.

  • I ran across a large (11×14) photo owned by my mother of the cemetery in New Era and what appears to be a church in the background. There’s no date on it, but it appears to have been taken in the 1940s and appears to be abandoned. She wrote on the back of the photo that several of her Gibson ancestors are buried there, including Patrick Gibson, her father’s uncle. I can send you a jpeg of it if you would like.

    • Bonnie, I know that I for one would love to see that picture. I lived in the old Hermann Anthony house in New Era for the first nine years of my life.

    • I would love to see that picture too.

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