Embark on a fascinating tour of Oregon’s most fascinating ghost towns, mining camps, fishing villages, lumber towns, and historic forts!
With 18 officially designated “ghost towns” still on the map, Oregon is reported to more ghost towns than any other state. The gold rush of the late 19th century sprouted many towns and settlements across the majestic plains of Eastern Oregon in particular.
Auburn: A gold mining town about four miles west of US 30 at a point seven miles southeast of Baker City. Accessible via four-wheel drive road. Only rubble remains where Henry Griffen discovered gold on October 23, 1861, and where six months later 6000 people made Auburn the largest town in the county. By 1868 Auburn was rapidly approaching ghost town status.
Bourne: This old town is seven miles north of Sumpter, along Cracker Creek. Sumpter is on SH 7, 20 miles northwest of Salisbury and West of Baker City in the Blue Mountains. In the 1870s, this placer mining camp was full of saloons and other businesses, which lined a short main street. A post office was in operation from 1895 to 1927. Some mines are still producing, and a few buildings remain.
Cornucopia: Some 20 million dollars in gold came from this wild and wooly gold mining town full of shootings, saloons and “sporting” ladies. Shortly after the gold was found in 1885, 1000 miners flocked to the town. In 1898 the town relocated a quarter mile to a new location, and it grew quickly. The mines faded, the town died, and by the 1970s only empty buildings remained. The town is in the Wallowa National Forest, 12 miles northwest of Halfway. Some summer cabins have been built in recent years.
Granite: A late 1800s gold mining town that once had 5000 people. It is 15 miles northwest of Sumpter, in the northeastern corner of the county about 45 miles out of Baker City. The first gold was found on July 4, 1862, and by 1900 Granite had a drug store, two hotels, livery stable, a post office, five saloons and three stores. The gold choked off, the town faded, and today Granite and its dozen or so citizens remain as a monument to the past.
Greenback: Greenback is an early 1900s placer mining company town sprawled on a winding dirt road three miles north of Placer. The Greenback Mine produced about a million dollars in gold before shutting down and earning its title as a Ghost Town.
Hardman: A travel center and agricultural ghost on Oregon’s eastern grasslands. It is located on SH 207, nine miles south of Ruggs and 20 south of Heppner. Hardman was founded in the 1870s, and the post office was established in 1881. Hotels stores, and other businesses soon followed. When automobile and trucks came into their own, the town faded.
Horse Haven: Early 1900s-1930s mercury mining town east of Ashwood. At it’s height hosting only a population of 100 or so, it never rose much above ghost status.
Sumpter: Tucked away in the trees and nestled in Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountain Range, lies the historic gold mining town of Sumpter.
Sumpter got its start in the 1860s when three Carolinans settled and started farming. They called their homestead Fort Sumter, but when gold was found and the valley was overrun with Northern sympathizer miners, the name was changed to Sumpter.
Sumpter is on the Elkhorn Scenic Byway and is surrounded by mountains, rivers, streams, and lakes and offers virtually everyone the opportunity to enjoy many of Nature’s amenities; great fishing, swimming, boating (nearby), camping, gold panning, hunting, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, backpacking, 4-wheeling, ATV’ing, hiking and exploring.
Tour these once-thriving communities and relive the optimism of the explorers and settlers who journeyed in pursuit of the American dream.