Golden, Oregon – a ghost town
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Golden, Oregon, was a mining town in the 1890s, near the Coyote Creek in Oregon. During its heyday, it boasted 150 residents, 2 churches, a mercantile and post office, and most notable, no saloons. Within 20 years, the mine was tapped out and today, Golden, Oregon, is a ghost town.
During our recent trip to Wolf Creek Campground , we had plenty of time to explore a bit. Just 3 miles away was Golden. Our daughter has a bucket list of things to do before she’s 12 and visiting a ghost town is on it. Clearly, we had no choice but to go check it out!
Golden, Oregon, is just a few minutes off I-5 and is a fun way to stretch your legs. Golden is now maintained by Oregon State Parks and is open for anyone to visit.
Parts of the TV show “Bonanza” and several movies were filmed in Golden in the 1950s-1970s, so rumor has it that everything you see isn’t necessarily as old as it looks. But even if it’s not 100% authentic, it’s an adventure and it’s listed as a Heritage Site .
There’s a wide spot in the road for parking. One interpretive sign stands amidst the remaining buildings, inviting visitors to learn more. When we arrived, we all jumped out of the van and fanned out to explore. No one was around, except for some free-ranging chickens. We had the place to ourselves.
The first thing we saw, besides the interpretive sign, was this gorgeous old church. Originally built in the 1890s, and rebuilt in the 1950s, it’s now part of the historical site and probably supposed to be locked.
“As more families arrived, Bill, Schuyler, and Grandpa Ruble built Golden’s church, and only then built the family home. The Ruble priorities were clear: faith and family come first. As long as the Rubles lived here, Golden had no saloons. If you wanted to ‘tip a few’, you had to walk over the hill to Placer.” ~From the interpretive sign, the caption below this photo.
You may notice some odd blurring at the end of the steps. I promise, despite a recent Ghost Adventures episode, this isn’t a ghostly spirit. My son was in the photo and I’ve removed him with my admittedly poor Photoshop skills. And in the doorway, if you see a faint image of a person, this isn’t a ghost either (I know you’re looking…I keep receiving emails!) That is my husband taking video inside the church. While we were there, it was very peaceful and quiet. No ghostly activity!
There were electric lights, and you can see the white wall outlet on the right. I’m assuming, since this church was rebuilt in 1950, that electricity was added at that time. But there were also telltale signs of history…there remains a hole in the ceiling for a stovepipe and a broad square on the floor where an old wood stove must have been to warm churchgoers on cold winter days.
Near the church is the mercantile and post office building. The main part of the building was the store and post office, and the smaller addition on the left was apparently living quarters for the shopkeeper.
Inside the main room of the mercantile. I was excited to see what dates were on the newspapers lining the shelves…1993…I have no idea what someone was decorating for, but they worked hard because all the shelves were covered and the newspapers were all cut in a lace pattern.
The wall opposite the shelves in the main room of the mercantile.
Living quarters. I don’t know how much of this is authentic or possibly from the Bonanza filming.
A bit beyond the mercantile is a white school building. As late as 1906, they still had 36 children enrolled here.
Schoolhouse in Golden, Oregon
Inside the school at Golden.
Names scrawled under the coat hooks, written in pencil and eventually traced over with sharpie. At any rate, notice the “Ruble” name…one of the town founder’s children.
Mining Valley & Coyote Creek
I'm a middle-aged mom of up to 6 and sometimes more if my kids have friends along. I'm in perfect shape if you count round as a shape. ;) Our favorite activity in both summer and winter is getting outdoors and finding adventure.
Wolf Creek Campground – Josephine County, Oregon
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I am in Florida. Family in Oregon. I lived in Oregon for 11.5 years but raising two very active children in sports left little big travel time. Now I want to start road trips to see the history of the great North west.. I love all the views posted… Thank you..
Today, I just heard of Golden, and thought to do a search about it. Glad I came across your page – It’s fantastic. Thank you.
It’s a lovely little spot to visit. And there are chickens!
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Ghost Towns in Southern Oregon By Roy Stevenson
Within an hour's drive of each other in Southern Oregon, two small authentic weathered black and brown clapboard ghost towns of three or four buildings stand on the roadside amidst ancient shady trees.
The long-deserted ghost towns of Golden and Buncom are surviving testaments to Oregon’s early gold mining days and the hardships of daily life endured there. You’ve seen the old photographs of these lean and gaunt men, standing outside their mines, or in the creek beds, hardship showing in their eyes and faces. They wear thick ragged hand made wool shirts, and hardwearing canvas breeches.
The harsh realities of Oregon’s gold mining history come dramatically to life on this one-day ghost towns tour, as you wander through Oregon’s only two authentic ghost towns and Sterlingville cemetery’s white marble headstones telling their tragic stories.
Oregon Ghost Towns: Golden
Start your ghost town tour driving south on Interstate 5 and take the Wolf Creek Exit, north of Grants Pass. Proceed through town, back under the freeway. Continue on Coyote Creek Rd through a beautiful winding forest for 3.5 miles.
Suddenly tucked away, on the left side of the road, you’ll see a small cluster of old weathered brown clapboard buildings, with a large red wooden sign with white letters etched in it. You’re in Golden. The town overlooks the dried up and mined out remains of once gold infused Coyote Creek, across the road.
Maintained by a local historic preservation society, the four weathered brown-boarded buildings of Golden are much as they were in 1892, when between 100 and 200 hardy gold miners and families lived here. Start by reading the historical information on the sign. Prospectors had worked Coyote Creek since 1850, but it was not formally founded as a town until Reverend William Ruble and his wife Ruth settled it, building the Church of Christ in1892.
The beautiful little church, its tall bell tower riding high above the peaked front, invites you up the wooden stairs through the modest entryway. The two churches played a major part in life here. There were no saloons and dancing was not permitted. One look at the photos of William and Ruth Ruble while you’re inside the church explains far better than words why Golden was a god-fearing place.
You’ll never see a more devout, staid and no-nonsense visage than that of William Ruble. His white hair and beard, deep inset eyes, thick eyebrows and grimly pursed lips say it all. Ruth Ruble’s countenance is equally as stern and righteous, her dark black hair parted in the middle and severely combed down (brushing would have been too pleasurable, I’m sure).
Eventually miners built a dance hall at Wolf Creek. The churchgoers from Golden would picket the dance hall, “praying away the devil”. The interior of this tiny church, about five paces by eight paces, is nicely restored with new wood paneling. There must have been interesting scenes here on Sundays as Ruble preached hellfire and damnation to the sinners. They sat packed together in their Sunday best suits and dresses, uncomfortably close to William Ruble as he strode up and down, thumping the altar with his bible.
The small cemetery next to the church is thought to have been in a scene from the television series, Gunsmoke. The old rotting wooden grave markers, now lying askew, with faint traces of writing etched in their faces, may well be the props used for the episode. You’ll also see a few real grave markers, one for Marion Ellis (1912-1992), marked, appropriately enough, “Gold Miner”.
At the back of the straw-stubble field is the low-lying carriage house, a small outhouse beside it. Your last building to explore is the sagging, dried out General Store, built in 1904, of vertically laid wooden clapboards. It’s perhaps the most picturesque building in the town, overshadowed by a couple of tall pines and firs, tufts of dried grass growing around its edges.
Its frontage is classic Wild West. A long vertical rectangular wooden façade adds to its height, and wooden railings and three wooden steps leading you up to the front porch looks like a scene straight out of the Maverick television series. Stand on the covered front porch, in the silence that wraps Golden, and listen carefully. You can hear the clump of miner’s boots, and the quiet conversation held here between shopkeeper and customers. It surely doubled as a social center for the residents. Photos in the front window show what people looked like back in the day.
The boom times in Golden were in the 1870’s—so much so that the Oregon-California Stage Company detoured to Golden to deliver mail, passengers and goods. There were still 36 children in the school in 1906. What became of Golden? Its glory days didn’t last of course. The Post Office closed in 1920, and the town’s fortunes slowly declined until the mid 20th century, when it was abandoned. This little gem provides a perfect picnic site or break for the family on a long road trip. But it’s time to move on. . . .
If ever there was a ghost cemetery, Sterlingville Cemetery, 4.2 miles from Buncom, is it. No, it’s not haunted in the traditional sense, but this haunting and memorable graveyard is all that’s left of the gold mining township of Sterlingville.
Stop at the aluminum gate on the dirt road and enter the cemetery through the side gate. Tall eucalyptus and fir trees grow out of this small dirt and scrub covered hillock. A large sign tells how a 1,200-person town grew nearby after miners James Sterling and Aaron Davis located a rich gold strike in 1854.
Sterlingville thrived then declined, a “boom and bust” gold mining camp. As miners poured in, stores opened. A saloon, bakery, boarding house, and warehouse all sprang up like mushrooms. This was the real thing--a honkey tonk town with gambling houses, a dance hall, boarding houses, a livery, blacksmith shop, saloons, a barbershop, and several streets lined with houses.
By 1933, during the Great Depression, 100 properties were being worked in that ever-elusive search for gold. Gradually wasting away until 1957, today Sterlingville is overgrown with trees and brush, with not a trace of where it stood, except for the cemetery.
You’ll read some poignant stories in this cemetery, reflecting the rigors of life and disease that stalked these early settlers. Typhoid, Diphtheria and smallpox killed thousands of people in the 1800s, often wiping out entire families. Scarlet fever and diphtheria struck children particularly hard. Sterlingville Cemetery charts the progress of these epidemics—headstones marked with children’s names lie like fallen dominos everywhere.
Surely the saddest tale I’ve ever seen in a cemetery is that of Mary E. Saltmarsh, who died in 1878, aged 43, after outliving her ten children. None of them lived past nine years, most dying within their first two. This heart-rending tragedy unfolded between 1856 and 1878, ending when she died in childbirth. Her tall white pointed obelisk gravestone hovers—like a mother duck with her ducklings—over the skewed miniature headstones of her children, in death, as she would have in life. The sad demise of the Saltmarsh family is told on her marble obelisk, where the birth and death dates of her ten children are engraved into the white marble. One can only imagine the despair the couple felt after each child died.
A similar catastrophe befell George Yaudes, a gold prospector from Pennsylvania, and the town’s postmaster. Three small stones in the cemetery are for his children Albert, Lettle and Aaron. Sadly, all three died on May 22, 1884, from diphtheria. When the first child died, George went off to buy a casket, but before he returned home he was told the other two had died. And of a more unkind coincidence, the mother was Annie Saltmarsh, the sister of Joseph Saltmarsh.
To get to Sterlingville Cemetery:
Make your way south to Jacksonville. From here take Oregon Street (Highway 238) west and turn left on Cady Road after a few hundred yards. After following Cady Road for 1.8 miles, turn right onto Sterling Creek Road. Travel 6.3 miles. You’ll see a dirt road off to your left with an old weathered and cracked wooden sign with faded white letters, saying Sterlingville Cemetery 1863.
Oregon Ghost Towns: Buncom
Another 4.2 miles beyond Sterlingville Cemetery, at Sterling Creek Rd junction, sits the three-building ghost town of Buncom. You can’t miss this atmospheric little collection of clapboard buildings. A soft wind wafts through the tall pines and firs surrounding this remote country crossroads.
First settled in 1852, Buncom was established following the discovery of gold at Jacksonville in 1851. As prospectors branched out all over the Applegate Valley many found their way to Sterling Creek. Although white people held the claims, many Chinese also worked them. The Chinese called their camp Buncom, thought to be derived from the name of a white man who lived here. They couldn’t pronounce his name, so it came out as “buncom”.
A saloon opened in 1861 by J.T. Williams, having been granted a license to sell “spirituous liquors in quantities of less than a quart”, and the Post Office followed in 1896. But by 1918 the gold was gone and the Post Office closed. The automobile spelled the end for Buncom, as people moved to nearby Jacksonville or Medford.
The moss-covered façade of the small post office overlooks a tiny front porch, only about two paces from one side to the other. You won’t see much as you peek through the boarded up windows. Next door slouches the long, low A-framed roofed bunkhouse. Its vertically laid thick weathered planks of wood siding no doubt hewn from nearby trees.
Across the road, the cookhouse and livery stable stands crookedly among the trees, astride the base of a gentle hill. Tall pines tower over it, their needles strewn over the ground. Take some time to stroll around this tiny town as you try to imagine the miners and their families going about their business. Buncom is the ideal ghost town to finish your tour, gently bringing you back to reality after the memorable places you’ve seen.
Haunting memories of these places stay with you after visiting these ghost towns and Sterlingville cemetery, just as vestiges of these town’s residents and their buildings linger on in time. These places where people struck it rich, or died trying to make a living in these tough times and tougher conditions, are long forgotten, with only these few derelict clapboard buildings remaining.
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Explore An Old Oregon Ghost Town At Golden State Heritage Site
Writer, editor and researcher with a passion for exploring new places. Catherine loves local bookstores, independent films, and spending time with her family, including Gus the golden retriever, who is a very good boy.
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Oregon’s ghost towns are fascinating places that take us back in time. Long ago, people built their homes, churches, and schools in these towns, and were full of hope and anticipation for the future. While those folks eventually moved on to pursue other dreams, the abandoned buildings will tell their own stories, if you’re ready to listen.
You can visit the little ghost town of Golden at the Golden State Heritage Site in Josephine County, and it has a compelling history.
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Have you explored the little ghost town of Golden? Tell us about your adventure in the comments, and tag the people you want to take with you next time!
Learn more about Golden State Heritage Site on the Ogden State Parks website .
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Coyote Creek, Golden Oregon
Near the town of Wolf Creek (a town so-named for the creek that runs through it, also known for gold) is a small ghost town known as Golden, Oregon . It is easy to find and not far from I-5 in northern Josephine County. I recently took a trip to see for myself this historical mining site on December 20, 2010.
Coyote Creek was first settled and mined around the 1840’s by white prospectors. The gold was very fine and made it hard for the men who worked the area to make a decent salary. When news of other strikes reached those working the diggings, the area was abandoned for other areas including new strikes in Idaho. When white men left there were around thirty primitive cabins perched on upper Coyote Creek. Most miners did not stay long because it was a hard living.
Edwin Waters at Golden, Oregon
Merchantile at Golden
White men returned to the area and started using hydraulic means to recover the fine gold. William Ruble was struck at how efficient the process was and bought up most of the land around Coyote Creek. In 1879, large parcels of land was sold to William Ruble, both a minister and a miner. His family was struggling, so he decided to build a town. Golden was first called Goldville. The first post office was established in 1896 with Schuyler Ruble as the first postmaster. William Ruble is known to have stated “You know there is gold right under your feet , but without a more powerful way to extract it your dream will die.”
The Ruble’s could not move soil fast enough to make a profit and during the summer when the water levels dropped they could not work at all. Rather than giving up William and Schuyler Ruble invented and patented an invention known as the Ruble Rock Elevator, which increased gold production.
Golden is reported to have been a town with a population of as many as two hundred souls and there was no drinking allowed. It was a close knit and religious community. In 1900 the Bennett store was erected and in 1915 a stamp mill was built. The post office closed in 1920.
The town of Golden is now owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. The former mining area has been transformed into a natural wetland and is owned by Josephine County. I do not know if you are allowed to mine at Coyote Creek. The town itself is registered as a historic site.
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THE BEST Wolf Creek Ghost Towns
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1. Golden Town
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Golden Ghost Town
- Episode aired Sep 23, 2017
The crew travels to a sinister ghost town near Wolf Creek, Oregon. During the investigation, Zak is overtaken by an aggressive entity, Aaron is incapacitated by a dark force, eerie figures a... Read all The crew travels to a sinister ghost town near Wolf Creek, Oregon. During the investigation, Zak is overtaken by an aggressive entity, Aaron is incapacitated by a dark force, eerie figures appear and a voice warns of a demonic presence. The crew travels to a sinister ghost town near Wolf Creek, Oregon. During the investigation, Zak is overtaken by an aggressive entity, Aaron is incapacitated by a dark force, eerie figures appear and a voice warns of a demonic presence.
- Aaron Goodwin
- James Cloud
- 2 User reviews
- Self - Investigator
- Self -Exorcist
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- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
Did you know
- Trivia In the 1970s, the television Gunsmoke was filed in Golden. Many of the headstones in the small cemetery next to the church are actually leftover props.
- Connections References The Blair Witch Project (1999)
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- Oct 19, 2018
- September 23, 2017 (United States)
- Golden Ghost Town, Wolf Creek, Oregon, USA
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- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- Runtime 42 minutes
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Golden Oregon, the driest Ghost Town in Oregon
Golden earned it’s nickname as “The Driest town in Oregon” due to William Ruble’s anti-alcohol ways. He forbid any in town, causing locals to head west to Wolf Creek, or south to Placer to spend their money.
Golden is one of the few “true” Ghost Towns in Oregon. At least as most people count them, IE, with actual buildings remaining but no population. Luckily though it’s now an Oregon State Park and is being restored and maintained by them.
The area of Coyote Creek was first settled in the 1840’s by Gold Miners. Another gold strike in nearby Salmon River saw the local population disappear to take advantage of that. Chinese Gold Miners immediately moved in only to be pushed out again by white miners.
In the 1870’s the first “hydraulic giant” (essentially a huge water hose,) was introduced to the area. The damage from where this washed down entire hillsides to be searched for gold can still be seen.
The mining activity was so intense at this time, that the Oregon-California Stage Company made a detour here from Leland to drop off passengers, mail, and goods.
William Ruble like so many others was drawn to this area by the lure of easy to find gold. He soon brought his family to settle along the creek. Like many other miners in the area, they used hydraulic water mining to wash hills away. The remains were then run through sluice boxes to recover the gold.
While hydraulic mining was effective, it suffered issues when water levels dropped in the Summer. To solve this issue, the Ruble brothers, Bill and Schuyler, invented the Ruble Elevator. It increased mining efficiency drastically and became an instant success, even winning an award at the famous Lewis and Clark Exhibition in Portland.
By the mid 1880’s William Ruble had purchased all the claims east and west of the area, and resolved the outstanding legal issues with the last claim. The family then mined the easier claims themselves, while leasing the rest to other miners.
A post office was established January 10th, 1896 to serve the area’s 150 or more families. Schuyler Ruble was the first Post Master. William Ruble was an teetotaler, leaving the town a dry one. Local miners would frequently head south to Placer for alcohol, and west to dance hall at Wolf Creek.
The decline of Golden was as swift as it’s rise, and the post office closed March 31, 1920.
When entering Golden, be sure to watch on the right side. Two older houses, along with the school house are partially hidden in the woods. All are on private land and obviously serve local families still. Once you’ve entered town, the old creek is on the right. Coyote Creek is now protected wetlands.
On the left the first visible building is one of the towns two original churches.
Next to that is a small cemetery. Rumor says it was used a prop in the TV show Gunsmoke, with all the grave markers appearing to be blank, this is possible.
Behind the church and too the right is the old carriage house of the Ruble House. Unfortunately it’s not very picturesque, and still has signs of recent repairs with modern materials.
A small cart lays dilapidated next to an information kiosk with the following three signs.
The remaining two buildings are another ramshackle old barn, and an old general store.
Getting to Golden is really easy. Take the Wolf Creek exit off of I-5 (north and south bound.) If you’re going south bound, keep driving south along Old State Highway 99S. Just after passing through “town,” there will be an underpass on the left. The underpass is unlabeled, but there should be a Oregon State Park sign point along this road. Follow Canyon Creek Road about 3.5. The town will all be on the left side.
If you’re northbound on I-5, just take a right off the exit and you’ll be on Canyon Creek Road.
7 Responses to “ Golden Oregon, the driest Ghost Town in Oregon ”
Very informative. Thank you.
Just went there today it was awesome
Did you get any good pictures? Is the school moved closer to the other buildings?
any ghost town property for sale?
Cabin Creek Colorado is for sale right now .
Was just there this weekend. Looks like the school building is moved closer to the general store. You can go inside both the church and the school house or second church, however both are vandalized.
There is a lot wrong with the info…… But what is right is good.
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5 Must-See Ghost Towns in Oregon
By: Author The Drivin' & Vibin' Team
Posted on October 11, 2020
Ghost towns elicit thoughts of dark and dreary nights… complete with horrifying sounds, mist-shrouded cemeteries and things that go bang in the night.
But, what may not cross your mind is the general life of everyday people that used to reside in these previously bustling and economic busting towns.
Ghost towns portray stories of lives gone by, yet remembered through the faint whisperings you may hear as you wander the streets of each of these five ghost towns in Oregon.
What is a Ghost Town?
A simple definition for a ghost town is a place where there are little to no inhabitants. But using that meaning opens up the many farming communities into being defined as ghost towns, and that doesn’t quite fit.
A better way to define a ghost town may be by giving the town justice to what it used to be. A town that once played a role in society: offering entertainment, lodging, law enforcement, settlements, and a way to earn a living. No longer needed by the people and the community it served, the buildings and their belongings were left behind to the forces of Mother Nature and lack of societal rules.
It is this abandonment that ironically draws people to the ghost towns of Oregon and all across the U.S.
But, oh, if those old walls could only talk. The creaks in the floorboards, the bend in the walls, the stains on the ceilings…those walls are talking, Can you hear the stories being told?
How Many Ghost Towns are There in Oregon?
According to several historians, Oregon has the most ghost towns in the U.S, clocking in at over 200 ghost towns.
Some are completely abandoned, some with a sparse population, some with many intact buildings preserving much of the region’s history, and others with only a few dilapidated buildings and a cemetery left behind to give any evidence of its once bustling existence.
Whichever style of ghost town you are drawn to, they all contain a bit of mystery, a lot of history and a window into a past time that we will only experience through memories and artifacts left behind, and the secrets only the walls know, if there are any.
In a single decade, the town of Shaniko in north central Oregon, went from the “Wool Capital of the World” to the liveliest ghost town in the state. Gaining in popularity due to the railroad, its population of 600 people in 1910 began declining rapidly when a competitor began building a new railroad line along the Deschutes River Canyon to Bend.
The Columbia Southern Hotel, known today as the Shaniko Hotel, has been one of the only constants in this Oregon Ghost Town. A local businessman tried to renovate and re-open in the hotel in the early 2000’s, but without success. The current population of Shaniko fluctuates from around 30-40 residents.
Today, visitors to Shaniko can:
- Wander the town streets
- Attend an annual celebration called Shaniko Days held every August
- Visit the town museum
- Visit the annual wool gathering
- Attend the Tygh Valley Bluegrass Jamboree and the Ragtime and Vintage Music Festival held nearby.
Nearby Camping: Shaniko Ghost Town Campground
Located right off of Highway 97 in the middle of nowhere, this free camping site is the perfect place for any size rig to park for the night with easy access to Shaniko. With both paved and unpaved spots, and a few picnic tables under a shelter, your ghost stories can be told as soon as you finish touring the town.
Sumpter became a town in 1898 named after the original residents came across a rounded rock reminding them of a cannonball and Fort Sumter in North Carolina. Where the “P” comes from, nobody knows. Within a decade Sumpter became a gold mining boomtown, gaining over 2,000 residents almost overnight.
Sumpter’s population and popularity declined rapidly after a huge town fire and many mines running empty. At that time, $9 million in gold had already been drawn from the region. However, Sumpter’s gold dredge (a machine that filtered gold from the gravel) continued running for years up until 1954. The dredge consequently damaged the neighboring lands and waters.
Today, visitors to Sumpter can:
- Explore the town streets and surrounding area
- Visit the Sumpter Dredge Visitor Center and Gift Shop
- Hike the Elkhorn Crest Trail nearby
- Experience the beauty of nearby Olive Lake
Nearby Camping: Sumpter Pines RV Park
Located in historic Sumpter, Oregon, you’ll find all the amenities of a full hook-up RV park at Sumpter Pines. From winter to summer fun, this is the place to stay.
Started in the 1850’s as a mining camp, Golden became a bustling town of 100 people. The town also serviced more folks in the region’s remote areas. Golden had 2 active churches and no saloons. As such, it became known as the driest mining town in Oregon.
Regardless of its religious foundations, it remained true to the demise of many mining towns. Even without a saloon, when gold production slowed down, people left the town for other opportunities.
Golden is not a ‘living ghost town’, nor is it commercial, so you won’t find any attractions, restaurants, or stores. The main attraction is the town itself.
Nearby Camping: Wolf Creek County Park
Located a mere five miles from the historic ghost town of Golden, Oregon, Wolf Creek Park offers tent camping and RV sites with water and electric available. Here, you’ll find yourself on the shores of a beautiful mountain creek alongside the historic Wolf Creek Inn. You’ll also find the London Peak hiking trail to keep you entertained in the beautiful woods of Oregon.
In the late 1800’s two small lumber towns worked well together. Starting in Palmer, Oregon, felled timber was rough-cut, then sent down the 1.5 mile long flume to the finishing mills and railroad at Bridal Veil.
Bridal Veil was named after the nearby falls of the same name. This was a milling town that took advantage of the great trees along the steep banks of the river.
When Palmer closed in 1936, the future of Bridal Veil was in question. Until the Kraft Food Company purchased it, that is. The town of Palmer continued with its wood-cutting until 1988 when timber resources were dwindling. Bridal Veil continued its operations alongside Palmer, as well.
Today, Bridal Veil’s milling operations are known as one of the longest running towns and milling operations west of the Mississippi River. It operated continuously for over 100 years.
Bridal Veil is not a ‘living ghost town’, nor is it commercial. So, you won’t find any attractions, restaurants, or stores. The main attraction is the town itself. However, the post office here is still a functioning post office.
The post office teamed up with the wedding industry so couples can have their invitations postmarked “Bridal Veil”.
Briday Veil is also located near the Waterfall Corridor. The Waterfall Corridor has many famous waterfalls and natural attractions!
Nearby Camping: Ainsworth State Park
Ainsworth State Park marks the end of the famous Waterfall Corridor that begins at Crown Point. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll find full hookups, shaded sites, and access to several hiking trails nearby. Also, you’ll find nearby access to the ghost town of Bridal Veil.
Greenhorn is known as one of the first eastern Oregon mining towns. Started in the 1860’s, Greenhorn may have been named after the many inexperienced miners coming to town to strike it rich. While Greenhorn never became a booming mining town, it had enough residents to boast a post office, two hotels, a store, a jail, and even a brothel.
The 1943 gold mining ban pretty much put an end to this little mining town. With the buildings left to rot, nobody gave Greenhorn much thought until 1963, when its little wooden jailhouse mysteriously ended up in the middle of a still active neighboring town, Canyon City, where it remains to this day.
Greenhorn is situated at 6000 feet, the highest town in Oregon. As it is apparently still incorporated as a town, it also has the lowest population…zero
As with many of the ghost towns in Oregon, Greenhorn is not a ‘living ghost town’, nor is it commercial, so you won’t find any attractions, restaurants, or stores. The main attraction is the town itself, and neighboring Canyon City to check out its newest, oldest jailhouse.
Nearby Camping: Bates State Park
Once a thriving lumber mill in the Blue Mountains, this state park now offers primitive campsites to both tent and RV campers alike. Paying tribute to the Bates family that founded this area, there are many historical markers around the campground, keeping history alive, and keeping you in tune with your ghost towns of Oregon.
The Ghost Towns in Oregon Will Tell You Their Secrets if You’ll Listen
These five ghost towns in Oregon only offer a small piece of the history that Oregon has to tell. With its wooded wonderlands, peaked coastal lands, and vast expanses of wide open prairies and tree-banked rivers, Oregon may never give up all of its secrets. Unless, you are willing to listen to the ghosts of the past, you’ll never understand the gifts of the future.
The walls have ears, you know.
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
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Ghost Adventures: Golden Ghost Town
The crew travels to a sinister ghost town near Wolf Creek, Ore. During the investigation, Zak is overtaken by an aggressive entity, Aaron is incapacitated by a dark force, eerie figures appear and a voice warns of a demonic presence.
Shop This Look
Founded in 1890 and abandoned only 30 years later, Golden, Ore. was a mining town that’s since fallen into ruin.
Golden Community Church
The Golden Community Church was established by Rev. William Ruble. A man who owned the town, the mine and was the minister at the church. His word was law. Inside this building, people have been attacked and even possessed. It’s believed the church is the central hub for all negative paranormal activity.
The inside of the Golden Community Church. It's here that several people, including a bishop, have been physically attacked and even possessed.
Mysterious Little Town
The general store.
The former general store located on the grounds. Stick dolls have been found hanging from the ceiling, which are believed to have been created by witches for occult rituals.
Antiques and Antics
Antique tools and equipment can be found all over the ghost town grounds, which could potentially be used as trigger objects for the former owner, Rev. William Ruble.
Vandals have made their presence known on the property—but you’d think the haunting activity would be enough to scare them away?
The tales visitors have to tell will shake you to your core. But the town isn’t the only mysterious destination in the area…
The Oregon Vortex
The guys make a stop at the Oregon Vortex, which is a spherical field of force, half above the ground and half below the ground. Nowhere in the circle can you stand up straight; the visitor assumes a posture that inclines toward magnetic north. Zak believes the ley lines of the vortex could be contributing to the increased paranormal activity in the ghost town nearby.
Can't Stand Still
Elena Cooper, manager of the Oregon Vortex, shows Aaron how exactly it works.
Prepare for a real-life upside down during this week’s investigation. Saturday, 9|8c!
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Explore the Rich Mining History of Southern Oregon
By: Cate Battles / Visit Grants Pass February 2023
When Gold Fever hit California in 1849, it wasn’t long before prospectors caught wind of Southern Oregon’s own hidden treasures. Just two years later miners discovered gold in Josephine Creek, launching Oregon’s gold rush. Thousands of prospectors with dreams of striking it rich flocked to the area, and soon, mines were producing gold along the creeks and hillsides of the Illinois, Rogue, and Applegate Valleys. Being a region rich in history, today you can still find evidence of Oregon’s golden years, from sluices and tailings in the woods, expansive gold ditches, and the remnants of boom and bust towns. Enjoy a blast from the past by following the miner’s footsteps to ghost towns, historic mining trails, and trying your hand at gold panning.
Gin Lin National Recreation Trail
When gold was discovered in the hills, not only did it attract Americans, but fortune-seekers from around the world. In fact, nearly half of Southwestern Oregon’s miners were Chinese throughout the 1860s. News of the West’s Gold Rush reached China in the fall of 1848 and with the promise of the “golden hills” along with the social unrest in China, thousands of Chinese men left behind their wives and families and made the long journey across the Pacific. Rich claims were taken by white Americans, while poor and “picked through” ones were sold to Chinese mining operations. Despite Oregon’s exclusion laws, a mining boss named Gin Lin was able to purchase a claim on the Little Applegate near Sterling Creek in 1864. Here, he found great success which lead him to lease and purchase other “played out” placer mines in the vicinity from white miners who’d already taken out the easy gold. In 1881, he purchased the Palmer Creek Diggings in Applegate Valley, which had been worked decades earlier.
In order to extract gold from the slopes above the Applegate River, he introduced hydraulic techniques which at the time, was relatively unheard of in Southern Oregon. Hydraulic mining required a constant source of water so Gin Lin and his men dug ditches spanning dozens of miles long—- many of which can be explored today. Through hard work, ingenuity, and social prowess, Gin Lin and his mining company began to play an important role in Southern Oregon’s economy. During his time in Oregon, Gin Lin reportedly took out over $2 million in gold from his various mining claims and had an account worth over $1 million in Cornelius Beekman’s Jacksonville bank—— that’s over $30M by today’s standards!Explore the Palmer Creek Diggings site by following the .8-mile Gin Lin National Recreation Trail near Applegate Lake. The short interpretive trail offers beautiful views of the Applegate River along with piping, ditches, tailings, and evidence of hydraulic mining.
Buncom Ghost Town
Tucked away near the confluence of Sterling Creek and Little Applegate lies Buncom , an abandoned mid-19th century mining town in Southern Oregon. Founded by Chinese miners in 1851 after the discovery of gold, it was once the main supply and distribution center for farmers, loggers, ranchers, and miners in Little Applegate Valley. In its heyday, Buncom had a saloon, general store, post office and a stagecoach stop. When the gold dried up, the town persisted until the introduction of the automobile, when farmers began traveling to nearby Jacksonville for supplies. By 1920, the town of Buncom was abandoned. After a devastating fire swept through Buncom, all but three buildings perished. Today, you can visit the post office, bunkhouse, and cookhouse, all located at the corner of Sterling Creek Rd and Little Applegate Rd. Every May, the historical society celebrates Buncom Day, an all-day affair of music, food, crafts, and a parade.
Whisky Creek Cabin
Experience one of the best day hikes in Southern Oregon by following the Rogue River Trail to Whisky Creek Cabin . This 7-mile roundtrip hike takes you to the last remaining miners cabin in the Lower Rogue Gorge and offers stunning views of the river, old-growth forest, spring wildflowers, and mining relics.
Built by an unknown miner around 1880, Whisky Creek Cabin’s original structure was very basic, consisting of four walls, a dirt floor, and a wooden shake roof. To provide water for hydraulic mining along Whisky Creek as well as drinking water to the house, a flume ditch was constructed near the cabin around 1890. Over the years the claim changed hands several times, and saw many improvements, eventually landing in the hands of L.M. Nichols and his wife who hired Lou Martin to be the property’s caretaker. Martin constructed a cable car to haul firewood across the creek. To accomplish that, he strung half-inch steel cable 480 feet across the creek, and tightened it with a system of hand-winches and pulleys. Martin remained the on-site caretaker until 1973 when the property was sold to the BLM. Due to the cabin’s isolated location, the cabin remains essentially untouched since its early days.
Today, you can make your way to this 19th century homestead by rafting along the river or hiking the Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek. During the spring and early summer, the trail is flush with wildflowers as you cross several footbridges, creeks, and waterfalls to Whisky Creek. The cabin remains open for self-guided tours where visitors can spot mining relics and interpretive signs about the area’s history. For those interested in backpacking, continue past the cabin and follow the entire 40 mile trail that stretches from Grave Creek towards the coast near Agness. At this time, the trail head is only accessible by following Wolf Creek/ Grave Creek rd as Galice Road remains closed past Rand due to the Rum Creek Fire. Despite last year’s fire, the Rogue River Trail was untouched from any damage and the Grave Creek trailhead and boat ramp remain open to hikers and boaters.
Sterling Mine Ditch Trail
Situated near the bygone boomtown of Sterlingville, the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail showcases one of the most impressive engineering feats of Southern Oregon’s Gold Rush. After prospectors depleted the easy gold along the creek, hydraulic mining was needed to extract the gold buried in the hillsides. To supply water to the mining operation, in 1887 miners spent 6 months constructing a 26-mile ditch connecting the Little Applegate River and the Sterling Ditch Mine. The ditch was hand-dug by over 400 Chinese laborers and the 3-foot-deep ditch costed $70,000 dollars to build—- equivalent to over $2 million dollars in 2023. During its peak, the hydraulic mining operation blasted away up to 800 cubic yards of soil and rock each day, and remained in use up until the 1930s.
If you’re a hiker that enjoys history and beautiful views, the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail system is for you! Though there are 24 miles of trails in this area, a popular segment is the Tunnel Ridge/ Bear Gulch Loop that incorporates all the best qualities into one five-mile trail, with highlights including the ditch tunnel, flume remnants, panoramic vistas, old-growth trees, spring wildflowers, and a seasonal waterfall. Along Sterling Creek Road, spot the tailings and boulders left behind from the hydraulic mining.
Golden Ghost Town
Soon after the California Gold Rush, prospectors made their way north to the Rogue Valley and laid claim to the area along Coyote Creek. After a few years, these men left for Idaho’s mining boom and more than 500 Chinese miners took their place between 1862-1872. Unfortunately for the Chinese miners, as soon as the work slowed down along Idaho’s Salmon and Snake Rivers, many of these prospectors returned to reclaim the mines and forced the Chinese out.
In 1880, William and Ruth Ruble along with their sons moved to Golden to seek their fortune, and eventually designed a system that made hydraulic mining more efficient with their invention, the Ruble Elevator. With the success of their new invention, the family quickly bought up land and mining rights, and the town of Golden was established in 1890. What makes this town distinguished among the rest, is the fact it had two churches and no saloons-earning its nickname as the “Driest ghost town of the West”. Founded by a religious family, the town’s thirsty miners would have to travel to the nearby Wolf Creek Inn for libations.
After the years, gold production slowed down and by the early to mid 20th century, the town was abandoned. Today, it’s a popular place for ghost hunters and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s show “Ghost Adventures”as well as Gunsmoke. Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the remaining church, schoolhouse, general store, and sheds. Follow the trail across the street that winds around the Coyote Creek Wetlands. Over the years, a restoration project has worked to restore the land back to its pre-hydraulic mining beauty.
Try Your Hand at Mining
Hit the mother lode or just have fun trying by panning for gold around Grants Pass. Spend an afternoon of treasure hunting in the Applegate Ranger District and along the Rogue and Illinois Rivers—— no permit necessary!. While most National Forest and BLM land is open to recreational gold panning, it’s always best to check for other restrictions or mineral right claims. To get started, visit Armadillo Mining Company in Grants Pass where you’ll find pans, literature, metal detectors, and other tools to help you score some shiny nuggets and flakes.