The Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part 6 – Friend

Due to some unexpected events, I wasn’t able to finish off the Ghost Towns Blog Series as soon as I would have liked.

The unexpected event….

This is the final in the Ghost Towns of Central Oregon.

Friend, Oregon

Welcome to Friend, buddy

In its prime, the town consisted of a schoolhouse, a store, a train depot, and a cemetery. The town Friend was named after George Friend who had the original post office established on his own homestead in 1903.

Like the nearby ghost towns that we have already visited, the town seemed to only exist because of the railroad. Friend was the end of the line for the Great Southern Railroad, but when a new rail line was built from Dufur to The Dalles, then the little town of Friend all but shut down. The Friend train depot closed in 1928, and Friend has been considered a ghost town since the early 1930’s.

Hi, Friend!
Friend Store.
Friend school.

The old Friend Store is located on private property now, but the schoolhouse was open for self-tours. Although there are a few ranches nearby, Friend was probably the ghostiest of the ghost towns that we visited during our Central Oregon Ghost Town Trip.

This building sits alone in the middle of a field. Rumor mill says it used to be a bank.
Inside the school house looking out.
A piano remains in the school building.
School’s out…
The only friend I actually met in Friend.

Now that our central Oregon ghost town tour has come to an end, we will begin working on our summer travel plans. What are you summer camping/travel/RVing plans?

Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part 5 – Lonerock

Welcome to Lonerock

The small town of Lonerock was founded in 1881 to provide much needed supplies and services for all of the local ranches. After much deliberation, I’m sure, the town was named for the lone rock that still sits next to the Methodist Church.

A rock. Alone. A lone rock if you prefer.

Although we didn’t see any active businesses in Lonerock, people do still live there. Also, the Gilliam County website states that the church is still used for weddings and special occasions.

A lone church

Lonerock is located in the southeast corner of Gilliam County. Surrounded by grassland there are only three ways in or out of town, but only one of them is paved.

As I was saying, there are only two ways in and out of Lonerock, but only one of them is paved.
Rolling hills of grasslands
A lone cabin nearby

During its prime the town had a sawmill, post office, jail, church, and a school.

A lone school house
A lone community building
A lone gas pump
A lone jail

Once the sawmill in Lonerock closed down, people started moving away to larger cities, like The Dalles, to find work. Over the next next 70 years the population dwindled down to only 11 residents by 1990.

However, according to the last census the population had increased to 21, which shows that residents in small towns in the middle of nowhere are quite capable of entertaining themselves.

A lone cow doing a lone moo

Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part 4 – Rajneeshpuram

ghost town
noun
a town that was busy in the past but is now empty
or nearly empty because the activities that kept
people there have stopped

Rajneeshpuram

Chandra Mohan Jain aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh aka Osho (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Chandra Mohan Jain was born December 11, 1931 in India. He later became known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In the 1960’s he traveled throughout India as a public speaker sharing his philosophies and criticizing orthodox religions.  Bhagwan encouraged meditation, mindfulness, celebration, courage, and humor. His teachings on having an open attitude of sexuality is what caused him the most controversy during his life.

In the early 1970’s Bhagwan and his followers, which were called neo-sannyasins, settled in Pune, Maharashtra, India. The neo-sannyasins built an ashram for Bhagwan, which is similar to a monastery, where his followers could learn his teachings. By the late ’70s the ashram was in debt to the Indian government for back taxes of over $5 million.

And this is where Oregon comes in.

Central Oregon

Bhagwan became interested in the United States and sent his people to create a new ashram. His right hand woman, Ma Anand Sheela, purchased land in Oregon near the small town of Antelope with the money they had saved on their taxes.

Rajneeshpuram (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The Big Muddy Ranch in central Oregon became Rancho Rajneesh, and was later incorporated as the city of Rajneeshpuram. The commune was an enormous 64,229 acres. Rajneeshpuram had a 160-room hotel, a 2 acre meeting hall, shopping malls, restaurants, laundromats, city police, and even an airport. For being a spiritual leader Bhagwan sure had a taste for the finer things; like 85 Rolex watches and 93 Rolls Royce.

(Photo Credit: SIPA/Rex/Shutterstock)
Part of the runway for the Rajneeshpuram airport, and an old fire truck in the background.

Rajneeshpuram was a bustling city and its resident were the only ones happy about it. The following years were filled with legal battles between the Rajneesh and local farmers and Oregon government. Most conflicts were due to illegal land use by the commune and the commune’s unwillingness to compromise.

The main office of Rajneeshpuram, as it looks today.

After the Rajneeshees established Bhagwan as a religious leader in the United States, he began a vow of silence and Sheela became his voice. Eventually Sheela started using her own voice to gain local political power. At her direction some members of the commune moved into the nearest town, Antelope. In time they managed to get themselves voted onto the city council and they changed the name of Antelope to Rajneesh.

Dedicated to those of this community who throughout the Rajneesh invasion and occupation of 1981-1985 remained, resisted, and remembered…”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burk

Flexing their political muscles gave the Rajneesh even more bad press. Rumors that the commune was nothing more than a sex cult with rampant drug use irritated everyone…except for those having the sex most likely. Gossip was that even Bhagwan had his own drug problem of a lot of Valium and inhaling nitrous-oxide for fun.

Temporary housing for the 1983 First World Celebration. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

In the summers of 1983 and 1984 Rajneeshpuram held World Celebration Festivals. During the festivals there were up to 15,000 neo-sannyasins visiting rural central Oregon. The Rajneeshees were spreading through Wasco and Jefferson counties like a bright red STD.

Bhagwan driving one of his Rolls Royce to wave at his followers. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

In October of 1984 neo-sannyasins, following the orders of Ma Anand Sheela, poisoned multiple salad bars at restaurants in The Dalles, Oregon with Salmonella. The purpose? It was a practice run for election day in November. The goal was to keep the citizens of The Dalles home sick so they couldn’t vote, which would give the Rajneeshees even more political power. No one died during the attack, but the 750 people that got food poisoning probably wished they had. The incident is considered the first bioterrorism attack in the United States. It is still questioned as to whether Bhagwan was the mastermind behind the bioterrorism or if Sheela planned it on her own.

Rajneesh propaganda that is completely fake.
According to rumor this is the building that the Rajneesh grew their Salmonella.

By 1985 Rajneeshpuram was falling apart. Bhagwan began insisting that he was not a religious leader and ordered his neo-sannyasins to burn all his teachings and books. In October of ‘85 a grand jury indicted Rajneesh and several of his disciples with conspiracy to evade immigration laws. His lawyers, which were of course neo-sannyasins, made a deal with the US Attorney’s office. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was given a 10 year suspended sentence, 5 years of probation and a $400,000 fine – and the agreement that he leave the United States.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh left Oregon and went back to India. He changed his name to Osho and continued his spiritual teachings to new and old neo-sannyasins. Osho died January 19, 1990 in Pune, India of natural causes. His philosophies and teachings are still available, and you can still join his cult if you like. Just visit https://www.osho.com/

Apartment Buildings still standing
Currently there are signs saying that this is maintenance housing.

By 1987 Rajneeshpuram was empty of the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The state of Oregon took ownership of the town for past due taxes and fines, and then sold it to Dennis Washington. Washington attempted to run a ranch for profit (The Washington Family Ranch), and when that failed he tried to sell the land back to Oregon to be used as a state park. Oregon said oh, hells no!

Welcome – Young Life – Washington Family Ranch

In 1996 The Washington Family Ranch donated the land to Young Life, a Christian youth organization. Since 1999 they have held various youth summer camps, festivals, and retreats.

Welcome to summer camp!

The city of Rajneeshpuram is so ghost town that it isn’t a town anymore…just a church camp where people congregate to hear the word of Jesus, a man who hung out with people of open sexuality and shared his philosophies and beliefs of prayer (meditation and mindfulness), church (celebration), and standing up for your fellow man (courage); plus he liked to brag about his 3-day hide and seek championship (humor).

A rainbow seen shining down on The Old Muddy Ranch aka Rajneeshpuram aka Washington Family Young Life Camp. Which one got the nod from God? Who knows. He works in mysterious ways.

Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part Three – Antelope

ghost town
noun
a town that was busy in the past but is now empty 
or nearly empty because the activities that kept 
people there have stopped

Antelope

Antelope Public School

The Antelope Post Office was built in 1871, and the tiny community of Antelope became the tiny town of Antelope. The town’s population peaked at 249 in 1900, after the Columbia Southern Railway completed a rail line between the Columbia River to just north of Antelope in the town of Shaniko. The State of Oregon incorporated Antelope in 1901 and the population has had a pretty steady decline since then. The 2010 census put the population at 46.

One of the older buildings in Antelope. I am sure these walls have secrets.
City of Antelope Fire Department
An old hose house for the fire department.
Hose Cart No. 2

Antelope found it’s fame in 1981 when the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh purchased the Old Muddy Ranch land just 18 miles southeast of Antelope. It quickly became clear to the residents of Antelope that the Rajneeshees were not just there for some small town farming. The Rajneeshees turned the Old Muddy Ranch into their own city, named Rajneeshpuram.

Lead by Bhagwan and Ma Anand Sheela, the Rajneesh flexed their newfound local power and took over the city council of Antelope – and even went so far as to rename the town Rajneesh. After nefarious actions by some of the citizens of Rajneeshpuram were discovered and investigations began, the town formally known as Antelope began to dwindle. In 1985 the remaining citizens of Rajneesh (including some Rajneeshees) voted 36-0 to restore Antelope’s original name.

The Antelope Garage
School’s Out.
Yes, this is pretty creepy in person too.
An original building from the community of Antelope

The citizens of Antelope commemorated their resistance to the cult of Rajneesh by installing a plaque next to the Antelope post office.

Dedicated to those of this community who throughout the Rajneesh invasion and occupation of 1981-1985 remained, resisted, and remembered…”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Want to know more about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his cult followers?

The office building in Rajneeshpuram, now known as The Washington Family Ranch/Young Life Camp.

UP NEXT Ghost Towns of North Central Oregon – Rajneeshpuram!

Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part Two – Kent & Shaniko

ghost town
noun
a town that was busy in the past but is now empty 
or nearly empty because the activities that kept 
people there have stopped
Kent, Oregon

Kent

The town of Kent is located on Highway 97, south of Grass Valley and north of Shaniko. The town site was originally called Guthrie, and a smaller town site, named Kent, was in a nearby canyon. When the Columbia Southern Railway arrived in Guthrie around 1900, the people of Kent moved to the larger town, and the town of Guthrie was renamed Kent. The post office is the only active business in town.

Kent false advertising.
Kent Market
Cheapest gas in Oregon!

Shaniko

August Scherneckau moved to the area in 1874, after the Civil War. It is said that the town was named after the way that the local Native Americans pronounced Scherneckau’s name. The Shaniko Post Office was opened in 1900, and the town was incorporated the next year.

Shaniko Schoolhouse

The town of Shaniko became a transportation hub between the Columbia Southern Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. Between the years of 1901 and 1911, Shaniko was known as the “wool capital of the world.” The largest building in town was a wool warehouse, which still stands today.

Wool Warehouse

In 1911 the Union Pacific Railroad began using an alternative route to Portland, and Shaniko started losing businesses and population right away. Shaniko was first called a “ghost town” in 1959. According the last census the population is now 36.

The Shaniko Hotel
Inside the Shaniko Hotel
Shaniko – The hub of transportation.
Another example of the local transportation.
I bet there is some antique dog tinkle on this.

UP NEXT Antelope!

Ghost Towns of Central Oregon – Part One – Grass Valley

ghost town
noun
a town that was busy in the past but is now empty 
or nearly empty because the activities that kept 
people there have stopped

Grass Valley, Oregon

Grass Valley was established in 1878 and  was incorporated in 1901. The town is located in Sherman County, Oregon. According to the last census the town population is 164. Grass Valley earned its name because of how tall the rye grass would get in the area; it’s said that it was tall enough to be well over a mans head, even so when on horseback. Alternative history: the men were ridiculously short and made up a tall tale about mutant rye.

Grass Valley School was built in 1903, and closed sometime prior to 1940 when students started attending a school in nearby town of Moro – which is not much bigger than Grass Valley.

For this central Oregon tour of abandoned buildings and ghost towns, we stayed in Grass Valley for the week at the Grass Valley RV Park. It is not a five-star resort…but it centrally located for what we needed, and the owner was really nice – like hands out little bags of candy when you check in kind of nice. It is a tiny park with most residents being long term, but it isn’t a mess. The RV park is right on the highway, so expect some truck noise.

The Old Methodist Church in Grass Valley. The church was built in 1902. The church stopped holding service between 1946-1947.

There are a few abandoned and historical buildings in Grass Valley, including a beautiful abandoned Methodist church and an old school building, plus 99% of the buildings along the highway, but don’t be too impressed since that is only like 3 buildings.

One of the closed businesses along the main street on Highway 97.
Old Methodist Church.
On the inside, looking out.
Inside the Methodist church.
Grass Valley, Oregon School Building.
An old abandoned car on the school property.

However, there is a store/cafe that has found The Facebook. Yes, they even have The Facebook out here in ghost town country.

Country Cafe in Grass Valley appears to be the happening place in town…and they close at 6 p.m. every day.

Up Next Kent and Shaniko!

https://www.grassvalleyoregon.com/

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park – Winchester Bay, Oregon

The original Umpqua Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of lighthousefriends.com

The Umpqua Lighthouse was originally constructed on the north side of the Umpqua river mouth, and was finished in 1857. However, the surveyors that had picked that location had never seen the Umpqua river at flood levels – and the original lighthouse tower tumbled down after a brutal  storm in 1863.

Umpqua Lighthouse 2019

After two decades of a dark coastline, the Lighthouse Board eventually approved the funding to rebuild the Umpqua Lighthouse, as well as construct the Heceta Head Lighthouse, her sister to the north. The lighthouses were built simultaneously, and with almost identical plans. Heceta Head was lit first in 1893.

View from the lighthouse today.

Having learned their lesson with the first lighthouse, the second Umpqua Lighthouse was built on a headland above the mouth of the river, where it is the farthest away from a river or the ocean of all the lighthouses along the Oregon Coast.

The rotation mechanism needed to be restored in 1985, but it is still the original mechanism.

The mouth of the Umpqua river at Winchester Bay was finally lit up again on December 31, 1894.

This former U.S. Coast Guard facility built in 1939 was restored by the Douglas County Park Department and dedicated as a public recreation facility on June 19, 1960.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The old housing facilities have been turned into a museum, but the lighthouse is still an active U. S. Coast Guard lighthouse base today.

On site Museum and Gift Shop

Development of facilities for Umpqua River State Park began with trails and a picnic area at the nearby Lake Marie in the 1930s. Access to the small freshwater lake was provided for fishing and swimming. In the late 1950s, the overnight camping area was added.

The campground is small with only 20 hookup sites, plus tent sites, yurts, 2 log cabins, a hiker/biker camp, and well-maintained restroom and shower facilities.

They also have the jawbone of a whale on display because we are fucking savages on the Oregon Coast.

The nearby towns of Winchester Bay and Reedsport, Oregon both have shopping, recreational supplies, and restaurants. We recommend Don’s Main Street Diner right on Highway 101 in Reedsport. Their clam chowder is delicious, and their pies are to die for!

Mmm. Pie.

Nearby attractions include the marina in Winchester Bay with crabbing, fishing, and beautiful views. Reedsport offers grocery stores, river views, and the Umpqua Discovery Center, which is an educational and cultural resource for all ages.

Winchester Bay Marina
Railroad trestle near the Umpqua Discovery Center
Lots of great photo ops nearby!
The whale watching station near the lighthouse.

More information

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park

Don’s Main Street Family Diner

Umpqua Discovery Center

A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron – Book Review


From the best-selling author of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey comes A Dog’s Way Home.

A Dog’s Way Home is the story of Bella. Bella, a mixed breed mutt, was born under an abandoned building – and that was when life was easy. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster ride for Bella and her person, Lucas.

Follow along with Bella as she faces the ups and downs of cats, dogs, and humans. She finds herself on the most important journey of her life; to get back to her person and her purpose.

W. Bruce Cameron’s books are probably not going to be literary classics, but they are guaranteed to make you smile as you read them. All of his dog books are fast reads, perfect for a day when you need to cheer yourself up. You will laugh. You will cry. And you will absolutely fall in love with the amazing dogs in Cameron’s novels.

And if you don’t like dogs, then please go think about your life choices for awhile.

Because dogs rule.


Happy Holidays from the Oregon Coast

City Holiday Display in Florence, OR

2018 has been a long year.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not complaining, because I know how lucky we are living the way we do. We don’t have average 8-5 jobs, we hardly ever have to set an alarm to wake up, and if we don’t like our neighbors we just move without having to pack a single box.


An entry in the Holiday Float Parade in Florence, OR

We started the new year in Las Vegas playing poker tournaments at Binions. From there we got to spend time with our friends and families in the Pacific Northwest. The Mr. had to have a pretty serious surgery that took almost half of his liver. I am hobbling a bit with an unknown (for now) diagnosis. The year was long and life continues to always try to get in the way, but we are still Writing on the Road – so I consider 2018 a win for us. I hope it was for you and yours as well, but if it wasn’t – there is a new year just around the corner. And, hey, that is how we always find our best dry camping spots…by looking just around the next corner!


Coos Historical Railway Display in Coos Bay, OR.

During this holiday season remember that we all have our own gifts to give to the world, whether it is writing, or photography, or just some simple painted rocks that you leave laying around for others to find a free smile. Perhaps you take garbage from the ocean and turn it into art. Maybe you are a connoisseur of beer? Whatever it is that you do – just do your thing. Do it great. And always try to be better than you were yesterday…or last year.

Veteran’s Memorial Park in Florence, OR


So, at the end of 2018 try to take a minute and appreciate what the year gave you. Love? Happiness? Friendship? Tell them you love them! Tell them they make you happy! Tell them you are grateful for their friendship. New job? Work hard! New dream? Make it come true! Heartbreak? It means you still love beyond yourself and that makes you amazing.


A snowman hitching a ride on a small boat. I hope he doesn’t fall in!

Happy Holidays from Write on the Road!

Near the Siuslaw River in Florence, OR
We hope your path in 2019 takes you somewhere beautiful!

Links

For more information about the Oregon Coast Historic Railway you can go here.

You can learn more about Florence, Oregon here.

Holiday Gifts for the RVers in Your Life

Gifts for the RVers in Your Life

What do you give your loved ones that are full time RVers? Not much, unless you’re going to get them a larger RV to put more shit in.

We purposely got rid of all our crap to live on the road, and we try not keep things that we don’t use. If we have forgotten we even own something (which happens more than it should, really), then we don’t actually need it do we?  So, it gets donated to a thrift store that we come across in our travels (this is also where we buy most of the stuff that we donate – that’s what we call the thrift store circle of life, my friends).

So, again, WHAT do you give your loved ones that live in their RV? Well…I have made a list…make sure to check it twice.

A thermal backpack picnic set. You may think that this is something that people don’t really NEED…but it has a detachable thermal wine holder. Everyone needs this; even you. Order 2. 


Food. Unless your giftee’s are people that don’t eat (in which case you should call in a welfare check on them) then food is always a win. Something delicious that they wouldn’t normally splurge for.


 Games! RV people (well, at least these RV people) love to play games! Especially, the RVers that like to spend their time offgrid.
Also…this is great for people like my husband that likes to make up words and call himself a wordsmith.


Do you know what every RV traveler needs? Whether it is a travel trailer, motorhome, 5th while or even a tiny house they will all need some petrol to move on to their next spot. Unless they have teleportation devices, which would really just take away the enjoyment – happiness is in the journey, not the destination. So, gas cards!

Sadly, we are still without free gas.


If you’re one of those people – you know the kind…they spend so much on their gifts that everyone else is ashamed of their homemade macaroni necklaces – then a membership to an RV club would be a great gift. RV Club memberships include some pretty impressive discounts for the RVers, as well as free stays. Do a little research, click buy, and WHAM! You are more awesome that Santa this year. You want cookies or carrots left out for you?

Some memberships do have age restrictions on the RV, so do your research. Photo courtesy of AMC


Riesling. Gewürztraminer. Chardonnay. Sauvignon blanc. Merlot. Cabernet sauvignon. Pinot noir. Boone’s. Ale. Lager. Microbrews. PBR. Vodka. Whiskey. Gin. Tequila.  Moonshine. 

“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.” -Frank Sinatra


I saved the lamest, but probably the most useful for last. Gift cards. To Wal-mart, Kroger, Clothing Stores, Outdoor Stores, or just a prepaid Visa. This gift lacks imagination on your part, but will really be appreciated by your RVers.


Oh! I forgot the most important part. Have a happy and beautiful holiday season – and ditch the gifts, because the best gift is probably you – unless you suck.

Happy Holidays from Write on the Road. <3