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/

Story Time – Silver Rock by M.D. Parker

Write on the Road spent a few days drycamping in a ghost town. The spirits that resided there inspired M.D. Parker to share their story.

Silver Rock by M.D. Parker

She moved through the doorway with a small bundle of wood in her hands. The morning was cooler than she expected, and the fire needed stoking. Maria knelt down pulling open the heavy iron door. She tugged on her dress to keep the hem from catching under her sandaled feet. Only a little, she thought. Just enough to warm the water and take away the morning chill. The day would soon be warm enough. She closed the iron door and stood, wondering, if today would be the day he came back. Miguel still had not come home.

She loves him through his faults. Miguel is heavy with the drink, but no one works harder than he. She looks around the house. She should try more, she thinks. The wood is chipping and the whitewash she spread along the wall is cracking. She notices a dark stain near the door, like ground in charcoal. She fetches a bucket from outside the door. She returns with a small amount of water and lye soap to scrub it away, but there is no stain. Confused, she looks around before setting the bucket down and gives up trying to remember what she was looking for.

She can’t remember how long they’ve been there, but she can remember the man in his horseless buggy. She’d heard they were becoming very popular in the cities and soon they would be everywhere. She didn’t believe it. His horseless buggy couldn’t make it up the hills like her horse could. He had walked up the last hill to tell her that she would have to leave. The claim belonged to her husband and she was not entitled. Yes, entitled was the word he used. She knew the English, but the man in his fancy suit and horseless… “automobile” is what he called it, he used lots of words she was not familiar with. She chased him away with the rifle Miguel left standing by the door.

Maria cared very little for the fancy man, but she never wanted to hurt him. She just wanted to scare him; make him go. She had to keep everything ready for when Miguel returned. He will take care of the fancy man, and she will take care of their home. That was the deal when they came to the hills outside of Silver Rock, and everything had been going fine until the day…

She would not think of that day. She had work to do, right after she relieved herself. She stepped with care across the rough ground; just a few feet from their door to the outhouse. The sun, not fully over the mountain, did little to light the path.

The day passed, as so many others had, while she waited for Miguel. She filled their water from the hand pump over the well. She made herself some food and had some put away for Miguel. She tended to the plants in her makeshift garden that was bordered by rocks she had placed in concentric circles. She brushed off her dress and set to preparing the oil lamps as the sun touched the western hills. The moon already showed itself, full and bright, as it chased the sun away.

She heard them coming. A rumbling sound. They were following the same track that had been laid down by the uncountable trips with their wagon, hauling what Miguel had pulled from the mine on their way into Silver Rock to get the goods they needed. It came into view. Another horseless buggy, of sorts.

It was strange though, closed in like a carriage of painted metal. Not open like the fancy man’s. She watched as they stopped so near to her home. The wheels looked nothing like the ones on the fancy man’s. His had spokes like a wagon. These were solid and of the shiniest metal, like they were made from pure silver. How rich must the owner be to afford such extravagance? She grabbed the oil lamp from the mantel and turned for the door.  Stopping only a foot past the rifle. She raised the oil lamp to get a better view beyond the shadows thrown long by the setting sun and the rising moon. She could not help her mouth falling agape as people climbed from the carriage.

A man got out first first from the front of the carriage and looked around as if not seeing her. He wore denim of a quality she had never seen. A thin shirt hung over his torso, like an undershirt but with pictures painted on it. The woman that stepped out next was the reason for her shock. She looked like a harlot; a half naked working girl. She wore no dress. Her legs bare, her bottom covered only by some kind of tight fitting pant that ended high upon her thighs. She too wore a shirt with painted pictures, the front low enough to show hints of the breasts it barely covered. harlot or no, she felt a tinge of wonder if her own legs had looked like that before age had taken the youth from beneath her dress.

They both moved and spoke as if she was not there. Ignoring her as she called out to them. This man in his fancy carriage and his harlot companion had no business around her home. They continued to speak with no regard to her. They spoke in clear English, but some words she did not know. She continued to wonder at the woman who seemed so comfortable being so near to naked.  

Maria stepped out farther toward them, forgetting the rifle by the door.

“You see the burn marks? I told you she did it.” The man said to his companion, pointing just behind Maria.

“She must have been so sad,” the woman said.

Maria turned to see what the man was pointing at and saw the charcoal colored stain she had meant to clean up that morning. The two of them walked right passed her, straight into her home stepping with care.

Pare! No se puede entrar! She said too fast, forgetting her English.

“Did you hear that?” The woman was looking around.

“Hear what?” The man answered with his eyebrow up mocking the bare-skinned woman.

“Something, I’m not sure.”

He’s laughed then, “Don’t tell me you believe the stories about her ghost now?”

Maria reached for them. The man’s shoulder was closest to her. A startled half scream slipped past her lips as her hand passed through his shoulder like a wisp of smoke from a pipe. The man turned around and his face fell slack as he stumbled. Then it all became a blur. It happened so fast.

He screamed and the woman did not move but met Maria’s gaze, eye to eye. Maria shook away the shock, realizing she must have missed his shoulder, she had meant to grab him, to tell him to get out of her home. They had no right. She stepped forward yelling at them. Her Spanish and English mixing in her tirade.

Pare! Get out of my home. No entrar. LEAVE!

The man scrambled and stumbled as he tried with desperation to bring his feet under him. The woman broke the ice holding her feet to the ground and grabbed the man by his painted picture shirt. He swung his arms as he stood. Maria stepped in closer holding the lamp at him, shaking it with all the fury that masked her own fear. The man’s arms struck the lamp. Maria saw the flutter of a disturbed smoke trail as her hold on the lantern broke.

She screamed.

She heard the the glass on the lamp break as it found the hardened floor. The man’s eyes grew larger than the full moon inside their sockets.

LEAVE!

They tried to run from her. They tripped and stumbled as if climbing over something she could not see. Maria felt hot.

Panic stabbed at her mind, breaking her fury as she began to understand what happened to the lamp. Its oil splashed as it broke. Her dress ignited as the tiny flame found a new home. She screamed, not for them to leave, but for help, as the flames swirled around her.

The heat. The pain. All so fast.

She saw them fall through, more than run, out the side door. The one that opened toward the well pump. She flapped her arms against her dress, but the oil spread. She ran out the front door. Her body dropped to its knees. Her mind blank except for the pain. The heat. The smell.

Miguel?

Help me…

Por favor, Miguel.

Miguel did not come and the world fell darker than the night should be. The man and his harlot ran to their carriage. Through the flames that covered her eyes, she saw the wheels of silver rolling over the rocks.

She moved through the doorway with a small bundle of wood in her hands. The morning was cooler than she expected, and the fire needed stoking. Maria knelt down pulling open the heavy iron door. She tugged on her dress to keep the hem from catching under her sandaled feet. Only a little, she thought. Just enough to warm the water and take away the morning chill. The day would soon be warm enough. She closed the iron door and stood, wondering, if today would be the day he came back. Miguel still had not come home.


Read more in M.D. Parkers first collection. 
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(Short) Story Time!

We packed it all up. Set off into the wild blue yonder to see the world, to spend time with the peace and beauty that this country has to offer… and to write. Our mission to Write on the Road – to share our adventures and of course, some of our fiction writing too. We aim to entertain!

Michael has been doing much more writing since we started, and this is just one short piece of fiction he wrote; a short ghost story inspired by our three days spent in the old mining ghost town of Plomosa:

Silver Rock
By: M.D. Parker

She moves through the doorway with a small bundle of wood in her hands. The morning is cooler than expected, and the fire needs stoked. Maria kneels down pulling open the heavy iron door. She tugs on her dress to keep the hem from catching under her sandaled feet. Only a little, she thinks. Just enough to warm the water and take away the morning chill. The day will soon be warm enough. She closes the iron door and stands, wondering, will today be the day he comes back. Miguel has still not come home.

She loves him through his faults. Miguel is heavy with the drink, but no one works harder than he. She looks around the house. She should try more, she thinks. The wood is chipping and the whitewash she spread along the wall is cracking. She notices a dark stain near the door, like ground in charcoal. She fetches a bucket from outside the door. She returns with a small amount of water and lye soap to scrub it away, but there is no stain. Confused, she looks around before setting the bucket down and gives up trying to remember what she was looking for.

She can’t remember how long they’ve been there, but she can remember the man in his horseless buggy. She’d heard they were becoming very popular in the cities and soon they would be everywhere. She didn’t believe it. His horseless buggy couldn’t make it up the hills like her horse could. He had walked up the last hill to tell her that she would have to leave. The claim belonged to her husband and she was not entitled. Yes, entitled was the word he used. She knew the English, but the man in his fancy suit and horseless… “automobile” is what he called it, he used lots of words she was not familiar with. She chased him away with the rifle Miguel left standing by the door.

Maria cared very little for the fancy man, but she never wanted to hurt him. She just wanted to scare him; make him go. She had to keep everything ready for when Miguel returned. He will take care of the fancy man, and she will take care of their home. That was the deal when they came to the hills outside of Silver Rock, and everything had been going fine until the day…

She would not think of that day. She had work to do, right after she relieved herself. She steps with care across the rough ground Just a few feet from their door to the outhouse. The sun, not fully over the mountain, did little to light the path.

The day passed, as so many others had, while she waited for Miguel. She filled their water from the hand pump over the well. She made herself some food and had some put away for Miguel. She tended to the plants in her makeshift garden that was bordered by rocks she had placed in concentric circles. She brushed off her dress and set to preparing the oil lamps as the sun touched the western hills. The moon already showed itself, full and bright, as it chased the sun away.

She heard them coming. A rumbling sound. They were following the same track that had been laid down by the uncountable trips with their wagon, hauling what Miguel had pulled from the mine on their way into Silver Rock to get the goods they needed. It came into view. Another horseless buggy, of sorts.

It was strange though, closed in like a carriage of painted metal. Not open like the fancy man’s. She watched as they stopped so near to her home. The wheels looked nothing like the ones on the fancy man’s. His had spokes like a wagon. These were solid and of the shiniest metal, like they were made from pure silver. She grabbed the oil lamp from the mantel and set for the door.  Stopping only a foot passed the rifle, she raises the oil lamp to get a better view. Shadows thrown long by the setting sun and the rising moon. She could not help her mouth falling agape as people climbed from the carriage.

A man got out first first from the front of the carriage and looked around as if not seeing her. He wore denim of a quality she had never seen. A thin shirt hung over his torso, like an undershirt but with pictures painted on it. The woman that stepped out next was the reason for her shock. She looked like a harlot; a half naked working girl. She wore no dress. Her legs bare, her bottom covered only by some kind of tight fitting pant that ended high upon her thighs. She too wore a shirt with painted pictures, the front low enough to show hints of the breasts it barely covered. Harlot or no, she felt a tinge of wonder if her own legs had looked like that before age had taken the youth from beneath her dress.

They both moved and spoke as if she was not there. Ignoring her as she calls out to them. This man in his fancy carriage and his harlot companion had no business around her home. They continued to speak with no regard to her. They spoke in clear English, but some words she did not know. She continued to wonder at the woman who seemed so comfortable being so near to naked. Maria steps out farther toward them, forgetting the rifle by the door.

“You see the burn marks? I told you she did it.” The man said to his companion, pointing just behind Maria.

“She must have been so sad.” The woman said.

Maria turned to see what the man was pointing at and saw the charcoal colored stain she had meant to clean up that morning. The two of them walked right passed her, straight into her home stepping with care.

Pare! No se puede entrar! She says too fast, forgetting her English.

“Did you hear that?” The woman was looking around.

“Hear what?” The man answers with his eyebrow up mocking the bare skinned woman

“Something, I’m not sure.”

He’s laughing now, “Don’t tell me you believe the stories about her ghost now?”

Maria reaches for them. The man’s shoulder closest to her. A startled half scream slips past her lips as her hand passes through his shoulder like a wisp of smoke from a pipe. The man turns around and his face falls slack as he stumbles. Then it all becomes a blur. It happens so fast.

He screamed and the woman did not move but met Maria’s gaze, eye to eye. Maria shook away the shock, realizing she must have missed his shoulder, she had meant to grab him, to tell him to get out of her home. They had no right. She stepped forward yelling at them. Her Spanish and English mixing in her tirade.

Pare! Get out of my home. No entrar. LEAVE!

The man scrambled and stumbled as he tried with desperation to bring his feet under him. The woman broke the ice holding her feet to the ground and grabbed the man by his painted picture shirt. He swung his arms as he stood. Maria stepped in closer holding the lamp at him, shaking it with all the fury that masked her own fear. The man’s arms struck the lamp. Maria saw the flutter of a disturbed smoke trail as her hold on the lantern broke.

She screamed.

She heard the the glass on the lamp break as it found the hardened floor. The man’s eyes grew larger than the full moon inside their sockets.

LEAVE!

They tried to run from her. They tripped and stumbled as if climbing over something she could not see. Maria felt hot.

Panic stabbed at her mind, breaking her fury as she began to understand what happened to the lamp. Its oil splashed as it broke. Her dress ignited as the tiny flame found a new home. She screamed, not for them to leave, but for them to help as the flames swirled around her.

The heat. The pain. All so fast.

She saw them fall through, more than run, out the side door. The one that opened toward the well pump. She flapped her arms against her dress, but the oil spread. She ran out the front door. Her body dropped to its knees. Her mind blank except for the pain. The heat. The smell.

Miguel?

Help me…

Por favor, Miguel.

Miguel did not come and the world fell darker than the night should be. The man and his harlot ran to their carriage. She saw the silver wheels rolling away through the flames covering her eyes.

She moves through the doorway with a small bundle of wood in her hands. The morning is cooler than expected, and the fire needs stoked. Maria kneels down pulling open the heavy iron door. She tugs on her dress to keep the hem from catching under her sandaled feet. Only a little, she thinks. Just enough to warm the water and take away the morning chill. The day will soon be warm enough. She closes the iron door and stands, wondering, will today be the day he comes back. Miguel has still not come home.

Plomosa Ghost Town & Quartzsite, Arizona

About 10 miles east of Quartzsite, AZ are the ruins of the old ghost town, Plomosa. Plomosa was a lead mining town in the late 1800’s, it even had it’s own post office for a short while. Plomosa has one house that still stands, but is in horrible disrepair. There is a mine shaft nearby that has been gated off to protect people, but you can peek down it pretty safely.

The opening to a left over mine shaft. We peeked in and determined the fence is there for a solid reason…

The land is now BLM dispersed camping land, which means you can stay for up to 14 days for free. We parked Serenity right next to the only house that remains and prepared ourselves for getting spooked by some ghosties for a few days.

The only building still standing in Plomosa.

Left over foundation in the tiny ghost town

The night we arrived my cell phone worked well with a signal good enough for watching online videos. By the next morning, I had zero signal. It was that way for 24 hours and then it magically reappeared. Cutting communication is the first line of offense, right? I’m thinking the ghosties didn’t want us communicating with the outside world. In an effort to make the situation more creepy for us our dog, Rusty, would spend way too much time just staring at the carcass of the house; his tail down between his legs while looking as suspicious as a fluffy golden retriever/chow could possibly look.

Plomosa; a Spanish word that translates to creepifying.

The hubby and I have different ways of dealing with the spooks, apparently. He spent time looking in the building, shining the flashlight on it at night, and staring at it just as suspiciously as the dog. I took the “ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away” approach. Don’t look at it, don’t shine your light on it, don’t walk the dogs that way, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t read from the Necronomicon

senza-nome4

After the second night there the cell service came back with a strong signal and I figured we must have passed some supernatural test…or the ghosties got bored and wanted to watch online videos with us.

Plomosa, and the surrounding area, is an interesting place. There are still active mining claims in the area and you will see plenty of traffic because of that. A BLM ranger told us that there was a natural springs nearby and after hours of driving around the desert without finding it, we decided that was some sort of prank they must enjoy playing on the tourists.

You can find less creepy and more beauty in the area, as well

We stayed for three days at Plomosa without the spooks doing anything to bad to us (other than cutting our communication, of course). The hubby even managed to write a ghost story while we stayed in the ghost town. We ended up leaving after the third day due to having to hold our dogs down and pull Jumping Cholla cactus burrs out of their feet more times than they would have liked.

This is a Jumping Cholla cactus. It’s evil.

We left Plomosa for the up and coming RV mecca, Quartzsite. And it was fairly awful. There is nothing in Quartzsite, other than short-term and long-term BLM campgrounds, private RV parks, and a tiny grocery store. There is a small bookstore there, which I was quite happy to hear about, until it became known that the owner is an elderly man that operates his bookstore in the buff; except for a crocheted sock around his junk. For once in my life, I willingly passed on visiting a bookstore.

Quartzsite was a brief stop for us, as there is really not much to do there unless you are a rock hound. There are some beautiful (and valuable) rocks to be found in the area, but you could smack me upside the head with a $0.10 rock or a $1000.00 rock and I would just say WTF either way.

Quartzsite did have some amazing sunrises and sunsets, though.

Another look into the Old West – Fairbank and Tombstone, Arizona

Continuing with our old west theme we decided to head toward the ghost town of Fairbank. The town is highly intact as it is owned and has been restored by the Bureau of Land Management. The old school house has been modified into a visitor’s center and gift shop, but is only open on Friday through Sunday, so we didn’t get a chance to visit it. The old store, post office, and gas station was combined in a single building, which is still standing and in good shape considering that the last owners packed up and left in the mid 1970’s. There are a few other buildings, including an outhouse and the shaky remains of horse stables. Fairbank has year round caretakers on site, but admission is free. There are plenty of picnic tables and hiking trails to be able to make a whole day of it.

You just got a letter. You just got a letter. You just got a letter. I wonder who it’s from!? Someone very upset that you haven’t written them back, most likely, because the post office closed in the early 1970’s.

The Old School House

Fairbank Ghost Town Buildings.

Ghost: Um? Hello? Shut the door!!!

We found a place to land Serenity for the evening near Tombstone, with plans to spend the next day exploring. The next day was Veteran’s day, so we got to watch their annual Veteran’s Day parade.

Tombstone Veteran’s Parade 2016

The town of Tombstone is authentic with their wooden sidewalks, historic buildings, and everything there is going to cost you something. While it will no longer be your life that you have to pay with, they do love your coin purse. Each building has an entry fee, each rendition of an old west shootout has an entry fee, even the courthouse museum has an entry fee. The toilets located at the small city park were free to use. To be honest, we did not spend much money there, but chose to enjoy the town from the outside of the buildings, which is still very cool!

This fancy, and well air-conditioned, lady started her impressive career at the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone.

Plenty of history to see and hear about at the Bird Cage.

The Bird Cage Theater holds the record for the longest poker game ever – over eight years long, only ending because the Theater closed.

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.

The O.K. Corral! I think they grew Huckleberry’s or something here?

Some fine transportation for the fine, upstanding citizens of Tombstone

Writing desk at the Tombstone Epitaph – the first and longest running newspaper in Tombstone.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The Boothill Graveyard – so named for the large amount of men buried there that died with their boots on.

Across New Mexico

Sights to See in New Mexico

All across New Mexico there is plenty to see and experience. From Native American reservations to giant pistachios – they’ve got you covered!

The World’s Largest Pistachio – Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Pistachio Monument

It’s Big. It’s a Pistachio.

Crashed Aliens – All across southern New Mexico

Poor, wrecked aliens

A cellphone tower made to look like a tree, even though New Mexico is a bit lacking in trees – Ruidoso, New Mexico

Cellphone tower disguised as a tree to blend in with the cacti.

Ghost Town – Steins, New Mexico

A real-life tragedy makes this ghost town even ghostier.

The owner purchased the town with the intent of creating a sight seeing opportunity for tourists…

…but was murdered on his property by a stranger who left the untraceable gun behind.

The crime is still unsolved.

The deceased owners family has reopened the town of Steins for scheduled tours. Please visit their Facebook link above for more information.

There is plenty to see and do in New Mexico and I would advise all to visit this beautiful state!

Related Blogs
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Fort Sumner, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico – Part One
Roswell, New Mexico – Part Two
Lincoln, New Mexico