I was born in Eastern Oregon, went to school in Southern Oregon, and sewed my wild oats in Northern Oregon. The following is a compilation of my favorite Oregon destinations. This trip will start in Eastern Oregon, make its way to Portland, travel south down the Oregon Coast, stop in Ashland and then head west again out of the state. Most people enter Oregond from the east. They see high desert, juniper trees, and rolling desolate hills. It is sparsely populated, barren and ruggedly beautiful. Here you will find small one stop light towns that house some of the last real cowboys in the world. If the Wild West still exists, even in the smallest of quantities, it is here, in the most overlooked, and underappreciated land that is still untamed by man. Most people only know Eastern Oregon by looking out their car window as they drive down interstate 85 towards Portland. If you do this, you will cut out a large portion of some of the most beautiful country in America. Take another route; go through Eastern Oregon, not around it.
With 18 official ghost towns, Oregon technically has more than any other state in the U.S. Why? Because the Wild West used to live out here, but cowboys and homesteaders are nomads they don’t settle down they travel. My home town used to be one of those towns that at one time flourished with people from the gold rush. It had whore houses, an opera, convenience stores, local newspapers and a china town. However, there are no Chinese buried in John Day because, even though they were paid poorly these workers saved up enough money so that when they died they shipped the bodies back to their homeland. Now John Day has one stoplight, one grocery store, and a declining population.
The truth is though, that there is something hauntingly beautiful about ghost towns. Broken down houses, weathered fences, and dirt roads curling through rotting wood seem to whisper western stories of the once promise land. Here are Easter Oregon’s Ghost towns:
7. Horse Haven
EXPERIENCE LOCAL COLOR – Turn on your radio to KJDY, 94.5- and listen to some old time country music. If you are out of reach of this station, role down your window and play a little George Jones. Preferably “White Lightning” or “(I Was Country) When Country Wasn’t Cool”.