Shaniko, Oregon Fun with Ghost Towns

Shaniko Travel Blog

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Go On Shaniko!

After visiting the Painted Hills in Mitchell someone (me) suggested that we should swing by a ghost town in Central Oregon called Shaniko.  This confused me a little because the official definition of a ghost town is: “A once thriving town, especially a boomtown of the American West that has been completely abandoned.”  Shaniko claims that it is a ghost town, yet they have a population of 26 people.  They could start their own baseball team with that number unfortunately that would leave only one person to cheer them on, so yeah, Shaniko is small!

 

A little history.

Lone Truck
  Shaniko was once a booming town at the turn of last century due to the prospect of gold.  The whole gold thing didn’t really work out, but they soon found a new trade; wool.  Soon ranches were sprouting up everywhere and the little town that could was booming.  Sadly, a few years later, a new railroad line was built and Shaniko lost a lot of traffic thus killing the town.

 

But a few hearty souls stayed and are still living it up in Shaniko (well their descendents, not the original people, although that would be impressive).  After doing some research, I found out that a few years back Shaniko used to have more rundown and empty buildings but in the past few years, it has been restored a bit, which is good for the locals. 

 

When we reached Shaniko it was around noon on a Wednesday and we appeared to be the only tourists there.  People have to work and it was mid week, so it made sense, well, that and I am sure that when visiting Oregon, most people don’t decide to visit a town in the middle of nowhere.

Shaniko
  Ah, well, their loss my gain!

 

Shaniko is right off of the highway and there pretty much is only one major road that goes around in a circle through the town and that is it.  No Starbucks here my friend (yay) though when you are heading out, you will see a convenience store to your right which is stocked with many different items as I have no idea where the nearest grocery store would be!  I would imagine that the people of Shaniko go shopping once or twice a month in a neighboring town and hunker down.

 

The first thing I noticed was that there was nobody in Shaniko.  For the first 40 minutes we were there we did not see another person though we heard children laughing though not in a creepy Children of the Corn way.  They appeared to be very happy considering the 100+ weather.

 

Unfortunately, when we were there the hotel/restaurant which are one of the main buildings in Shaniko was not open and appeared to be for sale.

I Hear the Hash is Great!
  That kind of stunk as I have seen pictures of the inside of the hotel and besides the deer head, it looked beautiful.  Yes, I am always disturbed by animal heads as I prefer them attached to the living animal, but that is just me.

 

There are a few deserted buildings here and there.  The most noticeable would be the old bank.  You can’t get in but you can take pictures.  There are a few unsettling mannequins in the window but they add to the ambiance so they serve a purpose I suppose even though they have seen better days.

 

Next to the bank, there are a lot of deserted wagons that served as the main transportation in the heyday of Shaniko.  And if you look closely you can see an old truck a 100 feet away from a cord of wood.  It is almost as if the poor thing ran out of gas and never made it.  There also is a blacksmith close by, though I didn’t bring my battle ax with me so I didn’t really need to stop in.

The Bank is Closed...Forever

 

Look, I will be honest with you; there is not much to do in Shaniko.  There really didn’t appear to be anywhere to eat though they had an ice cream shop which in my mind is a meal in itself though others may argue.

 

Luckily, a sweet woman from Shaniko came over and suggested we visit their jail.  Not because of anything we had done but because she felt it would give us a great photo op and you know what?  It did!  It kind of reminded me of the old episode of the Brady Bunch when they are locked in the jail in the old ghost town and they try to use their belt buckle to get the key.  Yeah, random, but it crossed my mind.  Thanks Nick at Night Brady O’Thon!!!  Too bad none of us had a belt, we could have re-enacted the scene.

 

Now, the jail is a good time as it is the original structure and you and your family and friends can have a fun time pretending to be incarcerated.

Wagons!
  Seriously, what could be more fun than a photo op behind bars?  I have heard they make great Christmas cards too, so you bet your sweet butt I took many photos to mark the occasion!  I have to say that the jail was pretty roomy, bright and well kept, not nearly as bad as the ones in the Gaol in Dublin. 

 

After the jail visit, we decided to check out the fire department which still relies on the old system of ringing a big bell when there is a fire.  Yep, they still use a bell.  Why not?  It is cheap and appears to work, I have to say, it was pretty cool, but you could tell that many a stupid tourist had played with the bell because they had a sign on it saying not to touch it.  If you walk about 100 feet away you will see a vintage fire truck along with a paddy wagon.  Yep, a real paddy wagon with the words JAIL across it.  Of course, I had to get a photo op because how often do you get to have your photo taken with a paddy wagon?  In fact, how often do you get to use the word paddy wagon in a sentence, not nearly enough.

The Jail
  In fact, I don’t know which word I like more Shaniko or paddy wagon, but I have used both of them way too many times in this blog.

 

Moving on!  Oh, wait a minute.  There really isn’t anything to move on to!  You have to keep in mind this is a “ghost town” with 26 people and you really can’t ask for a lot.  Though they do have free public bathrooms that are nicely taken care of.  They really are clean, though there was no soap the day I was there, that is okay as I keep hand sanitizer with me.  There also was a big ass spider in the sink which made me run out in fear, but again, that isn’t Shaniko’s fault, but rather, Mother Nature’s. 

 

Shaniko is definitely a fun little stop if you are within 30 miles of it while you are driving through Central Oregon.

Thumbs Up Firemen
  It is easy to spend a good 90 minutes there, snapping photos of the abandoned buildings that once represented the booming town.  There also is a museum and shop on the street behind the wagons and jail if you would like to learn more about the history of Shaniko.  That and it is just fun to say the word Shaniko over and over.  In fact if you have been counting I used it 20 in this blog, thus helping it appear as if there is more to do there.  Anyway, I hope this blog has inspired you, I know my life has been changed.



binky says:
I'm sorry I missed that. I don't know if I would really call Shaniko a ghost town as there are 100 people there. But Cross Hollows sounds like the real deal. I plan on going back through there one day so maybe I will check it out. Thanks for the info!
Posted on: Aug 03, 2015
hamellr says:
Cross Hollows is another ghost town literally at the bottom of the hill from Shaniko. http://pnwphotoblog.com/cross-hollows-oregon-double-ghost-town-2/

It gets confused as being part of Shaniko, but was distinct. It is more of a ghost town - only has three buildings, one collapsed, all empty.
Posted on: Aug 01, 2015
WonderDog says:
Scooter is hungry. Scooter like ice cream!
Posted on: Nov 02, 2009
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Go On Shaniko!
Go On Shaniko!
Nothing Like a Good Ole Blacksmith
Nothing Like a Good Ole' Blacksmith
Lone Truck
Lone Truck
Shaniko
Shaniko
I Hear the Hash is Great!
I Hear the Hash is Great!
The Bank is Closed...Forever
The Bank is Closed...Forever
Wagons!
Wagons!
The Jail
The Jail
Thumbs Up Firemen
Thumbs Up Firemen
Paddywagon!
Paddywagon!
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Shaniko
photo by: binky