Days of Old – Bringing the Past to Life

Ghost Towns

Ghost Towns

• GRANITE

About 15 miles west of Sumpter, in northeast Grant County. Originally called Independence, changed to Granite in 1978 - Incorporated in 1900.

According to “Oregon’s Golden Years,” by Miles F. Potter, Harvey Robbins was the first settler to arrive there – in 1862, the same year that gold was discovered. In 1978, when the town sought a post office, there already was another Independence. The governor selected Granite to be the name.

Granite grew as innovations in hard-rock mining made it more profitable. At one point, the town had a 30-room hotel with a 20-room annex, and several smaller hotels and boarding houses. It also boasted a church, a school, city water, and telephone service to the mines and to the

outside world. Potter wrote: “Four lively saloons made good business at times for the little, wooden jail. Also in sight, at the foot of the hill, was Granite’s Chinatown.”

The mining slowed, however, and the population

dwindled, leaving dozens of structures to the ghostly

memories of boom times.

Today Granite has about two dozen year-round residents, but draws many part-timers and visitors for hunting, ATV riding, prospecting and snowmobiling.

• AUSTIN AND BATES

Near the headwaters of the Middle Fork John Day River

Through the years, Austin was a lumber, sheep, cattle and mining town. Miles F. Potter writes in “Oregon’s Golden Years,” that the Oregon Lumber Company founded the town of Bates about a mile downriver. As the new mill went into operation, that town grew and Austin shrank.

“The decline of the Sumpter Valley Railroad started in 1933 when the road was abandoned from Prairie City to Bates and Austin. All passenger service was suspended four years later, and the final scheduled run was in April 1947,” Potter wrote.

While not “haunted” (perhaps) in the traditional sense, these communities became ghost towns nonetheless. 

A few residents still call Austin home. As for Bates, while all the mill structures and houses are gone, the site has been

resurrected as an Oregon State Parks campground.

• HAMILTON

Located in northwestern Grant County, between Long Creek and Monument. Named for pioneer stockman John Hamilton -First settled in 1872

Now just a few buildings remain of what was once was a hub for cattle, sheep and stage traffic. In Hamilton’s heyday, the down had two saloons, two livery stables, a hotel, a

racetrack, three stores, and a post office, which operated from 1884 to 1959.

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