The Oregon Coast has many ghost towns and Oregon has the most in the country. Pioneers poured into the area during the late 19th century for logging, fishing and mining, but not all towns survived.
As the area grew, settlers soon discovered that not all towns met their needs. Here are three Oregon Coast ghost towns that offer a taste of a lifestyle gone by and worthy of a visit.
There are actually two Kernvilles – the old and the new. Nestled just outside Newport, old Kernville still has many buildings that echo times gone by when fishing and lumber defined the town.
The Kern brothers built a cannery on the Siletz River and settlers built a sawmill on the opposite side of the river. During World War I, the war effort demanded milled spruce for airplanes.
Unfortunately, the road on the cannery side of the river turned into a quagmire during the wet winter season. By 1926, the area had a new bridge and residents and machinery moved to the other side of the river, leaving the old settlement behind for good.
Mabel is near Eugene, Oregon and it has many buildings you can see. Pioneers settled in the area in 1890, because of the large stands of Douglas fir. They built a sawmill on Shotgun Creek and within 7 years the town was the third largest in Oregon so they also needed a post office. “Mabel” was the daughter of the postmaster. The town also had enough children to merit a school.
Mabel thrived during World War I because of the demand for lumber. However, by 1957 the post office closed and the residents used the school as a grange for farmers to sell their goods. You can visit the structure which retains the heavy wood panelling and wood stoves. It’s easily accessible and free to visit.
Technically, Chitwood isn’t a true ghost town – it does have a few residents. Driving from Corvallis to Newport, you’ll see one of the finest examples of a covered bridge in the area and a true “feel” of what it was like to like in the area in the late 1800’s.
It’s heavily wooded and close to the Pacific Ocean. When the town began, it grew quickly. They built a school, and the Corvallis and Eastern and later the Southern Pacific railroads stopped there. It was a vital hub for the area, moving goods and passengers along the Oregon Coast.
However, things changed when a new road shortened the distance to the coast. The train stopped, automobiles took over and people began to drive the new road to the coast instead. Once the train stopped, Chitwood faded.
The Chitwood Covered Bridge still stands, and it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places. However, the grocery store burnt down, they tore down the train station, and the general store feel into disrepair. The bridge sits on private land, but the public can access it freely.
Countless ghost towns exist in Oregon and these are just three on the coast. If you love history and adventure, use one of our scenic coastal vacation homes as a starting point to scour the entire area.
Why stay in a stuffy hotel when you can enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific, all the conveniences of home, and an affordable price?