The “Not-Quite Ghost Town” of SHANIKO, OR
Shaniko is located on US Highway 97, in north-central
Oregon's high grasslands, 39 miles north of Madras, and 58 miles south of Biggs
at an elevation of 3340’. It was named
after August Scherneckau, an early settler who farmed
the area shortly after the Civil War. Shaniko replaced a smaller 1880s community called Cross
Hollows and began its boom period in early 1900 as in May it became the
southern terminus for the Columbia Southern Railroad, which was run south from
the Union Pacific line at Biggs Junction.
The railroad spur was run to tap into the massively rich wool market, a
market ripe for the picking due to the extensive sheep raising
in the eastern
Shaniko incorporated on February
9, 1901. At that time the town had a
bank, a couple blacksmith shops, city hall/fire
station/3-cell jail, three hotels, two newspapers, a post office, five saloons,
school, two stores and many other structures.
Church services were held in the school building. In the 1910 census, Shaniko
claimed a population of 600. In 1911, a
fire ripped through town and Shaniko never fully
recovered. The railroad down in
In 2009 the downtown crossroads was still marked by the refurbished, but closed, two-story, brick Shaniko Hotel; the wooden, two-story City Hall; livery stable/blacksmith shop; large, open wagon barn; a massive tin-roofed wool shed, old mossy-roofed cabins and a couple strips of wooden buildings. The Shaniko Post Office, small general store, café, museum and several antiques shops still serve the remaining 26 citizens, as does a small travel trailer outfitted into the Ghostly Brew Expresso dispensary! The gas station is no longer open but it was open 1985. Other notable structures include the restored three-room schoolhouse, which was used from 1901-1946 and restored in the 1990s. The 1900 era water tower still stands, its twin 10,000-gallon tanks now gone.
the time of our
visit on August 6, 2009, I spoke with one of the shop proprietors, and
she indicated that the Shaniko Hotel has been closed
since 2007 and is currently for sale.
The owner of the hotel also owns a nearby ranch – the ranch’s brand is
incised on the large wooden sculptures of cowboy partners
sitting on the front porch of the old hotel.
The rest of the town thrives on its near-ghost town status, pulling in
travelers off US 97. For the first time
ever, there is now a church building in Shaniko. The old
The Shaniko Hotel (formerly known as the Columbia Southern Hotel) and the Shaniko Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Shaniko even has a website at: http://www.shaniko.com/indexOld.html
SEE a 1985 PHOTO of Shaniko.
All Photos added in the August 2009 update were taken in August 2009.
· Latitude: 45.0037364 / 45° 00’ 13” N
· Longitude: -120.7522665 / 120° 45’ 08” W
· E-Ctr Sec 36, T6S, R16E, Willamette Base Line & Meridian
This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for May 2004.
Visit Ghost Town USA’s OREGON Ghost Town Pages
Also visit: Ghost Town
A few LINKS to outside webpages:
FIRST POSTED: May 01, 2004
LAST UPDATED: November 17, 2012
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