Last weekend my husband, pup, and I took a road trip to Eastern Oregon to visit the town of Sumpter, Or. Until then, the furthest we had traveled east was Hood River. I'm not sure why I was surprised, but at one point I had said, "If I had fallen asleep and woke up here, I wouldn't believe we were still in Oregon." The scenery had changed so much from the green, lush forested landscapes I am used to seeing. But I'll admit, there were moments of beauty along the drive.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived in Sumpter, right after noting that there were no paved streets once we got off the main road, were the large number of deer all around us. There were so many! They were grazing in the yards and walking across roads and weren't bothered at all by our presence. In the field to the left of us was a flock of wild turkeys, too!Sumpter Bed & Breakfast, owned by Jay and Barbara Phillips. You don't often meet people nicer than Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. In 1900 this building started out as Sumpter General Hospital. After the fire of 1917, which destroyed most of the town, the hospital was used as a brothel for a short period, then became a Masonic Temple for several years. There are reports by guests of paranormal activity in the Sumpter Bed & Breakfast, but we didn't notice anything unusual during our visit. (The evidence is still being reviewed!)
Why were we in Sumpter? Our friend Ben Robison of Autonomous Studies of the Enigmatic & Paranormal asked us to join him as he hosted the 1st Annual Haunted Sumpter Event. The event included a group investigation of the Sumpter Bed & Breakfast, followed by an investigation of the historic Blue Mountain Cemetery (Sumpter Cemetery).
Did you notice that I said '1st Annual'? That's right! There will be future opportunities to join Ben in Sumpter, Or.! Be sure to follow him on Facebook to learn more.
The town of Sumpter was once a booming gold mining town, but currently has only about 200 residents. When visiting you feel as if you're standing in a place that time has forgotten. Sumpter was a thriving community in the early 1900's and at one time had four saw mills; an electric light plant; a modern water system with 30 fire hydrants; public school buildings and church buildings; a steam laundry; two savings and one safety deposit bank; two newspapers; an opera house; four hotels; ten restaurants; about 15 lodging houses; 6 general merchandise and grocery stores; two hardware stores and plumbing shops; four dry goods and haberdashery stores; three jewelry stores; two drug stores; three cigar and confectionery stores; two furniture stores; two tailoring establishments; two millinery emporiums; one fish market; four meat markets; five barber shops; two bakeries; sixteen saloons; The Sumpter Club; one brewery; two hay and grain stores; three livery and freighting stables; three stage, transfer and freighting companies; six stage lines; three blacksmith shops; two harness shops; about 300 dwelling houses; seven assay offices, numerous real estate, mining brokers and law offices, besides physicians, dentists and civil engineers; a number of secret societies, and a fire department.
Can you believe it?
Today the Sumpter Valley Dredge sits as a State Heritage Area. The dredge in the park is the last of three built on the Powder River and operated until 1954.If you're interested in the history of Sumpter, here are a few links to get your research underway. I hope that you'll consider this town in your travel itinerary, but plan on spring and summer travel as winter travel can be quite tricky!
Oregon State Parks - Sumpter Dredge State Heritage Area
Historic Sumpter Oregon
Sumpter Bed & Breakfast
Sumpter Museum and Public Library
Have you been wondering why this town seems so familiar? You must be a Ghost Mine fan! Yep, the town of Sumpter is where SyFy's Ghost Mine is filmed. If you're not familiar with the show, you can get caught up by watching past episodes online. You can also watch all new episodes on SyFy Wednesdays at 10/9c.