Rambling Rodericks travel blog








Whitney: Well, beside being my maiden name, we have come across the name in many places such as Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Whitney, a suburb of Henderson (suburb of Las Vegas), Nevada, and now Whitney, a ghost town in the gold mining desert area of eastern Oregon.

As we drove Hwy 26 from Dayville, we turned northeast to head to Baker City, up and over the mountains on Hwy 7. Along the way we passed, but did not turn into, the ghost town of Whitney. It was only a very short way off the road and the remaining buildings could be seen from the road.

While later visiting the wonderful museum in Baker City, we saw a large exhibit on the various gold mining towns that had sprouted up during the gold rush era in the area. The written plaques are from the museum. The colored photos and the following text came offline.

Located about a 1/4 mile south of Highway 7 between Austin and McEwan, Whitney was the prime station on the 80 mile long, narrow-gauge Sumpter Valley Railroad. 14 rail crews were stationed in town and 75 people were employed at the local saw mill which supplied lumber for the surrounding gold mining camps. Even with all this activity, the population never rose above 100. The town began its decline after the fire at the saw mill in 1918. Submitted by Darren Bernaerdt from Deserted Lands.

Whitney was one of those towns that was not a mining camp but was in the middle of those that were. It was strictly a logging town and somewhat on the boisterous side. A killing here and there, now and then. Miss Erma Cole taught school in Whitney in the winter of 1919-1920. She reports the temperature during that winter reached 55 degrees below zero and stayed there for a short time before it warmed up to 50 degrees below zero. The narrow gauge Sumpter Valley Railroad ran between Sumpter and Whitney and had to cross a deep canyon. It is said the trestle crossing was the second highest in the world, surpassed only by one in the Bavarian Alps. Due to its height, it was too shaky and dangerous and was removed in 1915. Today, there is no school, depot, hotel or saloon but other weathered buildings including an imposing sawmill the height of a three-story building. Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.

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