Oregon is full of fascinating history. From gold rushes to Lewis and Clark expeditions, these nine lovely towns in Oregon are filled with amazing stories from the past. Not only are these towns incredibly charming, they’ll make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
Sumpter is a charming town in Eastern Oregon and home to the Sumpter Valley Railroad. This historic town was named after Fort Sumter when a resident found a large, perfectly round stone that looked like a cannonball. At the turn of the century Sumpter became a mining boom town, and then later the town expanded to include a gold mine that produced an increase in wealth and population. Unfortunately the town was badly damaged during a fire in 1917, and when residents used dynamite to help put out the fire, many of the historic buildings were destroyed. However, you can still see some great old buildings, and take a ride on the historic Sumpter Valley Railroad.
Brownsville is a lovely town in Linn County that was originally inhabited by the Kalapuya Indian Americans. People began calling the town Brownsville in 1846, and the downtown area still has many lovely historic buildings to check out.
Echo is a delightful town in Umatilla County with about 700 residents. The original Oregon Trail passed slightly south of the town, and in 1847 the route changed to pass directly through, giving this town an interesting pioneer history.
With a population of less than 500, the lovely town of Fossil is the seat of Wheeler County. The post office was built in 1876, and the town was named Fossil after the soon-to-be mayor found ancient fossils on his ranch.
Joseph is a beautiful, historic town nestled into the Wallowas. First platted in 1883, the town was named after the Nez Perce Chief Joseph.
Entering Shaniko is like being transported back in time. This incredible ghost town in Wasco County became inhabited by European Americans in 1862 after gold was found in the nearby Canyon City , but the Shaniko post office wasn't opened until 1900, at which time the town was called "Wool Capital of the World". The town is now just about deserted, but you can still go and see the amazing buildings and houses that once made up the city.
Astoria is the largest town on this list. It's a beautiful seaside town with an incredible history. The town was created in 1811 when John Jacob Astor (after whom the town is named) headquartered the American Fur Company there. Lewis and Clark also spent a winter just west of Astoria in 1805.
Gardiner is a tiny 250-resident town in Douglas County. The lovely Gardiner Historic District (which makes up most of the town) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has many beautiful old houses. The town was home to the first international paper mill on the West Coast, and it was founded in 1851 after a merchant from Boston traveling down the Umpqua River shipwrecked there. Fascinating!
Walking the streets of Jacksonville is like stepping back in time. The whole beautiful town is a designated National Historic Landmark, and it was also home to the first Chinatown in Oregon.
What are some other charming towns in Oregon with fascinating histories? Share your thoughts in the comments.