Shaniko was once thought to be the “best” ghost town in Oregon…
Shaniko is a city in Wasco County, Oregon, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) north of Antelope. August Scherneckau, a pioneer who arrived in the region after the Civil War in 1874, was the first to establish in the Shaniko area.
He purchased a property near the proposed site of the town.
This pioneer’s homestead was quickly transformed into a stagecoach stop.
An old “Welcome“ sign in Shaniko.Photo Credit
The city name, written on a barn. Photo Credit
The town’s spelling matches the local pronunciation of Scherneckau’s name.
Cross Hollows was the initial name of the town, and a post office with that name was opened in May 1879, with Scherneckau as postmaster. The post office at Cross Hollow closed in 1887, while the post office in Shaniko opened in 1900.
The Shaniko’s Hotel, previously known as the Columbia Southern Hotel, was completed the same year.
The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and was built with 18-inch thick walls and handmade brick.
The historic cabin (built ca. 1900), located on the block bounded by E, 4th, F, and 5th Streets.
Shaniko’s abundance of sheep helped it to become the “Wool Capital of the World” with the Columbia Southern Railway now linking the town to the outside world.
In reality, 2000 tons of wool were exported out of Shaniko in 1901.
The old bank building. Photo Credit
Old piano. Photo Credit
Unfortunately, Shaniko’s success would be cut short by improved train lines avoiding the town and a disastrous fire in 1911.
Because there were no funds to rebuild, the population began to decline slowly but steadily. The railroad ultimately ceased arriving at Shaniko in 1942, and the majority of the residents fled.
Shaniko is not a ghost town in the traditional sense. Today, just around 20-25 people reside here, yet there is enough to see, and many consider Shaniko to be Oregon’s greatest ghost town.
Several of its structures have been preserved in an Old West style, replete with original boardwalks and false fronts.
A jail wagon. Photo Credit
The historic water tower, City Hall (equipped with an old prison), school, and post office are still standing.
The former Shaniko Livery Barn is now a museum with a collection of classic automobiles in their original condition.