With a reputation for being slightly quirky, it’s no surprise that Oregon is a gold mine for interesting and unusual abandoned places to visit and explore. Below are 15 spots you shouldn’t miss on your next trip to this offbeat corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Killer Urbex Note: It is important to note that many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on the locations are not given purposefully to ensure the abandoned places in Oregon stay as vandalism and destruction-free as possible. Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Interested in venturing outside Oregon? Here are a few guides to surrounding states that will be helpful in your explorations outside of the wonderful abandoned places in Oregon:
- Our Guide to the Best Abandoned Places in Washington
- Most Amazing Abandoned Places in Colorado: Top Choices
- Our Picks For The Best Abandoned Places In Utah In 2021
- Our Guide to the Best Abandoned Places in California
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in Oregon location.
- Abandoned Mine (Opal Creek)
- Abandoned Vernonia Mill (Vernonia)
- Blue Heron Paper Mill (Willamette Falls)
- Bull Run Ghost Town (Bull Run)
- Centennial Mills (Portland)
- Collins Beach UFO Boat (Portland)
- Friend Ghost Town (Dufur)
- George Conrad Flavel House (Astoria)
- Hot Lake Hotel (La Grande)
- Latourell Ghost Town (Latourell)
- Shanghai Tunnels (Portland)
- Shaniko Ghost Town (Shaniko)
- The Witch’s Castle (Portland)
- The Wreck of the Mary D. Hume (Gold Beach)
- The Wreck of the Peter Iredale (Warrenton)
The Best Abandoned Places in Oregon
The Witch’s Castle (Portland)
Well-known to Portland locals, the haunting structure known as the Witch’s Castle has been a point of fascination for more than a century.
The property’s history begins on a sour note with its original owner of record, Danford Balch, who purchased a vast swath of land in the area as Portland was first being developed. To help him clear the land, Balch hired Mortimer Stump, who moved into the family cabin and eventually developed a romantic relationship with Balch’s daughter Anna.
When Stump asked Balch for permission to marry his daughter, Balch refused to give his blessing, and the couple eloped in 1858. When the newlyweds returned to Portland, Balch shot his son-in-law in the face and was eventually tried and executed for the murder.
The property passed through multiple owners in the subsequent decades and was eventually donated to the City of Portland. In the 1930s, the city built the large stone building now seen on the site today, which contained a park ranger station and public restrooms for visitors.
The structure sustained severe damage in a 1962 storm, and the city opted to abandon it instead of repair it. In the years that followed, its roof caved in, moss and graffiti took over the stone walls and it became known as a haunt for teen parties.
Though it is officially identified by Portland Parks and Recreation as the “Stone House,” the high school students who frequented it gave it the enduring nickname the “Witch’s Castle.” Located in Portland’s Forest Park, the building’s remains are easily accessible via well-maintained paths from either the Upper Macleay Parking Lot near the Audubon Society or the Lower Macleay Parking Lot located at NW 30th Street and Upshur Street.
All in all, it should come as no surprise that this potentially haunted location made the list of the best abandoned places in Oregon.
The Wreck of the Peter Iredale (Warrenton)
Since the ship ran aground on Clatsop Spit along the northern Oregon coast in 1906, the remains of the Peter Iredale have been a popular attraction for curious locals and visitors.
The four-masted steel bark was built in England in 1890 and operated by the British shipping firm Iredale & Porter. On September 26, 1906, the vessel departed Salina Cruz, Mexico for Portland, where it was meant to collect a shipment of wheat for return to Britain.
The ship’s crew navigated ably through heavy fog and arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River near dawn on October 25. As the captain waited for a pilot to guide the Peter Iredale to port, a strong southwest wind and accompanying current seized the vessel and ran it aground with such destructive force that three of its masts broke upon impact.
Shockingly, no one on board sustained serious injuries, and a lifesaving crew from nearby Point Adams ferried 25 crew members and two stowaways to safety.
The ship was abandoned there, and though nature has continued to batter its remains over the past 100-plus years, its skeleton is still easily visible from shore and can even be reached on foot during low tide. The ill-fated ship is accessible from Warrenton by taking SW 9th Street West, NW Ridge Road, and Peter Iredale Road toward the beach. Plenty of public parking is available within sight of the shipwreck.
If you’re a fan of shipwrecks and want to add another location to your abandoned places in Oregon repertoire, we highly recommend seeking out the wreck of the Peter Iredale.
Collins Beach UFO Boat (Portland)
Though much smaller than the Peter Iredale, this abandoned boat covered in colorful graffiti boasts a far more unusual location: a nude beach on Sauvie Island just outside Portland.
Before it was abandoned near a stand of trees along the beach, the boat provided a home to a family for several months in 1973. Featuring a modest kitchen and generator-powered electricity, the small vessel’s bubble-shaped body and circular windows looks very much like an extraterrestrial spaceship that crash-landed on the beach.
Over the years, its metal body has been eroded by the salt air, painted in a coat of green moss and adorned with spray paint by a parade of graffiti artists.
To glimpse the strange ship, use the parking lots at the second or third entrance to Collins Beach and hike the short trail to the beachfront. The boat blends in well with the surrounding scenery, so you’ll have to search for it until you’re just a few hundred feet away. Attempting to enter the structure isn’t recommended, given that the floor is covered in shards of broken glass and the worn metal could have sharp edges in spots.
Friend Ghost Town (Dufur)
Despite its welcoming name, the town of Friend in Wasco County has been almost completely abandoned for roughly 40 years.
Founded at the dawn of the 20th century in conjunction with the extension of the Great Southern Railroad, which spanned 41 miles between The Dalles and Dufur, the town was named for one of its earliest homesteaders, George J. Friend. When the railroad ended its operation in 1936, the town’s population began a steady decline, culminating in the closure of its post office in 1979.
Today, the remains of this ghost town consist of a vacant schoolhouse, a pair of outhouses, a general store, the shuttered post office and a random concrete building in the middle of a field. Other signs of previous life include a cemetery, a sagging barn and a rusted tractor. Friend remains a popular destination for sightseers and even hosted an indie rock festival in recent years.
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Hot Lake Hotel (La Grande)
As early as 1864, the resort town of La Grande was a haven for the well-to-do, with its bucolic scenery and naturally warm waters of the nearby lake. The original resort structures were demolished when the Union Pacific Railroad laid tracks through town in 1884, but a new hotel was constructed 20 years later, offering guests access to lush bathhouses with mineral water drawn from the lake.
Soon after its grand opening in the early 20th century, Dr. William Thomas Phy joined the hotel’s operations and oversaw its expansion to more than 100 guest rooms. He dubbed the hotel the “Hot Lake Sanitorium” and added medical treatment facilities, office space and a dance hall. Known for its healing, mineral-rich waters, the hotel attracted wealthy and ailing guests from around the globe, including the Mayo brothers from the famed Mayo Clinic.
After a fire destroyed a significant portion of the hotel in 1934, business nosedived, and the property was converted for use as a nursing training center and flight school during the Second World War. It also saw brief use as a storage facility for the bodies of those who perished in a winter typhoid epidemic, holding them until the ground had thawed enough to permit burials.
The facility saw yet another reincarnation in the 1950s, when it was used as a nursing home and then an insane asylum. A restaurant opened onsite in the late 1970s but didn’t last long, and the campus was completely abandoned in 1991. It sat vacant for a decade and a half, its decay hastened by vandals and the forces of nature.
It was purchased and restored in 2003, with a massive renovation effort that included replacing more than 300 windows and repairing major damage to the structure’s roof. Today, the building is home to a quaint bed and breakfast and modest spa.
George Conrad Flavel House (Astoria)
This luxurious home came to life in 1901, when Captain George Conrad Flavel commissioned it as a second residence for his family, which consisted of his wife Winona and son Harry. The Flavels were well-known in the Astoria community for their civic engagement and charity work, and the impressive Colonial-Revival-style house suited their prominent reputation.
After Captain Flavel died in 1923, his widow continued to reside there until her death in 1944, at which point the Flavels’ son Harry inherited the property. He moved in with his wife Florence and their two children, Mary Louise and Harry Sherman. The family—and the home—acquired a dark reputation in 1947 when a neighbor entered the home after hearing screams and 20-year-old Harry Sherman attacked him with a hatchet.
Harry claimed self-defense at his trial and charges were dismissed, but his new nickname of “Hatchet Harry” endured. The family withdrew from the community and were rarely seen in public until 1983, when Harry was walking his dog in the neighborhood and swung the dog’s chain at a passing car as it sped by.
The car’s owner pursued Harry on foot, and the altercation ended with Harry stabbing the man and earning probation for his assault charge. In 1990, the family packed their bags and left town, abandoning the iconic mansion.
The house sat empty and decaying for years until the city’s code enforcement staff entered the property in an attempt to address safety issues. Inside, they discovered that the Flavels had been hoarders, filling the stately home with trash and clutter. The structure was boarded up, and foreclosure proceedings were completed in 2013.
In 2015, local businessman Greg Newenhof purchased the derelict property with intentions of restoring the mansion and making it his main residence. Sadly, Newenhof never saw the realization of his vision; he died suddenly in 2018, leaving the future of the former Flavel home in its current state of uncertainty.
The Wreck of the Mary D. Hume (Gold Beach)
After nearly a century of dedicated service that earned it the record as the longest-serving vessel on the Pacific coast, the steam ship Mary D. Hume is spending its retirement slowly decaying in the muddy waters at the mouth of the Rogue River.
Built in 1881 by Astoria businessman R.D. Hume and named for his wife, the Mary D. Hume initially served as a cargo ship moving goods between Oregon and San Francisco. Hume sold the ship to the Pacific Whaling Company in 1889, which used the vessel on whaling expeditions in the Arctic Ocean for the next decade.
At the turn of the century, the ship was sold to the American Tug Boat Company and repurposed as a tugboat on Alaska’s Nushagak River. A brief stint as a halibut fishing vessel in 1914 was followed by another 60 years of service as a tugboat.
The Mary D. Hume was finally retired in 1978 and left in its current location in Gold Beach, partially submerged in the shallow water just off the coast. Its walls and roof have collapsed in places, and a coat of bright-green algae covers much of its exterior. The stranded ship has gained new life as a habitat for marine life, with several species of invertebrates and fish finding safe haven within its sinking walls.
Though the Mary D. Hume was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, nothing has been done to preserve the ship, and it will likely crumble completely into the sea at some point. Until then, you can see it by taking Highway 101 north from Gold Beach and turning left onto Harbor Way. The wreck will soon be visible in the water near the road.
Abandoned Mine (Opal Creek)
Hikers who visit the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area to traverse the Henline Falls Trail will not only enjoy views of a majestic waterfall and verdant forest, but also get the chance to peek inside a now-defunct gold mine.
This relatively secluded out-and-back trail is less than two miles in total, departing from the Henline Falls Trailhead in the Little North Santiam River area. With just 200 feet of elevation gain, this gentle hike is appropriate for hikers of all ages and skill levels. The trail follows an old dirt road through thick stands of red alder, Douglas fir, and western hemlock lined with carpets of Oregon grape and sword fern.
At the Henline Falls/Ogle Mountain Trail junction, stay left and follow the signs for Henline Falls Trail, which was once a tram passage to the gold mine. You will pass the concrete foundation and water wheel marking the site of the mine’s former power plant before arriving at Henline Falls, a 125-foot cascade of water that collects in a green plunge pool below.
Just to the right of the falls is the entrance to the abandoned Silver King Mine, where the 1,700-foot shaft is blocked by a bat gate roughly 60 feet from the surface. You’ll still get a taste of the experience shared by the miners who once drilled into the earth here in their search for gold, which ultimately proved to be fruitless; the mine was shut down after failing to produce a profitable amount of ore.
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Shaniko Ghost Town (Shaniko)
Previously known as the “Wool Capital of the World,” the once-thriving community of Shaniko—roughly 90 minutes northeast of Bend—is now essentially a ghost town, with a population of around three dozen at the most recent count. Most of its original structures, which date back to the dawn of the 20th century, remain in place, albeit vacant and time-worn.
The town’s population peaked around 1900, with its economy relying heavily on wool processing and exporting. When a new railroad route circumvented the town 10 years later, residents began their gradual exodus, leaving behind a vacant schoolhouse, town hall, jail and the historic Shaniko Hotel, among other components of the community.
Though most of its storefronts and residences are vacant, some remain surprisingly accessible, offering visitors a chance to glimpse artifacts from the lives of those who once lived and worked there.
The die-hard residents who still call Shaniko home are ferociously proud of the community, organizing several annual events like a vintage music festival and the history-focused Shaniko Days celebration. A few businesses are still operating, including a quaint diner and an antique store, and there are also guided tours that provide insight on the town’s former prosperity and slow decline.
Shanghai Tunnels (Portland)
Known colloquially as the Shanghai Tunnels, the Old Portland Underground is thought to have originated in the 19th century. This maze of underground passages was designed for the delivery of goods from the Willamette River waterfront to the shops, taverns and hotels of downtown Portland, enabling couriers and other workers to safely transport items while avoiding the train and streetcar traffic on the busy streets above ground.
Though rumors of organized crime and other nefarious activities in the tunnels endure to this day, no proof exists that they were ever used for mass shanghaiing operations or other significant criminal activity.
Today, the tunnels are best explored via organized tours, which offer tourists the opportunity to spend more than an hour underground and learn about the passages’ fascinating history from experienced guides.
Bull Run Ghost Town (Bull Run)
In the shadow of Oregon’s Mt. Hood lies the ghost of a small town that once supplied much of the water and power to sustain the region’s explosive growth.
Along the crystal waters of the Bull Run River—believed to have been named for the wild cattle that roamed the region in the mid-19th century when pioneers began to arrive in the area—a settlement originally known as Unavilla was established in 1893.
Just two years later, the town had expanded well beyond its original borders, and the post office was relocated about a mile east. By the dawn of the 20th century, Bull Run had its own school, hotel, blacksmith shop, grocery store and other amenities common to modern communities at the time.
As electric power became more widely available in the Pacific Northwest, the Mt. Hood Railway and Power Company built the Bull Run Powerhouse in 1908. A man-made reservoir dubbed Roslyn Lake was constructed to store the water used in the power generation process, which was diverted through a series of canals, tunnels and wooden flumes from its origin at the Bull Run River.
Along with the company’s other assets, the powerhouse was acquired by the Portland Railway Light and Power Company in 1912, and the utility installed overhead electrical wiring to bring streetcar service to the region.
After the Great Depression sent the country into an economic tailspin, the company’s passenger rail service was discontinued in 1930, followed by its freight service two years later. With fewer employees needed to manage the operation of the powerhouse and associated facilities, the town’s population dropped to just a few dozen full-time residents.
The post office was moved to neighboring Camp Namanu in 1939 and closed completely in 1953. The Bull Run Powerhouse was shuttered in 2007, leaving the still-active campground as the only sign of life near the site of the once-thriving town.
Centennial Mills (Portland)
Originally known as Crown Mills when it was built, Centennial Mills supplied much of the flour and milled grain to sustain the Pacific Northwest over the 20th century. The $250,000 facility opened in 1911 with a six-story concrete flour mill and a crib elevator made of stacked timber, providing tons of flour for the “Wheat Fleet” of cargo ships that transported grain to Great Britain, South America, Japan and several other global ports.
Little more than a year after it opened, a large fire gutted the building’s upper floors, but it was soon rebuilt with a massive water tank on the roof in case of future blazes. The water tank, along with the 10-foot letters spelling “Crown Flour” that stood on the roof, made the facility an instantly recognizable local landmark.
By the end of the decade, the mill employed about 120 workers to staff its 24-hour operation. With daily output growing to more than 12,000 bushels a day in the 1920s, the company added several new warehouses, grain elevators and a new mill dedicated to the production of animal feed.
Crown Mills was one of the few profitable facilities that sustained its parent company through the Great Depression, and after World War II, the company sold it to Tacoma-based Centennial Flouring Mills, which had the available capital to make critical upgrades to the aging facility.
Under its new ownership, Centennial Mills flourished for several more decades. After a succession of corporate restructuring efforts at Centennial, the Portland facility was sold to agriculture giant Archer-Daniels Midland (ADM) in 1981.
Due to the projected cost of modernizing the aging mill, ADM opted to shut it down completely in the late 1990s. The property was purchased by the Portland Development Commission in 2000, and one of the warehouses was renovated to serve the Portland Mounted Police.
Most of the remaining buildings were demolished by 2016, but the original six-story concrete structure remains on the site, continuing to deteriorate until its fate is determined by the development commission.
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Abandoned Vernonia Mill (Vernonia)
The last remnants of the former lumber mill operated by the Oregon-American Lumber Company are still visible beneath a blanket of fallen leaves, moss and graffiti in a densely wooded area outside the small town of Vernonia.
Prior to construction of the mill in the early 1920s, Vernonia was a sleepy community of around 150 residents located roughly 50 miles northwest of Portland. When the mill began operation in 1924, the town’s population had swelled to more than 1,500, thanks in large part to the promise of good jobs and economic prosperity that the mill provided.
The company logged timber from more than 30,000 acres of old-growth Douglas fir in Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties, processing much of it at the Vernonia mill. The facility quickly became known for its impressive output—350,000 board-feet produced on each eight-hour shift—as well as its distinctive kiln-drying process.
For more than 30 years, lumber from the Vernonia mill was transported by rail to the company’s customers, most of whom were located in the Midwest. By 1957, the operation had largely depleted the old growth forests from which it harvested its product, and the mill shut down in April of the following year.
The company housing development was taken over by the City of Vernonia in 1960, and most of the mill facility was demolished around the same time. However, the company office was preserved and converted into the Vernonia Pioneer Museum; the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 2002.
As for the mill itself, only the concrete shell of the massive fuel bunker remains standing in the woods, its walls covered in colorful graffiti and its interior carpeted with leaves and brush due to the total absence of a roof. Adjacent to the mill ruins, you’ll find a lovely park with a lake and 21-mile multi-use trail that connects the towns of Banks and Vernonia, with four additional trailheads in between them.
Latourell Ghost Town (Latourell)
Just west of the mighty Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River Highway, the former town of Latourell was once a thriving logging community founded by Joseph Latourell. The New York native made his way west in the mid-19th century seeking a pastoral region in which he could start a farm and a family. He acquired a land grant and a menagerie of cows, horses, sheep and chickens and began farming the fertile soil in the foothills of the Cascades.
For several years, Latourell, his wife and their eight children were the only inhabitants of the settlement. He initially earned a living as a boatman along the Columbia River and later operated a mercantile and fish wheel. The town eventually grew large enough to support a post office, and Latourell naturally became its postmaster. At its peak in the 1880s, the town was also home to five saloons and a popular brass band.
Over the first half of the 20th century, the town’s population plummeted as the region’s once-booming timber industry began to disappear. The Latourell post office closed in 1964, and today the area has just a handful of residents, although it gets plenty of visitors thanks to its proximity to Guy Talbot State Park and the picturesque Latourell Falls.
However, a number of the community’s original buildings are still standing, although some are more structurally sound than others. The Latourell family’s wood-framed farmhouse, located at the corner of Northeast Latourell Road and Northeast Fall Street, sits slumped in an overgrown thicket of trees, its shingles and wood siding covered with patches of bright green moss.
An old carriage house along the Dalles-Sandy Military Road leading into town remains in relatively good shape, with most of its windows intact and its roof shingles firmly in place. A round stone cistern surrounded by brush is also visible from the road.
The old two-story schoolhouse built by the Latourell family has since been converted into a private residence, though its exterior looks much the same as it did when it was built over a century ago.
Blue Heron Paper Mill (Willamette Falls)
If you want to see the shuttered Blue Heron Paper Mill campus in Oregon City, you’d better move quickly. The 23-acre site was recently purchased by the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, whose ancestral homelands include the mill property, and the group has plans to redevelop it with a mix of office, retail, restaurant and public spaces as well as instructional learning areas where visitors can discover the land’s rich history.
The first lumber, flour and grist mills were established near Willamette Falls in the mid-1800s, and over the years the site was home to the Imperial Flour Mills, Oregon Woolen Mill, Pioneer Paper Manufacturing Company, Willamette Falls Pulp and Paper Company and Willamette Falls Electric Company.
After the Hawley Pulp and Paper mill took over the property in 1908, it was used exclusively as a paper mill for the next century. The Blue Heron Paper Company was spun off from parent company Smurfit Stone in 2000 and used the Oregon City facility to transform recycled paper products into newsprint, bags, paper towels and placemats for fast food restaurants.
Due to increased competition from similar operations in China and other overseas locations, Blue Heron ultimately closed the mill in 2011, abandoning the site and leaving 175 local residents unemployed.
Though the Confederated Tribes have announced dramatic changes to the site’s current appearance, they have indicated that some of the original mill buildings may be spared from demolition. Final plans are still being refined, with construction potentially expected to begin in 2022. For now, the quickly-decaying industrial property remains mostly intact, although a three-alarm fire in December 2020 caused significant damage to several of the buildings.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in Oregon
Those who are into urban exploration in the Oregon area, and wanting to explore abandoned places in Oregon, should get comfortable with Oregon trespassing laws. Luckily, in the state of Oregon, the laws are easy to understand and are pretty cut and dry.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places in Oregon, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission.