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 10 spots you shouldn’t miss on your next trip to this offbeat corner of the Pacific Northwest.
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.
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.
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.
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 these cases, you should familiarize yourself with x. For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places in Oregon, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission.