Golden, Oregon – a ghost town

Golden, Oregon, was a mining town in the 1890s, near the Coyote Creek in Oregon.  During its heyday, it boasted 150 residents, 2 churches, a mercantile and post office, and most notable, no saloons.  Within 20 years, the mine was tapped out and today, Golden, Oregon, is a ghost town.

During our recent trip to Wolf Creek Campground, we had plenty of time to explore a bit.  Just 3 miles away was Golden.  Our daughter has a bucket list of things to do before she’s 12 and visiting a ghost town is on it.  Clearly, we had no choice but to go check it out!

Golden, Oregon, is just a few minutes off I-5 and is a fun way to stretch your legs.  Golden is now maintained by Oregon State Parks and is open for anyone to visit.

Parts of the TV show “Bonanza” and several movies were filmed in Golden in the 1950s-1970s, so rumor has it that everything you see isn’t necessarily as old as it looks.  But even if it’s not 100% authentic, it’s an adventure and it’s listed as a Heritage Site.

The Church

There’s a wide spot in the road for parking.  One interpretive sign stands amidst the remaining buildings, inviting visitors to learn more, and to explore.  When we arrived, we all jumped out of the van and ran to explore.  No one was around, except for some free-ranging chickens.  We had the place to ourselves.

The first thing we saw, besides the interpretive sign, was this gorgeous old church. Originally built in the 1890s, and rebuilt in the 1950s, it’s now part of the historical site and probably supposed to be locked.

“As more families arrived, Bill, Schuyler, and Grandpa Ruble built Golden’s church, and only then built the family home. The Ruble priorities were clear: faith and family come first. As long as the Rubles lived here, Golden had no saloons. If you wanted to ‘tip a few’, you had to walk over the hill to Placer.” ~From the interpretive sign, the caption below this photo.

Church at Golden, Oregon

You may notice some odd blurring at the end of the steps. I promise, despite a recent Ghost Adventures episode, this isn’t a ghostly spirit. My son was in the photo and I’ve removed him with my admittedly poor Photoshop skills. And in the doorway, if you see a faint image of a person, this isn’t a ghost either (I know you’re looking…I keep receiving emails!) That is my husband taking video inside the church. While we were there, it was very peaceful and quiet. No ghostly activity!

The Mercantile

Near the church is the mercantile and post office building.

After the mercantile, the school building was next.  As late as 1906, they still had 36 children enrolled here.

Golden is an old mining town, and for decades the miners used hydraulic pumps to blast out the hillsides and create this broad valley.  For years, it apparently was a wasteland, but now a non-profit group is working to restore it and create wetlands.


Inside the church.  Remarkably good condition considering the door’s lock was broken.
Inside the mercantile are remnants of another era.  How much of this is real and how much is from the Bonanza filming, I don’t really know.
First thing, we checked dates.  1993…I have no idea what someone was decorating for, but they worked hard because all the shelves were covered and the newspapers were all cut in a lace pattern.
An old stove in the living quarters of the mercantile.  Still full of ashes.
Notice again the “Ruble” name.  These were scrawled under the coat hooks behind the door.
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I’m a middle-aged mom of 3-6 and sometimes more, depending on day. I’m out of shape and usually exhausted. Our favorite summertime activity (and very often on dry winter days) is getting outdoors and finding adventure.

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