Oregon Map

North Central Plateau

Hood River, Jefferson, Sherman, Morrow, Wasco and Wheeler Counties


Wasco County, 97057

Oregon's best known Ghost Town

I have been to Shaniko several times, but my dominante image still is not of ghostly buildings, but of some lady trying to herd her milk cow back into the pasture with help from a majority of the townspeople (three). Don't get me wrong. Shaniko has plenty of old buildings. It is just that they do not move at the same pace as the people in the cow chase. Hiway 97 from Biggs Junction on the Columbia river makes a sweeping turn through downtown Shaniko. The result is the big semi rigs have to slow down to about 80 mph to make it through town. Other than that life is really peaceful in Shaniko. Early settlers named this townsite Cross Hollows and established a post office under that name in 1879. The postmaster was one August Scherneckau. That post office closed in 1887. Thirteen years later it reopened with the mercifully shortened name of Shaniko. In the first years of the twentieth centry the region prospered because it was blessed with rail access serving as a railhead for the Union Pacific Railroad coming down from Biggs Junction. Farmers and ranchers from the vast surrounding area shipped their products, especially wool, through the Shaniko railhead. Soon competing railroads developed access to the region and Shaniko began to decline. By 1960 the fun was over and Shaniko moved on to become the most famous ghost town in Oregon. The name is an Americanized version of a hard to pronounce German name.