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The Skeletons of Shaniko

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

There are approximately 3,800 ghost towns in America that were once occupied by people but now lost to time. One American ghost town is located in Central Oregon, roughly 150 miles South-East of Portland. The small Oregon town was once the largest exporter of wool, globally. Due to a rail road's unforeseen circumstance, the small city was abandoned by the 600 people who once occupied it.

According to Susan Paterson, people who visit the town claim that ghosts still haunt the Shaniko Hotel and the rest of the town, but she is skeptical of the paranormal activity, saying that she does not believe in ghosts but more in energy.

Paterson says, "There are claims that the whole town is haunted, but quite frankly, there are a lot of people who drink." Expressing her skepticism to the paranormal.

The town's hotel has not seen a guest in over ten years. The hotel's owner and town's officials cannot agree on how the hotel is run, including using water supplied by the hotel's city.

"The (hotel) owner and the city got into a tiff." Said Paterson.

In an interview conducted by the Bend Bulletin, Paterson says, "The town was opposed to the hotel owner's plans. And there were actual legal issues involved that had to be resolved. Negotiations fell apart, and that was that. So, he closed the hotel the following year."

The jail is one of the predominate features that can be discovered by visitors of the town, which has a skeleton on display locked in one of the jail cells. Additionally, there is a barn full of vintage cars and a Saloon where musicians will play old country and bluegrass music.

A skeleton display is locked in one of the cells of the Shaniko jail. (Derek Bratton)

People may no longer occupy Shaniko, but the energy from the past remains. People can venture into a part of Oregon's history that is lost to time. According to Paterson, the town started to decline in the 1950s, and now the town's population is 22. The town's claims of being haunted remain questionable, but Shaniko, Oregon, might be a choice destination for history buffs and a location that paranormal investigators may want to explore further.

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