Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Lost towns of Oregon

by Shanna Hatfield

One of the things I most enjoy about writing historical romance is researching the details. It's such fun to dig up little tidbits and historical nuggets.

Many times, there isn't much information available and my active imagination creates its own story.

Such was the case when I happened upon an old Rand, McNally & Co atlas map of Oregon from 1891.

Originally, I was interested in studying the area around the setting of the story I was working on at the time - Hardman, Oregon.

Hardman is now considered a ghost town,  but was once a bustling little town along a stage route.

Those traveling to Hardman often took the train to Heppner (located twenty miles to the north) then rode the stage to Hardman.

As I studied this map, I saw the names of many towns I'd never heard of before. 

I loved the name of Gooseberry for a town and had to work it into my story. Cattlemen in the area gave the community the name Gooseberry Spring as early as 1872, after a large wild gooseberry bush growing near a spring. A post office operated there from 1884 through 1918. Today, the community is unincorporated.

Another town name that caught my eye was Igo. From what I can find, nothing but an old cemetery exists of what was once a thriving community. I did find a few newspaper articles that mentioned Igo. In May, 1910, the Igo Telephone Company was preparing to install telephone line from Igo to Condon.  And in December 1910, the Igo Granger Hall was advertising their annual holiday bazaar.

Lone Rock (located southwest of Hardman on the map) is another town that has all but disappeared. My Dad had been to this one, though, and mentioned the big rock the town was named after.

It was the first town in Gilliam County and was named for a lone, large rock. A post office was established there in 1875 and named Lone rock. Later, the name was combined into one word. A townsite was platted in 1882 and incorporated in 1901. Primarily a sheep-ranching community, the town had about 100 residents in the early 1900s. Businesses included a mercantile, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a boarding house, a livery stable, a lawyer's office, two saloons and two churches. There were wooden boardwalks and two wooden bridges that were eventually washed away by a flood and replaced with concrete structures. 
The population began to decline. In 1960, the school closed, followed by the post office in 1963. Today, only a few residents remain, even though that big lone rock is still there for passersby to see.

To read more about Hardman and some of the fun little towns around it, take a trip into the past with The Christmas Ring, the latest in my Hardman Holidays series.

She’s desperate to forget her past
He’s determined to give her a future. . . 

Victoria Carter flees from the gossip that dogs her every step. She hopes to embark on a new chapter of her life at her brother’s home in eastern Oregon. What she didn’t plan on was the stagecoach being robbed on the way there, or the immediate attraction she feels to one of the outlaws. Then she meets a telephone lineman she finds charming, witty, and kind. Despite her intentions to avoid all members of the male species, her affections are torn between the two men.

A man of many secrets and talents, Trace Travers knows he has to stay focused on his work. Yet, the lovely sister of one of his friends threatens to capture not just his attention but also his heart. 
Resolved to ignoring Victoria and the emotions she stirs in him, he discovers she is a difficult woman to overlook, especially when she keeps popping up in the most unexpected places.

Trace and Victoria are swept into the town’s festivities as they ring in the holiday season. But will Christmas bring the forgiveness they both need if they hope to have a future together?

Enjoy this sweet holiday romance, rich with history, laughter, and heartwarming Christmas cheer.

USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

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Julie Lence said...

When driving along a country road, I always wonder about the abandoned houses or towns. Who lived there? What was the town like back in the day? I guess that's the mind of a writer. But I firmly believe the ramshackle homes right up against the road west of Pikes Peak are there because someone, back int he day, came up over the pass with their family and belongings, saw the next range in the distance which is the Continental Divide, and said, that's it, we're staying here. Hugs, Shanna!

Shanna Hatfield said...

I love that, Julie! I wonder "who lived here" too when we see abandoned places.
Happy New Year!

glenda said...

I too think about the people and what life was like when I see old abandoned houses. I also would walk the cemetery that was directly across the road from my grandparents and read the epitaphs and try to imagine about the person from just those few words and especially in this particular cemetery where 90%+ buried there were relatives to my grandparents. Even in this small town I live I remember visiting my aunt while I was growing up and how it was so much more to it back then. A massive tornado struck back in 1973 and a lot of the business just didn’t come back and rebuild and what was once a bustling little town is now down to a grocery, hardware, furniture and post office gone are the pharmacy, gas stations, car dealerships lawyer offices, bank and several other business it’s just so sad to me to see a once thriving town to dwindle down to near nothing. I love the little town of Hardman it just may be my favorite of all your series

Tonya Lucas said...

Great article Shanna. Out here in SW LS there is an old forgotten town close to the Colorado border. It was called Stonington. I often wonder what it was like back in its hay day. You’re awesome at sharing research news with us. Thank you.

Shanna Hatfield said...

Thank you, Glenda and Tonya!
Glenda, it is so sad about towns all but drying up and disappearing, like you mentioned. Glad you enjoy Hardman, though!
And Tonya, I always wonder what the story is when we see an abandoned house or town. There's always history, even if we dont' know it at the time.
Thanks for stopping in today!

craftydr said...

Shanna thank you for all the fun facts you dig up for your amazing stories. You've made me want to come back to Oregon and see these towns you write about and what's still there and the ones that died away. I haven't seen somethings in person but when I see the shambles of an old structure it fun to either try to figure out what it used to be or if recognizable to ponder what it must have been like for the people living there, a out the town if there was one and to imagine what their lives were like. Even in the UP of Michigan there are many abandoned mines, shacks that were once homes and farm. We once lived in Bedford,MA when Robert had is first assignment in the Air Force and Krista was born in Concord where the shot around the world was heard. We walked across the very bridge where it all started and the rich history in that whole area. My nieces wanted to go to the cemeteries, with pencil and paper to do rubbing from the grave stones. They were fascinated with the names and dates on those old brave stones.
History I never liked in school with all the memorization of facts and dates, but as I got older I really was interested in all the things of the past in history that we see just about anywhere you go. Thanks for another fascinating blog post.

Shanna Hatfield said...

Wow, Dorothy! You've been in some areas so rich with history. I wasn't wild about history in school, but it's the people and places that bring history to life that make it so fascinating to me - and imagining the "what ifs."
Thanks for stopping by!