The Sumpter Dredge, a Ghost Town & The Painted Hills

I’m a little behind on posting pictures, but here is day three of our eastern Oregon adventure. We left Baker City in the morning and our first stop was the Sumpter Valley Dredge. As my friend Becca and I were driving, I was trying to explain this thing to her, because even though I have seen the dredge twice now, I still have a hard time comprehending how it worked. It is not a graceful piece of machinery by any means, and how they managed to maneuver it is still beyond me.

The Sumpter Valley Dredge is the last remaining one of three built on the Powder River. It was built in 1935, ran until 1954, and graceful or not, it dug up more than four million dollars worth of gold!

Our next stop was a ghost town called Whitney. I don’t know if I am any relation or not, but it is kinda cool to share my last name with a ghost town. It looked like the prairie dogs had taken over, as they were popping up everywhere! It kind of reminded me of the “Whac-a-Mole” game you see at carnivals, only prairie dogs are like a billion times cuter. 🙂

Whitney was founded as a logging town in 1900 and was the primary station on the narrow gauge Sumpter Valley Railway. In the 1940’s, logging began to decline in the area which eventually caused the town and railroad to fade away.

The John Day Fossil Beds and the Painted Hills were the next stop on our journey. Visiting this area of Oregon seriously feels like you somehow landed on the surface of Mars. The terrain is other-worldly with intense hues of reds and goals literally changing colors as clouds or sun pass over the landscape. I could literally sit there for hours and just stare at the Painted Hills….they are absolutely mesmerizing.

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