Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chitwood - A True Oregon Ghost Town

A short drive out U.S. 20 affords a step back in time. We traveled east a short ways from Newport to the town of Toledo. Further east we came to the town of Chitwood which is a true Oregon Ghost town. Once a thriving community of several hundred, all that is left is a covered bridge leading into the city.  Here are some pictures of Toledo, Chitwood and the surrounding area.

This is the bridge that carries traffic on U.S.101 into Newport over the Yaquina River.

I took this picture because I love the style and architecture of this home. I would have loved to tour the inside. I especially liked the large deck facing the ocean. It was off what appeared to be the master bedroom. Nice view to wake up to.

Welcome to Toledo, Oregon - Population: 3500

Established in 1866 during the homesteading of the west by James Graham and his son, John. Originally called Graham's Landing, it was later changed to Toledo after John Graham became homesick for his hometown, Toledo Ohio.

One of the many churches we saw in Toledo. I'm guessing this might have been where the exclamation, "Holy Toledo" came from.

Toledo was developed as a rail hub as evidenced by the numerous rail lines traversing the city. It's main industry is lumber and milling.

More evidence of the railroads' influence is found at the museum just off main street.

In 1918, the Port of Toledo leased land to the Spruce Production Company who built a sawmill on this site to build airplane frames for World War I. The war ended before production began. The mill changed hands and was used for lumber production using logs brought to Toledo by rail cars. In 1951, Georgia Pacific purchased the entire property and currently operates it as a pulp mill.

As the lumber is processed, the pulp is transferred to the shipping facility through a series of large pipes. It is then processed further into paper and related products.

A view of the Yaquina river which runs alongside the lumber mill. Logs were brought here by barge before the establishment of the railroad. Once the railroad arrived, moving logs by barge was neither cost nor time effective so it was discontinued.


A short drive east of Toledo we arrived at what was left of the town of Chitwood. The town was originally settled sometime in the 1860s. All the land had to be cleared to plant crops and build homes. Things moved slowly and it was not until 1887 before the first school house was built. The settlers planted some crops and tried their hand at mining but found that to be unproductive. What changed the town the most was the coming of the Corvalis and Eastern railroad, later known as Southern Pacific. Chitwood was established as a stopping point and began to prosper. However, the road to the coast was moved and paved and shortened the distance to the coastal communities. When automobiles and trucks became available they used the shorter route and rail service was discontinued.

That's yours truly sitting on the entry rail to the bridge. This bridge was constructed in 1926 when the people of Chitwood raised $300 for it's construction over the Yaquina River. Pepin's Grocery was located next to the bridge and operated until 1950 when it was destroyed by a fire. The bridge was also damaged by the same fire and became dilapidated. In 1979 it was placed on the National Registry of Historical Places. It was restored in 1984.

Eventually most of Chitwood has disappeared. The train depot was demolished, the grocery store burned to the ground and the general store fell apart. We walked around the area quite a bit and could find very little to indicate a settlement had ever been on that site. It simply appears Mother Nature has claimed her right to all that had been there.

The bridge stands as a remembrance of a town that once existed and is now a true ghost town. 

The train tracks still remain as a testament to what used to be.

Returning to Newport, we headed to the beach. Although the sky was overcast and it was cold, we wanted to do some beach combing and see what shells and/or treasures the ocean was willing to give up on this day.

The sky to the east was blue but to the west it looked grey and miserable. Taking that into consideration, I proceeded out into the water to get a picture of Debi and Jasmine with a better backdrop.

Jasmine loves the water, even salt water. She had been chasing some seagulls, (like she would really be able to catch them) when she found this rock protruding out of the water. I think she was playing "King of the Hill".
 Every hike is better if you stop and enjoy the flowers you find along the way.

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