Into The Blue Mountains and on to Baker City
Here is one of the Oregon’s more accessible ghost towns, located about a mile south of State Route 7, 18 miles from Sumpter. Once a major station stop on the Sumpter Valley Railroad, Whitney did not develop around a gold mining towns. Visitors will see many buildings remaining from its more boisterous days.
This stop on your journey takes you back in time to the days when gold mining was an important industry in Eastern Oregon.
The gold was collected with a 1240-ton gold dredge, which extracted ore from the alluvial gravels in the valley of the Blue Mountains from the 1930s to the mid-1950s. Similar to those that operated in the John Day Valley, these dredges created their own temporary lakes as they transformed landscapes and churned up the gravels from the valley floor. You can still see long piles of gravel tailings south of State Route 7. In addition to viewing the restored dredge, you can ride the original narrow gauge steam train of the renamed Sumpter Valley Railway from Memorial Day through September and enjoy the amenities of the Sumpter valley Dredge State Heritage Area, which include trails, picnicking sites, interpretive displays, special events and more.
This handsome and historic community has been one of Eastern Oregon’s most vital towns since 1862.
It impressed so many Oregon Trail pioneers on their way to the western side of the state that many returned when they found much of the Willamette Valley’s prime land already claimed. Baker City boasts over 100 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, including the restored Geiser Grand Hotel. At the turn of the century, this elegant hostelry, its dining room atrium enhanced by a stunning stained glass ceiling, was considered to be the finest hotel between Salt Lake City and Seattle.
The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Flagstaff Hill, five miles east of Baker City, offers one of the most moving experiences on the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway./
Standing on the windswept hillside, with expansive views far to the west and with 150-year-old wagon ruts in sight, it is easy to imagine the intense emotions of the pioneers who were finally nearing the end of their perilous journey. Inside the architecturally unique museum are numerous realistic, life-sized dioramas and interactive exhibits depicting the joys and hardships of nineteenth century western migration.
Anything’s Possible! Plan Accordingly
Since the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway passes through sparsely populated areas, the Oregon Department of Transportation recommends that you contact local visitor centers and chambers of commerce to obtain maps, familiarize yourself with services and make lodging reservations in advance whenever possible.
Please keep in mind that gas stations, restaurants and campgrounds may be separated by vast distances or be closed late in the evening. Many are closed during the off-season.
Expect and plan for rapidly changing weather conditions, especially when traveling through higher elevations or exposed areas. We want every moment of your journey to be enjoyable and safe.