Ghost Town Wednesday: Cornucopia, Oregon


Gold was first discovered near the Idaho border in eastern Oregon in 1884 by Lon Simmons.  The town of Cornucopia, which in Latin means “Horn of Plenty”, sprung up – said to have been named after the mining town of Cornucopia, Nevada.  In July of 1885 five hundred men had already converged on Cornucopia, “quite a village”, reported the Morning Oregonian:

There is no doubt about the mines.  They are very rich.  Gold is being brought in every day and to see the rock is to be convinced that the mines are a big thing.1

Miners reported veins so rich that big nuggets would tumble right out of the rocks.  Over the years sixteen mines produced 300,000 ounces of gold, although one source estimates that eighty percent of the gold ore body still remains.2

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  1. Morning Oregonian, 20 Jul 1885, p. 3
  2. Oregon Gold


  1. Thank you for such a great article, old towns, ghost towns, gold mining, and so much information, nicely presented with some great photos. I find this so interesting and believe that my son and I will soon be traveling over the roads to see all of
    these towns and more. We have been to many such places in the United States, and find history really comes alive as you go see some of the towns or places. We also enjoy seeing the other parts of the areas around these and the old cemeteries as well.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by. I don’t know who started passing around the article about Cornucopia but views have been through the roof the last few days. I hope you’ll take the time to look around the rest of the site — hundreds of articles about unique and sometimes obscure events or people in history.

  2. In 1957, went on a trip to Cornucopia with my family. Two of my great uncles were watchmen at the mine. My brothers and I spent the whole day going through old buildings and picking up gold mining shares which were spread out throughout the admin office. There were numerous core samples, which I still have. It was one of the happiest times I spent as a kid.

    • Great memories, eh? Thanks for stopping by!

  3. In 1963 I took my family of 5 (3 grade school age) on a eastern Oregon ghost town tour. Our final stop was Cornucopia. It literally took my breath away. I subsequently wrote about my experiences. The following is the excerpt about Cornucopia:

    “The last ghost town on this trip was Cornucopia. It’s located at 7000′ elevation in the Oregon section of the Rockies. This is next to the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. It was VERY impressive to see these mountains up close – – very rocky and very steep! The canyons were narrower than I was used to. Mining started here around 1885. Cornucopia may have been Oregon’s richest gold and silver producer. More than $1,000,000,000 was taken out before 1903! That is very surprising, because the most productive years were the 1920’s and 30’s. When we visited, there were still a few residents. Because of this, we didn’t feel comfortable doing much exploring. We didn’t realize that in the surrounding area, there were actually quite a number of old mines. In fact, years later, I found out that Oregon has the most ghost towns in the country!”

    Keep up the good work!!

    • Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I grew up right in the middle of these towns and the history..not knowing it then.This and many articles ,have been great to read ..Knowing my family and ancestors went thru all this is amazing…Thank you very much..

    • You are so welcome .. thanks for stopping by!

  5. My Great Grandfather and his family lived in Cornucopia, OR during the late 1800. Their last name was Grey. My Grandmother and most of her sibling were born there. I visited Cornucopia once back in 1985 just to get a sense of where my Grandma Hazel Etta Grey (Rolland) grew up. I very was impressed with the terrain, it was beautiful. The thing that saddened me though, was we couldn’t go into any of the buildings due to the fact that the people that still live there and supervise the grounds would let us. They claimed it was for our safety, but I felt they thought we might try to steal something like others had before. Some day I want to go back and do a video of the area for my sons since it is part of our family history.

    • A video would be a great way to preserve your family’s history. Thanks for stopping by!


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