Latitude / Longitude:
45° 0′ 29.52″ N, 117° 11′ 33.72″ W
4,741 ft (1,445 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Cornucopia is a ghost town built during the gold mining boom of the 1880s in Eastern Oregon, United States. The town was officially platted in 1886 and was a mining town with various levels of success until it was abandoned in 1942. It is now primarily a tourist attraction as a ghost town. It is located east of Baker City high in the mountains of Pine Valley almost due north of Halfway, Oregon, on Oregon Route 86.
In 1884 a man by the name Lon Simmons discovered gold on the far east edge of Oregon. By July 1885 there were at least 500 men living in the area, forming a town that became known as Cornucopia. The name means “Horn of Plenty,” which was appropriate due to the large amount of gold discovered. The town only continued to grow as wealth flowed out of the area. The primary mining companies were Last Chance, Queen of the West, Union-Companion, and the Red Jacket. In 1902 the Oregon Daily Journal claimed that “the Cornucopia group of gold mines contains what is probably the largest ore body in the Pacific Northwest, if not in the United States”. Around the same time there were up to 700 men working for the mining company Cornucopia Mines of Oregon, making it the 6th largest mining operation in the United States at the time. However, the mixture of old equipment and horses being the only form of transportation greatly hindered the town’s success. In the same year, for unknown reasons, the mining companies neglected to pay a collective $40,122 dollar engineering bill. This caused foreclosure proceedings and affected the mine’s success until the claim was settled in February 7, 1905, allowing the mine to grow again.
Cornucopia, Oregon is only accessible from the South along the Cornucopia Highway, beginning in Halfway, Oregon. The Cornucopia Highway is the main road connecting Halfway, Jimtown, and Carson, Oregon along the valley before entering Cornucopia 5.5 miles after Carson, Oregon. Cornucopia has become a tourist attraction in Oregon due to its reputation as a ghost town and due to deaths that have occurred there. In response to the growing popularity of the town, the Cornucopia Lodge was built in 2008.
During most of Cornucopia’s time the people in the town were separated from the rest of the world, thus they relied on each other for entertainment. Many people in the town learned to play instruments such as fiddle, piano, and drums. The miners also loved to dress up for the town’s Saturday night dances. Miners worked 10 hour days while in later times mill workers worked 12 hours a day, both working 7 days a week. Because of the constant work, holidays were very important to the townsfolk. The most important ones were Christmas and the Fourth of July, however Labor Day was also celebrated with a town wide picnic that consisted of many contests, such as tug-of-war. At the peak of its existence, Cornucopia had multiple general stores, a boardinghouse, saloons, a hotel, a post office, and a school.