Latitude / Longitude:
44°44′46″N 118°11′57″W / 44.74611°N 118.19917°W / 44.74611
4,429 ft (1,350 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Sumpter is a city in Baker County, Oregon, United States. The population was 204 at the 2010 census. Sumpter is named after Fort Sumter by its founders. The name was inspired by a rock as smooth and round as a cannonball, which reminded a local resident of the American Civil War and Fort Sumter.
Baker County was named for Edward Dickinson Baker, a U.S. Senator from Oregon who was killed in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff during the American Civil War. Sumpter, first settled by Euro-Americans during this war, was named after Fort Sumter in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The fort was often mentioned in war dispatches read by the settlers. An account in the Baker Democrat–Herald many decades later reported that a round rock found in the area in the early 1860s had looked to residents like a cannonball and, reinforced by the war news, had reminded them of Fort Sumter.
In 2013, the area was the location for the reality television show Ghost Mine. The plot involves a team of people looking for gold and ghosts in the “Crescent Mine” near Sumpter. According to a Baker City Herald story picked up by the Associated Press and Portland television station KATU, most of the filming was done at the Buckeye Mine group near Bourne, about 6 miles (10 km) north of Sumpter along Cracker Creek.
Shortly after the SVR arrived, the city expanded near a set of deep-shaft gold mines with a combined total of 12 miles (19 km) of tunnels. The population grew to more than 2,000. Sumpter had electric lights, churches, saloons, a brewery, sidewalks, three newspapers, and an opera house. However, as the mines played out, the city declined even before a devastating fire in 1917. Dynamite was used to help put out the fire, which destroyed 12 blocks of the town’s buildings. A few of the surviving structures remain in the 21st century and are occupied by retail shops.