Our first attempt to visit the Bohemia Mine Oregon ghost town took place in 2014, right after I got married. My mom, sister and I took the dog and headed out into the Umpqua National Forest in a Ford Focus.
The choice of vehicle turned out to be our biggest mistake. We were not sure what to expect, but we were hoping we could make it in the smaller car.
Unfortunately, not too far from the trailhead location, we hit snow. It was February after all. After an interesting multi point K-turn, we got the car turned around and had to give up, vowing to come back another day.
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The Bohemia Mine, Oregon Ghost Town Story
The Bohemia Mining District was initially discovered by four friends in 1858. They attempted to mine for years, with no knowledge of how to go about it. In an effort to improve their gold yield, they travelled to well-known mines in the area where they learned to make a sluice box to extract gold.
The four friends: Rufus Adams, O.P. Adams, William Shields and W.W. Ogelsby, were able to retrieve some gold from Sharps Creek, but many of the other rivers proved unproductive, and they soon gave up… for now.
In an interesting twist of fate, a fleeing convict found his way up to Mount Bohemia in an effort to escape. He managed to stumble upon a gold quartz inside City Creek in the area. Rather than continuing to flee, he returned to Cottage Grove and told of his discovery.
Upon hearing this, miners—including the original 4 friends—flocked to the Bohemia Mining District in 1864. Between 1864 and 1880, over 100 mining claims were staked.
Miners were in search of many materials, such as gold, silver, copper, and lead, with gold being the first choice.
With many miners in the area, the town of Bohemia City was established at the current Musick Mine site and a rudimentary road was constructed to connect Bohemia City to Sutherlin, Oregon.
By 1971 a larger road was built to connect the mining district to Cottage Grove, which was a much larger city than Sutherlin. Cottage Grove was the main hub for supplies. This allowed the town to grow, as more people and equipment could make their way to the mines.
Unfortunately, the harsh winters and failed mining operations took their tole on the miners that called Bohemia City home, and interest in the mining district sharply declined.
After ten years of little activity, a second wave of mining interest once again unexpectedly came to the area. During this time, the Annie Mine and Musick Mine were discovered. These large mines drew in many looking to strike it rich, and more infrastructure was built. Bridges and additional roads were constructed for easier, and safer access to the area for miners and supplies.
In 1902 the Calapooya Mining and Tunnel Company consolidated the bigger mines into one company. These were the Musick Mine, the Helena Mines, and the Champion Mine. Their journey with the mines was short lived. They were soon all bought by the Oregon Securities Company which also purchased the Oregon and South Eastern Railroad.
This company is responsible for the biggest growth in the town of Bohemia City. They established a mill, tramway, power stations, many outbuildings, and most famously, a post office, which still stands today.
During this time, many roads were constructed that connected the mines and existing roads together. Traveling through the Bohemia Mining District had never been easier or faster. Most of these roads still exist in some capacity today, although most are very difficult to navigate in a car or even four wheel drive highway vehicle.
The mining town saw another lull around the great depression when Higgens and Hinsdale or H&H leased the vast majority of the district. For 20 years, they successfully mined gold and silver as well as copper, zinc and lead.
Oregon may not seem like it was too involved in the war efforts of World War 2, but as we have learned from the Tillamook Blimps, the whole country was apart of the war effort. Part of this effort involved preserving resources and coping with the massive metal shortage.
All mines that were not used to support the need for wartime metals were required to close. This forced the beginning of the end for Bohemia City. Soon, looters were scavenging the area. They tore apart any monetarily valuable objects and any pieces of metal they could turn in for scrap money.
Though many mining claims in the area have changed hands over the years, there is still believed to be adequate ore left in the 2,000 acres of the Bohemia Mining District to justify further mining.
And to this day, some of the mines are currently active.
Our Second Attempt, But First Visit to the Oregon Ghost town at Bohemia Mine
While we did not make it to this Oregon Ghost town in 2014, we did manage to see it in July of 2020. With five of us and a mini Aussie in a dodge 1 ton pickup, we left Corvallis for Cottage Grove, our last stop of civilization before entering the national forest.
After a quick refuel and a bathroom stop at the entrance of the park where I dented my truck, we drove through the winding asphalt roads until we hit our turnoff. The gravel road to the right had a sharp incline and seemed to keep going upwards.
We went up and up and around the trees with the windows down and the warm breeze acting as natural AC. Along the forest road, I dodged fallen trees and potholes until the road flattened out.
On the flat spots, I was able to stop for us all the get breathtaking photos of the clear cut views of the land below. With no wildfires in the area yet, the sky was blue and the visibility was much higher than it usually is at that time of year.
The goal was first, the Musick Mine Guard Station, and then the Oregon ghost town of Bohemia Mine or Bohemia City. We had read it was best to park at the guard station, and then continue along the journey on foot.
I followed Mom’s directions and tried not too look down the cliff as I cautiously steered the truck through the wilderness. We seemed to wind in and out of trees alternating between obscured treeline views and alarmingly steep clifftop views.
After driving on the top of what they call the saddle for a while, we turned away from the edge of the mountain and into the forest. Soon, we were surrounded by pine needle covered roads and the smell of fresh air and fir trees.
Shortly thereafter, we saw it, the Muscik Mine Guard Station. It was positioned sharply above us to the right. I pulled into a turnout in the road and put the truck in park.
All About the Musick Mine Guard Station
The Musick Guard Station is not technically a part of the Bohemia Mine district. The guard station is close to the Musick Mine and was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC.)
The Station was first used as a fire lookout, as it had sprawling views and the only visibility into Champion Creek. Later, the station was used as summer sleeping and living quarters for the fire crews as well as those that worked on improving and clearing trails.
The main building is two stories tall and features bedrooms with bunks, a kitchen, living/ dining area, and a large wood stove. The site also features a fire pit, picnic tables, and an old two story horse stable complete with stalls. The old guard station is available for rent for anyone looking for a remote and primitive getaway high in the mountains.
Exploring the Musick Guard Station
Once out of the truck, we could not wait to explore the old buildings above us. We scaled the hillside, slipping and stumbling, except the dog (four legs seem handy at times.)
Mom smartly walked a few hundred feet from where we were parked and walked up the much less steep driveway to the station.
The first building you encounter is the horse barn. It has an old ladder leading up to the hay loft. I can say from experience, that the climb up the frightening, rickety ladder is not worth it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing up there.
Inside the barn is a thick wood floor and stalls complete with mangers for hay. To the right is a small room we assume was used for feed or other storage. The best part is the sight straight out from the barn. The expansive views are breathtaking. It is easy to see why this was used as a lookout station.
Inside the Guard Station itself, we discovered a kitchen and sink, complete with some items left behind, like olive oil and some cans. Next is a table near the wood stove and a bulletin board with vastly outdated notices pinned to it. I searched and searched and could not find a notice dated in the last three years.
In the other room on the main floor is a large wooden four poster bed frame with no mattress. This trend continued as we made our way upstairs to see bunk beds, once again with no mattresses.
We hypothesized that the guard station was not locked back up after the last tenants stayed, or possibly someone broke in due to the park offices being closed (it is 2020 after all, everything was closed for months).
Normally, you can rent the guard station for a slightly elevated camping experience. There is no power or water, so you would have to bring that, but there are endless hiking and exploration opportunities in the area.
Finally Finding the Bohemia Mine Oregon Ghost Town
We back tracked to the truck, but not before deciding a strange noise we had been hearing was a bullfrog. After naming said bullfrog Jeremiah, (you know, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.”) we were back at the truck and ready to take the trail that lead to the left, off the main and better maintained road.
Some of the older blogs state that a higher clearance four wheel drive vehicle can traverse this road to the Bohemia Mine City with ease. We did not find this to be true. To be honest, I don’t know if I would even take a four wheeler. Some of the areas are so rocky, I think you could walk faster than you could ride.
The first part of the trail is rather easy. Under the tree cover we did have some members of our group have mini meltdowns over some uninvited deer flies, but don’t worry, we survived. Once the trees opened up, we had amazing views of the mountains rising and dipping in the distance.
Closer, wild succulents grew on the rock faces that bordered the trail. Mom and I had to stop sister number one from stealing some to bring back to Utah with her, while sister number two complained about having to walk. (Maybe we should have let her crawl along the rocks on a four wheeler after all.)
The trail continued around a curve and became rockier and more uneven, but not too challenging.
Just as we were beginning to wonder if we had taken the wrong trail, a small wooden building began to come into view. It had a new looking American flag mounted on the front.
The small post office building still stands tall, and even had some new wood beams as if someone were trying to restore it. It is built on stilts in the front, with a small “front porch.” The rear of the building sits on the mountain with no stilts.
Inside the post office, is unfortunately, nothing. It’s wooden floor laden with holes is all that’s left of the building that once carried the miners mail to their loved ones.
Further down the little road, it forks to the left and a little stream happily flows by a gate that had long ago fallen down.
A metal silo looking building sticks out among what at first appears to be a clear cut. We all excitedly split into different directions to explore. Each of us would loudly exclaim if we found something interesting.
“A collapsed mine is here!” I said.
“These must be the mine tailings,” Mom hypothesized.
“I think there are more mine openings down here,” exclaimed brother.
Sister number one excitedly shared “I found some mine cart tracks!”
Sister number two likes to hold her reputation steady of not caring about things so her contribution included “Why can’t we go inside any mines?” with a big dissatisfied huff.
Even Kimber wanted be heard and whined when I had to put her on a leash to keep her safe. In this area there are known to be many open mines in this Oregon Ghost town, or even collapsed mines that could collapse further. We also found a lot of wooden debris and rubble including sharp metal fragments that were most likely once a crucial part of the mining effort.
Atop a manmade flat ledge to the left of the silo looking building, you will find mine cart tracks that lead out and across the top of the manmade hill. They soon dead-end at a steep drop off.
Tucked in the back to the right is a steep rocky trail that takes a turn. Sister one, the dog and I traversed it for a bit before coming back down empty handed. After some research, it seems that may be the trail that leads to the summit. If you decide to try it, it is very steep and full of loose rock.
Inside what is left of the Bohemia Mine city, we took every little slightly worn trail to find more artifacts and remnants of buildings. Mostly we found piles of rubble, or pieces of metal that had been twisted and worn down by the weather into unrecognizable shapes.
After following a narrow trail through some fir trees, I found a concrete structure with a collapsed roof. Inside the concrete was what seemed to be some kind of tank that was currently filled with water. Mom and I hypothesized as to what it could be but came up with no useful ideas.
After satisfying our need for adventure, we decided it was a good time to head back to the truck and return home. We could always come back to the area another time. Maybe next time, we could even rent the guard station and stay a couple days.
Behind the post office is a rocky trail. We decided to take it back to the main road. While it was a little longer, and a little steeper, it offered some insurmountable views that I will never forget.
What to Know Before Visiting Bohemia Mine
Bohemia Mine is technically private property and the whole area of Bohemia Mining District has strictly enforced mining claims. You cannot do any mining of any kind inside the area.
Because the area is inside a national forest, everything you take in, you must take out. You also cannot take anything out of the forest or mining district.
There are many open mines or partially collapsed mines in the area, so its best to watch your step and be very careful.
To get to the Bohemia Mine Oregon ghost town, driving instructions can be found here.
You can also type this address into your GPS: 78405 Cedar Park Rd, Cottage Grove, OR 97424
This will bring you directly to the Musick Guard Station. From there, you’ll leave BLM Road 2460 and take the fork to the left across from the guard station. Remember, it is best to park at the station or below it and walk the remainder of the way to the mines. Check below for the map.
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