Digging for ghosts in Sumpter mines

Jayson Jacoby / Baker City Herald /


“Ghost Mine” 10 tonight, Syfy

A ghost-themed reality TV show that was made this summer near Sumpter will debut tonight.

The new show, “Ghost Mine” as its name implies, combines both the ghost hunting for which Syfy is known — the network’s roster of programs includes “Ghost Hunters,” which airs directly prior to “Ghost Mine” — and mining.

The latter topic makes Sumpter a logical choice for the show’s setting.

The town, about 28 miles southwest of Baker City on the opposite site of the Elkhorn Mountains, was the largest of the mining towns in its area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sumpter, which celebrated its 150th birthday this year, reached a population of about 3,000 during the peak of the hard-rock mining period in the decade or so before the First World War.

But the mines mainly played out, and then a massive fire in August 1917 destroyed almost all of the town’s buildings.

Sumpter’s current population is about 200, and its mainstay industry is neither mining nor ghost hunting, but rather, tourism.

Another draw is the Sumpter dredge, a monstrous machine that scoured the Sumpter Valley for gold before shutting down in 1954. The dredge is the centerpiece of a state park on the town’s south end.

According to Syfy’s website — www.syfy.com/ghostmine — “Ghost Mine” was filmed at the Crescent Mine.

LeAnne Woolf, a Sumpter city councilor, said in an interview this summer that the series was filmed mainly at the Buckeye Mine group, which is near Bourne, about six miles north of Sumpter along Cracker Creek.

‘Ghost Mine’

“In the remote woods of Oregon lies one of the richest gold mines in the United States that was abandoned 80 years ago when a series of tragedies gave it an infamous reputation for being haunted. Now, a new owner has decided to take on the notorious legend and reopen the mine, assembling a colorful team of miners — both seasoned and new — to battle the elements along with a pair of experienced paranormal investigators, in hopes of finding a fortune.”

— From www.syfy.com/ghostmine