VISIT HISTORIC SUMPTER OREGON
Rich in mining history, Sumpter, Oregon boasts impressive trail access, several nearby ghost towns, and one massive testament to the mining heritage of Northeast Oregon.
Gateway to the Blue Mountains
Sumpter, a small town buried deep in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, stands as a monument to times gone by. Gold mining dominates the history and landscape of the Sumpter Valley, with the dredge remaining as the centerpiece to that era.
Visit Sumpter to experience the history, mountains, ghost towns and trails for yourself. But be careful! If you catch the spirit of freedom and adventure once embodied in the rugged miners and toughened loggers of old, you will want to create a few adventures (and make a few memories) of your own.
What is the Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge?
The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge is an impressive piece of mining equipment that wound its way through the neighboring Sumpter Valley, digging up the earth as it went. Essentially a ship sitting in the middle of dry ground, the dredge was able to travel in a pond it created for itself with its 72 massive dredging buckets processed 9 cubic feet of material per minute. The leftover material was then dropped out the back of a 96-foot long conveyor belt, leaving piles of gravel tailings everywhere it went and scarring the landscape forever.
The dredge operated continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Christmas and Fourth of July were the only observed holidays. A total staff of twenty-four was necessary to successfully run the dredge while it took a team of three men to operate the dredge at any one time. A world war was one of the few disturbances that halted the dredge’s progress. Aside from that 3 year layover, the dredge operated almost non-stop from 1934-1954.