Waldo, Oregon

The former town of Waldo, Oregon is located in Josephine county on Waldo Road approx. 3 miles east in an area that was actually once part of Jackson county. There on the side of the road lies the landmark for the ghost town. That's all that is left besides the cemetery. On the day we went it was rainy and the cemetery was inaccessible.

About three miles from the California border, which I believe we crossed while up on the hill looking at stunning deposits of serpentine, is where this little town, originally named “Sailor's Diggings" was located.

History of Waldo, Oregon

Sailor’s Diggings got its name because some sailors jumped over-board and discovered gold there around 1852 and it became a gold mining camp.

Several thousand miners lived there until the gold ran out. It was then taken over by outlaws, and not the nice kind. One of the nastiest, The Triskett gang, was aggressively ruthless. In 1852 they went on a crime spree killing 17 men, 1 woman and raping two other women.

Next they robbed the bank and the assay office. They were caught by the local posse outside of O’Brien.By then they'd buried the money somewhere around the hilltop . A shoot out occurred and gang members were killed so the estimated $70,000-$80,000 in gold was never recovered and is the fodder for local tales and treasure hunters.

The town got it's new name in 1853 in honor of William Waldo, who was the Whig candidate for governor of California. He campaigned there and convinced the populace that they should vote for him because he thought the local WAS California.

This rocking gold town was the original county seat for Josephine County, but only for one year. Twice the county seat was moved to accommodate transportation routes. Kerbyville became the county seat in 1857 because it was on the main route from California to the gold fields. Grants Pass became the count seat in 1886 after the railroad made it's way there.

At it's peak this was a boomtown of 30,000 residents. In 1860 the town had three hotels, livery stable, several blacksmith shops, a bowling alley, a Chinese boarding house, saloons, and a brewery.

The cemetery is about a mile down before you get to the marker on the right. It's not visible and you need a 4x4 to get in to it. 

If you are on a ghost town trek Kerby, once Kerbyville is about three miles north of Cave Junction on hwy 199 and has a great museum and some other really cool stuff.

Google Map To Waldo Oregon Historical Marker

Return To Oregon Ghost Towns Page

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