Unknown Stories Pt 2: The ghost town of Golden

JOSEPHINE CO., Ore. — Take a drive up Coyote Creek Road and you’ll stumble upon the abandoned town of Golden.

The name is fitting; It’s an old mining town with a rich history. Now that history is passed on by Oregon State Park rangers, as the entire property is in the National Register of Historic Places.

“Back in the 1850s there were hundreds of miners, actually, that came out this way to strike it rich and give their hand at finding gold,” Oregon State Park Ranger Tony Silva said.

“The golden is part of the name, because of all the gold! There was a lot.”

A lot of the first settlers left during the Idaho gold rush of 1860. In their place, many Chinese miners came in. But eventually, the white settlers returned, and they re-took the land when they found all the riches.

At its peak, Golden had a general store, it’s own schoolhouse that doubled as a church on Sundays, as well as an actual church, just yards away. All those structures and a few others are still standing today.

You won’t find any houses left on the property, but it was once home to more than a hundred people and was a bustling hub for all the miners who lived nearby. Which, is surprising, because Silva says, Golden had a unique rule.

“What made this community not normal like any other mining community was that this town was dry.”

Golden had a strict no-alcohol rule because it was founded by the Reverend Willaim Ruble Sr. Like most, he moved out from the midwest with his family, and brought his strict faith with him.

Back in the late 1800s, Ruble Sr. would preach in the Golden Community Church. However, a solid congregation wasn’t the only thing the Rubles found.

“For nearly 50 years, they pulled out $210 million in gold,” Silva said.

To add to their success, the family invented the then-famous “ruble rock elevator” for clearing boulders out of mining sites. But it wasn’t all golden for the Rubles.

Silva said the Rubles were famously at odds with the Kelly family, another prominent family with land claims along Coyote Creek. That dispute went all the way up to the Oregon Supreme court three times.

Things escalated outside the courtroom as well. The so-called “Kelly-Ruble Riot” took place on Golden’s land.

“Basically people got rowdy,” Silva said. “A shooting happened, one guy got killed.”

The dispute did finally end in Ruble’s favor in 1884. And after that everything was, well, Golden.

That is until the gold ran out. A lot of the mining devices took their toll on the land and the town’s water supply. People eventually picked up and moved on to the next town or the next strike of gold.

Golden’s post office kept running until 1920, but by the mid 20th century it was completely abandoned.

Of course, some believe the term ‘ghost town’ has a double meaning.

Oregon State Parks and Recreation workers have heard plenty of ghost stories throughout their years.

“There’s a lot of intriguing stories that occurred here, so of course along with that came ghost stories or ideas of supernatural happenings,” said Rogue Management Unit Manager Nathan Seable.

“I imagine that there is something pretty spooky here because it’s really old,” Silva said. “There’s a lot of people who used to live here.”

Similar to the Wolf Creek Inn, Golden was also featured on an episode of ‘Ghost Adventures’ on the Travel Channel.

Despite all the haunted hype, both rangers said they have not personally experienced anything supernatural and said they’re not afraid of the land. What they do find scary, however, is how many people know nothing of Golden.

“We just ran into people who have lived here for 15 years, and they were like ‘wow this is here?! Had no idea,” Silva said.

Though some locals seem to have missed the memo on a backyard treasure, Silva said he has given tours to foreign tourists, most recently a group of Swedish nationals.

“They saw a lot of their old history in the simple beginnings of ours,” Silva said.

If you haven’t been out to Golden yet, Seable insists that you do.

“We manage this for the public. We want people to come out and enjoy it and learn the history of the region they live in,” he said.

“It’s a hidden gem.”

Golden is located at 3482 Coyote Creek Road right outside of Wolf Creek. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

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