Grave Creek and Golden State Heritage Site, Oregon

After leaving the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery we traveled on Highway 5 towards Eugene, Oregon.  

At Sunny Valley we made a quick stop to view Grave Creek and the Grave Creek Covered Bridge

In the fall of 1846, the first emigrant train from Fort Hall, Idaho, to travel the southern route to the Willamette Valley camped on the north side of this creek, then Woodpile Creek. Martha Leland Crowley, 16 years old died of typhoid fever during this encampment and was buried 150 feet north of the creek on the east side or a white oak tree that was later removed for the present roadway, thus the name "Grave Creek".

The grave of Martha Leland Crowley sits on the edge of the road near Grave Creek.  Her grave is maintained by the Applegate Interpretive Center located in the area.

Covered bridge interpretive sign

Grave Creek Covered Bridge is one of the few covered bridges that remain in southern Oregon. From Vancouver B.C. to the Mexican border, it is the only one visible from the I-5 freeway. 

Grave Creek Covered bridge sits over Grave Creek

Grave Creek Covered Bridge

Back on Highway 5 we made another detour at Wolf Creek and traveled east on Coyote Creek Road to the Golden State Heritage Site.

Golden is one of the true ghost towns in Oregon.  Now, completely abandoned the property is cared for by the State of Oregon with volunteers camping in and maintaining the area.

Interpretive Signs

Interpretive Signs

Interpretive Signs

Around 1840 Golden was established at the height of Oregon's Gold Rush.  At first Golden was nothing more than a simple mining camp on Coyote Creek in southwestern Oregon.  Eventually, it developed into a town around 1890 and became a hub serving the people working in more remote places nearby.

General Store at Golden


More than 150 people called Golden home.  There was a church, a post office, a large orchard and general store.  However, unlike most other mining towns, it distinguished itself by not having any saloons.

What the church looked like in Golden's heyday

The church today

Golden is blessed with a beautiful location in peaceful woodlands and has its very own historic district - the Golden State Heritage Site.  Today you can explore the remaining structures and imagine what life would have been like for the people living in Golden during its heyday.

Coyote Creek suffered at the hands of the miners when hydraulic
mining began. Fierce streams of water, forced through nozzles were aimed along the creek edges, blasting soil and gravel until the tree-lined creek was carved away.

In 1993, concerned volunteers formed the Golden Coyote Wetlands Group, determined to reclaim 130 acres along the creek and reverse the damage left by the hydraulic mining. 

Ponds near Coyote Creek

Seventeen hundred trees were planted, noxious weeds hand-pulled, and nine ponds dug into the landscape. Now, with hiking trails and comfortable places to sit and watch, it's hard to see the scars.  A hundred years of abuse will take some time to erase, but at Golden Coyote, Mother Nature already is settling in.

Onward to Eugene, Oregon, where we had reservations waiting for us.


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