Blitzen Redux

June 17, 2008

One dusty day about two years ago, I, solo, in the Catlow Valley, after suffering misdirected starts and inaccurate maps, found the ghost town of Blitzen, Ore.

You can see photos from that endeavor here.

This time I brought David. This time at sundown. This time someone had graded the mud-rutted road enough that it was passable and didn’t require a mile-long hike to reach the scattered, dying buildings.

Blitzen was a prosperous enough town in the early 20th century. Homesteaders came optimistic of the farming potential of the valley, disregarding ghosty thoughts of droughts and isolation. It built: a hotel, a store, a school, post office, families. Then dryness hit the region and harvests failed. Folks packed up. The highway got relocated to the west, along Catlow Rim. A standard story. The store was the last to falter and it closed its doors sometime around 1942.

Now Blitzen–a town named after lightning–is dying into the sage plains. It’s tough to find–you cannot really make it out from the highway, and it may well be on Roaring Springs Ranch land; the no trespassing signs are ambiguous–and far, far from anything safe or settled.

In the past couple of years since I first found it, another of the few standing structures collapsed. The hotel is tilting, tilting. A pair of enormous ravens live in an enormous nest in its upper floor.

Blitzen Hotel
(The hotel).

Blitzen Hotel Detail
(Detail of the hotel).

Dim Blitzen

Blitzen, Last Light

Subaru at Sunset, Blitzen

Subaru at Blitzen

Blitzen at Deep Twilight

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