US-97 extends from the village of Weed in Northern California through Washington State to the Canadian border. The highway is scenic for much of its length; it is one of our favorite roads.
In Oregon, US-97 travels to the east of the chain of volcanoes that marks the Cascades. North of Bend, the road passes the town of Shaniko Oregon. Shaniko reached its heyday in the first decade of the 20th Century. Today the community is a curiosity. Some would call Shaniko a ghost town. Indeed, Shaniko feels like a ghost town. But Shaniko is not a ghost town. The most recent census records a population of 26 even if we’ve never seen a resident. Some buildings are decaying; others have been restored. Amongst the town are artifacts, particularly vehicles, actively collected from the decades and clustered in barns or scattered outside. Shaniko is more of a museum than a ghost town.
There is little reason to Shaniko. It’s not forgotten; it’s not remembered. It is not a destination yet we can’t drive past without stopping to explore. Somehow Shaniko is a place that resists being ignored.