Rustic Lens
sumpter valley railroad

Historic Sumpter Valley – Sumpter Oregon

In the summer months,  you can take a ride on the Sumpter Valley Railroad and feel like you have stepped back in time.  Riding on a steam train is an experience that I really enjoy.  The Sumpter Valley Railroad operates in the warmer weather and has a few trips in the fall and for Christmas.  My plan was to go for a ride and get some fall color pictures since I was in the area for a business meeting anyway.  This historic area has been on my bucket list for a while.  Unfortunately for me, the weekend I was there was one that the railroad was not running.

sumpter valley railroad
Displays in the yard of Sumpter Valley Railroad

They had stopped for the season and the next weekend was the fall colors ride.  Sometimes it seems like that’s the story of my life (right place, wrong time).  Well, since I was there, I still got some great shots of the awesome historic sites and beautiful scenery of the Sumpter Valley.

Union 76 oil tanker at the dredge site.  One of my first jobs was as a full service attendant at a Unocal 76 station.  This was my favorite shot of the trip.

Since I wasn’t going to get a ride on the steam train, I drove into Sumpter to check out the historic gold dredge they have there.  You can go on a self guided tour of the dredge during the daytime and I loved it.  I was the only one there for a while.

historic gold dredge
The historic and massive gold dredge at Sumpter.

The massive buckets would dig up the stream bed and dump the material inside the dredge for classification and to get the gold out.  The left over gravel would be discharged out the back and create tailing piles.  I have been on another of these dredges in Bonanza Idaho and the size of these monsters is impressive.  I took full advantage of my alone time and got some great HDR shots inside the dredge.

hdr gritty machinery
HDR shot of the inside of the dredge. Processed in Adobe Lightroom and final toning in On1 Photo Effects.

If you like those type of pictures, make sure you check out my full gallery for the others.  I tried some black and white HDR shots of some old equipment at a roadside museum on the way into Sumpter.

gritty hdr
An old crane.

I had a great pizza from Mad Dog Saloon in Sumpter and walked around the town a little.  I didn’t realize that the wildlife was so intelligent in Oregon.  Apparently these deer could read.

funny wildlife
Free Apples


The next morning on the way to Baker City for breakfast I stopped along the Powder River and got a few fall color pics.

fall color powder river
Fall colors starting to pop along the Powder River.

Even though I got to see the area, it hasn’t been crossed off the bucket list yet.  I will be back to ride the train and maybe get robbed by masked gunmen or visit the Sumpter Flea Market.  If you know of any old mining areas or ghost towns that I might like to visit, please comment below!

Evan Jones

I am a landscape and travel photographer who is drawn to old and rusty stuff as well as beautiful landscapes. I like to explore the backroads of the Northwest United States and anywhere else I can get to. My blog is at

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