Picture18 miles inland from the Oregon Coast is the official Ghost Town of Scottsburg, Oregon, with its long and rich history.  Originally the home of the Penutian-speaking Lower Umpqua native people in the present-day Scottsburg/Wells Creek area, it was named for pioneer and politician Levi Scott who’s birthday is still celebrated every year at the Community Center. Levi, from Illinois, homesteaded here and founded the town in 1850.

And then more “Scottsburgs” were established creating an Upper Scottsburg, Middle Scottsburg and Lower Scottsburg.  Whew! Upper Scottsburg became a shipping and distribution port for the mining regions and communities of southern Oregon and northern California.  Hundreds of pack animals loaded here at one time.

And it was news!  The Umpqua Weekly Gazette was the first southern Oregon newpaper to be published out of Scottsburg.

Scottsburg declined as ports opened up closer to the market points in both Oregon and California.  In 1861 a great flood wiped out Lower Scottsburg which caused further decline. A bit of a revial came during the 1940’s and 50’s as Scottsburg had a boom when the timber industry ramped up production in this area.

On the south side of the river and up river a bit from the town (on Lutsinger Creek Rd) was a settlement known still as “Family Camp.”  Housing there held 350 people who worked in the timber or as staff in the timber camp on the north side of the river at Scottsburg.

I was hiking Lake Marie on the coast one day when I stopped to ask a fisherman if he was catching anything.  In the course of our chat, he revealed that he had grown up during this period of time as his dad was the camp cook.  He was well acquainted with one of our long time residents at Umpqua River Haven.   He described growing up in the timber camp and being around kind of rough men who worked the timber.  A bit frightening for a small boy.

Eventually timber in an area “plays out”.  The timber is re-planted to grow again over the course of 15 or more years.  But, the people move on which is what happened here.  All of the houses at “Family Camp” were moved out and only a large, flat, treeless area remains.  But everyone around knows about “Family Camp.” Scottsburg declined rapidly after that.  

A few old timers remained in the area and “Bob’s Market” opened in 1950.  Owned by Bob House the market eventually was taken over by his two sons, Tom and Bob and their wives.

In recent times, young Bob who lived across the highway from Umpqua River Haven, owned a Llama named Larry.  Larry liked to wander and came meandering up our road one day at a fast walk with Bob chasing after him.  The residents went out to help Bob round up Larry and get him back home inside the fence again.  No easy task.  Much as everyone wanted Larry back home, it was also some interesting entertainment during a quiet afternoon.

Llamas are raised in the Umpqua River Valley but also you will find them pastured with flocks of sheep as they are superior guard “dogs” against predators.  Larry was just a member of the House Family.   

The market is actually at Wells Creek which is 2 miles from Scottsburg and was recently sold by the brothers.  But it is still there providing groceries to the locals and tourists.  The market is often a destination for people who love Taylor Sausage which has been a staple item here for many years.

Scottsburg is on the Registry of Historic Ghost Towns but is very much alive. Walking distance east of the market is the Wells Creek Inn Restaurant and Lounge.

Two doors west of us at Umpqua River Haven is the volunteer fire department with a staff of well trained fire-fighting and EMT personnel.  When the whistle blows, they come quickly and are very professional in fire-fighting and emergency services.  The fire chief lives next door to us and we consider him and his family to be good friends.

Present day Scottsburg boasts a Community Church and US Post Office.  Several residents live within the town including the Mayor, Henry Fryer and his wife, Patty, who was a long term US Post Master.  Many of the buildings in Scottsburg are designated as Historic Sites.

The Scottsburg Post Office is much like a coffee shop where people meet, greet and visit as they pick up mail and do PO business.  Patty, and subsequent postal employees, was always very helpful and could relay about any information you might need or want. I walked into the post office one day and asked Patty if she knew of anyone who played a string instrument.  She was immediately able to give me the name of a cello musician who lived across the river on Lutsinger Creek Rd.  I was able to contact the cellist and we played together as a duo, in a trio (The Glissandoes) and in the Southwestern Oregon Community College Orchestra in Coos Bay for many years.

The advantages of moving to a small town!

The population surrounding Scottsburg increase the number of residents by many. Lutsinger Creek Rd runs east from the bridge and contains houses up and down the road.  There is also a Friesian horse farm. Traveling due west of Scottsburg before crossing the bridge is the Scottsburg West Rd with many very nice homes taking in their river views.  

On the north side of the river heading east out of the Wells Creek Area (remember Bob’s Market) are streets leading to river property on the south with a variety of unique housing.  There are also streets on the north leading to more housing and to the Historic Scottsburg Cemetary.  

Boating and fishing, which we will discuss more in a bit, are year around activities on the Umpqua River.  Two miles west of the town of Scottsburg is the Scottsburg Park which contains a boat ramp/dock, big parking lot, restroom facility and picnic areas. Quite a nice park for such a small community.

A bit further west is the Umpqua Wayside State Park which has a nice picnic area.  Oregon has beautiful, well kept state parks.  And the beauty of Oregon never ends.  She is a scenic paradise!

Traveling The Umpqua River Highway To The Coast



Heading out of Umpqua River Haven traveling west on Oregon State Highway 38, every inch of the scenery is breathtaking.

We travel past the local volunteer fire station and 2 miles on into Scottsburg, quickly passing through town and onto one of Oregon’s historic bridges crossing the river.

In winter the river is sometimes brown with its bottom having been stirred up by rains and water runs from the inland Cascade Mountains carrying along logs and debris.  But in calmer weather the river is a distinct green.  The river bottom is covered with a layer of rock on which water moss forms.  Add that to the reflection of all the green trees on the mountain sides and you have a very pretty green river.  When the sun shines it is literally dazzling.

Two miles down the road after crossing the bridge is the Scottsburg park with a large parking lot for vehicles and trailers that have launched boats there.  Grassy picnic areas surround the parking lot and there is a modern rest room facility.  The locals often take their children and grandchildren to the park to swim.  The traditional 4th of July Scottsburg Community picnic is held here each year.


 A bit further along the highway is the Umpqua State Park.  A very pleasant place to rest and view the river though not as fully developed as the Scottsburg Park.

Moving on down the road about 11 miles from Umpqua River Haven there is a turn off to go up to Loon Lake.  This is a small, inland lake up in the Coast Mountain Range with a very nice public beach maintained by the BLM.  Boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming are all available at Loon Lake.  Stop in at the lodge for a sandwich.  The drive up is a few miles from Highway 38 and traverses along the picturesque Mill Creek.

One of the owners at Umpqua River Haven took this photo of Mill Creek:


The photo at the top of the page shows a river barge dredging the river bottom for rock.  Periodically rock is removed mostly for commercial purposes and you can see the barges doing their job.

When traveling this highway during the rainy season, many small and sometimes not so small waterfalls appear along the mountain sides.  It can be quite spectacular to come around a curve and see water splashing downward toward the river.

Four or five miles from the coast is Brandy Bar Landing.  These long established condominiums are on the river with fantastic views.


Coming close to Reedsport on the Coast we find the Dean Creek Elk Preserve.  Seldom do I pass without seeing the largest elk in the world—the Roosevelt Elk.  They are beautiful animals.  At the right time of year they can be seen locking antlers vying for position in the herd.  Mostly they are peaceful grazing on the lush grass.  There are several places designed for viewing and picture taking.  Do be careful on the highway here as the elk are not hampered by fences and occasionally can be found lunching alongside the road. 


Here, too, are found the Aleutian Geese from both Canada and Alaska.  They migrate here in abundance during cooler months before flying north in warmer weather.


Our 18 mile road trip concludes when we reach the coast town of Reedsport.  Reedsport was built on the Estuary of the Umpqua River which was partially filled with sand to create the town along the Southern Pacific Railroad line extending to Coos Bay.  It was a camp for railroad construction workers and also has a long history with the timber industry.  Today Reedsport thrives with tourism, is a sea port mostly for repairing boats and boasts two grocery stores, a hospital, an Old Town District with antique stores and a variety of restaurants and motels.  It is a quaint, small Oregon Coast town that is part of “Dune Country” and is fun to visit.


 One of our favorite places to visit in Reedsport is Mumbly-Peg.  Mumbly-Peg stocks cutlery and collectibles and buys and sells gold and silver jewelry.  The owner is fun to visit with and has many stories to tell.


 We also like the Myrtlewood Gallery with its unique display of all things Myrtlewood.  Some of it is made right there on site.  More about the unique and rare Myrtlewood trees of Oregon another time.


These are just two of the interesting places to visit in Reedsport on the Oregon Coast.