A Golden Homecoming (2013)
After 116 years, the historic schoolhouse of Golden has been returned to its rightful place.
Golden is a former mining community, now a ghost town, located four miles east of Wolf Creek in southern Oregon. At its peak in the 1850s, it had nearly 100 buildings and was home to about 200 inhabitants, including its founders, the Rubles.
With the downturn in mining in the early 1900s, however, many families began moving away to larger communities, and hydraulic mining operations washed away a large section of the town. The settlement was eventually abandoned.
In 1968, Josephine County bought the old Ruble mining claims near Golden. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Properties in 2002, the same year it was purchased from the county by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. In 2006, OPRD purchased an additional 5.43 acres from Golden Coyote Wetlands, Inc., to expand the State Heritage Site.
The schoolhouse was constructed in 1897 and in use through 1928. Because it was also used to hold church services on Sundays, it was eventually moved to the minister’s property about a mile to the west.
Approximately 60 years later, the Department of State Lands came into possession of the building and the rest of the property after its owner died without an heir. With the help of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and interested citizens, the wheels were literally set in motion to transport the schoolhouse back to Golden.
After a great deal of coordination and planning, the schoolhouse was loaded onto a trailer on June 17 and trucked to the State Heritage Site. When a shed addition was removed in preparation for the move, it revealed the names of children who had attended the school and etched their names into the wall, still preserved in the wood.
Names of some of the local children who attended the Golden school, including Vida and Wilson Ruble, were inscribed on the back wall of the building.
The building has been placed on a concrete foundation just east of the general store and across the street from its original location (which was washed out by mining operations). The bell tower will be repaired and reinstalled, and other restoration plans are in the works to preserve this important piece of Golden history.
There are four other remaining structures at Golden State Heritage Site: a church, a residence, a shed, and a combination post office and general store. The park is open year-round. To learn more about Golden, and see photos and video footage of the site, click here.