Reader Ride - Shaniko, Oregon
Don't call it a ghost town; Shaniko, OR, has maintained a population of 30 people. A far cry from the turn of the 20th-century town that billed itself as "the wool capital of the world." By 1911, a competing railroad line diverted much of the town's wool traffic and Shaniko fell into disrepair.
Then a flood in the mid-1960s destroyed most of the remaining town but The Shaniko Hotel stands as an economic high water mark, reminding passersby of a time when Shaniko rose out of sagebrush desert before returning to obscurity. Today, my ride sets out to explore the obscurity of Wasco County and beyond.
On my 2001 Suzuki SV650, I leave Shaniko southbound via SR 218, passing a sunburnt Chrysler peeling under an arid Oregon sun. The nine miles of road connecting Shaniko to Antelope were designed with motorcycling in mind. Riding downhill, I come across eight conjoined corners coiled like a fearless snake. A single, 90-degree radius turn would have sufficed but the road's engineers were obviously looking to challenge and tempt riders. I continue south until arriving in Antelope, where gas is available.