By Jayson Jacoby Baker City Herald
BAKER CITY, Ore. — A ghost-themed reality TV show that was filmed this summer near Sumpter is scheduled to debut Jan. 16.
“Ghost Mine” will air at 7 p.m. on the Syfy network.
The network, formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel, is available in about 98 million homes.
The new show, as its name implies, combines both the ghost hunting for which Syfy is known — the network’s roster of programs includes “Ghost Hunters,” which airs directly prior to “Ghost Mine” on Jan. 16 — and mining.
The latter topic makes Sumpter a logical choice for the show’s setting.
The town, about 28 miles southwest of Baker City on the opposite site of the Elkhorn Mountains, was the largest of the mining towns in its area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Sumpter, which celebrated its 150th birthday this year, reached a population of about 3,000 during the peak of the hard-rock mining period in the decade or so before World War I.
But the mines mainly played out, and then a massive fire in August 1917 destroyed almost all of the town’s buildings.
Sumpter’s current population is about 200, and its mainstay industry is neither mining nor ghost-hunting but rather tourism — hiking, ATV riding, hunting and fishing during summer and fall, and snowmobiling in winter.
Another draw is the Sumpter dredge, a monstrous machine that scoured the Sumpter Valley for gold before shutting down in 1954. The dredge is the centerpiece of a state park on the town’s south end.
According to Syfy’s website at www.syfy.com/ghostmine, “Ghost Mine” was filmed at the Crescent Mine.
LeAnne Woolf, a Sumpter city councilor, said in an interview this summer that the series was filmed mainly at the Buckeye Mine group which is near Bourne, about six miles north of Sumpter along Cracker Creek.
Woolf said Jay Bluemke, a producer for “Ghost Mine,” told her that Sumpter should expect an influx of tourists after the show airs on Syfy.
The local economy already received a boost from the program, as the cast and crew stayed in local homes and lodging establishments, and patronized other Sumpter businesses, during production this summer.
Here’s how Syfy describes “Ghost Mine”:
“In the remote woods of Oregon lies one of the richest gold mines in the United States that was abandoned 80 years ago when a series of tragedies gave it an infamous reputation for being haunted.
“Now, a new owner has decided to take on the notorious legend and reopen the mine, assembling a colorful team of miners — both seasoned and new — to battle the elements along with a pair of experienced paranormal investigators, in hopes of finding a fortune.
“This strong-willed and superstitious group of miners will face the day-to-day challenges of mining, aided by the paranormal investigators who unravel the mysteries surrounding the mine, including historic Masonic connections and a spirit who has been known to haunt the area for generations.”