The three buildings at Buncom are all that remain of a once thriving gold mining camp. When gold was discovered on Sterling Creek in 1854, thousands of miners flocked there from the gold fields of California and other Oregon locations. Many of them made their fortunes; many didn’t. At first they mined with pans and shovels. When the placer diggings ran out, they built huge ditches and forced powerful streams of water through hoses to mine the gold hydraulically.
The mining claims soon were consolidated and run by large companies, but Buncom found a second life. Since it was a day’s wagon ride from Jacksonville, the nearest town, Buncom became the supply and distribution center for the farmers and ranchers in the Little Applegate Valley. A stagecoach route ran through it, and the federal government made Buncom a post office in 1896.
The coming of the automobile was the end for Buncom. With Jacksonville (and Medford) now just a short drive away, there no longer was a need for Buncom. The post office closed in 1916, and while a small general store continued to operate (like a convenience store today), the buildings were eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair.
The site languished for decades. During the Depression and later, renters and squatters lived in the buildings off an on. The old Cookhouse was used for years as a barn. Then in 1990 the property was purchased by Reeve and Lyn Hennion, and with the enthusiastic help of neighbors and friends, the Buncom Historical Society was established to preserve the site and area history.
NOTE: We believe that Buncom was the First Ghost Town on the Internet. This website first appeared in 1995. We did considerable searching at the time and couldn’t find any other ghost town.