The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge is a historic gold dredge located in Sumpter, Oregon, United States. The dredge was built during the gold rush that consumed most of the western states throughout the mid-19th century.
The Ghost of Joe Bush
The stories of a ghost haunting the decks of the Sumpter Valley Dredge date back to its days of operation. Former employee, Wes Dickison, credited another employee for helping spread the stories of a spirit on board as a way of explaining the frequent mechanical failures. In a 2007 article titled, "The Legend of Joe Bush," Dickison told the Baker City Herald that "...it all started as a joke, and I'd blame George Hansen." Yet, when Dickison was pushed further to confirm that it was nothing more than a story, he balked, "You wondered, when water started running for no reason. It was a spooky place in the middle of the night." He later relented further when asked what the other employees thought - "We all say it was haunted."
In the days of operation, one employee was left behind while the others went to summon the dredgemaster whenever mechanical issues would arise. It was then, while sitting in the pitch black and listening to the strange noises throughout the ship, that the men began to believe that there was maybe more to the story of Joe Bush. Further bolstering these beliefs were the strange and sudden opening and closing of doors while no one was around and, most eerily, the sight of wet, bare footprints on the deck of the dredge.
The haunting of Joe Bush did not stop with the recovery and restoration of the Sumpter Valley Dredge either. Tour guides and staff report many of the same phenomena once reported by the workers; including the wet footprints of a man's bare feet walking down the main deck. There have even been sightings of an apparition resembling a man that appears in shadow-form or seen in silhouette that disappears before the eyes of startled witnesses. The staff is not the only witnesses to the sightings. Tourists visiting the dredge have reported similar sightings, as well as experiencing the sounds and footprints.
There is some debate as to the origin of the ghost of the Sumpter Valley Dredge. Some suggest that the ghost is from a former worker that died while working on the first dredge in the area and accompanied the parts when they were transferred to the third. Meanwhile, others point to a plaque on board that memorializes George O. "Buck" Mosley, who died while working on the dredge on February 17, 1942. The employment records of the dredge do not list a Joe Bush as ever working on the vessel, but former workers remember another worker by that name working on another dredge in the area. It is unknown what became of him.
The stories of Joe Bush continue to this day and the Friends of the Sumpter Valley Dredge even distribute a pamphlet titled, "The Ghost of the Dredge," to interested tourists. In fact, the stories of the haunting and the ghost of Joe Bush even inspired an author to write a series of children's books based on the ghostly legend and the story of the Sumpter Valley Dredge.
IT DIDN’T START OUT AS A STORY. DIGGING DEEPER.
Sumpter, OR 97814
When the dredge was in operation and mechanical issues occurred, workers left the site to go notify the "dredgemaster" leaving one worker behind. It is not clear whether the man that was left behind was to keep watch and what the purpose was for him to be left alone. It was most likely while the men who were left alone to sit in the pitch blackness understandably began to hear strange noises in the dredge and ultimately began to believe that the spirit of Joe Bush was present. "Further bolstering these beliefs were the strange and sudden opening and closing of doors while no one was around and, most eerily, the sight of wet, bare footprints on the deck of the dredge."
Today, staff members at the Sumpter Valley Dredge have reported the same type of ghostly activity that the workers years ago were witness to. Amazingly, staff and tourists have reported seeing the ghostly figure of a man that appears and then disappears. There have also been witnesses to the sounds and footsteps that are by some believed to be old Joe Bush.
No one is sure of how the rumor of the ghost of the dredge at Sumpter Valley originated. Some maintain that a former worker was killed while working on the area's first dredge and possibly was transferred inadvertently to the third dredge in the area. There is a plaque on board the dredge in honor of George O. "Buck" Mosley, who died in February of 1942 while working on the dredge. Joe Bush was never listed in the records of employment at the Sumpter Valley Dredge, however, former workers have made reference to a Joe Bush who worked on another area dredge. There is no further information that has been found about this supposed worker.
Whether the story of Old Joe Bush is just a frightening tale or actual true events, many of us today still enjoy speculating about the truth.
Joe bush's real name is Chris Rowe. The ghost of Joe Bush moved with the gears which moved from the dredge in Skeleton Creek, Washington to Sumpter Valley Organ.Chris Rowe worked on that dredge and died by getting pulled in my his pants leg. Workers on the dredge say they hear a ringing of a bell, the sound of tool banging against metal, and dragging of the leg. Also a chill up your spine. The ghost also is said to leave wet, bare footprints on the dredge's decks and cause lights to flicker, there would be sudden fires, and doors to open and close unexpectedly. The actor of Sarah Fincher once went upstairs in the dredge alone then she felt a cold hand on her shoulder she thought someone was playing a prank but when she turned around no one was there.Also all of their flashlights kept breaking. They thought it was nothing.
I'M GOING TO READ OVER THIS THE WHOLE WEEK, WILL RESEARCH MORE NEXT WEEK. I NEED TIME TO PROCESS THIS.