Exploring Washington - Hunting for Ghost Towns

By Melinda Larke - Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid July 8, 2021

Looking for something unusual but fun to do this summer? Want to explore more? Want to see more? Want to really experience the history of Washington State? How about hunting for local ghost towns? There are a few ghost towns in Western Washington (which I also plan on exploring this summer), but I also found several ghost towns that are within 10 mintues-2 hours away from each other over in Eastern Washington, making for a great day trip!  

We did this in a day but it was a long day. With all the stops and time to explore we were gone for close to 11 hours.  I would not recommend this trip for younger kids, but if you were in the area, it wouldn't hurt to take a side trip to explore one or more of these living pieces of Washington State history.  I have lived in Washington my entire life and was able to see parts of it that I have never seen before, places that I never knew existed,  and explore what life was like in the 1800's and 1900's .  

First stop - Dyer, WA. 

This town was the most exciting to get to and the most disappointing once we got there.   I don't know if my navigation just took me a kind of weird way, but to get to Dyer, WA we had to drive on gravel and what they called "Primitive Roads." I learned later that "Primitive Roads" in Washington State are roads that are not paved or maintained, so you are taking a bit of a risk by driving them. My car was fine to drive these roads, but the other driver in our group had a low clearance car and while she made it through just fine, she was pretty nervous the entire time.   The kids thought the roads were a blast. Once we got to Dyer, there wasn't much left.  I did read that some people had found pottery pieces and other historical items.  We didn't see any of that. We did see a big Raven's nest and some other wildlife in Dyer so it wasn't a complete bust.  

Second Stop - Grand Coulee Dam 

Grand Coulee Dam was not in the original plan until we realized how close we actually were to it.  It made the perfect lunch stop with a picnic area that overlooks the dam, lots of space for the kids to get out and run around, and bathrooms nearby.  If you have time, I suggest you check out the  the visitor's center.  While we did not take time for it this trip, I have been in the past and they have some great exhibits. 

Third Stop - Sherman, WA. 

This was my favorite stop of the trip.  Sherman has a church that was built in 1888 and a cemetery with grave stones going back to about the same time.  The church and cemetery are maintained by a local group and they do allow you to go into both and look around. Inside the church are photos and stories of the town and people throughout the years. Don't forget to sign the guest book and ring the church bell before you leave.  

Fourth Stop - Govan, WA.

 Govan is only about 15 minutes from Sherman and it was the kids favorite stop. We stopped at the remains of the old local school house and the kids thought it looked pretty creepy.  We also had someone in our group that had read that Govan had been the scene of several unsolved murders in its past, which just solidified for the kids that the town was haunted and therefore awesome. 

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We hope to do more ghost town hunting this summer and this was a great start! It was a great way to get out of the house, get a change of scenery, and most importantly, keep the kids from spending all day in front of a screen! 

Keep finding your family fun -