Ghosts Towns of the West–Nighthawk, Washington

Link to Google Map of key sites.

The remains of the town of Nighthawk stand along the Similkameen River in an area where nighthawks, sometimes called “bull bats,” were very prevalent.  The supply center that sprung up here was named for the birds.  The Ruby, Kaaba, and the more famous War Eagle mines were among those developed by James M. Haggerty, an attorney who was responsible for managing the estate of Hiram “Okanogan” Smith.  Smith was friendly to the Native Americans and was elected to the Territorial Legislature of Washington in 1860.  After serving one term, he settled on his ranch near Chesaw and tended his orchard for 40 years.

View of Kaaba-Texas Mine Ruins (located on Allemandi property on north side of Silmilkameen River, south of Nighthawk)

Nighthawk had been built where the ground was level but the main producing mine was across the Silmilkameen.  A footbridge was good enough for the early traffic but when it became inadequate, a ferry was put into operation by William Berry.  About 1900, the Vancouver, Victoria, & Eastern Railroad ran its line through Nighthawk to Oroville and the town looked forward to a rosy future.  For a time it seemed to be coming true as all heavy equipment for the mines, including the Loomis twelve miles to the south, was rail shipped through Nighthawk.  This meant freighting lines were based here, large livery stables maintained, as well as hotel, store and several saloons.


When the business of transporting mine equipment and passengers was flourishing, the rail line, a branch of the Wenatchee, Oroville & Great Northern ran from its connection at Spokane through Danville, Molson, Chesaw, Nighthawk, and Hedley (British Columbia), terminating at Princeton where it connected with the Canadian Pacific.  By 1950, the line had been cut to a spur approximately 50 miles long from Oroville to Hedley.  Freight was limited to a small amount of farm equipment and produce with an occasional passenger.  The train came to Nighthawk twice a week.  A tiny one-room customs office stood beside the single track.

Route of Wenatchee, Oroville & Great Northern (now referred to as the Cascade & Columbia River Railroad)

The Nighthawk Hotel was built by Ed McNull for miners in boom days.  Later, when Nighthawk Mill was running at full capacity, the Ewing family took it over as a boardinghouse for mill workers.  It stood vacant for many years near the little grocery store operated for 25 years by Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Sullivan.  The Sullivans later moved to Palmer Lake a few miles to the south.

Palmer Lake
Palmer Lake
Palmer Lake

Reference Material:

Florin, Lambert; Ghost Towns of the West; Superior Publishing Company, 1971; pg. 829-831

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