Buncom Day fete returns

The post office closed during World War I. The store closed during the Great Depression. And Buncom Day ended in 2005.

While the post office and store are not likely to reopen anytime soon, Buncom Day is back.

The popular community celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Buncom, believed to be the last standing ghost town in southwest Oregon.

Buncom is about six miles south of Ruch at the intersection of Sterling Creek and Little Applegate Roads.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will feature everything from a singing cowboy to a "chicken splat" contest.

Located on private land, Buncom was the site of an annual celebration each Memorial Day weekend from 1993 to 2005. Attendees fondly remember it as the place where the parade was so small that participants marched through town, then did an about-face and paraded back through.

However, after 12 years of holding the community celebration, the nonprofit Buncom Historical Society decided to take a break from holding the event. Property owners Lyn Hennion and her late husband, Reeve Hennion, formed the society in 1991 to help preserve Buncom, which was established in the late 1800s.

Reeve, a Rogue Valley community leader and the unofficial mayor of Buncom, died in 2009 following a long battle with brain cancer. He was 67.

"Buncom Day was a special occasion for him," said family friend Sue Maesen, an Applegate Valley resident who is helping organize this year's event.

"We're really happy it is back," she said of the celebration. "It's great for the family, or for anybody."

Back by popular demand is the two-way parade to be held around noon, a barbecue lunch provided by the Applegate Lion's Club and the chicken splat contest in which folks guess where a wandering chicken will, well, splat.

"The chicken splat activity is in high demand — it will be back," Maesen said. "Whoever wants to be in the parade can. People can walk their dog or ride their horse. There also will be some antique cars."

In addition to the singing cowboy, there will be a country store, fishing activity for children and a range of demonstrations that include lace making, fire safety, gold-panning, removing noxious weeds and building trails.

The Oregon Paranormal Society will have an exhibit, the Friends of the Ruch Library will hold a book sale and there will be plant and tree sales. There also will be door prize drawings and a toy exchange to allow visitors to trade in their used-but-still-fun toys for other used toys.

New this year will be a field open for parking, she noted.

The Buncom Mining District was created in 1867. Gold miners began pouring into the area in the 1850s.

Buncom consists of three buildings — the post office, bunkhouse and cookhouse. Its post office was established on Dec. 5, 1896, serving some 175 people in the vicinity. It closed in 1917.

The post office doubled as the general store, which operated until the mid-1930s.

The weathered bunkhouse building served miners working the nearby Federal Mine owned by Gin Lin, one of the few Chinese residents who owned a local gold mine.

Although no one seems to know precisely how Buncom came by its name, the Oregon Geographic Names book suggests it may have been the result of Chinese miners mispronouncing the name of a local settler.

For more details about the celebration, as well as detailed directions to Buncom, see www.Buncom.org.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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