THE ROGUE RIVER, OREGON
Rogue River History Profile in Southern Oregon - Southwest Area to the coast - Highlights - Information  

Welcome to the wild and scenic Rogue River! This legendary river has long been a secret paradise for game fishermen and now you are invited to enjoy its long and entertaining history, filled with tales of gold, Indians and modern-day moviemaking.
 
The river's popularity is steadily growing as more and more visitors to Southern Oregon view the spectacular rapids and falls, and drink in the calm serenity of the still waters. Beautiful old-growth pines and twisted madrone grace the banks and deer graze in pastures bordering the water. Osprey fish for Chinook salmon while blue heron skim majestically along the sparkling waters.

The Rogue River is the embodiment of the Oregon dream lifestyle, a relaxing haven away from the strife of modern city life.
 
The Rogue's headwaters start at Crater Lake and twist and roar for 215 miles through the Cascade, Siskiyou and Coastal Ranges before spilling into the Pacific at Gold Beach. Numerous small towns dot its journey west, most notably the city of Rogue River, which took its name from the river itself. As the river leaves the Cascade range it winds its way through the Rogue valley. Gracious river homes line the banks where lucky residents live amongst the natural splendor.


            Hellgate Canyon area

From the relative calm of the valley the river takes a dramatic turn as it enters the coastal range at Hellgate Canyon. From Hellgate for the next 60 miles the Rogue takes a wild and scenic trip through the coastal range towards its final destination: the Pacific Ocean.
 
A brief history.
The first settlers to come into the region were without exception trappers and traders seeking valuable animal pelts. Long before the arrival of white trappers, however, there were several thousand native peoples who lived along the banks. As a matter of fact, the Rogue got its name from the Indians. 'The River of the Rogues," Two developments triggered the flood of white settlement: the Donation Land Act, which gave 640 acres to each settling couple, and the discovery of gold along the banks of the Rogue late in 1851. Thousands of miners flooded the area in search of this precious metal.
 

Today gold-panning is a favorite occupation of many visitors as each year gold is washed down from the mountains in the streams and lodges in gravel and between boulders. In its heyday, over $70 million was taken from the Rogue in gold; $5 million alone from Tyee Rapids by a group of Chinese miners. Gradually, however, the gold dwindled. Since the rugged character of the Rogue prevented it from becoming a highway of commerce and most of the valuable pelts had been trapped out, agriculture became the major industry for the Rogue Valley. Although commercial salmon fishing was once popular, it was outlawed in 1962 when state legislation banned the use of gill-nets. Game fishing remains the major fishing industry today.
 
In the 1930's the Rogue enjoyed a surge of Hollywood glitter as it became the watchword in fishing for such luminaries as Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, Zane Grey and Herbert Hoover. Clark Gable was overheard to say at a star-studded Hollywood dinner "Well, I'd rather be eating flapjacks at the Weasku Inn," an historic inn located by the Savage Rapids Dam. And who can forget that historic jump in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," reputed to have taken place in Hellgate Canyon? Nowadays movies are produced by the score using the dramatic backdrop of the Rogue River, and many big Hollywood names such as Ginger Rogers and Kirstie Alley make the Rogue Valley their home away from home.
 
A Recreational Paradise
The Rogue is one of eight rivers in the United States designated as wild and scenic. Its beauty will always be protected for our visitors. It remains a bird and wildlife watchers delight. Flying overhead one can find snowy egret, blue heron, osprey Canadian geese great horned owls, grouse, partridge, pheasant, quail and the majestic bald eagle. Along its banks graze deer and elk, and one can always catch sight of an occasional river otter or beaver. In the canyon area are found bear, mink, muskrat, fox, mountain lion and bobcat.
 
And of course, there are the fish...
Although there are two major runs for the salmon and steelhead there are fish in the Rogue all year round. You can catch Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, cutthroat, golden trout, catfish and in the lower part of the river there are still sturgeon. The Chinook and steelhead run in the fall and spring to spawn upriver, and there is also a Coho run in the fall. The nest spots for steelhead are from Battle Bar to Johns Rapids and there's also a great salmon hole just below Rainey Falls - you can hike there from Graves Creek. The fall Chinook fishery in recent years has been the healthiest since fish counts were first logged; in 1989 a 60 pound salmon was recorded and in 1990 a 45 pounder was caught outside of Grants Pass. And just to show you how serious they take their fishing on the Rogue, one of the earliest bridges built, Ament Dam, was unpopular with the fishermen because they claimed the fish ladder was inadequate to allow spawning salmon upriver. When nothing was done the irate fishermen attempted to dynamite the dam in 1912! Today all the fish ladders are deemed adequate.
 
There are many other activities on the Rogue besides fishing. Rafting remains a favorite hobby since native Rogue Riverian Glen Woolridge blasted a channel from Hellgate Canyon to Marial to allow boat passage. The stretch of river between Gold Hill to Rogue River is an easy and safe float, while experienced rafters will want to try the advanced rapids below Graves Creek. There are also many guide trips available for the novice who wants to experience the thrill of advanced white water rafting. The Rogue River is accessible without a launching fee at a number of locations from Gold Hill to Graves Creek. Water-skiing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and jet-skiing can all be enjoyed on the river, especially at the lake portion just below the city of Rogue River. Jet boat excursions remain a favorite of visitors; the shallow draft and powerful engines propel the boats as fast upstream as they move downriver, in excess of 50 Mph! Click Here For White Water Rafting
 
For those who prefer out-of-water activities there are numerous parks and trails. Rogue River Hiking Trail leads you through the wild region of the Rogue on the north bank, from Graves Creek to Marial. Between June 1st and September 15 the wild and scenic section of the river is controlled by a permit section; only permit holders are allowed to use the river to limit the amount of people through it per day. Permits can be obtained through guide services. There are also numerous parks to enjoy; Gold Rogue Sports Park, Ben Hur Lampman State Park, Rogue State Park.. all have great picnic sites, tent sites, trailer sites and of course, great fishing All Oregon State Park campgrounds are open from mid-April to late October and more campground information is available from Oregon State Park Campsite Information Center at 1-800-452-5687.
 
Be sure not to miss the Boatnik Festival, held in Grants Pass over the Memorial weekend with parades, rafting, and other contests! And in September, a sight not to forget.. .The Great Bath Tub Race, held from Gold Hill to Rogue River. It's a wild and wooly race with winner take all in prize money!
 
We hope you enjoyed our brief history and we're looking forward to when you come up and experience the river life for yourself.

 

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