The Map That Ray Drew

Fishing map drawn by Ray Minehan.

Fishing map drawn by Ray Minehan.

Rogue’s Roost and many other spots on the Rogue River were known for excellent steelhead and salmon, so to provide their guests with a fishing map, Nion and Phyllis Tucker hired sketch artist, Ray Minehan.  He drew a limited amount of sketches that are all numbered.  This is #22.  It is supposed that the maps were drawn in the late 30s or early 40s. The Roost had been purchased by the Tuckers as a picnic site from Walter and Alice Bowne in the 1930s.  At that time, there was only a small cabin and nothing to suggest what would become the magnificent Rogue’s Roost.  The Tuckers then bought other parcels from different landowners to complete the finished residence. Joseph Chevigny was the chauffeur and fisherman in residence.  He and my Dad used to go fishing together.  It was Joe who taught my Dad about the art of fly fishing.  The area near the Roost boasted a huge spawning bed and great steelhead fishing.  Joe created his own fly that he called the Chevigny fly.  My Dad copied it and made numerous flies that he gave to friends.  He renamed the fly, The Rogue River Special, and the name stuck.  It is still used by fishermen today. The upper left of Ray’s map shows the elegant Roost with its spacious lawn.  The main building in the center opened out to a deck over the river.  It was not unusual to see jack salmon or steelhead jumping in the sparkling water.The lower left of the map shows the result of a fisherman’s efforts: a large, tasty fish ready to be eaten.

A few comments regarding some of the places mentioned on the map: 1.  The town of McLeod no longer exists.  It was subsumed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a visitors’ information center for Lost Creek Dam.  2.  Casey’s Camp was an extention of the original Casey’s Auto Park.  Today it is called Casey State Park. 3.  Round House(a stone house) was built by Emmett(Sno-Cat) Tucker(no relation to the Tuckers of Rogues Roost) and eventually became the famous Obstinate J Ranch until it was sold and the name changed.  4.   Beagle was a pioneer community that began in 1885 and ended in 1941 when the U.S. Army took it over to establish Camp White. 5.  Sunset on the Rogue included a gas station, store for food and fishing, and cabins.  It still exists today!  6.  California on the Rogue offered a gas station and cabins. The name has been changed, but the buildings remain.  I knew the owner during the 60s, Mr. Sullivan.  I brought a geode to him from the North Umpqua region and asked him if there could be any crystals inside.  He said, “Nah!”  When I got to the Obstinate J Ranch, I split the geode and found it full of reddish-brown quartz crystals!  7. Captain Black’s refers to what became Black Oaks.  The place currently belongs to the Donald L. Donegan family and encompasses some of the best steelhead water between Dodge Bridge and TouVelle State Park.  8.  Dowden and Hardy’s should be reversed.  Hardy Rapid Class 2+ contains an enormous hole in the middle of the river that must be avoided.  Dowden refers to Dowden Falls, today known as Gold Nugget Falls Class 3+.  Every summer rafters and kayakers float the left channel of the falls that includes two large drops, especially the last one!  The campground provides a beach with great views of the lower drop.  A great place to relax and reflect on nature’s wonders.

Pearsoney Falls Revisited

Pearsoney Falls lies just west of Prospect and below the North Fork of the Rogue River Gorge, which plunges over boulders to join the Middle Fork.  The falls is reached via an entrance on the south side of Mill Creek Drive.  The trail is at the upper end of the parking lot.  The falls is the first of many before the spectacular Mill Creek Falls that drops over a cliff to join the two forks of the Rogue River.

The video below shows Pearsoney Falls in its grandeur in 2009.  

Rogue’s Roost: Paradise In The Wilderness, Part 1.

When I think of Rogue’s Roost, I am issued once more through the gates of childhood into a pristine and untainted world.  This was a world of heady aromas, incredible beauty, the substance of dreams.

Rogue’s Roost was the summer residence of Phyllis deYoung Tucker, part of a family that owned The San Francisco Chronicle.  Her main home was in Burlingame, California, an area known for wealth.  I knew her as an old lady with a bright smile, a certain elegance in her gait, who often wore a broad-rimmed hat.  She loved to walk through her garden, which was pungent with the smell of carrots and point out her favorite flowers.  The path continued to a rocky outcropping overlooking the river.  These rocks marked the coveted steelhead hole of her chauffeur, Joe Chevigny.

The swimming pool below the main Roost was a troublesome affair.  Sharp flagstones lined the edge of the pool and caused one man to require stitches.  I knew it only as a place to frolic in the summer, accompanied by her grandson, Nion Tucker, named for Mrs. Tucker’s husband.

Rogue’s Roost was located off of Highway 62(Crater Lake Highway) about one mile SW of Laurelhurst State Park.  My father said to look for a sign that read N. Tucker.  When I saw the sign, I knew we would begin to descend through a lush forest, ending up at the moss-covered Rogue’s Roost.  Evelyn Ditsworth Walls, whose family settled in the Laurelhurst area in the late 1880s, gives a detailed and poetic description of this special road and of the area of Rogue’s Roost:  “The road from Crater Lake Highway down to the Roost went through a large, weighted gate, which could be opened without the driver getting out of the car by pulling on a three-foot wooden handle cantilevered to the weights at the hinged side of the gate.  The road wound down the mountainside through virgin forest carpeted with moss where lady slipper orchids and lamb’s tongue bloomed in the early spring…  The road looped around a hairpin curve, alongside the irrigation ditch and across a bridge with rustic seats on each side before plunging down the last steep hill and around the final curve.  Then the road leveled off through the landscaped grounds with a croquet court on one side of the road and a deck tennis court on the other.

The landscaping was quite informal with flagstone walks among the big trees and rockeries with coral bells, columbine, maidenhair and sword ferns.  Near the river there was a natural carpet of different kinds of moss and lichens covering the ground and the large river boulders.  I especially remember the exceptional beauty of the area in the early spring, when all the new growth would be bursting forth in its many shades of green, and again in the fall, when all the autumn shades of russet, red, and gold would emerge following the first nippy nights.  The many dogwood trees and vine maple bushes provided bright spots in the undergrowth both in the spring and fall.”

Lower Water Means More Rocks And Time To Maneuver In An Inner Tube

The Rogue River continues to drop, and more rocks are appearing, especially in bars.  There is one spot right above Dodge Bridge where any lower water might mean getting out on the left side of the right channel and walking.  The deepest water in the right channel is on the right, but slams into a tree.  The safe way to take this rapid is to pass to the left of a green tuft of island at the top of the right channel, and then make a sharp right turn, catching the eddy of the ensuing bar.  The eddy should hold you, so that you can float down the center and avoid the overhanging bush at the bottom right.  This means going over a rock bar, so lift yourself up in your tube.  What follows are a series of playful, splashy waves and one more bar before you reach the Dodge Bridge on ramp.  Always wear a flotation device.  Look out for trees and rocks.  And have fun on the river!

2014 Inner Tubing Season Begins Early

The 2014 inner tubing season began in the middle of June, then paused for some cooler weather, resurfacing towards the end of the month.  It is hard to believe that this will mark my 50th summer of inner tubing.  I have been fortunate to enjoy the waters of the Rogue River, an excellent river for inner tubing.  The flow now is about twice what it was before Lost Creek Dam(2200 cfs at TouVelle State Park), and somewhat warmer(53-54 at Casey State Park, instead of 51).  The test for low 50 temps. is to put your hand in the water.  If it begins to burn from cold, temp. is low 50s.  You can do the same thing with your feet.  I usually test the water at TouVelle State Park, and, if it’s warm enough, and the outside temp. is in the 70s, time to float.  Incidentally, when I was a kid, I usually encountered low 50 water, but now, at 61, I’d just as soon avoid it!

Note:  River has pushed to the right at TouVelle State Park, which means less water along the left bank.  The river took out part of the “children’s dam” and cut a new channel over soft rock to drop into main rapid on the right.  Unfortunately, the two rocky channels below the bridge are still there, forcing tubers to the left, and then requiring them to cross two swift currents to get to shore.  Chances are strong that tubers will be pushed downstream to second put-out among some thick underbrush.  My advice would be to get out just before the “children’s dam”.  The wave on the right isn’t worth the ensuing hassle.

Greetings to inner tubers everywhere!  It looks to be a wonderful season on the Rogue River.  People generally tube from Casey State Park to TouVelle State Park.  The run is exciting, but not dangerous, if you avoid strainers.  Mostly Class 1 and 2.  You could tube to below Gold Ray, but there is no easy put-out.  Below that, waves become too large and irregular for inner tubers, and there are a few falls.  However, you can tube from Gold Hill to Hog Creek(watch out for Twin Bridges Rapid Class 3, just before Valley of the Rogue State Park), if you have the desire, but much of the water from Grants Pass to Hog Creek is placid, and without action.  Happy tubing!

Robber’s Roost

Robber’s Roost near Casey State Park, acquired its name from a policeman with a sense of humor.  He was Sprat Well’s son-in-law.  Sprat was an old-timer who once owned river property from Eastin’s Rogue Haven to the Obstinate J Ranch.  The Roost was a well-known steelhead hole and nearby Pat’s Fly and Tackle provided fishermen with licenses and the required accessories.  The rapid opposite the Roost had one of the largest whirlpools on the upper Rogue.  A boat might spin around for half a minute before the river relinquished its grasp and the vessel could move on.  I knew the rapid as the Cottage Kitchen riffle, because there was a small restaurant above the Roost that I liked to frequent.  This restaurant and its co-owners, Mrs. Caroline Kelsey and Miss Allyn Goss, will be the subject of a future post.  In the meantime, please enjoy the video clip below of Robber’s Roost Rapid. The 1964 flood took the rapid away and replaced it by a mild chute.

Ashland’s Lithia Park

IMG_1410 ASituated beneath the Siskiyou Mountains is a 93 acre refuge called Lithia Park.  The park was built in 1915 by John McLaren and retains some of its original features.  It is in the town of Ashland Oregon and meanders along the sparkling Ashland Creek.  In recent years, crowds have become a major problem, so weekdays are best.  The lower part of Lithia Park features a pond of floating swans that marks the entrance to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  The upper part offers a waterfall, a pond of ducks, a band shell, used for concerts and a series of intriguing steps and bridges.  Lithia Park is a favorite spot for hikers, actors, who want to rehearse in the shade of trees and families seeking a beautiful picnic spot.  Children love to play in the shallow, clear water of Ashland Creek, and are heard often, laughing and cavorting.  I offer some photos of the upper part of Lithia Park.

An aside:  For visitors that are new to Southern Oregon, one must realize that the towns of Medford and Ashland are like different countries, so great are the differences.  Ashland has had a teacher’s college for years(Southern Oregon College).  It recently became Southern Oregon University.  However, it is a university in name only.  It offers no doctoral programs.  That was the agreement reached with other Oregon universities to avoid competition for students.  In general, Oregon has been a state of ecological awareness, but poor education.  At one time, it ranked 49th out of all the states, outranking only lowly Louisiana.  But the Oregon Shakespeare Festival brought in many people from the arts, and Ashland offers more educational opportunities than any other Southern Oregon town.  People throng daily to walk the streets and investigate the many shops the town offers.  By contrast, Medford is not a town of walkers, and does not attract many visitors.  West Medford is notorious for crime, poverty and drug use.  Type 2 diabetes is the illness of choice for women, since obesity is rampant.  Alcoholism is the illness of choice for men.  The youth prefer pot or meth, because of its availability and relative cheap cost.  Medford abounds in single mothers with multiple fathers, while Ashland has the region’s largest gay community.  The poverty is so bad in Medford, that during a recent teachers’ strike, the Medford Superintendent, Long, stated that more than half of the children were either receiving free lunches or were getting them at a discount.  This does not mean there are no poor people in Ashland.  Just that they are less visible among the teeming citizens.  Ashland is the most liberal community in Southern Oregon.  Medford, and all other communities in the region are far more conservative.  A friend of mine, when he arrived from the Bay Area, told me he thought of Medford as a different country.  And, in a way, he’s right.IMG_1235IMG_1243IMG_1248IMG_1249IMG_1306IMG_1269IMG_1341IMG_1285IMG_1355IMG_1408IMG_1234