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.

Rogue’s Roost: Paradise In The Wilderness, Part 2.

“There was a trail down each side of the river, and, at the upper end of the Roost complex, there was a swinging bridge across the river…  The bridge was supported by approximately 5/8 inch steel cables, which in turn were supported by large wooden timbers at each end and anchored to large fir trees.  The sides of the bridge consisted of wire fencing approximately two 2x12s about two inches apart.

A short distance downstream from the bridge were the tennis and croquet courts, then the main lodge.  The main lodge included a large kitchen area with a separate dining room for the servants along with two bedrooms and a bath for the Chinese cooks.  The main dining room was long and narrow with a fireplace in the middle of one side, built-in buffets on each side of the swinging door into the kitchen, and a very large, long dining table, which was placed down the center of the room.  From the dining room, there were steps down into the screen-enclosed “summer” dining room, which was a delightful spot furnished with bright-colored canvas chairs and a rustic handmade table.  The screens reached from the eaves to within about two feet of the floor and continued around two sides of the room.

From the summer dining room there was a door into the living room and another door leading to the deck over the edge of the river.  There was a large fireplace on the deck directly opposite the huge fireplace in the living room.  The fireplace in the living room was large enough for an adult to walk into and consumed huge logs, many of which were purchased from my Dad(Gus), who cut wood in the wintertime when there was not too much farm work to do…

The deck over the river was a delightful spot.  There was a large alder tree around which the deck had been constructed, and built-in seats on either side of the fireplace, which I guess would be approximately 15×45′.  There were cracks between the decking boards and , in typical ten-year-old fashion, I used to to like to lie face down in the spring sunshine and peer through the cracks at the water rushing below…

In the area of the Roost…, the river was wild and especially beautiful with many excellent fly-fishing riffles and deep holes.  I remember one particularly interesting spot directly down from the swimming pool area.  There was a huge boulder the size of a small house on the edge of the river.  The water was deep and dark and there was a whirlpool near the big rock.  It was fascinating to watch sticks and leaves being sucked down into the center of the whirlpool …

I have many happy memories of the hours spent curled-up in one of the big leather chairs with a good book, a stack of records on the phonograph and a cozy fire in the fireplace.  It was a fairy-tale sort of place for a financially poor little girl who was actually living in the lap of such luxury…”  –Evelyn Ditsworth Walls

Although,  Rogue’s Roost no longer exists(it was washed away in the ’64 flood), it left indelible memories.  For me, it represents childhood in its most ethereal form.

I remember Mom turning our station wagon down the gravel road, which dropped sharply to the river.  I can still see the lush vegetation on either side of the road, the narrow bridge crossing the irrigation ditch and the ineffable beauty of the surroundings.

I remember the feeling of remoteness and seclusion.  And I always felt a sense of awe when we arrived at the entrance.

I recall walking on the deck and looking out at the rushing river below.  When I looked at all the boulders which stretched across the river, I couldn’t understand how a boat could go through.

My clearest memory, though, is walking the path from Rogue’s Roost through a garden to come out on a clearing to the roaring sound of the Rogue River.  There was a small beach from where you could watch the river plunge over moss-strewn boulders and pour over a large drop-off amidst a series of huge, volcanic boulders.

Rogue’s Roost will always remain a part of my most magical and mysterious childhood memories.  And from time to time it beckons, calling me to an untroubled world where the doors to this kingdom open once again, and the river flows by undisturbed.

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.”

A Passion For Flowers

I must confess that I’ve had a lifelong passion for flowers with their assorted blooms, colors and shapes.  I think my love of flowers started when I bought petunia seeds at Armstrongs, planted them in the back corner of our lot and watched them grow.  Then I remember looking at a book of flowers with such intriguing names as zinnias, morning glories, larkspur, delphinium.  The color photos showed me a world of beauty.  Many years later, it was my privilege to walk through Mrs. Tucker’s wonderful garden at Rogue’s Roost with its fragrances and patterns.  And, it was no accident that I chose botany as one of my chapters in The Magicians of Form, and that I asked my interviewee, Dr. Frank Lang, to identify the plants and flowers in the riparian environment surrounding our home while we walked to the Rogue River.

I do have a fondness for roses and camellias and have taken hundreds of photos.  (Incidentally, my sister Nancy has won several awards for her roses.)  When it comes to landscaping, I am indebted to the helpful suggestions of the Medfords, who took the trouble to explain how to prune rhododendrons and roses.  Mr. Medford’s penchant for gardening is well-known, but Mrs. Medford possesses a fine eye for beauty and order.(I might also say that Mrs. Medford’s famous apple pies are just as good as they are reported to be.)  Also, my flowering dogwood is an inspiration to me, and azaleas are something to reflect on.  I offer you some photos of flowers that have a place in my heart.   

The Rapid Below Tucker’s

The rapid below Tucker’s was another formidable obstacle for boaters before the 1964 flood.  It began as a shallow bar, which forced boaters into a deeper channel on the far left.  As the rapid progressed, boaters had to move quickly to the right to avoid some boulders with sharp drops.  Then the bar flowing from right to left and the left drops formed steep waves, and the river went straight over an enormous hole, which had to be avoided or you would capsize.  This was definitely a rapid I would never have considered inner tubing.  However, after the 1964 flood the river widened and the steep drop was gone.  There were still some large waves, but there was no danger.  I inner tubed the post 1964 flood lower Tucker’s rapid many times without any difficulty.  When the river flowed past lower Tucker’s rapid, it left its canyon environment and spread out into numerous bars.  The change was quite dramatic.  It revealed one of the finest steelhead fishing spots on the Upper Rogue.  It was also not uncommon to see salmon spawning in August.

The reader might ask where the name Tucker came from.  Nion and Phyllis Tucker had purchased the property adjoining the rapid from Walter Bowne in the 1930s.  Rogue’s Roost, which is what the Tucker’s called their summer home(their home was in Burlingame California) was truly something to see.  It boasted a swimming pool, a large vegetable garden and it was surrounded by magnificent trees.