Gold Beach is a cool little beach town with a lot of nature-based activities just out your door at Rogue River Lodge – A Fine Gold Beach Hotel. The lodge is located 3.3 miles upriver/inland from Gold Beach and the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, which means the weather is generally warmer and you’re out of the occasional wind and fog you find right on the coast.
Gold was discovered on the local beaches near the mouth of the Rogue River in 1853. Prospectors poured into the area by the hundreds and small settlements (first called Ellensburg, then Gold Beach), grew on both the north and south sides of the river where it meets the Pacific Ocean. Yes, there is still gold on the beach in Gold Beach!
With the coming of prospectors and settlers, came problems for the native people. By 1854, there were skirmishes amongst the natives and the newcomers. This erupted into the ‘Indian Wars’ of 1855-’56. The native people were forcibly removed from their land and brought to the Siletz Reservation north on the Oregon coast. There is a wealth of great information at the Curry Historical Museum in Gold Beach. Take a peek at www.curryhistory.com
The person who, arguably, influenced Gold Beach the most from past to present was Robert D. Hume. In 1876, Hume established a cannery followed quickly by a salmon hatchery in 1877. This hatchery is still in operation and helps supplement the native salmon fishery in the Rogue River. Hume established Wedderburn on the north side of the river, where he grew his empire on the back of the Chinook salmon that his men harvested from the Rogue. Wedderburn became a ‘Company Town’ with a cannery, general store, newspaper, living quarters for his workers, and even a horseracing track! Commercial fishing on the Rogue was ended by State legislation in 1935.
Today, you can see the remains of the ‘Mary D. Hume’ at the Port of Gold Beach. This vessel was one of a small fleet that Hume used to transport canned and salted salmon up and down the West Coast. The ship was named for his wife.
From the 1940s to the mid-1980’s timber harvesting largely fueled the economy of Gold Beach. There were many mills, both small and large with employed hundreds of people. More still worked in the forests or driving trucks.