Running the Rogue

Running the Rogue
Gold Beach, OR

Gold Beach, OR

I have been hearing about Rogue River Jet Boat tours since I moved to Oregon 45 years ago. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. Jerry’s Rogue Jet Boats is an Oregon Coast tradition–they were the first to figure out that jet boats could reach shallow spots on the river that would be inaccessible to a boat with a big propeller hanging underneath it.

There are three different trips, and at first we thought about the 80 mile Whitewater Excursion, but that trip doesn’t start until later in the summer, so we signed up for the 64 mile Mail Boat run. From the reviews I read it seemed to have most of the history, scenery, and wildlife, but without the whitewater–which was actually fine for a big wimp like me! They also do a 104 mile Wilderness Whitewater trip for the more adventurous souls.

We made a brief stop downriver where the Rogue meets the sea, to check out the seals–they mostly have harbor seals and California sea lions here but don’t ask me which is which! The Rogue was designated a National Wild and Scenic River when that law was first passed in 1968. That means what we see today is pretty much what it looked like 50 years ago. You can rebuild a house on an existing foundation, but no new buildings, logging, or other industry are allowed. As we passed under the bridge, where a Jerry’s employee took a photo of us, we could see Jot’s Resort where we spent Saturday and Sunday nights.

We couldn’t have picked a better day for this trip–temps in the 60s and a gorgeous sky. This trip is called the Mail Boat because they’ve actually been delivering the mail to the town of Agness, 32 miles upriver, for many years. In theory you could drive up the dirt road along the Rogue all the way to I-5, but it’s not exactly efficient! Our pilot spotted lots of wildlife and pointed out the sights along the way. Here we are picking some myrtle leaves, which give off a nice aroma like the bay leaves you might use to season a soup.

We saw a lot of birds, including great blue herons, geese, ducks, hawks. The osprey and bald eagle each had babies in their nests.

As we passed under the next bridge, our pilot talked about the Christmas Flood of 1964, one of the worst floods ever in the Pacific Northwest. The water came up to the bottom of the bridge deck, and many structures were destroyed, including the whole Port area of Gold Beach.

As we pulled into the tiny town of Agness, we had a choice of three places to stop for lunch. The first two were a buffet and a family style fried chicken meal, and the possibilities for overeating seemed pretty high, so we opted for Cougar Lane, where we could order BBQ off the menu. It was a lovely spot and the meal was excellent.

The trip back down was a little faster (and windier!) than on the way up, and we saw lots of other folks enjoying the beautiful day on the river. Everyone waved as we went by.

Returning to Gold Beach, we saw the remains of the Mary D. Hume, a steamboat that spent almost a century hauling cargo up and down the coast from San Francisco to Alaska. After being retired, she was brought back to her home port of Gold Beach and sank in 1985.

After getting off the boat we visited their museum, where there are artifacts, stories and videos about the history of the Rogue and the Tu-Tu-Tun people who were the first to live here. Then we took a walk across the Patterson bridge (named for an Oregon governor from the 50s). This is one of the famous series of bridges along the coast designed by Conde McCullough. McCullough was a bridge engineer and professor who worked for the Oregon Dept. of Transportation in the 20s, 30s and 40s. His bridges are famous for their art deco towers and graceful arches.


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