If the Rogue River is a river of characters, Zane Grey is the most famous.
The iconic Western writer came to the Rogue in 1919 for a fishing expedition, and fell in love with it. He came back throughout the 20s, eventually setting up a cabin along the river’s bank. True to form, Grey captured the river’s essence in two books: Tales of Freshwater Fishing and Rogue River Feud.
“He put the Rogue River on the map,” says Jim Martin, who spent thirty years with the Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife, many of those years as a biologist on the Rogue.
He says, “The experience of the remoteness and the wilderness on the Rogue caught his imagination. He wanted to share it with other people.”
Grey eventually became disillusioned with the Rogue, believing it was being fished too hard. He even shifted his attention to the North Umpqua, once he saw the Rogue start to lose its wildness.
Martin says, “(Grey) would say we have tamed the Rogue, we have domesticated it. But I would respectfully disagree. It still knows how to growl.”
Read more about Zane Grey in our Arts and Life section and tune in to “River of the Rogues,” a new Oregon Field Guide special airing Thursday, February 7 at 8:30 p.m. on OPB TV.