On February 7, OPB will air a 30-minute Oregon Field Guide special about the Rogue River, telling the colorful stories of how we shaped the river and how in turn, the Rogue River shaped our lives. History and geography take us from the robust headwaters on the north flank of Mount Mazama, to, as writer Zane Grey described, “the river’s calm majesty when it found its home in the infinite sea.” [Rogue River Feud, 1929].               

“River of the Rogues” depicts the life of the Rogue River Indians who have river traditions thousands of years old. The discovery of gold on the Rogue escalated settlement exponentially, putting strain on resources and relationships, erupting into the Indian Wars. The defeated tribes emptied the valley in a Pacific Coast version of the Trail of Tears.                         

Gold prospectors went back to mining, while commercial fishermen stretched their nets from bank to bank at Gold Beach. Robert Hume bought the tidewaters on the north and south banks at the mouth of the Rogue and managed a self-proclaimed monopoly on the Gold Beach fishery. His decisions influenced not only the fish runs on the Rogue, but on rivers up and down the Pacific Coast.               People feared the power of the Rogue as it snarled through the narrow canyons and slammed against truck-sized boulders. 

Then, in 1915, a young Glen Wooldridge put a homemade boat in at Grants Pass and steered his way to Gold Beach. He became the man who knew the Rogue the best. He guided Zane Grey, Ginger Rogers, and a whole roster of celebrities down the Rogue. With dynamite and gumption he blasted new channels in the river to make it safer and passable for generations to come.               

In 1968, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared the Rogue a Wild and Scenic river, protecting a wide swath from development and limiting use on the river, preventing the world from loving the Rogue to death. Today hikers, rafters, boaters and anglers revel in her power and beauty. For a century, we tamed the river with dams and consumed her resources. This century we demolished the dams and set the river free. The Wild and Scenic safeguard tempers our desire for the river with respect.

The Oregon Field Guide “River of the Rogues” special premieres Thursday, February 7 at 8:30 p.m. on OPB TV. 

Photos related to the special are available for download at the OPB Pressroom (user name: opbpressroom; password: photoop).

Videos of the stories featured on Oregon Field Guide are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.

Follow Oregon Field Guide on Facebook at facebook.com/oregonfieldguide.

In its 24th season, Oregon Field Guide remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. Oregon Field Guide airs Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and at 6:30 p.m. Sundays.

About OPB 
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by members across Oregon and Southwest Washington.