Oregon State Parks Essay: Southern Oregon
On the west side of the Cascade Range, the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site is a counterpart to the Frenchglen Hotel. Built around 1883, it served travelers and stagecoach passengers passing through the Rogue River Valley. Today, it still rents hotel rooms and serves meals to visitors. Author Jack London stayed at the inn in 1911 while finishing his fifteenth novel, Valley of the Moon. Rumor has it that movie star Clark Gable hid out there when he needed a break from Hollywood. Nestled into the densely forested mountains north of Grants Pass, the hotel and restaurant retain the feel of a bygone era. The first floor lobby includes separate men’s and women’s parlors and a dining room. A ballroom takes up much of the second floor, and the attic once provided budget bunk lodging. In the late 1880s, cowboys who couldn’t afford a room could sleep in the attic for 10 cents a night. They often would jam their spurs into the wooden rafters, to anchor themselves in place; their spur marks are still visible.
“Kids, come on down from that wheel skidder right now!” Visitors hearing that were most likely visiting Collier Memorial State Park, an outdoor museum of logging equipment. North of Chiloquin, the park offers camping spaces and freshwater fishing, and displays the biggest collection of historic logging equipment in the state. The outdoor and indoor museums contain artifacts from the first days of logging to modern day, showing the evolution from axes and oxen to timber tug boats and trains. Its collection of chain saws is a perennial crowd pleaser. Visitors can admire the antique equipment displayed outside.
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