In Southern Oregon, history runs as deep as the forested canyons where we hit pay dirt with a special getaway into Oregon’s gold mining region. This week, we visit the oldest operating hotel in the state in a region marked by “Forgotten Dreams and Hidden Treasures” at an Oregon State Park that makes you feel right at home called the Wolf Creek Inn.
Wolf Creek Inn was made for the road weary. It was built in 1883 and remains the state’s oldest operating hotel. Over a century ago, it was a highlight stopover on a 12-day stagecoach ride between San Francisco and Portland that transition to the railroad and then the automobile.
The Wolf Creek Inn established a tradition of comfort and service that continues today as a unique Oregon State Park that holds onto history. As the oldest active hotel in Oregon, the site offers nine rooms that cater to visitors from all over the world. Guests have included celebrities, the rich and the powerful who needed an escape and often found it on the nearby Rogue River. In fact, in the early days of the 20th century, anglers discovered that the Rogue’s waters held big trout and exciting whitewater rapids.
Clark Gable and Carol Lombard often came to Wolf Creek in the 1930’s and stayed in one particular room on each visit. Robert Redford spent some time here during the filming of the fly-fishing scenes of A River Runs Through It.
The spacious inn was acquired by Oregon State Parks in 1975 and the agency embarked on a four year multi-million dollar remodel. The historic building has nooks and crannies worth exploring: in fact, there is the Jack London room – a tiny enclave where the famous author boarded for over a year back in 1911 – while a resident of the inn he wrote several short stories and a novel.
In those days, men and women socialized in separate parlors; each room complete with piano and a warming fire.
A small museum on the second floor shows off photos from the bygone past that hint at a life that seems so foreign today. Yet it is history worth exploring at another nearby state park property just up the road from Wolf Creek Inn.
Golden was a booming place in the 1850’s when millions of dollars in gold was dug or power-washed out of nearby Coyote Creek. At one time there were as many as 25 buildings including several homes, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a school and a church. Remarkably, four buildings remain standing at the Golden State Heritage Site today. It’s a state park that you can visit anytime
Back at the Wolf Creek Inn, there’s always a place for you at a dining table where delicious meals are served throughout the day before you stroll across three acres of landscaped grounds complete with a historic orchard.