Historic West Fork

West Fork was a community located deep in the Canyon on lower Cow Creek at the confluence of Cow Creek and the West Fork of Cow Creek.  It was created when the Oregon and California railroad (later acquired by the Southern Pacific) first put the railroad through Cow Creek canyon.  In addition to a number of railroad section houses, there was a saw mill nearby but the most unique aspect of West Fork was a large hotel.  Passengers trains would stop at West Fork and passengers would embark and debark on their way to the Lower Rogue River.  Mail was also unloaded at West Fork and was carried by mule team over the Dutch Henry trail and the Mule Creek trail to Mariel on the Rogue River.  There the mail and packages were loaded on a boat and taken down the river to the cabins and lodges located along the River all the way to Gold Beach.  In the 1950s the third hotel to exist at West Fork was purchased by a consortium of sawmills including Robert Dollar and removed.  Each of the previous hotels burned and was replaced.  The consortium was called Multnomah Plywood Cooperative and they replaced the hotel with a logging camp for a short time.  Soon the logging camp was dismantled and moved and nothing remains of this community except an abandoned gravel pit, memories and a few photographs.  As the hotel was being destroyed a number of boxes of photographs were found.  They too were in the process of being destroyed in a bonfire when the Southern Pacific signal maintainer from Glendale, LeRoy Dixon, saved them.  The following photos are from that collection.

In January 1920 there were 118 people living at West Fork.  Thirty-two of those folks were from China and were working on the railroad.  At that time the hotel was run by Tim and Winfred Barry.  The Barry's were in their early fifties and were Irish descent.  Winfred's sister, Annie Sayers also lived there.  There were 11 semi-permanent boarders at the hotel in January 1920 and they all worked for the railroad.  Some of the more well known visitors/residents of West Fork over the years included Dutch Henry Rosenthal whom the Dutch Henry Trail is named after as well as Zane Grey whom had a cabin on the Lower Rogue River.


Photos of the Hotels & Guests

West Fork Residents

Railroading At West Fork

Lumbering at West Fork


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