Historic Things to See and Do in Gold Beach, Oregon

Photo of Seastacks along the Oregon Coast
Image Credit: Unsplash

There are a lot of things you can do in the coastal town of Gold Beach. You can surf, go kayaking, or camp by the sea. Yet one of the lesser-known yet enjoyable reasons to visit Gold Beach is its fascinating history. The region was once part of a vast land inhabited by Native Americans. It was also a famous area where miners sought gold and other minerals in the mid-1800s. Meanwhile, commercial and recreational fishing ventures characterized the late 1800s to early 1900s. These show how Gold Beach has always been an eventful hub with many stories to tell—perfect for history nerds and curious fellows.

If that sounds like you and you’re planning to visit Gold Beach soon, here are a few historic things to see and do in the coastal town.

See the Mary D. Hume shipwreck

Photo of Mary D Hume in Gold Beach Oregon
Credit: @oceanbluephoto on Instagram

The Mary D. Hume was a steamer built in 1881 on Gold Beach. It transported goods, became a whaler, was used as a service vessel, and then served as a tugboat. The steamer had a 97-year career before retiring in 1978 in the same place she was constructed. In 1979, she was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as being worthy of preservation. There were plans to restore Mary D. Hume as a museum ship, but an accident in 1985 led to her sinking.

Today, the historic steamer sits in Harbor Way, where you can see her for free. While you cannot go on the sunken vessel, it can easily be viewed from the shoreline. Going to this shipwreck gives you an insight into Gold Beach’s economic past that you may not have known before.

Pay a visit to the Curry Historical Museum

Photo of students at historical school desks
Credit: @lisabeeyogma on Instagram

One of the best places to learn about a location’s history is a museum like the Curry Historical Museum. It holds relics and similar objects that tell stories of the past. Moreover, it has artifacts and exhibits on the region’s Native Americans and gold miners, specifically designed by a curator to help visitors gain more historical knowledge. Maryville University highlights that museum curators manage every artifact to create a rich and educational experience for visitors—from its layout to its presentation in an exhibit. Additionally, they answer questions about displays to satisfy people’s curiosity.

In the case of the Curry Historical Museum, volunteers will tour and assist you if the curator isn’t around. They’re open throughout the week excluding Sundays and Mondays, so there’s plenty of time for you to visit and explore what it has to offer on your trip!

Hike the Rogue River Trail

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As mentioned several times above, Gold Beach was popular among gold miners. In a recent post on The Tillamook Headlight Herald, an Oregon State University professor explains that miners used the trails to carry gold out of the Rogue River Canyon, which was abundant in gold. The trail was also used to help mules deliver supplies to the miners. Hiking the Rogue River Trail will offer you a trip through gorgeous waterfalls and steep ravines while leaving you thinking about how you’re passing along the same trail that miners walked some centuries ago. It’s perfect for adventurous history enthusiasts who want to learn about and experience the past first-hand.

Though you can hike along the Rogue River for free, know that completing the entire trail will take over five days. If you want something less strenuous, you may also opt for a day hike in the area.

Go for a picnic at the Geisel Monument State Heritage Site

Photo of graves at Geisel Monument near Gold Beach Oregon
Credit: @bluebubbles30 on Instagram

This heritage site is a state park that holds the graves of the Geisel family members. The Geisels were victims of an atrocious massacre during the warfare between Native Americans and white settlers in the 1800s. It’s a tragic story in Gold Beach’s past, but it’s part of their history nonetheless. The site serves as a reminder of past Oregon residents’ conflicts and how they affected the people around them.

Today, this heritage site is peaceful and surrounded by greenery and gorgeous views. If you wish to try picnicking there, you can bring a mat to place on the grass or use any of the tables and chairs available to visitors.

Browse history books at Gold Beach Books

Photo of book shelves in Gold Beach Books
Credit: @t_w_o_weeks on Instagram

The most straightforward way to learn about history is to read books. Gold Beach Books is a two-story bookstore on Ellensburg Avenue. It’s the largest bookstore in town, with over 75,000 new and old books. They also have various genres of books, ranging from romance and adventure to biographies and history. You might be most interested in the rare books collection, which holds first editions, signed books, and other special book copies. You’ll also find countless local books here, so you can go all-out on reading about Gold Beach’s history.

If you need a break from reading, you can even head to the store’s coffee shop for a quick caffeine boost and pastry. Gold Beach Bookstore is open daily, from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The town of Gold Beach in Oregon has so much history apart from its scenic coastline and sandy beaches. If you’re a history buff, feel free to check out the suggestions we’ve listed above on your next visit to the coastal town.

Post penned exclusively for goldbeachoregon.com
Michelle Agatha Jewel