Roseburg Coos Bay Wagon Road

I have been following the efforts of Ashley Hicks to improve the City of Roseburg for almost four years. Two days ago she posted this on her facebook.

“I’ve been thinking about our Roseburg route to Crater Lake National Park. I always thought hwy 138 through Roseburg was the “Gateway” . . . After looking into it, Medford has taken that from us. So what should we say?

How about “Follow the Emerald Highway to Crater Lake”?

I’d like your thoughts on this, thank you!”

I told Ashley about the Winnemucca to the Sea highway that had been the dream of George Miller, the brother of Joaquin Miller, who had been the Mayor of Canyon City Oregon, and the first editor of The Eugene Democratic Register. George visited his brother’s Art and Poetry colony in the Oakland California hills, and had seen the paper huts Japanese Poets had made there.

I was looking for more historic permission to make Roseburg the permanent home for the Miller Brothers, when I discovered Aaron Rose, the founder of Roseburg, and partner of the Wagon Road to Coos Bay, that exists today. Last month I had planned a trip to Montana to visit my Rose and Rosamond kindred who are buried there. Today, I am making plans to go to Roseburg. Was George aware of Aaron’s road? Mr. Rose fulfilled Mr. Miller’s dream.

Further validation came in the discovery Roseburg is the sister city of Shobu. I see Japanese tourists taking a tour along the Wagon Road to Florence, and stopping at several waterfalls. A tour bus to Winnemucca will bring Japanese visitors out to the Western Desert replicating the Japanese poets that were sent West by the emperor in order to blend East and West Culture.

Drivers from the East taking Route 80, can catch Highway 40-14o at Winnemucca, and drive to Roseburg and Coos Bay, along the Last Frontier Road where exist very little traffic. You can take old Highway 99, to avoid even more civilization.

I see The Roseburg Goblin Market, and, The Christina Rossetti Poetry. and Pre-Raphaelite Beauty Contest. The Rossetti’s were good friends of Lewis Carrol who took some of the early photographs of this inspirational family. Joaquin had dinner at Rossetti’s home where he met many of England’s most famous artists who employed roses in their work.

Jon Presco

Our relationship with Shobu Town Saitama, Japan began as a student/teacher exchange program established by the late Harold Winfield, Joseph Lane Middle School instructor.  After seven years of student exchanges, a Sister City relationship was formalized in 1993 and adult exchanges implemented.  In 2010, Shobu combined with several other cities to create the new city of Kuki-Shi.

Keep George’s Dream in Oregon. “The Winnemucca to the Sea highway was developed to establish a continuous, improved all-weather highway from US-40 (I-80) at Winnemucca, Nevada through Medford, Oregon and on to the Pacific coast at Crescent City, California. In the mid 1950’s there was no direct route west from Northern Nevada across Southern Oregon and into California’s Redwood Empire. Community leaders from points along this proposed link formed the Winnemucca to the Sea Highway Association. The association worked with state and local governments to fund the design, construction and upgrade of the paved roadway for this east to west link across three states. The association had envisioned one highway number 140 applied to the complete route, as the parent major US highway was coast-to-coast US-40, the Victory Highway. Nevada and Oregon used state route 140 for their respective sections of the Winnemucca to the Sea Highway. But the renumbering or cosigning of federal highways was an obstacle that the Winnemucca to the Sea Association never did overcome, thus the hope of a continuous 140 designation for this link was never realized. Currently the traveler will follow seven different highway numbers from Winnemucca to Crescent City, they are US-95, state route-140, US-395, state route-62, Interstate-5, US-199 and US-101.

Click to access Roseburg-3-day.pdf

Taking the Coos Bay Wagon Road over the hill to Reston, you’ll encounter a valley even more diminutive than Lookingglass. It is best appreciated from atop the climb to the beginning of Brewster Canyon. A pullout there allows you to admire the mountains and rivers without end. A fellow decked out in blue spandex and black goggles, aboard a mountain bike, was enjoying the view when I stopped. He’d ridden up from Roseburg, through Douglas County.

“I grew up in Coos County,” he said, gazing over forested flanks receding to the horizon. “I used to think it was the most beautiful place in the world, but now I don’t know. This place is pretty special.”

Turning its back on the view and the pavement, the road plunges down the Brewster Canyon tunnel. Perhaps no road in Oregon follows its river as tightly as the wagon road cleaves to the east fork of the Coquille River. Kayakers rate a half-mile stretch of the river as Class IV, and occasionally Class V, which means you’re taking your life in your hands to brave it.

On the other hand, the roads clings so closely to the bank that you can skip the kayak and still have the same experience without getting wet or killed. You can drive next to small falls. Plan on stopping and getting out of your car; it’s irresistible. Watch carefully for gnomes and forest elves.

The caveat is, don’t do this in winter, when the road is not maintained. Deep potholes can form. Small cars can be lost with nothing but an oil slick to reveal they were ever there. Furthermore, whole chunks of the mountain are apt to slide down, taking the road with them. That’s not mentioning snow.

Aaron Rose

Aaron Rose portrait

Hawthorne, Julian. “The Story of Oregon.” Vol. 1. New York: American Historical Publishing Co., 1892. p. 255.


One of the earliest settlers of the Umpqua Valley is Aaron rose, of Roseburg, Douglas County. Mr. Rose was born in Ulster County, in the State of New York, June 20th, 1813, and received a good common-school education in his native county. He started life in a humble way, working his father’s farm on shares when at the age of eighteen. At the age of twenty-four he removed to Girard, Mich., where he engaged in farming for the ensuing thirteen years with success. In 1838 he was married to Miss Minerva Kelley in 1851, becoming imbued with the Western fever, he removed with his family to Oregon, where he arrived after an arduous trip of four months across the plains with a horse team. He settled on the present site of Roseburg (named in his honor) September 23d, 1851, being the first man to locate there. He at once built a house and engaged in farming, in which he was very successful. His house was for many years used as a tavern and trading post, which will be kindly remembered by all the old pioneers who were wont to pack or travel over the road to and from the mines. The McClallan House is on the site of Mr. Rose’s old homestead, part of it being the original structure. In 1854 the county seat of Douglas County was removed, by popular vote, from Winchester to Mr. Rose’s farm, upon which a town was laid out, which was named Roseburg by the settlers. Mr. Rose possessed a donation claim of three hundred and twenty acres of land, which he secured by paying $500 to another party who had some claim to the land. That Mr. Rose is a public-spirited man was shown by his liberality at the time in donating the site for the public buildings, and contributing $1,000 toward the erection of the first court-house. He was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature of 1855-56 as a Democrat, but since has not been a candidate for any office. Possessing great energy, combined with far-seeing design, he has always been foremost in every public enterprise looking to the advancement of Roseburg in which he takes a natural but pardonable pride. Upon the completion of the Oregon and California Railroad to Roseburg, he laid off a handsome addition to the city, one half of which he donated to the company as a bonus for the establishment of a depot. He also caused the erection of a dam on the South Umpqua River, which is now utilized to run the city water-works, a woollen mill, and a roller flour mill, giving his personal supervision to the business of the latter. Beside his large interests in the above enterprises, Mr. Rose owns a one-sixth interest in the coos Bay road, and is a director and stockholder in the Douglas County Bank. He possesses a fine homestead, with extensive land around it. Personally, Mr. Rose is under the average stature, but at his present advanced age is still active and hearty. With a kind and genial disposition, and generous to a fault, he is beloved by all, and it goes without saying that his enemies are few. He is very hospitable, delighting in entertaining his friends and in talking over the early days, concerning which he has a fund of interesting anecdotes. Mr. Rose married twice, his second wife being Miss Frances Arrington. He has two daughters by his first wife, and a son and daughter by his second.


Our relationship with Shobu Town Saitama, Japan began as a student/teacher exchange program established by the late Harold Winfield, Joseph Lane Middle School instructor.  After seven years of student exchanges, a Sister City relationship was formalized in 1993 and adult exchanges implemented.  In 2010, Shobu combined with several other cities to create the new city of Kuki-Shi.

The City has been blessed with beautiful gifts from Japan which are on display throughout City Hall – thehorse.jpg most notable is the “A Mother and Her Colt” bronze status located at the corner of Jackson Street and Douglas Avenue.  Artist Mr. Toshio Ogino described his inspiration for the artwork in this manner:  “In the past the horse was needed by man to do a lot of his work.  There became a unique bond between horse and man.  I consider the horse to be a noble beast.  The mare and colt depict a strong bond, such as the horse and man had.  The love between the mare and colt represents the love that is spawned by cultural exchange.  The horse and humans have been intertwined throughout history.  The bonding of the mare and colt is the same sort of bonding that should be obtained by the family, by friends, by neighborhood and eventually by the world.  It also represents the bonding of the two cities of Shobu and Roseburg.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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