Laurel Gerkman

As It Was Contributor

Laurel Gerkman is originally from Canada. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. This fed a lifelong curiosity of observing physical and human landscapes—always wondering “why.” Laurel, retired from real estate sales, has lived in Gold Beach for 20-years. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. She remains intrigued by the hardy people who originally came to inhabit this rugged, isolated, and spectacular region, and enjoys seeking stories that weave these elements together. Laurel is the author of Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery, a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.

Baseball drew people together on Oregon’s South Coast in 1916, as people from all over took advantage of a rare opportunity to gather and become acquainted.  A game between Gold Beach and Brookings drew a big crowd in August.

The finest boatman of his time on the lower Rogue River, Reuel Hawkins, could thread the water like no one else; some even wondered if the river talked to him.

In 1917, families from all over the Southern Oregon Coast gathered in Harbor, at the Antler Hotel, for an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration.

In February 1918, two young men faced Justice M. T. Wright on a charge of disturbing the peace in Gold Beach, Ore.

Isaac Munsey is buried near his Curry County cabin and copper mine on the coastal trail between Signal Buttes and the North Fork of Hunter Creek, next to a small stream and under a large incense-cedar tree.

In 1930, Sydney Croft was a struggling farmer with failing health.  When his physician advised him to leave Michigan for a warmer climate, he relocated near Bandon on Oregon’s southern coast and began raising vegetables.

In 1893, John L. Childs installed improved printing equipment at the Crescent City News.  His previous press, a Ben Franklin model, was still serviceable, so he leased it to the Harbor (Ore.) Herald.

One autumn in the 1930s, the Colegroves who lived at Mountain Ranch, near Brookings, Ore., took a camping and hunting vacation on the South Fork of Pistol River.  They loaded their sedan with supplies and slowly headed toward the canyon with two riding horses in tow.

A small, bustling community emerged at the Wenger Mill as it reached full operation about 1900 at the upper end of Lake Earl, three miles north of Crescent City, Calif.

A widower from Maine, Lou Martin, came to the Rogue River Canyon in the late 1920s and lived alone until he died more than 50 years later.  Martin’s wife and baby had died in the flu epidemic in Maine.

For nearly a century, Charlie Jensen was known as “Mr. Music” on the Southern Oregon Coast.

Whitewater guide Glen Wooldridge had no equal on the Rogue River, where his witty stories charmed his guests for more than 60 years.  His favorite passengers were women.

In 1874, Raleigh Scott and his wife, Nettie, came to live on the Southern Oregon Coast, carrying all their possessions on two ponies.  They purchased land in a small valley on the south-facing slope of Rocky Prairie Peak.

When the Douglas Memorial Bridge was built to span the Klamath River in Klamath, Calif., in 1926, it drew immediate controversy because its piers, anchored in the channel, obstructed the river’s natural course.

Bill Sweet grew up raising cows on his family’s Elk River ranch, near Langlois, Ore., so he jumped at the chance when offered a job in 1937 as tester for the Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

The Western writer Zane Grey saw something in Claude Bardon worthy of a main character in a book.

When he was born, Bahamas was weak and not expected to survive.  He was an unremarkable crossed Angus-Jersey steer on a farm two miles upriver from Klamath, Calif.  With bottle feeding and tender care he grew strong, gentle, beloved -- and lived to inspire a community.

During World War II, the United States established civilian-staffed Aircraft Warning Service airplane spotters along the country’s east and west coasts in May 1941.

Mary Adams was born at Waldo, Ore., in 1861.  When she grew up, she moved to Grants Pass to start a dressmaking business while working as a housekeeper to make ends meet.

Frank Colvin once said, “If I could be remembered for anything, it would be fishing.”