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Fact and Fiction: Books About the Area

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Authors have been writing about Oregon for some time now, and many a fiction novel is set in the green state—Goonies, Sometimes a Great Notion, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to name just a few. Southern Oregon is the setting for a number of books in multiple genres, so next time you’re at the bookstore or library, consider picking up one of these titles.


Rogue River Wars by Zane Grey

Zane Grey pretty much invented the western genre, despite growing up in Ohio. In 1919 he took a fishing trip on the Rogue River and fell in love with it. Years later he built himself a cabin on Winkle Bar, a cabin which can still be viewed to this day. There he fished along the banks of the Rogue and wrote a book called Rogue River Wars that would popularize the river, much to his own chagrin. Despite his love for the remoteness and wilderness of the Rogue, Grey blamed himself for the river’s newfound popularity. Regardless, his novel is an accurate portrayal of early mining along the Rogue River.


Precious Gold, Precious Jade by Sharon E. Heisel

Go back in time to the early days of the gold rush and follow two sisters who befriend the first Chinese immigrant to attend their school. A great read for young adults, this book explores life in rural Oregon and the inevitable culture clashes of whites and Chinese miners. Locals will find the descriptions of the landscape, towns, and technology nostalgically accurate.


The Rogue I Remember by Wallace Ohrt

This book is a true account of life in the Upper Rogue Valley during the Great Depression. Truth is often stranger than fiction and many of Ohrt’s accounts are just that. This is an excellent and interesting read for those interested in regional history. Folks old enough to remember this time will undoubtedly find themselves nodding in agreement while the rest of us might use Ohrt’s reflections as a useful context for today’s problems in the area.


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