Rogue River Pilot Navigates Catamaran to Fame
A Rogue River boat pilot became famous in the early 1900's ferrying goods down the risky waterway from Grants Pass to the Oregon Coast.
In one of his more harrowing adventures, the pilot, John Aubery, set off with a four-man crew and a dog from Grants Pass on May 13, 1916, to deliver an ore-crushing machine to the Blossom Bar gold mine near Gold Beach. The three-and-a-half ton machine was balanced on a homemade catamaran that the Rogue River Courier said resembled two Venetian gondola's strapped together. Aubery said the 33-foot craft with a 9 ½-foot beam was the largest ever to make the trip.
The crew had volunteered in order to avoid the difficult overland route.
A day spent navigating the Rogue River Falls was followed by a succession of thrills through whitewater rapids, narrow canyons, whirlpools and killer rocks. At the mile-and-a-half-long Mule Creek Canyon, spectators lined the banks, some predicting the crew would not make it alive. The craft hit a rock, snapping the oars like matches, but Aubery reached calm waters to the cheers of the canyon audience.
After six days, another cheering crowd greeted the weary crew when they reached Blossom Bar.
Source: "Captain Aubrey Pilots Boat Down the Rogue River to Gold Beach." Daily Rogue River Courier 28 May 1916, 214 ed.: 8. Print.