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As It Was: Wedderburn and Gold Beach Gangs Clash on River

In 1940, two youth gangs engaged in a duel at Gold Beach, Ore.

The Wedderburn Gang rowed its boat from the north bank of the Rogue River to a sandbar island, where members erected a 16-foot makeshift diving board anchored by an old tractor axle. Two rules applied: no girls allowed, no swimsuits after 7 p.m.

The Gold Beach Gang hung out on the south side of the river in a rickety shack under the bridge. These boys invited girls to swim and to plunge into the water from a rock. They taunted the opposing group as being afraid of girls and cowards for “not having the guts” to jump from boulders.

The Wedderburn Gang responded by pummeling the shack with baseball-sized rocks, only to later discover their own bicycle tires deflated and the seats soiled.  In retaliation, the Gold Beach Gang demolished the diving board.

To reciprocate, the Wedderburn Gang hauled the diving board axle to a position on the bridge directly above the Gold Beach Gang’s boat, hidden below.  The Wedderburns released the axle at dusk, smashing the boat.

There were no witnesses and neither side reported the incident.


Source: Newhouse, Howard J. Rogue River Rogue. 1995.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. 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. 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.