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As It Was: Goat Impersonates Local Judge in Gold Beach, Ore.

In 1912, Gold Beach erected a new courthouse, which turned out to be the finest place in town for pasturing sheep, because the front square was enclosed with a fence.

The county preferred to keep the grass down, but it didn’t have enough to maintain the grounds.  For years, this seemed a good deal all around.

One day, a traveler came through town with his goats, placed them into the courthouse square, and made camp for the night.  The next morning, his goats were gone.  Greatly distressed, he asked everyone he met if they knew where they were, but no one had seen them.

When he glanced up to the cupula on top of the courthouse, he spotted his lead Billy goat, which had found his way into the main hall and up three sets of stairs.  Soon, a crowd had gathered.

One bystander said, “That bearded critter looks a lot like our circuit judge.”

The community decided to help the traveler by supplying him shelter and feed for his herd, and he decided to stay.  From that day forward, the Billy-goat was known as “The Judge.”


Source: Dorn, Arthur. "Sheep And Judges, Goats and Pink Beans." Curry County Reporter-Rogue Coast Jubilee Edition, 1964, p. 41.

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.