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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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North Umpqua Early History Pt 5

Posted by Mark Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Steamboaters

RipRapA group of Steamboat Inn regulars also evolved. They enjoyed each other's company almost as much as they enjoyed the superb angling along the North Umpqua . Colonel Jim Hayden and his wife, Laddie, were perennial guests, as were Stan Knouse, a geologist for Tidewater Oil Company in Los Angeles, and his wife, Yvonne. Ken Anderson, Art Director for Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles, and Don Haines, a San Francisco architect, also were regular visitors. About this time, a young Salem, Oregon, lawyer named Dan Callaghan (whose scenic photos of the North Umpqua grace this website) brought his bride, Mary Kay, to Steamboat for their honeymoon - beginning a long and memorable association with Cabin #1 at the Inn. Loren Grey, too, continued to make annual trips to the North Umpqua and the Steamboat Inn with his wife, Bonnie.
These anglers and their families formed the core of the group called The Steamboaters, organized in 1966. Don Haines suggested the idea for a group "to preserve the natural resources of the North Umpqua" to Colonel Jim Hayden as they traveled together to the Federation of Fly Fishers meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Knouses and Andersons seconded the idea at a gathering the next day and Stan Knouse suggested the name Steamboaters "because of its association with the inn where many of its members stay and because of the significance of Steamboat Creek, which enters the North Umpqua at the Station Hole." Ken Anderson designed the striking logo, which is still used by the club today.
Clarence Gordon was made an honorary member of the Steamboaters, as was Roderick Haig-Brown, the eminent writer from Campbell River, British Columbia. Although he fished the river only once, Haig-Brown later wrote:
“The North Umpqua remains one of the best and most beautiful of summer steelhead streams, and it has the tremendous asset of several miles of water restricted to 'fly only.' The strong flow of bright water is broken up by ledge rock outcrops,the pools are deep and long and hold fish well, and the fish themselves are usually responsive and in excellent shape.”
Unfortunately, threats to the North Umpqua's summer steelhead were again building. With the completion of a network of modern roadways into the surrounding forests, logging of the old growth Douglas firs had begun on an unprecedented scale after World War II. Frank Moore began to notice that many of the North Umpqua 's tributaries, including the crucial Steamboat Creek drainage, exhibited higher water temperatures in summer and disastrous flooding in winter, when they were scoured of spawning gravel.
In 1968, not long after the Steamboaters organization was formed, two young filmmakers, Hal Riney and Dick Snider, were on their way to make a sport fishing movie in British Columbia when they stopped at the Steamboat Inn. They fell in love with the North Umpqua River and when Frank Moore took them on a tour of the carnage being wrought by careless logging operations in nearby tributary streams, they decided to change the focus of their film. The result was "Pass Creek," the story of the destruction of a steelhead spawning stream.
The movie was given national distribution by conservation and angling groups, touching a nerve in the emerging ecology movement. It resulted in intense scrutiny of clear-cut logging practices in the National Forests and was a factor in the passage of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Government agencies have committed increased resources in recent years to efforts to survey and rehabilitate threatened steelhead spawning streams, including the North Umpqua drainage. Both Frank Moore and Dan Callaghan served on the Oregon State Game Commission during the 1970s and devoted tremendous energy to preserving Oregon's wildlife heritage.
Another well-known angler who frequented the North Umpqua during this period was Jack Hemingway, son of the famous author Ernest Hemingway. Himself a member of the game commission in Idaho for many years, Hemingway wrote several impassioned articles about the North Umpqua for national sporting magazines, detailing the abuses on spawning streams. Jack Hemingway, a highly skilled and graceful fly angler, continued to visit the North Umpqua to fish with his good friend, Dan Callaghan until his death.


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