WOLF CREEK INN AND TAVERN
by Jackie Deal
Imagine: you’re a pioneer bouncing over the rocks, hills, mountains, and creeks to get from Grants Pass to Wolf Creek. Four lane highways with nice signs don’t exist. In fact, the way is so steep that they unload your wagon, tie a sturdy rope around it and hoist it up to the top of the mountain, then drop it down the other side by ropes (hopefully they don’t break). But wait a minute, how about the horses? Oh, yes, they rope them up and hoist them up and then down over the mountain too. And You?? Why you climb over the mountain on your own two feet. Would you be glad to see the Wolf Creek Inn and Tavern waiting for you in its pretty little valley? You bet you would. Wolf Creek Inn was on the trail from Roseburg to Redding.
The Wolf Creek Inn was “officially” built in 1883, at least that’s when it first appeared on a tax record. Andrew Sawyer, who conducted our recent tour, is trying to prove that it actually was built in the 1860s. It was not really a Wells Fargo stage stop although it was built to look like one. The rail road, due to come through in 1887, effectively put an end to stage coaches (after your ride over the mountain aren’t you glad?)
Henry Smith was the original designer and builder of the Classical Revival style Inn. The original building was separated from the kitchen (fire precaution) but in 1903 the two were connected and also electricity was brought in.
W.R. Smith who owned the Inn at one time is one of the most fascinating characters connected with the early building. He plotted out the town and went East to sell plots. Only one problem: he didn’t own the land! He was kicked out of town several times and the last time the ladies of the town actually tarred and feathered him before inviting him to leave.
The Inn has a Men’s Tap room where the weary travelers (men that is) could drown their sorrows and soothe their aching joints. While across the hall the discrete, charming Woman’s Parlor allowed the timorous ladies of that era to socialize and imbibe tea.
In the 1970s the building was unoccupied-except for “hippies” who it was discovered were burning the furniture and doors for fire wood. The state stepped in and “bought” the building. They declared it a “century treasure” and then to their chagrin found out it wasn’t quite officially 100 years old. So the building languished for a few more years before it was renovated. The renovation returned it to some of its original glory including faux wood grain made by combing the paint into wood patterns. Fancy trim highlights the windows and doors in the Women’s Parlor.
Three fire places originally heated the building. Upstairs? No heat. Which explains the traveler’s room that are barely closet size. The second floor also boasts a large ball room and currently dinner theater is held there. Clark Gables’ room is retained in all its double-room glory and Jack London’s single room is also open to view.
There are 9 rooms available for rent and they are very reasonably priced considering what most motels cost today. Of special interest were two bunk rooms that could be rented for $40 and only one person required. This is just a preliminary sketch, I hope to return and spend a night there and get more of the story of a fascinating place. (Maybe I’ll get to meet one of their “documented” ghosts!)