It's Gold Ray; Rey was likely a typo

Some maps have Gold Ray Dam listed on the Rogue River, and I've seen other references to Gold Rey Dam. Which one is right?

— Frank K., Central Point

Actually, Frank, we could confuse you even more and tell you that the stream-flow gauge on the dam is called Raygold in the books. But we at Since You Asked Central are all about clearing the air, not muddying the water.

The dam's true name is Gold Ray Dam, named after brothers C.R. Ray and Col. Frank Ray, who built the dam from logs and cement in 1902-04. When it went on line in December 1904, the electricity it generated was some of the first for Medford. (See correction note below.)

The term Gold Rey — such as Gold Rey Estates subdivision near the dam — has been used over the years and therein lies the confusion, says Ashland historian George Kramer, who cannot find any historical references to Gold Rey Dam.

"My guess is it was a typographical error that just stuck," Kramer says.

The more dyslexic forms, Raygold or Ray Gold, came to us thanks primarily to the boys at Southern Pacific. It seems the railroaders kept getting that stop mixed up with the next downstream stop — Gold Hill — so they dubbed the structure Ray Gold, according to the book "Oregon Geographic Names."

The water gauge is simply the shrinking of the railroad name.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to electricity from the dam as Medford's first. That actually was supplied by a plant powered by a steam boiler on Eighth Street and Riverside Avenue in 1894.

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