2003 Ti'lomikh Falls identified as an ideal site for a huge whitewater park that could be built at the same time the Gold Hill dam was being removed
2005 Olympic whitewater designer Rick McLaughlin sketches “world’s best whitewater park”
2006 Discovery of the Story Chair reveals Takelma history and restores Salmon Ceremony
2008 Gold Hill dam removed without building park. “World’s best” park design has to be abandoned
2010 USDA study suggests whitewater park will have tremendous economic value and prompts new concept for Olympic whitewater course in channel known as Mugger’s Alley. Access trail created along channel.
2012 City of Gold Hill funds mapping of river bottom for whitewater modifications
2013 First King of the Rogue Race
2014 New parking lot improves access. ODOT installs signage from interstate 5.
State legislature funds Rick McLaughlin to design riverbed modifications
2015 Proposed riverbed modifications adopted into Gold Hill Parks Master Plan
2016 US Rafting Championships held at Ti'lomikh Falls
2018 NOOA Fisheries and ODFW request changes to whitewater design for threatened coho
2019 Re-design of whitewater features completed. Riverbed modifications will improve fish passage
LA wins 2028 Olympic bid.
2020 Letter drafted from Governor Brown to LAOC
2021 Permitting and fund raising continues
2023 Olympic course completed in Mugger's Alley
Could Gold Hill Host the
2028 LA Olympic Games?
Los Angeles will host the Olympic Games in 2028 and has no natural whitewater. Meanwhile, Ti'lomikh Falls will soon have an Olympic slalom course designed by Rick McLaughlin, who designed the 1996 Olympic course on the Ocoee River. Gold Hill's natural whitewater course has much better access than the Ocoee Olympic course and could save LA tens of millions of dollars.
Could we bring the Olympics to Oregon for the first time?
As a first step to test the Olympic idea, Travel Medford invited Morgan House, Director of High Performance for the American Canoe Association, to visit Ti'lomikh Falls. The ACA is the governing body of Olympic slalom. Morgan toured the site with a group including Olympic kayak gold medalist Oliver Fix and Steve Kiesling, as well as Alex Campbell from the governor's Solution Team and Angela Wood from Travel Medford. Afterwards, the whitewater team went to Oliver's restaurant on the plaza in Ashland called Ostras (above). Morgan had kind words to say about our our new whitewater park.
As a next step, a letter was drafted for Governor Brown to send to the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, formally inviting the LAOC to consider the plan. Sending the letter was delayed by COVID-19. Meanwhile, we're getting back to work on the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of State Lands permits. We're also hoping to announce a new summer program shortly.
First run in 2013, The King of the Rogue is a race for kayaks, rafts, and SUPs using all three channels of Ti'lomikh Falls. The event won the Medford Mayor's Award in 2017 and attracts competitors from around the country.
King of the Rogue
First Salmon Ceremony
The stone “Story Chair” at the base of Ti’lomikh Falls (above) is where the Great Dragonfly brought the Takelma Salmon Ceremony, the largest known gathering of First Nations in Southern Oregon.
Takelma means People of the River, and their lives were intimately connected withe the Rogue. In the 1850’s, the Takelma were either killed or removed and Ti’lomikh Falls was mined for gold and dammed for hydropower. The site of the Salmon Ceremony was forgotten until Takelma elder Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim and Thomas Doty provided clues that led Steve Kiesling to the Story Chair in 2006. The Salmon Ceremony returned in 2007 and the Takelma name was restored. Ti’lomikh Falls is once again a gathering site for people of the river.
In 2012, Olympic Day corresponded with the Salmon Ceremony, and so a team of Olympic athletes from 3 continents (gold medalist Oliver Fix, Gilda Montenegro-Fix, and Steve Kiesling) brought Grandma Aggie by raft to the Story Chair. The Olympic flag was sent from the 2010 Olympics in Victoria, BC, by gold medalists Dick Fosbury and Norm Bellingham. Grandma Aggie signed the Olympic flag on the promise that the whitewater park would make the river better both for salmon and for people.
To see the Oregon Public Broacasting video of the Salmon Ceremony—as well scenes from Grandma's epic voyage—click on the picture. Or click on the pdf to read the feature article in Spirituality & Health magazine called Bringing Grandma Home.
Bringing Grandma Home Feature
Permitting the Riverbed Modifications in Mugger's Alley
A Draft Biological Assessment for the river modifications has been reviewed and the recommendations have been incorporated into the design. The next step is more meetings with the regulatory agencies and tribes that will be involved in the permitting process. In the meantime, feel free to download the files. If you have comments or suggestions, please send them to Steve@goldhillwhitewater.org.
Draft Biological Assessment