The Rogue Bear Creek River Valley?

Names used for our valley include Rogue River Valley, Rogue Valley and Bear Creek Valley. Bear Creek flows from Ashland to north of Central Point and is a tributary of the Rogue River. In the Medford area, the names Bear Creek Valley and Rogue Valley are used somewhat interchangeably, even though one needs to go to Shady Cove, Gold Hill, Rogue River (town) or Grants Pass to stand next to the Rogue River. I am curious about when the term Rogue River Valley was dominant and how the current usage came about.

— Edward D., Medford

With apologies to the Bard, there are those who say a valley by any other name is still a valley, Edward.

Nonetheless, you are right in indicating there are actually two different valleys being mentioned here.

The Rogue River Valley, or the Rogue Valley, is the one that the river runs through. The Bear Creek Valley is the one bisected by the stream.

The SYA Geographic Board based in the Bear Creek Valley researched this carefully but was unable to come up with a definitive date when the valley names became incorrectly interchangeable.

Historians tell us the river valley moniker was used early in our history to include the river and its tributary valleys.

The current usage, albeit many still refer to the entire drainage as the Rogue Valley, came about as residents fine-tuned their geographic names. Many folks now correctly refer to Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point as part of the Bear Creek Valley.

Central Point edges over into the river valley, so it could conceivably use the two terms interchangeably.

In any case, we figure we are fortunate to have both valleys in our region.

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

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