The men who brought electricity to the Rogue Valley were brothers C.R. and Frank Ray, who in 1904 dammed the Rogue River with logs at Gold Hill and ran the water through a powerhouse, whose rope-driven turbines pumped hydroelectric power.
The Rays were wealthy men from New York who owned quite a few mining properties in the area. Gold Ray Dam's original purpose was to generate electricity for their mines, with excess power sold to farmers who could use motors for crop irrigation.
It didn't take longer than a few days after the announcement of their plans for the Rays to realize that they could make a lot of money selling power to Southern Oregon cities, which is what they did.
In 1921, the dam became part of the California-Oregon Power Co., which later became Pacific Power. The utility replaced the timber dam with a concrete dam in 1941, and added a fish ladder and fish-counting station at the time.
The rope-drive generator operated for almost 70 years and was the last of its type when Pacific Power retired it for cost reasons in 1972. Gold Ray Dam was torn down in 2010.