Gold Ray river gauge was never at the dam

I have been reading your recent stories about the storm fronts and noticed that a Rogue River stream gauge is at Gold Ray. But Gold Ray Dam has been gone a few years now. Where and how are they measuring the river flows there?

— Brad B., Medford

You're not the only one, Brad, who has asked how a dam can be used to measure the Rogue's stream flow when it's not there any more.

The answer: The flows were never measured at the actual dam, as many here assumed.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a solar-powered stream gauge a few hundred yards downstream from where the old dam and powerhouse were removed in 2010. It takes electronic readings regularly, just like the other gauges on the Rogue at places such as Dodge Bridge, where Highway 234 bisects the river, and at the lower Rogue outpost of Agness.

A cable is suspended across the river where the gauge is and those who fish for salmon or steelhead there know it as the Cable Hole. That cable has a little aluminum basket in it, which generates many other mistaken beliefs about its existence.

Several people have speculated that the box is for ferrying people or supplies across the river during a flood. But the cable car is for an NRCS technician occasionally to wheel over the river and use an old-fashioned manual gauge to ensure that the electronic one is correct.

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 youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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