I know the old Gold Ray Dam isn't there anymore, but the stream gauge measuring the Rogue River apparently is. Except it seems to go by different names, depending upon what site you reference. You in the Mail Tribune call it the old Gold Ray Dam site, but others call it Gold Rey Dam site. The perfectionist in me wants to know which one is right. So says you, Since You Asked?
— F.K., email submission
Actually, Frank, we could confuse you even more and tell you that the stream-flow gauge on the dam is called Raygold in the U.S. Geological Survey website. But we at Since You Asked Central are all about clearing the air, not muddying the water.
Looking back into history, the actual 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 between 1902-04 to send hydropower to Medford.
The term Gold Rey such as Gold Rey Estates subdivision just downstream of the old dam, has added to the confusion even though there are no known historical references to a Gold Rey Dam, Ashland historian George Kramer told Since You Asked when this came up more than a decade ago.
Kramer's best guess is that it was a typographical error that stuck.
The more dyslexic forms, Raygold or Ray Gold, came to us thanks primarily to the boys at the Southern Pacific Railroad. 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 appears to be simply the shrinking of the railroad name.
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