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Autumn shades and a Rock Point haunting

Word has it that Hattie Beach Haymond (1845-1891), though supposedly resting in peace in the Rock Point Pioneer Cemetery, has been discovered twirling among Del Rio grapevines in a black dress. She has been caught sitting on the front steps of the present Del Rio Vineyards tasting room in that same black dress.

The tasting room originally stood as the Rock Point Hotel, tavern, and stage stop, built in 1864. Apparently, Hattie, who once lived in the house next door, thought 46 was too young to die. The entire area is part of the “mystic corridor” that includes The Oregon Vortex, after all. My thanks to Lynn Leissler, writer/copy editor for Southern Oregon Magazine for information published in the fall 2017 issue.

Hattie Beach was the stepdaughter to John B. White, who built the Rock Point House in 1859. She married neighbor, Benjamin Haymond, who served as a leading citizen of Jackson County, both as county commissioner and as Rock Point postmaster for over 33 years. Ben and Hattie had no children, though his second marriage produced four.

Lane and I journeyed over the river and through autumn resplendency on Highway 234 to Gold Hill (aflame with orange and gold) and beyond to Rock Point, the ghost town which lies between Gold Hill and Rogue River. But first, we stopped for eats, per our usual MO. This time it was tasty Mexican food at the 4th Avenue Sports Bar and Mexican Grill in Gold Hill. I thoroughly enjoyed my football field-size platter of shredded beef chimichanga, beef taco, and all the trimmings, with enough left over for two meals. Our table offered a view to the railroad tracks and the humble town beyond. Gold Hill was founded in 1895 but got its name from a nearby hill that was the location of a 1860 gold discovery.

Before shuffling off to Del Rio, we decided to hoof it across the tracks to visit the library, where I discovered my own little nugget, my novel, Stone Revival, sitting on a shelf in the “new” section. It waited there for someone to take it home to read by a cozy fire. On to Del Rio.

Rock Point is now mostly Del Rio Vineyards and is cared for by business partners Lee Traynham and Rob and Jolee Wallace. Formerly in pear production, Del Rio, which translates “from the river” in Spanish, is the largest vineyard in Southern Oregon at 460 acres, nearly as large as all of Gold Hill. The vineyard produces 13 varietals and sell grapes to other facilities all over the country.

We ordered glasses of red — merlot for me, syrah for Lane — and took ourselves outside to one of the cozy tables alongside the old building. A certain charm happens when snugging up to an historic edifice like the Rock Point Hotel. I’m thankful the Wallaces appreciate the value of restoring and maintaining such a treasure.

We didn’t get a glimpse of Hattie, but we did see a picture of her. Hattie was endowed with yards of long, dark hair. It looked as if she’d crimped the length of it for the photo, a laborious task. Ah, vanity. It knows little restraint, then and now. She appears to be holding a fading flower. Her deeply set, haunting eyes (sorry, not sorry) look straight into the camera’s capture.

Visitors have mentioned to the folks working there, “Do you know this place is haunted?” I’m never sure what to think when I hear stories of ghosts and strange sightings. I believe in the metaphysical and know there is a spiritual realm. And, to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

So, take the lovely drive (Highway 234, if possible) out to Hattie’s, I mean, Del Rio Vineyards. They’re open each day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a stroll through the Rock Point Pioneer Cemetery next door. Hattie Beach Haymond is still a neighbor there, when she stays put.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.