Six miles north of Port Orford, Cape Blanco offers breathtaking views of the coast… Seriously! Wind gusts up to 184 miles per hour have been recorded here.(visittheoregoncoast.com)
We don’t notice the wind, though, as we take a short detour east to look at the Patrick Hughes House first, a restored Victorian home located on what was once the family farm.
I think the story of Patrick and Jane Hughes deserves to be shared.
The couple arrived here in the 1860s from Ireland by way of Boston and San Francisco. He wanted to prospect for gold and she wanted to settle down and raise a family. Over the next 30 years, they carved out a farm of some 2,000 acres from scratch, raised 7 children, and made a living off a herd of 100 dairy cows.
In 1898 they built the house pictured above. Unfortunately, Patrick died in 1901 from a horse accident. His 3 sons, Edward, Thomas, and Francis took over the farm.
The 1900s ushered in some new farming inventions that the brothers eagerly tried. Churning butter with a steam-driven paddle allowed them to produce enough butter to ship to San Francisco. A gas-powered milking machine, however, was not as successful so hand-milking was still favored. But that didn’t prevent them from selling milk to the Oregon cheese makers who were just starting into the business.
By the early 1940s most of the dairy hands were called to WWII. Ed, Tom, and Frank focused on sheep and cattle ranching as a result. (all info from plaque on site)
Although no traces of the farm and ranch remain, the Sixes River still flows through the coastal forests north of Port Orford into the Pacific Ocean and along the Hughes farm property.(en.m.wikipedia.org)
According to the plaque, the family enjoyed the river for swimming, fishing, boating, and picnicking.
However, after inquiring about the origins of the name for the river, I discover that in 1856 gold was found in the Sixes River. (blm.gov) Looks like both Jane and Patrick reached a good compromise by settling in Cape Blanco.
After sifting through varying accounts that explain how the river was named according to en.m.wikipedia.org, the following 2 make the most sense to me:
- Sixes derived from the local Native American tribe’s word “Siksestene”, meaning “people by the far north country”.
- Sixes derived from the Chinook Jargon (a pidgin trade language) word “Sikhs”, for “friend” of which early gold rush prospectors were familiar.