by Claudette Pruitt
Officially established in 1852, Galice was once known as "Galiceburg" which was a short distance up Galice Creek from Skull Bar or Lower Town at the mouth of the creek. The present Galice community is downstream from the creek on a bench above the Rogue River.
Galice received its name from Louis Galice, a French miner who was in the first group of prospectors. Jimmie Twogood's diaries state that Joseph Knott, first resident of what is now Canyonville, Barney Simmons, James Tuffs, James Vannoy, and he were the first white men to prospect what would be later known as Galice Creek in February of 1852. By 1854 the Galice Mining District was formed making it the 3rd District in Southern Oregon.
The post office at Galice was established on May 9, 1876. George F. Green was the first postmaster at Galiceburg. The post office was discontinued twice through January of 1904 when Carl Barlow established it in his store at the present Galice community, and remained there until 1922 when it was moved to Alameda, five miles down river. The post office was closed permanently in May of 1927 when all main went to Merlin and was distributed from there.
The first school year was established in 1905-06 with 11 students from 5 to 18 years of age. The school was closed and moved to Rand in the late 1940's, and then closed permanently in 1951. The Rand Schoolhouse was originally established after Galice, about 1914 or 1915.
Galice was established when rich placer gold finds brought large number of miners into the area and later the women and children. One of the largest mines in Southern Oregon, the Old Channel, is in this area among many others.
In 1909 the Forest Service established the Galice Ranger District, which was the 3rd District in Southern Oregon. Trails, bridges, telephone lines, fire look-outs, etc. were built.
Logging and a lumber mill were important in the 1950's to 1960's. Now the Galice community services the recreational needs of those desiring to enjoy the Rogue River with a store, restaurant, raft rental, and shuttle service.
The population of Galice at first was a few small bands of Indians. They made the first trails into the country and it was these trails and the Rogue River that the miners followed; but, by October 17, 1855, the miners forted up at Skull Bar to defend against Indian attacks. This battle saw most of Skull Bar burned to the ground.
Travel until 1911 was a narrow road, rough with many chuckholes, dusty in the summer, muddy in the winter, wit very few turn-outs to pass. Horses and wagons brought all the supplies into the area utilizing the Massie Ferry (near present Indian Mary Park) to cross the river. The first Hellgate bridge was built in 1916 for auto travel. Now a two lane, paved highway makes a trip to the area enjoyable.
The passage of time, a bulldozer, a fire and floods have changed Galice so drastically that not much remains to remind one of the kind of busy place it was in its heyday. Still standing is the Ed Friday house, built around 1900. He owned the big freight wagons and draft horses that brought supplies from Merlin to the mines. It is now a private home owned by the Kesterson Family. About the same time, Galice Consolidated Mining Company built a cookhouse and office at the mouth of Galice Creek. It now is the private home of the Gallagher Family. Carpenter's Store, just upriver from Galice Creek, was built in 1923 and now serves the Galice area as a community hall.
Josephine County: The Golden Beginnings
Merlin/Galice Homepage on RogueWeb
Morrison's Rogue River Lodge
Josephine County Historical Society