“A River Man with No Equal”

By Ted Trueblood, associate editor of Field & Stream, Spring 1981 in the Foreword to “Rogue, A River to Run”


 

“This is the story of a unique man. One of the definitions of unique in my dictionary is “being without a like or equal.”  That fits Glen Wooldridge to a T.  He is a river man.  There are none like him and I contend he has no equal.

He first ran Oregon’s Rogue River from Grants Pass, 120 miles inland, to Gold Beach, on the Pacific, in 1915.  He is still running it as I write this in the Spring of 1981.  He built the boat for that first trip and he is still building them.  His boats, or other patterned after them, are used on every wild, fast, dangerous river in the West.

He began guiding Rogue River float trips in 1917 and he was the first to run upstream from Gold Beach to Grants Pass, in 1947.  The next year he accepted the challenge of Idaho’s River of No Return, the Salmon, so called because early day boat men could run it downstream, but not back up.  Wooldridge ran it upstream from Riggins to Salmon City, virtually across the state.  He was the first, as he was to run the Klamath upstream.

Other rivers he mastered are the Yankee Juim Canyon of the Yellowstone, part of the Colorado, the Hells Canyon stretch of the Snake, the Yukon, and in British Columbia the Bella Coola, Atnarko, Dean and the North Fork of the Thompson.

But his first love remains the Rogue and if you move a rock anywhere along it I’m sure he would notice the change.  He was the first Rogue River guide and the most famous. His clientele included Zane Grey, Victor Moore, Guy Kibee, Clark Gable, and Herbert Hoover, as well as many others who could afford to go anywhere they chose.  One reason was that he is a superb boatman and splendid angler.  Another is his personality.  I’ve been on the river with him when the gray clouds hung in the tree tops, the cold rain would have chilled an otter, and fish were not to be found.

Yet he was never cross, never impatient, and if he was ever discouraged he concealed it well.  His conversation is spiced with witticisms and he has a story for every bend in the river.

He is the best story teller I know.  Most of this book is in Glen Wooldridge’s own words – the same stories that charmed his guests for more than 60 years on the Rogue River.  Florence Arman has had the good judgment to leave them the way he told them.  They can’t be improved upon.”


Ted Trueblood’s foreword to the book The Rogue, A River to Run by Florence Arman with Glen Wooldridge, originally published 1982, is in its eight printing.  It is available from Wooldridge Boats.


“Beginning of Outboard Jet”

Excerpted from, “The Rogue, A River to Run”, by Florence Arman with Glen Wooldridge.

“that same year (1962) a new invention revolutionized outboard motor boating on whitewater rivers.  It enabled Glen to streamline his boat design into the sleek Wooldridge Sled on the market today.  This invention was Dick Stallman’s outboard Jet Unit, a small snail-shaped housing replacing the lower unit of propeller housing on the outboard motor.  Its intake siphons in water and whirls it around the spiral housing, then shoots it out in a thousand-gallon-per minute stream.  Mounted with the forward edge of the intake scoop flush with the bottom of the boat, and its trailing edge only three inches of water over gravelly river bottoms or rocks.

Stallman, the 34-year-old inventor from San Carlos, California, had been working on the jet unit on the Rogue, in the Agness area. He believed that testing the equipment on the Rogue was probably the toughest test he could give it,…..

Stallman and his father manufactured bearings. Dick was a machinist, and he thought up the idea of the jet unit. He started tinkering with it, and he is a pretty shrewd fellow. He was wise enough to put these ideas together and get it to work.

He told me he wanted to give it a test, to run it from Gold Beach to Grants Pass, so I furnished the boats for the run.  I had a 35-horse Evinrude and he had two Johnson motors. He made the jet for my motor and had his Johnsons mounted with jets.  We went over to Gold Beach and made the run upriver,…

The party took four days to make the 120 mile trip, breaking it up into easy 30-miles-per-day runs.  They averaged about 22 miles per hour actual running time on the entire trip.  The water was low for the season, but with the jet units enabling them to navigate water as low as three inches, they encountered no problems and had no mechanical difficulties.  They lined the boats at Rainie Falls and Grave Creek, but ran the rest of the river by power.  Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, Popular Boating and Boating, all ran the story of the trip in their 1963 issues”

'The Rogue, A river to Run' is available from Wooldridge Boats. Please contact us to get your very own copy!