GPS Coordinates: 42.8422708, -124.5409086
EXPERIENCE > LANDMARK PLACES
Imagine arriving on the Oregon Coast in the middle of the nineteenth century. There are no highways. No electricity. Towns are small and widely scattered, often connected only by primitive roads or shipping lanes which follow a perilous coast long before any kind of modern navigation aids. Toss in rapidly shifting weather conditions and homesteading in this era would not only be challenging, it would be downright dangerous.
So what would lure a young couple to build a home and farm at the edge of the Sixes River — a place which must’ve seemed like the edge of the world in the 1860s?
For Patrick Hughes, a young Irish immigrant, it may have been that the lush, rainy landscape reminded him of his homeland. For Jane Hughes, the largely unsettled Oregon Coast might have held the promise of a new life with plenty of room to raise a family. Whatever the couple’s reasons, they decided to settle in a wide valley where the river met the sea. Their first order of business was to transform the landscape so it could be used to raise dairy cattle. Using only teams of horses and their own labor, they cleared a towering Sitka spruce forest to make way for pastures.
The Hughes’ dairy franchise was so successful, the couple was able to construct an elaborate Victorian-style home overlooking the meadows on the south side of the river. Due to their growing wealth, the Hughes could afford to ship in expensive building materials including exotic woods and cut glass. Today, the house is a remote but fascinating museum which offers a glimpse into how the Hughes tamed a wilderness and enjoyed luxuries most pioneers couldn’t even imagine — including indoor plumbing, heated water and a massive cast-iron stove which Jane used to cook for both her family and the farm’s hired hands.