Located just north of Ruby Beach on the Olympic Peninsula the Hoh River cuts through one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the United States and as you’d imagine is absolutely breathtaking. A few years back Jason and I spend a long weekend traveling the west coast exploring off shore lighthouse. While doing a bit of recon I grab this photo of the mouth of the Hoh, capturing the transition from fresh to salt in this special place.
This are is as steeped in history as it is in beauty. The earliest documented encounter between Europeans and the Hoh people occurred in 1787 when the British fur trader Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, dispatched a boat up the Hoh River to trade with the natives. The boat’s crew of six were killed by the Hoh people, according to European histories. The incident led to the naming of Destruction Island. Barkley named the river Destruction River, but the name became attached to the island instead. The Hoh people deny the story, saying they never massacred ship-wrecked sailors.
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. – Saint Augustine
In 1808 the Russian American Company set two vessels south from Russian America as part of an effort to expand Russian control south to the Columbia River and beyond. One of the vessels, the schooner SV. Nikolai ran aground at Rialto Beach, north of the Quillayute River. Tension between the crew and the local Hohs led to battle. The Russians fled south along the coast to the mouth of the Hoh River where many were captured and taken captive by the Hoh people. Those who evaded capture fled up the Hoh River. They built a small blockhouse and survived into the winter. In February they surrendered to the Hoh tribe at the mouth of the Hoh River. The captives were exchanged and traded among the coastal tribes, with most ending up with the Makah in the Neah Bay area. In 1810 the Lydia, commanded by Captain T. Brown, an American working for the Russian American Company, sailed into Neah Bay. The thirteen surviving captives being held by the Makah were ransomed by Captain Brown, who then returned them to Sitka.
In later years the area had its own celebrity in John Huelsdonk know as the “Iron Man of the Hoh” for his incredible feats of strength. And you can still see remnants of Oil City; a failed attempt to search for petroleum in the area.
All things considered, why wouldn’t you visit this area?