This site was started with the Southern Pacific rail road creating a station called Jump-Off Joe. The original post office name was “McAllister,” but that was crossed out for whatever reason and Brandt was used in its place. In 1891, the town name was changed to Merlin due to the numbers of pigeon hawks in the area. By 1886, there were two schools. The first was the Jump-Off Joe district and the second was the Louse Creek School District. A single brick school was built in 1912, at the site of the present elementary school. Merlin grew fast but in 1915, a fire destroyed a whole block of important buildings including the post office and train depot. Located nearby is the famous Hellgate Canyon where Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and other Westerns were filmed.
Several treasure tales exist in this area. The first involves Indians who raided a wagon train and took $40,000 in gold bars and coins. The Indians are said to have taken the gold and tossed it into the Rogue River north-west of town. Some say that it was buried, whatever happened to it, it is somewhere in the area to this day. The second involves a stagecoach robbery that took place about 1890. The incident happened near Louse Creek, the robbers were captured or killed, and they claimed the loot was buried close to the hold up scene, it was never recovered. The last happened before there ever was a town of Merlin. In 1861, a man named Lockhart made a very rich gold strike on Louse Creek. But his partner had a much richer strike in Idaho. So he covered this over and left the area. If this is so, then Merlin still has some magic left in it.
A black X marks the location of Merlin. The Hellgate Canyon and the Rogue River, this region holds lost mines, stage coach loot and gold bullion tossed into the river by an Indian war party.