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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Jackson County 1847


    I am partial to the "sunny south." As I came through the southern route from Fort Hall, I passed through the southern valleys of this Territory, and while not inferior in point of soil to the Willamette, they bear evidence of a much more genial climate--being the native land of the vine and many fruits not found in this valley. As we, though much delayed in opening the road, arrived in the Rogue River Valley early in October, with our animals in good condition, and with but little loss, I am satisfied that hereafter immigrants from the United States will reach that valley in the month of September. Of this valley, all who have seen it speak in the highest praise. It is second in size only to the Willamette; the land, timber and water are well distributed for settlement; the grazing is superior and the climate delightful. It being the middle region, it is thought it will not be subject to the extreme wet of the Willamette, or the occasional droughts of California.
"Rogue River Valley," Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, February 18, 1847, page 3


    As our whole party, with I think few if any exceptions, undertook the hazardous duty of discovering a better road from the purest spirit of philanthropy, having no pecuniary views whatever, you may imagine our feelings when for our exertions for the general good instead of the thanks of our fellow citizens we were assailed from all sides with abuse and slander the most injurious. . . .
    To reap the advantages of my exertions, I intend next spring to lead a party to the mouth of the Tututni, or Rogue River, in lat. 42º 26'. The southern route passes through a very fine valley on this stream which is said to extend down it to the coast. Mr. Douglas of the H.B. Co. has kindly furnished me with a chart of the harbor at the mouth of the river and such sketches of the country as his marine officers had taken. The harbor will not admit large vessels, but ships may enter of sufficient size to answer all the purposes of trade. The stream is, according to his account, navigable for large vessels about 40 miles into the interior, and the Klamath and Rogue River which there unite are navigable for small boats much further.
    This country, from the wild and untamable character of the natives, has as yet no white inhabitants, but as much of the land is really very fine and the grazing superior [and] the valley and the mountains clad with a noble growth of pine, to those who have the courage to secure the first choices in that country will accrue what many men desire--a large fortune. I have (perhaps deservedly) the character of a bold adventurer, and no small desire for wealth; I may be destined to found in this valley the first Christian community.
Jesse Applegate, letter to his cousin Lisbon Applegate October 11, 1847; Beinecke Library, Yale University
    M. [October] 11th. This morning we, in about 6 miles, came to Klamath River. Crossed. Then passing in the timber we did not come to grass or water before dark. We were obliged to camp in heavy timber. Distance 12 miles.
    T 12th. Passing on over this mountain we, in about 9 miles, came to the beaver dams and camped for the day.
    W. 13th. Followed down this branch over hills &c. and about noon came to big hill creek. Nooned there. Then on to Little Prairie and camped. Distance about 11 miles.
    T. 14th. Continued on over the mtns. through the timber. In about 8 miles we
descended a steep hill [the Jenny Creek Slide] to a creek up to the top of the Rogue River Mtn. Then down for about 2 miles and camped. Distance abut 10 miles.
    15th. Continued descending the stream on which we camped last night. The valley increased in width and the face of nature became more interesting. During the day several mtn. branches had increased the main stream considerable. At noon we saw some Indians and their lodges or shanties. They ran like wild men from us. Passed on to one of these streams and camped. The grass and water, timber and soil is of good quality. Distance today about 10 miles.
    S. 16th. The roads today were excellent and the face of nature appeared full as interesting as yesterday. Followed down Rogue River about 12 ms. & camp.
    Sun. 17th. Our cattle have good grass but do not appear to eat early while the frost & dew is on. So we concluded to travel while the dew was on and stop about 9 o'clock but not finding a convenient place we were obliged to travel until 11 a.m. Then we took breakfast and moved on again about 1 p.m. Found very good camping ground about 5 on the river bank with plenty of Indians who brought us fish to trade. Distance today about 15 ms.
    M. 18th. Followed down the river (with some of our too neighborly Indians about 12 ms. and camped.
    T. 19th. In about one m. we crossed the river and left it after following it about 50 ms. in all. Passed among the bluffs and camped after a distance of abut 12 ms. Some of the Indians are yet following us. Their room is better than their company.
Lester Hulin diary 1847, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 485, folder 1






Last revised December 8, 2017