Jackson County 1880


    We have paid little attention to the precious metals that are found in the Willamette counties and to some extent mined for in the Cascade Range, but we are coming to a part of the state that has turned out millions of gold in the past and will be scientifically mined in the future. Mines are found in Douglas County, and gold placers have been worked there. Also there is a commencement of development there in the direction of gold quartz ledges, and we hear of rich prospects in the cinnabar mines. Coal is found in Douglas County, lately discovered, and to possess special value. South of the Umpqua Mountains we come into the Rogue River Valley, which is both a rich mining and farming region. Placer mining is carried on extensively in Jackson and Josephine counties, and Jackson County has the agricultural portion of Rogue River Valley within its limits. Jackson County has a fair share of sheep and cattle, and raises some of the best horses to be found on the Pacific Coast. Jacksonville and Ashland are very thriving places, and at the latter a woolen factory is in successful operation. The climate of Rogue River Valley is warmer than the Umpqua, so that corn, sorghum, peaches and grapes succeed very well. The counties south of the Umpqua are not really tributary to the Columbia River to any great extent, and do not come directly within the scope of our purpose, which is to describe in a series of articles the Columbian region. The construction of the railroad through Southern Oregon would wake that section to life and prosperity, while as yet they are dependent chiefly on a home market and the demand from the mines for sale of their products. The stock interests have great importance, because they can be driven to market.
"The Pacific Northwest," Willamette Farmer, Salem, December 17, 1880, page 5

    Nestling among the low foothills of the Siskiyous and spreading along the bed of the long since vanished [sic] stream of Jackson Creek, lies the somnolent village of Jacksonville, once the county seat of Jackson County and the richest and fairest flower of the peach-blown paradise that is Southern Oregon.
    Here, when I first visited about 1880, was gathered a tranquil community of the survivors of the pioneer miners and merchants of an earlier day and their sons and daughters, the latter among the most beautiful women of the state.
    The town was still a thriving and busy place, reached by the famous old line of thoroughbraced stages usually drawn by eight horses and running from Roseburg to Redding.
    Mining was still carried on and was one of the principal sources of revenue supporting the community. The chamois pouch, the gold scale and the horseshoe magnet were ever in evidence in the business places with their quaint old iron doors, or shutters, fronting them.
    On Saturdays after the miners had cleaned up, the sluice boxes were turned over to the children, and many a proud urchin came home with a little store of gold dust left in the riffles by the somewhat sketchy methods of the miners who worked the placers.
    There were many colorful characters in old Jacksonville, and many of these old names graced the pages of Oregon history with honor and distinction. But their memory is best preserved in the art of Peter Britt, pioneer photographer, who set up shop there in 1852. When I visited there last fall with my daughter, I spent most of a day with his son, now 84 years old, in the gallery of the beautiful old homestead, looking at the pictures of the early residents. Most of these were familiar to me and I saw the original camera, which looked like a cigar box with a tin tube stuck in its middle. What a wealth of memories it had preserved.
Dr. H. E. Jackson, "Jacksonville Story," Medford Mail Tribune, February 20, 1949, page 14

Last revised July 24, 2018