We met at the late pioneer celebration with Col. John E. Ross, who is one of the pioneers of Jackson County as well as among those who came to Oregon at an early day. Col. Ross is a Rogue River farmer whose place is only three miles from Jacksonville. He is well informed, of course, concerning that region and says it offers great inducements to new settlers. Rogue River Valley, including the territory from Umpqua Mountain on the north to the Siskiyou Mountain on the south, is forty miles wide, north and south, by sixty to seventy miles long, east and west. Of this the land and open country of the valley that is already settled is about equal to one-fourth of the total. The remainder is a hilly region, covered with undergrowth in part, but when cleared makes the best of vineyard and orchard land. If we only claim one-half of the whole valley to be available for agriculture, that will leave as much vacant land, subject to entry, or purchase from the railroad company, as is now cultivated or owned in Jackson and Josephine counties. There is diversity of soil in Jackson County. Part is clayey soil, well adapted to vine growing or orcharding. There is considerable granite decomposition that has been tried for orchards with success. We met the other day with a gentleman who formerly lived in that region, who told his experience in planting an orchard on decomposed bench land.
Of the whole area described as within the limits forty by sixty miles, the open prairie lands of the valley, that constitute the farming region of Jackson County, form not over one-fourth; the remainder is generally vacant. Within a few months the O.&C. Railroad will reach that section and give it all the necessary facilities of transportation. The natural outlet of Southern Oregon is towards the north, where its products will find a market. The soil and climate of Rogue River Valley favor the products that are natural to California, on the south of it. While it produces well all the cereals, fruits and vegetables that grow to the northward, it also grows corn, grapes and peaches that do not succeed with certainty in the valleys north of it. The climate of Southern Oregon is pleasantly modified so that it has not the hot summers, nor the fear of drought that are so common to California. Its winters have not the excess of rain sometimes known in our own section. We have often asserted that Jackson County possesses advantages of climate over any other part of Oregon. Its southern location, midway between Oregon and California, secure for it the best features of each state.
Oregon needs corn, and settlers in Rogue River Valley can raise that cereal to advantage with certainty of a market close at hand. Market gardening will pay well there because a market for early vegetables will be secured at Portland and other northern towns. We already receive early fruits and vegetables from Douglas County, in the Umpqua region, one hundred miles north of Rogue River Valley.
The soil of the Rogue River country is quick and responsive, similar to that of California, and can be depended on for early production. We have spoken of the different soils. We look to the future with certainty that there will be great population in cities, and that Rogue River farming will be called on to supply the demand of these northern cities for the products it can raise, which the rest of Oregon cannot grow with certainty. Rogue River vineyards make excellent wine and grow very fine grapes. It will be natural for the future cities of Oregon to seek their supplies from an Oregon source in preference to going to California. As to peaches, also, we shall require extensive shipments.
But fruit growing there can include all varieties known in the Willamette. The fruit grower can work with a certainty that he can compete in all respects with the fruit grower of any other section. He can dry or can his product or ship it green and be able to do each to advantage.
We do not mean to intimate that fruit growing is the only resource in Rogue River Valley. The people of that county carry on farming extensively and are stock raisers on a generous scale. We are referring to the new lands, overgrown with brush, that abound in that portion of Oregon. Our effort is to show their especial value, where proper locations are secured, for fruit growing. We have also shown the especial adaptability of Jackson County for that occupation. A few acres, well tilled, will afford occupation to a family. The man of small means can manage to clear a few acres in garden until it bears fruit. There are many inducements for settling that region, and there is every reason to believe that in time it will become the garden spot and fruit-growing portion of Western Oregon.
Willamette Farmer, Salem, June 22, 1883, page 1