Jackson County 1885

Below is  the text of a pamphlet published for prospective emigrants by the Ashland Tidings in 1885. It was apparently written by one E. P. Branch, and if the Jacksonville Democratic Times' sentiments are any indication (as expressed in its March 13, 1885 issue) it was not well received in some local circles.



The object of this little pamphlet is to call the attention of immigrants and those who contemplate a change of residence to the special advantages offered by the valley of the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. It is not offered as a "boomer," and it is  no part of its design to hold out any false inducements in order to draw any person away from a home where he is already doing well, and where he is measurably satisfied with his present condition. At the same time we cannot overlook the fact that thousands of persons are already on the way, or will be with the opening of spring, to the Pacific Coast; and thousands of others are seriously contemplating a removal to some portion of the vast domain lying west of the Rocky Mountains. The states of California and Oregon and the territory of Washington form within themselves a great empire with a sea coast of about two thousand miles, and embracing probably a greater variety of topography, soil, climate and productions than can be found within the same extent of country anywhere on the earth's surface. To know just where in this vast empire is the particular combination of advantages best suited to his requirements is the problem which confronts the intending immigrant. No section is without its advantages, and none without its disadvantages. The perfect country, where every day in the year is one of absolute comfort, where nobody is ever sick and nothing is found to interfere with the pleasure and comfort of the fortunate inhabitants, is not to be found in any section of America that has as yet been opened for settlement. The man who is in search of Utopia need not waste any time in coming to Oregon.
    Is situated in Jackson County in the southern part of Oregon, a little more than three hundred miles south of Portland not far from the California line. Its western border is perhaps sixty miles from the Pacific coast. It is bounded on all sides by mountain ranges. To the eastward are the Cascades. On the west is the Coast Range, shutting off the clouds of fog that the Pacific Ocean sends shoreward almost daily during the year. On the north are the Rogue River Mountains separating the valley which bears their name from the Umpqua Valley. To complete the environment the Siskiyou Mountains range themselves along the boundary between Oregon and California. In this delightfully sheltered spot, protected alike from the fogs and rains of the Coast and the Willamette Valley, from the cold winds of Eastern Oregon and the hot breath of the Sacramento, may be found the valley of the Rogue River. The valley proper is about forty-five miles in length and from ten to twenty-five miles in width. But into this valley open several smaller ones all of which are included in the general name of Rogue River Valley. It is said that the river owes its name to the roguish, thieving and quarrelsome propensities of the Indians who were so fortunate as to have pitched their wigwams in this favored place.
    The valley has been settled for thirty years, but owing to its complete isolation has made but slow progress. However, many pleasant homes may be found here and the greater portion of the valley is under cultivation. The surface of the country is comparatively level, gradually sloping on all sides towards the foothills, where it is more broken and generally uncultivated. The general appearance of the country is pleasing. It is dotted here and there by little groves of short, spreading oaks that resemble so many old orchards, and add very much to the picturesqueness of the valley. On the hills firs and small pines are mingled with the oak, and the intervening ground is covered with manzanita, chaparral and other species of brush.
    Rogue River is a rapid, rocky stream, and runs near the northern boundary of the valley. Bear Creek, Applegate and Butte Creek are tributaries of the main stream.
    One of the most important characteristics to the homeseeker is the matter of climate. In this respect the Rogue River country is by far the most favored portion of Oregon, if indeed it will not take rank with any region on the Pacific coast. Owing to its sheltered location the climate is free from extremes of any description. Two ranges of mountains, covered with timber, separate it from the rainy winters of the Willamette. In fact the climate is a mean between that of Western Oregon and that of California, being not so wet as the one nor so dry as the other. The summers are as near perfect as they can be found anywhere. There are very few days when the heat is oppressive, and the nights invariably furnish refreshing sleep, being always cool and comfortable. Even when the thermometer during the middle of the day indicates ninety in the shade the heat is no more oppressive than in the East at eighty, owing to the peculiar dryness and purity of the atmosphere, the altitude of the valley being from 1500 to 2000 feet above the sea level. Occasional showers during most of the summer keep the soil from getting as dry and parched as in the greater portion of California. The autumns are usually delightful. The present season, the clear fine days lasted until the 15th of December, with scarcely any intermission, accompanied during the latter part of November and the forepart of December with white frosts nearly every morning. Roses frequently bloom until the holidays, and tomato vines sometimes keep green until near Christmas. While the winters are not as mild as those of Southern California, they bear no comparison with those of the states east of the Rocky Mountains, nor even with that portion of Oregon east of the Cascade Range. Snow seldom lies upon the ground for more than a few hours. The mercury drops below 20º rarely during the night, even in the coldest weather, and most of the days range from 40º to 50º and even warmer during the middle of the day. Early vegetables are usually put into the ground in February or the first of March. Plowing and sowing for wheat are done during the winter months, at any time after the rains have softened the ground. During April and May the country wears its brightest, gayest robes, and is marvelously beautiful. Hill and valley alike are covered with the freshest green, interspersed with gay flowers, that in many places form solid masses of color acres in extent, the yellow and purple predominating. The ride from Portland to Ashland about the 1st of May is an unalloyed pleasure, and for variety and beauty of scenery cannot be excelled.
    One very prominent characteristic of the weather in the valley, at any season of the year, is its remarkable evenness. Day after day, observations taken at the same hour will show a variation of scarcely a single degree. A good idea of the steadiness of the climate may be gathered by a study of the following table showing the condition of the weather and temperature during the three most variable months--December, January and February--of the winter of 1883-4. The observations were taken by Dr. E. L. Townsend at his residence in Ashland, at sunrise, noon and sunset of each day, and are reliable:

    Another feature of this climate that cannot fail to be noticed at once by an Eastern person is the absence of wind. A large majority of the days, summer and winter, are perfectly calm except for the tip end of a sea breeze that reaches the valley sometimes during the day, just sufficient to move the leaves. What would be called a fresh breeze in the Atlantic Coast or Western states is very rare here, and cyclones, or anything approaching a gale, are absolutely unknown. A thunderstorm is of rare occurrence in the valley, what there are of them usually following the mountain summits. Pouring or driving rains are seldom experienced, showers being usually very mild and gentle and unaccompanied by any wind. While the winters are not so delightfully mild as those of Southern California, the summers are not so dry and hot, and it is confidently asserted that, taking the year through, especially for persons reared in the northern and central states, there is no better climate on the continent than that of the Rogue River Valley. This is not an empty boast but is generally conceded by those who have been in the country long enough to be familiar with the seasons.
    There is quite a variety of soil in the valley. Along the western slope and on the foothills the soil is a decomposed granite. A portion of the valley proper is composed of the same soil. A part of it is more of a sandy loam, and a portion of it, together with a part of the eastern slope is a strong adobe soil. This land is decidedly sticky in the rainy season. It is the strongest soil in the valley, but needs to be worked at the right time. It seems to be almost inexhaustible, and will yield fine crops of grain year after year without the use of any fertilizer. The granite soil is especially adapted to fruit growing, and when properly manured is excellent for garden purposes. Near the center of the valley is a tract about six miles square called "The Desert." It is composed of a gravelly loam, with quantities of small rock in the bottoms. It is covered with grass in the early spring, but otherwise is destitute of vegetation. Experiments recently made seem to indicate that it is adapted to fruit growing, and it will probably be utilized sooner or later for that purpose.
    Hitherto the principal products of the valley have been wheat and livestock. The complete isolation of the country, it having been 150 miles from the nearest railroad station, and over a range of mountains at that, was a practical embargo upon the exportation of all produce, except such as could be driven. Farmers could raise whatever was necessary for the sustenance of the miners and the residents of the valley. There was no encouragement for anything further. Thousands of bushels of the finest fruit have rotted annually for lack of a market. But the advent of the locomotive has inaugurated a new era for Southern Oregon, and the surplus products of the field and orchard can now find their way to the markets of the world.
    Wheat will doubtless continue to be one of the principal products of the Rogue River Valley for some years to come. Forty bushels to the acre is by no means an uncommon yield, and the [wheat] berry is usually of superior quality. Anything like a failure of crops has never been known since the valley was settled.
    This is the only section of the North Pacific country where corn can be raised with any degree of success. Here the crop is usually a good one, although not equal to the yield per acre of the corn growing regions of Illinois or Iowa. Elsewhere in Oregon and Washington the nights are too cool for the successful cultivation of this grain. Oats and other small grains are usually a good crop. But little timothy has been raised so far, and that principally along the creek bottoms. Alfalfa is grown to some extent, and in some locations does well. A large portion of the hay is made from wheat or oats cut green. The adaptability of the valley to the growth of tame grasses is still an open question.
    The rapidly advancing price of land will probably tend to discourage stock raising, except for thoroughbreds [thoroughbred cattle, that is]. Farmers having a range upon the hills can raise cattle to advantage, but most of the large ranges are now east of the mountains.
    Hogs pay well and find a ready market, indeed bacon is regularly brought into Oregon from the Eastern states in order to supply the demand. Hundreds of hogs are annually grown and fatted on the mast [acorns]. A company has recently been formed in Ashland to engage in pork packing, and there will be no difficulty in making money out of hogs.
    This portion of Southern Oregon is a paradise for sheep, whenever the price of wool again reaches a paying figure. Sheep are remarkably healthy, and with the mild winter there is no danger of loss from exposure.
    But little attention has thus far been paid to dairying or poultry raising. Butter, eggs and chickens have always commanded good prices, but their production has been entirely neglected. Either of these industries ought to be profitable if properly managed.
    The culture of hops is becoming a prominent industry on this coast, and there is no reason why they should not thrive in this valley. Within the past two or three years several hop yards have been planted in the valley, and the yield, both in quantity and quality, is reported as first-class. Very limited experiments indicate that sweet potatoes and peanuts will do well on the granite soil. In fact the capabilities of the valley have not been half tested as yet.
    There seems to be no reason to doubt that the leading industry of the Rogue River Valley in the near future will be fruit raising. All the fruits of the temperate zone grow here in such perfection as they are never seen east of the Rockies. Apples, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, apricots, cherries, nectarines, grapes and all the small fruits seem to be to the manor born. Almond trees also flourish, and English walnuts have been raised to a very limited extent. The fruit of this valley has long been noted for its abundance and perfection. A wormy apple or plum or cherry cannot be found, and any kind of fruit can be eaten in the dark with impunity. Apples keep easily until the next crop begins to ripen, and there is no trouble in having good fruit fruit every day in the year. The curculio and even the potato bug are entire strangers to this region and it is earnestly hoped that they will always remain so. Strawberries 10 and 11 inches in circumference were produced in Ashland last season, and peaches 13 inches or more in circumference and weighing as many ounces were not uncommon. At this writing--Jan. 1st--there are hundreds of trees in the valley still covered with sound apples. One secret of the perfection of the fruit, and its keeping properties, is doubtless the purity and dryness of the atmosphere. This seems to be just as essential to the growth of perfect fruit as it is to the healthfulness of mankind.
    It is confidently anticipated that the fruit growers of Southern Oregon will never be without a market, so soon as fruit enough is raised to give the valley distinction as a fruit region. The greater part of Oregon and Washington, together with Idaho, Montana and Dakota, are not adapted to fruit raising, and must always look this way for their supply. Canneries will doubtless be established in the valley as the increase in the production of fruit will warrant such a move, and they will furnish a market for all the surplus of the valley. The business is yet in its infancy, and farmers have yet to ascertain what varieties are best adapted to the climate, what will pay the best and what methods of cultivation are to be the most successful. Every foot of land in the valley and on the hills will raise good fruit when properly cared for, and the experience of California fruit growers would lead to the conclusion that ten acres of land set out with peaches, prunes and other fruits, and taken care of, will in a very few years furnish a good income for the support of a family. As a rule, no country is more prosperous, more beautiful in appearance, and filled with more cultured, comfortable homes than one devoted to horticulture.
    The mountains of Southern Oregon are generally covered with a fine growth of timber, consisting principally of sugar pine, yellow pine, white and yellow fir, and cedar. The Cascade Range has a belt of timber twenty-five miles wide along its summit. Trees are not difficult to find that are eight or ten feet in diameter. The sugar pine is as soft as the Michigan white pine and makes excellent finishing lumber. Fir, oak and manzanita are used as fuel. This large body of timber will sooner or later be wanted to supply the markets of the vast treeless region lying east of the Cascades, as well as more remote portions of the country. Most of the timber is still owned by the government, and will be open for preemption as soon as the question relative to the forfeiture of railroad land grants is finally settled.
    The mineral wealth of Jackson and Josephine counties is almost undeveloped, but enough is known to warrant the assertion that it will someday contribute very largely to the wealth of the state. Gold has been mined more or less for thirty years, with such appliances as can be had in regions remote from railroads. Copper, cinnabar, iron, marble and coal have been found and there are doubtless rich deposits of mineral wealth awaiting the arrival of capital and energy to develop them. If a railroad is ever built through Southern Oregon to the coast it will pierce the heart of the timber and mineral region, and lay bare some of the treasure that the ages have been storing for the use of men.
    If Southern Oregon is not the sportsman's paradise, it has plenty of game well worthy of his prowess. Grouse, pheasants and quail are found in all the valley. Squirrels and rabbits are abundant. Deer are still quite numerous on the mountains, and the grizzly, black and cinnamon bear are frequently met with by the hunter. Rogue River and its tributaries abound in fish. The salmon trout and brook trout are the leading varieties. The latter are too well known to need any description, and are found in all the little streams leading down from the mountains. The salmon trout is a splendid fish. They are quite numerous in Rogue River, and are frequently caught weighing ten pounds. The flesh is of the same color as the Oregon salmon, and is considered by many to be superior in flavor to the celebrated king of fishes. The Klamath country, on the east side of the Cascades, is wonderfully supplied with fish, at some seasons of the year the run being simply immense. A true statement of the number of fish running in some of the streams emptying into Klamath River, on certain days in April, would be utterly discredited by those who are not conversant with the facts.

    Any treatise on Southern Oregon that should fail to notice the grand scenery everywhere to be found would be forgetful of one of the greatest attractions the country has to offer, not only to residents, but to tourists and pleasure seekers. From the Calapooia Mountains south to the California line, it is impossible to get away from fine scenery. The traveler from Portland after riding the entire length of the great Willamette Valley, with its flourishing towns and immense grain fields, crosses the Calapooias and enters the Umpqua Valley. This is rather a series of narrow, winding valleys bounded on either side by beautifully rounded hills that in the spring of the year are covered with the freshest green and furnish excellent pasturage for thousands of sheep. The soft outlines of the hills, with the scattered groves of oaks, make up a succession of delightfully picturesque views that cannot fail to impress the visitor with their beauty. After crossing the Umpqua the road climbs another range of mountains through Cow Creek Canyon, a wild, picturesque mountain gorge, at the bottom of which tumbles and foams a mountain stream. Within a comparatively short distance the road pierces nine tunnels, the longest of them being nearly half a mile in length. Gliding along down the southern slope of the mountains the train crosses Rogue River, and after following for awhile its tortuous rocky channel comes out into the middle of the valley. On the east Mt. Pitt is always an object of interest to the tourist, covered as it is for most of the year with snow. Table Rock will also be pointed out, being remarkable for its flat top which is said to have been at one time an Indian fortification. [The "fortification" were actually at the foot of the basalt escarpment.] It is a large rocky eminence with precipitous walls on three sides, and can only be approached from the rear. If the traveler continues on into northern California he will find the Siskiyou Mountains to abound in wild picturesque views among which is Mt. Shasta, clad in eternal snow from base to summit and without doubt the most magnificent mountain on the Pacific coast if not on the continent.
    In the extreme northeastern corner of Jackson County is the justly celebrated Crater Lake. It is situated among the summits of the Cascade Range, 7500 feet above the ocean, and looks like a tremendous hole in the top of the earth. It is about twelve miles long by six or seven in width, and is surrounded on all sides by most precipitous walls from 1500 to 2000 feet high. There are only one or two places where it is possible for a man with careful climbing to reach the water. In this immense, yawning pit slumbers in silent majesty the bluest of blue lakes, with cold, clear waters that reach down to unfathomable depths. The weird beauty and strange quiet of the lake make a lasting impression upon the beholder. The view of the Klamath Basin with its lakes and mountains is a grand one, and on a clear day the white outlines of Mt. Shasta are visible a hundred miles to the southward. Crater Lake is the greatest natural curiosity on the Pacific coast, filled as it is with natural wonders. At present it can only be reached by private conveyance from Ashland or Linkville, the county seat of Klamath County.
    The Rogue River Falls, on the route from Ashland to Crater Lake, are also noted for their beauty and charming surroundings. Crater Lake is some seventy-five miles distant from Ashland.
    Jackson County contains a population of about ten thousand. It is estimated that one-fourth of this number have arrived here within the last two years. Many of the first settlers came from Missouri and Kentucky. A large portion of the pioneers were brought here in the first place in search of gold. The proportion of foreign born inhabitants is very small. Ohio, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota are contributing largely to the present influx, and the prospect is good for large delegations from Dakota of those who have tired of the hard winters in that region. Letters of inquiry are coming from every state in the Union, and there is certain to be a large immigration the coming season. A current is now setting in from California, which bids fair to become a flood tide as soon as the railroad shall be completed to that state. Many Californians who visited the valley during the past season fall were astonished at the display of fruit, and fully admitted the superiority of this valley to California for fruit growing. In fact the Golden State is expected to furnish a fine market for Rogue River apples as soon as through connection is had with San Francisco.
    The leading town of the valley and of Southern Oregon is Ashland. It is the present terminus of the Oregon & California Railroad, is 340 miles distant from Portland, the other terminus. It is very picturesquely located on Ashland Creek near its confluence with Bear Creek, and about midway between the head of Bear Creek Valley and its junction with the Rogue River Valley proper. It has a background of high hills covered with fir and pines. Ashland Creek furnishes excellent water power which is utilized by a woolen mill, two flouring mills, two planing mills and a sawmill. The stream also furnishes a supply of excellent water for the use of the inhabitants, coming straight from the ever-present snow of a mountain about ten miles away. The fall is so rapid that with a comparatively small expense ample pressure can be secured for a most perfect fire protection. Ashland enjoys the reputation of being the prettiest town in Oregon, and the stranger visiting the place during the spring and summer months cannot fail to be favorably impressed with its numerous cottages embowered in fruit trees and flowers. The streets are some of them narrow and have a delightful irregularity, giving the town a decidedly romantic and unique appearance. The population is about 1600. During the year 1884 there were erected a total of 89 dwelling houses, two churches and a fine school building, together with stores, shops, etc., to the number altogether of 122, at a cost of $100,000. Ashland is the base of supplies for the extensive stock ranges east of the Cascades, and with the development of this country cannot fail to make a thriving town. The scenery in the vicinity is very fine. The completion of the railroad to California will make an all-rail line from San Francisco to Portland that will be one of the most important railroad lines on the coast. Ashland has two good school buildings, one of them just completed, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Dunkard churches. There are in the vicinity a number of very fine mineral springs, both of sulfur and soda. A daily stage line connects the railroad at Ashland with the northern end of the California & Oregon road at Delta near the head of the Sacramento Valley.
    Ashland contains 4 general merchandise stores, 4 grocery and provisions, 2 hardware and tinware, 2 drugs and jewelry, 1 clothing, 1 gents' furnishing, 2 millinery, 2 agricultural implements, 1 harness shop, 2 bakeries, 2 news and variety, 3 shoe shops, 2 furniture rooms, 1 second-hand store, 2 meat markets, 5 hotels, 1 photograph gallery, 4 blacksmith shops, a newspaper and job printing office and a liberal supply of physicians, attorneys, etc.
    The county seat of Jackson County is situated near the western end of the Rogue River Valley. It has a population of perhaps 1200 and is the center of quite a mining district. It is five miles from the railroad.
    Is a new railroad town near the center of the valley. Although only a year old it has a population of about 400, and considerable trade.
--Grants Pass.--
    Some miles farther north is another new town, with a growing trade. The railroad repair shops are located here and there is a large sawmill in the immediate vicinity.
    Jackson County has recently completed a fine courthouse at an expense of forty-five thousand dollars. The schools of the county are rapidly growing in number and efficiency. A seminary at Ashland is under the care of the Methodists. The Catholics have a school and convent at Jacksonville.
    The following questions and answers have been prepared in response to numerous letters of inquiry and are intended to be a correct statement of values, etc., as they are at the beginning of the year 1885.
    Is there any government land in the Rogue River Valley?
    But very little, and that on the foothills. The lands in the valley were nearly all taken up years ago.
    What is the value of farming lands?
    Improved farms being from 15 to 50 dollars per acre, according to location and improvements. Unimproved lands, mostly on the hills, may be had at from five to ten dollars per acre.
    What is the market value of the different products?
    Wheat 50, oats 33, potatoes 60, corn 70 cts, grain hay $12 per ton.
    What are the prevailing prices for horses, cattle and sheep?
    Good horses for farm use bring from $100 to $175 each, common cows from $40 to $50, calves $10 to $15, sheep $1.25.
    What are the wages of mechanics and farm laborers?
    Carpenters' wages during the past season ruled at $2.50 to $3.50 per day, brick masons and plasterers $4 to $5, farm laborers $20 to $25 per month and board.
    What kind of schools do you have?
    Fair to good. In many places a small quarterly tax is charged each scholar in attendance to make, with the amount received from the state, enough to maintain the schools through the year.
    What is the cost of lumber, lime and brick?
    Common building lumber $16 per M, flooring, rustic and finished lumber 24 to $30, lime $3 per bu., brick $8.50 to $9.00 per M.
    What are room rents in Ashland?
    Ordinary rooms bring from five to fifteen dollars per month.
    Are there any farms for rent?
    A few. They bring from $2.50 to $3.00 per acre.
    What are the prevailing diseases?
    There are not diseases that can be said to be prevalent here. Such diseases as are common to all sections are met with here, such as fevers, rheumatism, etc., Occasionally a case of pneumonia is found, but the country can be truly said to be a very healthful one when ordinary precautions for the prevention of diseases are taken. Pulmonary complaints, such as asthma, consumption, etc., are not nearly so common as in the East. Many persons coming here with asthma have been greatly benefited by the pure air of the valley and mountains.
    What is the cost of fuel, furniture, &c.?
    Fir wood brings from $1.50 to $2.00 per tier, or cord of stovewood. Oak or manzanita $2.00 to $2.50. Chairs, $5.50 to $15 per set of six. Bedsteads, $4 to $10. Ash chamber sets, $40 and upwards. Fall-leaf tables, $4.50 to $6.50. Extension tables in ash, $13, walnut $18. Carpets are but little higher than in the East.
    The retail prices of leading articles of groceries and provisions are at present as follows: Flour, 90 cts. per sack of 49 lbs. Meat--Steaks, 12 to 15 cts. Granulated sugar, 10 cts. Brown sugar, 9 cts. Rio coffee, 20 cts.
    What is the usual rainfall?
    From 15 to 25 inches.
    Is irrigation essential to the production of crops?
    No irrigation is needed for grain of any kind. Gardens and small fruits are better for irrigation wherever practicable. Whether peaches, prunes, &c. are better for irrigation or not is still an open question. California fruit growers say no, provided the ground is kept well cultivated.
    What are the disadvantages of Southern Oregon?
    That is a hard question to answer, because what one person will consider a disadvantage, another will not notice at all. No one expects, or ought to expect, to find the condition of roads, schools and society as good in a new country as in the older settled states. And yet in all of these respects Southern Oregon is better off than many new countries. During most of the year the roads are good. In the wet season wherever the adobe soil prevails there will be mud, and that of a very sticky nature. Indeed it may be said of it that it "sticketh closer than a friend." At present in some portions of Oregon there is a small per capita tax charged each scholar to make up the school fund. This custom, however, cannot survive much longer. While new settlers will find many things different from what they have been accustomed to, this fact remains that scarcely any man can be found who has lived in this country long enough to get thoroughly acquainted with it who has the least desire to return to the East for a residence.
        Wherever it is possible to do so families will find that it is a good plan to come in little colonies. Then a large tract of land can be found and divided among them. As most of the farms consist of 160 to 300 acres there is liable to be a scarcity of small places suitable for fruit growing, unless they can be secured by some such plan as colonizing. When a number of families come together they do not feel the absence of old friends and acquaintances so much as where they settle among entire strangers.
    The all-rail routes from the east to Southern Oregon are the Northern Pacific from St. Paul to Portland and the Union Pacific Short Line from Omaha to Portland. From Portland to Ashland via Oregon & California Railroad. The third-class or emigrant fare from Chicago to Portland by either the Northern Pacific or Short Line is $53.50. Passengers traveling on emigrant tickets may be assured of good company and comfortable accommodations. In fact many persons of means prefer traveling by emigrant trains. Persons coming in this way should provide themselves with blanket and pillow and a liberal lunch basket. From Portland to Ashland the fare is $20, but those seeking homes, under a new arrangement, can secure tickets at half-fare by procuring certificates from the Immigration Agent at Portland.
The Rogue River Valley, Ashland, 1885

Letter from the Record-Union Correspondent at Ashland.

    Eds. Record-Union: The metropolis of Southern Oregon is getting ready to welcome a large influx of strangers from the East, who are fleeing from the ravages of the severe winters experienced there. It is estimated that our population was increased from three to five hundred people the past year, and all indications point to as large, if not larger, immigration the coming year. Ashland has a population of about 1,600 people, and is in every way a thriving little city. Its natural water works and its extremely healthful situation give it predominance over every other town in southern, or, I might say, any part of Oregon. It is situated at the extreme end of the Rogue River Valley and right close up to the foothills of the Coast Range mountains. Ashland Creek, a stream of wonderfully pure, clear water, comes tumbling down in beautiful cascades from Ashland Butte, fourteen miles [sic] above, and which is covered the year round with snow. The creek, besides furnishing power for two sawmills, a planing mill, a flouring and a woolen mill, supplies the town with plenty of pure, good water for house use and irrigating purposes. It is proposed, and the money already mostly raised, to lay a pipe a half mile up the creek, which will furnish Ashland with fire protection better than the best steam engines.
    The completion of the California and Oregon  Railroad between your city and Portland will give to us a market for our apples and fruits, and furnish competition with Portland as to supplying our merchants.
    Ashland expended over $100,000 in buildings and improvements in 1884, and a number of costly dwellings will be put up the coming season. Among the buildings erected last year is the Ashland Bank, a structure which we take considerable pride in, being the finest in Southern Oregon, and one that will compare very favorably with the banks in cities of more pretentions. The bank was organized last spring, with a paid-up capital of $50,000, and is doing a good business.
    While, in common with every place else, business at present is a little dull, yet our merchants in general have a good trade.
    Thousands of young fruit trees were planted here this spring, and in the near future we will have a mammoth cannery factory, it is hoped. Our peaches in this vicinity are superior to any others raised in Oregon, and find a ready market in Portland.
    The other towns of Southern Oregon, Jacksonville, Medford and Grants Pass, are also in flourishing condition. At Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County, a magnificent new courthouse was erected last year at a cost of $40,000. Although Medford is a town that came with the railroad about two years ago, it now boasts of some 500 people. Grants Pass also experienced a wonderful growth last year, and is a thriving place. More anon.
    Ashland, Or., May 31, 1885.
The Record-Union, Sacramento, June 4, 1885, page 1

    Applegate with its tributaries covers the principal part of the southwestern part of this county. In it is much mining. There has been considerable gold taken out of quartz in the Steamboat mining district, and no doubt there will be much more taken out in the near future. Persons who are willing to go back into the mountains, and hew out homes in the woods and make wagon roads to get around, can find some vacant land in this region, as they can also in the mountains and other parts of our county, that will do to make homes on, but there is no valuable land near the valley or in the region where there are settlements and roads that are vacant.
    We will now turn our attention to the northwestern part of the county. Here we find mountains and small streams. First, Wolf Creek is a small stream, with but little agricultural land on it in our county. It flows westwardly into Grave Creek, in Josephine County. It has considerable good timber on it, and some good gold diggings. Next, south of this, is Grave Creek, which is similar to Wolf Creek, heading in the Rogue River Mountains, and flows westwardly a while, then bears southerly, emptying in Rogue River below the gigantic Yank quartz ledge in Josephine County. It has much timber, some gold mines, and some farming land on it. Next, south of this, is Jump-off Joe, a small stream that heads only a short distance east of the west line of our county and flows southwest, emptying into Rogue River eight or ten miles below Grants Pass. It has much timber, some farms and considerable lands unimproved yet, and some mining country on it. Next, south of this, are small rivulets flowing southwest into Rogue River above Grants Pass. There is considerable timber and some mines and a little farming land in our county north of Rogue River, before we get up to the mouth of Evans Creek, which is about six miles above Grants Pass. This creek heads far up towards Umpqua waters and flows southwest a distance of about thirty-five miles. It, with its tributaries, has much timber, some mines and considerable farming land, a portion of which is very good. Perhaps in the bounds of this section is to be found as good vacant land as is in our country. At the head of the west branch of Evans Creek are the salt works that from ten to fifteen years back furnished considerable salt. On the east branch is situated two sawmills that were built by Mr. Thomas, where much lumber has been cut. They are now opened by other parties and are doing considerable business. Down the main creek are other sawmills that have done considerable business. At the mouth of Evans Creek and on its east bank is located Woodville with its depot on the north bank of Rogue River. In this locality the hop-raising business bids fair to give employment to many persons. If it proves to be a success (and I see no reason why it should not), there will be hundreds of acres cultivated in hops along this stream soon, and no doubt other parts of our county are as well adapted to hops as this section. Following up on the north side of the river, we pass quite a number of farms which are cut in two by the railroad. Eight miles above Woodville is Rock Point. Here is situated the first bridge that was built on Rogue River, and here is the store of Haymond & Magruder Bros. They also own the bridge and have done much business in Rock Point. The mountains come down quite close to the river on each side for a considerable distance up and down from Rock Point. Two miles above here is Gold Hill station on the Oregon and California railway. Near here, on the south side of the river, is situated the famous Gold Hill, towering high up in the air, out of the top of which was taken the richest quartz ore that was ever mined in this region. One two-horse wagonload yielded $32,000, as I was informed by General Ross, who was one of the partners, and who hauled the gold quartz down to be crushed.
    Between Gold Hill station and Gold Hill proper the railroad crosses Rogue River just below Chavner's bridge, which is the second bridge across the river. This and the Rock Point bridge have both been rebuilt in the past ten years. They are toll bridges. Just below Gold Hill station is a lime kiln, where very fine lime is burnt from the marble and lime rock that abound in this region. A short distance above the station is the flouring mills owned by the Trimbles. This is a very fine water power. The race is about half a mile in length and taken out of Rogue River at the head of a rapids where a ledge of rocks crosses the river. By the enlargement of this race there could be a large amount of machinery run by the water. In the mountains on either side of the river in this section is an unlimited amount of iron ore, and we know not but think that there is quartz and other deposits--a sufficient amount of wealth, if we had it in sight, to make this one of the foremost counties in our state. But we must take a rest here for about a week, when we will proceed up Rogue River.
        Secretary of Board of Immigration.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 19, 1885, page 2

    Proceeding up Rogue River from Gold Hill station we pass around the base of Gold Hill and along the foot of the hills east of it. Around here for about five miles the railroad had to be cut most of the way through granite rock, some of which is of the finest quality for building purposes. On the north side of the river are a few small farms before you reach the mouth of Sams Creek, but the bottom land is narrow and the mountains high. From the mouth of Sams Creek the mountains recede and the valley begins to widen. Sams Creek rises in the Rogue River Mountains, flows in a southerly direction, emptying into the river about two miles below Bear Creek, it coming in on the north and Bear Creek on the south side. Sams Creek has come excellent land on it, but its valley is small, being only ten miles in length and from one to two and a half miles in width. All the valley land is taken up, but there is some hillside and mountain land vacant, with some good fir timber on its head. Proceeding from the beautiful little valley of Sams Creek eastward we pass the lower Table Rock, a magnificent landmark standing out in our valley in bold relief. We now come to Table Rock Creek. It rises in the mountains near the head of the east fork of Evans Creek. Between these two creeks the mountain is low, which makes a good way for people to pass from Evans Creek into the valley and a good road to haul lumber from the sawmills over on Evans Creek. Through this pass is where Jesse Applegate made his survey for the Oregon & California railway. Some good farms are found along Table Rock Creek and on the mountainsides. On the west of this little creek is some vacant land. On the east, extending a distance of from four to eight miles, is undulating land. It is mostly brushy and thin land, but some very good arable land lies in this section. Table Rock Creek rises in Rogue River Mountains and flows southwesterly and passes between the upper and lower Table Rocks and empties into Rogue River at the south end of the lower Table Rock. Proceeding up Rogue River on the north side we find some very fine land, but most of the land in this region is brushy and gravelly, and not fit for much but early pasture. About 12 miles from Table Rock we come to the mouth of Trail Creek, a small stream heading away up towards South Umpqua River, and flowing southwest. It is mostly hills and mountains in this part of our county, and better adapted to grazing than farming. There are very good spots for farming purposes, but they are mostly occupied. Next above Trail Creek is Elk Creek. There is but very little farming land along it. Further up on the north side of Rogue River, along the bottoms, is some very fine land, but it is all taken. There is some undulating land in this region that is good but mostly taken up. On the south side of the river along here it is mostly mountainous and heavily timbered. A few miles farther up the river we reach Aiken Bros.' sawmill, situated on the south side of the river. It is as fine water power as is to be found, and being situated at the large body of pine woods of which we have already spoken, it would be a very valuable property if there was a flume to bring this valuable lumber down to the valley. In former years there was considerable lumber hauled from here by teams on their return from Fort Klamath when taking supplies there, but now, as the supplies are sent from another direction to the fort, there has not been much hauled of late, except some parties who wish to find finishing lumber have had it hauled from there. This fine body of timber lies on comparatively level land and is easily taken to where there is plenty of water power to manufacture it into lumber. Union Creek, one of the head branches of Rogue River, rises in the Cascade Mountains and flows northwest, emptying into the river on the south. It runs a large body of water, and for several miles flows through this beautiful body of timber. The principal part of this land is vacant, and to persons with sufficient means to bring the elements into service could make money for themselves and benefit the county by making a flume from some point here to bring this fine timber to the valley, and then use the water for irrigating purposes. No doubt the day is not far distant when this will be done. Some may look upon this as visionary, but I look at it in the same light as I did the practicability of constructing a railroad across the plains from Missouri to the Pacific coast over thirty years ago. After my return to Missouri from California in 1854 I was frequently asked what I thought of the project of constructing a railroad across the plains. My reply was that it would soon be done. So I think in reference to the practicability of building this flume some fifty miles to utilize the timber and water of this region.

        Secretary of Board of Immigration.
"Letter No. Three," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 3, 1885, page 1    Rev. Peterson died before he could complete his overview of the Rogue Valley.

Last revised October 1, 2017