Jackson County 1887
Excursion to Ashland.
At 3:30 p.m. on the 16th inst. a party of as jolly excursionists as ever banded together boarded the southbound freight train for Ashland, the object being first to fraternize with the good people of that most beautiful little city, and secondly to attend the musical and dramatical entertainment at Granite Hall on that evening.
Our party consisted of Prof. H. L. Benson and wife, Hon. S. U. Mitchell and wife, Dr. F. W. Van Dyke and wife, Misses Elva and Myra Wheeler, J. C. Boyd and wife, T. P. Judson and wife, Mrs. W. L. Blackburn and Miss Blanche, Robt. Chanslor, C. K. Chanslor, Sam White, Geo. Kelly, John Kelly, Dr. C. W. Beacom, Morphord John and ye editor. At Medford we were joined by Miss Riddle and H. Wolters.
Our general course of travel was along the old military road constructed many years ago by Lieutenant Joe Hooker, the hero of "Lookout Mountain" and many other thrilling adventures on the battlefield during the late unpleasantness. Mr. Boyd, of our party, was a soldier in Hooker's division in that awful struggle. Nor is this all the history in connection with our pleasant journey. Mrs. Boyd, née Miss Boone, is the great-granddaughter of old Daniel Boone, of Colonial history (whose name we first read in our childhood). His daring amid the wild animals and savage redskins was a matter of wonder even in those days of heroism. But to our subject. We glide along airily amid tall pines, black and white oak trees, the last-named festooned with mistletoe of vivid green. We pass abrupt wooded mountains and go through placer gold diggings; we pass a tramway 3300 feet in length, with a rise of five hundred feet from the track where limestone is procured for the Portland market. A little further on and our train runs a calf down and kills it without the jolly company being aware that anything unusual had occurred. Thus far, our road is through "abrupt mountains, deeply wooded with fir, oak, laurel and manzanita, crowned with stupendous rocks, carpeted by yellow moss, girdled with strands of snowy clouds and streaked with waterfalls of perfect whiteness." Rivulets flung off by the jetting rocks bend in arches of alabaster whiteness. They recall the fine conceit of the Spanish poet that
"A brook is the laugh of the mountain."On, on, until the upper Rogue River Valley is reached, where the hills leave us and we get a full view of the notorious Table Rock, upon which so many eyes have feasted. It was once the property of the ferocious old chiefs "John" and "Sam," who possibly sat upon its very brink eating jerked venison and elk meat, while their squaws were grinding camas and acorns in their rude mortars down at the river's edge, all of whom have long since been swept from the face of the earth by the onward march of civilization, and Uncle Sam's flag is planted above their graves.
But we are digressing from our subject. We all note the large orchards recently planted, the many neat dwellings everywhere to be seen, the thrifty towns of Woodville, Central Point (where 23 buildings are under way), Medford and Phoenix. Intelligent faces observe us from every porch and door, and at Medford where we take supper we are scanned close enough to render us almost uncomfortable. Of course so large a crowd without apparent object was the legitimate excuse self-sought, so we all seated ourselves around the tables of the Riddle House and were served with viands good enough for kings and queens, after which we journey on. The sun was now rapidly sinking in the west, presenting some of the rarest specimens of atmospheric beauty that it has ever been our lot to look upon. Exclamations of delight and surprise at the beautiful scenery were heard on every hand. As the sun disappeared behind the scarred and wrinkled summits beyond the green wooded valleys and the purple hills of the horizon, the natural beauty was charmingly rich. Just then attention was called to the reflection of the sun on a snow-capped mountain, which was bright enough to dazzle our very eyes. But we are nearing Ashland, and this running from side to side and from one end of the coach to the other to get a better view of the surrounding beauty will have to cease, for night is fast approaching.
We reach the depot about 7 o'clock p.m. and immediate proceed to secure rooms at the hotels, after which we go to the new and spacious hall and secure our tickets for the rendering of one of Shakespeare's old pieces entitled "The Merchant of Venice." During our stay the open-handed people of Ashland extended many evidences of kindly recognition, the first being a pleasant serenade at our hotels by the Ashland brass band.
Our party occupied reserved seats to the right of the aisle all in a group, enjoying the play very much as it progressed, especially the "Three Little Maids from School," who were just as "cute" as could be. Ashland may well feel proud that a piece so difficult was so well rendered by home talent. The orchestra was excellent. After the play was concluded the movable seats were put aside, and those who enjoy the giddy dance were regaled until one o'clock, when all of us hied home to Morpheus.
A portion of our party returned home on the morning freight, the remainder tarrying until the departure of the regular evening passenger train bound for Portland. Those who remained were so well used during the day that they will not soon forget it, Mrs Willard being among the foremost in her endeavors to pleasantly entertain the visitors. The Tidings in speaking of our company concludes by saying:
"It is pleasant to see so many visitors here together, and it is to be hoped a neighborly spirit will be encouraged by our people by a return of the visit and compliment upon the first fitting occasion."
Rest assured, brother Leeds, the latch string hangs out at the door.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, March 25, 1887, page 3
He Writes a Letter from Oregon's Southern Edge.
The Old Battle Ground of Californians Who Chose to Fight Duels--
Origin of the Name Oregon--Some Absurd Stories About it.
Jacksonville, Or., April 25.--It is a wild and tumbled and tumultuous region here. The mountains and the clouds make familiar companionship. The woods on these mountaintops are tangled with the clouds. They are dense and deep. You see a long, gray moss swinging from the tall, black fir trees, not unlike the moss on the cypress trees in the Southern states. We are about midway between San Francisco and Portland, Or., and about 100 miles inland from the great Pacific Ocean. But that 100 miles is an almost impenetrable tumble of broken mountains. These mountains are all set with a dense growth of fir and cedar and pine and tamarack and spruce. And under these tall and tossing trees, in their tangle of clouds, is a growth of vines and chaparral that disputes passage even with the innumerable wild beasts. A more sublimely savage spot is not to be found on this continent than the mountaintop that serves as a wall between Oregon and California.
This range of rugged, wood-clad steeps is called the Siskiyou Mountains. This is an Indian word, and bears the mean significance of "Bobtail Horse" mountain. But it is a glorious, grand old eminence despite its pitiful name. The Indians have long since passed away. They fought hard and long and died in battle mostly. Game is so plentiful since the disappearance of the Indians that it is hardly counted any achievement to kill a wagonload of elk, deer and bear. And the more ferocious beasts of a carnivorous nature, such as California lions, panthers, catamounts, and so on, are so numerous that farmers and stock growers whose pretty little homes dot the foothills all along either side of this savage mountain range find great trouble in defending their flocks from their depredations.
But now that the railroad has reached here from Oregon, and from California also, and the last spike is about to be driven, the hunter will find this paradise. The brave Roosevelts from New York will find the grizzly here. And maybe the grizzly will find the gallant Roosevelts. I sincerely hope so. This was the old dueling ground for California. I do not think the pastoral Oregonians ever indulged in the luxury of shooting at each at the drop of a hat to any extent. But in the early days, when the line between the two states was established only by a range of mountains, the summit of which could be floated a few miles either way, as suited the convenience of any duelist arrested for murder only, the Californians who acknowledged the "code" found it a first-rate battle ground. And I might dwell long on these absurd encounters here--some of them bloody enough, some of them ridiculous, all of them despicable, but with all this sublimity about us--the black forests, the clouds, the peaceful and fertile valleys far below--who cares for these petty and pitiful duels of long ago? The sooner they are forgotten the better. A few little mossy mounds of stone, some crude inscriptions chiseled in the granite front of the great mountain--these are all that remain to mark the dark and deadly hatred that surely should have found better employment and expression here when all this land was new. And so enough of this.
----And what is the meaning and origin of this word and name Oregon? Let me tell you the whole history of it. For every recent writer has been widely wrong, and it is very important that we know the true origin of this beautiful name.
To begin with, I will notice some of the absurd stories about the root of the name Oregon. The guidebook which my fellow traveler carries, called "The Atlas of the World," gives this: "The name 'Oregon' is derived from the Spanish, and means 'wild thyme,' so called on account of the herb found here by early explorers." Another queer guidebook says: "The word is from the Spanish, and means 'people with big ears.'" But of all remarkable writers on this theme I have yet encountered, and they are very many, I must say that the patriotic Irishman who wrote a pamphlet to prove that the name was given in honor of a countryman of his by the name of O'Ragen is the most remarkable.
The true meaning of the word Oregon is "Hear the waters!" And any traveler who will pass up the Columbia River, a little way above Vancouver--now a pleasant little city, but once a great trading post--will see at once the significance of the name. For here the waters literally pour down out of the clouds. They roar and flash and sweep continually. Mount Hood hangs above you on the right as you pass up this grandest of all grand views. When the wind blows sharp and sudden around the summit of this sublime mountain and makes a rift in the clouds, you can see the mountain is literally leaning over you and hanging above you in the clouds. It looks as if it might blow over and fall down in the awful chasm of waters before you. And it is the little rivers, made from melting snow, pitching their foamy waters down out of the clouds into the vast, calm bosom of the Columbia, or Oregon, river, which have given this sweet and significant name to the land. You can hear these waters continually when the wind is favorable all the way down to Vancouver, the old British trading post before referred to. And there can be no doubt at all about the origin of the name as I have stated. For the English nearly always respected the old Spanish names along the Pacific, from Patagonia to Alaska. And I know of no single instance where they changed a name when it had a fitting purpose and meaning. The first time I ever met William Cullen Bryant, more than a dozen years ago, perhaps, and before these new and reckless writers had become quite so numerous, we talked over this subject thoroughly, and I found him even more disgusted than myself at the bad taste and ignorance of the times touching such matters. I am not certain that Mr. Bryant was a thorough Spanish scholar, but as he seemed to know everything, I think he knew the Spanish language. And then, as he spent a winter in Mexico City in the latter part of his life, and I believe had something to do with the great library there, I am pretty well persuaded that he knew all about the Spanish language and the early history of the Spanish discoveries on this coast. But be all that as it may, I implore the people of Oregon, and all writers on this subject, to let the two sweet lines of this learned and most accurate post settle all doubt or dispute forever as to the origin of the name of this noblest young state in the Union.
The very root and basis of the name Oregon is briefly this, "Oye-el-agua?" Now, give this to an Indian, or, much the same thing, to an ignorant trapper or fur trader, either British, French or American, and see how naturally and how soon it would forget its Spanish root and round itself into something like its present shape. "Oye-el-agua?" would soon drop the interrogation point. Then it would be shortened to Oye-'l'-guan. From this it is only a step to Oyegan. Then Oregon is in sight.
And this is the true origin and the true meaning of this beautiful word: Hear the waters? And while on this subject I may as well add my protest to many others against giving the great Oregon river the meaningless name of Columbia. The true name is Oregon, no matter if one Capt. Gray, of Boston, did sail up this river less than a hundred years ago. Let the lines of Bryant live, and let his testimony remain unimpeached:
Where roils the Oregon,I know I ought to beg pardon for dwelling so long on this and standing thus long on the mountaintop of the edge of this great young state, but a name, particularly a name so beautiful as this, is very important. And then let us believe with Bryant that these old navigators were poets and gave no cheap or unmeaning name to the great lands which they took fresh from the hand of the creator.
And hears no sound save his own dashings.
Descending from the top of the great mountain range which divides the two first states on the Pacific Coast, we come to a wide and woodless valley. It is not very rich, and, besides, its long isolation from all seaports and markets of the world has left it much in the background. It is called Rogue River. The origin of this mean name may be easily guessed at. But whatever the stormy nature of the men may have been who gave his name to a very considerable and very beautiful river, the present people are of the most harmless. An act has been passed in the state legislature, declaring that the name is "Gold" River and not "Rogue" River. But, all the same, the people still call it Rogue River. And this new name reminds me that the gold belt does not end with the California line at all. Here, in Oregon, in this wide and wealthy valley, where woolen mills and all sorts of machinery rattle and rave on the banks of the river, we once had nothing at all but stormy and struggling mining camps. And even to this day nearly all the little mountain streams, that come strolling down from out the steep pine woods, are thick with mud and gravel from the work of miners in the mountains. At one time the largest city in Oregon was a mining camp here in this same valley of woolen mills and machinery.
----And here the greatest battles on all this western slope were fought with the Indians, for here it was that the wild man was found in splendid form. The small, debased savages of California found no counterpart here. In fact, all the Oregon Indians are still, and were from the first, a fine race--tall and sturdy, and terrible in war. Chief Joseph, who not long ago led Gens. Howard and Miles such a race when he started for the frontier of Canada, is a fair example of the Oregon Indian.
As the cars dash down Rogue River Valley, nearly all of which is now either a wheat field or a sheep pasture, you can see from the window to the right a very wonderful formation, which has a very wonderful history. It is a broad plateau with basalt walls, lifted many hundred feet in the air straight up from the flat valley surrounding it on all sides, and almost entirely inaccessible. This is called Battle Rock, and here the Indians entrenched themselves for their last desperate death struggle with the whites. [Not true.] When the world pauses long enough to catch its breath in this swift race for place and money, and has time to write and read of the history of the battles here, this wonderful formation on the face of nature will stand out very prominently in history, and, indeed, so will these early people of Oregon, as well as their valiant enemies, the Indians.
How little the world knows of all those terrible days when the Indian signal fires of battle blazed from almost every mountaintop for hundreds of miles!
Gen. Lane, sometimes called the Marion of he Mexican War--he who was on the ticket with Breckinridge for the Presidency--led the Oregonians in battle here and was badly hit while leading a charge up yonder steep and almost impregnable fortress of nature.
At last, after a long and bloody war, the old Indian chief, with his gallant son, were taken prisoners by the Oregonians, and started on a ship to San Francisco to be incarcerated in the military dungeons of Alcatraz. The old chief had but one leg, having recently lost the other in battle, and his son was in irons. [It was the son who lost the leg--later.] But for all that, on the high seas, these two desperate red men rose up at night and captured the ship. However, as they could not manage her and were drifting on the rocks, they gave up the ship to the terrified captain, and finally committed suicide. [This is wildly inaccurate.] Tragedies! Tragedies! Tragedies all along here. This Oregon was one great battlefield more than once, and long before the world either knew or cared very much about this portion of our continent.
Looking out of the car windows we see a good number of new houses on the pleasant, grassy hills, flocks of sheep, a great many cattle and horses. Plenty of quail fly all around us. A perfect roar of grouse drumming in the hills is heard, and squirrels are darting up and down nearly every tree. But the most conspicuous creature in all the land, and one that is ever present, is the jackrabbit. He has become not only a nuisance, but a calamity and a curse in Oregon. In some counties here he is slain by thousands, simply for the bounty paid for his ears.
----All this comes of killing off the Indians. So long as the Indians lived, or were permitted to have some part of their inheritance here, the wild beasts in the hills and the hares or rabbits in the valleys made no trouble. But now there are large portions of Oregon that are hardly habitable for the very abundance of good game. Why, I remember, when a boy, how more than proud I was to bag a rabbit in this region. Now, as I look out of the car window, I see their big eyes, their big ears, their supple and pretty brown legs, flashing, prancing, dancing under every bush of chaparral. They fairly waltz and dance with delight to see the cars dart by. A little boy, who got in as a way passenger, told me that they do not waste ammunition on these big-eared fellows at all, but simply knock them over with clubs. Yet bear in mind they are delicious food for the best part of the year. What a paradise for these lazy people!
Yes, I say to the homeless stranger far away, "Come and settle here." You can find plenty of land here unclaimed. I do not say that you will find the richest of land close to the railroad really waiting for you. But plenty of pure water, a mild and most healthful climate, plenty of wood--too much wood, in fact--game, as explained before, and grass as green as Erin all the year through for your cows. Bear in mind this is in extreme Southern Oregon. And please bear in mind also that Oregon is a very large state, with climate, soil and temperature of almost all altitudes and latitudes. But for a lazy man, or a man who cares only to hunt and fish and read and rest, I know of no land so entirely delightful and suitable as this spot here among the shiftless people of Southern Oregon, who refuse to wake up even for the scream of the new railroad. The fact is, they have lived so easily and lazily here ever since they drove the Indians out that, like the Mexicans, they have all gone down at the heel.
JOAQUIN MILLER.Oregonian, Portland, May 1, 1887, page 2
In the beautiful Rogue River Valley, where the eye almost tires looking at the charming, undulating landscape, dotted very sparsely with houses, the ground covered with luxuriant grass and apparently offering unlimited opportunities for the farmer, cattleman or sheepman, it is noticeable that comparatively few cattle or sheep are to be seen. The casual observer, ignorant of the conditions and possibilities, is struck by this. Comparatively little appears to be under cultivation, although it is said much attention is now being paid to the growing of fruit.
S. R. Frazier, "First Impressions," Oregonian, Portland, May 19, 1887, page 3
To continue our journey northward, we found we must leave Sisson's at midnight and ride all that night and the next day, and in this way alone could we reach Ashland, in Oregon, then the present terminus of the railroad. It was suggested that we should take a private conveyance as far as Butteville, twenty miles distant, and wait there for the stage, or even go further along our way, and so be able to have a night's rest and only a daylight journey. This seemed so practicable an idea that I immediately favored acting upon it. But B. vetoed the project, and said we should leave at midnight and by stage. I thought the plan fraught with hardships and discomforts, but I obeyed, and when Ashland was safely reached I was glad I had been so pliant, for the ride, long and hard though it was, proved delightful. While B. gained a few hours of rest the night of our going away, I sat in the office before the great open fireplace and talked with Sisson. He was vastly entertaining and made the hours fly so fast that the stage came before I had begun to think how late the hour was. The night was clear and cold. Going out upon the porch, I could see the dim outlines of Mt. Shasta, and the sky was full of bright stars. When we climbed to the box seat, of which we were once again the fortunate holders, we tucked ourselves well up with blankets. Then our bags were stowed, and our goodbyes to Sisson were said, and we began our ride up the valley towards far-off Ashland. Every ten miles we changed horses, the stable boys going sleepily about their work, while our driver snatched a brief nap. For the greater part of the time the road led through the forests, where the darkness made us trust our leaders, and again we rode into open country and past small, silent houses. The coach was heavy and well loaded, so we made slow progress, as the roads were very rough. The driver and I smoked, and B. asked questions. Our friend of the whip told us some wonderfully good lies. We knew the stories weren't true, but we liked to hear them, and they helped to drive away any inclination to fall asleep. Against the inside passengers the driver, as usual, had the unkindest feelings. There was one man he referred to as the "dude," and when the road was particularly rough he said he "guessed that dude inside was a-getting' it, an' he hoped he was." At Butteville, while we stopped to change horses, the offending dude came forth from the coach and walked around to where the light from one side lantern fell upon him. He was the picture of misery--white with dust, lean-faced, cold and hungry. Why he should have been called a "dude" we could not discover. He was anything but one in appearance.
Beyond Butteville and between that place and Yreka, which we reached at seven o'clock in the morning, the country widens into a level valley. Forming its southern limits are the mountains that gather around Shasta, and to the north one looks upon the Siskiyou Range. Butteville, which contains a few houses and one hotel, stands at the outskirts of the forests that grow between it and Sisson's. The place has many attractive surroundings, and the view of Shasta, from near the hotel, is even better than from Sisson's. It was too dark to see anything of the country until we were nearly three-quarters of the way to Yreka, but on my first trip over the same route Butteville was our supper station, and for an hour after leaving it we could see Mt. Shasta and the faint outlines of the Siskiyous. On this second trip the valley was hid in darkness, and there was not even a suggestion of the scenes I could so well remember. At times B. fell asleep, and once the driver did too, and then, waking up suddenly, tried to make me believe that he had only been deeply thinking. Slowly the hours passed, and then morning came. The bright light made my eyes burn, and fight against it as I would, I had to catch fitful naps. It was too late now to see Shasta again. Where the peak should have been, there was only a thick mass of smoke and haze, and all around us was a barren, sandy plain, dotted over with sagebrush, glaringly white, and leading east and west to far-off mountains. Scores of rabbits, long-eared "jacks" and plump little "cottontails," hopped lazily out of sight, and before us, a white speck in the distance, was Yreka, the woebegone, half-awake place where we were to breakfast, and later on begin our daylight ride over the Siskiyous. On reaching the town we fled to the nearest hotel, had a scant breakfast, and were soon fast asleep in the stuffy little parlor.
In two hours we were called and again began our journey. Once more the box seat was ours. The day was hot, the stage crowded, and the ride at first dull and uninteresting. Yreka is built on a hillside, and is, as I have said, a small sleepy town without an atom of interest. What it will be when the railroad reaches it I dare not prophesy. That it will have a boom I haven't a doubt. Indeed, it ought to, for if it sleeps any longer, it will soon be past waking up. There are some mines near it that will pay for working, when the transportation of ore is possible, and the valley which the town overlooks is susceptible of high cultivation. But so far, the village and its country have been neglected, and the only thing that makes me remember the place is the view we had from its outskirts of Mt. Shasta. Looking far off over the valley up which we had driven in the night, and across the forests through which our road had led, we saw the white peak of our good old friend. It looked taller, more massive, whiter and more beautiful than ever, and when at last we lost sight of it and turned our faces towards the range we were soon to cross, we felt as though saying goodbye to an old companion who had made our days the pleasanter by his presence.
It is so difficult to give the true coloring to a description of any scene or place that I am tempted to omit altogether speaking of our ride over the Siskiyou range. It is impossible for me to do full justice to the pleasure it gave us. There was a constant succession of peculiarly beautiful mountain views, and each one seemed more replete with interest than the other. Soon after leaving Yreka we followed a road that swept around the brow of low, bare hills, and then turned towards the mountains, and began a long, hard climb up their steep slopes. For dinner we stopped at an old farmhouse, where a plain bill of fare was served in a long, low dining room. It was a good, wholesome meal, and it tasted so strangely like New England that I asked our hostess if she had not been born in the East. Yes, she said, and had lived there nearly all her life. Then her husband caught the California craze, and they had drifted westward to the farm they now occupied. The man of the house, who collected the half-dollars, looked to me like the decidedly lesser half of the establishment. On asking the driver about him, he said he didn't amount to much and was generally considered a "mean sort o' cuss." I must confess that he looked it, and he certainly did not keep his farm in good order.
For a few hours after dinner we drove lazily through rough and, at times, cultivated fields and along the outskirts of some small country villages, crossed several small streams, and followed the windings of narrow valleys, in some of which we saw a few Chinamen washing for gold. Years ago, so the driver said, the country produced a large amount of ore, and was most active. But at last the placer camps were forsaken, except by the Chinese, and the population of the towns rapidly decreased. It was fearfully hot early in the afternoon, but by keeping our umbrella up we were made fairly comfortable, and as soon as we had left the valleys and gained a higher elevation the air grew deliciously cool. It was uphill work all the way. Our four horses pulled their hardest, and our progress was slow. After getting well up among the foothills the views became more extended, the eye taking in at a glance a vast area of lowlands and uplands, valley and mountains, and a variety of coloring that it would have done an artist good to see. On nearing the steepest part of the road, where it approaches the top of the range, we changed horses and started afresh with six instead of four. There was a long stretch of down grade before us after this stop, and our horses made this on the run, the leaders entering into the spirit of the fun, and even the steady wheelers settling into a rapid canter. They knew, I think, it was their first, last and only frolic, and that for the rest of the journey they had got to work with a will and together. If they did not know this, they soon discovered it, for before long the grade was reversed, and for miles ahead the road wound sharply upward, and was so steep in one place that we all dismounted so as to lighten the load. We now, in good earnest, were climbing the mountains. Forests were on either side of us, huge cliffs towered above, and deep gulfs yawned beside us. Every headland had its trees, and tall pines grew in places so rocky that we wondered how the roots ever found room to grow. When nearly at the summit we came to where the driver lived. His home was built of logs and overlooked a deep ravine, down which we could look to where the valley beyond Yreka lay basking in the sunlight. As we drew near the place three sturdy, bare-legged children ran down the road to meet us, and when we stopped at the house, the driver put them on the stage-top with us, so that they might ride a bit with their father.
"It's about all the chance they have to see me," he said. "I ain't home much, but pass here every day, an' they always take a ride."
Then he told us how he happened to build in so isolated a spot. It was because he liked the mountains and always wanted to get to them whenever he had a vacation. He would "lay off," he said, in about a week, and then he and his boys were going to take a hunting trip. His wife would go too, for she liked camp life as well as the rest. There was no end of hunting and fishing to be had. The woods were full of game, and you could get anything from a bird to a bear.
At the summit, where we could see over into the valleys of Oregon, the children left us. Then the brakes were locked after, and we began our descent. Taking one long last look at California, from the extreme southern end of which we had so slowly made our way, we turned our faces northward and dropped down into Oregon. I hardly know which was the more interesting, the going up or the going down the steep, tree-grown Siskiyous. In doing both we had much enjoyment. The down grade was fully as steep as the other, and we went so fast that once or twice I felt like walking, so as to vary the monotony and save my bones. The way we swung around sharp corners and swept past the edges of the ravines made us hold our breath. But the driver said there was no danger, and when we thought we could do nothing to avert it if there were, we gave up being timid and enjoyed the novelty of the drive. Every few minutes we had glimpses of Oregon. It lay at our feet almost, and the broad Rogue River Valley, to which we were bound, looked like a yellow sea as we saw it through openings among the green forests. At first the hills guarding this valley were far below us, but by degrees, as we descended, their tops came on a level with us, and then were high above us. At sundown, when the forests had already begun to grow dark, we came to level fields once more, and were soon in sight of Ashland. Before reaching it, however, we stopped at a farmhouse for supper. Tired, but still enthusiastic, we left our seats and walked in the garden until called in to partake of the good things prepared for us. The air was cool and the evening quiet. Nearby were orchards and meadows; in the garden were beds of bright flowers. Every object suggested rest and peace. Birds were singing their evening carols; some chickens had gone to roost in the branches of neighboring trees. As for the house itself, the vines half hid its time-stained veranda, and tall blackberry bushes grew beside its doorways. For an hour we rested, eating our supper in a neat, low-ceilinged room, and afterwards driving slowly off to the new town that has in the past few years firmly settled itself in Southern Oregon.
Edwards Roberts, "A Western Summer," The Evening Post, New York City, July 13, 1887, page 3
Ashland is a modest little town with great expectations. It is built on a group of low hills, and runs over the levels at their base. When I first saw the place it was considerably smaller than it now is, and not so thrifty and well-to-do. But time in Southern Oregon, as in other parts of the West, sees wonderfully rapid progress in all things, and Ashland at present is enjoying its season of prosperity.
It was dark when we rode into town, but at the post office, where the stage stopped, there was a crowd of people, and the square was well lighted by gas lamps. I wish I could say of Ashland that its one hotel is comfortable and pleasant. But the truth must be told, or someday I shall be taken to task for chronicling things that are not so. Let me say at once then that the inn is a small, dilapidated tavern where one can get fairly good things to eat, but where he will find almost nothing else. We were too tired, however, to care much, and the following day was so cool, and the views around Ashland were so picturesque and interesting that we forgot the hotel and had a most enjoyable time. The train for Portland which we were to take did not leave until evening. We were just too late to take it on our arrival, hence our visit to the places that I shall always think of with some degree of satisfaction. Someone had said that we should find fearfully hot weather in Ashland, but we did not. The air was wonderfully fresh, and a cool breeze was blowing all day. Taking the camera, that quiet little friend that had drawn into its dark chamber all the views we had so far seen and like, we went out early in the morning, and leaving the busiest parts of the town, wandered past an old mill to a cañon leading among the hills. A noisy stream flowed down the center of the narrow ravine, and on its banks grew a profusion of trees, oaks and sycamores, that gave a refreshing shade. From the cañon we went up one of the hills and took a bird's-eye view of the town. The scattered cottages, in nearly every instance surrounded by trees, looked very toy-like from where we stood, and we could see far up and across the great valley of the Rogue River--a valley that is now attracting much attention as a rich fruit country. It is well watered and is shut in by low hills that even now are beginning to show their patches of orchards and plowed fields. Those most intimately acquainted with the Rogue River country are enthusiastic admirers of it, and tell great stories about its future possibilities. It lies at the extreme southern end of Oregon, and is traversed by the Oregon and California Railroad, which now makes Ashland its terminus. The land is mostly level from the river back to the hills. The soil is of great depth and is prolific of fruits. The valley is already famous for its orchards, those of the pear, peach and apple being now a conspicuous feature in the landscape.
The winters here are cold, but short, and the summers are never oppressively hot. The fruits are not so large as in California, but are more luscious, apples and pears particularly. When the new road is completed, Ashland should become a great fruit center. Lands are rapidly being planted with plums and cherries, and some have started vineyards, in which the hardier grapes are doing remarkably well. The picking season had already begun at the time of our visit, and in the orchards were heaps of apples and pears waiting to be packed for shipment. In some of the gardens we found wonderfully high berry bushes laden with fruit. Contrasted with some other Western scenes, the country about Ashland seemed delightfully tame and natural and subdued. There was exquisite blending of colors, and the orchards, with their long rows of trees and apple heaps, made a lovely picture.
It is nearly 500 [sic] miles from Ashland to Portland, but the ride is through a country of such fascinating interest that one forgets to be tired. After supper, and while it was yet daylight, we drove to the station and went aboard the waiting car. In the twilight we moved down the quiet valley. Then, at last, the darkness shut it out of sight, and we had a long sleep while our train pushed on towards Portland. In the morning we were in the famous Willamette Valley.
Edwards Roberts, "A Western Summer," The Evening Post, New York City, July 19, 1887, page 3
A PROMISING REGION.
An Oregon County's Rich Resources.
MINERALS, WOOD AND STONE.
A Fertile Soil, Adapted to the Growth of Fruits and All Farm Products.
Medford (Or.) Transcript.
Jackson County is bounded on the south by the Siskiyou Mountains and Siskiyou County, Cal., on the east by the Cascade Mountains and Klamath County, on the north by the Rogue River Mountains, and west by the fourth standard parallel west and Josephine County. It is eight townships, or forty-eight miles, wide, east and west, and an average of nine townships, or fifty-four miles, north and south. The area contains 2592 square miles, in other words 1,658,880 acres. Of this amount 280,000 acres are in cultivation, which can be enlarged to a total of 500,000 acres more. Dividing the 1,658,880 into three parts, one-third is arable land, one-third grazing land and one-third timber land. The arable land comprises the valley, table and rolling hill lands. The grazing comprise the lands too arid and hills too steep for general cultivation, which are generally sparsely covered with scattering timber. The timber lands comprise the stones of the mountains, the more rugged hills and canyons, and some lands along the watercourses.
Rogue River rises in the Cascade Mountains in the north corner of the county, not far from the famous Crater Lake, and flows southeasterly diagonally across four and a half townships, then bending a little more southward, runs through two and a half townships, and thence runs nearly due west to the Pacific Ocean. Its waters being supplied by melted snow, they are cold and pure. Its course is often obstructed by some rocky bluff or spur, giving it a very meandering course. It runs with a bold, dashing current, passing over numerous rapids and cataracts, which afford fine opportunity for utilizing its waters for manufacturing purposes.
The principal tributaries to the Rogue River are its South Fork, Big and Little Butte, Bear and Applegate creeks, while on the north side are Button, Elk, Stearns, Sams and Trail creeks.
Each one of these watercourses and its numerous tributaries is the nucleus of a series of valleys and tablelands, separated from its neighboring valleys by a range of hills of greater or less extent. Properly speaking this great basin of Rogue River is not a valley, but a series of valleys, tablelands and hills, mixed and commingled in wild, romantic confusion, apt to bewilder and mislead the novice to erroneous conclusions.
Many have been mistaken by supposing that a certain range of hills was the limit of the valley land. Under such conditions it is well for immigrants to spend two or three weeks time and visit various portions of the country.
In its climate this delightful region has the combined advantages of other sections without the accompanying drawbacks. It enjoys the warmth of summer and frosts of winter without extremes in either. Having rainfall ample for all purposes, it escapes the continued winter rains of the Willamette Valley. The annual rainfall ranges from eighteen to thirty inches, averaging about twenty-five inches. The extreme limit of the thermometer in summer is 100 degrees, though it seldom reaches 85 degrees, while in winter it seldom sinks as low as 10 degrees below zero, the average for winter being 40 degrees and in summer 60 degrees. Snow falls in winter to the depth of from one to three inches, and occasionally a little deeper, but seldom remains but a few hours or days at most. This is in the valley, at an altitude of from 1200 to 1600 feet. In the mountains and valleys having greater altitude there is more snow than ice. It rains earlier in the fall and later in the summer, so that a person can select such conditions in climate as will suit his fancy.
The climate is tempered by local causes. We are situated in a great basin, only about sixty miles from the Pacific Ocean. This basin, or valley, is drained by streams which have their sources in the icy canyons and snow-clad peaks forming its outer wall. Now, when the sun's rays in the summer send the mercury up to 100 degrees, the cold streams flowing through the valley from these snow-covered and ice-bound mountainsides bring with them a current of cold air, which at once enters the warm air and modifies its temperature. Moreover, three or four warm days are sufficient to cause the trade winds of the north to sweep down the coast from Alaska, to break over the trend of the coast at the exit of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers and Coos Bay, and follow up these streams, pour their cooling draughts of moist, fresh air into the warm, dry air of the valley. These causes, working in harmony, keep up a continued circulation, and removing all sultriness, leave the air invigorating and healthy. While these causes moving along down the babbling brooks or floating on the zephyrs of the wind give us our admirable climate in summer, others as noiseless but no less potent save us from extremes in winter. The summers are long and dry, during which time the winter recedes from the earth's surface to a greater or less extent. In the meantime the earth becomes warm to a considerable depth, so that when winter approaches and snow essays to cast her white ermine over the land and frost bite the air, the latent heat of the earth melts the snow and dissipates the frost. To aid this we have the warm air of the Gulf Stream blown in upon us by the southeast winds. Other causes of less note combine with these in producing the various climate phenomena so acceptable to all. Thus favored we have no long, inclement winters or hot, sultry summers.
Storms, tornadoes and cyclones, which visit other countries and scatter destruction and death in their track, are here unknown. Spring, summer, autumn and winter, seed time and harvest, come and go in regular succession, but the transition from one to the other is so gradual that one fails to note the end of one or the beginning of the other.
The great diversity of soils and the admixture of the elements composing one class of soil with those of another grade renders it exceedingly difficult, in the space at our demand, to describe it so that one not acquainted with its peculiarities and the climatic influences can form a rational conclusion concerning its merits. The soil of all sections of country seems to be adapted to the climate, or the climate to the soil.
These two conditions seem to be admirably adjusted here. There is no frost to loosen up or pulverize the mineral elements, but this work is done by chemical action caused by the admixture found in nearly every grade of soil. Nothing more astonishes the novice than the crops found growing on lands which appear to him as of little worth. This is a peculiar country, and its soils are not less remarkable. To classify as nearly as possible consistent with brevity, we have bottom, prairie, adobe, granite and sand and clay soils.
The bottom land is found along the rivers and creeks; the prairie soil on the prairie or tablelands; the adobe on the plains, tablelands and hills; the sand, clay and loam in all parts of the valley. Besides these, we have along the hillsides a marl of a reddish cast, in which decomposed granite, feldspar, mica, chloride of iron, clay and vegetable mold have been ground together by continual washing down the hillsides. This soil seems to be specially adapted to grapes and peaches, but will also produce all other fruits or grains desired.
Jackson County has 1,658,880 acres of timber, grazing, mineral and agricultural land. From this land may be produced all that is necessary for the support of beasts and men. Her vast forests, comprising every variety of wood necessary for the wants of a ripe civilization, await the echo of the woodman's ax, the buzz of the saw, the mellow hum of the planer and the merry clatter of arms of iron and fingers of steel. To aid the advance of civilization and give it permanency, there are stored large banks of potter's clay, beds of cement, veins of coal, quarries of limestone, sandstone, marble and granite, mountains of iron sufficient to belt a continent, and mines of gold capable of yielding, when developed, circulating medium for a grand, prosperous commonwealth.
Wheat, rye, oats and barley grow well on all soils and yield fine crops. The straw is generally bright and clean, free from rust and mildew; the grain fills plump and well matured. Owing to this fact our wheat is sought after and always commands the highest market price. The best lands will average 30 to 35 bushels of wheat and from 40 to 50 bushels of oats per acre. Common grade land will average 20 to 25 bushels of wheat and 35 to 40 bushels of oats per acre. Fields under good culture often produce from 50 to 60 bushels of wheat per acre and a corresponding amount of oats.
Hitherto fruit culture has received but little attention, a limited home consumption being the only market offered. But the advent of the railroad, giving shipping facilities to the outside world, has caused this industry to bud with new life. There is certainly a promising field open to anyone to embark in this industry. The great Northwest must draw its grapes, peaches and other fine fruits from this section, or others less favorably situated. During the past four years there have been a large number of choice fruit trees set out. The product from this will give birth to canneries and dryhouses which in time will offer a market for the fruit. The seasons are propitious. Trees grow well and bear a bountiful crop.
It is the opinion of persons well informed that the extensive leads of magnetic iron found at Gold Hill and vicinity are amply sufficient to warrant a sure and profitable return for capital invested in preparing the iron for the markets of the world. While the ore exists in apparently inexhaustible quantities, other essential elements and natural facilities are equally abundant and easily utilized. Among these may be mentioned inexhaustible quarries of sandstone, granite and marble for building purposes, never-failing supply of lime and stone coal, grand forests of timber, and the privileges of magnificent water power.
Rogue River, the principal river of Jackson County, rising in the western slope of the Cascade Mountains, flows across the full breadth of the county, piercing the backbone at or near Gold Hill, and exposing to view the extensive body of iron ore above mentioned. Along the headwaters of this river and its tributaries has grown, and now remains in all its native grandeur, a forest of the finest quality of timber, comprising yellow pine, sugar pine, white and red fir, and various other woods.
Jackson County has three incorporated towns, Jacksonville, Ashland and Medford.
Jacksonville is the county seat of Jackson County, is pleasantly located at the foothills, five miles from Medford and the Oregon and California Railroad. Jacksonville contains a population of about 900 souls. Has fine school and church privileges.
Ashland, a thriving town, is located in the southern part of the valley, against the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains. It is pleasantly located, has fine school and church privileges, and at the present time has a population of 1500 schools.
Medford is on the main stem of the Oregon and California Railway, about midway between Portland and San Francisco. It has had a growth that is both substantial and permanent, and is today a wide-awake, thrifty little city. Situated, as it is, in the midst of the best and most attractive portion of Southern Oregon, in the heart of Bear Creek Valley. where the soil, climate and water are the best, there is no tangible reason why the prosperity and progress of Medford should not continue.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 1887, page 7
The valley of the Rogue River is a wide reach of fertile country about fifty miles long, north and south, and from five to twenty miles wide. Here there is a wholly different climate and a variety of production different from that of the more northerly country. The soil, too, is different, a coarse, rich, granite sand, distinct from the alluvial muck of the Willamette. The higher temperature is seen in forests of sugar pine which crown the heights and shrub growths, which makes the country look more like California than Oregon. Turning to the artificial growths, one sees a vast change from the appearance of the Willamette. Wheat, oats, barley, etc. are familiar enough, but the field waving with corn, the hillsides covered with grape vines, the orchards of peach trees and fields of melons, bespeak a kindlier air. This country is under a warmer sun. In climatic as in geographical sense it is the middle ground between Oregon and California.
The Rogue River Valley lies chiefly in the county of Jackson, but the same climatic conditions extend over its sister shire of Josephine County. A large share of the Rogue River lies, in fact, in Josephine County, and besides this central valley, in both Jackson and Josephine, there are innumerable lesser valleys with vast ranges of foothill and elevated rolling country, suitable for agriculture, sheep and general stock. While every sort of farming prospers here, the abundance and excellence of the fruit is specially noticeable. Grapes, which cannot be excelled for the qualities requisite for wine making, grow in utmost profusion, peaches of the rarest flavor, apricots, apples, pears and small fruits--all thrive amazingly. It is a fruit farmer's paradise.
The resources of the district are not alone in agriculture and kindred pursuits. Gold and silver are and for many years have been regular products of the country. Millions of dollars have been taken from the hills, and mining continues the second if, indeed, not the first of the productive industries of the country. Within the mountain ranges there are vast deposits of marble, lime rock, granite, and the darker building stones. Forests of many choice varieties, sugar pine, cedar, fir, myrtle, etc. clothe the hillsides, the mountains and the watercourses, and afford a resource which already employs a considerable capital and many hundreds of workmen.
Again we can find no better illustration of the development of the country than is afforded by the figures of production which for the year just closed are approximately as follows: Number of acres under cultivation 750,000, pounds of wool 140,000, bushels wheat 280,000, bushels oats 120,000, bushels barley and rye 110,000, tons hay 20,000, bushels corn 110,000, pounds butter and cheese 140,000, pounds tobacco 350, hops 5200 pounds, bushels potatoes 60,000, bushels apples 150,000, bushels prunes and plums 17,000, ounces gold dust 4000.
Within three years the isolation which has always bound this great region, in many particulars the most attractive in the state of Oregon, has been broken by the extension of the Oregon & California Railroad through its entire length. The direct connection with Portland, thus secured, has already proved a great benefit, and a still further advantage is expected upon the completion of a short gap, which will soon open a direct connection with San Francisco. Southern Oregon will then have choice of markets, both buying and selling, and all the benefit which results from competition. The chief towns of this section, Jacksonville and Ashland, enjoy some importance as depots of trade with counties both to the east and west. The counties of Klamath and Lake deal extensively with these towns, while to the west Curry County is a regular customer. Manufacture, too, availing itself of the natural power, has made a start, and with so many raw materials at hand, is destined to be an important factor of the country.
"Southern Oregon," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 18, 1887, page 1
T. B. Merry, in a recent issue of the Sunday Mercury, writes:
I have just got home from a trip into the last ditch of the Argonauts--Jackson County. It is more Californian in character today than any part of California, except Siskiyou County, perhaps. To leave Portland in the midst of a pouring shower, as I did last Saturday afternoon, and to find myself twenty-four hours later on a hillside back of Medford, 350 miles south of here, was almost a revelation. The Rogue River Valley is the Tyrol of America, and it never looked half as beautiful to me as it did this time. It is nearly nineteen years since I first looked upon it, and it only grows brighter and more lovely with age. You all know how autumn gives a peculiarly blue tinge to the mountains and an orange haze to the atmosphere. I never saw these tints as perfect as they were in the Rogue River country last Monday. It seemed but a step across the valley to the broad Table Rocks that lay opposite the mouth of Bear Creek, and but a mile or two further to the great snowy sugar loaf of Mount Pitt that reared its tempest-clad cone into the azure and kissed each passing cloud.
From Grants Pass to the foot of the Siskiyous there is but little profit in grain culture, even for the thriftiest Yankee or the canniest of Scots. The distance to tidewater is so great, Portland being nearly as far off as San Francisco, that the land carriage on wheat, oats or barley would eat the head off a crop that yielded sixty bushels to the acre. But Jackson County is a great pork-producing section, for the reason that she has a very extensive acorn mast on her evergreen oak trees, thus enabling hogs to run out and keep fat till November before being fed any grain to harden them up for the market. When a man goes through our Portland wholesale grocery stores and sees the Cedar Rapids hams and Sioux City sides of bacon that are hauled hither 2,500 miles by rail, it does seem as if we ought to find some market for the sleek and well-fed porkers that are roaming the oak-dotted grain fields of Jackson and Josephine counties. They will be more apt, however, to find ready purchasers in San Francisco, being far superior to the scurvy hogs that are grown and fatted in the Sacramento Valley.
A man who raises grapes for the wine factories in Sonoma or Napa generally gets from three to three and a half tons per acre. This averages, one year with another, twelve dollars per ton. Now admit, for the sake of argument, that Jackson or Josephine County will not produce over two and a half tons of grapes to the acre and that the vineyard owner cannot get over ten dollars per ton for them. This gives him twenty-five dollars per acre as the result of his year's labor. Now what could that same farmer do if he produced forty bushels of wheat on the same acre of ground, which is over the average? He could not ship his wheat to San Francisco or Portland and get over thirty-eight cents per bushel net out of it after paying freight and charges, which would leave him fifteen dollars and twenty cents as the result of his year's work on each acre. I hope to live to see the day that Jackson and Josephine counties are one continuous vineyard from Grants Pass to Ashland, and barely raise enough grain for home consumption. If there is a domestic tyranny in the world, it is this thing of obliging everybody to grow wheat for a living. It places the farm under the control of everybody but the farmer. The railroad man gets the lion's share of the husbandman's profit, and the sack manufacturers and the ship owner get the rest of it. And after that the man who tills the soil takes the beggarly remnant that is left.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 25, 1887, page 1
INCLUDING SIX COUNTIES--A RICH AND VARIED COUNTRY.
What is called Southern Oregon includes the four counties of Jackson, Josephine, Coos and Curry west of the Cascade Mountains, and Klamath and Lake counties east of the Cascades, and adjoining the California line. The territory thus included is about one-fifth of the superficial area of the state. This great district includes three distinct climates. Coos and Curry counties, which lie next to the ocean, have the coast climate, described above as characteristic of Clatsop and Tillamook. Jackson and Josephine, which lie within the basin of the Rogue River, compassed about with mountains, have a climate of their own, dryer than western Oregon, yet not so dry as the climate of California. In summer they lie under a warmer sun than their northerly neighbors. Klamath and Lake counties are in the elevated country east of the Cascade Mountains and suffer, if not extremes, severities of cold never experienced west of the great ridge.
----Oregonian, Portland, January 2, 1888, page 9
Jackson, the most populous and wealthy of the southern counties, takes in almost completely the large and fruitful valley of the Rogue River, with the converging uplands on every side and a large area of rolling and mountainous country. The great feature of the county is the valley, which is about sixty miles long, and varying in width from two to twenty miles. The climate of Jackson County approaches, without reaching the semi-tropical, and is highly favorable to a sort of production which in the colder western Oregon regions needs the most careful nursing. Corn, peaches, grapes, etc. here grow in perfection and abundance. The country is especially adapted to fruit. Until three years go the county was wholly destitute of transportation excepting such as was afforded by wagon on a mountain road, and this fact will explain its slow development. Since the extension of the Oregon & California road in 1884, progress has been wonderful. Population has greatly increased; the area of cultivated land has been largely extended. In orcharding especially there has been marked progress, hundreds of thousands of orchard trees having been planted within the past twelve months. So great has been the development that to give the figures of production furnished by the state census of 1885, without comparative figures of later date which are not available, would be misleading. The range of production, as shown by the census, includes wool, wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn, hay, dairy products, tobacco, hops, fruits, lumber and gold. Mining is an important industry in Jackson County.
Returns for 1887 show the school population of Jackson County to be 3743. There are seventy-three teachers and during the year $18,500.42 was expended for maintenance of the public schools. But these are not the only schools in the county. At Ashland there is a college chartered by the state as a normal school, and there is an excellent school at Jacksonville independent of the public support.
Jacksonville and Ashland are the chief towns of the county. The former is the county seat. The latter has a fine water power which is practically applied in a woolen mill, flour mill and sash factory. Medford, a town created by the railroad seven miles from Jacksonville, has made great progress and bids fair to rival the older towns.
The following figures are from the assessment roll for 1887:
Land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,156,763
Horses, 4432 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160,700
Cattle, 11,547 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162,852
Sheep, 16,021 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17,897
Swine, 9,307 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14,700
Gross property valuation . . . . . . . . $3,221,100
The following is a brief and concise description of Jackson County, and Rogue River Valley in particular, which we copy from a descriptive pamphlet issued by Silas J. Day, a real estate agent at Jacksonville. Its statements can be relied upon, as they are not overdrawn and are made by one who is a pioneer and knows what he is writing about:
BOUNDARIES OF JACKSON COUNTY.Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 6, 1888, page 1
Jackson County is bounded on the south by the state line between California and Oregon, which runs near the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains, on the east by Klamath County, Oregon, which boundary runs near the summit of the Cascade Mountains, on the north by Douglas County, Oregon, which line runs through the Rogue River Mountains, on the west by Josephine County, Oregon. The county is forty-eight miles wide, east and west, with an average length of fifty-four miles, north and south. This area contains 2592 square miles, or 1,658,880 acres. Of this amount 280,000 are in cultivation, which can be enlarged to a total of 550,000 acres. One-third of the county is available arable land; the other two-thirds are timber and grazing lands. The arable land comprises the valley, table and rolling hill lands. The grazing land comprises the bald hills, which are too steep for general cultivation, and the elevated mountain lands, which are sparsely covered with timber. The timber lands comprise the slopes of the mountains (principally on the north side), the more rugged hills and canyons, and some lands along the watercourses. About one-third of the land of the county is timber land.
ROGUE RIVER.Rogue River Valley, which is principally in Jackson County, is the basin that is drained by Rogue River and its tributaries. The principal tributaries of Rogue River are Applegate, Bear, Big Butte, Little Butte and Evans creeks.
Rogue River enters the county near the northeast corner and flows southwesterly, diagonally across four and a half townships, then bending a little more southward, runs through two and a half townships, and thence runs nearly due west to the Pacific Ocean.
Applegate rises in the southwest corner of the county and flows in a northeasterly direction about twenty miles, then bends northwesterly and flows into Rogue River in Josephine County.
Big and Little Butte creeks have their source near the east boundary of the county, and flow in a northwesterly course and intersect Rogue River near the center of the county.
Bear Creek has its source near the southeast corner of the county, and flows in a northwesterly course through the best body of agricultural land in Rogue River Valley, and intersects Rogue River at what was formerly Fort Lane.
Evans Creek rises near the north boundary of the county and flows in a southwesterly course, and intersects Rogue River near the boundary line between Jackson and Josephine counties.
PHYSICAL FEATURES.Along each of these watercourses and their numerous tributaries are valleys of variable extent, which are usually separated by a low range of hills and table lands. The principal body of true valley land in the Rogue River Basin lies northeast and east of Jacksonville. If a line be projected northeast from Jacksonville, it would pass over fifteen miles of level valley land before intersecting the range of hills on the opposite side of the valley. Then if a line be projected east from Jacksonville, it would pass over seven miles of level valley land before intersecting the range of hills in that direction. The last-mentioned line would cross the valley near Medford. Then if a line be projected southeasterly from Medford, it would pass over twenty miles of valley land before intersecting any hills of consequence.
Rogue River Valley lies in the midst of scenery of surpassing beauty. Looking from the summit of the hills west of the valley we see fields of green and gold spread out before us, with Bear Creek, fringed with evergreen trees, hurrying on to mingle its waters with the sea. To the northeast we see Rogue River entering the valley, also fringed with evergreen trees. Then for a background we have the dark green of the Cascade Mountains, from which rises Mount Pitt, towering above all with its mantle of perpetual snow. There are along all of the tributaries of Rogue River valleys which cannot be seen from the main valley.
A person passing along the line of the railroad would conclude that the land immediately in sight was all the land of value in the Rogue River Basin, but if he would proceed in any direction which his fancy might dictate, he would find, after passing over a low range of hills, other smaller valleys. Through each of these flows a stream of purest mountain water, with orchards, gardens and grain fields on either side.
HEALTH.Rogue River Valley is considered one of the most healthful localities on the Pacific coast. To illustrate: We will say that among a number of 200 scholars enrolled in our public school, here in Jacksonville, not a single death has occurred in six years. There is some malaria along the streams in the lower parts of the valley, but none along the foothills. Jacksonville is situated on the edge of the foothills, about 200 feet in elevation above the lower parts of the valley, and is considered the most healthful locality in the county.
CLIMATE.The climate of Rogue River Valley is a mean between that of the Willamette Valley and California, as we have neither the excessive rains of the former nor the parching droughts of the latter. We do not have the blizzards of the western states [i.e., the Midwest] or the destructive heats of the eastern. The average mean temperature for the month of July for six years was 72 degrees above zero, for the month of January 33 degrees above zero. The thermometer has never been known to reach zero in this valley since it has been settled by the whites.
Destructive wind storms never visit us. During the summer months we have light thundershowers, but they are not accompanied with the high winds of the western states. The principal part of the plowing is done in the months of November, December, January, February and March, and seeding is done in all of the winter months.
After a residence of thirty-five years in this valley, we will say that we do not believe the climate can be excelled. The rainfall averages about 26 inches per annum. The principal part of this falls during the months of November, December, January, February, March and April.
SCHOOLS.We have fifty-four school districts in this county. The smaller have school from three to six months in the year, the larger nine months in the year. Our common schools are equal to those of any other state in the Union. The teachers in the larger districts come from the best normal schools of the eastern states, and teach according to the best methods used in the older states.
The students from this county take higher rank at the state university than those from any other county in the state, and the larger part of the students who have entered that institution from this county have been prepared for such entry in the Jacksonville district school.
MINES.The principal mines of Jackson County are situated northwest, west and southeast of Jacksonville. The principal mining camps are Blackwell, Willow Springs, Galls Creek, Sardine Creek, Kanes Creek, Foots Creek, Jackson Creek and its tributaries, Forest Creek, Poormans Creek, Applegate and its tributaries, and Sterling Creek. All the country northwest, west and northeast of Jacksonville is gold-bearing, and mining is at present carried on in all of the above-named mining districts. A large number of gold-bearing quartz ledges are situated west of Jacksonville, on Jackson Creek.
TOWNS.Jacksonville, Ashland and Medford are incorporated towns. Talent, Phoenix, Central Point, Gold Hill and Woodville are stations on the O.&C. Railroad.
JACKSONVILLE.Jacksonville is the county seat of Jackson County. It is the oldest town in the valley. It is located on the western side of the valley, four and three-fourths miles from the O.&C. Railroad. Every line of mercantile business is conducted here with full stocks of goods. The merchants are usually able to discount their bills, and buy their goods by carload lots; hence goods can be bought as cheap, if not cheaper, than on the line of the railroad. It has a population of 1000. It has three churches, a large public school; also an academy, conducted by the Sisters of Charity. The latter institution, being the only Catholic school in the county, is well patronized.
It has a bank, which does a general banking business, also a large steam flouring mill. The principal buildings are the courthouse, public school house, Sisters' Academy, town hall, and the halls of the orders of Masons, Odd Fellows and Red Men. The town contains thirty brick buildings.
The courthouse, recently built and furnished at a cost of $39,000, is a fine, large structure, substantially built of brick and stone, complete in all its appointments, and elaborately furnished in the most approved style.
The best body of agricultural land in the valley joins Jacksonville on the east and northeast. Immediately on the west the mines begin. All kinds of produce is bought here, also the principal part of the gold dust that is produced in the county.
ASHLAND.This town is situated in the southeastern portion of the valley on the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains. It has a population of about 1500. It has the only woolen factory in the valley. Its mercantile and business houses represent every line of trade. It has four churches. Its churches and public schools are in a prosperous condition. Ashland Creek, which flows through the town, furnishes water power to run a grist mill, woolen factory and other machinery. It has a system of water works, which give good protection to the business portion of the town against fire.
MEDFORD.Medford is situated on the O.&C. Railroad, four and three-fourths miles east of Jacksonville, and is the depot for that town. Its population is about 600. It has two churches and a large public school house. Its mercantile and business houses represent nearly every line of trade. The town has been built since the completion of the O.&C. Railroad.
CENTRAL POINT.This newly built town is situated four and a half miles northeast of Jacksonville, on the O.&C. Railroad. It is situated in the most central part of the valley, and is surrounded by good agricultural land. It is favorably located to be a lively trade center.
ALTITUDE.Central Point, which is situated near the main center of the valley, in the Rogue River Basin, is about 1200 feet above the level of the sea. Medford has about the same elevation. Jacksonville, which is situated on the edge of the western foothills, is about 180 feet above Central Point. Ashland, which is situated in the southeastern edge of the valley, is about 350 feet above Central Point.
SOIL.Soil cannot be fully described without a chemical analysis, which would be beyond the scope of this pamphlet. Soil in general being formed from the decomposition of rocks and the decay of vegetation, a knowledge of the rocks of the county will give some idea of the character of the soil. On the western side of the valley we have granite, mica schist, talcose rocks, and metamorphic limestone, which are traversed by numerous quartz ledges. The soil on the western side of the valley contains a large percent of iron. In addition to the above-mentioned rocks there is sandstone, which covers portions of the hills. It is the decomposition and mingling of the above-mentioned rocks, together with decomposed vegetation, that forms the rich soil of the western portion of the valley. In the northeastern portion of the valley the elements that compose the soil are different from that in the western portion, by the addition of volcanic rocks, the decomposition of which has formed strips of adobe or "sticky" land, which is very rich and productive, but is difficult to cultivate, from its sticky nature at certain seasons of the year. There is a strip of three or four sections of land in the northeastern portion of the valley that is termed "desert" by the old settlers. It is level, and is covered with small, rounded boulders and pebbles, and has the appearance of once having been the bottom of a lake. This is the warmest strip of land in Rogue River Valley. It is here that the snow first disappears and grass first grows in the spring. Although this strip of land now looks worthless, we believe it will yet be made valuable by sinking artesian wells. The experiment of sinking artesian wells has never been tried in the main body of the valley, yet the physical features of the country are very favorable for getting water from such wells.
The soil of the main valley is principally composed of a dark, sandy loam, with strips of clayey, gravelly and adobe lands. The soil in the smaller valleys is usually a rich, sandy loam along the streams, and of various qualities along the foothills.
FRUIT.All kinds of fruit that are grown in the temperate zone are successfully raised in Rogue River Valley. Fruitgrowing in this county has passed the experimental period. Experience conclusively proves that there is more actual wealth in our soil in raising fruit than there ever was in our gold-bearing creeks and gulches. Apples, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, apricots, cherries, nectarines, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries are all grown in abundance and are of superior quality. The apples grown in this valley are considered by competent judges to be superior to any other grown on the Pacific coast. About three years ago the planting of peach orchards for the purpose of raising peaches for export began. This year large quantities of peaches have been exported from this valley and have brought the highest price in the market. Some of the three-year-old peach orchards have realized two dollars per tree for the peaches sold this year, which is an income of about $400 per acre. Pear trees never fail to bear abundant crops of fruit of the finest quality. This valley is certainly the home of the prune and plum. Nowhere in the world can the prunes and plums of this valley be excelled. The trees bear enormous crops of extraordinarily large-sized fruit of the finest flavor. Cherries are a never-failing crop, and the trees bear abundantly.
The principal vineyards of this valley are situated near Jacksonville. The largest contains seventeen acres. The grape crop has never failed since the vines began to bear. The grapes are of superior quality, and large quantities have been exported this year to the markets of the Willamette Valley and Washington Territory. There is no greater pleasure than to walk through the vineyard of J. N. T. Miller, which is situated one-half mile north of Jacksonville, and see tons of this beautiful fruit.
The market for the fruit of this valley is without limit. All the vast tract of table land lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range will soon be inhabited by tens of thousands of people. These people will have to look to the west of the Cascade Mountains for their fruit supply.
Our winter apples will find a never-failing market in California, Montana and Mexico. When we have planted sufficient small fruits to justify it, canneries will be established here, which will make a ready market for all of such fruits.
TIMBER.The timber of the Rogue River Basin consists of the following varieties, to wit: fir, yellow pine, sugar pine, cedar, yew, white oak, black oak, maple, ash, alder, laurel and a species of cottonwood. Fir is the most abundant timber in the basin. It is the principal rail timber, and is mostly used in frames for building and bridge construction. It is very strong and well adapted to the purposes for which it is used. Yellow pine is used for flooring and rough lumber of buildings. Sugar pine cannot be excelled as a finishing lumber. It is used for doors, sash, blinds, moldings and all finishing work about buildings. It is the most valuable lumber we have. Cedar is a good finishing lumber, but sugar pine has superseded it for this purpose. Yew and cedar are much used for fence posts, and are very durable. The yew does not attain sufficient size to be manufactured into lumber. The white oak of this valley is not of much value for anything but firewood. Black oak and ash are used in the manufacture of wagons and agricultural implements. Maple, alder and laurel are the principal timbers used in the manufacture of furniture, for which purpose they are well adapted. Cottonwood is used only for wood and rails, and is not of much value. Maple, ash, alder and cottonwood usually grow in creek bottoms; white and black oak in the valleys and on the foothills. Yellow pine is generally distributed from the low valleys to the high mountains. Fir is found in all altitudes, from the low valleys to the line of perpetual snow, and is most abundant on the north side of hills and in deep canyons. The fir is an evergreen, cone-bearing tree, which sometimes attains a height of three hundred feet, and its dark green foliage and symmetrical shape add much to the beauty of our scenery.
CEREALS.Thirty-five years ago the first crop of grain was raised in this section. Ever since the first crop was raised there has not been a failure of the grain crop in this valley. The grain raised is of superior quality and commands the highest price in the Portland market. Nearly all the wheat raised in this valley weighs over 60 lbs. per bushel. With proper cultivation wheat, rye, oats and barley grow well on all soils and yield fine crops. The straw is bright and clean, free from rust or mildew, the grain full, plump and well matured. The best lands will average 30 to 35 bushels of wheat, and from 40 to 50 bushels of oats per acre. Good land with good cultivation has produced as high as 60 bushels of wheat per acre. If the land is properly cultivated a good crop is assured. Irrigation is not used in the cultivation of grain.
CORN.Jackson County is the best corn-producing section in the Northwest, the average yield being about 40 bushels per acre.
STOCKRAISING.The mildness of the climate and the healthfulness of stock makes this a favored section for stockraising. Some of the finest horses of the Pacific coast have been raised in Jackson County. Cattle are raised here without any feed during the year, but careful stock raisers usually provide hay to be used during winter in case of emergency. Some winters are so mild that no feed is necessary. There are winters, however, when the ground is covered with snow for two or three weeks. The cattle then require feed. Sheep raising has been profitable when proper attention has been paid to the flocks. Hog raising is also a profitable industry. A large amount of bacon is annually exported from this valley, and a large number of fat hogs are yearly driven to northern California to supply the market.
POULTRY.Turkeys and chickens are very healthy [illegible] raised. Geese and ducks also are raised in enormous numbers. Our market for export is Portland and San Francisco. This will ensure a good market and a ready sale. The present price of eggs is 30¢ per dozen, and the average price during the past year has been 15¢. A great improvement in the prices of poultry and eggs is expected now that the O.&C. Railroad is connected with the California line of railroad.
BUTTER AND GEESE.Butter of the best quality is made here. But little attention has been paid to cheese making. The most favorable locality for the dairy business is the foothills or mountain lands. The usual price for butter is 25¢ per pound, for cheese 16¢ per pound. Dairying, properly conducted, would be a profitable business.
VEGETABLES.All kinds of vegetables that are grown in the temperate zone are successfully raised in this valley. Irrigation is usually employed in raising vegetables, but on good soil, with proper cultivation, vegetables of all kinds are successfully raised without irrigation. Vegetables are free from any disease.
IRRIGATION.Fruit, vegetables, berries and tame grasses are benefited by irrigation, but can be successfully grown without. The best-flavored fruit is grown without irrigation. Deep plowing and subsoiling are all that is required.
GRASSES.Although it is necessary on some soils to irrigate alfalfa to ensure a good crop, yet alfalfa can be cultivated successfully in good soil without irrigation. A field of alfalfa near Jacksonville has been cut three times this year, with a total yield of six tons per acre, without irrigation. Farmers owning land not suited to the culture of grass sow wheat, oats or barley and cut it at the proper time for hay. Timothy is not extensively cultivated.
The Favorite Fruit Region--Vineyards at Jacksonville.
Fruit-Growing at Ashland--Apples, Pears and Cherries--
Plenty of Good Fruit Land for Years to Come.
A recent journey to Southern Oregon and a week spent there gave the writer some idea of what is considered the best fruit region in the state of Oregon. All of Western Oregon and Washington is adapted to the growing of fruit, though there are more favored conditions in some localities. Rogue River Valley lies 230 miles south of here, and its climate partakes of the best qualities pertaining to both Oregon and California. It produces some fruits in perfection that are not congenial to the Willamette, such as peaches and grapes. It also produces all the fruits that do well further north.
Rogue River and Umpqua valleys, in some respects, surpass the northern counties in ability to grow crops requiring a warm summer climate. Those valleys have a decided advantage in the production of fruit, and from the railroad we see more show of corn fields than grain stubble, corn ripening here and making a good crop. These remarks are especially true of Jackson County. At the south the rainy season is less decided, with more good winter weather. Storms suddenly clear away, while with us rains are continuous and are followed by cloudy and foggy weather, and danger from frost is greatly diminished. Where rains suddenly cease and clear weather follows, as in Northern California and Southern Oregon, frosts are frequent and do great harm. We seldom hear of any general damage from frosts, such as occurred May 11th and 12th last spring, causing injury to fruit along the coast for five hundred or more miles. Such frosts are more liable to the south of us for reasons just stated.
FOOTHILLS FOR FRUIT.There is a belt of foothills in Southern Oregon, located above the frost line, averaging a mile or more, in winter, that is almost sure to be exempt from frost and safe to produce fruit crops. This is the favored portion of these valleys, though even these foothills are not universally certain, as isothermal lines exist, caused by air currents or unfavorable lay of the land. These will be located in time, but there is an extensive area in which vineyards and orchards can be safely planted, and there is every inducement to make fruit-growing a leading industry.
We hear much about the capacity of Southern Oregon to produce fruit, but one who passes through Rogue River Valley sees few indications of fruit growing, and the land in orchards forms hardly a perceptible portion of the country.
VINEYARDS NEAR JACKSONVILLE.Jacksonville is in the foothills, where a mining camp attracted prospectors at an early day. The town lies at the west of a large cove and on the north side of which the foothills that face the south have been planted to vineyards with success. In riding towards Medford we can see a few patches indicating vineyards, but not one acre in a thousand is so planted. It is claimed that Jackson County has fifteen vineyards aggregating one hundred acres, producing four tons of grapes to the acre. The largest is that of J. N. T. Miller, Esq., situated near Jacksonville and covering sixteen acres. Here, in the middle of November, we saw beautiful bunches of luscious fruit hang on the vines and wine making in full progress. They were making wine because our market could not use all their grapes. If Portland fruit dealers, with so large a country to supply, are not able to use the present product of Jackson County, it must be apparent that wine making, or the manufacture of raisins, will be the chief recourse when vineyards are extensive.
PEACH ORCHARDS AT ASHLAND.At Ashland they are clearing off the higher points of the foothills to plant peaches, and when relieved of its growth of manzanita, chaparral, pine, laurel and mountain mahogany this land is held at high figures. The land produces a heavy growth of the woods named, but its appearance surprises a stranger. It is decomposed granite, showing little soil, or what is so considered. In passing through the peach orchard of Mr. Gailey, consisting of thirty acres, one sinks to the ankle in coarse white granite sand, but his trees show good growth at two and three years old. These rugged points and the gentler foothills are quoted as selling at $100, $200, $250 and $300 an acre. No doubt they can pay a good interest on this investment.
BEAR RIVER VALLEY.Ashland is fifteen miles up Bear River, above the main valley of Rogue River. The valley of Bear Creek is narrow, and hills rise on each side to considerable height. On the Ashland side they rise and rise until they climb into the Siskiyou Mountains, but on the opposite, or east side, the hill range divides Bear Valley and Antelope Creek. On the south six streams enter Rogue River, and six more come in on the north, and all have valleys and foothills more or less adapted to fruit. The main valley is thirty by fifteen miles in extent, and with its tributaries must furnish an immense area of foothill or bench lands that invite fruit growing on an immense scale. Hills or knolls along the main valley afford excellent locations for orchards. Where they have a right exposure nearly all these uplands must be of value. Mr. McCall, at Ashland, pointed to a cleared space that has recently sold for $300 an acre, with the remark that five years ago he would not have given six bits an acre for it. Someone with self-reliance, good sense and courage set out an orchard, and then the boom set in.
VINE LAND AND FRUIT LAND.Crossing Bear Creek, opposite Ashland, we find a clear hillside as high as the hills rise; granite sand is mixed with clay and the land is somewhat sticky, though there is no reason apparent why it should not produce all sorts of fruit. We met a Mr. Morris, from California, who has bought 2000 acres on this side three miles below Ashland, who has full confidence in this soil and intends to plant 100 acres in peaches next spring. We see many peaches from Ashland in our Portland markets, but the planting of orchards there has only just begun, and the few bearing orchards they have are very young.
At Jacksonville they have only planted vineyards, but the same land can produce peaches to the best advantage, judging from its location. Ashland has succeeded with peaches, but it is said a cold sweep of air up that narrow valley does not make the culture of the vine possible there. We learned that apricots grow well in Ashland gardens but are not planted extensively. One intelligent observer expressed this opinion that being more tender than peaches they could not be grown as successfully in that region. It is evident that peaches and grapes can be successfully grown on good locations, and a very extensive area of suitable land can be put to such use.
Josephine County has also much bench land on its rivers where fruit should grow to best advantage. Applegate and Williams creeks have large valleys, and there are other streams putting into Rogue River below its main valley that as yet are not known or understood. There is such a great area of good fruit in that section of country that there is no good reason why excessive valuation should be placed on that already understood. It will be many years before it can be utilized, and it will be a public misfortune if it shall pass into the hands of speculators who will put a high figure upon it.
A Mr. Stewart, who came from Indiana, has located some distance south of Medford, which is the railway station for Jacksonville, about five miles distant. He is planting a large pear orchard in the rolling land or foothills, because that valley is so sure in producing good crops of very excellent pears. He is well up in pear culture and considers that region the best he ever knew for that purpose. Apples and cherries do well there, and the good people thereabouts have a faith in themselves and their country that is pleasant to behold, but they probably err in supposing that no other part of Oregon can hold a candle to them or compete with them in these products.
ROGUE RIVER AND UMPQUA VALLEYS.The main Rogue River Valley is in part high prairie and good soil, and three-fourths is more or less gravelly. While fruit trees grow well enough on this low land, it is so much liable to danger from frost that it is not considered safe to plant orchards or vineyards there. Besides there is an old-time prejudice in favor of hill land for fruit, as giving a better flavor than the soil of the prairies. The future should see these southern counties devoted to the production of choice fruits, earning a great name and winning for the fortunate fruit growers fortunes to repay their enterprise. California will furnish a convenient market for all their apples and pears. They are going out of the apple business there, their orchards proving short-lived and their apples miserably inferior in quality.
The two rivers, Umpqua and Rogue rivers, have large areas tributary to them composed in great part of rugged hills that will someday be appreciated and cultivated. The delightful climate will ensure the full settlement of the county, and the value of this great hill region will be tested to the utmost. It is claimed that though it has no area of open valley to equal Rogue River the Umpqua itself is actually lower in its flow than Rogue River, and therefore cannot have a very different climate. Judge Stearns, of Oakland, says Umpqua Valley has cooler summers and warmer winters than Rogue River, by actual observation, and he claims that there should not be a serious difference in the ability of the Umpqua to produce fruits native to a warm clime. Certainly we receive our early fruits and vegetables from Douglas County a month almost before they ripen near home, and as soon or sooner than they reach us from Rogue River Valley.
THE PIONEER UMPQUA VINEYARD.Years ago Hon. Jesse Applegate set out a large vineyard on the side of Yoncalla Mountain, or what to us seemed a mountain to climb, that was--save for altitude--an easy walk from Snowden Springs. We visited him there and have often asked the fate of this pioneer vineyard, to learn that it made reasonable progress up to the time our old friend lost his beloved wife, when he quit the spot, and his successor allowed sheep to devour the vines and destroy the vineyard. He assured us that it would have done well had it received the proper care and cultivation. We cannot learn that grapes or peaches have ever received a fair test in Umpqua, though it cannot be excelled as to prunes. These are grown with rare excellence, as also all other fruits grown in the Willamette.
Southern Oregon as herein described simply awaits development. The construction of the Oregon & California Railroad through its whole extent gives reasonable hope that we shall soon see settlement commence and continue there and the development of this choice portion of our state keep on until its merits are fully tested. This road is, we think, destined to do much towards filling Oregon valleys with homes and peopling our hillsides with fruit farms. The overflow from California may easily surpass the direct travel from the East to the whole Pacific Northwest. Tens of thousands are drawn to California who cannot remain there and must go elsewhere. They will be sure to return east by the northern route, and many may actually come here to settle and make homes. We propose to make this whole region known to those who may soon come here.
The length of this paper prevents reference in detail to the present fruit production of the Southern Oregon counties, and such particulars as are obtainable on this subject will be given at an early day.
Oregonian, Portland, December 3, 1887, page 8
Rogue River Valley--Medford, Jacksonville and Other Towns.
Old-Fashioned Farmers--What Eastern Farmers Are Doing.
Adaptability of the Climate and Soil to Apples, Pears and Plums.
(SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE OF THE BULLETIN.)
Medford, Or., Aug. 1, 1887.
The resources and agricultural possibilities of Southern Oregon are gradually coming more and more into prominence. Many home-seekers, principally Eastern folk, are now visiting this locality and are on the lookout for good locations.
Going north from California into Oregon on the Oregon and California Railroad, the traveler is compelled to stage it across the border line, as about eight miles of the railroad remain yet to be completed. The cars are resumed at Ashland, Or.
ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.Ashland lies at the southern end of the Rogue River Valley, which is one of the fertile places of Southern Oregon, springing into prominence just now. Here in this valley are grown abundant crops of wheat and fruit, both of a good quality. Fifteen miles north of Ashland lie Medford and Jacksonville--the former on the eastern and the latter on the western slope of the valley, about five miles apart. Both of these towns are in the center of the valley and are surrounded on all sides by large and prosperous farms. Jacksonville and Medford, though near neighbors, differ widely from each other in many respects. Three years ago there was no such place at Medford. The railroad located a water tank and an eating station there, and in a short time a town sprang. up. [The town sprang up before the construction of the depot.] Although only three years old, Medford now boasts of nearly a thousand inhabitants. Jacksonville, on the contrary, is an old established town about twice the size of Medford, and was an old town long before the railroad was thought of. Why the railroad did not come through Jacksonville is a conundrum which few of its residents can intelligently answer. As it is, the town is now reached by stage daily from Medford. Still, even as it is now, Jacksonville is not complaining, for she is better connected now with the outside world than formerly. There are several other towns situated in the Rogue River Valley, but they do not compare in size or importance with Ashland, Medford or Jacksonville. A small place called Gold Hill stands at the extreme northern end of the valley.
FARMING IN THE VALLEY.There is in this portion of Oregon a disposition among the people, more especially the farmers, to adhere to old-fashioned methods and customs. Anything "newfangled" meets their utmost contempt. The farmers in many cases will not even enclose their lands with decent-looking fences, the old-time "stake and rider" fences prevailing. Then again, they persist in wheat-growing, taking their chances on being able to get rid of it all at anything like a fair price, when it has been thoroughly proven to them that they have one of the best countries in the land for growing apples, pears and prunes. These three fruits reach perfection here. It is true that several farmers in the Rogue River Valley are now engaged in fruit-growing, doubling their profits and relieving themselves from all worry and care, but in nine cases out of ten these very farmers are Eastern men who have only recently located in this section of the country. It did not take them long to find out where the immense resources of the country lie, and they quickly took advantage of their discovery. Of course the majority of the Oregonians, with their antiquated ways, laughed at first at these Easterners, and many of the more obstinate ones continue to do so yet. But it will be of short duration.
WHAT AN INTELLIGENT FARMER DID.Apropos to this, a circumstance which occurred in this vicinity not long ago might be of interest. An eccentric-looking old farmer, who had left his farm in Maine, came into Southern Oregon and bought forty acres near Ashland. Notwithstanding the fact that surrounding him on all sides was to be seen growing nothing but wheat, this eccentric-looking individual made a careful examination of his soil and formed his own opinion as to what it is most adapted. Imagine the horror of his neighbors when they discovered that this eccentric-looking old man had planted his entire forty acres in watermelons. Certainly the old man was not only eccentric, but hopelessly insane, and there was considerable talk among the farmers of having him examined by an insanity commission. But when the eccentric-looking old man raised an immense crop of melons and reaped about triple the profit per acre that his sympathetic neighbors did from their grain fields, it began to dawn upon them that he was not such a fool as he looked. So it is with most with the farmers in regard to fruit-growing. It is hard to pull them out of the old rut. But it is only a matter of time when they will fall into line with the progressive newcomers, and assist in the general development of this section of the country.
THE CLIMATE.The climate here is good. Of course there are better climates on the coast--they can't all have the best--but it is enough to say that that of Southern Oregon is good, never being too warm or too cold, and is, as a rule, uniformly even. It partakes of many of the features of the California climate. The prolonged rainy seasons are not so prevalent in this section of the state as they are further north, and can hardly be termed a "webfoot" section.
J.G.M.San Francisco Bulletin, August 4, 1887, page 4
Salem, the capital, comes next, then Albany, concerning which places I cannot say much, as it had by this time grown quite dark, but our train spend on, rounding short curves and craggy hills until 9 o'clock the next morning, at which time we were in Ashland, the terminus of the O.&C.R.R. This is a small place near the south line of the state and at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. The valleys were green, and farmers were plowing all the way along.
At this point a different mode of travel, and a new one to me, was before us; as we alighted from the train we were confronted by five large vehicles resembling the old-fashioned "tin peddler's wagon," with which all Union County people are familiar, except that they are heavier. These belonged to the California, Oregon and Idaho Stage Company, and were called stages. In these we must go up the mountain. There were three seats in each one, and three persons were crowded into each seat. When all was ready the driver cracked his whip, and the great stage rolled away.
This reminded me of the many stories I had heard of stage travel in the Wild West, and I wondered if we would be stopped by a band of robbers, or would be fired on by the savage Indian. I wondered if James Clugage had ever been over this road. While these and many other thoughts were passing through my mind, we were leaving Ashland and the narrow valley behind and below us. Things were not so green, and the snow is nearer to us. Finally our stage stopped and the driver jumped from his lofty box and said, "All passengers, alight," which we did. We were at the base of a very steep mountain, and in a very few words the driver told us that we would have the pleasure of ascending on foot, as it was impossible for the horses to draw more than the stages and baggage. Off we all started, men, women and children, but not in the best of humor, some laughing, others swearing, and others crying, but up we went.
The day was fine, the scenery sublime, but I will not undertake to describe it. I would say to all visitors to the Pacific Coast to take a trip through Northern California and Southern Oregon. We made short curves, going back almost to the place from which we started; here we came to snow, the first I was in for the season. I must make a snowball, and another, yet up we go; now the glad news comes from those in front, a hotel, which we all hailed with joy, and where we all partook of a healthy supper, for the moderate sum of fifty cents. Passengers kept coming in for nearly two hours. Soon the crack of the stageman's whip was heard, and the heavy stage rolled up in front of the hotel with the remainder of the party, who had given out on the way. Here fresh horses were procured, and this time we made even a steeper climb, but this going up could not always last, and at length the summit was reached amid the shouts of the boys and over a foot of snow. Here this mode of travel came to an end, for the Southern Pacific road has pushed her California branch to the summit of these mountains, and a train was standing there ready to convey us down the southern slope more easily than we ascended the northern. After starting, we passed through a tunnel almost a mile in length. Down we went, a grade of nearly 200 feet to the mile, until we were landed in the narrow valley below, which widened out into a vast prairie and plain. Here another grand view stands out before the eye. On all sides are snow-covered mountains, while everything is green around you. In the distance is Mt. Shasta, over 12,000 feet high, and to the west of it is the valley; with no hill near it looms up another mount some 5,000 feet high.
While viewing this grand panorama, night closed and the scene was shut from view. Here I "turned in" and knew no more until Sacramento, the capital of California, was reached, but being not yet daylight I only seen it by electric light.
Will H. Sheneman, letter of December 21, 1887, "Still on the Go," Marysville Tribune, Marysville, Ohio, January 4, 1888, page 4
Last revised February 8, 2018