The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1889

    One of the most beautiful and productive portions of the state of Oregon lies at the southern extremity of the state, at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains, surrounded on the east by the Cascades, on the west by the Coast Range and on the north by the Rogue River Mountains. Until one year ago last October this locality was practically closed to the outside world, but the extension of the Southern Pacific into Oregon has since connected it with the great throbbing heart of the continent; now it is a part and parcel of the area that is attracting such widespread attention from those in search of mild climate and delightful surroundings. No portion of the Pacific coast is more worthy of attention than Rogue River Valley, with its rich soil, pure water, grand and inspiring scenery, inexhaustible forests, undeveloped gold and silver mines, an abundance of native grasses, the home of the vine and fruit tree. It has all that goes to make up an ideal country to live in, and is settled by an intelligent and thrifty people.
    The completion of the railroad has also given the valley an extended market for its products, while the future will give its people all the benefits to be derived from the fertility of the soil and geniality of climate.
    The principal town of the valley is Ashland, situated at the extreme south end, at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. It claims, and no doubt has, a population of 3,000, having doubled itself in the past year and one half. The town is enjoying a very substantial and even rapid growth. Many new buildings are in process of construction and the erection of a large number is contemplated. Ashland has better hotel accommodations than any other town south of Portland. The new hotel, "The Oregon," recently opened, erected and furnished at a cost of over $40,000, is a beautiful structure--fireproof, built of brick in the Queen Anne style. The S.P. Railroad has a large and substantial new hotel on the depot grounds, handsomely furnished and comfortably fitted up throughout. Besides, there are two hotels in the older portion of town, the "Central" and the "Ashland." Nearly every business is represented in the city. The merchants appear to be doing a thriving trade. Ashland has a woolen mill that employs about thirty-five hands, a flouring mill, sawmill, roundhouses, and is lighted by electric lights. A street railway is talked of, while a proposition to establish a fruit cannery is being considered. The townsite was first settled upon in 1852, by R. B. Hargadine, who built the first dwelling. Next came the "Ashland sawmill," which was built in 1852. A flouring mill soon followed. Around these mills and the business springing up out of them grew up the young city. The town was incorporated in October 1874, with a population of about 300. Ashland has three good public schools, a high and normal school and several private schools. It has Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Dunkard church buildings, and the Catholic denomination will begin the erection of a fine edifice in a few weeks. The Masons, Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias have buildings. Society is well organized, and a refined and enlightened sentiment prevails throughout the community. There are two weekly journals published in Ashland, the Tidings and the Valley Record. Both are bright and filled with local and general news. The advertising columns of these two papers show that the citizens appreciate their worth..
    Jacksonville, the shire town of Jackson County, is the oldest town in southern Oregon. It dates its existence from about 1851. For many years it was one of the most important trading points on the north Pacific coast, being the base of supplies for the mines of the southern portion of the state. Since the advent of the railroad, which left Jacksonville to the west five miles, the place has lost much of its former prestige. At present it shows evidences of a new life. A movement is on foot to divide some of the large farms near the place into small fruit tracts and encourage increased population. A railroad to the Southern Pacific line at Medford is contemplated, which no doubt will be built. The very best farming land in the valley lies adjacent and tributary to Jacksonville. With judgment and energy there is no reason why this town, so beautiful for situation and so rich in historic lore, should not stand abreast of the other growing towns of this region. Jacksonville has long been noted for its excellent schools, both public and private, while social advantages are of a high order. The Democratic Times, published here by Charles Nickell, is one of the leading journals of the state. It is ably edited and a very valuable business property. It has done very much for the development of the valley and would do credit to a much larger town and more populous vicinity.
    Jacksonville's business houses are substantial, carrying large stocks. A new lumber mill is to be erected that will work up the valuable sugar pine tributary to the place, which will be quite a factor in the new growth of the town. The county courthouse situated here is an imposing edifice and one of the most substantial structures in the state of Oregon. It is a credit to Jackson County.
    On the railroad, five miles east of Jacksonville, is growing very fast. Numerous new buildings are being erected, and the whole place has on an air of substantial and permanent growth. The Medford Mail is published here by a Mr. Harlan, recently from the western states [i.e., the Midwest].
    Situated on the railroad, in the heart of the valley, has had a remarkable growth during the past two years. It is an energetic town and aspires to be the county seat at no very distant day.
    The view from this place is most enchanting. Mount Pitt is to the east, towering its snow-capped head into the heavens. Table Rock, the scene of the lamented General Joe Lane's memorable fight with the Rogue River Indians, lies to the north of the town.
    Woodville, Phoenix, Talent, Tolo, Brownsboro and Gold Hill are all growing towns.
    Of the valley is very great. Gold, silver, lignite, gypsum and kindred metals have been discovered in many localities. The placer mines of this valley have yielded over $25,000,000 since the first discovery in 1849 [sic]. Quartz ledges which "prospect" well have been discovered in many localities, but want of capital prevents the development of their treasure. Last year Jackson County produced more gold than any other county in Oregon.
    The region is particularly rich in soda, salt and sulfur springs, and others which yield boracite and magnesia. There is scarcely a section of the valley that has not several sulfur or soda springs. The best and most frequented is that on the Linkville road, about ten miles southeast of Ashland. This house and spring is owned by Jacob Wagner, one of the pioneers of the valley, and it and the extensive ranch connected with it are presided over by his son, J. M. Wagner, and his estimable wife, who do all in their power to make guests comfortably enjoy themselves. It will one day become the resort for invalids and tourists.
    For fruit cultivation this region is not excelled on the coast. It produces peaches of the finest flavor, while the almond and the fig tree will flourish. Apples, plums and cherries are always a sure and bountiful crop. Heretofore, with no markets beyond the limits of a local one, farmers had little encouragement to plant fruit orchards, but enough has been learned during the two years to know that a market awaits all the fruit that the hillsides will grow. During the past season immense quantities of apples were sold on the ground to California companies, who sent experienced packers into the orchards, packed the fruit and labeled the boxes "Mountain fruit, grown in the foothills of California" (?). There is no business that can be undertaken that promises better profits than fruit raising in the Rogue River Valley. Much of the granite soil on the hills west and southwest of Ashland is being cleared and thousands of young trees of all varieties planted and cultivated.
    Of the Rogue River Valley is most delightful. Observation at Ashland shows one-half the rainfall and one-half the cloudy days in each year than we have in Portland. The summers are some warmer than the Willamette Valley, the average summer temperatures being about 82 and the average winter temperature about 42 degrees. A few days in summer may reach 102 deg., and the thermometer has gone as low as zero during some of the coldest winters--like that of 1888. The winter months may be particularly confined to January and February, during which period the nights are somewhat frosty, and a little snow falls at rare intervals, but it is never cold enough to cause a stoppage of outdoor labor, while the warmest days are rarely oppressive, owing to the breeze from the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains.
    The timber interests of this region are just beginning to attract the attention that their importance demands. In the Cascade and Coast Mountains at altitudes of 4000 to 7000 feet are forests, the magnitude of which astonish the beholder who is just made acquainted with them. On the foothills grow a thin growth of pine and some fir; on the lower valley and hills the black oak (Quercus douglasii) and the common white oak (Q. agrifolia). There are more foliaceous trees in the lower valley than in any other part of Oregon. There is an abundance of laurel, arbutus, chaparral and manzanita. The handsomest foliage tree in the state, the madrona (Arbutus menziesii) here grows in great profusion.
    On the higher altitudes vast tracts of white pine, sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), bull pine (Pinus flexilis), white fir (Abies nobilis), red fir (Abies amabilis), tamarack (Larix occidentalis), balm, cedar and yew grow to great height and thickness. Large numbers of entries of timber land are being made under the United States laws. The greater amount of the best timber lands are yet unsurveyed.
    All the most desirable vacant lands in the valley were taken up under United States laws years ago. But there are still some desirable locations in the foothills and benches and on table lands that await the settler, and they will be taken up before many years roll around. No place in Oregon presents any greater attraction for the immigrant than the Rogue River Valley. It looks as though a large immigration will enter it during the present year. The county has never been boomed or advertised. Those who live there learned of its attractions from those who had entered and located in it, and enjoyed its blessings of climate and fertility before them.--Portland World.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 18, 1889, page 1

Rogue River Valley and Jackson Co., Oregon
    Jackson County lies in the extreme southern end of Oregon, bordering on the California line, and is hemmed in between the Cascade Mountains on the east and those of the Coast Range on the west, the Rogue River Mountains on the north and the Siskiyous on the south, all of which occupy a portion of the 2600 square miles embraced within its territory. Surrounded by these mountain ranges is the thickly settled portion of the county, the beautiful Rogue River Valley. The valley proper is about forty miles long by twenty miles wide, though sometimes the name is made to embrace the whole watershed of that turbulent stream.
    Its beauty and probable fertility were freely commented upon for years by the bands of American and English trappers that traversed it on their way between the Columbia and the trapping grounds of California, but owing to the fact that it was cut off from approach by sea, and to the hostility of the Indian tribes of that region, no effort was made to occupy it until long after the settlements of the Willamette Valley had become so numerous that the territory of Oregon was organized. The hostile and thieving character of the savages won for them the title of "Rogue Indians," and this name has descended to the valley, the river that drains this whole region and the mountains that border the stream toward the coast.
    The discovery of gold on the Klamath River and its tributaries in 1850, and the great rush to those mines in the spring of 1851, led to the discovery, also, of rich diggings on the streams of Jackson and Josephine counties a few weeks [sic] later. Miners flocked into the mountains bordering the valley on the west, and though they suffered frequently at the hands of the native proprietors, they not only were not driven away but increased in numbers. The town of Jacksonville sprang up and became the trade center, pack trains brought supplies from both Oregon and California, and the quiet wilderness awoke suddenly into life and activity. The great demand and high price for hay, vegetables and grain induced settlers to occupy the choice spots in the valley and along the streams, exposed to the wrath of the savages and suffering the other disadvantages of pioneer life. For six years afterward a constant warfare was maintained.
    Oregon enjoys the reputation of having perhaps the most desirable climate on the continent and in many respects the Rogue River Valley is infinitely superior to the rest of the state from a climatic point of view. It enjoys the warmth of summer and the frosts of winter known in eastern Oregon without the extremes there experienced. With a rainfall ample enough for all the purposes of agriculture it escapes the continual rains of the Willamette Valley in winter, and receives but occasional refreshing showers in summer, the annual rainfall varying from twenty to forty inches and averaging about twenty-two. The extreme limit of the thermometer in summer is 100 degs., though it seldom exceeds 90 degs., while in winter it seldom sinks as low as 10 degs., the average for the winter months being about 40 degs., and in summer, about 70 degs. Snow falls occasionally to the depths of three to ten inches but rapidly disappears, while ice never exceeds two inches in thickness, and forms but a few times during the season. In the mountains, of course, there is more snow and ice, and upon this fact the miners rely for a supply of water for their business. It will thus be seen that in both valley and mountain nature has provided just the climatic conditions required by the two great industries of the county, agriculture and mining. To the eastern man especially, who desires in summer a warm climate without the excessive heat of his native state, and in winter a clear, bracing atmosphere unaccompanied by extreme cold, and exemption from continuous snow and rain, Rogue River Valley presents attractions peculiarly inviting. It is beyond question the Paradise of Oregon.
    The mountains are heavily timbered and rich in minerals; the foothills afford splendid grazing for cattle and sheep, and their special adaptation to viticulture and the growth of certain kinds of fruit is now being recognized. The valley lands produce cereals, hay and vegetables in abundance, and hill and low lands fruit of unsurpassed excellence. In the diversity of its products and resources, Jackson County is superior to any in the state. The arable land embraces about one-fourth of the entire area of the county, including foothills, plains and river bottoms. The foothills possess that rich soil to be found on all the hilly lands of western Oregon, while the plains have much adobe land and the bottoms are composed of the most fertile alluvium. In the valley, wheat, oats, barley, corn, potatoes, hay, etc. yield abundantly, and anything less than a half crop has never been experienced during the thirty years of cultivation. Twenty bushels of wheat to the acre is considered a very unsatisfactory crop, while as high as sixty bushels have been realized. Barley and oats produce proportionately well, and potatoes and corn are of especial excellence and yield abundant crops, the former contrasting favorably with the inferior tubers of California. The facilities now afforded for shipment to other markets will no doubt serve to largely increase the crop of cereals in the future.
    The foothills of Jackson County furnish grazing for sheep of the finest quality, and the best strains of fine Merinos have been introduced into the county. So much attention has been paid to improving the sheep of this section that southern Oregon wool is rated higher in the market than that from the Willamette Valley. About 30,000 are kept, chiefly in small bands, by the ranchers. About 10,000 beef cattle graze on the hills, and many thoroughbreds are kept. Horses, too, are made a specialty by many of the farmers, and Rogue River Valley has the reputation of producing the finest horses of Oregon. In the matter of improving the blood of their animals, the stockmen of this region have shown commendable enterprise, and are reaping their reward in the reputation and increased value of the animals.
    It is because of its superior fruit that we refer to Rogue River Valley as the Italy of Oregon. It is a well-known fact that the finest-flavored grapes of California are produced on the sunny slopes of the foothills, and the conditions there found exist in the foothill region of Jackson County. The vines produce large clusters, and the grapes have a most excellent flavor, being very juicy and making a superior quality of wine. The conditions of soil and climate are also very favorable to peaches, the fruit being superior in flavor to the California product. The slight touch of frost in winter, though too mild to injure the vines or trees, gives a flavor to the fruit that is lacking in that of the warmer regions of California. The high lands are especially adapted to fruit culture, and it is that class of soil that has been utilized the most by fruit growers. In addition to grapes and peaches, apricots, pears, plums, apples, cherries and the small fruits produce luxuriantly, are of excellent quality, especially the apples, which have no superior anywhere. Hitherto the foothills have been used chiefly as a grazing ground for sheep, but now the flocks are seeking pastures new. That the land will be planted extensively in vineyards and orchards is certain. With no market beyond the limits of southern Oregon, farmers had formerly no encouragement to plant extensive orchards or large vineyards, but enough has been done to show the wonderful adaptability of the soil and climate to the production of fruit. The whole Northwest offers a market at good prices for fruit of all kinds, while certain varieties are largely sought after in the East. There is no business that can be embarked in with greater promise of a golden rewards than that of fruit culture in this section. It must, however, like everything else, be managed properly to be a great success. Orchards and vineyards must be planted and taken care of in a systematic manner and the business from first to last be conducted as experience in other places has shown to be best. Especially must the fruit be put up in an attractive and marketable shape, well assorted, conveniently packed for handling by the dealer, and attractive to the eye. Experience in California and elsewhere shows that the most successful fruit raisers are those whose product reaches the market in the best condition and presents the most inviting appearance. A large number of experienced orchardists have located in southern Oregon recently. The men who set out at once large orchards and vineyards and get them into bearing condition will be the first to reap their reward. The market is large, growing and permanent.
    Farms and ranches of all kinds may be purchased in Jackson County at prices which are extremely moderate when the advantages are considered. Good improved farming land can be bought from twenty to one hundred dollars per acre, though a few choice places would command a higher price. Other lands not so well improved but just as fertile, and in some cases more desirable for fruit and grape culture, can be had as low as five dollars per acre. These prices depend upon the amount of improvements, location, character of soil, water facilities, etc. Small farms, upon which orchards could be made the principal source of income, can be bought at low prices, and there are  many places where a little work in clearing off brush and timber would reward the industrious farmer with many acres of land of the best quality for grain, orchards and vineyards. Much of the hill land will produce good crops of grain, and its capabilities for grapes have been pointed out. The land is so well adapted to mixed farming that it is especially valuable, for with grain, fruit, hay, cattle, sheep, horses and hogs to depend upon, such a thing as an entire failure would be impossible. We advise parties desiring to gather more particular information about special tracts of land for sale to visit the valley or address a letter to the dealer in real estate whose advertisement may be found on this sheet. There is much government land in the foothills and mountains, as well as large tracts reserved to the O.&C.R.R. Co. Information in regard to the former can be had at the Roseburg land office, and of the latter at the company's office in Portland. A great increase in the value of real estate in the next few years is beyond question.
    The first inquiries made by a man of family seeking a home in the new country are, "What is the condition of society there, and what facilities are offered for the education of my children?" To both of these important questions Jackson County can give a favorable answer. In the first place, it must be remembered that this is by no means a newly settled country, that it has been occupied by an intelligent, industrious, law-abiding class for more than thirty-five years. The pioneers who located here and subdued the wilderness came from nearly every state in the Union. Many of them were highly educated, and all were accustomed to the requirements and conveniences of older communities. Here they have made their homes and reared their families and have spared no effort to give the advantages enjoyed by communities more closely united to the outside world. The fact that they were [for] so many years beyond the reach of railroads has had no power to check the growth of education. The community has grown and prospered by the mutual support of its own industries, and this prosperity has enabled it to provide even better educational facilities than are enjoyed by many a community which would appear to a superficial observer to be more favorably located. The preparatory training afforded by the public schools of the towns in the valley fits pupils for entrance into the best educational institutions on the coast.
    The scene that Moses viewed afar, when shown the promised land from Pisgah's height, is not so fair by half as the glorious visions of beauty that greet the traveler entering this lovely valley by whatsoever route he may. Coming down the slopes of the Siskiyous, by rail or wagon road, a bewildering succession of shifting views of the mountain-locked plains below salute the gladdened eye, their tints of living green fading into the purple of the distant hills to the north, and flanked by towering mountains clothed in somber, shadowing firs, with snow-clad peaks o'erlooking all, the massive Table Rocks standing like twin sentinels in the center. Nowhere on the continent is there a closer union of the pastoral and sublime in nature's works. Off to the east, Mt. Pitt, the most symmetrical of the Cascade peaks, seems majestic when viewed alone from the lower levels, but dwindles into insignificance, overshadowed by the frowning Shasta's summit to the observer on the loftier range of encircling hills. Peeping up from the northern horizon the snowy shaft of Diamond Peak pierces the azure, and midway between the two lesser watching peaks stands the shattered wreck of a mightier mountain monarch than Hood, Shasta or Tacoma--the mystic Crater mountain, only the hollow walls of which remain, its summit fallen in, and only the tip of the crater showing above the waters which fill the great volcano's extinguished furnace to the depth of 2200 feet--the deepest body of fresh water on the face of the globe. Towering cliffs of basaltic rock, 1500 to 3000 feet in height, surround this weird, uncanny relic of nature's warring moods, their blackened surface even yet portraying the fierce internal strife preceding the great convulsion which finally brought the mountain summit low. Through subterranean outlets the brooding lake is the source of three brawling rivers which seek the great Pacific through tortuous courses, and from the highest crags surrounding their several valleys can be traced for miles. Centuries of eruptions deposited a deep bed of scoriae and ashes over the plateau at the head of Rogue River, and for centuries since the volcanic fires were extinguished has been growing in this deposit one of the most wonderful forests of yellow, white and sugar pine, fir, cedar, tamarack and hemlock that exists anywhere on the Pacific coast.
    The upper Rogue River has never been logged, and the primeval forest awaits the developing hand of the woodsman and the capitalist, supplemented by a railroad over the Cascade divide east of Crater mountain, to become one of the greatest lumber regions in the country. The vast timbered plateau, as viewed from the heights surrounding, presents one of the most interesting scenes of undeveloped wealth to be found in the world. Aside from the picturesque grandeur of the mighty forest and the mystic lake, the upper valley is replete with natural wonders equaling those of the far-famed Yellowstone or Yosemite parks. The river runs for twenty miles through one of the grandest canyons on the continent, and rapids and waterfalls succeed each other for the entire distance. The tributary streams enter the main river either through rifts in the mountains--in the case of the south fork through a canyon 2,000 feet deep and but a few feet across at the top--or else leap directly down from the great plateau above, in many instances forming waterfalls of exceeding beauty. Immediately at the foot of Rogue River Falls proper, Mill Creek plunges down from the verge of the canyon in a sheer descent of 101 feet; and the view from the opposite shore of the river, including as it does the wild rush of foaming waters in the main channel, the mad plunge of Mill Creek to the boulders beneath, and the misty spray of the Bridal Veil Falls a few yards below, all framed in walls of living green and towering forest monarchs, is one long to be remembered.
    The quality of the productions of any country should be the gauge of its worth to the home seeker from the East who desires to escape the rigors of climate and losses by flood, drought and insect pests incident to the Atlantic watershed. The quality of the lumber from the southern Oregon forests, unshaken by winds for years at a time, has already rated it high in the markets of the world, while the fruit product of this coast, whether green, canned or dried, is graded far above the eastern article. Rogue River Valley only claims her dues when she asserts that in the matter of producing peaches, pears, cherries, plums, prunes and small fruits she is the peer of any section on the coast, while as regards the big red winter apple she is absolutely unapproachable. When to these advantages is added the fact that rates to the East from all common points in this section are the same as from common points in California, and the further fact that a much greater degree of immunity from insect pests is enjoyed than in our sister state, it will readily be seen that distance is no handicap here. Then, too, the marvelous precocity of fruit trees in this valley, usually yielding fair crops when but three or four years old, and enabling intelligent orchardists to realize quick returns from their investments, is an advantage which will readily commend itself to the discerning searcher for a desirable location for engaging in this industry.
    The leading occupations in the valley must necessarily for many years be lumbering, fruit growing, mining, stock raising and grain growing, ranking in importance in about the order named, although the superior water power now going to waste will doubtless soon be extensively utilized. A railroad down the Rogue River from eastern Oregon, tapping the great timber belt, passing through the lower valley, and down Rogue River to the coast, to deep water at Chetco or Port Orford, is attracting much attention at present from transcontinental lines and will doubtless be built within the next decade, thereby giving this valley a ready outlet to the trans-Pacific and Australian markets, where our fruit products are already highly appreciated. Port Orford only needs a breakwater to be the best deepwater harbor between the Golden Gate and Puget Sound.
    No slight advantage will result to this section from its adaptability to corn and hog-raising, in which respect it is certainly
superior to any other section on the coast. Hog cholera is as yet unknown in the valley. Poultry has also proven a great adjunct to successful farming here, and all the surplus finds a remunerative market in California, where the juicy broilers from Oregon rank far above the native product, which is rather dry and lacking in succulence.
    In choosing a home one naturally inquires about health, and the many surviving pioneers, the rosy-cheeked youngsters and robust children of a larger growth furnish ocular demonstration of the country's merits in that particular. There is scarcely a section in the foothills where consumptive immigrants have not completely recovered their health after coming to the county, while in the lower valley there are dozens of persons who have been gratefully relieved of asthmatic troubles and continue to reside here for no other reason than because of their immunity from this most troublesome disease, which they were unable to alleviate elsewhere.
    By a limited amount of attention to gardening every farm here can supply its own requirements with an array of toothsome viands in the shape of choice vegetables, small fruits and melons, that can scarcely be duplicated in any other country. Irrigation is not really necessary to produce the best results, but the dwellers in the foothills are beginning to realize the value of the many small streams that have long gone to waste, and their experiments have time and again produced yields of potatoes weighing from 4 to 6 pounds, onions exceeding 4 pounds, beets of 50 pounds, and melons in some instances weighing as much as 75 pounds each.
    Those who have had the breath of life well-nigh blown out of their bodies on the treeless
plains of Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota will find here a haven of rest, for beyond a grateful breeze which loiters through the valley in the warmer afternoons in summer, and daily recurring sea breezes which make the nights and mornings uniformly cool and pleasant, the wind gods seem to have abandoned all attempts to ravage this favored land, and such a thing as a cyclone or tornado is yet unknown. A rare thunder shower and a yet rarer cloudburst among the higher crags are the only reminders of the elemental disturbance of so frequent occurrence in the East. The storms of winter are but gentle, misting rains of a few days duration, followed by a burst of sunlight and a revivifying of nature that is undreamed of in like latitudes elsewhere. With the bursting out of the sunlight after the cessation of rain there is a chorus of bird music even in midwinter from the throats of the myriads of robins, meadowlarks, jays and other songsters that make their home in the valley, that is a constant source of amazement to the newcomer.
    With the decrease in the winter rainfall of the valley during the last decade there has been a corresponding decline in the output from the mines. Many a rich quartz "pocket" is struck each season, however, and the hydraulic mines but await a wet season to renew their former yield. There is plenty of gold-bearing gravel in the mining districts which will be worked out whenever there is a sufficiency of water to extract the precious metal. The former importance of the mines of southern Oregon can better be appreciated when it is stated that the output of gold alone in the last 35 years has been considerably in excess of $30,000,000.
    The conditions do not exist at present for the upbuilding of any very large towns in the valley, but ample trading facilities will always be afforded at the county seat, Jacksonville, and the numerous railroad towns, Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Central Point, Tolo and Gold Hill, while Eagle Point on Little Butte Creek, with its splendid water power privileges, is destined to someday be an important manufacturing village.
    The school and church privileges, as before stated, are good, while the press of Jackson County modestly lays claim to being the best in the state outside of Portland. It is certainly true that few counties anywhere can boast of more enterprising newspapers than the Democratic Times of Jacksonville, the Tidings and Valley Record of Ashland and the Mail at Medford.
    The discriminating home seeker from the East can find here what he wants in any line, and in addition to good health, good water and productive soil, can rest assured that he will not be altogether deprived of those amenities and luxuries which are popularly supposed to be confined to the older and earlier settled communities east of the Rockies. The right hand of fellowship will be extended by the sturdy pioneer and his descendants to their eastern brethren settling among them, and a happy home can be assured all good citizens from abroad, in this land of the setting sun.
Democratic Times, June 6, 1889, page 1

A Breezy Letter from the Rev. F. K. VanTassel--Some Scenes and Incidents.

    The Rev. F. K. VanTassel, who a year or so ago wrote a series of entertaining letters describing a "transcontinental trip," under date of August 15 sends the following, dated Ashland, Oregon:
    It is some time since I troubled you with a communication. It may seem proper, therefore, to give you a brief description of an outing I have just taken among the mountains of Southern Oregon.
    The climate having become unusually dry and hot, we formed a party and with team and wagon loaded with provisions and fixtures for camping out we started for a week's rest in a region about 30 miles from this city, called Dead Indian. Ashland is 2,200 feet above tidewater, and Dead Indian is 3,000 feet higher, so we had some climbing to do, although there is a good wagon road the entire distance, of much better than any roads I remember in Ulster County, N.Y. Our route lay through ranches and between foothills for some 15 miles, when the summit was reached and our weary team had an easier time as we went through dense forests of pine and fir on a comparatively level road the remaining part of the journey.
    The slopes on the side of the mountain toward town are mostly devoid of large timber. There are some oaks, alders, willows and manzanita shrubs scattered along the way, but as you near the summit the trees increase in size and number till, as you begin to descend into the Dead Indian country--for there is something of a descent--you are fairly surprised at the mammoth trees. There would be a fortune in 10 acres of this land if it stood near Kingston City. Firs and pines 250 feet high and five feet in diameter are thickly spread over this region. Sometimes there will be no limb to mar the perfectly straight body of the tree for the distance of 60 feet from the ground. This timber will be valuable someday, but at present it would not pay to cut and haul it to the railroad. Besides, it would take all the lumber would bring nearly to ship it on these western roads. Freight is about the same from San Francisco here as from New York here. Fourth-class freight is $1.70 per cwt. from New York, and the same costs $1.65 from San Francisco. This timber is also surprisingly thick. The boughs are often interlaced with each other, and I have seen it so thick that a square rod would contain six trees 30 inches through. Wouldn't some of our Ulster lumbermen revel in this forest?
    A stream of purest cold water ran through the small opening where we encamped, furnishing us with cooking and drinking water. But the chief attraction was the soda spring. This spring is rich in mineral elements, the principal ones being iron and soda. Southern Oregon abounds in soda and sulfur springs, there being a warm sulfur spring only one and one-half miles from Ashland, where is a bathing house, and two cold sulfur springs in the city limits, both having bathing houses near them. But oh, ye hunters! Here is the place for you to luxuriate. One of our next neighbors in camp went out one morning to a deer lick and came back with a fawn across his shoulder. He said there were eight there and he aimed for a buck but missed it and killed the fawn. A large cinnamon bear was also killed recently in the neighborhood. Coyotes abound also. They are mountain wolf with extremely large ears. They commit such depredations upon hen roosts and sheep folds that a bounty of $2.50 per scalp is offered, I understand, by the government.
    As to camping out, it is a fine thing, and as Abraham Lincoln used to say, for those who like it, it is just the thing that they like. But as for me, I prefer having "four square walls" for my environment by night, especially when you fear that some wild animal will come around and sample your flesh before morning. We made beds for the ladies in wagons covered over with canvas. This did very well, but we had to sleep on the ground, right out under the stars. The first night I used a log cabin without door or roof, in which I stretched a hammock and lay till morning began to dawn, when I arose, made a fire and looked at the mercury which indicated the degree of 36, almost a frost. It had been often 100 in the shade at Ashland and 90 at 7 o'clock in the evening. The next day I constructed a bough house of fir branches that made quite a comfortable place to sleep.
    The last night we spent five miles this side, but still in the Dead Indian country, where a large barn full of new hay afforded the gentlemen an abiding place for the night. Plenty of milk and rich cream were donated us by the lady of this ranch, in return for which we discoursed music for an hour by the light of a bonfire, having brought along such humble instruments as violins, flute, ocarina and banjo. We reached home Saturday towards evening delighted with our trip. Two others must soon be made, one to the shore of the Pacific and one to Crater Lake, each of them about 100 miles away, and in opposite directions.
Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston, New York, August 19, 1889, page 4

Acres of improved land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$1,192,374
Number of cattle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        10,119
Number of sheep and goats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        12,576
Number of swine  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          7,866
Number of polls  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          1,377
Value of land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$1,152,693
Town lots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      222,441
Improvements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      632,322
Mdse. and implements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      343,959
Money, notes, ac'ts. and shares of stock. . . . . .      470,048
Furniture, jewelry, carriages, etc. . . . . . . . . . . .        94,207
Value of horses and mules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      152,248
Value of cattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        16,755
Value of sheep and goats  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        19,758
Value of swine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3,235,347
Indebtedness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      686,971
Exemption. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      271,768
Total tax equalized by county board . . . . . . . . . .   2,254,557
    Jackson County embraces the upper valley of the Rogue River and is preeminently a hill country. Subtropical fruits, vegetables and cereals grow luxuriantly in the well-watered valleys, and the hard fruit and berries of a colder clime thrive upon the hills and mountainsides. Sharing the rich soil and a climate similar to that of Josephine County, it is equally prolific in luscious peaches and grapes and produces apples of a flavor that is simply unsurpassed. The finest lamb and mutton is produced on the natural grass grown in the woods, and the poultry, eggs, milk, butter and honey raised here are all that could be desired. Indeed, the growth in population and cultivated land has, for 1889, been enormous throughout Jackson County. A few years ago homesteads and farms and orchards were few and far between. Now the clearing of lands the planting of orchards and building of comfortable houses go on everywhere, and not a town in the county but is growing and prospering.
Though not the capital, is the largest town in the county. It reminds the stranger of one of those Tuscan towns which are picturesquely located in the ravines of the Apennines. South and east is a range of delightfully wooded hills, and north and west is another range less picturesque but equally lofty. The Southern Pacific railroad reaches Ashland from the south, through a ravine which the Rogue River must have carved for itself in the course of ages. It then winds along the valley to the northwest, disappearing through a narrow gorge. Ashland is the distributing point for the fruit of the surrounding country. From it peaches and apples are shipped to Portland and San Francisco, and it tells well for Ashland peaches when they fetch a higher price in the San Francisco market than the native-grown Californian peach. Indeed, peach-growing has become so profitable that the planting of peach trees amounts almost to a craze. An old settler told the Oregonian correspondent that until seven years ago the farmers used to produce only as much as would keep body and soul together. Now they can easily make over $400 an acre from peaches, and that with the supply the demand has gone on increasing. In consequence of the impetus given to trade by the new era of prosperity that is opening up for the farmers, Ashland is booming at an abnormally rapid rate. It has more than doubled in the past summer. A fine brick hotel was erected at a cost of $25,000; a beautiful opera house built of brick is just being completed, and in addition Ashland can boast of the finest water supply and the finest electric light system of any town in the state. The power for its electric system is derived from water, as is also the power used in its woolen and lumber mills. Ashland's business houses are mostly substantially built of brick and stone, and its private houses would do credit to metropolitan cities. Its villa residences, perched on the slopes of the mountain and surrounded by fruit and flower gardens, present a charming vista, and in summer time are fanned by delightful breezes, while the folks in the valley below are sweltering in the sun. Two new churches have also been erected within the past year.
Is the county seat of Jackson County and has a population of about 1000. It is five miles from Medford and about the same distance from Central Point, the nearest railway stations. In consequence of no direct railroad communication it has been placed at a great disadvantage, and is consequently not pushing onward with the rapidity of other towns in the county. It is, however, keeping its own and boasts the finest vintage in Oregon. Indeed, a very good connoisseur told me that he preferred Jacksonville wine to the finest produced in California, and as the industry is constantly growing, others must think so too.
Is the second town in Jackson County in enterprise and population. It appears to have made greater strides during the past season than those to be credited to Ashland, and the number of stores, residences and solid business blocks that have just been built prove that Medford is alive to the great chances that are in store for the wide-awake towns of Southern Oregon.
"In Southern Oregon," Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1890, page 18

Last revised April 27, 2017