The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1894

    Jackson County and the Rogue River Valley, Oregon.--Jackson County is bounded on the north by Douglas and Josephine counties [sic], on the east by Klamath and on the south by the California state line. Its total area is 1,809,200 acres, all but 200,000 acres of which is surveyed land. The population of the county at the present time is about 11,500. The surface of the county may be divided into three great divisions, as follows: the mountainous, the hilly and the level lands contained in the valleys. The higher elevations of the county, embraced in the mountainous portion, are of value principally for stock grazing. The lower elevations contained in the hilly portion of the county are covered with dense forests of timber, and the low lands contained in the valleys are highly fertile and will produce anything indigenous to the temperate zone, and all fruits or plants of a semi-tropical nature attain the highest state of perfection in these rich valley lands. The character of the soil varies in different parts of the county, and it is not an unusual thing to find several different kinds of soil on a farm of even 160 acres in this part of the state.
    The best part of Jackson County is contained in the famous Rogue River Valley, the most productive part of Southern Oregon. This valley is about 35 miles in length and maintains an average width of about 20 miles. It occupies the central part of the county and is crossed by the main line of the Southern Pacific railroad, which furnishes excellent transportation facilities to the farmers of this section. The valley derives its name from the river of the same name, which flows through it. Other important streams, which drain a large area of the valley, are Bear, Little Butte and Sams creeks. The soil of the Rogue River Valley is especially adapted to diversified farming. The climate is practically the same as that of Northern California, the frigid winter blasts which sometimes sweep down over Eastern Oregon being tempered here by the warm, moist breezes constantly blowing here from the ocean.
    The Rogue River Valley is essentially a fruit-growing belt. All kinds of semi-tropical fruits do well here, and the Portland market is principally supplied with peaches, melons and other fruit of this nature from this famous fruit district. Near Jacksonville are a number of very fine vineyards that are kept in a high state of cultivation, and wine made from the grapes of Southern Oregon vies in quality with some of the best productions of California wine producers. All the cereals, including wheat, rye, oats, barley and corn, yield large crops on the lands of the valley. The bottom lands of the valley are used largely for the growing of timothy, clover and bluegrass. Alfalfa produces here from two to four good crops without replanting.
    For the past 30 years gold hunters have found the mountainous districts of Jackson County attractive fields for prospecting. Placer mining claimed the whole attention of the early miner in this section. Valuable discoveries of gold quartz ledges have recently been made in the county. Capital has been interested in these mines, and large stamp mills are now being constructed to work the mines on an extensive scale. The future of the mining interests of Jackson County, as of all of the mining centers of Southern Oregon, seems brighter today than it has ever been before.

Edward Gardner Jones, ed., The Oregonian's Handbook of the Pacific Northwest, 1894, page 213

Another Entertaining Oregon Letter from the Pen of R. L. Andrus.

    ASHLAND, Oregon, Nov. 7, 1894. . . . The stranger here is struck with the number of people who spend large a part of their time in wagons. At this time of year and earlier they are making their way south. The old time canvas-covered lumber wagon, drawn by anywhere from two to six horses, and followed by as many more, containing a dirty woman or two, and and few or many dirty children, the same, more or less, of dirty men, is the sight many times a day. Some of them have cattle ranges in the mountains where they spend the summer and drive in for the winter, others work a farm in California for a season where they conclude it is too dry and so go up into Oregon to spend a year, and by that time they conclude it is too wet there and in the fall start back for California to winter and get a ranch for the next season. At night they camp by the roadside and sleep in their wagons. Many ride on horseback here and it is a common sight to see a farmer and his wife or daughter jogging into town on their horses. The horses are all broke to gallop, and when the boy gets on they "git."
    Chrysanthemums are just nicely in bloom here now and neatly every place is decorated with them. A chrysanthemum show was held here last evening by the young, people of the Epworth League. The decorations, all of these flowers, were superior to anything I have ever seen in extent, beauty and variety. We noticed a bouquet, arranged in a large basket containing sixty-seven varieties of them. The hall, a good-sized one, was a literal bank of flowers, arranged in figures and wreaths. Representations of fans, bicycles, pillows, anchors, harps, "the gates ajar," new moon, etc., were among some of those we can remember.
    The season of roses has just passed and some may be seen in the yards yet, but they are about gone. The people take [pride] in their flower gardens and in the fact that they can raise them in such profusion and beauty.
    This is a beautiful valley lying at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains, about forty miles long and five or six miles wide. It is in about the same latitude of Bolivar, and about sixty miles from the Pacific Coast. The climate is like that of California, dry in summer with rains through the winter. There is usually a few weeks in the winter of snow but it does not freeze, enough to make sleighing. Peaches, apricots, prunes, almonds, and all kinds of berries grow abundantly, and it is a natural apple country. The people at present are greatly discouraged over the pests that trouble the fruit, scale, moth, etc., but are investigating and trying all known methods to destroy them. They have also the discouragement of having to pay four cents a mile railroad fare and freight rates to correspond. Monopoly seems to curse this country in more than one respect. The millers of this valley buy the wheat of the farmers but refuse to grind it for them, and then charge them fifty percent, profit on the flour. They pay less than a cent a pound for wheat and sell the flour and graham for about twice that amount. If a dealer attempts to import flour they drop the price until he has to quit the business, and then put it to the former price. But the farmers are getting waked up to business, and that state of things cannot exist long. They have already a mill of their own in the lower part of the valley, but where relief will come from on transportation is a problem, for railroads cannot be built through these mountains, except with a great amount of capital.
    Gold-bearing quartz is found here in the mountains, but the uncertainty attending the development of a prospect and the expense of reducing it keeps men of ordinary means out of the business. A stamp mill is owned and operated here running night and day every day in the week. Ten horses haul the quartz to the mill and about thirty men find employment. The amount of ore produced is not published, so the profit is unknown.
Bolivar Breeze, Bolivar, New York, November 30, 1894, page 2

The Garden Spot of Southern Oregon--Important Fruitgrowing Section.

    The valley of the Rogue River vies with the famous Willamette valley in extent, and it is second to no other part of the Pacific Northwest in its productive powers and its attractive surroundings. It is situated in that part of Southern Oregon lying between the Cascade and Coast ranges of mountains. The verdure of this valley is always green, and is in sharp contrast with the parched appearance of the soils of northern California, just across the Siskiyou Mountains to the south. The soil of the Rogue River Valley is of such depth and so heavy in the deposits of centuries of decayed vegetation that it never dries out during periods of even the most protracted drought, and in its productive capacity it is the husbandman's paradise.
    The Rogue River Valley is about 40 miles in length, with an average width of 20 miles. It is watered by the river of the same name, which flows through it. The valley extends through the counties of Josephine and Jackson. Its soil is disintegrated basaltic rock washed down from the adjacent foothills, alluvial deposits and decomposed vegetation. Its fertility is remarkable, especially in its adaptability for diversified production. In color this soil varies from a black loam, shading to a brown on the hillsides, to a reddish, almost brick color in certain parts of the valley. This soil is of great depth, and, from the experience gained by more than 20 years of farming here, cannot be worked out. Basaltic rock is the base of the best soils of the Pacific Northwest, and where the disintegrated rock is found in such quantities as it exists in the soil of the Rogue River Valley it is the opinion of the scientific agriculturist that a century of constant cultivation will not lessen its productive capacity.
    In the high elevations of the mountain ranges encompassing the Rogue River Valley, snow lies on the ground throughout the winter months. Although these snow-capped mountains are in plain view of the residents of the Rogue River Valley, a snowfall in the valley itself is nearly as much a phenomenon as it would be in the streets of San Francisco. The soil is easily cultivated, and it is the ideal fruit growing section of the state. While fruit culture is the principal pursuit of the agriculturist of this section, the lands of the valley are especially adapted to diversified farming. Wheat grows as well here as it does in the famed Willamette Valley, and all the grains, hay and garden truck are raised in prodigious quantities. Corn does especially well here, owing to the richness of the soil and the warm, dry temperature of the summer and early fall months. Timothy, clover, bluegrass and alfalfa yield crops which impose on the credulity of Eastern visitors. Alfalfa in the Rogue River Valley has yielded four abundant crops during a single season. in the vicinity of Grants Pass, Woodville, Phoenix and the Applegate country, all situated within the valley, hop culture has received special attention, and the quality of the hops grown here is equal to that of the hops of the Puyallup Valley of Washington, and the yield in all cases is large.
    It is as a fruitgrowing section that the Rogue River Valley has claimed the most attention from visitors during the past few years. There is no fruit of the semitropical variety that does not do well on these lands. Peaches grown here are not excelled on the coast, while grapes, apricots and melons are of the same rich flavor as is noted in the best productions of southern California. The Rogue River Valley peach is the pride of the Portland markets, and Eastern visitors say that none of the primest varieties of the Delaware peach belt surpass it in quality. Melons from the Rogue River Valley are annually shipped to Portland and all the Willamette valley points in carload lots. The Portland markets are practically supplied with melons from this source alone. These melons are giants in size, and they possess the sweetness only found in melons raised on soils especially adapted to growing this fruit to its greatest perfection. Among the other varieties of fruits grown here are apples, pears, cherries, prunes, berries of all kinds, nectarines and grapes. The Oregon Bartlett pear brings a higher price in the markets of the coast than the California product, it being especially noted for its size, its abundance of juice and its remarkably rich flavor.
    Next to the peach, grapes have long been the most staple product of the rich soils of the Rogue River Valley. Experts pronounce the grapes of some of the Jackson County vineyards superior in quality to the finest grapes of California or even of the renowned vineyards of France. Time and experience alone are required to make the Rogue River Valley one of the greatest wine-producing sections of the coast. There is even today considerable wine made in this part of the state, but it is principally handled in a desultory way, and the output is not yet sufficient in quantity to insure the proper attention to storing it which alone will produce the
quality of wine demanded by the best markets of the coast.
    The productive capacity of the soils of the Rogue River Valley can be appreciated from the statement that figs, almonds, and even walnuts, are successfully grown here. While the cultivation of these products is not carried on to any extent, for the reason that other branches of fruit culture and agriculture have promised more profitable returns here, it may be well to note that a country which can successfully produce the diversified crops mentioned above approaches as closely to the limit of an ideal agricultural section as is reached by any of the most favored spots of the United States.
    The shipments of fruit from the Rogue River Valley today are heavy. These shipments are made principally in carload lots, and they find a ready market in nearly all parts of the Northwest. It is the quantity produced for shipment that is often the determining quantity in the success of the fruitgrower. A section that produces sufficient fruit to enable shipments to be made in trainloads will usually command a better price for its output than the community that is only able to offer sufficient fruit for shipment to fill a single car. Fruitgrowing will always be the principal industry of the Rogue River Valley, and, with the great demand that exists for fruit of the quality raised here, the returns from the industry will always be profitable.
    A demand exists at the present time in the valley for encouragement of fruit drying as a leading industry. Certain varieties of fruit can be sold more profitably in their dried state than they can in a fresh condition. Dried fruits are as staple as sugar or coffee in all the markets of the world. Fruit drying affords a profitable field for the investment of capital in the Rogue River Valley, and it is an industry that is certain to be largely developed in this section within the next few years.
    Southwestern Oregon is not a treeless waste. The hills surrounding the Rogue River Valley arc covered with a dense growth of fine merchantable timber. Many varieties of timber are found in the counties of Josephine, Jackson and Curry. The most valuable wood of this section, however, is the sugar pine. Forests of this wood are found in large belts, principally in Josephine County. As a finishing wood it is unsurpassed. A large factory for the manufacture of doors, sash, moldings and blinds has long been established at Grants Pass, and during the last year a branch factory has been established at Medford.
    The Rogue River Valley is worthy of the attention of immigrants who are in search of a rich farming belt where a mild climate predominates. Even California is not more favored in the matter of climate than is that part of Oregon embraced within the limits of the valley, and the remarkable growth this section has made during the past few years correctly forecasts what is in store for the community within the next decade.
    For full information concerning town property in Medford, or choice improved farms and orchards in the Rogue River Valley, communications should be addressed to Messrs. Hamilton &. Palm, at Medford. These gentlemen have for sale fine fruit orchards within easy distance of the town at low valuations, and these are offered for sale on the remarkably easy terms of $1.25 a week installments. The profits from these orchards accruing to the purchasers during the period that the installments must be paid will not only meet the purchase price, but will insure the purchaser a fair living at the same time.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1895, page 15

Last revised December 30, 2017