Jackson County 1899
OUR OREGON LETTER.The general wave of prosperity which has swept over the country the past year has made its beneficent influence felt in the valleys and on the hillsides of Jackson County. Immigrants from less favored localities have not hesitated to avail themselves of the opportunity to secure homes where the mild winters send the roots of cereals deep into the soil, ready for an early vigorous spring growth, and where the summer sun ripens peaches, grapes, pears, and the big red apples for which the state is noted. The immigration has been largest from the Middle States. People who have become tired of the blizzards, cyclones, hailstones and thunder storms of Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas have rejoiced to find a place where nature spends her energies for the good of humanity.
READ AND PONDER--IT WILL INTEREST YOU.
A Tar Heel on the Pacific Slope Compliments Our Piedmont Section--
Even Oregon Cannot Surpass it.
Editor Times-Mercury: If you will allow me the space in your excellent paper, I will write you a few lines from this part of the world. I have just been in this country long enough to begin to get acquainted with the country and climate. We have had an unusually cool spring so far, the temperature ranging from 35 to 60 deg. F., with some frost nearly every morning. But still the fruit crop is very little damaged. The pear and peach crop will be short in some places in the low grounds. There will be an abundant apple crop, which always brings a good price, and hundreds of carloads are shipped annually from this valley to European markets. The wheat is looking well in this country, and many of the farmers are counting on a yield of 30 to 40 bushels per acre.JACKSON COUNTY.
Forty years ago, the first grain crop 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 on the Portland market. With proper cultivation, wheat, rye, oats, barley and onions grow well on all soils and yield fine crops. The grain crops are free from rust and mildew, and 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. If the land is properly cultivated a good crop is assured. Irrigation is not used in the cultivation of small grain. Alfalfa yields abundant crops of hay, producing as much as 6 to 7 tons of hay per acre.
STOCK RAISING.The mildness of the climate and the healthfulness of the stock make this a favored section for stock raising. Some of the finest horses of the Pacific Coast have been raised in this country. Cattle are raised here without any feed during the year, but careful stock raisers usually provide hay to be used in case of emergency or a hard winter. Some winters are so mild that feed is not necessary. There are winters, however, that the ground is covered with snow for two or three weeks, and cattle then requires feed. Sheep raising is profitable when proper attention is given to the flocks. Hog raising is also a profitable industry, the hogs requiring but little feed. They grow and stay fat on an onion called camas, which grows wild in abundance on all kinds of soil.
CLIMATE.The climate of Rogue River Valley is a mean between that of Willamette Valley and California. As we have neither the excessive rains of the former nor the parching droughts of the latter. 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 rarely been known to reach zero in this valley since it was settled by the whites 40 years ago. Destructive windstorms never visit this valley. The rainfall ranges from 20 to 40 inches, and averages about 26 inches per annum. The principal part of this falls from November to April.
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF JACKSON COUNTY AND ROGUE RIVER BASIN.The county is 48 miles wide east and west, with an average length of 54 miles north and south. This area contains 2,592 square miles, or 1,956,880 acres. Of this amount 280,000 acres are in cultivation, which can be enlarged to a total of 550,000 acres. One third of the country 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 country is timber land. 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, all of which are in Jackson County. 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. 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 tablelands. The principal part of this valley land in Rogue River basin lies northeast and east from Jacksonville, and its altitude is from 1200 to 1400 feet above the sea level. Rogue River Valley lies in the midst of scenery of unsurpassing beauty. Looking from the summit of the hills west of the valley, we see fields of green and golden grain 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 "living green," and Snowy Butte towering 1100 feet above the sea, clad in perpetual snow. 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. And passing over a low range of foothills we find numerous small valleys through which flow streams of purest mountain water, with orchards, gardens and grain fields on either side. The soil of the main valley is principally composed of a dark, sandy loam, with strips of clay, gravelly and adobe (sticky) lands, which is very rich and productive, but is hard to cultivate on account of its sticky nature. The soil in the smaller valleys is usually of a rich, sandy loam along the streams, and of various qualities along the foothills.
Personally speaking, I like this country very well, and considering all advantages and disadvantages, I think this country is as good, if not superior, to any country I have ever been in. But still the "Tarheel" can never forget his longing for the ivy-twined verandas and clear sky of the Piedmont section of the "Old North State."
M. C. Hildebrand,The Times-Mercury, Hickory, North Carolina, June 7, 1899, page 1
Eagle Point, Oregon, 5-23-'99.
Next morning the train arrived at Ashland, 20 miles from the California line, the southern terminus of the Willamette Valley and as far south as the editorial train was to go. Here we were the guests of the people of Ashland at a bountiful breakfast served near town in the forest where tumbled and roared a stream direct from the snow visible on the mountaintops 10 miles away. It was a beautiful spot. The hospitable people of Ashland must have been up with the sun to have provided at that hour such an elaborate repast. While the company sat at the snowy, flower-bedecked tables, a lady orchestra made music. Hon. E. V. Carter made an address of welcome and Mayor Colton and others spoke. Col. Henry, president of the editorial association, responded. The visitors were driven about the thrifty town. Here are flouring mills, a woolen mill, planing mills, a quartz mill for working the ores from mines in the neighborhood, a state normal school, and the tabernacle of the Chautauqua association of Southern Oregon. The eating station, roundhouses and other appurtenances of [the] division end of the Southern Pacific railroad are located here. The town has an abundant supply of pure mountain water for domestic use, for fire protection, for power--all its factories and electric light plant taking their motive power from the stream which flows through the town.
Jackson County includes nearly all the Rogue River Valley. The people claim much for their climate--that it is a mean between the excessive moisture of the Willamette Valley and Puget Sound country at the north, and the scorching summer droughts of the California valleys of the south. The rainfall at Ashland, as shown by the government weather bureau, has averaged a trifle over 20 inches per annum for the past 19 years, and varies from 15 to 26 inches in different years, with enough moisture always to ensure crops. The minimum temperature recorded during that period was 2 degrees below zero. Such temperature is very rare. During 1896 the thermometer did not register lower than 15 degrees above zero.
The great industry of this country is placer and quartz gold mining, and the business is constantly increasing. Here we met the venerable David P. Walrod and his son, who were once residents of Sycamore, but who have resided in Ashland since the early '60s.
Turning their faces back northward, the editors reached Medford, also in Jackson County, in time for dinner. The party was met by a brass band and a large crowd of citizens and escorted to a grove, where a dozen long tables were spread beneath evergreen bowers, and a generous lunch of home-cooked viands was served by the ladies of Medford, who made everybody feel at home, and prominent citizens and officials told what an exceptionally fine place Medford was, and the editors replied, "That's so." The remarks about Ashland's climate and industries apply to Medford pretty well. Medford is located nearer the central part of the valley, and has the best of advantages as regards the trade of the county. It has a distillery, a brewery and ice manufacturing plant, flouring mill and planing mills. Medford also does a large business in the exportation of fruits. Jacksonville, the county seat, is 5 miles west of Medford, with which place it is connected by an independent railroad.
A half-hour stop was made at Grants Pass, where another brass band was playing a greeting to the visitors, and several hundred people, including many school children dressed in white, were on the platform. A fine mineral and agricultural exhibit filled the depot. It was one of the best the editors saw in the West. This county, Josephine, is rich in minerals, much of which is yet undeveloped and offers a good field for investment.
"National Editorial Association View the Northwest Coast Country," The True Republican, Sycamore, Illinois, August 5, 1899, page 1
Several Hundred Settlers, Principally Americans, Buy Homes.
Several hundred newcomers, the majority of whom are thrifty, intelligent Americans, have purchased land in the valleys. Their coming has not displaced former occupants, but has resulted in division of the larger ranches, thus paving the way for more intensive tillage of the soil. An encouraging feature of the immigration last year was that the great bulk of real estate purchases were cash deals. Many families are now making a comfortable living on small holdings of from five to 30 acres by raising fruits and vegetables. Last year several small fruit growers have realized $300 per acre from their crops. One grower of vegetables, A. L. Hazelton, of Eagle Point, marketed 40,000 pounds of onions from one and a half acres, and sold them for $450.
Orchard Acreage Increased.The larger orchardists are so encouraged by the prices received for their products that the acreage has been materially increased during the past year. A hasty glance at a few of the large orchards will give some idea of the extent of the fruit industry in the valley. The crop of Weeks & Orr yielded 550 boxes of apples, 2000 boxes of pears, 2000 boxes of peaches, 40,000 pounds of prunes, and 10,000 pounds of dried apples. Captain G. Voorhies will dispose of 6000 boxes of apples, 9500 boxes of pears, and 65,000 pounds of prunes. P. W. Olwell has 160 acres set with 12,000 fruit trees, which are beginning to be profitable. He will sell 10,000 boxes of apples and 1500 boxes of pears. This is about one-third of a full yield. His apples bring him from 90 cents to $1 per box on cars at Central Point, and his pears $1.25. He had in November 20 hands packing apples, and has had 60 in the busy season. In the immediate vicinity of Ashland 75,000 boxes of peaches of a superior quality were handled at a large profit. The soil and altitude of this section are peculiarly adapted to peach growing. The 21,500 boxes of apples, 13,000 boxes of pears, and 105,000 pounds of prunes from three orchards referred to, and the 75,000 boxes of peaches from Ashland orchards, are but a part of the fruit crop of this vicinity. There will be from 500,000 to 1,000,000 pounds of prunes sent out of the Rogue River Valley. Apples are shipped from here to all parts of the country, and many carloads are sent direct to London and Berlin, where they bring fabulous prices.
While Jackson County cannot be called an ideal dairy section, the output of butter is not only sufficient to supply home demands, but since the establishment of the Ashland creamery a large amount has been exported. Under the management of D. Perozzi, the past year 911,445 pounds of milk has been handled, which produced 41,803 pounds of butter, from which $10,000 was realized. Several thousand acres of alfalfa, yielding three crops of hay each season, besides much early and late pasturage, affords a sound basis on which to build a thriving dairy business.
Stockmen have prospered, and are making preparations for enlarging their herds, which find good range in the hills and low mountain ranges, with plenty of hay acreage in the valleys for winter feeding. Many large herds are driven over the mountains into Eastern Oregon for summer feeding.
Gold Mines Receiving AttentionIncreased interest in gold mining has marked the past year. In the early history of this county millions of dollars worth of gold was taken from rich placer mines, but as these were gradually washed out, newer fields attracted the prospector. With improved machinery for working the ore, backed by skill and capital, some 10 of the many rich ledges are now beginning to give handsome returns. Free-milling ore, running from $5 to $25 per ton, is found in many places. Some ledges run much higher. Capital is now being invested to work it, part of one mine having been bought for $125,000. Probably $500,000 of gold was sent out of the county during the year. For the purpose of reaching new placer fields and to furnish power for stamp mills, a company has undertaken the construction of a canal 93 miles long, the water to be taken from the Upper Rogue River. The lower parts of this canal will be from 300 to 400 feet above the valley, thus affording immense water power. There is a large area of tillable land adjacent to this canal which will become highly productive under irrigation. The irrigation ditches of the county have been increased so that there are now not less than 150 miles in operation, while the ditches, flumes and pipe lines for mining approximate 100 miles more, 25 miles of which were built in 1895.
Three evidences of unusual prosperity in the county are the number of mortgages paid off, the very small number of tax sales advertised, and the 300,000 bushels of wheat stored by farmers for better prices,
Demand for Good County Roads.The large amount of country produce handled has resulted in a demand for better roads, which has been met by a greater amount of permanent improvement than has been made during any previous year. Substantial turnpikes have been constructed at several important points, and graveled in such a way as to make good winter roads. An important road up Rogue River has been opened and improved, by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company, over which a powerful traction engine hauls from 20,000 to 30,000 feet of lumber each trip. A new bridge was built over the river to accommodate this business, but this, as well as the entire road, is open to the public, making an easy route to Fort Klamath and Klamath Falls, via Crater Lake. Thirteen thousand dollars was expended on the road and engine. Besides this lumber enterprise, several miles of small capacity were added during the year, so that the output of the county was over 2,000,000 feet.
Improvements in the Towns.The general prosperity in the rural districts has made a noticeable impression on the towns of the valley. This is especially true in Medford, Ashland and Gold Hill. Extensive street improvements and other public works have received attention in Ashland; Medford has increased the efficiency of her water works and introduced a sewer system; Gold Hill has just completed a fine water and power plant. The aggregate outlay for improvements, public and private, in the towns would not fall short of $200,000, yet there is a great demand for room, and rents have materially advanced.
G. A. GREGORY.Medford, Or.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1900, page 3
Last revised October 7, 2017