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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Jackson County 1909


First Trip to Ocean Recalled by Member of Museum Staff
    Editor's note: Mrs. Barbara Tucker, new to the staff of the Kerbyville Museum, has reminisced about an early-day buckboard trip from the Illinois Valley to the Oregon Coast. Her story was told to Marcia Brown, Mail Tribune correspondent.
By MARCIA BROWN
Mail Tribune Correspondent
    CAVE JUNCTION--Mrs. Barbara Tucker, Selma, has joined the Kerbyville Museum staff.
    Mrs. Tucker, who has been widowed for 20 years, has nine children, 42 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren. She has spent most of her life in the Illinois Valley, living on a ranch in Deer Creek.
    While reminiscing with Mrs. Tucker on the screened-in back porch of the museum, she told of the first trip she and her husband, Reuben, made to Crescent City, Calif. They had been married on Oct. 1, 1908, and had bought a half interest in the Deer Creek Ranch, in Selma, with S. M. Riggs as the other partner.
Trip to Coast
    Reuben had been talking of the wonderful crabs to be had at the beach in Crescent City, his wife recalled. Since she had been raised in prairie country, Reuben thought that she would enjoy the trip through the mountains and that she would be thrilled to see the ocean for the first time. So, one day in July of 1909 they set out in their buckboard hitched to their old horse and were on their way to the coast.
    The old horse was blind in his left eye, Mrs. Tucker said, which meant that traveling over the narrow mountain road alongside the deep canyons was rather a nerve-wracking experience.
    They camped at Stone Corral, on Whiskey Creek, at the foot of Oregon Mountain the first night after traveling over 20 miles that day. (Less than an hour's drive with the modern automobile and road.) They found a family of four already camped there and a great deal of excitement, as a large rattlesnake had been killed that afternoon.
    That evening the family decided to sleep in the wagon instead of on the ground, to be safe from any other rattlesnakes. How Mrs. Tucker said she wished that she and her husband had a wagon instead of the buckboard they were traveling in. But morning came, breakfast was eaten, and the couple were on their way again to Crescent City and the crab feed.
Road Rough
    That day the road was much rougher and more steep, canyons became deeper, and most of the curves following the canyons were very narrow, allowing only one vehicle at a time to travel in safety. There were turnouts wherever possible for travelers to stop and listen for bells on the harnesses of the lead horses indicating that freight wagons, a stagecoach or a pack train was approaching from the opposite direction and that they should wait at the turnout until the road was clear before continuing on their way.
    The stagecoaches on this road traveled between Crescent City and Grants Pass, making numerous stops to change horses. In some cases they stopped overnight.
    The Tuckers continued on until they came to the Wimer brothers' toll bridge, which was a log structure. The stringers were of heavy logs laid across the river with smaller logs laid crosswise over them for decking. The old horse picked his way safely across under his own power, but the dog was put into a sack and packed across to the other side. Mrs. Tucker said she didn't blame the dog for refusing to cross, as she didn't feel too good about crossing the bridge either.
    That night the couple stayed at the Adams Station, which was about a mile west of the present town of Gasquet.
    After staying several days at Crescent City, they drove on to Winchuck River, where they knew of a large patch of blackberries, enough so that they could pick berries for canning for winter pies and jellies. They set up their tent and had supper, looked over the berry patch, decided where they would begin their picking in the morning and went to bed early.
    During the night noises awoke them to find a large black bear rummaging in their foodstuffs. The bear walked away and wasn't seen again. But the Tuckers decided that it would be better not risking meeting up with him the next day in the berry patch, so they packed up and started on their return trip to their Deer Creek ranch.
    Mrs. Tucker recalled she had enjoyed seeing the ocean but that it didn't make up for the rough, hazardous country they had traveled through, and the fright of riding behind the old one-eyed horse along the deep canyons and narrow, twisting road. She said that she would not travel to Crescent City again until the new road was completed.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 8, 1965, page 10


OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBILITIES
OF MEDFORD, OREGON, AND ITS VICINITY

BY LUCILE ROOD CONRAD
    Mother Nature was good to the valley of the Rogue River, in Oregon, when she showered her choicest bounties upon it; and in the midst of this glorious valley she placed a little town called Medford. A rare and salubrious climate, a soil so rich as to almost surpass belief, beautiful scenery, mountains stored with coal, copper and gold, extensive forests of unestimated value, streams stocked with the delight of the fisherman's heart, "speckled beauties," quail, grouse, deer and bear in abundance, and the gateway to CRATER LAKE, the greatest natural wonder in the world--such, in the fewest possible words, is the condition in the famous Rogue River Valley, in Southwestern Oregon. If one were ever justified in lauding the wonders and possibilities of any land, he is certainly justified in giving this beautiful valley and its throbbing, wide-awake heart, the progressive city of Medford, a full measure of praise. The object of this article is to tell the readers of this worthy magazine something of the conditions existing here, that they may know and enjoy, if they will, this garden spot of the West.
    Perhaps it may be said that the chief pursuit is fruit-raising, and well it may be said, for at present there are about 50,000 acres set to fruit trees, and it is fully expected that at least 1,000,000 more trees will be planted during the next tree-planting season. The orchards vary in size from five acres to 1,400 acres, and apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, prunes and cherries are raised commercially, while strawberries, loganberries and currants form no small part of the fruit-raising industry. Probably the most celebrated fruits from the valley are the Spitzenburg and Newtown Pippin apples and the various varieties of pears. At the present time there are 2,500,000 young apple and pear trees alone in the valley. From 200 to 300 cars of apples are shipped out of Medford each year, and if the newly planted and prospering orchards which will come into bearing within the next few years are any indication, there will be thousands of cars of apples shipped out of Medford annually in the very near future. The effect of this great industry upon Medford and the valley in general is becoming more and more evident, and Destiny points its finger inevitably to a future of extraordinary promise. The very best thought of the brainiest men in Oregon, and in the United States, has been given to this horticulture since the possibilities of the business have become known, and no effort is spared on the part of the orchardists or the government to produce the finest and best grade of apples and pears from this valley that there are in the world. Time and space will not permit one to go into detail about these orchards, but the accompanying pictures will give some idea of the scene in an orchard on a picking day.
    Then there are the mines. Many localities have mines, but nowhere are they more thrifty than here. The Blue Ledge copper mine, on the California-Oregon line, is in an extremely rich stage of development, and it is tributary to Medford, owing to the plans of kind Mother Nature in laying out the valley. This is the pioneer mining district of Oregon. Gold was first discovered in Jackson Creek in 1851, bringing thousands of fortune hunters over the Siskiyous, and for years Jacksonville, which is now the county seat of Jackson County, and located five miles west of the present site of Medford, was one of the liveliest gold districts in the West, and is still a mining center. Marble is one of the chief sources of wealth. Sandstone for building purposes is found in several localities; cobalt, nickel, zinc, arsenic, graphite, clays, calcite of limestone, and also the rare metal, platinum, are found in the valley.
    The present upbuilding of the railroad facilities, the recent discovery and the development of coal, now under way, and the opening up of the largest sugar-pine timber belt in the world adds decidedly to Medford's assets. Rogue River furnishes enough power for every conceivable purpose, and its influence will be tremendous in the development of this great and rich territory, besides adding to the comforts and pleasures of life. Nearly every ranch is equipped with electric lights, which makes their lighting problem simple and easy and indicates something of the prevailing wealth of the community. I might also add that Medford claims the distinction of having more automobiles than any other city of its size in the world and that there are more typewriters used. This is not only the case with the city residents, but the ranchers as well are nearly all supplied with typewriters and automobiles, and it is a sight to the newcomers to see the number of automobiles from the country lined up before the eleven churches on Sunday mornings, having brought their respective owners to their places of worship.
    It is hard to realize that with the completion of the extension of the Pacific and Eastern Railroad, which is now being rapidly pushed, a new era of prosperity for Medford will dawn, and that it will tap one of the greatest timber belts in America. It is interesting to note that it is the largest body of standing sugar pine in the world and the largest body of timber accessible by a lateral road in the United States. This will inevitably mean factories and mills for Medford, which means payrolls and money in circulation. Some of the finest furniture material in the world today is accessible in this little city among the mountains.
    Dear to the heart of all hunters and fishermen, and, it is almost safe to say, dear to the heart of every man and boy in the United States, here in abundance may be found what so many lovers of the gun seek for in vain--unlimited, diversified shooting. Quail, Chinese pheasants, mallards and teal, pigeon, ruffed grouse and mountain quail are some of the winged game that you can see on any bright fall morning a few miles out of the city, and the woods are full of deer and bear. So plentiful, in fact, are the deer that a large doe was shot and killed last October in a pear orchard within one-fourth of a mile from the city limits. The numerous streams that abound through this section are all well stocked with gamy trout, and the jackrabbits hop up and run along beside you if you go for a stroll outside of the business center of the city.
    But, no matter how fertile a valley, how prospering the country may be, it must needs have an outlet to the outer world and a shipping point for the output of the produce and a thriving, throbbing heart for a business center--in other words, the concentrated activity of the people at large. Rogue River Valley has this in the city of Medford, situated on the banks of Bear Creek, surrounded with green fields and blossoming orchards, doing justice to the most critical of artists, beyond the art of artificial reproduction or the power of descrip­tion by the author's pen. A climate that raises roses nearly the entire year, fresh strawberries on the table eight months in the year, with an invigorating atmosphere that refreshes, and a cool breeze that braces, makes Medford an almost ideal place in which to live. The paved streets, brick business blocks, banks, eleven churches, good schools, well-stocked and modern stores, abundance of fruit and vegetables at any and all seasons, and its remarkable healthfulness as shown by vital statistics, are only a few of the conditions that exist in Medford.
    The government recognizes the possibilities in the great Northwest, where its projects cover nearly a million acres and each year marks a new era of development and civilization extended to the remotest corners. Now that the worst stages of development are overcome and railroad facilities are theirs, it is the man that comes in and helps make known the unlimited advantages that will reap the harvest of finances. The earnest, energetic, hustling business men of the East and Middle West are gradually looking towards the coast, as their grandfathers flocked to the Middle West in the earlier dates. It is quality that Medford and the Rogue River Valley are seeking, and they can justly pride themselves now on having the fewest foreigners of any city of its size along the coast.
    With our fruit industry growing every year to an enormous size and bringing almost incredible results from the market, with our coal supply coming on immediately after the United States geologists have stated that there is only enough coal in the United States to last another hundred years, our unlimited supply of the most marketable timber in the United States and the other most natural resources make this inevitably a place with a future hard to realize.
    And last, but not least, this is the natural gateway to CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, a park set aside by the government covering 249 square miles and comprising one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, and the only one that historians, geologists, botanists and zoologists alike are baffled on, that seems to have no history, no base for history back of the past few years. That it is the rim of an old and extinct volcano, one that has blown itself out, and that it is filled with the clearest and coldest water, clear as crystal, with no visible outlet or inlet, is known to be true, but why it is true is a question that hundreds of intelligent men have failed to solve. The lake is oval in shape, six miles long and four miles wide, with a depth of from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, and so clear the bottom can be seen in places. The water is pure and cold and sweet. Snow men can be made and flowers picked from the rim of the lake in July; the place is filled with interesting places, and the legends told of it by the Indians and the early white settlers would make a book in itself. Scenery seldom surpassed for its naturalness, its wild, tumbling, happy-go-lucky, rollicksome spirit, must be gone through to reach the lake from Medford, which is the natural railroad point to the lake. It is here that campers and tourists prepare for the journey and start on this most interesting trip. Splendid hunting grounds and camping places are en route, and the trip itself is one of unceasing delight from start to finish, with this wonderful lake for a climax. The freedom of development and the unlimited beauty and grandeur and advantages invite inspection and settlement in this great Northwest, and it is the purpose of this magazine and this article to invite its worthy readers to participate in this opportunity and investigate it with the purpose of settlement and location in some of the healthful and delightful homes on the coast. Medford's advantages are most apparent.
The Progress Magazine, Chicago, August 1909, pages 51-53


The Rogue River Valley and Medford
Impressions of a Californian Who Made a Discovery in Profitable Horticulture
That Caused Him to Sit Up and Take Notice.

    OAKLAND, Cal., July 26--(To the Editor.)--I have just returned from a trip to your state. Great country, especially that region surrounding Medford. Mile after mile of orchards, the ground as free of weeds as a city pavement, trees loaded down with fruit of the varieties which the wealthy people of Atlantic Coast cities and of England crave and are ready to pay for, even to the extent of seven or eight or nine dollars a box, a valley ten miles wide and 30 miles long of soil capable of producing that sort of fruit and on either side of this valley the sides of the mountains covered with forests--there is a picture calculated to stir the blood and to increase confidence in the future of this Pacific Coast empire.
    In the midst of this valley is the town of Medford. (The advertising matter distributed by the alert business organization call it the City of Medford). It has a population of something like 6000, three banks whose business is so prosperous as to encourage the establishment of a fourth, the building for which is now in course of erection, two daily papers which would be a credit to a community of much greater size, a newly installed water system providing an abundance of cold, clear water from the mountains, and at rates so cheap as to astonish Oaklanders who have been paying more for water than for bread, a mild climate and everybody busy and happy. Fortunate people, those Medforders. However, there is some confusion in my mind as to the exact number of automobiles the residents of the town and vicinity own. One man fixed the number at 125, another at 150 and a third at 175. Whatever the truth of that matter may be, they own as many as they need, I judge, and when they require more they will buy them.
    Another matter which was not made exactly clear to me is as to who it was that planted the first orchard in the Rogue River Valley. "I am the pioneer in this business," said a man who looked as though he had a proper regard for the truth as a general proposition. "My brother and I planted the first orchard set out here," remarked another. "Our father was in the nursery business back East and we understood the business of fruitgrowing before we came here."  But on a moving advertisement of John D. Olwell displayed in front of his real estate office is a proclamation which goes still farther. He announces in type so large that not only "he who runs" but also he who walks and he who stands still may read that John D. Olwell is the leader in the orchard business in that locality, that 20 years ago he planted the first orchard at Medford and that, 14 years ago, he began the shipping of fruit to European markets. I am inclined, under all the circumstances, to give credit to Olwell as being the real, the simon pure, pioneer in this industry which is revolutionizing business methods in fruitgrowing on the Pacific Coast. I rode out in his machine on a tour of several miles and his conversation was such as to give confidence in his regard for the truth. But for one brief moment that confidence was shaken. Pointing out a particular portion of an apple orchard he remarked, "The net profit on those trees last year was $2200 per acre." I have read many stories about California fruit profits--and, indeed, have written a good many myself, but never tackled so severe a strain as that and never read of so marvelous a profit in this state, or any other, in fruitgrowing.
    The agent of a big nursery company of Salem told me that 60 per cent of the fruit trees of the state were in the Rogue River Valley. A Mr. Schenck, a Seattle merchant, said that he and two others had recently paid $60,000 for fruit land 12 miles north of Medford, a part of it in bearing, and that they were so well pleased with the investment that they intended to increase it. Near the town is a fine orchard owned by Mrs. Pullman, of Chicago. A local pastor is credited with the remark that in his congregation may be found former citizens of every state in the Union, and there are so many ex-North Dakota people that they have organized an association. No attention is paid to the raising of apricots, prunes, peaches or grapes in the vicinity of Medford, as commercial propositions. The soil, climate and conditions generally have been found to be peculiarly adapted to the growing of Newtown Pippin and Spitzenburg apples, both excellent keepers and of fine flavor, and the profit in shipping these has proven so great that there is no temptation to raise any other variety. The local conditions have also been found adapted to the successful growing and handling of a few varieties of pears, and the list is not extended by the big orchardists.
JOHN T. BELL
Oregonian, Portland, August 1, 1909, page 50


MEDFORD'S APPLE FUTURE ROSEATE
Products Will Tax 8000 Cars in 8 Years, Says Judge Colvig.
250,000 TREES WAITING
Booster of Jackson County Metropolis Says District Is Best
for Fruit Zone Rich in Varied Resources.

    "In eight years, or just as soon as newly-planted orchards come into bearing, 8000 cars will be required to transport the fruit products that will be offered for shipment from Medford," said Judge W. M. Colvig, president of the Medford Commercial Club, yesterday. "During the coming season 250,000 pear and apple trees will be planted in the vicinity of Medford. I could say that the number of these trees to be planted in 1910 will be 500,000 and not be exaggerating the truth very much, for two nurserymen have told me that each has sold over 100,000 trees for delivery to Jackson County horticulturists after the first of the year. My estimate, that the number will be a quarter of a million, is extremely conservative."
200,000 Acres Fruit Land.
    "There are 1,886,000 acres of land in Jackson County, and it would be largely a guess for me to say how much of that area is capable of being planted to fruit, but of that amount I can say positively that over 200,000 acres of tillable land is well adapted to pears and apples. In addition to this there is a large area that can be made tillable and equally productive.
    "The apple is a fruit that does not succeed in countries having warm winters, because if the sap in not sent down to the roots of the trees, the fruit always is mealy and stringy and is not a good commercial product. We need frosts and cold weather, but the weather must not be too cold. The apple is not an extreme northern nor a southern fruit, but thrives in a well-defined temperate climate such as we have in Jackson County, where irrigation is not an essential to the successful growing of the finest quality of fruit.
Timberland Good, Too.
    "Situated in Jackson County there is also to be found the largest body of sugar pine timber in the world. The bulk of this timber lies in the Upper Rogue River Valley, and when it has been removed the land will prove of great value for fruitgrowing purposes.
    "The county is also rich in water power resources. Mr. Horn, of the New York copper syndicate, has expended more than $300,000 in developing the Blue Ledge copper mine, located on the headwaters of the Applegate, 35 miles from Medford. This mine is virtually a mountain of solid copper, and has been practically inaccessible. The building of a railroad that will pass this valuable property is now assured by J. R. Allen, of New York, who recently purchased the Pacific & Eastern.
Road to Cross Range.
    "This road has been built 14 miles out of Medford, and active construction work is being prosecuted. We have the assurance of Mr. Allen that the road will be built, not only to the mine, but across the Coast Range and down the Pacific Coast to Crescent City, Cal. Not only are we assured by Mr. Allen of a railroad to the west, but he recently announced at a meeting of our Commercial Club that when he had finished building the railroads he had projected, the people of Jackson County would have a railroad to the east as well. This statement from the builder of this road is taken by us to mean that he will construct a line that will connect with the Hill or Harriman road into Central Oregon. We are inclined in Southern Oregon to suspect that Mr. Allen is identified with the Hill interests, and that his operations in our section of the state are in reality a Hill enterprise.
    "I do not believe any other section of the state possesses greater resources than are to be found in Jackson County. We are not dependent on our agricultural interests. Our timber, mining and horticultural resources are contributing their share to the substantialprosperity of the entire state."
    Judge Colvig is a booster of the old school, but he is nonetheless enthusiastically aggressive in preaching the wonderful possibilities of Oregon to the homeseeker. He is numbered among the pioneers who braved the hardships of a journey across the plains and came to Oregon in 1851. With the exception of about 13 years spent attending college in the East, and service in the Union Army for three years during the Civil War, Judge Colvig has resided continuously in Southern Oregon, where he is a prominent lawyer, an honored and respected citizen.
Medford Boosters Abound.
    "Medford is a thoroughly cosmopolitan city and contains as many boosters to the square foot as any other section of the state," continued Judge Colvig. "Not long ago the Commercial Club decided to raise a publicity fund. In one afternoon between 1 and 6 o'clock we raised $2500 for that purpose, and within a few days the fund was increased to $8400. Our club has a membership of 275, but we expect to increase this soon to 400. Based on the school census, Medford has a population of 6500. As an evidence of the general prosperity of the county, I might refer to the fact that the present assessed valuation of Jackson County property is $26,000,000. Seven years ago, the total of the assessment roll was only $5,000,000. An increase in assessable values of $21,000,000 in seven years we regard as a record that defies duplication by any other county in the state."
Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 28, 1909, page 16



Last revised April 11, 2018