MILLION-DOLLAR FRUIT CROP SEEN
IN DAY'S TRIP FROM GRANTS PASS
Magnificent Scenery Presents Itself to the Eye and Good Highways Afford Excellent Route
for Automobile Outing--Early Morning Start Adds to Pleasure of Journey.
BY C. H. CLEMENTS.
GRANTS PASS, Or., June 28.--(Special.)--After the winter's work is over there is a general feeling to get out of doors and take a good view of nature. It is the springtime that everybody looks to for recreation after being enjoined to remain in office and home all the long winter days. Of course you are going to take a vacation, but where?
Then how are you going and how long will your requisition last? But never mind such long-drawn-out puzzling things. Take the first invitation some friend gives you and sally forth in a motor car. June is the proper time for making such raids into the country, as the rural scenes are at their best; in fact, in a fruit country like Rogue River Valley the promising crops have taken form, which in itself is a magnificent thing to look upon.
Then, too, the roads are not dusty and one may walk, ride or dash across a stretch of country in his machine at any rate and return with a face full of smiles, which beats all patent medicines for eliminating crows' feet.
Not long ago, on one of those bright days in June, I cranked my machine and with a four-passenger list of friends we were off without any definite aim other than a determination to see the Rogue River Valley, its orchards, farms, valleys and hay fields, and the abundance of wealth growing out of the ground through the medium of fruit trees, vegetable farms and mines.
Valley Covered in 100 Miles.Rogue River Valley by the aid of an automobile can be seen in a run of 100 miles, if your machine is kept on the highways and no side trips are made. Such a run would cover the Pacific Highway from Grants Pass to Ashland. While this is a straight figure, one can easily take time and augment it on side trips through the fruit section to 200 miles and never be amiss. The start from Grants Pass was made at 5 o'clock A.M. at a moderate gait, so that considerable sport might be enjoyed by shooting jackrabbits.
The morning air was filled with the fragrance of azaleas at various places along our route, and their beautiful cream and pink color blended with the green added zest to the joy ride. It must be remembered that at the sunrise hour songbirds of every description, of which there are many in Southern Oregon, were bursting their throats, each vying with the other in melody and harmony. The road from Grants Pass to Murphy is a lapse of seven miles and marked the first open settlement in the valley of the Applegate River, a tributary to the Rogue River Valley, and is one of the pleasant routes to take.
The whole of the Applegate Valley indicates a thriving community of diversified farming, dairying and stock-raising. Just before approaching Murphy, it was necessary to cross a considerable hill from which could be seen the watersheds of the Siskiyous that form part of the water system of Southern Oregon. The big ribbed canyons filled with cataracts and sparkling streams cast off the prismatic colors of the sun's rays everywhere as the sunlight reached the inner recesses of the mountains and valleys.
Prosperity Seen on All Sides.At Murphy after crossing the bridge the road sharply turns toward the east or up through the valley. It is this Applegate River that supplies the farmers with water for irrigation and domestic purposes and gives prosperity to one of Oregon's best taxpaying districts.
Passing up the valley, on every side, could be seen activity among the farmers. Frequently in coming in view of the house the chimney was belching forth its first smoke for the morning fire. Where once stood the log cabin and slovenly kept box house, there now appears the modern type of bungalow and most frequently water and sanitary conditions for domestic use.
The next stop after leaving Murphy is at Provolt, a pretty cross-country road station where the roads fork, the one leading to the right up Williams Creek and the other up the Applegate. Leaving the dust of Provolt behind, the road skirted near the river, and for the next half hour or so the machine rolled along among the big poplars and pines with visions here and there of rising mountains, giving out impressions of highland views. To the right could be seen Grayback Mountain, the home of the Josephine County caves, its sides and crown sheets covered with descriptive rivulets, cataracts and beds of snow.
At the end of 20 miles a halt was made at the Valley Pride Creamery, where a short rest was taken and the manager invited us to drink buttermilk. Not one glass, but all we wanted, and the want was strong, for the trip had been exciting in more than one way, and it seemed quite a little while before breakfast. The creamery is an excellent cement building, situated on the banks of the river in a beautiful grove. Everything that could be seen was scrupulously clean.
At the creamery the road crosses to the north side of the Applegate. The next five miles we hit the grit at a good pace, at the end of which the machine was halted under an array of fine oak trees, within 20 feet of which a high, swinging bridge was suspended across the river for neighborhood communication.
Breakfast Eaten in the Open.Beneath these large trees we all piled out for breakfast, hungry as bears. Campfire was soon started. Nearby strawberries and cream were procured, and bacon, eggs and steaming coffee formed the breakfast menu. An hour was spent in camp, and we were off again, forcing up the valley by water-grade degree. As the machine ascended the course of the valley began to narrow, and at the end of three or four miles what is commonly known as the Jacksonville Hill loomed up before us. Before approaching this hill, which is the only one of importance and forms the watershed between the Applegate Valley and Jacksonville, the road takes a long sweep, passing a large spring sequestered in a clump of willows. The Jacksonville Hill is very smooth and can be made with one change of gear. But it must be remembered that while the story runs smoothly, on the climb of the Jacksonville Hill the only accident of the day occurred, which was committed by a rear wheel picking up a screw. It was an open, hot roadway, and a lot of amateurs piled out to inspect what had happened. But with the aid of an extra tire and some illustrated booklet on how to take off and put on tires, the job was completed while one read and the other worked.
From the saddleback of the Jacksonville Hill, over which the roadway forms a dusty streak, may be seen Rogue River Valley in all its greatness and beauty. To the north could be seen all the lower valley, embracing Grants Pass, Rogue River, Gold Hill and numerous other smaller towns. Far to the east and southeast could be seen the historic Table Rock, one of the natural attractive monuments of the valley and around which centers much of Southern Oregon's early Indian history and the pioneer life. Prominent in the background could be seen Mount McLoughlin, flushed with the colors of the morning sun, with its dome hidden behind fleecy clouds which blended with the pure white snow that covered it far down its sides.
Off further to the right could be seen Mount Shasta, the sentinel of the Siskiyous, imposing, grand and beautifully clad in its winter coat of snow, undisturbed by the spring sunshine. These are some of the natural objects that greet the traveler. Beneath these and in the foreground of the kaleidoscopic picture could be seen miles and miles of orchards, distinctively told by the geometrical forms, whether they were pears, peaches or apples.
These long rows of trees, healthy, thrifty and well kept, manifested untold wealth, and I doubt if the owners of the orchards could group themselves on some high prominence and tell in figure what the Rogue River Valley's fruit crop will produce in dollars this year. It cannot be measured by carloads. Such a method is out of date. The situation is now to be sized up in trainloads.
In the center of the picture could be seen at our feet Jacksonville, rich in pioneer history and early mining lore. Over the top of Jacksonville could be seen the progressive city of Medford. Further to the right along the horizon loomed Ashland, guardian of the south entrance to the Rogue River Valley. Between Ashland and Medford could be seen Talent and Phoenix, a thriving section of the country's growth. Dotted over the valley we noted many wireless telegraph stations.
Down the sinuous road the machine shot on compression. The hill is quite long and steep from this side and requires careful driving. From Jacksonville to Medford is a stretch of about five miles, and that afforded an opportunity to try our machine for speed. The ride so far had afforded ample opportunity to view large fields of alfalfa, grain and fruit. Immense crops of hay seemed to be a part of every farm along the road.
From Medford to Ashland the Pacific Highway is in splendid condition and the 12 miles can be run in about a half an hour if one desires speed. The whole 12-mile course is lined on each side from the line fence to the retreating foothills with fruit trees. A long stop was made at Ashland where midday lunch was served in the city park, which is one of the pretty municipal spots of Southern Oregon, being cool, inviting and well kept, with a large stream, Ashland Creek, flowing through its center.
Choice of Routes Available.The return trip from Ashland to Medford may be made over the same road, or a triangular trip may be made toward Jacksonville, which offers a pretty view. This side trip we took as it brought us into Medford from a different angle. Following the Pacific Highway out of Medford a run of a few minutes landed us in Central Point. Here the road courses toward Tolo and strikes across the mountain gap. The road on the north side of this gap has a longer declivity and gradually swings down and down to the water grade until the machine shoots across the Gold Hill bridge.
Gold Hill in its name indicates its past history, but of late years the country has developed into considerable importance in fruit raising. Limestone quarries are its latest commercial interest. Just below Gold Hill the road forks again and one may pass to the south side of the river or continue on the north side. Both roads are good and again unite at Rogue River. Here the Pacific Highway takes the south side of the river and continues down through the industrial section until it merges across the steel bridge into Grants Pass.
The ride down the river was one of pleasure, and the whole day's run is worth any person's time with opportunity to gaze on a million-dollar fruit crop and perhaps that much more in dairying products, farm forage and livestock. It was all covered in one day's drive, and we arrived home better contented than ever and much wiser as to the resources of Rogue River Valley. It is not that which is far away that affords the greater pleasure, but that which is close at hand.
Oregonian, June 29, 1913, page C9
Last revised March 10, 2018