The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1915

Productive Rogue River Valley and Jackson County, Or.
    A land of many and diversified resources, of great mineral and timber wealth, of rich agricultural and horticultural possibilities, with a climate combining the sunshine of California and the moisture of Oregon--a fertile valley set in the midst of a scenic wonderland--all that Nature can offer to make life worthwhile, is found in Jackson County, Oregon.
    Medford and Ashland, her two largest cities, are metropolitan. The country well improved. The population of more than average intelligence. The products are varied and many. Some of her resources need more capital for development, and the land a more diversified and intensive cultivation.
    The county is bordered on the east by the Cascade Mountains, on the west by the Coast Range, the Rogue River Mountains on the north and the Siskiyou Mountains on the south. In the heart of this mountain-protected area is the Rogue River Valley, which has earned world fame for its pears, apples and other fruits.
    From the level floor of the valley, sloping benches and rounded hills lead up to the mountain ranges, heavily wooded with yellow and sugar pine, fir, cedar, oaks and laurels, with now and then a snow-capped peak 7000 to 9000 feet in height. The climate may be described in one word as "moderate"--about half way between the humid Willamette and the sunny Sacramento.
    In the '50s and '60s some of the pioneer settlers set out family orchards. Gradually it became known that the quality and quantity of the fruits were exceptional. The orchards developed, and Rogue River Valley fruit began to win prizes and command fancy prices in New York and in London. This led to a planting of a very large orchard acreage--and today the Rogue River Valley is one of the most successful orchard districts in the United States.
General Farming.
    General farming is receiving much attention, for it is realized that the high specializing in fruit growing should be balanced with diversified and intensified farming, stock raising and dairying.
    Corn is rather extensively grown, a considerable portion between tree rows in young orchards. While the nights are more cool than in the typical corn states of the Middle West, yet good yields are regularly harvested and as high as 108 bushels to the acre has been grown, and it is not uncommon to have it reach a height of 13 feet. The average yield is 27 bushels and average price 70 cents.
    Alfalfa is profitable and when the year is favorable as to rains and on good sandy and gravelly loams, yields of four to six tons per acre have been grown without irrigation year after year. Along the creek bottoms, where water is easily diverted, much acreage is in alfalfa. The combination of corn and alfalfa make a perfectly balanced ration for feeding and fattening stock and is now considered staple.
    The dairying industry has not yet begun to approach its possibilities. Movements have started toward bringing in blooded dairy cows to the valley, the farmers cooperating with the bankers, who assist in financing the scheme.
    Professor James Dryden, of the agricultural college, said, "I know of no section in the United States that is more favorable in a climatic way for the raising of poultry than the Rogue River Valley. You have no extremes of temperature, a moderate rainfall and abundant sunshine." Poultry raising has become a profitable side line with orchard care. As Oregon has 200 carloads of eggs and large quantities of poultry shipped in annually, it is a good idea to go into the poultry and egg industry extensively--especially if you can produce your own grain and feed.
Specialized Fruit Growing.
    Fruit growing is the leading industry and Rogue River Valley fruit is known around the world. Sixty-five thousand acres are now planted to orchard. In the year 1913 the total output of apples and pears was 1150 cars, and the net returns reached well above $1,000,000. New orchards are 80 percent pears and the different varieties have been sifted down to seven varieties--Bartlett, Howell, Anjou, Comice, Bose, Winter Nelis, which are here arranged in the order in which they ripen. Of the pears one-fourth are Bartletts, one-half Bosc and Anjou, and the remainder about equally divided between Comice, Nelis and Howells.
    The two commercial varieties of apples are the Newtown and Spitzenburg. The Newtown, the favorite, notwithstanding the fact that several much-coveted prizes have been captured by Rogue River Valley Spitzenburgs, including the sweepstakes prize at the Spokane National Apple Show in 1909, in competition with all apple growing districts of the Northwest. A carload of Newtown apples was awarded first prize at the Canadian Apple Show in 1910.
County Orchard Protection.
    A horticultural expert is retained by the county and a perfect orchard protection is maintained. Deputies devote their time to inspecting orchards and products, and all diseases are attended to. They are aided by a large force of volunteers, scattered through the valley, who report to the supervisors. This activity has absolutely controlled the pear blight.
Frost Protection.
    Another phase of orchard work is frost protection during the blossoming period. On the slopes and foothills, where air circulation is good, killing frosts are unknown, but in some parts of the valley floor orchard "heating" or "smudging" has been found efficient. A system of frost warnings are worked out and orchards are equipped with apparatus for hasty lighting, as the danger temperature approaches between midnight and daylight. Training schools for packers are conducted each year, and pickers and packers are assigned to the different orchards. Large storage warehouses are built, combining pre-cooling and dry storage, with a capacity of 100 cars.
Orchard Profits.
    There is a wide range between the highest average price per acre by the best orchards and the returns of the poorer. It is difficult to arrive at an average, but, safely speaking, a well-cared-for commercial orchard will net on an average of from $250 to $500 an acre. High records could be quoted, and figures verified, from orchards that have averaged $1000 an acre for several years. This proves possibilities under the best of market and crop conditions and good management.
Growing Berries.
    All varieties of berries bear prolifically, especially the loganberry and strawberry. Two canning factories have now been established and offer 4 cents a pound for all the loganberries raised. Two crops of strawberries are grown, the second crop ripening in October. The hope of the valley is canneries and evaporators and there is room still for great expansion in that direction.
Market Growing Products.
    The valley has an extended reputation for melons and cantaloupes. Brown Bros. came to the valley three years ago and decided on raising cantaloupes for the market. Their yield and returns the first year was 300 crates to the acre.
    Tomatoes do especially well, and one cannery has signed up 40 acres for 1915. Gardening has been much encouraged by the establishment of public city markets in Medford and Ashland, where the producer sells direct to the consumer, both parties being mutually benefited.
    The soil of the valley floor as a rule retains moisture remarkably, especially if well cultivated, and matures tree fruits and cereals. But wherever irrigation is practiced the results amply justify the expense. For intensified cultivation the greater part of the valley requires water to get best results. On some shallow soils water is absolutely necessary, and remarkable crops of vegetables and small fruits are raised on very shallow soil with the aid of the irrigation ditch.
Dry Farming Possibilities.
    Certain districts in the valley are adapted to dry farming. The average rainfall is 28 inches. The season is early and many crops mature before the summer season of light or no rainfall arrives.
    D. M. Lowe, of Ashland, raises over 500 different products each year on one ranch. He dry farms, and his collection of products have won special prizes with entries from four different states of the Northwest and he now has a display at the Panama-Pacific Exposition of over 500 products raised on his farm last year.
Aids for the Newcomer.
A number of aids are at the disposal of the new orchardist or farmer coming to Jackson County. The county pathologist, Professor Henderson, stationed here, offers advice regarding fruit growing. Another agency is the county demonstration farm, under the direction of Professor Reimer, who determines the relative worth of plant varieties for certain types of soils. Some 50 varieties of pears were found growing here and they have now been cut down to seven or eight. Cover crops and fertilizers are tested; best varieties of potatoes and corn are used.
Land Values.
    The greater part of land values is based upon fruit possibilities; cheaper lands are found in the outlying districts. The highest priced raw land is adjacent to some matured orchard, which has proved its commercial worth, and the prices vary from $50 to $200 an acre. The cost of planting and caring for an orchard for six or seven years is about $100 an acre; at this age it brings some returns and increases rapidly until at 12 years large profits are realized and, if well planted and cared for, command $600 to $1000 an acre.
    No allowance has been made for crops between the tree rows up to the bearing age. Corn is largely grown, and the greater part of the corn is so produced. Cantaloupes, melon, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables are profitable fillers. The climate may be judged by the location and surroundings; being west of the Cascades, at low altitude, the valley has the same mild climate found along the Coast from Puget Sound to Southern California, due to the influence of the warm Japan ocean currents. The winter months are mild, with little snow, which usually melts rapidly. The 28 inches of rain comes from October to April, with occasional showers during the summer.
    There is an average of 270 days of sunshine and there is always an evening breeze. The humidity is very low. The hottest days in summer the humidity is between 15 and 20. The nights are cool. The average minimum temperature during the winter is just below freezing or 31 degrees. Damaging winds are not experienced.
Water Resources.
    Water available for irrigation and power is one of Jackson County's valuable resources. Rogue River and its tributaries drain the entire area, and according to the State Engineer, has 300,000 horsepower, with a total annual runoff of 3,200,000 acre-feet of water, so Jackson County has an abundance of water for all purposes. The large planned irrigation projects started are yet uncompleted. 
    It is estimated that 2000 acres of land is irrigated by means of electric pumping, and alfalfa fields of 100 or more acres are irrigated. The cost of pumping varies, according to the lift and size of plant. The cost to raise one acre-foot 100 feet by electricity is $2.80 per year, and the cost of the plant, $5 to $10 per acre.
Water Power Development.
    One of the large prospective uses for electric power is for electric roads. The largest developed power plant is at Prospect, where 7000 horsepower is generated. This is capable of expansion to 40,000. One hundred and twenty-five families in the valley cook with electricity; 80 per cent of the total county population use electricity for lighting, as the service is extended into all rural districts.
Timber Resources.
    Two-thirds of the acreage of Jackson County is classified as timber land. 850,000 acres is privately owned, 427,000 acres in natural forests. The estimate of merchantable timber has a total of 23,000,000,000 feet and contains some of the largest standing bodies of sugar pine found in the United States. Comparatively little use has been made of the timber resources up to this time, as only a few small mills have operated.
    The mineral resources of Jackson County are first among all the counties of the state, according to special investigators of the Oregon Bureau of Mines and geology. The placer gold fields of Southern Oregon have yielded $150,000,000 since their discovery.
    Large coal deposits are now being thoroughly tested. These veins range from 8 to 12 feet in thickness.
    Building stones offer an inviting field to the developer, which include granite, sandstone and marble from pure white to black, with grain rivaling Vermont quarries.
    The great need toward the development is a road to the coast, only 100 miles, where it could be loaded upon transports with wide market possibilities.
    Special opportunities might be summarized and emphasized as:  Lumber mills and box factories, alfalfa meal mills, additional fruit and byproduct plants, creameries and beet sugar factories.
Good Roads.
    September, 1913 Jackson County voted $500,000 for the construction of a modern, first-class, hard-surfaced highway more than 50 miles in length, through the Rogue River Valley. A unit of the Pacific Highway from British Columbia into Mexico--Jackson County was the first county in the state to improve this unit of the highway--a leader in the agitation of good roads in Oregon. We have 17 miles of the highway completed and 13 miles over the Siskiyou Mountains graded and will be hard-surfaced early this summer.
For the Tourist.
    Jackson County offers many varieties of mineral springs, mountain steams with unrivaled fishing, wildernesses with deer, bear and cougar, historic Table Rock, Mill Creek Falls and Crater Lake, one of the scenic wonders of the world, with Medford the gateway, and just across the line in Josephine County are the Marble Caves, promising when fully explored to equal the caves of Kentucky.
    Rogue River offers royal sport in fly fishing for steelhead (rainbow) trout, weighing from 3 to 10 pounds.
    Medford, with an estimated population of 11,000, is located in the center of the valley and the most important financial, trade and shipping point, and is now a jobbing [wholesale and distribution] city. No city the size of Medford has a greater length of first-class paved streets, having a total of 22 miles, 29 miles of sewers, 28 miles of water mains, 28 miles of cement walks, and a 30-mile gravity water system costing $275,000. The city is supplied with gas, electricity and power, and has several four-story office buildings, a public park, a $20,000 library, a $140,000 hospital, a $75,000 natatorium, several fine hotels--one five stories, erected at a cost of $125,000--four banks, a $50,000 opera house, the key station of the United States Weather Bureau, splendid stores, a federal building now being erected at a cost of $110,000, five large schools, an academy, 11 churches, 20 lodges, a College Woman's Club, a University Club representing 43 colleges, a golf and country club with 100 acres of ground, an active Woman's Civic Improvement Club and Commercial Club. Two modern daily newspapers and an electric streetcar system.
A Land of Plenty.
    If one were ever justified in lauding the 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 people from outside, that they may know and enjoy, if they will, this garden spot of the West. Those who live there know of no other place so attractive--none with such possibilities. The writer has endeavored rather to underestimate than to exaggerate, knowing that so much can be said in favor of this favored valley, that even the plain, unvarnished truth would seem to some as the limit of exaggeration.
Heppner Gazette-Times Home and Farm Magazine Section, May 6, 1915, pages 2-3.  This preprinted section was distributed with other Oregon newspapers as well.

Earl Ralston, Inspired by a Recent Oregon Epistle to Reflector, Also Writes, Enlarging Upon Farm Home Outlook in His Adopted State--Does Not Wish to Mislead and Speaks Frankly.

Medford, Oregon,
    June 24, 1915.
Dear Friend John:
    Just received the last issue of the Reflector and read with much pleasure the communication from Oregon from a former Argosite whom I do not quite remember as being one of my acquaintances, but nevertheless appreciate him as a Hoosier, especially one who has seen fit to venture out as far west as Oregon in quest of a home, and while I do not want to discourage him, especially as a prospective settler of Oregon, I feel that it is my duty to my native friends to somewhat disagree, or rather enlighten them in regard to the possibility of securing a desirable homestead in Oregon.
    One naturally would think that a homestead is merely a gift of nature; that by filing upon a section of land, making a few improvements, residing there for a certain period of each year that you have acquired for very little effort a home, a farm; the products of its soil will give you a handsome income, and eventually retire you from active labor thereon, so to speak. Perhaps this may be so in some sections of the West, perhaps in a very few localities of Oregon, but you can bank upon it that the easy pickings in Oregon have long been picked, and that if you locate a homestead nowadays you pay the price of a good farm before you have that productive section of land that you dream about. I know Oregon probably as well as our newcomer; I know the possibilities along that line, not through my own experience but through that of many others, and while some of them are seemingly satisfied, they will admit that they have paid the price and wouldn't travel the same trail again for the same result.
    About all the tillable lands of Oregon are either in the forest reserves, owned by the Southern Pacific Company, or have long since been settled by the pioneers of '51. The lands now open for the settlers are either so far isolated from the outside world or hanging upon the side of a brushy mountain that the prospective settler turns away and hits the trail for the big, broad plains of the Middle West, where the going don't look quite so hard. Let me tell you the principal assets to a homestead in Oregon are a strong back and plenty of time and change. Now you can take it or leave it alone, that's my opinion.
    Now if you are looking for a home, that is a different proposition. A home and a homestead are two different propositions. I can assure you that you can get a home in Oregon just as cheap as in any state in the Union, and I know that you can't find a more agreeable state to live in, especially in Southern Oregon, which has the reputation of being the most agreeable section of the West, not excelled even by sunny, balmy Southern California, where the continual sunshine becomes a monotony unbearable, especially to those adapted to the diversified climate of the East. Here we have sunshine and rain, not too much of either, sometimes not enough of each; this year excels in sunshine, though we have frequent showers throughout the entire season. But you who have the bee in your bonnet for migration toward the Pacific Slope, in quest of a home or homestead, look around a bit, have a talk with the fellow that has tried the game and then suit yourself.
    You have always heard me speak the best of Oregon; that is because I have always spoken of the best in Oregon. I don't want to be classed as a knocker, but I would consider the truth a boost and a falsehood a knock especially in this regard. The Medford Commercial Club, like many other local boosting organizations, have prepared for your special convenience booklets describing their individual localities, the possibilities for the prospective buyer or seller; of course these books usually omit the dark side of the question, but they contain the truth however, and they are yours for the asking.
    No doubt there are many of you that will visit the Pacific Coast this summer, and I hope that you will buy your tickets by the way of Oregon. Get a stop-off at Medford, see the nation's greatest wonder, Crater Lake, and if you will look me up I will show you the famous Rogue River Valley and Medford where there are no less than 500 ex-Hoosiers located, enjoying real life.
Faithfully yours,
Argos Reflector, Argos, Indiana, July 8, 1915, page 1

    Leaving Grants Pass, which is 71 miles south of Roseburg, you wind along the picturesque Rogue River and through a region of well-kept orchards. Passing through Gold Hill and Central Point, you reach Medford, 313 miles south of Portland.
    You have your choice of two routes to Crater Lake, either by Medford or going 12 miles south to Ashland you can take the Green Spring Mountain road to Klamath Falls and thence to Crater Lake. I came by way of Medford--Medford has high-class hotels, the Hotel Medford being equipped with every modern luxury and convenience. Medford is an auto town. Splendidly paved streets give evidence that one is in Jackson County, the home of good roads.
    Medford has excellent garages as well as good hotels. A line of auto stages is operated from Medford to Crater Lake. I was a passenger on one of these autos, Charley True being the chauffeur.
    We left Medford at 8:30 a.m. and rolled over splendid roads a little east of north, passing Table Mountain and the Modoc Orchards. We kept up a uniform speed of 25 miles an hour till we struck across the "desert." Here the famous moss agates are found in considerable abundance.
    The air was like wine. The sky full of lazily floating cumulus clouds. For miles the road winds along beside the Rogue River. We stopped to look at the power plant that furnishes the principal towns of the Rogue River Valley with electric light and power. The scenery here and hereabout is very picturesque and striking.
    Just before the auto meter checks off the forty-seventh mile you catch a glimpse of Mill Creek Falls. We stopped and, going down a winding trail through the timber, we stood on the rocky cliff across from the fall.
    The water tumbles over the cliff and spreads like a filmy lace-like veil across the face of the cliff.
    Forty-seven miles from Medford you come to Prospect park. Here in an open parklike glade is a hotel, a store and post office. James Grieve is the owner of Prospect park, and to one's pleasure and surprise everything about the hotel is strictly modern, "homey" and comfortable, and the meals can certainly be described as "good eats."
    For miles the road, which is excellent, goes by easy grades through a picturesque country. The natural bridge and the gorge are well worth a visit. Near the 69 milepost you enter the Crater Lake Park. Numerous attractive camping spots make one long to be out with a camping outfit, fishing and roughing it.
    Some miles farther on you come to the park headquarters, where you will meet W. G. Steel, the man who did more than everyone else put together to have Crater Lake made a national park. He is the superintendent of the park, and has been interested in it ever since the early seventies. He made the first soundings of the lake for the government in 1886. Prior to that time it was thought the lake did not exceed 500 feet in depth, but he established the fact that it was 1996 feet deep. Since then corrections on the expansion and stretch of the measuring apparatus have shown that it is 2008 feet in the deepest place recorded. The park headquarters are 75.7 miles from Medford and [the] rim of the crater is 80.6 miles from Medford.
    Your first sight of the lake takes your breath. The beauty and majesty of the sight are indescribable. There is nothing else like it anywhere. It is so far beyond your expectations that you are left without words to express your feelings.
    At the very edge of the crater's rim, overlooking the lake, is Crater Lake Lodge. The lodge is built of stone and wood. It has huge fireplaces, large rooms, and at one end of the building is an outside fireplace--a mammoth affair for outdoor campfires.
    W. G. Steel and Alfred L. Parkhurst are the pioneers of the Crater Lake Lodge. Great difficulties were overcome in its construction. A working season of only two months was one of the greatest handicaps. The lumber had to be hauled from a great distance and over steep grades and bad roads. But success at last crowned their efforts, and each season sees an increasingly large number of tourists who come to be awed with the majesty and charmed with the wondrous beauty of Crater Lake.
"Crater Lake Oregon's One Matchless Jewel," Oregonian, Portland, July 25, 1915, page 22

Last revised April 9, 2018