A Stranger's Opinion of Medford.Mr. S. S. Strayer, who, with his family, arrived in Medford a few weeks ago, writes a letter descriptive of his trip west and of Medford and the valley to the Times, published at Dallas Center, Iowa, which place was his former home. The letter was written under date of January 23, 1894, and that point relative to this locality and our people is given below:
"We arrived here last Friday evening. Hired a wagon to take us out to John D. Whitman's. Found him well, had a hearty hand shaking, and they seemed pleased to see us, but were taken by surprise as was most everyone else."
[Right here the gentleman tells of his trip through California, which would not be of local interest.]--ED.
"We finally reached our destination and were soon seated at the hospitable board of our old neighbor, John D. Whitman, partaking of an excellent supper, supplemented with a dish of fine pears and the finest apples we ever laid eyes on. Well, we were not very hungry just then, but we could not resist the temptation and think we did justice to the contents of that dish. After a good rest that night we took in the city of Medford, which we found a much better town than we had expected to find. Word was sent out to W. S. Reep, who met us that evening, and next morning came with a conveyance to take us to Mr. Stewart's residence, which is one of the finest in the valley, and spent a few days with him. This is a beautiful day, the robins and larks are singing and the sun is shining in all its brilliancy. Mr. Stewart and his boys are loading a car with fine apples, and I take this favorable opportunity to write a few sheets to my friends in Iowa. I like this valley well. We have rented a small house in Medford, at $4 per month, and expert to move tomorrow, no special interference. I think we can live cheaper here than in any place we have seen in our long journey. This is one of the most plentiful countries as far as living goes. Fuel is cheap and plenty. We are highly pleased with our journey in the far west.
S. S. STRAYER.Medford Mail, February 23, 1894, page 2
Has It Ever Occurred to You--a brewery and an ice plant. The distillery has been in successful operation here for more than two years past. The inducements offered for the location of this plant at Medford were a liberal bonus by the people of the place and the special adaptability of the soil of the tributary section to the raising of the finest quality of corn. The farmers in the immediate vicinity of Medford, and in Klamath and Lake counties, in the extreme southern part of Oregon, have found a valuable market for their hogs at the pork-packing establishment established at Medford. The manufacturing industries located here have done much to advance the interests of the town, and it is significant of the enterprise of the people here that increased interest is yearly being paid to manufacturing at this point.
That Medford enjoys a great many things which larger cities lack?
That many people here in town don't know that we have:
A beautiful $12,000 school house, and that we will be compelled to build another very soon.
A business college, occupying a whole building, built expressly for that purpose.
Six churches, and seven denominations.
An ice factory.
A large flour mill.
A sash and door factory.
Two lumber yards.
A furniture factory.
Two livery stables.
An opera house.
A half dozen large grocery houses.
Five clothing and dry goods houses.
Two millinery stores.
Two hardware stores.
Three implement houses.
Two candy factories.
Three second hand stores.
Two pork packing houses.
Two photograph galleries.
Two feed and commission stores.
Two furniture stores.
Two blacksmith shops.
And after them all a bright, newsy paper that is thoroughly imbued with a belief in the power of mind over matter, and that a proper combination of brain and muscle has more of the elements of progress and prosperity in it than law and politics can knock out.
Medford Mail, June 8, 1894, page 3
She never takes a backward step--that's Medford. She builds one or more brick blocks and an hundred or more residences each year--that's Medford. The people always put their shoulder to the wheel of progress and push hard--those are Medford people. She has added telephone connections and an electric light plant this season--that's Medford. Not a dwelling house is there for rent--that's Medford. Not a vacant store building--that's Medford. Never has had a business failure--that's Medford. Merchants all doing a good business--that's Medford. Farmers and stockmen drive an hundred or more miles to trade--in Medford.
Medford Mail, October 5, 1894, page 2
Acts of courtesy, a spirit of progress and good will toward our fellow man are sure to reap a just reward. Upon the occasion of the State Horticultural Society's meeting at Ashland and when these members reached Medford from the north, they were met at the depot with the brass band, baskets and bouquets of flowers, and baskets and boxes of fruit. The little demonstration didn't cost much--in fact only a little trouble--but it advertised our city more than any one act that has been performed during the last twelve months.
Medford's Invigorating "Ozone."
This is the way the Rural Northwest writes of the occasion:
"There seems to be more 'ozone' in the air in Southern Oregon than in some other portions of the state. When the members of the Oregon State Horticultural Society, on their way to Ashland, reached the enterprising young city of Medford they were met by a brass band, and a large delegation of citizens who literally overwhelmed the members with bouquets and sent each on his way laden with a large basket of the choice fruits grown about Medford, and a pleasant remembrance. Such a demonstration would not have been strange in Dakota in its palmy days, but it is not a very common thing in Oregon. Naturally the visitors were impressed with the fact that Medford is going to increase in size and importance--because it has the kind of citizens who build up cities."
A little further on in the Northwest's article appears the following, which is a part of the resolutions passed by the board at their meeting:
"That special thanks are likewise due the people of Medford, and the ladies particularly, for the surprise of Tuesday morning last when they held up our train, but instead of robbing us, loaded us down with delicious fruit and covered us with beautiful roses."
Medford Mail, November 9, 1894, page 2
Medford, Oregon.--Medford is one of the comparatively new towns of the southern part of the state. It is located in the Rogue River Valley, on the line of the Southern Pacific railroad, and is 328 miles south of Portland and 444 north of San Francisco. It was established about 10 years ago, and now has a population of some 1,800. Medford is four miles east of Jacksonville, the judicial seat of Jackson County, the two towns being connected by a steam-motor line.
The country in the immediate vicinity of Medford is devoted almost entirely to the raising of corn, wheat, rye, barley, fruits and vegetables. Almonds, grapes, figs and fruits of a semi-tropical nature are raised here to perfection. The melons and peaches of the Rogue River Valley are renowned for their size and quality, and the fruit industry here is conducted on a scale that has made this one of the best-known fruit-producing belts on the coast.
Medford supports a number of manufacturing industries, among which is a distillery with a daily capacity of 25 barrels, two pork-parking establishments, a sash, door and planing mill, a flouring mill with a capacity of 100 barrels a day, and
Medford boasts of a number of fine brick blocks which line the main street. The business community is generally prosperous, and a number of the leading stores carry very heavy stocks of goods. Good public schools are maintained here. A new frame six-room school building has recently been erected at Medford, at a cost of $10,000. This building is well ventilated, it is heated by hot air, and is perfect in all its appointments. Six teachers are employed in the public schools at this point, and the average daily attendance of scholars is about 500. Seven churches are maintained at Medford. These are the Presbyterian, Episcopal, Christian, two Methodist, Baptist and Catholic. All of these religious organizations own church buildings of their own. Medford contains one bank, and one weekly newspaper, The Mail, is published in the town. Medford also boasts of a fine opera house, with a seating capacity of 500. One hotel and two livery stables furnish ample accommodations to the traveling public. The assessed valuation of city property at Medford is $262,413, and the only bonded indebtedness of the municipality is that incurred for the construction of the city waterworks plant, which involved an outlay of $20,000.
The motor line which connects Medford with Jacksonville makes three round trips daily between these two points. Work has actually been begun on the extension of this road to tap an unrivaled sugar pine district, 75 miles distant from Medford. This road will ultimately be extended to Klamath Falls, 75 miles southeast of Medford. Klamath Falls is the center of a wonderfully rich farming district, and will prove a most important point on the completion of the road there. It is estimated that 50 miles of the proposed route of the new road lies through an inexhaustible forest of sugar pine timber belt, and the opening of this timber belt to the markets of Medford will do much to add to the solid prosperity of the latter place. That the people of Medford appreciate the benefits of the extension of the road is attested by the statement that they subscribed a bonus of $40,000 to the company building the line.
If the resources of the tributary country and the prospective development of this district are duly considered, the prices asked for farming lands in the immediate vicinity of Medford are not unreasonable. Messrs. Hamilton & Palm, the leading real estate firm of Medford, quote the property adjoining the city limits at $75 per acre. This price decreases as the distance from the town limits increases. Messrs. Hamilton & Palm are thoroughly conversant with both city property and farm values in this part of the state, and information furnished by them on this section can be regarded as strictly reliable.
The Hotel Medford, of which M. Purdin is proprietor, is conveniently arranged for the accommodation of commercial travelers, for whom free sample rooms are provided. This popular hostelry is located directly opposite the Southern Pacific Company's depot. The building is constructed of brick, it is two stories in height, and is comparatively secure from all danger of fire. The rates per day at the Hotel Medford are from $1.25 to $2. Courteous treatment of guests and an excellent table service are prominent features connected with the management of this hotel. Traveling men, and tourists especially, have found Medford's hotel accommodations better than the average, probably for the reason that the location of the town is such that a large surrounding country is more accessible from this point than from any other.
One of the prominent citizens of Medford, and Jackson County, is D. H. Miller, who has lived in the Rogue River Valley since 1876. Mr. Miller, although a comparatively young man, is the pioneer merchant of Medford, having been the first to engage in business at this point. he first opened a store here nearly 10 years ago. He is a prosperous merchant, and seems to have the utmost confidence in the future growth and development of Medford and the Rogue River Valley.
The present postmaster at Medford is J. S. Howard, who has lived in Jackson County since 1860. Mr. Howard is a civil engineer by profession, and he made the preliminary survey through Southern Oregon and Northern California for the Southern Pacific railroad. Jackson County was but sparsely settled at that time, and Medford had not yet been heard of. Mr. Howard thinks, however, that the development which this section of the country has had during recent years will be greatly increased in the future, owing to the natural resources of the district that, until recently, have been scarcely known.
Edward Gardner Jones, ed., The Oregonian's Handbook of the Pacific Northwest, 1894, page 210
Last revised September 20, 2018