Refer also the page on Medford Streets--and don't miss the Sticky Stories.
"In winter it was nothing for the axle of the wagon to touch the mud most of the time while driving."
A country road in an unidentified state.
Mary O. Carey, in "Talent Pioneer Saw First Mail Sack Delivered," Medford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1934, page C6
THE ROADS.--The roads are very heavy between this place and Jacksonville, and the stage drivers are having a rough time of it, being compelled to remain on the box about 21 hours out of the 24. We think that 60 miles is too long a drive for one man, and the agent should have a "swing driver" put on this long and difficult route. We urge this for the better comfort of the drivers.
The Semi-Weekly Union, Yreka, California, December 9, 1865, page 3
It's a far cry from the day when our roads were built by main strength and awkwardness, as the feller said. When the grades were built by hand, with the aid of scoop scrapers and later fresnos. When creek gravel (we had no rock crushers then) was hauled to the job with teams and wagons having 12-inch planks for sideboards and two-by-six floors, with handholds whittled on each end so we could raise each one up and turn it on its edge to dump the gravel under the wagon. Them were the merry days, fellers. The wonder is we managed to get as good road as we did with the tools at hand.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, October 30, 1947, page 1
By RALPH WATSON
Do you remember, or did you ever stop to think, that the bicycle is the grandpapa of the Oregon State highway financing system?
Did you ever hear of the Century Club, a bunch of strong-legged and sound-lunged, rugged pedal pushers who had achieved the distinction of pedaling their bikes for a "century run" (100 miles in a day); guys like Fred T. Merrill of Portland, Watt Shipp of Salem and a long list of others. Their favorite run was from Portland to Salem and return, or vice versa, during which endeavor they struggled up and coasted down the New Era Hill and other of the tough spots along the road.
So manfully did they pedal and so earnestly plead, that the 1901 legislature took pity on their straining extremities and passed a law providing for the construction of "bicycle paths on either or both sides of all public highways of the state for the use of pedestrians and bicycles."
To finance the construction an annual tax of $1 was levied upon "all persons riding bicycles." The bicyclist paid the $1 to the county clerk and received a tag which, the law decreed, "must be securely fastened to the seat post of each and every bicycle."
Any untagged rider caught on the pathway or riding without the tag on the stern post after April 1 was to have a warrant issued against him with which the sheriff would seize the bicycle and sell it for the amount of the tax, and costs. The "object and intent" of the law, the legislature said, was "to provide for a highway separate from that used by teams and wagons."
So that statute of 1901 was the precedent for and the granddad of the present system of automotive licenses, gasoline taxes, fines and penalties which were established a decade later and dedicated to the task of constructing the state highway system.
Excerpt, Central Point American, September 1, 1949, page 3
An Oregon country road circa 1905.
When Road Work Was Compulsory
By RALPH WATSON
Did you ever hear that when the state was young "every male between the ages of 21 and 50 years of age except persons who are public charges or too infirm to perform labor" had to do two days' work on the public roads of the county in which they lived, or pay $2 for every $2,000 of taxable property they owned or go to jail and serve it out?
That was what the legislature of 1860 (the first legislature under state government) decreed. That same session slapped a $5 poll tax on "every negro, Chinaman, Kanaka, or mulatto for the use of the county within which he may reside."
PAY OR JAIL
The county clerk issued a receipt which was intended to be "a protection to such taxpayer from again paying the same to any other county." Failure to pay put the delinquent in jail and at work on the public roads of the county at the rate of one day of "faithful labor" for each 50 cents included in the total $5 tax.
Back in those rugged days the county court divided the county up into road districts and appointed a road supervisor in each. The supervisor made "an alphabetical list of all persons liable to perform labor on the public roads" within his district on or before March 15th of each year and gave the list to the county clerk.
The county clerk "affixed to each name the amount of taxable property owned by each. Then the supervisor notified each property owner to get busy "at 8 o'clock a.m." at a definite date and place and "give one day of work for each and every $2,000 assessed for state and county purposes," or pay $2 for each day so charged against him, or go to the county jail.
BREAD AND WATER
That system rocked along from 1860 to 1899 when the legislature got still tougher and provided that "all able-bodied persons" sentenced to the county jail "whether for a fine or to serve a sentence for a definite number of days" should be liable to work on the public roads, under the "full power of the county court," with the provision that those serving a definite sentence should work out the "full time" of the sentence at the rate of $1 a day.
It was added that "not less than 8 hours shall be considered a day's labor." Any prisoner refusing to work was to be "denied all food other than bread and water until he signifies his willingness to comply," in which event he should make up for all lost time.
It was not until 1901 that the legislature authorized the counties to levy, annually, not to exceed 10 mills on each $1 of assessed values on real property within the county with which to finance county road construction.
It was not until 1919 that the legislature commenced to whittle off goodly percentages of the state highways road user funds, originally dedicated for construction of state main highway routes alone, and divert them to be used by the counties (now 19 percent of the total) and to the cities (first 5 and now 10 percent).
STATE HAS LESS
These diversions, while they have materially advanced the financing of county road and city street construction, have decreased available funds for main line state primary and secondary highways proportionately.
In the period reaching from 1917 to July 1, 1949, a total of $9,572,828 of road user funds has been allotted to the cities of the state for their individual use in street building and upkeep, and now, under the semi-annual 10 percent allocation of the 1949 legislature, is advancing approximately $1,500,000 additional every six months.
The counties since 1920 (to July 1, 1949) have been allocated a total of $62,771,101; a grand total contribution of state highway funds for local betterment of county roads and city streets, and proportionate reduction of direct property road and street taxes of $72,343,929.
Medford News, September 30, 1949, page 8
A Graphic History of Road Building in Southern OregonAshland Daily Tidings, June 18, 1924, page 2
An interesting recital of the evolution from trails to modern highways,
in which is combined many important bits of history of the development of a great district.
THE ROADS OF JACKSON COUNTY HISTORY
Gold was discovered at Jackson Creek in the fall of 1850. At that time there were no settlers in Rogue River Valley. In 1853 the mining excitement had brought in thousands of people, and the streams of southwest Oregon were teeming with hairy miners. People soon felt the necessity of law and order. A petition was sent to the territorial legislation asking that Jackson County be organized. The petition was granted and a commission was appointed with the necessary authority. They were sworn in by the postmaster at Jacksonville on the 7th day of March 1853.
Government InstitutedThe first business was the creation of precincts and appointment of justices of the peace and constables and the constitution of a county court and commissioners, with county clerk and sheriff and such other officers as were required.
At that time the boundaries of the county were not definitely fixed, and the territory extending to the summit of the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west they were so continued [sic]. No definite boundary was fixed on the north, and the commissioned exercised its jurisdiction over portions of what is now Douglas and Coos counties and embraced the whole of what is now Josephine and Curry counties.
Trails EstablishedThe first duty of the new county court was to establish "trails." There were no wagons in the country until after the gold discovery, and the miners only needed trails. But in 1853 a good many settlers had located in the valley and roads were wanted. The first road located was easterly from Jacksonville to connect with the "Government Trail" leading into California. That is the road that now comes from Jacksonville to the Pacific Highway between Medford and Phoenix. The next road established was from Jacksonville to Willow Springs, where was a lively mining camp. This was in 1853.
It is not my purpose at this time to give consecutively the roads that were established by the county court of Jackson County. Suffice it to say that the location of "trails" received the larger part of their attention for the first few years.
Road CompletedAt the time of the discovery of gold on Jackson Creek, the mining developments had resulted in a very large and prosperous mining district at and in the vicinity of Yreka in northern California. This section was so isolated by the heavy mountains separating it from the Sacramento Valley that they were forced to look northward for a route over which to secure supplies. They learned that the Umpqua River was navigable for small craft from its mouth to Scottsburg, and Congress was memorialized by the Oregon Territorial Legislature for an appropriation to survey and build a road from Scottsburg to Stuart Creek (now Bear Creek) in Rogue River Valley. This was also in 1853. $120,000 was thus secured and the survey was made, following practically "the Old Oregon Trail" and terminating near where the viaduct on the Pacific Highway crosses the railroad near Tolo. This road was completed by Colonel Joseph Hooker [omission] Civil War fame) in 1854. Inasmuch as pack trains were exclusively used in carrying freight and the trail was fairly good over the Siskiyous for this purpose, no effort was made to improve it for a time. This was known as the "Government Trail" and occupied a line practically to a crossing near which the Southern Pacific railroad now crosses the Siskiyou Mountains. In the early sixties, a private company secured a franchise to establish a toll road over the Siskiyous. This road was soon occupied by the stage lines running from Sacramento to Portland and by degrees was made practical for all traffic and continued as a toll road until the building of the Pacific Highway.
Trail Across CascadesThe first trail across the Cascades between Rogue River Valley and the Klamath Lake country was in 1846 marked out by a party of fifteen men headed by Jesse Applegate and Lindsay Applegate, which had suffered the terrors of the emigrant route down the Columbia River. Their efforts were wholly in the interests of other immigrants who were seeking Oregon, and whom they desired to relieve from the hardships they had suffered. It was one of the most unselfish undertakings narrated in the early history of Oregon. The Mexican [War] was then on, but they did not know it, and they had to cross into that country in rounding the lower Klamath Lake. California was then a part of Mexico. This little company of hardy adventurers, on an errand of mercy, followed practically the line now occupied by the Pacific Highway from a point near Grants Pass to a point about six miles above the present city of Ashland, where they turned to the east and followed the stream now known as Emigrant Creek, until they reached the summit of what we know as Green Springs Hill. Here they launched into that wonderful forest which has become famous for its sugar pine, yellow pine and fir. To them it was a terra incognita, and we have no record that white men had ever before trodden its gloomy solitudes. Near where the little town of Keno now is they forded the Klamath River at a wild and turbulent succession of cascades. There are few men now who would have the hardihood to venture such wild undertaking as that stream presents. Thence they climbed some rising ground and looked with astonishment over a great expanse of country covered with lakes, swamps and level, sage-covered plains, with barren-looking mountains affording variegated framework about a wonderful picture. We have no record that white men had ever beheld the scene which they looked upon. They followed what then appeared the only route, southward for perhaps 25 miles, until the border of the lake and marsh bore eastward and they followed it to Lost River (then nameless) and with the aid of an Indian they had captured they crossed it at a natural bridge and continued their journey into an uninviting wilderness toward Great Salt Lake. It is not my purpose to detail the incidents of their journey, though it was told to me by Uncle Lindsay Applegate himself and by other members of that historic party. Suffice to say that they returned through the wonderful forest between here and Klamath Falls with the first party of immigrants that ever saw the beautiful vision of Rogue River Valley. They came down Emigrant Creek, hence its name.
Years rolled on, and "the Oregon Country" gradually filled up as the hardy sons of adventure hunted out its secrets and built other trails through its mountains and valleys.
Road to John DayIn 1862 gold was discovered in "the John Day Country" about the Blue Mountains, and men rushed thither, as they have wont to do since gold worked its way into the affections of men. Though the mines of southwest Oregon were rich, fabulous stories of wealth turned many a miner to that region. A small company of men formed at Jacksonville and cut out a road up Rogue River to Union Creek for passage to the John Day mines. It was a rough and hastily constructed road but answered their purpose. They noticed that to the northeast the mountain seemed lower, and in that direction they headed their way through a succession of glades, and without any knowledge of the wonders they were passing they crossed the summit between Crater Lake and Diamond Lake.
Infantry Company OrganizedThis was in the days of the great Civil War. Soldiers were withdrawn from the frontiers to swell the ranks of the Union army and settlers in all the sparsely settled portions were called on to volunteer their services to guard the West from Indian ravages. Every settlement contributed its quota.
A company was enlisted in this valley and ordered into the lake regions east of the Cascades. In May 1865 this company entered the great forest. It was an infantry company, consequently they marched on foot followed by pack trains with supplies and equipment. They traveled practically along the line traversed by the Applegate company of 1846 which by lapse of time and lack of use had almost become obliterated. At that time there were no settlers in the Klamath Basin, though a treaty had been enacted with the Indians and a small garrison had been established at Fort Klamath in 1856 and in 1865 was occupied by volunteers that had been raised in this valley. Captain Sprague was in command, and O. A. Stearns, now a resident of Ashland, was first sergeant. Realizing the necessity of some route of connection with the valley upon which they had to rely for provisions and assuming it best to avail themselves of the line already cut out up Rogue River by the John Day miners, Capt. Sprague detailed a portion of his men, under Sergeant Stearns, to connect the fort with the miners' trail at Union Creek. Over this line communication was maintained with the valley. This was in 1865 and formed the nucleus of the present Crater Lake Highway.
It is not my purpose to attempt at this time a history of these stirring times further than is necessary to outline the early building of roads. In 1867, the war being over and federal troops relieving the volunteers, it was incumbent on the volunteers to find a better way to return to the valley with their accumulated impedimenta, and a route was mapped out from the fort to the head of Butte Creek, but was not used, as Uncle Lindsay suggested that he thought a better way could be found over his 1846 route and offered his service to pilot anyone whom Captain Sprague might detail to go over it. Again this duty fell to First Sergeant Stearns, and in company with Lindsay Applegate they crossed the mountains and mapped out the route to the head of Emigrant Creek. In this exploration they improved over the old route in many places, and this was chosen as the route for return from the fort.
The Road to KlamathWhile in the lake country Stearns was struck with it as an eligible country for a settlement and selected a homestead about eight miles this side of where Klamath Falls is, and before leaving the country put up his notice of homestead. This was the first actual settlement in the Klamath Lake Basin. The next day O. V. Brown made a settlement at Spencer Creek. That same year George Nurse settled on Link River and established a ferry over the river where the Klamath Falls bridge now stands. Nurse also built a shack which he called a hotel and established a little store and called the place "Linkville." This was the beginning of settlement in the Klamath Lake Basin, to be followed rapidly by others in the establishment of a cattle and horse region. Stearns occupied his homestead for many years and became one of the most prominent men in the new settlement. The Applegates and others occupied great areas of this virgin grass-covered region, and it was not long before they realized the necessity of a road to the valley, for they only looked upon their country as a stock country and felt the necessity of drawing much their supplies from Rogue River Valley. As that country was part of Jackson County their attention was directed to the county court. Again it fell to O. A. Stearns to initiate an effort to that end, and in 1869 Stearns prepared and circulated a petition to the county court to establish a road from Ashland to Linkville. The petition as presented the county court was doubtful, but [they] finally consented to cause a view and survey to be made, provided the petitioners would put up a bond to pay the expense of the view and survey if it was found not feasible. The bond was forthcoming, and $600 in money and supplies was subscribed, $400 of it being raised east of the mountain and the rest on this side. The court appointed as viewers Wm. T. Songers, Samuel Colver and O. T. Brown. The survey from Keene Creek east followed a considerable of the route now occupied by the new $1,150,000 road.
The ruggedness of the way, the falling of trees and rolling of rocks made it an expensive proposition to build and maintain, but attention had been called to the importance of it that in 1873 the state legislature made an appropriation for the establishment of a road to be known as the Southern Oregon Wagon Road, to extend from Ashland to the line of Idaho. A commission consisting of Judge Mason, Judge Silas, J. Day and engineer J. S. Howard [was appointed] to lay out and survey the road. This was done in 1874. The writer was over the road while the work was going on. The line from Jenny Creek to Cold Spring was practically the same as the present new road, but was different in the rest of the way.
This road was expensive and hard to keep up, and the deep snows of winter rendered it impassable. Considerable sums of money were contributed on both sides of the mountain for many years; each year and an occasional small appropriation was made by the legislature, but with all that could be done the necessary crossing of the mountain was a yearly heartbreaking undertaking.
After the new era of road building was ushered in, and a road commission established that seemed determined to do things, Mr. C. B. Howard, who was running a stage across the mountain, and Mr. DeCarlow, who has the station at Pinehurst, and the writer discussed the possibility of getting the new order of things to be applied to the Ashland-Klamath Falls road. We concluded to try. I prepared the petitions and some arguments, and the other gentlemen circulated them. The result was celebrated the other day at the Mile-High gaieties on the mountain, and everybody seemed happy. Having traveled over this route in all kinds of weather, by every method from plain hiking to automobile, for more than fifty years, I am emphatically qualified to rejoice intelligently.
C. B. WATSON,
Ashland, June 10, 1924.
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A Growl at Our Roads.
The roads are bad in Jackson County. They are worse in Josephine, and in Douglas County they are almost impassable. Something should be done to better their condition. If the roads were put in good order once or twice a year, and then have someone to turn the water off the roads occasionally, good loads might be hauled to and from Roseburg at all seasons of the year. The worst road on the whole route from Roseburg and Jacksonville is between Roseburg and the top of Roberts' hill. A little work ought to be done on that hill immediately after every rain, for if the water was turned off the road would be much better. This part of the road has not been worked for a year, and the road supervisor should be indicted by the grand jury for neglecting to perform his duty. This would learn them to do a little work. When the grand juries do their duty, then, and not till then, will we have better roads.Bids for Gravelling the Medford Road
The merchants of this county are making arrangements to again ship their goods to Crescent City. This is caused by the bad roads to Roseburg. If the road was worked a little on the Grave Creek hills and in Douglas County, all the commerce of this county and three-fourths of that of Josephine would go to Roseburg, as it is the natural outlet. Good loads of produce could then be hauled at all seasons of the year to Roseburg.
The present condition of the roads in Douglas County is a disgrace to any civilized community. Let us have better supervisors and then we will have much better roads, and more Oregon commerce.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 4, 1877, page 2
It is Ordered that the Clerk cause bids to be advertised for as follows.
For the Gravelling [of] Eighty Rods of the Public Road leading from Jacksonville to Medford, beginning where Said road enters the lands of John R. Tice on the west boundary thereof, the graveling to be placed in the Center of the road and the road to be built as follows--A ridge of Earth 10 inches high to be plowed on each Side of the proposed graveling having Twelve feet Space from ridge to ridge and having a gutter on the out side of each ridge--the twelve feet Space between Said Ridges is to be filled with coarse Gravel taken from the Thomas field adjoining Said road to the full height of the ridges and the road to be Crowning in the Center, the whole work to be done to the satisfaction of the County Court, and upon acceptance by Said County the Contract price to be paid in County Warrants to be let at Decr. Term 1885 of Said County.
Jackson County Commissioners' Journals, November 6, 1885
Freight for Jacksonville is hauled from Central Point now, the road being better than that leading to Medford.
L. A. McQueen, of Medford, the engineer, has performed prodigies with the J. I. Case traction engine, running it over mountains and hills, through mud and rivers, and roads that would be impassable for anything else. He is highly pleased with his machine, and pronounces it a perfect success.
"Jackson County Notes," Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 11, 1889, page 4
An 1890s road equipment catalog.
GOOD ROADS are the one element lacking to make a paradise of Rogue River Valley. Owing to the adobe and alluvium formations, the work of redeeming the highways from the condition of pioneer days is slow and irksome, although very material progress has been made in many sections within the past five years. Local trade and traffic are and always will be largely dependent on wagon transportation in this mountain-girt valley. The recent storms have brought the roads into their annually recurring state of impassibility, and the serious check it puts upon business in almost the entire county suggests the thought that the subject of road building should properly engross a large share of attention from Oregon's legislators, and be one of the chief studies of agriculturist and merchant alike for the next few years. The material of which roads should be constructed is abundant in this valley; but the knowledge of how and when to prepare the roadbed and apply the topway of gravel or stone is evidently not so prevalent as to be at all epidemic among our road supervisors. Road building is a science, and the state should make it its business to train men to proficiency in it. There is a great work ahead for our agricultural colleges, if they can bring Oregon out of the slough of despond in which its valley inhabitants are plunged for three months out of the year; a work that can best be compassed by teaching the supervisors that a half mile of well-drained, properly constructed, permanent roadbed fitted for travel each year, will give us good highways tenfold sooner than the present system of spreading the same amount of work over twenty miles of inferior roadway.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 12, 1889, page 2
Almost a Serious Accident.One night last week Dr. E. P. Geary of Medford was summoned to the bedside of Commodore Taylor at Eagle Point, and while on his way thither, accompanied by a driver, came near losing his life in one of the swales between Central Point and the desert. The melting snow was flooding the country and had gorged the channel in the swale just below the road, causing the water to back up in the road to the depth of several feet, and in the darkness the team became unmanageable and one of the horses was drowned, although the occupants of the buggy cut the animals loose in the endeavor to save them. It has been remarkable that more accidents of this kind have not occurred during the floods of the past week.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 30, 1890, page 3
The roads have no bottom to them anywhere, and there will be a large surplus of mud for some time to come.
The different roads are full of water, which makes travel more disagreeable than would otherwise be the case.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 30, 1890, page 3
Good Roads a Prime Necessity.\ The roads are usually poor, formed, on the hillsides, of the surface soil, with an occasional sprinkling of rounded river gravel, which does not pack. The rocks are mostly friable sandstones and shales, or an exceedingly refractory diabase, and do not afford good road-metal. A further explanation of the wretched highways is afforded by the fact that the farmer gets all his heavy hauling done just after harvest, while the roads are still sunbaked, and in the rainy season, when they are mostly quagmires, he has nothing to haul; or, if he has, betakes himself to a broad-runnered wooden sledge, which glides over the mud almost as easily as if it were snow. The rainy season, by all accounts, is trying to those unused to isolation and intellectual torpor. For reasons above indicated there can be but a minimum of moving about on the country roads and little sociality. Those in more easy circumstances go to the towns; the others exist until the seed-time comes. The conditions foster lethargy of mind.
The county press is engaged in the greatest work of the century today, in the effort to better the condition of our highways. It is a work in which we can well expend our best energies, for the inconceivable loss attending the dragging of the products of the agricultural and horticultural districts to market over the wretched roads with which America has been cursed from time immemorial has been more detrimental to the interests of the general public than all other taxes combined. It is difficult to form any adequate idea of the absolute loss arising from this cause alone. It cannot be better illustrated anywhere than right here in our own valley and surrounding mountains, where the roads are passable for comparatively light loads in the summer season, while in winter the embargo of mud is almost absolutely prohibitive. If one can conceive of a system of turnpikes and highways ramifying southern Oregon as they do France and portions of England, smooth roads of even grade, adapted for the hauling of the heaviest loads in winter as well as the summer season, then one can have something on which to base an estimate of their value to our remoter foothill ranches, whose cultivators now have to hibernate for three months or more, and even in summer have to drag their half-laden wagons with wearied and dispirited teams over rough and ill-graded roads to market. Nowhere else but here could there be the same discrimination between foothill and valley lands, the latter, if contiguous to a railroad station, commanding ten times the price of better lands lying ten miles away in the foothills, simply because the burden of impassable roads makes the latter lands unprofitable for aught but stockraising purposes. And yet all about us we have the materials of which the very best of highways could be cheaply constructed, and we boast of our enterprise and ability to keep pace with the world in everything else. Why should we lag so deplorably behind in so simple and important a matter as our country highways? If our roads were like those of some other countries, a single team could haul to the railroad without injury two tons of fresh fruit in a day from ranches twenty miles distant, and these distant foothill ranches would then be of the most valuable property we have, their very remoteness being their recommendation, for all will admit that there if anywhere could insect pests be controlled and eradicated. They are our true fruit lands, and fruit growing in the very nature of things must be our main dependence in southern Oregon in the future. It is devoutly to be wished that the educating influences of a united effort to secure better roads will be felt during the next twelve months to the remotest part of the state and result in giving us, first, a sensible system of road laws, and second, a system of county roads that shall have no superior anywhere. Herein lies our chief hope in salvation, far outreaching in importance the most complete railway system that can be inaugurated here. We trust the press of Oregon will never cease importuning the people to get out of the mud.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 27, 1891, page 3
Almost every paper in Oregon is at this time of year devoting more or less space to the county roads and demanding that something be done to render them passable during the winter months, and as the roads in this section need attention we propose to follow the majority and have our say, although we have no pet theory to give as to how the roads should be worked to insure the best results, but one thing we do know and that is that there are counties where they do have decent roads, and we think it would be good policy to study up the means by which such are kept up and profit by their example. In the first place, our roads are not worked as they should be and never will be until a radical change be made in our road laws. Just what the change should be we are not prepared to say, but any change would be better than our present system; at any rate it could be no worse. In the meantime, produce is rotting on the farms because it cannot be transported to market, horses are being pulled to death and wagons and harness broken in the vain attempt to do what little hauling has to be done, while merchants are losing money on account of the people being unable to get to town to trade; in fact, there is no department of human industry which bad roads do not affect.
Medford Mail, January 21, 1892, page 2
"Oak wood, split for cook stoves, was sold for $1.25 a tier, delivered in Medford. And the roads over which it was delivered were hub deep in mud from November 1 to April 1. Those were the good old days."
"Newbury Recalls Days of Flour Sack B.V.D.'s," undated 1930s Medford Mail Tribune clipping, RVGS
A Needed Improvement.A prominent citizen of the country north of the river, writing to one of our county exchanges a short time since, called attention to the crying demand for the expenditure of some county funds in getting a passably good road around the upper grade of the Table Rocks. Ever since the first settlement of the county, owing to a failure of the viewers of the Bybee's ferry and Fort Klamath wagon road to locate the route clear of adobe or "sticky" soil, the road has been well nigh impassable in the winter season to even the lightest kind of vehicles. For the short stretch of two miles hundreds of travelers have been compelled to spend the better part of a day in urging their weary horses through by short pulls and constant cleaning of the wheels. As the soil is full of wash boulders, making an insecure foundation for any sort of a road, it has been impossible heretofore to make a passable winter road with the available labor which could be applied upon it. As the Times believes in the intelligent expenditure of county funds in the bettering of our road system, and knowing that the work can only be done at certain seasons of the year, and believing that the many residents of the country north of the river have endured the petty tyranny of this short stretch of road long enough, we would venture to suggest to our honorable county court the propriety of engaging some experienced road builder to at once construct, at as little expense as may be consistent with doing thorough work, on a good gravel road along that stretch of mountainside. It is much too important a highway to be longer neglected by the county court, and the only wonder is that the residents of that section have not made this matter an issue in local politics long ago. Let the work be executed while it can be done the best and the most economically, and the whole north side of the county will be vastly benefited by it.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 4, 1892, page 3
The people of Oregon have dreamed of country roads until it has come to be a nightmare with them. Coming originally from the older states, they know what good roads are; they know the monetary value of passable highways, and hence have been impatient of the legislation which has accomplished nothing for them. They have asked themselves how much better off they are upon a fine farm whence the road to market is often impassable than is the farmer in the midst of the great American deserts, and the response has been discouraging. From all the Times can learn the Oregon farmers and farm owners are perfectly willing to pay for good roads, but they are not willing to hand over taxes to a system of expenditure which produces no beneficial results. They are tired of [the] existing appointed supervisor business, weary of the pretense of improvement which allows a man to "work out" his tax while sitting on the fence "looking at a mark." They demand something better now, and are determined to have it, whatever the cost.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 10, 1892, page 2
Residents to the eastward of Central Point are beginning to clamor for better roads than we enjoy at present leading into this place from that direction. Central Point is blessed with good roads in the winter season, except from one direction, and the road up the valley, which cannot be easily remedied, but all realize that the one thing needful in the matter of bettering the road to the desert is to have it thrown up in the center and well drained, as there is but a small extent of the adobe on the entire stretch. The work to be effective should be done in the spring and allowed to pack by the summer travel, and we hope the proper authorities will see to it that another season does not go by and see the work neglected.
"Central Point Pointers," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 13, 1893, page 3
Roads are in an awful fix from here to Medford; the nearer Medford you get the worse the roads. The road is the reflex manifestation of the civilization of a community: Therefore, etc. etc. We believe that every man in Medford and Central Point should be hung for the sin of omission. If you pull through that lane alongside of Olwell's orchard and then go and look at the windrows of good gravel along Bear Creek you will see what is omitted. Why Brother Nickell did not rush a bill through the legislature declaring this particular road a nuisance is amazing. A great opportunity for fame, and an "ad" in the Times, was hereby foolishly thrown away.
"Spikenard Sparks," Medford Mail, March 24, 1893, page 1
The proposition to have the piece of road extending from Central Point to the desert improved at the county's expense is general one, and a lengthy petition was presented to the commissioners' court praying for the needed improvement. It is the great pass-way between the valley and the large scope of country in the Butte Creek section and north and west of Rogue River, and is easily susceptible to improvement, so as to make a good winter highway at small cost to the county.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 28, 1893, page 3
We noticed that the road supervisor was grading the Olwell lane. A good thing, as that is the worst piece of road in Jackson County in the winter.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, September 22, 1893 supplement, page 1
Roads are muddy everywhere.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 6, 1893, page 3
The new road from Central Point to the desert needs graveling badly in places, as the late rains have developed several mud holes already.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 20, 1893, page 3
Now is the time to look out for the county roads. A few hours' work in plowing ditches to drain the roads in many places would save us from impassable highways in the spring.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 27, 1893, page 3
The party of young folks who went from here to attend the ball at Eagle Point on Thanksgiving night got lost on the desert, and after wandering around for some time finally brought up at Jack Montgomery's place and hired Jack to act as pilot. They had not proceeded far, however, until Jack discovered that he was lost also, and after roaming the desert for nearly four hours finally reached their destination at twelve o'clock. This is a good joke on Jack, who is supposed to know the desert like a book.
The route to Eagle Point in 1904.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 2
Mr. Yancy has some trouble hauling the flour to the railroad, now that the roads are so bad. He started with a load last Friday and got out on the big desert when he pulled his team out of the road on apparently better ground, but it proved to be worse, as the wagon sank until both the axles were flat on the ground. Had to unload and then had lots of trouble to get out. The best way is to keep in the well-traveled road if it is muddy--and right here is a good place to say that if we could get to Medford in wintertime the town would be much benefited by our trade.
"Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, January 19, 1894, page 2
Medford is considerably interested in the road question. Some of the roads leading into the town resemble a hog wallow more than anything else. Our citizens should take some steps toward making good thoroughfares in the section immediately adjacent to the city at least, and the expenditure necessary for this would be a good investment, as one of the reasons of the dull state of trade at present is the difficulty encountered by the farmers in coming to town.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 22, 1894, page 2
On the Rampage.Speaking about wicked streams, although Jackson Creek does not cut any figure in the summer, it can stir up considerable trouble when it gets full in the winter. The road to Medford, from the old distillery to the forks, is almost entirely gone and nearly impassable. The road to Central Point, from the forks to the Hanley ranch, is impassable, and teams are compelled to take to the fields alongside, which can also be said of the country further down the stream. In Jacksonville it has taken a great deal of work to prevent serious damage to residence lots in the north and northeast portions, and trees are still being hauled with which to build breakwaters to keep the creek from washing away the banks and destroying property.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 22, 1894, page 3
Everybody is complaining because the roads are so bad. They are proving an insurmountable barrier to commerce this season.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 25, 1894, page 3
The roads continue "out of sight." There never was such general complaint over this matter.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 29, 1894, page 3
Our roads are simply impassable, none but the most daring dare to pass over them, and those who do make the attempt are not wise if they do not have their lives heavily insured before making the perilous attempt. Where is the money appropriations of two years ago, said to be appropriated for the purpose of renovating our dilapidated roads? Will some wise man rise and explain?
"Lake Creek Creeklets," Medford Mail, February 16, 1894, page 2
Several persons from this precinct have been compelled to do their trading at Gold Hill this winter on account of the bad roads between the bridge and Medford. There is talk that unless the roads are made passable there will be an effort made to form a farmer's union and establish a store and headquarters at some convenient point and furnish goods of all kinds to stockholders and others and handle all stock and produce raised by interested parties and thereby avoid a trip, over bad roads, to Medford.
"Table Rock Items," Medford Mail, February 23, 1894, page 2
J. A. Whitman is loading a carload of apples at Phoenix this week to be shipped to New Orleans. Mr. W. could have loaded this fruit from his own warehouse in Medford had it not been for the very bad roads which prevent farmers from hauling to this place. This is another tip to business men of Medford. They MUST see to it that the roads leading to our city are improved.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, February 23, 1894, page 3
A farmer recently plodding his way through the mud and mire found Mr. Whetstone with a load of wood vainly trying to find the bottom of the road, but in his endeavor found it as hopeless a task as getting at the bottom of the Bloomer case. However, with the assistance of the aforesaid farmer he succeeded in getting his load out.
"Griffin Creek Gatherings," Medford Mail, February 23, 1894, page 4
The streets of Medford presented an appearance last Saturday very much likened unto old times. The streets were crowded with farmers and farm teams. It was a gloriously fine day, and everyone seemed bent upon doing all the business possible within a given time. The farmers have been kept pretty quiet for the past few weeks owing to the very bad condition of the roads, and 'tis little wonder they congregate at the Hub when an occasion offers. Our people treat 'em right when they come, and the natural result is that they come again and bring their neighbors. Fair and honorable treatment extended to people who come within our borders is the promoter of such interests as grow cities from small hamlets.
Rev. A. C. Howlett.--"Roads, well, there would be roads if one could find the bottom, but they are better than they were a few weeks ago. There could be a road made which would greatly improve matters for us Eagle Point people, and by opening it up we would be relieved of the necessity of wallowing through several miles of sticky every time we came to your city. If a road could be opened from a point near the corner of Mr. Hogle's place to run in a southerly direction through the Hamrick place, then across the Ish pasture field and intersect the main Eagle Point road near S. Murray's place, the sticky land would be left entirely out, and we would have fairly good traveling through the entire year. There are two and a half miles of sticky that is positively impassable in the wet season. There are a great many people who want to trade in your city but who cannot because of this piece of road."
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, March 2, 1894, page 3
The late storm has put the roads in a very bad condition again.
The roads between Central Point and Jacksonville are simply terrific, and should be repaired at once.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 8, 1894, page 3
Probably the worst piece of road in Jackson County is that between the Ross residence and Central Point. The supervisor in whose district this road is should be required to make the necessary repairs, and at once, as it is a disgrace to any civilized community.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 22, 1894, page 3
Why Did Mr. Merritt Do It?
EDITOR MEDFORD MAIL: --During the past week I had business along the road leading from the Central Point cemetery to Big Sticky and I saw a notice posted on a gate post notifying the traveling public not to travel through that place, signed "By order of J. W. Merritt," and the query arose in my mind: Can it be possible that Mr. Merritt will try to force all the travel from Butte Creek and surroundings to go through the Ish lane, two and a half miles through sticky mud, to get to Medford, or is it a plan to force us to go to Central Point to do our trading when we can save at least twenty percent by going to Medford?
Butte Creek, March 29.
Medford Mail, March 30, 1894, page 2
Tom Coy and wife started for Medford one day last week, and about the time they reached the halfway place they got stuck in a big mudhole, got a horse down, and in trying to get him up upset the wagon and had a time generally, but finally arrived at Medford and loaded up one of those nice bedroom sets at Ike Webb's, and--didn't come home the way they went.
"Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, May 11, 1894, page 3
Our first day out from Medford we found the road in a fearful condition, it seems to one from the East, and especially to one who for years has been in the habit of traveling good roads, and in a country where the cost of good roads must be double, as it seems at least, to what the cost might be in your beautiful Rogue River Valley. Not saying that I presume to know, however, all about your financial situation, but with a bird's-eye view of the surrounding mountains covered with fir, pine, madrona, ash, oak and various other kinds of timber, which seems so accessible to, and yet your roads are in a deplorable condition. It does seem to one just out from the East, and whose lot may, in the near future, be cast with you, that your business men of the valley should take some interest in this direction, surrounded as you are by so many gold mines, and the opportunity of working them, that if there was nothing else to attract the attention of capitalist and immigration, this mining industry alone should--or ought to at least--create a desire for good roads.
J. R. Hardin, "From Medford to Applegate," Medford Mail, April 20, 1894, page 4
The Mail has heretofore had considerable to say about the urgent need of doing something on a large scale to improve our county roads. The present is the best time in the year to move in the matter. The farmers are not rushed with their work now and will be willing to give their idle teams work for the next month. Many have said that they would gladly join in hauling gravel, provided a general movement was made. They think, however, that if they do the work they should not be compelled to pay for the gravel. Medford can well afford to provide the gravel, and further Medford can well afford to subscribe to a permanent road fund. If each legal voter in the city would give even a dime a month to such a fund much could be done with the money. If Medford secures the improvement of every road leading into town, she will have the trade of the valley forever. If by starting this work Medford secures for the county good roads, this will soon be the most populous and wealthy county in the state, and Medford will reap the bulk of the benefit. If the people of Medford will take hold of the matter the Mail will guarantee to secure the services of a man to canvass the county and secure donations of work. Then, if the gravel can be had and a permanent fund is subscribed by the merchants and people of this city, the roads can be made good in a very short time and this fund will keep them in good condition. As a result, Medford will have no dull times, her outside customers being able to get into town at all times of the year. Let everybody attend the mass meeting called for Monday evening of next week, and let us start the ball rolling at once.
A Move for Better Roads.
Medford Mail, October 12, 1894, page 3
The coast may be reached by several stage lines, one of which starts west from Roseburg for the Coos Bay country, while another, over a better road, crosses the mountains by a moderate divide and descends the valley of the Umpqua. The ride by the latter is picturesque and interesting, and, with a comfortable coach (which is not provided), might be recommended to tourists. As it is, however, the hotels in most cases are far from meeting the most elementary requirements of cleanliness and good food, while the stages are merely rough covered wagons, with hard seats and insufficient springs. The omnipresent dust is a factor not to be ignored.
"W.H.D.," The Nation, September 9, 1897, page 201 Apparently W.H.D. didn't travel farther south than the Umpqua basin.
The mail from Ager to Klamath Falls is now carried on a buckboard on account of the sticky mud on the route. The writer has had personal experience with that same mud and is of the opinion that a flying machine is the only vehicle which can safely navigate the stretch of country from Ager to the Klamath River in the winter time.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 10, 1898, page 3
The county court has concluded a contract with Hubbard Bros. of Medford for the purchase of an Austin road grader, said to be one of the most satisfactory machines for such work built. It will arrive about the middle of April and will be the first used in the Talent section. The cost is a little less than $300.
An Austin grader at the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 28, 1898, page 3
J. Patterson of Talent precinct is in charge of the county's road machine, and is grading the public thoroughfares in different parts of the county. He has two men and ten mules employed in operating it, and is paid $12 a day for his services and the work of the men and animals.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 8, 1899, page 3
R. T. Blackwood, the efficient road supervisor of Medford, has sixteen teams and quite a force of men engaged in graveling the roads between Phoenix and Medford.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 12, 1899, page 3
The Sugar Pine Company's big steam road engine came in Wednesday with about 16,000 feet of lumber. This is the first trip of the train this spring. The roads were found in fairly good condition except a few hundred feet on sticky, near Mr. Gregory's place, where they were still soft. The hauling with the engine this season will be wholly from Big Butte, twenty-six miles from Medford. The company now has sixteen teams engaged in hauling lumber from the Gray mill to Big Butte, a distance of sixteen miles. Mr. A. A. Davis, a member of the company, has been given the superintendency of the hauling for the season and proposes to put forth every effort to make the enterprise a success and he'll make the anticipated success if anyone can. He is a gentleman of good business ideas and knows how to utilize them to advantage. He informs a Mail reporter that the one and only difficulty to overcome is the condition of the roads. However, he hopes to remedy this and now has a gang of men at work lengthening some of the short turns and smoothing down the rough places.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 25, 1900, page 7
H. C. Mackey & Boyd's photo tent will remain in Jacksonville but a short time. Have your photos made now.
Bring the little folks while the photo tent is in town. They never feel good after a six- or eight-mile drive.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 28, 1901, page 5
New Poll Tax Law.
House bill 205, which was approved by the governor Tuesday, requires the collection of a road poll tax of $3 from every male inhabitant over 21 and under 50 years of age, unless by law exempt. The tax may be paid either in labor or cash, but [the] county court may require that it be paid in cash. If any person refuses to pay the tax, a suit may be brought in a justice's court to collect the same, and the wages of the delinquent may be levied upon to collect any judgment recovered. The tax must be expended upon the roads of the district in which collected. The act contains an emergency clause, and goes into effect immediately. The tax becomes due on March 1, and may be collected between March 1 and December 31 of each year.
Medford Mail, March 1, 1901, page 2
The necessity of permanent repairs on the piece of sticky road running from Thos. McAndrew's place [near Crater Lake Avenue and McAndrews Road] to the desert is becoming more apparent each year. This is unquestionably one of the worst pieces of roads in all of Southern Oregon, and it is a road over which there would be a great amount of travel during the winter months if it were made passable at that season of the year. A move is now under way to put a good substantial filling of rock the entire distance. About one mile of this rock road has been previously built but was not used during the past winter because of the fact that it had not been graveled. It is proposed to gravel this piece of road the coming summer and as well put rock on or as much more of the remaining two miles as is possible with the means at hand, and it is further stated by the supervisor of that district, Mr. H. C. Turpin, that the amount of work done will depend upon the subscriptions received from the patrons of the road and the business men of Medford, all of whom are interested in the betterment of highways leading this way. Mr. Turpin will circulate a subscription paper in Medford soon for this purpose, and it is to be hoped our people will see it to their financial interests to give all the assistance possible to the project. The county commissioners, we understand, have agreed to make a contribution of $300, and it is thought that in the vicinity of Brownsboro alone $100 can be raised in work.
A. M. Wilson, road supervisor in the Grove district, west of Medford, commenced hauling gravel onto the mail road between Medford and Jacksonville on Monday of this week. There is about three-quarters of a mile of this road, from the Grove school house to the Medford road district, that is in bad shape. Mr. Wilson has raised over $200 in cash and work by subscription among the business men of Medford and Jacksonville and nearby farmers, and to this the county court has added an appropriation of $150. With this amount Mr. Wilson feels satisfied he will be enabled to do a good job of work. There are whole chunks of commendation due Mr. Wilson in hustling around among our people for the necessary wherewith with which to thus improve this muchly traveled thoroughfare, also to the business men and farmers for contributing so liberally, and as well to the county commissioners for their appreciation of the efforts put forth and the needs of the general public.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 26, 1901, page 7
The streets of Medford presented a decidedly metropolitan appearance last Saturday, and our merchants did a thriving business. Farmers from all portions of the county were here in numbers, the roads leading to Medford just now becoming fit for travel. From now until the winter months a largely increased business can be depended upon. Crops are growing nicely, the fruit crop promises to be unusually large, mining is being actively prosecuted, work on the big ditch is now under full headway--in fact, everything is favorable for making 1901 one of the most prosperous years in the history of the Rogue River Valley.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 10, 1901, page 7
Many people will notice and appreciate the recent improvements in the road between the Bybee Bridge and the Dickison corner. Substantial culverts and fills will make summer travel more pleasant and greatly reduce the danger at high water time. This work has been done partly by the county and partly by donations. Gradually the good roads idea and discussion are bringing tangible results.
"Table Rock Items," Medford Mail, June 7, 1901, page 2
Roseburg's live business men will seek to secure or divide the immense fall trade from Klamath County, which now goes to Medford, by the improvement of the South Umpqua wagon road. This is a move in the right direction.--Roseburg Plaindealer.
For several years Medford has been undisturbed in the enjoyment of a large and lucrative business with friends in Klamath County, a trade which has been a potent factor in the commercial growth of our city, and a trade which is yearly increasing in volume and in importance. Other and less-favored towns have been striving and diligently planning to divert this trade, or a portion of it, to their own advantage. Ashland merchants, with the aid of the Ashland Board of Trade, have been planning to interest Klamath County people in their city, and have undertaken to gain a vantage point by building a first-class wagon road from Pelican Bay direct to that place. Klamath Falls merchants have also, within the past few weeks, awakened to the necessity of doing something to retain the trade which has been gradually but surely slipping from their grasp, and now Roseburg has taken up the cudgel and proposes to share the benefits to be derived from the business dealings of this large and fertile region. With competition on all sides, competition of no mean proportion, Medford merchants will do well to take this matter up at once and do something to counteract the diverting influence which is being so vigorously exercised against them. The old adage that "possession is nine-tenths of the law" is as true today as it ever was, and Medford merchants have that advantage and also the advantage of being upon the most intimate and friendly terms with our neighbors across the mountains, but for all this we cannot afford to maintain an apathetic attitude in a matter of such vast importance to the city. Overconfidence has been the undoing of many individuals, who, with every advantage in their favor, considered their position impregnable. The same misfortune can as easily befall a commonwealth. "Eternal vigilance is the price of success" [is] a trite old saying whose truthfulness has been exemplified times without number. With advantages equal to those which Medford can offer there is no sufficient reason why other towns should not succeed in securing the coveted trade which Medford has so long enjoyed, and it therefore behooves us to keep watch and ward, that we may not find ourselves in the inevitable position of the man up a tree with a bulldog barking at the bottom of the climb.
The above item taken from the Roseburg Plaindealer should be taken as a note of warning.
Medford Mail, June 28, 1901, page 6
Ordered by the court that C. E. Stewart be allowed $8 rebate on his road tax for use of wide tire wagons.
"County Commissioners' Court," Medford Mail, October 11, 1901, page 2
COARSE GRAVEL SPOILS PUBLIC ROADS
An Important Matter for the Consideration
of Councilmen and County Commissioners.
The old wooden bridge across Bear Creek, in East Medford, which for a long time has been a source of anxiety to those who were compelled to haul heavy loads across it, has been removed and a substantial steel bridge is being built in its place. This adds another much-needed improvement to the public roads of Jackson County, and will be very much appreciated by those living on the east side of Bear Creek.
There is another matter which has been too long deferred and seems to have escaped the attention of our roadmakers in Southern Oregon. We refer to the present method of graveling with large stones instead of gravel of the proper quality. The deposit of these stones as surface dressing is not only spoiling the roads for the present but for many years to come.
Gravel used upon the roads should be screened, allowing nothing larger than a walnut to be placed on or near the surface. If coarse gravel thus screened is used our roads will soon become smooth as a pavement, instead of resembling the ragged edge of a stone quarry.
It is also true, as has been satisfactorily demonstrated in many parts of California, that this plan of screening the surfacing gravel not only makes better roads but greatly reduces the expense of repairing, as smooth roads do not cut up so quickly as rough ones, thus making it really economy instead of an added expense.
We feel satisfied that if the City Council will take this matter in hand and clear the streets of these cobblestones and screen the gravel deposited on the streets in the future, that the results will be so noticeable and satisfactory that ere long every road district in Southern Oregon will be using a gravel screen, at the suggestion of the board of county commissioners.
A screen for this purpose can be made by any blacksmith of heavy wire or light iron rods, so arranged as to be adjusted to a wagon while being loaded. The expense would be nominal; the benefits great.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 11, 1902, page 3
Two men, one from Idaho and the other from Ashland, stopped at the Sunnyside [Hotel] last Sunday night. They started from Medford Sunday morning, but did not reach Eagle Point until evening, having traveled all day trying to find the right road. This shows the necessity of having signboards at the forks of the roads.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, September 19, 1902, page 5
The roads between here and the railroad are getting badly cut up again, and the patience of the traveling public is sorely tried on account of the mud.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, December 5, 1902, page 5
HEARSE STICKS IN THE MUD
Swamped with Four Horses on Jackson County Roads.
A hearse with four heavy horses attached to it was the sight seen on the streets of Medford last Saturday morning, as it was on the way to carry the body of a farmer from his late home down near Central Point to the cemetery, says the Medford Success. It was not for pompous effect that the driver had four horses to his hearse, but it was the fear that he would get stuck in the mud and that the country road instead of the cemetery would be the last resting place of the unfortunate farmer, whose life had been made miserable by the mudholes that now threatened to be his tomb. The driver's fears were not without foundation, for he did get stuck, and it took an hour's time and all the able-bodied men in the funeral procession to rescue the hearse and its burden from the bottomless depths of a Jackson County road mudhole.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, February 19, 1903, page 1
The Indiana Road Grader, which was recently purchased by the county commissioners' court, through Hubbard Bros., has been tested by Otto Caster, the efficient supervisor of Roxy road district, and found to be all that is claimed for it. The machine will prove a valuable adjunct in giving Jackson County good roads.
"Brief Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 13, 1903, page 2
The rock crusher, recently purchased by the county, has been put to work on the edge of the desert, to the north of that sticky strip of road east and north of Medford. Some few years ago a rock road was built for a distance of fully a mile and a half out that way, but it has never been used because of the fact that it was too rough to drive over. It is the intention now to cover this piece of road with crushed rock--which ought to make this one of the best thoroughfares in the county.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 5, 1903, page 6
Judge Prim was down from Jacksonville on Friday. The county rock crusher is in operation on the desert, but the Judge says it has not been working to its full capacity. It is supposed to crush from ten to twelve tons of rock per day, but the most that it had done so far was five or six tons. The expense of operation is between $25 and $30 per day.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, June 12, 1903, page 6
ROCK CRUSHER WILL START
Jackson County Court Improving Roads.
From County Commissioner Patterson, who was in Ashland Monday, it is learned that it is expected to get the rock crusher recently purchased by Jackson County, and which was operated for a few weeks on the roads north of Medford, started up again, this time to improve stretches of the main county road east and west of Phoenix. Considerable difficulty has been experienced in getting men and teams to operate the plant, $4 a day being asked for the services of men and teams at this work now. About 10 men and five teams are required to keep the rock crushing plant in operation.--Tidings.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, October 10, 1903, page 1
FOR GOOD ROADS.Brownsboro, Oregon.--Editor Medford Mail:--Good roads seem now to engross the minds of our enterprising men at large. 'Tis a good theme, and should be the shibboleth of every supervisor of road districts in the county. We suggest all men who are elected as road supervisors should have an interest in good roads. Now if the press of Jackson County, which is the most potent power in public affairs, will take up the cry of good roads and keep it before the public, then our fight is more than half won, in favor of better roads and more permanent work by the road supervisors. It is true that our means, both in labor and money, are limited, but that is a greater reason why the means at hand should be judiciously expended, and temporary work, except in cases of immediate emergency, should be done away with, and when repairing on the roads is done, let it be thorough and permanent work. If they who live twelve miles from market could take a load any month in the year to Medford or any market town, they would not be compelled--as they are now--to rush their produce into the already overstocked local market and receive one half of its market value. If a farm twelve miles from the railroad had a good road all the year through, good cultivated land would be worth one hundred percent more than now. For instance, an eastern man comes to Jackson County to buy a farm and make a home. He comes out wading and wallowing through mud and mire. He looks at the farm. It's all right; good soil, good water, good crops and good timber. "But your roads are bad--how do you get your produce to market in winter, although you have such fine weather here?" The farmer must answer; "We do not get to town much in winter." This may do the average Southern Oregon farmer, as he has become accustomed to it, but it don't go with a northern or eastern man. He is accustomed to take advantage of the holiday trade as much as our merchants are. He always has a few fat turkeys, a fine fat hog, a stall-fed steer or some choice butter and fresh eggs to take to town to buy the Christmas presents for the boys and girls who work on the farm. He wants good roads and is willing to pay his tax to secure them. But that is only one side of the question. The local merchant is as much affected by bad highways as the farmer, as the immutable law of supply and demand affects both alike. In fact the town is more affected than the country, inasmuch as if the resources of any place are cut off, it withers, and if kept cut off, it dies. So with our town, which is our best advertisement for the country. If the town is a thrifty, active business place, it speaks well for the surrounding country. This is a hastily written article--will the editor take up the subject, and in a more masterly way keep it before the people? "Cry aloud, and spare not."
Capt. T. J. WestMedford Mail, October 30, 1903, page 4
BAD ROADS AND A REMEDY.
Brownsboro, Oregon, Nov. 9.Editor Medford Mail:--Since writing the article "Good Roads" for your paper last week, the writer has been asked if he could suggest a remedy within the power of the people of Jackson County. In answering that question I would reply as a lady replied to a politician, when asked what she would do if she were a senator. She replied: "There are many things I would not do that are now done by state senators." If I were a road supervisor I would not fill a bad mudhole with mud; I would not put in a culvert and have the surplus water run over it instead of under it, as I see many now. If I were a county commissioner I would not allow a supervisor his pay for putting in such culverts and crossings. As a supervisor I would not sit idle at a crossroad post office and whine about not getting any pay until January 1904, and walk home and be compelled to hold onto a fence by the roadside to keep from miring down for the want of a few loads of fine gravel, which could be easily procured not eighty rods from the mudhole. But I was asked what I would do. I would use all the available means at my command to make a permanent improvement at every place I had work done. There is no county in Oregon that has more good material for good roads than Jackson County. I speak from a personal knowledge when I say that along the county road, for a distance of one mile from the Butte Creek bridge westward toward Medford, there is enough good material to macadamize the county road from Brownsboro to Big Sticky Lane. There is no need for a rock crusher, as the rock is already in much better shape than if crushed. It is mixed with a gray granite soil or decomposed rock, which renders it, when compressed, almost waterproof and forms a smooth, compact surface. The writer has made a satisfactory test of five rods of road using this material, but not having sufficient force to make the work thorough, yet it is in every way satisfactory. The material is abundant and of easy access. All that is necessary to complete a good, permanent road is, first, to plow or dig ditches on each or either side of the road, throwing or scraping the dirt to the center, leaving it crowning in the middle; then cover eight inches deep with the material mentioned, and we have a good turnpike, winter and summer, at a very small expense. If it did not seem like dictation, the writer would invite one or both of our county commissioners to visit the pits of material. The writer will take pleasure in going with them and looking the matter over, and as far as the writer is concerned, there would be no expense to the county. He would also be pleased to entertain the commissioners. Before closing this article let me say while I write concerning this county road, and this road district, No. 15, I am just as much interested in other and all districts in Jackson County. Jackson is the best county in the state, and Oregon is the best state in this Union, and the United States of America is the best country and government in the world, and we are the people.
CAPT. T. J. WEST.Medford Mail, November 20, 1903, page 3
I am officially authorized by Antioch and bordering districts to send a special invitation to our Hon. County Judge to pay us a visit during the months of December, or January, 1904, and be an eyewitness to the condition of a piece of county road, three-fourths of a mile long, lying at the base of Upper Table Rock. It is used by many people and is in as great a section of our country as perhaps any other thoroughfare in Southern Oregon. The piece of road in question was made, according to history, in the year 1903, and it still remains in its virgin state, and not a dollar's worth of labor has been expended to improve its condition by our county administrations down to the present time. If the county court will come to our assistance with the county rock crusher and funds and build us a permanent winter road, it would not only open up and enhance the value of property, but would be greatly appreciated by the patient and progressive people on the north side of the river. Your humble scribe was introduced to the above piece of road twenty-eight years ago one dark, rainy winter night when he lost his shoes and bearings, and has known its condition continuously since. We would like the county court to travel the above-described piece of road in a light conveyance, if not by daylight, then come out some of these moonlight evenings and you will be able to think and say enough "cuss" words to determine your future destiny. We would be a more prosperous people if we could only get our winter produce to the metropolis when it commands the highest price, but we are kept from visiting the towns during the holiday season all for the want of a few hundred dollars judiciously expended on this piece of road. I did intend writing each one of these gentlemen a letter, but with your kind permission I ask space in the columns of our family newspaper, the Medford Mail, knowing that it reaches more homes than any other county paper, and would certainly have more official bearing on our honorable county court by the publication of this unworthy article in its columns.
JOSEPH G. MARTIN.Medford Mail, December 18, 1903, page 4
While we have, generally, no complaints to make of the roads, there is a short piece of road just east of the Bear Creek bridge on the Eagle Point and Central Point road that is simply a fright. The road has been changed for a short distance, and the constant travel and rains have cut it up so that it was with the utmost difficulty that teams could get along, and where the new bridge has been put in and dirt dragged in for approaches the road is so bad that teams have to pull around the bridge; but we expect, in the course of the next year, to have as good a road through sticky so that we can go straight to Medford, without going out of our way via Central Point, and then if we don't want to go with a team we can get on the cars and go right along in spite of the mud.
"Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, February 10, 1905, page 3
Joshua Patterson, county commissioner, and Jack True, county superintendent of roads, were in Medford Wednesday, to set up the two new road graders recently purchased by the county. The graders are of the latest improved pattern, weigh nearly a ton and a half apiece, and each requires from ten to twelve horses to operate it successfully. The first work to be done by the new machinery will be near Phoenix, on the road opposite the Harvey place.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 31, 1905, page 5
A. C. Allen:--"There is a place on the Medford-Jacksonville road, just opposite my home, which is likely to be the cause of trouble. The road has been thrown up in the center here and a culvert put in to let the surplus water through. The culvert does not project beyond the grade and at either end is a ditch at least two and a half feet deep. The point is this. Should someone not acquainted with the road accidentally drive off the grade some dark night, either in passing some other team or from some other cause, there would be a serious accident, resulting in either the crippling of a team or the occupants of the vehicle, or both. The place is not safe, and anyone injured would have cause of action against the county for damages. Besides this the culvert is not filled up level with the grade, and the depression causes a jolt which might cause a broken king bolt in a rapidly driving vehicle, a second source of danger."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, August 11, 1905, page 1
A. L. Rose, road supervisor, informs a Mail representative that he is now at work with a force of men screening gravel for use on the main road between Talent and Phoenix. About a mile of this road was graded last spring, and it is upon this that the gravel is now being put. The gravel is screened into three sizes: the very coarse being put on the bottom, then a layer of some a little finer and this to finish with a top dressing of the finest of the gravel. Mr. Rose expects to put this gravel on to a depth of about one foot--four inches of each of the three layers. The gravel will be put on ten feet in width. This ought to make a good, substantial and serviceable road.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 8, 1905, page 5
Ex-Commissioner Riley:--"We Big Sticky people can come to town now any time we want to, on account of the way the county constructed the road last year through one of the worst stretches of ground in Southern Oregon. Formerly it was an absolute impossibility to pull through that sticky lane at certain seasons of the year, and there have been more wagons and good resolutions broken along that line of road than anywhere in Southern Oregon. Now, however, after Roadmaster True and his men have made a roadbed of crushed rock and packed it solid with that big fifty-ton roller it's a pleasure to drive over the road, especially to some of us oldtimers, who can point out places wherein former days we got "stuck" and were either compelled to unload or abandon our vehicles entirely. There's nothing like good roads, and the people are getting educated up to the idea. Within five years Jackson County will have some of the best roads in the state if the present policy is kept up. The court was criticized somewhat when it purchased the road machinery, but you hear very little of that now."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, February 21, 1906, page 1
A Farmer:--"Apropos of the matter of good roads, I don't believe it would be a bad idea if the streets of Medford which are traveled most are taken care of during the coming season. Try driving over any of the four main thoroughfares leading out of the city and you will find them full of holes and bumps, where the top dressing, if there ever was any, has been worn down to the larger stones beneath. It is just as bad in the summer, only dust takes the place of mud. Now, I want you to understand that I am not making a kick against any person or policy, I understand the difficulties which the city has labored under heretofore, but it seems to me that right now is a good time to take up the matter of building permanent streets in the city. A patch here and a patch there won't do. Take a hint from the work of the county on roads during the past year. Take a section of a certain street and build a permanent, solid street on that section. If you have any money left, build another section. That part is done then, and you can build more sections. You will be surprised to find how soon you will be able to have good streets, where there were none before, and how much more money you can put into new ones each year, because you won't have to expend it all for repairs. The material for making good roads is right at hand, it only wants to be intelligently and practically applied. For years the Big Sticky land was synonymous with broken wagons, balked horses and profanity, now it's one of the best roads connecting Medford with the country districts, and this result was accomplished by labor and material intelligently applied."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 2, 1906, page 5
There is a place on the desert road between Agate and Bybee Bridge which is almost impassable now, and unless there is some change made soon, the traveling public will lose their patience. By the fencing up of the old road and confining all travel to a space of sixteen feet, and that place in a mud hole and on a sharp turn, it leaves a main thoroughfare in a sorry condition for people at this busy time of the year.
"Table Rock Items," Medford Mail, March 23, 1906, page 8
G. W. Stevens was circulating a good roads subscription paper in Medford Wednesday, and within a very short time over $100 was subscribed. The road improvements asked for are to be placed between Thos. Riley's place and the Bradshaw ranch, a distance of about three and a half miles. Before coming to Medford he secured subscriptions to the amount of $345 among the farmers living in the neighborhood of the proposed improvements. The roads are sticky, and they want them covered with crushed rock. It is expected that the county will help materially in this work.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 30, 1906, page 8
Now that the roads are drying up in consequence of the several days of sunshine, many of Medford's residents are again obtaining fuel from the coal mines. This will greatly relieve the fuel shortage and have a tendency to prevent the rocket-like rise of wood when the next storm comes.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 22, 1907, page 5
A road near Eugene, circa 1907.
The Medford people, also the people living east of Medford, have for years dodged what was known as the "sticky lane" in winter, when going to and from this city, but this year, no matter what the amount of moisture at all there need be no doubt in the minds of travelers toward Medford but that they will be able to reach their destination. The road from the McAndrew place across the black lands has been graded up, covered with crushed rock and is now being treated with a coat of sand, which will ultimately make it one of the best winter roads in this part of the state. The foundation for this was laid several years ago when part of the road was covered with rough rock. There wasn't money available to continue the work projected, and the "grading of the sticky lane" was regarded as a "joke." However, the foundation for a real road was laid there and now the road has been built on top of it, so that no fear of the "sticky lane" need deter anyone from taking the straight road to Medford.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 25, 1907, page 5
W. J. D. Anderson--"The much-dreaded Big Sticky lane is now practically a thing of the past, thanks to the intelligent road-building that has been going on in that section. Time was, and not such a long time ago either, that anyone starting through that lane in wet weather, be he afoot, horseback or in a wagon, had no assurance that he would be able to traverse that stretch of road. Now he need have no misgiving about getting through. The road isn't as smooth as a floor by any means, but it is solid as a rule, especially where the crushed rock has been used as a covering to larger rock beneath. In these portions the road is perfectly solid and smooth, the crushed rock seeming to form a firm cement-like surface impervious to moisture above or below. Those portions which have been treated with river gravel are not so good, the gravel not packing so closely and the road being more or less muddy and rough, but even it is a great improvement over what it was a few years ago."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 27, 1907, page 5
Criticisms have been made from time to time lately upon road conditions in this county, and the county court has come in for considerable adverse comment. While the roads of Jackson County are susceptible of improvement, not many years ago they were so much worse that in comparison they are turnpikes now. When Commissioner Patterson took charge of the road building six years ago, there was scarcely a mile of road in the county that was capable of being traveled over at all seasons of the year; now there are several of them. At that time people of Eagle Point, Brownsboro and other points in the eastern portion of the county had to come by way of Central Point to Medford in winter and usually had all they wanted to do then. Now they come right in over the once-dreaded "sticky" on the road built under the direction of Mr. Patterson. There are bad pieces of road in the county, plenty of them, but this condition is being remedied. It might be that the county court could have done more, but when we compare what road has been built with what it was just a short time ago, we are inclined to praise the court for having accomplished so much. Then again there are other parts of the county in which there are now pretty good roads. Gold Hill, Central Point, Ashland--and in fact, pretty nearly every locality--has had some good and lasting work done within the last few years, and the men responsible for this ought to be given credit. While it is true that the public highways of the county are not boulevards, it is just as true that good and permanent work has been done on them, and they are so much better than they previously were that--well, we ought to be thankful for that, and hope for continued improvements.
Medford Mail, April 3, 1908, page 4
HOW ROADS ARE BUILT IN THIS COUNTY
Many Miles of Elevated System--
Either Side Is Dumped into Center--
No Repair on Roads--Bridge in Danger.
A careful study of the roads of Jackson County will convince the most skeptical that the system of construction is fundamentally wrong and the necessary repair work is almost wholly lacking. Road building, as practiced by the present county court, consists in dumping a pile of rock in the center of the roadway, scooping out the earth on either side and piling it in the center. When the embankment, which resembles a railroad grade and has been facetiously termed "Dunn's elevated," reaches a height of from four to six feet above the surrounding country, loose rocks and gravel is dumped on top and the road is complete. It is left to travel to wear a smooth surface, with the help of the weather. Nothing is done to keep it in condition thereafter.
Miles of such road traverse Jackson County. The "elevated' is too narrow to admit of two teams passing. It has no uniform surface and no established grade. It is uneven, full of chuckholes, ruts and hogbacks. The crushed rock surface, the hardest possible on a horse's hoofs and equally hard on automobile tires, is left for these same hoofs and tires to grind to powder and pulverize to smoothness; as a result, there are miles of road practically untraveled except when the rains have made the adjoining land untravelable. When there is any chance of getting off the "elevated," everybody does so.
There is no necessity for making the embankment so high. A roadbed half as high and twice as wide would be far more practicable. If a uniform grade was established, a smooth surface put on and a small amount of work done once in a while to keep the road in order, it would revolutionize the roadways of this county.
A "Dunnized" Roadway.There is one piece of roadbed of which Judge Dunn is proud, and of which he has boasted. This is the road constructed last season in the Big Sticky section. This road, like all the others, is an elevated. But farmers, rather than travel its crushed rock bed, run the risk of turning turtle on the sticky land adjoining. One can travel a mile without reaching a place where two teams can pass. If a loaded wagon is ahead of your buggy or auto, you must poke along behind it, for you cannot pass it or turn out of the elevated without toppling over.
This roadbed is new, yet there are ruts and chuckholes already making their appearance, even before a smooth surface has been worn. There are hogbacks and hollows where there ought to be a level grade. And those who live along it say that the structure is faulty, and as the roadbed settles, it will spread. It is one of the hardest roadbeds on horse and auto and even wagon that the county possesses.
Jacksonville Turnpike.Take a 20-mile drive from Medford. Start for Jacksonville over the most traveled road in the county. When you strike the "elevated" you strike as rough a highway as any section can show. Here we have an old road "Dunnized." In stretches, several hundred yards in length, two feet of loose gravel and crushed rock has been dumped in the center of the narrow bed, waiting for travel to pound it into shape, six feet higher than the fields adjoining. It is almost impossible and no effort is made to even rake the large cobblestones out of the way. The result of the "improvement" makes a far rougher road than existed before. The unrepaired road is smoother, but full of troubles. So rough is the highway that many Jacksonville people prefer to take the roundabout way of driving over an ungraded road to the south, traveling nearly twice as far to reach Medford.
On the west side of the valley, turn toward Central Point. Here is a road almost wholly neglected. Here and there we strike a bridge or a culvert. These are almost invariably higher than the roadbed, so that a bump on either side is assured. Now and then a stretch of "elevated" is reached and unused, so that going around is far easier travel. A stretch of road that two years ago was one of the best in the county has become bad through neglect.
Bear Creek Bridge Unsafe.Passing through Central Point, over as rough a strip of road as any section can show, the Bear Creek bridge is reached. On each approach is a small weathered unpainted board with a legend scratched upon it, to the following effect: "Warning. This bridge is unsafe for travel." The sign is a small one and would not be noticed by the ordinary traveler. Attorneys assert that it is not sufficient warning to save the county from damage suits in case of disaster.
Looking at the bridge, the reason for the warning is apparent. The two large piers that support the bridge at the east end are out of plumb. The floods of a year ago undermined the piers at their foundation, and they lean a foot or so from the perpendicular. The result is that the bridge is unsafe, and has been for over a year. If a freshet had occurred this winter, it would have carried off the structure. A comparatively small amount of money would save the bridge, yet the money is not spent, and nothing has been done in over a year to save the taxpayers from building a new structure after the first flood at a large expenditure. Any loaded team may send the structure crashing, and the taxpayers will be called on for heavy damages.
Cobblestone Highway.Proceeding east toward Eagle Point, some long stretches of rough-surfaced "elevated" are encountered. Just before the "desert" is reached is a stretch paved with loose cobblestones the size of a man's head. The stones are scattered all along the surface. A little work would render it possible to go faster than a walk, but the work is not done. Every bridge encountered is built up even beyond the grade of the elevated and steep pitches mark the approaches.
Leaving the main road and swinging across the desert, the only smooth highway so far seen is encountered. The county court has done no work on it. Then the prize Big Sticky turnpike, six feet wide on top and six feet high, with crushed rock for a surface, embodying all the latest ideas of Judge Dunn, is reached, and passing orchards heavily laden with bloom, whose scent perfumes the air, the return to Medford over a road full of chuckholes and bumps and yet preferable to the "Dunnized" roads.
Go to Phoenix and look at the work done by the county court to fix up the roads. In fact, go anywhere and draw your own conclusion.
In the Back Districts.In the back country district the feeling is intense. Though taxes are paid regularly for roads, the money is not spent in these districts. No work at all has been done for years in many sections. Farmers at their own expense have in many cases made the roads passable only by their own work.
The roadwork is done by the day by the county and the teams loaf a good deal, so that more money is spent than if the work was contracted. It is reported that the team owner has given his workmen positive orders not to overwork the teams as they must be kept in condition for the entire year's work.
Medford Tribune, April 14, 1908, page 1 Transcribed from barely legible microfilm.
Medford Tribune, April 15, 1908
The Southern Oregonian, May 25, 1908
A Splendid Road.
The road built from Medford to the desert across "Big Sticky" last year is a piece of work that should make the present county court famous and is a monument to their ability as road builders. This fertile region has been isolated heretofore on account of the impassable condition of the roads in winter. There was no demand for real property abutting it. This condition has now changed, and property values are much higher and in great demand along the entire stretch of road. Medford has received a great deal of trade that formerly went to Central Point because it could not get to Medford in bad weather.
Medford Mail, May 29, 1908, page 3
LOCAL ROADS ARE SOURCE OF TROUBLE
Rig Drops into Mud Hole While Horse Continues Even Tenor [of] His Way
Tyson Beall has a kick coming on the roads leading into Medford and not with[out] reason, either.
"The streets in the outskirts of town," said Mr. Beall, "are worse than many of the county roads, due, of course, to the extremely heavy traffic on these converging streets and roads. While coming in this morning with my brother we were driving along very comfortably when the buggy dropped into one of the many holes in the road. The horse, a 1600-pound animal, kept right on walking, but the rig stayed where it was. The horse simply walked out of the harness. Next year with the improvements projected it may be possible to get to the city from the outside, but just now it is a problem that requires careful driving and a good knowledge of the country to [be] traversed."
Medford Mail Tribune, December 19, 1909, page 5
J. W. Newman was at Jacksonville Saturday to pay his taxes and also to experiment in automobile running. If one wants all the thrills in the business let him ride behind Mr. Newman with the roads in their present shape.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 13, 1910, page 5
SHOULD KNOW IT.The adobe or "sticky" soil, as it is commonly called, found in several sections of the West, while very rich and well-suited to the growing of apples, pears and other fruits, is very difficult to handle and must be plowed at just the right time--a few days following a rain, when the "slacking" has advanced to the proper stage--to secure results that are at all satisfactory. Rather oddly, though, while continued hot and dry weather tends to form a hard crust a few inches beneath the surface, there seems to be no other soil which retains its subsoil moisture more completely or on which fruit trees will stand more protracted drought. When one buys a "sticky" ranch he should have in mind that it will either be necessary for him to have a solid macadam road leading to his place, if he is to reach it during the wet season, or to lay in a sufficient stock of supplies and provisions so that he will not have to leave his place for two or three months at a time.
Frank E. Trigg, Central Point, "Farm, Orchard and Garden," Evening Independent, Massillon, Ohio, March 28, 1910, page 8
Many a municipality has a bad blot on its reputation because of the wretched condition of the thoroughfares leading thereto when timely work done with a road grader and drag would greatly improve their condition. In too many cases these same "rocky" roads are found in townships and towns whose road supervisors or street commissioners are drawing good salaries for taking care of the highways, while the equipment for keeping them in order is acquiring a coat of rust in some vacant lot or alley.
Frank E. Trigg, Central Point, "Farm, Orchard and Garden," Evening Independent, Massillon, Ohio, April 22, 1910, page 11
Speaking of good roads, the work done by the road scraper between Phoenix and Talent has almost blocked automobiles completely. The boulders are simply piled up in the middle of the road all the way.
"Eden Precinct Items," Medford Mail Tribune, June 21, 1910, page 3
COOPERATION IN ROAD WORK.There is no sort of public work in which folks are interested generally where the principle of cooperation could be followed to better advantage than in the care of the public highways. In some sections this fact seems to be recognized, in some others not. Especially is there need of this cooperation in those sections where earth roads are the rule and where the character of the soil is such that there is need of working it at a critical time following heavy rains or wet seasons. Particularly is this true of stiff clay or adobe soils, which can be advantageously worked and leveled only when they possess the proper amount of moisture and the right consistency. Under such conditions it is impossible for one road superintendent and his helpers to give all the road of their territory treatment at the proper time. As a result many such highways dry up rough and hard and remain in this condition for months. Could a system have been followed which would have enlisted the aid of property owners or renters along the highways, and the roads have been dragged at the proper time, a good highway would have been secured. The benefit of this cooperative system is recognized in some states, the road tax being remitted in case property owners give a stipulated amount of aid in keeping in condition the roads abutting their own premises. This plan gives excellent results and should be adopted in other places where the roads at certain seasons of the year are little short of unspeakable, yet for the attempt to keep which in repair large sums are expended annually, but to little purpose.
Frank E. Trigg, Central Point, "Farm, Orchard and Garden," Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, Iowa, June 29, 1910, page 6
August 28, 1910 Sunday Oregonian
OLD METHODS OUTGROWN.
Criticism of Joshua Patterson is not directed against him as an individual, as a citizen, but as a county commissioner. The matter of selecting a successor is a business proposition, not governed by personal friendship or enmity--but by and for the common good.
Joshua Patterson the common man, his purity and worth, admirable though he may be, is not an issue, but Joshua Patterson, the public official, is. His official capacity is measured by his record, and proper subject for public criticism.
In its campaign for a new and better order of affairs, the Mail Tribune is moved by no personal malice or animosity, no hope of reward, present or future, save securing the better interests of the county, its development and progress. It has ever stood for progressive policies, and therefore opposes the election of Joshua Paterson, who, defeated in the primaries of his own party, seeks re-election to a third term as an independent.
We are told that Commissioner Patterson is responsible for all the good roads in the county; that before his election the principal highways were "bottomless pits," yet as long as fourteen years ago Judge Crowell was elected county judge upon a good roads platform, and one of his campaign slogans was to build as good highways as his predecessor, Judge Neil, had built bridges.
Two years ago all the credit for good roads was given to George W. Dunn, then county judge, instead of Mr. Patterson, The people showed what they thought of Judge Dunn's roads by defeating him and electing Judge Neil, in the hope of securing a change in methods. But Commissioners Patterson and Owens combined against Judge Neil, overruled him on every point, made him practically a cipher, and continued the old repudiated methods of road building.
Jackson County is spending close to $100,000 for improved highways this year. Last year over $79,000 was spent. During Mr. Patterson's eight years' incumbency, probably the amount of money spent on highways totals approximately half a million dollars. Surely this sum of money ought to make a creditable system of roads. The question is, are the results commensurate with the expenditures?
Spending half a million dollars on highways ought to give a man a fair education in road building, though it has proved an expensive education for the taxpayers. Yet the same system and the same methods are used today that were used then, and we have the word of the expert of the United States Department of Good Roads that "very little progress has been made in good road building in Jackson County, and the need of skilled supervision is very apparent."
The truth of the matter is that we have very few good roads, none properly built; that our best roads are mere makeshifts and must be rebuilt frequently; that we have no system of resurfacing or caring for roads once constructed, and which, neglected, soon become almost impassable for roughness.
Compared with the roads of ten or twenty years ago, present roads might be called good. But with this large amount of money spent on them, there ought to be some improvement. The comparison should not be with the past, when we had no roads, but with other places, that with no greater expenditure have real roads. Jackson County will yearly expend large sums on road building, and ought to get better results than it has in the past.
Mr. Patterson may have good intentions, but we are told that hell, not highways, is paved with such material. Scientific and permanent road construction should supplant the present unscientific and temporary system.
Jackson County has outgrown the Patterson roads, just as it has outgrown the bottomless highways of Judge Crowell's regime.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 30, 1910, page 4
Little Sticky Road (probably McAndrews), Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 1910.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 4, 1910
Medford Mail Tribune, November 6, 1910
ROADS GETTING IN GOOD SHAPE
Fine Weather Rapidly Drying Up Highways--
Autoists All Good Roads Boosters and Have Accomplished Much in that Line.
The desire of the autoist to speed, probably more than anything else, has brought about a great movement all over the country for the betterment of road conditions. That this is so has been made evident in Jackson [County] during the last year or two, but the end by no means is yet in sight. There is still a great deal to be accomplished before the roads of the county will be in that state where they will attract tourists. Automobilists are the pioneers of good roads boosters, and automobile clubs are still more potent factors in the campaign.EXTENSIVE CAMPAIGN FOR GOOD ROADS
That there will be something doing in good roads lines of Jackson County this summer is taken for granted by all who have read the signs of the times. The automobile fever has become so contagious that it has grabbed nearly every possible victim, and now the number of good roads boosters is almost identical with the number of travelers. Therefore good roads in Jackson [County] will shortly become the rule, not the exception.
There has been organized in Medford an automobile club, and this summer big things are expected. There is something different in the atmosphere, and the obstacles to successful organization of the autoists must all roll over.
What would [you] think of an automobile drive of 100 miles in Jackson County, possible to be made in a day, through a beautiful country, a jaunt that would be a pleasurable outing from one end of the ride to the other?
At the present time likely you would laugh and scoff at the very idea. But, nevertheless, it is said to be a possibility that can be made a reality at comparatively small cost.
Autoists say that right now the trip can be made, although it has been but a few days since considerable rain fell, but the pleasure would be marred in several spots where the road is not fit for auto travel.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1911, page B2
BEGINS IN JACKSON COUNTY
In Addition to Ordering Bridge to Relieve Sams Valley Region,
Commissioners Purchase Big Machinery for New Work
JACKSONVILLE, April 6.--That the county court is entering into a systematic campaign of road building in Jackson County is shown by the plans the commissioners have mapped out and the new machinery they have just purchased. Today they placed an order with the Buffalo-Pittsburg Company for a road locomotive weighing twelve tons and seven reversible stone-spreading cars with a capacity of ten tons each.
The locomotive is guaranteed to pull the ten cars on an ordinary roadway three miles an hour.
The commissioners also purchased a twelve-ton steam roller from the Buffalo-Pittsburg Company, the kind universally used. It is claimed this equipment has three times the capacity of the old machinery with the same expense. J. L. Latture was the agent who made the sales to the commissioners.
Previous to this purchase the county owned two traction engines, or road locomotives, and fifteen cars, also a steam roller, all of which are now at work on roads near Ashland. The commissioners also have one rock crusher at work, have two more crushers ordered and will probably order another engine to assist in operating the crushers.
In addition to the rock quarry near Ashland, there are two other quarries from which the county will get rock, one on Griffin Creek near the Nye and York places, and another recently discovered on the Roguelands tracts near the Peterson place.
Excerpt, Medford Sun, April 7, 1911, page 1
SLOGAN IS "GOOD ROADS"
Jackson County Gets New Equipment for Highway Work.
MEDFORD, Or., April 9.--(Special.)--"Good roads" is the cry of Jackson County despite the action of the recent Legislature. Two new bridges are to be built across Rogue River, one connecting Sams Valley with Eagle Point and the other to cross at Derby. A road locomotive weighing 12 tons and seven reversible stone-spreading cars with a capacity of ten tons each have been ordered, also a 12-ton steam roller.
The county already owns besides this two road locomotives, 15 cars and one steam roller, which are kept busy. About 60 additional men will be employed as soon as the new machinery arrives. W. W. Harmon has recently been appointed county road superintendent.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 10, 1911, page 4
ROAD MACHINERY FOR COUNTY IS HERE
Two cars of machinery have arrived and are being unloaded for the county. One car consists of two rock crushers from Fort Wayne, Indiana. The other brought a twelve-ton road roller, a road engine, two graders, scrapers and other items, which come from the Buffalo-Pitt Company at Portland.
Medford Sun, April 16, 1911, page 3
OIL MACADAM FOR COUNTY ROAD
DUPLICATE OF CALIFORNIA'S BOULEVARDS
Harmon Recommends It to Commissioners for Central Point Highway--Its Description
County Engineer W. W. Harmon has recommended to the county court that oil macadam be used for the three-mile stretch of road between the Pacific and Eastern junction and the road district of Central Point, and has drawn a profile showing what the road would be. He is very strongly for the adoption of this material and states that it would be as fine as any road in the world and an exact replica of the famous auto roads of California.
It costs more than the old style macadam, but it is so very much better there is no comparison between them. Its cost is $9000 per mile.
Mr. Harmon states that in the East where the old style macadam was used it is being taken up and the oil macadam put down.
The profile which he has shows a width of sixteen feet for the road proper. It is first covered with a thickness of six inches of two-inch crushed rock and rolled down to a compact crust, the road roller being passed over it twenty or thirty times. Then a mixture of oil and gravel screened to one and a quarter inches for a thickness of three inches is placed on top of this and likewise rolled thoroughly, and the oil saturates the crushed rock, making it compact and permanent.
When the second part is completed a layer of one-half inch of creek sand is spread over it, which is for the purpose of keeping the oil from shooting up on the people as they pass over the road. The sand takes up the oil and makes it rigid, forming a crust which is permanent.
For a distance of three and one-half feet on either side of the road the ground is saturated with oil. The amount of grading will be from 6000 to 7000 yards of dirt. This will include a lot of boulders, which will be the most difficult work in connection with the grading.
Mr. Harmon is in hopes that the county will adopt the oil macadam. It is certain that if this is not use the old style will be, as the road between here and Central Point is to be as good and even better than between here and Jacksonville.
Medford Sun, April 20, 1911, page 5
FEW MEN WILLING TO WORK
An attempt was made yesterday in behalf of the contractor for county road building up Derby way to employ men in this city, and as a result only two out of about thirty men found about the local saloons were willing to work. Chief of Police Hittson was apprised of that fact, and last night a raid of the hoboes in town was determined upon. Wind of the proposed raid got out, however, and the men at night were missing. Policemen Helm and Hall worked diligently last night, but only succeeded after midnight in landing about half a dozen.
Medford Sun, April 22, 1911, page 1
ROAD MACHINERY IS TRIED OUT
The new Buffalo-Pitts engine, recently purchased by the county court for road work, was given a thorough trial yesterday and worked splendidly.
"It pulled the big plow through the rock and dirt up and down Eagle Mill Hill, near Ashland, with ease, and did not get stuck once, doing the work in forty-two minutes that it took the old engine five hours to do," said Commissioner George L. Davis, "and we are proud of it."
The county court will have the old engine put on the rock crusher, and the new one will be kept on the big plow and hauling rock. Mr. Davis also says it will haul forty-nine yards of dirt or crushed rock at a load with the new engine and seven new cars that have self-spreaders. The old engine and same number of cars, with the same crew, hauled eighteen yards of dirt or gravel.
Medford Sun, April 23, 1911, page 4
To the Editor: Although the people are now demanding better results from highway work, the construction of some roads through our county does not seem to have altered much from the old way, which was something after this fashion:
First--If there was any pretense of elevating the roadbed, the whole width of the right of way would be plowed up and the topsoil, the easiest plowed and handled, the most porous and poorest material for roadbed, would be removed toward the center, which when elevated 12 to 20 inches was deemed high enough, sometimes gravel would be added--a costly material--only to sink and be lost in a sea of mud the next winter. The idea of all this seemed to be that when the main track became impassable, a parallel trail equally as good could be started anywhere on the right of way. Of course side drains could not be allowed as they would prevent the track from winding from side to side of the right of way. I would submit that 25 to 28 feet base is wide enough for ordinary country roads; that the roadbed be not less than three feet higher than the side drains; add gravel if you can get it on that. The drains should be as close to the roadbed as possible, use a ring road drag on it in the winter at the right time to keep the wheel ruts filled and the surface firm so that the water can run off the road, instead of soaking into it as it does at present in most cases for the one great necessary condition for good roads is a dry roadbed. As to stone, I would interdict everything bigger than a hen's egg on or within a foot of the surface. I think it important in the interests of good roads that the ring or split log road drag should have a thorough tryout on our roads in the coming winter. The cost of the operation is light, and in most instances gives very good results.
J. H. LYDIARD.
Table Rock, May 3, 1911.
"Communication," Medford Mail Tribune, May 7, 1911, page 4
W. W. Harmon and Herman Powell of the county road superintendent's office have established a power line between the county's rock quarry on Griffin Creek district and the Rogue River Electric Company's main line on the Kings Highway. Electricity will be employed there in manufacturing material for the county roads. J. W. Wilson is in charge of the force putting up poles and stringing wires.
* * *A crew of local people are now conducting the county's rock crushing operations at the quarry west of Jacksonville. Four Greeks in the old gang were discharged for cause and their fellow workingmen quit work in sympathy. The change has proved satisfactory.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 19, 1911, page 2
Jackson County road equipment, October 22, 1911 Sunday Oregonian
Table Rock Road, October 22, 1911 Sunday Oregonian
I see by the Mail Tribune of recent date that there is a move on foot to place signboards at the crossroads in the county, something that is greatly needed, as it is very difficult for a stranger to tell which road to take when traveling, as in many instances they will run almost parallel with each other for quite a way.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail Tribune, October 28, 1911, page 3
Jackson County Leads Oregon
Jackson County has given a remarkable illustration of public interest in good roads. The bond issue of $1,500,000 was approved by the county electorate by a majority of 1650 votes.
It is a splendid manifestation of public spirit. If half a million dollars had been voted, it would have been a strong demonstration of good roads enthusiasm. A vote of a million would have been an issue before which much larger Oregon counties would have hesitated. The fact that the figures are $1,500,000, and that the majority is so large, are big facts in contemplation of the electorate's action.
At $5000 per mile, the sum is sufficient to build 300 miles of first-class road. The last census gives the population of the county as 25,756. The taxable property in 1910 was $34,299,904. The population, the property valuation and the bond issue for road purposes are testimonial to the Jackson County spirit, and evidence of a strong public sentiment for local progress.
The vote will bring to an issue the question of whether the road bonding amendment to the constitution is self-acting. If opposing citizens of Jackson County do not test the validity of the issue, the bond buyers will, and we shall soon know the status of the case. Jackson County authorities have strong assurance that the bonds will be held valid under the constitutional amendment.
Those in authority in the county will doubtless take care to get $1 worth of good roads for each 100 cents opened. Los Angeles failed to do that and is now paying the penalty in costly repairs for new highways, charges of officials, negligence and discriminations and recriminations.
Jackson County, as the acknowledged leader of the good roads movement in Oregon, and as leader in many other things, should avoid such an outcome. Such an avoidance will be helpful to road sentiment and road builders in other parts of the state.
Quoted in Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1911, page 4
Jackson County Leads the Way
Jackson County has pointed the way to other counties in the good roads movement. While the governor and the legislature have been arguing about a new road law and the conditions under which an extra session should be called to pass it, Jackson County has gone ahead to make the best of the present law and by a majority of more than two to one has voted $1,500,000 in bonds to begin the work.
The vote by precincts is significant of the condition of public opinion of good roads. The largest majorities are in the largest centers of population, Medford leading the way with a majority of 1378 out of a total of 1638, Jacksonville following with 191 to 31, and so on. Ashland was the only large town opposing the bonds, the anti-bond precincts being mostly small rural settlements. Good roads will chiefly benefit the rural districts, but the demand for them is most vociferous in the towns.
Wise expenditure of the money will have much to do with the spread of the county bonding movement. Jackson County will need expert engineering skill to devise a general system of roads, to select the best materials and supervise construction. Every locality will pull for roads for itself to be built first, but the county should not allow politics or local considerations to prevent adherence to a plan which will open up every section with due regard to its importance and make the main roads connect with those of adjoining counties, thus creating a network to cover the state.
Other counties should follow the example make the best of the good roads under it [sic]. All should continue to work for a better law, but not wait until it comes. If we go ahead now and show what can be done and how good are the results, we shall win over many of the active or passive opponents of the movement and shall gain experience which will be valuable in drafting a new law.
Quoted in Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1911, page 4
Ashland and Medford can't agree on the million and a half bond issue for good roads. The vote in the county was two to one in favor of the measure, except in the city of Ashland where the majority was the other way. Various injunctions are threatening by citizens of the latter town, and the announcement has caused great indignation in Medford.
"Country Bank News," The Pacific Banker, Portland, Oregon, October 21, 1911, page 7
BOND ISSUES FOR BETTER ROADS.The practice of issuing bonds by counties and states to provide at once large funds for use in the building of permanent roads is coming more and more into favor among those who have made any serious study of effective methods of highway improvement. There are many sections in which the details of the bonding plan is not understood, and where its advantages over the slipshod, piecemeal, hand-to-mouth methods at present in vogue are not rightly appreciated. To make the chief points of the new plan clear we give herewith some details of the issue of bonds which have just been voted on in Jackson County, in Southern Oregon, roughly the territory comprised by the celebrated Rogue River Valley. For a generation past the usual slovenly and wasteful methods of carrying on road work have been followed. This expenditure has increased until in 1910 it was $960,742, on an assessed property valuation of $5,000,000. Under this system at the present rate of building but three miles of permanent macadamized roads could be built annually, the bulk of the money raised each year being used in the continual repair of dirt roads, which during the rainy season from November to March are beyond the power of words to describe. The plan just voted on authorizes the issuance at once of $1,500,000 in bonds, all of which is availing immediately in the building of permanent good roads. On the basis of macadamized roads already completed this means that, instead of sixty miles of macadamized roads at the end of twenty years, the county will have between 300 and 350 miles, and that just as soon as men and teams can build them. So much as to the mileage of good roads available under the old and the new plans.
These good roads bonds run for twenty years and bear 4 percent interest, payable semiannually. To pay these bonds when due it will be only necessary to raise $100,000 annually for twenty years. This will constitute a sinking fund, and out of it the interest on the bonds will be met annually. The balance loaned out on 6 percent farm mortgages and interest compounded will amount at the time when the bonds are due to the million and a half required to pay the face of the bonds. A slight additional levy will be made to cover cost of upkeep of the present, but this will be but a fraction of the amount spent each year in the futile effort to keep dirt roads in repair. The bond method gives permanent roads, gives all that are needed and the great advantage of the use of them at once, while it is fair to assume that the rise in the value of property adjacent to such highways would represent a value far exceeding the total issue of bonds required to build them. Many sections have the "good roads" problem on their hands more than others, but where any serious thought is given to the building of permanent roads the bond issue method is far and away the most sensible and economical plan possible. It has already been adopted by New York and Texas as a settled road policy, the counties and townships cooperating with the state in the good road work.
F. E. Trigg, Central Point, "Farm, Orchard and Garden," The Bremen Enquirer, Bremen, Indiana, October 26, 1911, page 3
The legality of the $1,500,000 bond issue for good roads sanctioned by the voters of Jackson County September 30, has been sustained, the judge contending that according to the state constitution as amended , a county may create county indebtedness for permanent improvements to its roads if it has the approval of those voting on the question.
This approval he contended must be had by an election, for no other method was provided for securing the voice of the people. The legal principles involved, he declared, were the same as would be involved in creating an indebtedness of $1500 or $1.50, for under the present constitution the county could not create an indebtedness of any amount without the approval of the voters.
The action against the bonds which was brought by Ed Andrews of Medford, will now be continued and an appeal will be taken by the attorneys representing him to the state supreme court.
"Country Bank News," The Pacific Banker, Portland, Oregon, November 25, 1911, page 7
The movement in favor of the Taxpayers' National Bank of Jackson County, the purpose of which will be to furnish money to build roads in that county, is still on. A bill has been forwarded to Secretary of State Olcott for his opinion, and it is proposed that this bill shall form a factor in the next general election for the county. The bill provides that the county court shall select seven men, whose business it will be to organize the bank. The county is then to vote bonds to the extent of $1,500,000, and these are to be deposited with the United States Treasury as a basis for the issuance of currency to the bank.
The county treasurer is to be cashier, and as there is no procedure laid down, the inference seems that his principal duty will be to keep the bank open and hand out money to whoever elects to build a county road. The present valuation of the county is to be the reserve of the bank.
"Country Bank News," The Pacific Banker, Portland, Oregon, June 1, 1912, page 7
ROAD IMPROVEMENT.It is hard to understand why so many country road supervisors, who spend good time and taxpayers' money in grading and shaping country highways, so often fail to put on the finishing touches necessary to make the roads passable. We refer to the practice so often followed of scraping to the center of the road clods, sod and weeds and leaving them there in a rough and unsightly ridge, when a little work with a disk pulverizer or common drag would do much toward inviting traffic. The writer is well acquainted with the aversion of the average man to hauling any kind of load over soft and newly made roads, but the condition in which lots of roads are left is taken as sufficient ground for steering shy of them even with an empty wagon.
Frank E. Trigg, Central Point, "Farm, Orchard and Garden," The McKean Democrat, Smethport, Pennsylvania, August 22, 1912, page 2
Medford Mail Tribune, December 28, 1912
The King road drag.
Contract Let for King Drags
Monday the [county] court let a contract for the construction of 50 King drags for road work to Mitchell & Boeck. These drags will be distributed every few miles throughout the county to work roads after rains and are expected to greatly improve the highway situation.
Excerpt, Jacksonville Post, May 24, 1913, page 1
TO OIL JACKSONVILLE ROAD.
County Court Decides to Experiment on Road to County Seat.
The county court at its final session Friday decided to experiment with oil on county roads and purchased 10,000 gallons from A. C. Allen to sprinkle on that portion of the Jacksonville road that has just been scarified, dragged and rolled.
The entire road to Jacksonville is to be treated in the same manner, first the old rough surface loosened, leveled and rolled, then treated with oil.
Ashland Tidings, August 11, 1913, page 1
The county court is having the road between this city and Medford repaired by filling up the holes worn in the macadam and then surfacing with crude oil. The present effect is a great improvement, but whether it will last or not is questioned by many, and this road will be watched with interest.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, August 16, 1913, page 3
Oregon was the first of the states to apply for money under the terms of the Bourne bill, whereby the federal government appropriated $10,000 to $20,000 put up by Jackson County for improvement of rural delivery postal roads.
Work was begun last October under Major W. A. Crosslands, senior engineer of the bureau of highways, department of agriculture. Stormy weather interrupted the work, although good progress was made during the time of construction.
The rock was quarried at the Griffin Creek quarry and hauled by traction engine and the county dump carts as far as three miles. Work will be resumed in February. Meanwhile concrete culverts are being erected by S. A. Howard, who secured the contract.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1914, page E3
COUNTY WORK EXPENSIVEMEDFORD, Or., July 11.--(Special.)--Hard-surfaced road construction by day labor under the direction of the county has not been a success on the Medford-Central Point portion of the Pacific Highway.
Contractors Bid Below Cost of Job Done by Jackson Court.
Not only has the work been slow, taking nearly two months longer than anticipated, but the cost per mile has been far in excess of what a road contractor could do, as evidenced by the bid of the Clark-Henery Construction Company.
A conservative estimate of the coat of the county-built cement road is placed at $15,000 per mile. The contracting company has agreed to build a similar cement road with one-and-one-half-inch asphaltic cement wearing surface, in addition, for $11,000 a mile. Moreover, the contractor has to finish his road on time, while the county was not restricted.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, July 12, 1914, page 6
Bitter complaint on the part of tourists because the Crater Lake road is not plainly marked so that anyone can find it has led Ralph Cowgill of the Rogue River Canal Company to place homemade signs along intersections. The county court has been appealed to by the Commercial Club to mark the road.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 28, 1914, page 2
Good Roads Movement Still Gaining. Railroads Incorporated.
Portland, Ore., Aug. 4, 1914 (Special)--Delegates from Oregon, Washington and California held a Tri-State Good Roads convention at Medford last week for the purpose of outlining plans for future improvement on the highways of their respective states. The good roads campaign will be under the direct charge of the following officers: President, J. H. Baxter, of San Francisco; Treasurer, Judge W. S. Worden, of Klamath Falls; Directors, J. H. Albert, Salem; Capt. Walter Coggshall, Eureka, Cal.; and Godfrey Winslow, of Tacoma, Wash. These officials will hold a meeting some time during the present month for the purpose of appointing permanent committees and outlining work for the coming year.JACKSON COUNTY, PIONEER COUNTY,
The first stretch of hard-surfaced road in Oregon constructed under the county bonding act was opened to rubber-tired traffic on the 27th, at which time the delegates were taken over the highway and shown what Jackson County has done to make Southern Oregon a good road paradise.
Excerpt, Jacksonville Post, August 8, 1914, page 1
A road in Salem, January 11, 1914 Sunday Oregonian.
J. D. Orth and family have returned from Fort Klamath. Going over they made the trip in six hours from Medford, showing the improved condition of the roads.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1914, page 2
A road near Freewater, Oregon, circa 1915.
"If you want to know whether hard surface roads are popular with the farmers when they know what they are; all you have to do is to make a trip down to Jackson County and you will learn quickly," said Frank C. Riggs, the Packard and Jeffery motorcar dealer.
"I have just returned from Medford and Ashland, where I had the pleasure of driving over the new hard-surface highway laid out by State Highway Engineer Bowlby and which provides a road like a city street from Central Point through Medford to Ashland, a distance of about 17 miles. All along the way I talked with ranchers and farmers, who were loud in their praise of the splendid improvement which enabled them to get their products to market any time easily and cheaply. Motor trucks and motor buses make frequent tripes along the entire road, the buses making trips about every two hours between Medford and Ashland.
"Those living near the road are no longer isolated, and living on a farm now has all the charm of country life without its inconveniences."
"Aid to Farm Told," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, March 14, 1915, page 54
SURFACING ROADS WITH SHOT GRAVEL BEGUN IN EARNEST
Surfacing of highways with buckshot gravel has begun in earnest by the county under supervision of road master Smith. Kings Highway is the first road to be improved. This will be followed by improving the Eagle Point, Hillcrest and other roads.
The county recently purchased the buckshot gravel deposit on McAndrews Hill, northeast of the city, and has installed machinery that enables the handling of a great mass of material at a very cheap figure.
Two men are employed handling the scraping and dumping apparatus in the pit, and two more in drilling and blasting. Material is taken out fast enough to keep five auto trucks busy hauling, but the contractor has only supplied one, so eight teams were put to work Saturday besides the new auto truck. The haul to Kings Highway is four miles, and the teamsters are paid by the yard, the same rate as the auto truck.
Roadmaster Smith states that the new method of handling is a perfect success and that roads are being built much cheaper than ever before.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1915, page 6
There are 765 miles of public highways in this county, of which 15 miles are hard-surfaced, 15 miles macadamized and graveled and 735 miles of earth roads. The total amount expended for roads in 1915, produced by taxes, was $109,736.23, and provided for 1916, $70,399.97. A bond issue of $500,000 in 1913, together with an appropriation of $150,000 by the state, was expended upon the construction of the Pacific Highway in this county during the past three years. During a period of twelve years (1904 to 1915, inclusive) this county has expended an aggregate of $1,289,894.81 upon its public highways, segregated by years as follows: 1904, $17,428.31; 1905, $11,163.50; 1906, $12,413.02; 1907, $19,914.61; 1908, $41,746.33; 1909, $79,188.17; 1910, $100,309.76; 1911, $258,967.42; 1912, $65,172.28; 1913, $132,127.46; 1914, $441,727.71; 1915, $109,736.23.
"Jackson County," State of Oregon, Seventh Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Salem, 1916, page 144
GOOD ROAD WORK
Jackson County is the cradle of good roads in Oregon, and the network of highways now existing or under construction owe their success to efforts of Jackson County and her citizens, who have since 1910 carried on in the legislature, in the press, and wherever men meet a continual offensive for improved highways. Multnomah County, containing the city of Portland, and the commercial heart of the state, alone exceeds in the amount of money expended for good roads.
The stretches of road between Medford and Central Point, Ashland and Medford, 14 miles, were the first links of the great Pacific Highway laid in the state of Oregon. Paving began in November 1915, and ever since its completion has been a source of delight alike to tourists and home autoists. Building the road over the Siskiyous has brought to the state thousands of people from all parts of the nation and world, whose auto tours heretofore had ended in California. This road construction was made possible by the passing of a half-million-dollar bond issue in 1913, which was contested in the courts, and finally declared constitutional, after a hard fight. The first shovelful of earth on the Pacific Highway was turned by Sam Hill, father of Good Roads in the Northwest.
The Siskiyou road, as a section of the Pacific Highway over the mountains between California and Oregon, cost Jackson County over $225,000 for the grade alone. The grade at no place is over six percent. The road passes through a wild country, full of scenic beauties. The building of this section of the Pacific Highway opened the way for Crater Lake, and other southern Oregon wonders, and the fine fishing for steelheads in the Rogue River to become a favorite mecca for vacationists.
During the war the energies of Jackson County were devoted wholesouledly to the wining of that epic struggle, but with the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, Good Roads again came into her own, and the reconstruction period finds construction under way again.
Hard surfacing of the Pacific Highway throughout Jackson County is now under way by several contractors, and it is hoped to have the work completed this year. This will give 53 miles of hard-surfaced road from the north line of Jackson County to the California line. This is paid for by Jackson County and the state highway commission.
Contracts for grading 22 miles of road from Prospect to Crater Lake National Park line are let, and the work is now under way. The road from Prospect to Medford has been adopted by the state and federal government, is being surveyed, and preliminary preparation made for construction in 1920.
This road is being built jointly by the federal government, the state highway commission and Jackson County.
The Green Springs Mountain road, from Ashland to Klamath Falls, traversing a mountain section rich in scenic wonders, and fishing and hunting grounds, is now being constructed at a cost of about a million dollars. The expenditure is being borne by the state highway commission and the people of Jackson and Klamath counties. It will open for commercial purposes a rich section, and offer another ideal highway for the autoist.
From one end of Jackson County to the other the foundation for a network of good roads has been built. All the country roads are in good shape, being built and maintained by the county court. The benefits derived from a business and pleasure standpoint have long since more than justified their building and is reflected in the fact that Jackson County owns more than its per capita of autos.
A wave of good roads building is sweeping over the state, and there is hardly a section that has not felt the impetus. Five years ago Jackson County stood almost alone as a champion of this type of civic improvement. The accrued benefits have more than balanced the original outlay.
Oregon is a leader in good roads, and the program now under way in this state by the state highway commission calls for an expenditure of $12,842,765.21 during the next 18 months, and the good roads program is still in its infancy in this great state. Three years ago the legislature passed a $5,000,000 good roads bill, and last year another $10,000,000, the principal and interest of which will be paid by auto licenses. This does not include several millions of dollars that will be created by taxes during the next few years for good roads.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 12, 1919, page 3B
COUNTY ROAD WORK IS NOW IN FULL SWING
County road building is now in full swing. A fleet of five trucks, two 120-horsepower Caterpillars belonging to the state, and crews aggregating 200 men, are operating in various parts of the county. One hundred miles of county road is being scarified and put in good condition for travel, including the road from Jacksonville to Central Point, the Willow Springs road, and the Jacksonville-Phoenix road. The Medford-Jacksonville road was scarified early in the year.
A large portion of the work is being done by the county in conjunction with the road district and the state. A crew of 15 men are grading the new road from Jacksonville to Ruch, eliminating the Jacksonville hill, which will be made a permanent highway if the proposed half-million bond issue carries. The present work is being done under the market road provision, $40,000 being allotted, $20,000 from the county and road district and $20,000 from the state.
Market road construction has also been started from Reese Creek to Butte Falls, which will call for $20,000 divided between the state on one hand, the road district and county on the other.
In all there will be $91,000 spent this year in the county on market roads; $4,000 is also being spent on each fork of Lake Creek with aid from the United States Forestry Department and the Rogue River Canal Company.
Three contractors now have road crews at work. Schell and Calvert have 100 men in the north part of the county, Oskar Huber has 50 men on the Siskiyou grade and Guebesch has 50 men working on the Ashland-Klamath Falls road. Those people who fear the passage of a $500,000 bond issue will deplete the local labor market fail to realize that there are 200 men at work, who will be available when the present work is completed to do the work planned under the bond issue. If the bond issue fails these men will probably be idle and forced to go where road work is being done.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 3, 1920, page 3
"I'll have the pavement all laid from the California line to Ashland this year," predicted Oskar Huber, contractor, who is in town for a few days. Mr. Huber has the last section on the southern end of the Pacific Highway. He is paving over the Siskiyou hump and is working down into the valley toward Ashland. There are 20 miles to be paved. When this section is finished there will be an uninterrupted stretch of hard-surface pavement from the California line to Gold Hill. At present Mr. Huber is hustling to get as much accomplished as possible before the snow begins to fly. Recently he had to shut down his plant because a forest fire in the reserve on the California side burned the poles carrying his power line.--The Oregonian.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, September 30, 1920, page 2
Paving is practically at a standstill on the highway here, on account of the weather and lack of water to wash gravel.
"Rogue River," Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1920, page 5
Only about a month's work is required to complete the stretch of paving the Oskar Huber construction company is building on the Pacific Highway south of Ashland. But this month's work is being sadly hampered by the bad weather of the past week or two. The snow on the mountain at present has compelled activities there to suspend, and the rains in the valley have brought about the same results. This delay, it is stated, will probably throw back the work so that it will be close to the first of the year before the stretch from the city limits to the California state line is completed.--Ashland Tidings.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, October 20, 1920, page 2
Medford street crew, probably on the 500 block of South Grape, circa 1925.
THREE MUD HOLES OF COUNTY BRING PIONEER MEMORY
The county court was informed this morning that there are a trio of mud holes in Jackson County, which need fixing right away.
This caused County Commissioner George Alford to recall that he remembered when there were more mud holes than that on the main street of Medford, and the head of navigation to the westward was approximately where the Washington School now stands.
Commissioner Alford said that there was a mud hole of considerable dimensions in front of where the Monarch Seed and Feed store is now located, and another opposite Charlie Strang's drug store. Commissioner Bursell corroborated his fellow official and declared these two were the best mud holes he had ever encountered or expected to. The mud hole adjacent to the Washington School, however, was a cousin to the Pacific Ocean, having breadth and depth. One spring a steer walked into the same and was never seen again.
The modern mud holes called to the attention of the county court are puddles. One is located near the north city limits, another to the south, and the third on the north side of Rogue River between Grants Pass and Rogue River.
"The Rogue River mud hole is terrible, by what I hear," said Commissioner Alford. "Some morning when it is frozen over we will go down and try to get across. They tell me it takes a long step to get across."
Commissioner Alford harbors a supreme contempt for modern mud holes, and was aghast to learn that there were three in the county. He said that a census 20 years ago would have revealed at least 3000, and "everybody took them as they came."
The three mud holes will be obliterated as soon as they can be filled up with gravel, the county court decided.
The county court is desirous of eradicating the Rogue River mud hole at once, as reinforcing of the bridge at Rogue River will start soon, and travel to the Pacific Highway from the town of Rogue River will be suspended while the repairs are under way.
Citizens of Rogue River recently requested that the road to Grants Pass (the Old Stage Road) be repaired. It gives the residence of that district a shorter outlet to Grants Pass and also enables them to avoid the traffic on the Pacific Highway.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 13, 1929, page 5Ben C. Sheldon Details History of Efforts for Highway System
by County and Chamber of Commerce
Sept. 7, 1929
To the Highway Committee of the Medford Chamber of Commerce:
Gentlemen: This letter is in answer to your query regarding the early history of the activities of Jackson County and the Medford Chamber of Commerce in the development of the highway system in southern Oregon. I am dictating entirely from memory and hurriedly, and apologize in advance for this rather rough and rambling series of notes covering my recollections of those highway development activities of which I had personal knowledge.
My mind divides this subject into three natural subdivisions--first, the activities which antedated the development of the state highway program; a second, those which were a part of the state highway program, and third, those which were apart from and some of them subsequent to the state highway system's development.
The one outstanding fact, as my mind goes back over this twenty years' campaign through which Jackson County has undertaken to develop her highways, is the fact that our people have always recognized the value of the tourist traffic and realized and kept constantly in mind the fact that the tourist does not come to a point and turn around and go back, but that he will visit a point or a district on a "loop" or roundabout tour.
I would say that this attitude has characterized practically all of Jackson County's activities along road building lines.
In 1915 the county court of Jackson County sent me to the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco as one of the two Jackson County representatives in the Oregon building. One of the instructions I received from the county court, delivered to me personally by County Judge Tou Velle and County Commissioner Frank Madden, was that I should prepare some magazine articles descriptive of the auto tour from San Francisco to Jackson County and return, making one leg of the trip by way of Sacramento Valley and the other leg by way of the Redwood Highway through Ukiah, Eureka and Crescent City.
I refer to this as indicating the early attitude of our people in realizing that a development of the tourist travel into this section involved advertising the attractions all along the route and holding out to the autoist the fact that he could find splendid attractions and varying scenic wonders and beauties from the time he left his California home until he returned.
I do not need to remind any of the old-time residents of Medford that this county was the first in the state to lay a modern hard-surface highway outside of the city limits, and as a part of a larger state system. The section of the Pacific Highway from Central Point to Ashland, and the grading and paving of a new road over the Siskiyous, both done by Jackson County, was the beginning of Oregon's splendid state highway system.
My mind goes next to the effort made by the Medford Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Judge William Colvig, Dr. J. F. Reddy and George Putnam, to secure a good road to Crater Lake. As a part of that program we earnestly advocated and supported the building of a road to the Oregon Caves.
I remember one meeting at the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce at which the principal speaker was Judge Colvig, then president of the Medford Chamber of Commerce, his splendid speech being followed by brief talks by our Jackson County road engineer, Mr. Harmon, and myself, all to the point that Jackson County was making a bid for the automobile tourist, by improving a road to Crater Lake, and that we needed and wanted other neighboring attractions opened up and made available by good road building to help bring the tourists to this section.
The most active good road enthusiast in Oregon in those days was Sam Hill of Maryhill, Washington. I have a vivid recollection of a trip made by about six automobile loads of Medford enthusiasts up through central Oregon to the Columbia River, and to Mr. Hill's home in Maryhill where we picked up a distinguished party, including Governor West, Mr. Lancaster, the engineer who built the Columbia River Highway, Mr. Thompson, city engineer of Seattle, and Sam Hill and others. We returned through Central Oregon, stopping at four or five of those towns to enable our party to conduct good road booster meetings, and ending with a monster meeting at Medford. The result of that trip was the giving of assistance to our Crater Lake road by a crew of prison convicts at the direction of Governor West.
While a member of the legislature, and listening to the debates of our good road measures, I heard more than one echo and reference to that expedition, fostered by the Medford Chamber of Commerce, from the lips of central Oregon legislators. It helped to make all that district "Good Road Minded."
I now come to the time when I became a member of the board of directors of the Medford Chamber of Commerce. The activities of the chamber along good road matters were mapped out largely under the direction of Harry A. Walther.
I never heard a suggestion made at any board meeting of the Medford Chamber of Commerce during the four or five years that I was a member that did not have as its cardinal principle that to bring the tourists to Medford and Crater Lake we must have good roads coming into this section from every direction.
My active interest in the development of this general road plan extended over three administrations of the Medford Chamber of Commerce, during which years H. A. Walther, Vernon Vawter and I were successively the president of the Chamber of Commerce, my year being the middle one of the three.
I can state as a positive fact that at no time during these three years was there ever a deviation or a wandering away from this general outline of what Jackson County needed to properly develop the tourist traffic. We talked the problem as one involving laying out such a road system as would permit and attract the tourist to come into our section by one route and return by another. We envisioned the Portland, Seattle and Tacoma vacationists autoing down the Pacific Highway, through Roseburg, Grants Pass to Medford and returning by either the Dead Indian Road, Klamath falls, thence north to The Dalles-California Highway to the Columbia River Highway or by way of Crater Lake, Diamond Lake, Mt. Thielsen and the east side of the Cascades road to Bend, Redmond and The Dalles.
And likewise we envisioned the thousands of California vacationers coming north through the redwoods to Crescent City, thence to the Oregon Caves and Crater Lake, returning by Klamath Falls, Weed, Redding and the Sacramento Valley.
I can state positively that during the years when I was familiar with the program of the Jackson County road building enthusiasts, supporters and workers, we never lost sight of that program as our real objective, and I confidently believe that such a general plan is in the minds of our people at this time.
Jackson County gave loyal support to the development of our state highway program, struggling valiantly against those few and unsuccessful efforts to involve the program in unfair contracting methods and giving loyal support to such highway commissioners as Mr. R. A. Booth, Mr. Kiddle and Mr. Yoon, who did the state such a signal service in developing over a one-hundred-million-dollar road program, and keeping it clean and economical.
I remember one circumstance during my first session at the legislature, where the state program had its real beginning, which illustrates Medford's attitude toward her neighbors. Umpqua County has always presented a turbulent condition respecting road building because of the many diverse interests of her several communities. When the bill laying out the state highway system was before a committee of the legislature the proposition was made that the Pacific Highway should be routed over the Umpqua Divide and down Trail Creek to meet the Crater Lake Highway at Trail. To Mr. W. H. Gore, more than any one individual, belongs the credit of defeating that proposal, and he did it openly, avowedly, and in the spirit of insisting that Grants Pass was entitled to have the Pacific Highway routed through that city even though it might mean a considerably longer route.
I was sent to three sessions of the State Highway Commission by the county court of Jackson County to present and urge some of our local road development measures. On two of those trips I was accompanied by County Judge George Gardner, and on one I went alone. I well remember that at one of these sessions held in a court room of the Multnomah County Courthouse at Portland we had to again meet and defeat an Umpqua County proposal routing a road over the Umpqua Divide to the head of Trail Creek.
I need not remind you that these fights put up by Jackson County have as a result the routing of our Crater Lake travel coming from the north through Grants Pass and Josephine County.
My mind goes back to the time when our Medford Chamber of Commerce undertook to organize what we named "The Southern Oregon Natural Attraction League." The plan originated in our Medford chamber either the year of Mr. Walter's presidency or the following year. I proposed that the four cities of Klamath Falls, Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass should advertise this district jointly, and as a whole, rather than to advertise our individual cities alone. The first proposal along that line was made by a delegate of the Medford chamber visiting Klamath Falls, where a most enthusiastic meeting was held and our plan was presented by Mr. Gore and myself. Mr. Hall, the Klamath Falls hotel man, was president of that chamber at the time, and through his active interest the Klamath Falls Chamber of Commerce unqualifiedly endorsed the plan.
Our chamber secured through the state highway engineer's office the preparation of the plates for a three-color map of this section. The southern border of the map showed northern California, including Crescent City to the southwest, and the Modoc Lava Beds to the southeast. The eastern border of the map was some twenty or thirty miles eastward from Klamath Falls. The northern border skirted northward to Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen; the west border was just west of our coastline.
Our chamber also secured from the Southern Pacific railroad company very handsome photographic plates showing views of the Oregon Caves, Crater Lake, Klamath Lake, and our forest roads. These were sent from Portland to the Southern Pacific representative at Medford to be used by us in the preparation of a splendid three-color folder to show this map above mentioned and several photographic views.
Our plan was to prepare the map as one order of 50,000 or 100,000 copies, and have them bought and distributed by the four cities of Ashland, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Medford.
The matter was presented to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce at a meeting of their board, and unqualifiedly endorsed. When this program was presented, with proofs of the map plates, to the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce we were advised that the advertising allowance of their chamber had been allotted to other purposes, one of them being a very neat and attractive little map with Grants Pass in the center, prepared by Jack Harvey, secretary of the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce.
In this plan for the Southern Oregon Natural Attraction League, initiated and pushed by the Medford Chamber of Commerce, can be seen clearly the breadth of our Medford plan for road development.
I wish I had a proof of those map plates prepared in the state engineer's office at Salem; they would show better than any printed word that the plan of the Medford good roads development extended north of Diamond Lake, south and east of Klamath Falls, as far southwesterly as Crescent City, and included all the main highways in that entire territory.
No person conversant with the 15- or 20-year record of our Medford efforts toward the development of highways in southern Oregon can successfully deny my unqualified statement that that effort has, during all that time, been consistently and intelligently directed toward the upbuilding of all the highways leading into Jackson County from every direction and that they had as its fundamental the entirely selfish thought that only by developing the highways leading to Jackson County through all our surrounding counties could we expect, or would we receive, our share of the rapidly growing tourist travel, the value of which is just beginning to be thoroughly felt and appreciated.
BEN C. SHELDON.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1929, page B1
New Names Give to Many Rural Roads in New Plan
The rural house numbering program being carried out in Medford's fringe areas by the Jackson County Engineer's staff at the request of the Medford post office has resulted in new names for several rural roads in this area. County Engineer Paul Rynning said he has been reluctant to tamper with road names that have become accepted through long use but that in some cases the new designations have been unavoidable.
When the project is completed, the Medford post office will inaugurate city mounted service in a number of areas now receiving rural motor route mail service. The new system will also provide more accurate addresses for rural residences now designated only by a route and box number.
Some Names Changed
In cases where road names have been confusing and non-descriptive, or in instances where a road bearing the same name jogged in several different directions, names have been altered, changed or added.
The Phoenix-Jacksonville highway, from Jacksonville to the Griffin Creek Road, is now to be known as Stage Road South, as distinguished from the Old Stage Road from Jacksonville to Gold Hill
Buckshot Road, from the old Crater Lake Highway to the Lone Pine School, will continue with that name, but that portion that runs in a northerly direction will be known as Springbrook Road, including a small section formerly known as Crestbrook Road.
The name Biddle Road will cover the entire length of the road running from Medford to the airport, doing away with that portion now called Morrow Road. Only the east-west street running into Biddle will continue to be known as Morrow Road. A new quarter-mile stretch of Biddle Road will be constructed from the Crater Lake Highway connecting with the dead end of what was once Morrow Road just north of McAndrews Road. Rynning expects it will be of particular value to east side residents.
New Crews Road
Part of the old Biddle Road in the vicinity of Medford's former sewer disposal plant has been renamed Crews Road.
At the end of Beall Lane, two previously undesignated roads will now be called Freeland Road and Sunnyvale Road.
New addresses, for home owners on the roads involved in the program, are now being mailed out by the Medford post office.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 16, 1950, page 1
New Four-Lane Highway Recalls Many Memories
of Muddy Trail to Phoenix
Chasing Runaway Horses Featured Early Day Trips
Hour and Half Trek Now 10-Minute Drive
By Helen J. Perry
Mail Tribune Phoenix Correspondent
Phoenix--The new four-lane intercity highway between Medford and Ashland with the northbound one-way bypass around Phoenix brings to mind of many older residents of Phoenix the improvement through the years since 1884 when the road was just a wide muddy trail in winter and a dust cloud in the summer.
It was quite an excursion to go to Medford in those earlier days. Most of the time it was a trip not relished because the road was full of rocks, chuckholes and mud or dust, according to the season. After hitching up the horse and buggy, the family dressed up in their best bib and tucker and climbed aboard for Medford. The trip was a long pull, taking about an hour and a half, that is, if everything went well.
Lily Reams Coleman and her sisters recall these trips with many a chuckle.
In the winter, their mother carefully tucked them into the buggy, complete with hot bricks and heavy lap robes. In the summer they were almost in disguise, wearing dusters for the trip and arriving in Medford coughing and choking from the clouds of dust raised by the horse and buggy.
Anna Towne Smith, who has lived in Phoenix since she was four years old, remembered the troubles along the road in 1896, caused by frisky horses that would shy at a piece of paper blown along the trail, sometimes upsetting the buggy and running away. Quickly picking themselves up, they would all join in chasing the fractious pony, repairing the buggy and then set off again. Cows, chickens, horses and pigs roamed at large in those days, and there was often a delay while the children jumped down from the buggy to shoo the animals out of the way.
Another original Phoenix resident is Mrs. Lily Caldwell Blackwood, 90, who celebrated her birthday this October. She traveled in her hack back and forth over the trail from Phoenix to Jacksonville and Medford, many times taking orders of berries on her trips.
A breakdown of the buggy en route meant another loss of time because if you could not fix it yourself, or happened to be near one of the few ranches along the way, one just sat and waited for another traveler to come by and help with the repairs.
One Blacksmith Shop
Instead of the modern service stations and motor repair shops that dot the highway nowadays, Phoenix, in 1896, boasted of one blacksmith shop called Hukill's. They did all the repairs on the buggies, mended the harness and shod the horses.
Advent of the Southern Pacific train service was the next step in the progress of travel between Phoenix and Medford. When the railroad was completed and the first run made, it was a great day of celebration.
The schools were closed for the day, and people came from far and near to see the new train. When the engineer blew the whistle for the first time, it caused quite a commotion. Men shouted, women screamed, children hid in their mothers' skirts or ran for dear life away from the noise, and Aunt Maria Coleman waved her parasol and shouted "Praise the Lord."
Now in the worst weather one could ride the train to Medford and not have to fight the mud and trail dust. Fare on the train was 20¢ one way, and it was well worth the money, especially for the ladies.
The men usually rode horseback if traveling alone on business and made the trip in a lot less time than in a buggy. However, the horses would shy and rear in panic whenever they came close to the railroad tracks or the locomotive, that new and frightening visitor to the Rogue River Valley.
Now in the year 1935, the old wagon trail of 1896 has been replaced by the modern four-lane paved highway to accommodate the high-powered cars that traverse them. A one-way traffic section has been built around the town to facilitate the heavy flow of traffic in a safe and orderly manner. The people who suffered the hardships of early-day travel marvel at the safety zones, traffic lights and warning posts and accommodations of today's highway.
Travel time between Phoenix and Medford is 10 to 12 minutes for drivers who adhere to the safety engineers' admonition--"Never exceed a speed which is reasonable and prudent for existing conditions."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 15, 1953, page 14
Wagon Trip to Roseburg 73 Years Ago Took Five Days,
County Judge Recalls
Rugged Climb Over Mountains Worst Part of Journey
Blacksmith's Services Needed by Travelers
By Harry Nordwick
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
In the near future oldtimers will be completely lost on new Highway 99, which will sweep in straightaways and gradual curves from the Siskiyou summit to the interstate bridge on the Columbia River.
This highway improvement in western Oregon will lop off a number of miles traveled the length of the state, especially in the southwest Oregon area. Several sections have already been completed between Medford and Roseburg, which is generally considered the worst section.
A traveler along the new asphaltic-concrete speedway in the Cow Creek Canyon section can still occasionally see a two-wheeled dirt road adjacent to Cow Creek and ploughed under in other sections by the modern highway or the pretzel-shaped nightmare which used to be Highway 99.
Many readers will recall the old 99, but few are still around to remember the old stage road which was once the north-south link with the Rogue Valley. However, one distinguished local citizen can recall one experience in his youth, which took place some 73 years ago on this same stage road. It has a particular spot in his memory, as it was a trip to see his first "iron horse," or railroad engine.
The citizen, County Judge James Blin Coleman, was four years old at the time. The year was 1880. The circumstances surrounding the taking of such a "lengthy" excursion (it took about five days up and three or four back as compared with the modern time of about 2½ hours) were twofold: the Judge's father, Matthew Hubbard (Uncle Hub) Coleman, a county pioneer of 1853, had discovered a legal question concerning part of his farm, and also a friend wanted him to haul barrels to Roseburg, from whence they would be shipped by freight on the Oregon and California Railroad, which terminated at Roseburg.
Roseburg at that time was the site of the district land office where M. H. Coleman hoped to assure title to his land by use of the homestead filing act. Somehow the title to 160 acres of his farm in the Coleman Creek area southwest of Phoenix (named after him) had been lost. The section was right in the center of his farm, including buildings adjacent to the two-story log house in which the family lived. He had originally obtained title to the property under the preemption law and entering the property. This was done by filing and paying $1.25 an acre. In order to regain the lost section, he would have to file under the new Homestead Act and occupy it for five years before permanent ownership, according to his son.
Young Coleman and his parents started out on the journey with the owner of the barrels who was moving from the county. The Colemans' Steel-X (steel-axled) wagon was pulled by a pair of bays, which the Judge says he "can see yet." One was a dark bay gelding called Bill, and the other was a dark bay mare named Florie. The team pulled the heavy wagon, which featured rear wheels 72 inches high. These freight-type wagons were sometimes hooked together two and three in a bunch and pulled by a string of eight horses, J. B. Coleman continued. The driver usually rode the rear (left) horse and drove with a single or jerk line to the left leader. This "loose" method of driving the series of horses made it possible to maneuver well around the many bends in the road, the Judge noted.
The route followed by the party went through Central Point from Phoenix and crossed the Rogue River at Gold Hill. The Judge couldn't remember what crossing method was used at that time, whether the old Cavanaugh Ferry or toll bridge. From here the road kept on the north side of the river and passed through Woodville (Rogue River) and continued on the north river road past the present site of Grants Pass. The latter could not be remembered by the son, and Kerbyville had been the Josephine County seat, and a whole township from Jackson County was given Josephine to provide a county seat on the new railroad which came through about three years later. In short order the road began the tortuous climb over Sexton Mountain and through the canyons to Wolf Creek and Canyonville, which were settled at that time. Each night the group camped along the road without the aid of convenient motels which now dot the entire route.
As usual, they had wagon trouble instead of the usual tire or motor trouble of the modern tourist. Axle trouble developed near Canyonville. While Mrs. Coleman and her son stayed in the wagon, M. H. Coleman and the other man went into Canyonville to see if they could get the needed part. It was found that it would take four days to get the part down from Portland, so a blacksmith from the town agreed to ride back to the damaged wagon and stub-weld it back on, thus providing a predecessor to the mechanical help of today.
After the axle was repaired, the party rode on to Roseburg. "It wasn't a bad road," J. B. Coleman explained, "although it was pretty steep in places. It traveled up and down over the draws."
Upon arriving at Roseburg, the Colemans camped below the railroad track, he noted, and his father went directly to the land office to file the homestead claim. While he was on this business, his son and wife walked along the railroad track where the Judge saw his first train. He related that "as the train got nearer I pressed tighter against an adjacent fence till I was plastered against it when the puffing engine went by. I told my mother that if I got a little madder I would jump right at the big machine." He described the engine smokestack as the funnel-shaped type. The engine, "a tiny little thing," was pulling a tender full of wood and had a sandbox and several cars, he remembered.
The Judge continued his association with trains in about the fall of 1883 when he rode on the first passenger train into the Rogue Valley. [Passenger service didn't begin until 1884.] The O and C extended its lines to Ashland where he was met later [in 1887] by another railroad from the south.
On the return trip from Roseburg, the son recalled an incident in a field near Woodville where his father stunned a crow with his huge blacksnake whip and gave it to his son for a pet. The crow stayed a pet until it recuperated and then flew hastily away from its tearful, brief owner.
Added to Home
After returning to the farm in the Rogue Valley, the Colemans had established a residence on the homestead property and showed improvements on it. About 60 feet from the main dwelling was a smokehouse which was just over the line of the property in question. The elder Coleman added a kitchen and bedroom to the smokehouse and lived there for the next five years. During this time the children stayed in the main house but ate in the smokehouse, the Judge said.
After the prescribed time, M. H. Coleman took three witnesses with him to Jacksonville who ascribed that Coleman had made more than $500 in improvements on the land. A minor charge for this final proof and the original $15 filing fee was the only cost of the land. The entire farm then amounted to about 400 acres. It was sold in five or six pieces at a later date, with the last deed made out in June 1908 to the new owners.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 22, 1953, page 14
Winding Greensprings Highway Was "Modern" Route in 1920s;A lot of people love scenic mountains. In the summer at least. When winter comes, this love can easily turn to hate as icy and snow-crusted roads turn the scene into [a] hazardous nightmare.
New Road to Klamath Proposed
By Harry Nordwick
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
For some time just such a route has been so considered by a large number of travelers over the Cascade Range from the Rogue Valley. It's called Highway 66 on road maps, but known hereabouts as the Greensprings route. The latter name is quite appropriate, as the motorist climbs to 4,000 feet on negotiating Greensprings Mountain, even though there is a higher spot farther on the route called Hayden Mountain.
Public opinion on the route was expressed earlier this year when the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce conducted a series of community clinics. After a vote, it was determined that completion of a new and faster route to Klamath Falls was one of the two most important projects that should be completed in the county.
Not New Idea
The route suggested was via Lake o' Woods, as paving for all-weather travel was being completed from Klamath Falls to Rocky Point junction near the lake. The idea wasn't exactly new. It had already been presented at least twice to the Oregon State Highway Commission and twice turned down in past years.
However, a group became interested again, and after a Jeep trip over the proposed route via Lake Creek were even more convinced. Action was taken by State Rep. Robert Root last summer when he wrote a letter to the commission and received an answer that the commission felt a survey would be justified.
At the present time, the commission is "well along on a physical and economic survey of the Lake Creek route," Root states, and the group has written him that the survey is expected to be completed by three or four months. At that time, they will have arrived at an "economic quotient," he reported, on the feasibility of the route.
Less Maintenance Cost
In comparing the Greensprings route with the proposed one, Root explained that the Lake Creek highway, which is already a secondary state highway to McCallister Soda Springs, would involve lower maintenance cost than the present one, involve a lower grade and less snow. He described the new route as an "all-weather" one.
In rough estimates, making the Lake Creek road into a primary highway would cost around $2,225,000, while reconditioning the Greensprings route would be near $8,000,000, Root said. Both roads are almost exactly the same mileage to Klamath Falls from Medford, but the Lake Creek route is considered potentially faster as it will be without the infamous "horseshoe" turns of the Greensprings. At their worst, turns on the Lake Creek road would be comparable to the new Siskiyou Highway. The present 19-foot width would be extended to 32 feet.
Besides a better route to the east, the road would also open up a good highway to relatively inaccessible timber and to an excellent winter recreation area, the state representative continued.
Historically speaking, there's a lot to say for the old route. In this modern day, high-compression engines must be held back by the safe driver or he's liable to end up at the bottom of the adjoining valley in the middle of the first Greensprings road, which is still used by neighboring ranches.
Was "Modern" Route
However, the winding grade of the current route was the "modern" road for the "modern" cars after the first World War which putted up it in good style and were thankful they did not have the old stage road to contend with.
To appreciate the present road, one has only to look at the first road. It can be seen off to a precarious right in the valley bottom while ascending the mountain. The road into Buckhorn Mineral Springs follows the stage road exactly till it turns to the right, and the stage road continues on up the mountain. Mileage variance between the old and the current road is as much as one-half to 1 mile, according to Paul Rynning, county engineer.
Members of a pioneer family, closely associated with the route to Klamath Falls, still recall this early stage road use. Mrs. Frances Howard Worth, Granite St. in Ashland, reported that her grandfather, Zenas Howard, operated the Howard stage station from 1877 on the route. This property entered the family from a land grant to an uncle of Mrs. Worth's father, who was a Civil War veteran. It is now known as the Summit Ranch.
Besides the stop at the Howard station, the stage also made stops at Parker station and then Keno. From Keno the stage went by ferry to Linkville, now known as Klamath Falls. The road also went by the old DeCarlow Ranch, which was another sanctuary in the wilderness. The DeCarlows later moved to the present highway and established the Pinehurst community.
Mrs. Worth's father, Charles B. Howard, was a stage driver 1884-85 in his youth and in 1889 married and moved to Parker station. A sister, Mrs. Alice Howard Parker, 87, who lives in Ashland, also moved to the station when she married into the Parker family. This station was also a government telegraph station, and Charles Howard and Sumner Squire Parker went to work as linemen on the telegraph line. A brother, Walter Howard, who resides with his niece, Mrs. Worth, was a stage driver during the period for the Klamath River route from Ager into Klamath Falls.
Later, after moving away, Charles Howard and his family lived in California and Arizona, Mrs. Worth related, and returned in 1915. At this time they found no service for passengers to Klamath Falls. The only route was by a short line railroad from Weed to Klamath.
Howard then began operation of a bus line with headquarters first at Ashland and later Medford. The first vehicles he used were Model T Fords. Mrs. Worth even took to driving one of the "buses" in the summer of 1917 when she was 18 years old. The Model Ts were used for about two years, and then the firm utilized seven-passenger Studebakers. After about three or four years, Cadillacs were in use with special body work done by a mechanic in Medford in lengthening the sedan chassis.
Mrs. Worth described the roads as "very rocky and steep. The bus would twist with the road as we drove." Added to this was the fact that it was only a good-weather road. Regular travel lasted only from about April to the first part of November of each year because of the snow and mud conditions. Service was begun earlier each spring by using the Klamath River route. This meant traveling over the graded Siskiyous road to Hornbrook, then east to Shovel Creek, Ager and up the Topsy grade. She noted that the Topsy grade wasn't quite as bad, although it was "very narrow" and "quite dangerous" with the Klamath River down below the road.
Sought Better Route
Such road conditions were naturally outlived with modern "horseless carriages," and Charles Howard soon began a movement to obtain a better route over the Greensprings. He obtained petitions and made several journeys to Salem to obtain a survey and grading of a new road.
Results were soon to materialize. Construction began in 1919 with the Greensprings section let to contract by the state, and county crews building part of the road from about Jenny Creek to the Klamath County line. In July of 1919, a young state highway engineer became location engineer and ran a survey to Keno. He was the present Jackson County engineer, Paul Rynning. His first trip to the project was on one of Howard's buses, he reported this week. He remembers the old road as "about straight up" where it reached the top of the valley. Rynning worked under Kenneth Hodgman, division engineer, and Jack True was foreman of the county road gang which worked part of the road on a cost-plus basis.
Travel on the stage road was so rough, he continued, that a round trip would usually wear out a set of bands on a Model T's gears and brakes.
Construction problems in those days were also quite different, he noted, as there were no tread tractors and gas shovels. Work included use of the old steam shovel, a lot of horses, and plenty of powder. He added that cleaning and grubbing stumps was the hardest part of the job. Horses plus liberal quantities of TNT removed these obstacles. "In those days," the engineer continued, "the boys would as soon blow a stump to bits as carry it out."
Work continued on the new road in 1920 and was soon covered with rock macadam. Oiling did not take place until after 1925, he added.
For a number of years, the bus trip to Klamath was an all-day affair, according to Mrs. Worth. After traveling to one end of the route the bus would start back the next day after an overnight stay. The bus would leave at 8 a.m., be at DeCarlows for lunch and into Klamath by about 4 p.m.
One Trip Each Way
Later, about 1924 or 1925, Henry Grimes became a partner of Howard, and he operated from the Klamath end. Both would start from opposite ends and meet in the middle, switching passengers, he said. This allowed one trip a day each day.
About 1930, the partnership sold the bus line to [the] Southern Pacific and its subsidiary Greyhound Bus Lines. The late SP agent A. S. (Rosie) Rosenbaum helped negotiate the transaction, Mrs. Worth reported.
After sale of the bus line, Howard purchased the Summit Ranch, where the family again lived.
When asked what she thought of a new route to Klamath Falls, Mrs. Worth reported that she "hoped that the present route was at least maintained for the beautiful drive" which she knows so well.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1953, page 9
Five-Day Wagon Trip to Crater LakeModern man is struggling to keep a few primitive areas left in Oregon.
Was Real "Outing" for Hardy 1909ers
Two Teams Needed to Make Toughest Hills; Curves Bad
Car Made Round Trip in One Day in 1911
By Harry Nordwick
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
It wasn't so long ago when the struggle was to carve modern advancements out of the whole primitive area. This turnabout has occurred swiftly since the turn of the century and has left a number of Jackson County residents rather agog with the changes.
Changes also leave a host of memories wrapped up with the creak of wagon wheels and smell of saddle soap, and later with the goggled-eyed and duster-clad humans in "horseless carriages."
An early route from this area was the Medford-Crater Lake road. However, in those days it was slightly different than the present paved road, which is now declared by many to be too "curvy" for modern vehicles, at least from Trail to Cascade Gorge. This feeling is espoused even in the face of the historical fact that it took four to five days in [a] heavy wagon, one way, to reach the lake, while now the local resident, crammed in a car with visiting relatives, can zoom up in 2½ hours.
Among a number of local residents who well remember both methods of travel are Mrs. Myron Root of 28 North Berkeley Way, who took many early wagon trips; Assistant City Superintendent Clatous McCredie, who slid down a pathless rim to Crater Lake's very edge with Mrs. Root's party; Seth Bullis of the California-Oregon Power Company, who sped to the lake and back in the amazing time of one day with a 1911 Winton Six; William von der Hellen, pioneer road contractor, who worked as early as 1906 on park road crews, and later as private contractor; and Paul Rynning, county engineer, whose second job was location engineer for the state highway department from Prospect to Medford in 1919. His first was work on the Greensprings route.
Mrs. Root's first excursion to the late was in 1909 when she went in a two-wagon party. She was able to verify specific incidents of this and later trips with letters written by a chaperone. She was a member of the Rev. Kirby Miller's wagon group, whose son later became a Rhodes scholar. Their wagon was pulled by a pair of "balky white horses," Mrs. Root related, and this pair plus the famous William Stewart mules hitched to the other wagon "made some interesting experiences." The other wagon was headed by William McCredie, father of Clatous.
"Never traveling more than 30 miles a day," Mrs. Root continued, "we made our first camp at Elk Creek, near the old fish hatchery." She related how the old dirt road didn't follow the present route but hugged the river and then would head "straight up." The road pitch was so bad the teams had to be hitched together to make the grade for each wagon. In one instance, at the top of a hard climb, the party met a caravan from Klamath Falls coming down with a woman driver on the wrong side of the road. After a precarious passing, the party got around the wagons using poles on the outside curves.
Travel on Foot
The party was able to wagon to the base of the rim on this trip, near the present government camp, but the rest of the way was on foot or horse. The group arrived late in the day after a four-day trip, Mrs. Root said, and even though dusk was near she walked to the rim. She described the sun setting in the west and blue of the lake as "the most glorious thing I had ever seen, and not one man-made thing was within sight to mar the picture."
In remembering his journey with the group, Clatous McCredie reported that he and Mrs. Root "crawled" down to the lake's edge without benefit of any path. A picture in Mrs. Root's possession revealed another party utilizing a water-path [i.e., a watercourse] in ascending the crater's rim two years later. McCredie also remembered that it snowed about two inches while the group was camped below the rim. He said the area was filled with "thousands of chipmunks."
Although the party forded Union Creek, he said that a couple of logs had been placed over the road for automobile travel with flattened tops for the wheels. Travel by wagon was "a lot of fun," McCredie recalled, "as time didn't mean anything then." The group had ponies, which they rode along the way. Wagon members walked a lot, as the wagons were full of provisions.
In 1911, Mrs. Root took her second trip to the lake and noted "great improvements" in the road during the brief period between trips. With her party were Josephine (Jo) Riley Holmes, still a resident of Eagle Point, Mrs. Ira Canfield and brother, and Myron Root and Robert Wilson, a cousin of Mrs. Root and now with the state highway department.
This trip was described as "hilarious" by Mrs. Root. She said the group didn't meet a car this trip, which took 17 days. On this trip there was a boat at the water's edge, she continued, and the group borrowed it and rowed to Wizard Island. "On the way over the boat sprung a leak, and we had to bail like mad coming back," she said. "There was no path down to the water, and we just slipped down a dry creek bed."
She described the "freight trains" which were met along the way, and the interesting stories they told. She remembered one freight wagon which turned over and all the party turned out to pick up the spilled apples. Another interesting part of the travel was heating water for the horses, as the animals could not drink the icy water from the snow-fed streams. Freighters often helped the party up steep grades, she reported, and one told her husband that use of freight horses in getting the party over a hill helped him also, as he couldn't pass anyway.
The party of 10 also spent about three days at Mill Creek Falls, where they had lost some ponies. An accident happened here, which displayed the rough road. One driver was thrown from the wagon seat when he hit a rut near the falls, which threw him onto the ground, knocking him unconscious.
Upon reaching the camp at the base of the rim, she noted that a small "horse-pin" road had been hewn out of the rim up to the top, which wasn't there in 1909. The road was so hazardous that the party had to cut down lodgepole trees and used them in lifting the rear of the wagons around the curves, she related, in what probably could be termed the original horseshoe curves. "It was so difficult," she added, "that only young people would ever have attempted to get a wagon up the road." However, she enjoyed the trip so much she made it again the next year.
A few years later, in 1914, Bullis took his speedy trip to the lake. The occasion was a publishers' convention at Medford, and Bullis took a group up in his Winton Six and back in the same day. Bullis described this as "quite a feat in those days." Most of the other members of the group, including Myron Root, who drove a Franklin, stayed overnight at a lodge.
Bullis said that the group motored via Derby to McLeod on the old Crowfoot Rd. and hit a similar roadbed to the present one from there to Annie Spring. The road then wound up from Garfield ski run to behind the present lodge.
This same year an article in the Mail Tribune described a new Southern Pacific folder citing a round trip fare via Medford to the lake from Portland at $31.20 with "good accommodations and an excellent campground" at the lake and auto taxi service from Medford to the lake on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Another article in the paper described a party of four motoring to the lake who turned off the road near Derby to look for a campsite "when their car hit a cougar, causing fender damage."
On Sept. 7, 1914, a letter from Dan C. Kingman, U.S. Army engineer, was published in the Mail Tribune, and it told of proposed elimination of "Corkscrew Hill" within the park boundaries. It reported that, in the engineer's opinion, the hill was the only piece within the park that presented "unusual difficulty to auto traffic. With the exception of this hill which will be eliminated this season, the road in the park is much better than the larger portion of the road between the park line and Medford."
Von der Hellen, who with Chris Natwick and George Brown and son received a contract to clear and grade that portion of the present highway in April 1919 from Prospect to the park entrance, said that such a statement of the roads was possibly true, as the "higher up you went the wetter the ground and the firmer the ground." The road was worked out much more at the lower elevations and far more dustier, he added.
The original road followed practically along the route of the present road, he noted, except for where it would "dodge a tree, instead of [going] straight by removing it." He said that in some places it was 200 to 300 feet off the old road. Von der Hellen also stated that the biggest construction expense was in clearing the right-of-way. There was very little rock to move in the deep pumice soil, he continued, with only 2 to 3 percent of the yardage removed of rock content. All the dirt moving was by horses, with stumps removed by TNT, furnished by the government. "It took more TNT than usual to move stumps in the porous pumice soil," he stated.
The three contractors utilized three camps; three miles north of Prospect, Union Creek and Whisky Creek. He recalled one incident at their camp when Sen. George E. Chamberlain, a famous Oregon statesman, and Ralph Watson, Oregon Journal political writer, stopped with Model T Ford trouble and stayed overnight. The camp blacksmith repaired the car. A similar incident occurred when the blacksmith, doubling as a mechanic, repaired the vehicle driven by Tommy Luke, prominent Portland florist.
No Serious Accidents
The contractor reported that construction in those days "was not very dangerous," and he could recall no serious accidents. They finished their 22-mile road piece in November of 1920, he added.
Engineer Rynning, who went to work on the project in September of 1919 as location engineer from Prospect to Medford, reported that the section from Prospect on was not oiled until after 1925. He remembers that winter as the "one of the blue snow." In describing the route at that time, Rynning said that the ferry over Rogue River at Shady Cove was still operating, with the bridge completed about 1921.
A lot of travel crossed the Rogue at old Bybee bridge and went on the north side of the river, he said. The ferry couldn't be used part of the time, as the black sticky near it bogged down cars. The Shady Cove settlement was nothing but one or two houses at that time, he added. Trail had one store, operated by a man named Ash, he continued, and there were also stores at McLeod and Cascade Gorge.
The Grieve resort at Prospect was one of the main stopping places on the route. From there on, Rynning said that the dust was hub-deep and in some places so thick "you could hardly breathe." The trip took an easy half a day by car to the lake and "you never thought of coming back the same day."
Road construction on one stretch at that time was relatively easy, he pointed out, as a section from Cascade Gorge down to the Evergreen Ranch was built earlier by prison labor under Gov. Oswald West about 1914. All that was required here was to widen it on the same grade. William Grieve, father of James Grieve, was in charge of the prisoners, Rynning said.
The road dealt no serious engineering problems, Rynning said, with the heavy rock work from Cascade Gorge down to Trail. The old dirt road in this stretch was followed "fairly close," he added.
All of the persons traveling the old road agreed wholeheartedly on one thing; that is, there was plenty of dust. This got increasingly worse with the pumice or volcanic "froth" nearer where Mt. Mazama erupted, forming the crater for the lake.
When the new roadbed was completed, Will G. Steel's prediction as superintendent of the national park in July 1914, in a Mail Tribune article, seemed realized. In that year he reported the Crater Lake Auto Stage (Hall Taxi Co.) as leaving Medford "loaded to its fullest capacity. . . . In a few years Crater Lake was bound to be the most famous resort in America."
Now, it is annually visited by thousands of tourists over the Medford entrance road. However, it is not likely that many of the modern tourists achieve a thrill like Mrs. Root, who hiked to the rim "with not one man-made thing in sight."
Medford Mail Tribune, December 6, 1953, page 14
Highway Over Siskiyous Oldest Route in County;"That'll be $1.25 please. Hope you find the road good over the summit."
Tolls Charged Many Years
Numerous Troubles Encountered During 1913 Construction
Old Stage Trips to South Recalled
By Harry Nordwick
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
That's exactly what would have happened to you if you drove your buggy over the Siskiyou summit after 1859 and up to about 1913. It seems hardly possible that the old roads were financed in such a way with the current more indirect methods now in use. But it worked and was one way, at least according to records, to keep roads in fair shape and still make some money for the person that "owned the road."
It seems hardly possible in a time of great public road projects that private persons controlled the roads on an original "pay as you go" basis. According to Jacksonville Museum records of the Siskiyou Wagon Road Company, the road was first opened for toll charges on Aug. 28, 1859, and two horsemen were the first customers at 25 cents each. The Lindsay Applegate family operated the road after moving from the Umpqua to the toll house near the present railroad location of Steinman.
Business Not Bad
Business wasn't half bad. Everybody paid, evidently based on some index of road wear and tear. Prices started with 25 cents for a horseman to a drove of 700 sheep for $20. The most consistent revenue was the stage company, which paid a monthly rate, averaging about $80. At the end of the Civil War, this was just about the only revenue during the bad winter months. However, a year's total for 1864 was $3,738--a tidy sum in those times.
Road maintenance was extremely hard work in those days. The Applegate cash journal and "Diary of the Weather," which is being preserved by Mrs. Myrtle Lee at the museum, reports that during the particularly stormy winter of 1871 the drifts were quite deep. On Feb. 21, 1871, the diary stated that the company "break (broke) snow all day with three men and two yoak (yoke) of oxen pulled the stage to the summit." They also reported "blasting" rocks out "of the canyon" on numerous occasions. The road in use at this time was evidently not the first road in entirety, as a diary entry of Dec. 28, 1868 reports of a trip to the summit of the mountain on "the old (1848) road" on which they "got two deer killed there yesterday by Frank French."
Lindsay and Jesse Applegate made their first trip from Yoncalla in a party of 15 men over the Siskiyous (boundary mountains) into Mexican territory about 1846, according to a short essay by Frank L. Applegate, prior to the above-mentioned road. A path very near to the toll road was evidently used by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841. A group led by Lt. Emmons passed over the boundary range into Mexican territory and passed by Pilot Rock. Charles Wilkes, USN, who recorded the adventure of the naval expedition, said that in places the group traversed ". . . a steep and narrow path, where a single horse has barely room to pass." Indians impeded their progress, he related, with the burning of trees to fall across the path "and many other impediments placed to prevent the party from advancing."
Sold Road in 1871
Such were the hazards of early travel over the Siskiyous. The Applegates sold the toll road privileges to James Thornton in 1871, and Thornton in turn sold to the third and final owners, the Dollarhide family.
A well-known native of the Ashland community, Clarence E. Lane, remembers may trips over the mountains. He related that in the early days the road "was traveled quite a bit. The Ashland band and ballplayers would often go over the mountains to Yreka."
He remembers the old stage route, which went from Ashland, with as many as six stages leaving in one morning. First stop was either Casey's or Barron's, he related. They would then climb a small hill over to Wagner Soda Springs where the road forked for the Greensprings route to Linkville (Klamath Falls) or over the Siskiyous. "Depending on the weather, the stages would then leave the station. If it was snowing, sleds would be used from this point," he continued.
The Siskiyou stage road would then wind up to a point beyond the present Steinman on the railroad right of way where the toll gate was located. According to the Applegate toll book and diary, various travelers would spend the night at the toll house. The road then wound up to the summit where the stages would meet in a widened area just this side of Cole's, the next stage stop, Lane said.
It was a long time before the road was improved for all-weather travel. A "better roads" movement, in which Jackson County was the premier county of Oregon, saw action by 1913. Judge Frank L. TouVelle, Jacksonville, who was county judge at the time, recalls purchasing the toll road rights for the county from the Dollarhides for $1,600. TouVelle said that the dirt stage road was followed closely on the new grading project, as "there wasn't enough money to buy new right of ways."
Didn't Come Easy
Although part of a historic link of Pacific Coast states, the new road didn't come easily, as attested to by articles in the Mail Tribune during the period.
An Oct. 16, 1913 article reported that the only thing holding back the advertising for bids was securing rights of way "for the new road over the Siskiyous" and "for alterations along the present road, such as eliminations of sharp turns and the deeding of needed strips for a uniform width of 60 feet. . . ." Further, "in many places the present road is but 40 or 50 feet wide."
On Nov. 20, the firm of H. A. Keasel and W. M. McDowell of a logging firm at Tacoma, Wash., was awarded the grading contract for $107,534.30--the lowest of nine bids. The award was the basis for elaborate plans by a committee headed by Benjamin Sheldon for the digging of the first shovelful of dirt of the new road. Accepting an invitation on the occasion was Samuel Hill of Seattle, called by the Mail Tribune the "most prominent good roads enthusiast of the Northwest."
The M-T edition of Nov. 28, 1913 had this to say of the occasion: "In the presence of Gov. Oswald West and the state highway commission and a hundred prominent citizens of Jackson County, the first shovelful of earth in the construction of the Pacific Highway in Oregon was over, Kittredge, the resident engineer reported on Jan. 21 that plans for the Siskiyou camp for convicts and at Gold Ray quarry were abandoned "on account of the large number of unemployed in the county."
Originally the road was to be 24 feet wide, with 16 feet of hard-surfaced road, and a maximum grade of 6 percent. However, on Feb. 11, the county court decided, along with the highway engineer, to pave only 8 feet in width over the Siskiyous with 8 feet graded on each side, according to the M-T. "This will cut down the cost and leave money enough to complete the grade through the county," the article added.
Contractor Sweeney located his first camp at Steinman, with later ones at Siskiyou and also near Cole's or at Colestin where the heavy rock work is on the other side of the divide.
Judge TouVelle accomplished one of his campaign promises with the depositing of cash from most of the $500,000 bond issue in Jackson County banks. That was the recognizing of county warrants at par value.
A grand jury investigation was held on the contracting matter, but the evidence against the Portland contractors was not sufficient for indictment. Certain "highly scandalous unsigned letters" were referred to by the jury in regard to alleged attempts by the contractors to discredit TouVelle and Bowlby, according to the M-T.
After the paving, the 8-foot stretch was not widened to 16 feet until 1920, according to County Engineer Paul Rynning.
Siskiyou County Work
At the same time Jackson County was paving its stretch, Siskiyou County in California was working on its part of the Pacific Highway. The new road was the turning point in the history of two Siskiyou County towns as Yreka outbid Montague for the highway site. The old road passed through Montague in what was called a "disgraceful stretch of mire." The Siskiyou line met the Jackson County road a mile north of Cole on the mountaintop.
Grants Pass in Josephine County was not interested in the Pacific Highway at this time, and Hill proposed that the county send its 1915 tourists to Crater Lake and thence through central Oregon over "good natural roads to Biggs. . . ." Hill suggested this route, as the Willamette Valley area had also "refused to cooperate" in his Pacific Highway plan. Grants Passers were even wooed by a "Lt. Marshall," who was really an escaped convict, who offered to re-route the highway via the Applegate and leave Medford off the line. Fortunately, he was discovered as an impostor.
In the fall of 1933, what had been considered "modern" in 1913 was again out of date, and work began on the first unit of a new route that was above and to the west of the 1913 road. On Dec. 14, the M-T reported construction under way on the first unit by William von der Hellen and Pierson from Neil Creek to Wall Creek.
This entirely new road was a considerably different one from the old type "which followed the line of least resistance," according to von der Hellen. He related that hard workers and new equipment were able to cope with the building. He termed some of the new roadbed as through "tombstone granite." He completed about five miles of the present road, with the remainder done in units. The road was completed to the state line in about four years, he added.
This road is still modern and was actually one of the first attempts to straighten the Pacific Highway in Oregon. This project was continuing in Jackson County last summer, with the next county stretch to be from Blackwell Hill to Central Point.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1953, page 14
Two Roads Played Vital Part in Early Jackson County Travel;Two Jackson County roads played a vital part in early-day history, although their present-day importance is overshadowed by other thoroughfares. These are the Dead Indian Rd. and Highway 238 via Ruch and Applegate.
Now Less Used
Dead Indian, Ruch Roads Antedate Automobile Travel
Both Much Improved in Recent Years
By Harry Nordwick
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Within the memory of County Judge James Blin Coleman, there have been at least three roads over the Dead Indian route to Lake o' Woods and Ft. Klamath. The first road was the Civil War road in the early Indian days, he related, which was used by newspaper men who raced over it to Ashland to telegraph the message of Captain Jack's hanging Oct. 3, 1873 at Ft. Klamath
The next road went on the left side of the ridge from the present one, according to County Engineer Paul Rynning, who surveyed the present route. Travel over the second road is remembered by several parties who took early wagon, buggy or car trips.
This was really a tough trip, according to Rynning, as the grade up to the summit was 26 percent before it was reduced to 10 percent on the present road. In August of 1897, a party went over the route from the Rogue Valley to Lake o' Woods in a wagon owned by Barney Miller. Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Lane of Ashland were among those making the trip, which lasted about 12 days on the road both ways, including their stay at the lake.
En route, the group camped at Arthur Hunt's ranch near Beaver Creek, according to Lane. He described the road as "terribly rough" and "bumpy," being "all rock" in several places. "We didn't have any flat tires like modern cars, but a lot of loose wheels, which we bound down with wire," Lane continued.
He also noted "sticky mud," which forced the driver to remove the brake blocks from the wagon. Upon arriving within sight of Lake o' Woods, Lane said that he and Jack Briggs took off ahead of the rest in their haste to get to the lake's edge. "It couldn't have been over 200 yards," he explained, "but we got lost. We fired our guns and those at the wagon returned the fire. A little later we came out about 10 feet from where we started, going in a complete circle."
The Ashlander related that travel over the road was very sparse, with cattle from the nearby ranches the chief users of the road.
A few years later, in August of 1903, a group of four traversed the same road from the other end on a circle drive via Crater Lake. Making this journey in a covered buggy or "hack" were Chet Parker, Route 3, Box 361, Press Phipps of Medford and "Doc" Edwards and Art Anderson. The group accurately recorded their journey with numerous photographs which were printed by George Mackey, brother to Henry (Stovepipe) Mackey, famous Medford photographer, according to Parker.
Visited Ft. Klamath
After visiting Crater Lake, the group went to the Ft. Klamath area and toured the buildings still standing. After viewing the old sternwheeler Jessie at Rocky Point on Pelican Bay, the group went on to Lake o' Woods, where they stayed overnight. Parker said that the group built a fire to ward off the mosquitoes, "but that they came right into the smoke and almost ate us up." It took the group two to three days to go from the lake into Ashland, he noted. He referred to the Dead Indian Road as a "cow trail," and remembered a few homesteaders along the route.
While descending the steep road from the summit into Ashland, Parker said that they tied a log on the back of the hack to hold down the speed of the buggy on the grade. All members of the group were fully armed with rifles but didn't shoot a thing, he added.
Coleman also remembered a Model T auto trip about 1918, which took about four hours to reach the lake. Rynning also noted the same type of vehicle use and said he utilized the same method as the buggy party by using a fir tree on the rear of the car to keep the rear end down while coming down the grade.
The present road replaced the second road over a period of about 10 years, Rynning said. The first survey was made in the spring of 1920 and a section built the same year. Grading continued a section at a time until the 1930s. "The biggest change," he added, "was reducing the grade from Ice House Canyon to the summit by 16 percent." The whole road has never been paved, although about 4 miles of the lower end was oiled. The county crews are still working on it, the engineer pointed out, by improving the old alignment, widening and cutting off bad points.
Early Day Road
One of the earliest roads in the county was the Ruch Rd. from Jacksonville. Kasper Kubli, a pioneer in the Applegate Valley, used a wagon road in the fall of 1852 and camped directly across the Applegate River from the present community of Applegate, according to his grandson, E. W. Kubli, who now lives one-half mile from the original pioneer homestead of the family.
The grandfather operated a pack train from Jacksonville to Crescent City, Calif., which utilized the Applegate River road route and was the principal means of getting freight into booming Jacksonville. The route was precarious at the best, and at one occasion Indians raided the pack train, E. W. Kubli said, and his grandfather and the grandfather's brother were the only ones who escaped, although the brother was seriously wounded.
During the same period from about 1852 to 1859, Peter Britt also operated a pack train over the same route, according to Mrs. Myrtle Lee, curator of the Jacksonville Museum. A Spanish pack box-type saddle for pack mules is now in the museum which was used on the route.
Travel was apparently considerable, and settlement increased a few years later as the Kublis erected a trading post and stage house in 1857, which was operated until 1900. The house was located about 2 miles from the present Applegate community.
E. W. Kubli reported he could remember when the road into Jacksonville was "just a trail. We used to pull the singletree out from the buggy when we went down the old Jacksonville Hill road because it was so steep," he related. He described it as a one-way road with "lots of places almost impassable." Kubli reported very little difference from the old dirt road to the present paved road down through the Applegate Valley. The main change was the rerouting of the road over Jacksonville Hill.
The old route over the hill left Jacksonville by way of Oregon St. and is still in existence, meeting the present road at the top of the hill. At the top of the hill a highwayman once held up the stage going to the famous Blue Ledge copper mine in the early 1900s. The stage driver, Oscar (Duke) Lewis, is still a resident of Jacksonville.
Travel to the Blue Ledge was very busy over the Jacksonville-Ruch section and then up the Upper Applegate Rd. where it branches at Ruch, according to Mrs. Harry Whitney of Jacksonville. Mrs. Whitney was an employee of the mine for a period, and her husband also worked there. She recalled about three stages a week to the mine. The first stop after leaving Jacksonville was the old Henry Bowden place, where the horses were watered and whiskey sold "by the gallon." Stops followed at Ruch, McKee (dinner served), Watkins and Joe's Bar. A place called Eileen, about one-half mile from the mine, was the last stop and first stop after payday.
Mrs. Lee also recalled taking a stage out the Applegate as a young girl to stay a week or so at the Basye ranch. She recalled that the stage had to ford the Applegate in one place and she was "scared stiff."
Early travel over the road to the Upper Applegate and main valley road is well remembered by Dave Dorn, who was born in the U.S. Hotel 75 years ago. Dorn, now night watchman at the Jacksonville Museum, lived on a mining claim in the Upper Applegate for many years, and was also road supervisor for Jackson County on the Jacksonville-Provolt section from 1918 to '19.
At the time he was in charge of the road, the small creeks were forded and wooden bridges were over the larger streams. He recalls traveling down to the Josephine County line and "catching fits from the adjacent farmers who thought they weren't getting their share of road work from the taxes they paid." Dorn said they thought their whole tax bill went for road improvement and not other functions of government, also.
Repairing roads in those days was "pick and shovel" work, he added, and he usually hired one or two men to help him. When the work got too heavy there were always men available living along the road who helped him. On really big jobs, he would use a team from a farm and haul a scraper along the road surface, Dorn said.
The road got very muddy in places, he continued, and when cars became frequent there would be "three tracks down the road. Two for the tires and one for the crankcase."
The "straight up" portion of the old road was alleviated over Jacksonville Hill before the present road was paved. Rynning ran the survey over the hill and said "we thought it was a good job in those days." The same section is now being changed right now with the grading done from the top of the hill back towards Jacksonville for about 1½ miles, and paving is scheduled for next spring. The old "kinks" are removed.
This section over the hill was the principal change over the old dirt road and very welcome at the time, according to Dorn. Heavy oiling of the road was done first from Medford to Jacksonville and from the top of the hill to Ruch about 1924, with the center section from the hill to Jacksonville completed about 1927, Rynning noted. Paving was later completed from Ruch to Grants Pass. The road was made a secondary state highway in 1928.
Another road out of the Rogue Valley, which is "modern" in vintage compared to those two, is the Tiller-Trail Highway. Completion of the route by the 1940s was done with much controversy, as it would leave out Grants Pass and other Highway 99 points. The road was oiled in sections during the '30s. Rynning pointed out that although the route has only one summit, it is higher than any one of the three on Highway 99.
The route was early heralded in the Mail Tribune as shortening the distance between Medford and Portland by 40 miles and an hour in time, according to an article on July 11, 1929. The article noted that the Tiller-Trail route was the original road surveyed and was "once considered the most practical route for the present Pacific Highway." It was termed an "easy grade" and supported by Willamette Valley communities, Portland commercial interests and stage concerns. The route would also give a faster and shorter route to Crater Lake from these points, the proponents believed.
However, the road never materialized as an arterial highway and is still in relatively little use, especially in the winter.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 20, 1953, page 14
Post Office House Numbering Done
A house numbering system for several roads in the Medford area has been completed by the Medford post office, according to Postmaster Moore Hamilton.
Roads on which house numbers have been established are Pacific Highway to Talent, South Stage Rd. from Kings Highway to Pacific Highway, Oak Grove Rd., Madrona Lane, Casino Rd., Bellinger Rd., Ross Lane, Brookdale Rd. and Pierce Rd.
Work on the numbering system was done by Leslie Shorey of the county engineer's office, working with post office officials.
It completes present house numbering work, but plans call for all roads which the Medford post office serves eventually to be numbered, Hamilton said.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 30, 1954, page 14
Last revised November 5, 2018