The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


    J. B. Riddle is constructing a sewer from the Riddle House to Bear Creek.
"Medford Melange," Ashland Tidings, April 20, 1887, page 3

    The proposition to build water works and provide a sewerage system for the city carried by a majority of 7 to 1.
"Medford Items," Oregonian, Portland, June 1, 1888, page 7

    A good sewerage system is the one thing most needed by the city of Medford. Perhaps the time has not yet arrived for the successful carrying out of a project of this nature, but just so soon as that time shows up the matter should be attended to. There are many places in the city which are breeders of disease germs and which should be subjected to a thorough course of disinfectant, and no more efficient means could be employed than sewerage, but while we wait for this our health officers should see to it that chloride of lime is used unsparingly.
Editorial, Medford Mail, December 8, 1893, page 2

    It seems difficult to ascertain what was the real issue in the late city election. Some think that one ticket was in favor of building a sewer to Bear Creek, while the other was against that proposition. The former was successful.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 12, 1899, page 1

    At the meeting of the city council last week a right of way for a sewer was purchased through the land of W. T. Nelson, for $250. The route of the sewer will be from the school house down 7th Street to the alley back of Hotel Nash, thence to A Street and down that street to the Nelson place, where the dumping grounds will be made.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 20, 1899, page 3

    Our town will have a sewer in the near future; in fact, arrangements have already been made for its construction. It will dump on land along Bear Creek, purchased of W. T. Nelson.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 23, 1899, page 3

    The Western Clay Company, of Portland, has taken the contract for putting in the Medford sewer. The contract they have is the one forfeited by Frick Bros., and the city council has decided to allow them to fill the same as mapped out and for the same price as that given to Frick Bros. R. E. Smith, representing the Portland company, has been in Medford this week arranging all details necessary for starting the work and just as soon as men can be secured to dig the sewer they will be put to work. It is given out that sixty men are wanted. The city council has appointed Garl T. Jones as superintendent of the work for the town.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 8, 1899, page 7

    Medford's new sewer system was built by the Western Clay Company of Portland. The work was begun a short time ago, and the trenches completed last week. While the system is not extensive, it will relieve the most thickly settled portions of the city, and is so arranged that it will form the main line for future additions.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 2, 1899, page 3

    The introduction of the sewer system in Medford has been so successful that there is already a demand for an extension. In accordance with a petition by property owners, the council ordered a sewer constructed from D Street to the main on A Street, and the contract has been awarded to C. W. Huggins of Portland. A 10-inch pipe will be laid at an expense of 80 cents per foot. With this addition the main part of the business portion of the city is well provided with sewerage.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 6, 1899, page 3

    Street Commissioner Brandenburg has a number of men engaged this week in putting in underground box culverts, and otherwise repairing the street and sidewalks on Seventh Street, near the depot.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 1, 1901, page 7

    The time has come when the people of Medford must begin to figure on ways and means for a water supply for drinking and domestic purposes outside of that furnished by wells, and a system for carrying off of surplus water and sewerage other than that afforded by natural drainage. The town now has 2,500 inhabitants or over and is rapidly growing in population. Situated as it is, the gradient toward Bear Creek is not sufficient for the water falling during the winter season to drain off readily, nor the character of the soil such as to quickly absorb it. In many places depressions exist which are filled with water by every rain, and this water stands until it disappears by evaporation, a menace to the health of everyone in the vicinity. Nor is this all. The water supply for domestic purposes in this town comes from wells. None of these wells are deep--from twelve to twenty-five feet--and consequently are dependent upon surface water to a great extent for their supply. One can imagine the purity of that water when it reaches those dwelling in the lowest parts of town after having filtered through all the barnyards and other premises above them. The prevalence of typhoid fever this fall in Medford is direct proof that this condition of affairs is something which requires attention. Much of it is due to impure water, and a noticeable fact is that the majority of cases have appeared in the thickly settled portion of town east of the S.P. railroad, while the more thinly settled and elevated portions of the city have been comparatively free.
    In some way these conditions must be remedied. Some means must be found within the next few years to secure an adequate supply of pure water for domestic use for the city.
    The Mail has no suggestion to offer at present as to ways and means of securing this water supply, but is ready and willing to do all in its power to secure the success of a feasible scheme to permanently relieve the situation.
Medford Mail, October 31, 1902, page 2

    Street Commissioner J. A. Brandenburg and surveyor  Garl T. Jones have been making surveys of the streets and vicinity of Medford with a view to bettering the street and sewerage system. If the committee will allow, about 400 feet of sewer pipe and 130 feet of wood will be put in at the lower end of the sewer where the creek has changed during the recent high waters and left the sewer.

"Local News Notes," Medford Success, February 10, 1903, page 2

    The digging of the sewer authorized by the city council at its March meeting will be contemplated by the end of this week, excepting that portion which crosses the Southern Pacific railroad track. Up to Wednesday evening H. E. Boyden, the contractor, had not yet received permission from the railroad company to make the necessary excavations beneath its tracks, but expected to receive it at any time. Work, in the meantime, will be pushed toward completing the sewer.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 2, 1905, page 7

    The location [for the school, at Maple and Bartlett] is about an acre of ground on which Dr. Adkins made very favorable rates and is a pretty situation for the school and in about the right place. It is the intention to run a sewer to the creek from the site.
"North Medford School House," Medford Mail, August 10, 1906, page 1

    Thursday the city council purchased from I. D. Phipps a tract of land on the west side of Bear Creek, 40x80 feet, for $500 and other considerations. This tract is near the present discharge of the sewers and will be the site of the septic tank, which will be built at once.
    A special meeting of the city council was held Monday evening to take action on the matter of installing a septic tank for the impounding of sewage. The committee on sewers was instructed to proceed with the matter of installing such tank.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 17, 1906, page 5

An Explanation.
    The Tribune stated in a late issue that the council of this city had paid Mr. I. J. Phipps $500 for a worthless tract of ground on the creek for the location of a septic tank, which is a long ways from being strictly true. The city had no rights on Mr. Phipps' premises. It was discharging its sewer matter into a cesspool hole in the creek with no water to carry it off. The consequence was that the conditions became unbearable to Mr. Phipps, whose residence was about one hundred yards away. The town was threatened with a damage suit and an injunction suit, with good ground for complaint. A deal was made with Mr. Phipps whereby the town was to be immune from the threatened suits and a tract of land for a septic tank and the right of way of the sewer to the creek was obtained, for all of which the city is to pay Mr. Phipps $500. The concessions and immunity obtained from Mr. Phipps will be much more valuable to the city than the small tract of land for the septic tank. That is all there is to it.
        Very respectfully,
                J. S. HOWARD,
                Mayor of Medford.
Excerpt, Medford Mail, August 24, 1906, page 4

    Mayor Howard has appointed T. W. Johnson to supervise and inspect the work of constructing the new septic tank. Messrs. Reinhart & Atwell have the contract for the construction of the tank, and Mr. Johnson's business will be to see that the specifications are carried out.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 26, 1906, page 5

    Reinhart & Atwell, who have the contract for building the septic tank ordered by the city council some weeks since, have the work well under way. They have encountered several unfortunate obstructions that have delayed the work, but these have been overcome and the cement foundation and floor is now completed. The work will be in readiness for acceptance by the board not later than December 15th.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 9, 1906, page 5

Has Found the Leakage.
    Mayor J. S. Howard has been hard at work during the past several months endeavoring to discover if possible where the leakage of water is in our water system, but not until water from the sewers was turned into the septic tank was there any accurate means presented. When the water was turned into the tank a record was made as to the time required under ordinary usage in filling it with water, which time was just twelve hours. The tank holds 60,000 gallons, which would mean that 120,000 gallons of water goes through the sewer every twenty-four hours. This, figured at ten cents per thousand gallons, the price charged consumers by the city, would amount to $12 every twenty-four hours, or $360 per month.
    As an offset for this $360 there was collected for the month of October only $208.95, which means that the city furnished to the consumers water to the value of $151.05 for which not a cent was received. Still this is not all. The deficiency is even greater than this because that many of our townspeople have private septic tanks, the water from which does not go in the sewers. Then again there are many of our townspeople who use more or less water for stock and domestic purposes who are not inside any of the sewer districts. It is safe to say that the city loses by leakage fully $200 per month. Mr. Howard's plan for cutting out this leakage is a thorough inspection [of] all water meters, and as well an inspection of all closets where city water is used, and insist upon all of them being kept free from leakage. These inspections, he insists, should be made monthly.
Medford Mail, January 4, 1907, page 4

    The city is soon to undertake the laying of more sewer pipe. The sewer system of the city at present is giving entire satisfaction, but the city limits have expanded, making more sewer lines necessary.
"Facts Regarding Medford," Medford Mail, June 12, 1908, page 8

    The ditcher is making good progress on the sewer, in district No. 6.
"Improvements Are Many," Medford Mail, August 14, 1908, page 4

John Mark Was Injured by a Cave-In of a Sewer.
    John Mark, a laborer, about 40 years of age, while at work excavating for the trunk sewer line at the intersection of Seventh Street with Riverside Avenue, was caught by a caving embankment Saturday and badly bruised and his left collarbone was broken. He was taken to the Goode Lodging House, and Dr. Seely was called and the fracture was reduced and the wounds dressed. No internal injuries were apparent, and he will probably get along all right.
Medford Mail, November 5, 1908, page 5

    At a meeting of the city council held last night it was decided the city purchase an acre of land below the city on Bear Creek on which to erect a septic tank. There may be some objection regarding the price the city will have to pay for the use of this land for this purpose, but there can be no question regarding the matter of the city carrying out the plan, and the sooner the better. Regarding this plan the Oregonian of recent issue has this to say:
    The septic tank, the successful operation of which has been conclusively demonstrated, will do more than any one thing to improve the sanitary conditions surrounding country homes. The Country Life Commission would do well to encourage by its endorsement the general use of this means of getting rid of filth. The septic tank is a comparatively inexpensive receptacle for all the refuse of a home and has important advantages over the sewer as it is known to the city. The effectiveness of the septic tank has been proven by practical use at two large institutions in Oregon, the Chemawa Indian school and the asylum farm. All the refuse from these institutions flows into septic tanks and, after being purified by natural processes, goes out into open ditches, giving offense to no one. If farm homes were provided with this means of disposing of sewerage there would be no danger of contracting disease from infected well water and much less probability of disease germs being carried by flies to the kitchen, dining room or milk house.
Medford Mail, December 11, 1908, page 4

Another Septic Tank.
    Engineer Osgood has been busy for several days past preparing plans for the construction of a new septic tank for the city. This tank will be located outside the incorporate limits of the city on the north, near Bear Creek, and will be about four times the size of the one now in use. Bids for its construction will soon be advertised for, and as soon as the new trunk sewer line is completed it will be ready for use.
Medford Mail, January 22, 1909, page 5

Bottom Must Be Raised Two Feet before it Can Be Drained, Owing to Level of Creek.
Steps Will Be Taken by City Engineer to Rectify the Matter So That it Can Be Used.
    The new septic tank which was recently constructed at the end of the new lateral trunk sewer on Riverside Avenue is out of commission for the time being, owing to the fact that it can be drained only down to a two-foot level. The bottom of the tank will have to be raised that much before the tank can be successfully used.
    The fault is said to lie with Bear Creek. It is claimed that when the tank was put in that the bottom of the creek was two feet lower than it is at the present time and that at that time the tank could be successfully drained. During the winter the bottom of the creek filled up, and now the tank will remain useless until it is fixed by having the bottom raised.
    City Engineer Foster is at present looking into the matter and will take immediate steps to remedy it.
Medford Daily Tribune, April 13, 1909, page 1

Jacobsen & Bade's Buckeye Ditcher
Jacobsen & Bade's Buckeye Ditcher

    The Jacobsen-Bade Company yesterday shipped their trench-digging outfit back to Portland, having completed their work in this city. The company has been carrying on operations in this city for about a year, and during that time has dug 17 miles of trenches, 8 miles of which were for sewerage and the remainder for water pipe.
Medford Mail, May 14, 1909, page 5

    The Jacobsen-Bade ditcher, made famous in a poem by A. Brown, will remain with us. The machine had been loaded on the cars ready for shipment back to Portland, when it was decided that it might be used to advantage in the digging of the trenches for the water mains, and so it will remain with us for a time at least, while the doggerel machine grinds out another stanza or two.
Medford Mail, May 21, 1909, page 8

Bear Creek to Be Bridged
    MEDFORD, Or., Jan. 22.--The necessity for connecting the sewers of the east side with the main running down Riverside Avenue to the septic tank north of town compels Medford to build another bridge across Bear Creek, under which the sewer will be carried to the main trunk line. This is opening up much of the stretch along Riverside as business property, and one of the deals of the past week, the sale of Dr. Adkins' residence property, with a frontage of nearly 300 feet on Riverside, is the result, the consideration being $15,000. W. H. Brown, the purchaser, will improve a portion and subdivide the balance.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 23, 1910, page 2

    The Jacobsen-Bade Co. have not commenced on their new contract for water main and sewer construction, but will be at work in a few days, as soon as they have completed their Central Point contract.
Medford Mail Tribune,
May 19, 1910, page 5

    The council ordered a 10-inch sewer laid on Sixth Street from Ivy to Riverside, deep enough to drain all of the basements being constructed under new buildings. The work is to start in the immediate future.
"Special Election Called on Charter Amendment," Medford Mail Tribune, July 13, 1910, page 1

Editor, Saturday Review:
    At this time, when storm sewers for Medford appears to be one of the chief subjects for discussion, it may not be amiss to present a few facts concerning the matter: In the first place, why has it become necessary to protect a large portion of the city lying west of Bear Creek from the water of storm floods by installing expensive storm sewers? We say, "Why," for most of this territory was until very lately protected by nature; for Gordon Creek [Elk Creek?] ran through the city almost along its western boundary. By "Gordon Creek" we mean that watercourse that leads away up in the foothills on the old Griffin Ranch and comes down the Crane [J. A. Crain?] place, along the east part of the Orchard Home, through the Nickell Addition, crossing West Main Street between Rose Court and Rose Avenue, and thence north through the city, crossing the railroad west of the old distillery tract, then to Bear Creek. [The 1893 and 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps show the distillery on the southeast corner of Central and Jackson.] The city east of the Gordon Creek was protected from its waters by a low summit [along Columbus Avenue], a short distance east of the creek and running parallel with the same. The Gordon Creek has a watershed of several sections, and in times of winter storms carries a large volume of water. The grades some years ago on Main Street were laid so as to protect the city from these waters by using care not to cut through the summit and thereby prevent the waters of the curb to be diverted down Main Street as they are at present. When the grade of Main Street for paving was run by those modern engineers, the protecting summit was cut through, thereby diverting the whole volume of Gordon Creek down Main Street and through the town, and thereby creating a demand for a storm sewer, for which there was no necessity under the natural conditions before that unpardonable blunder was perpetrated. This Gordon Creek had been running in its natural channels from time immemorial and its channel was there by prescription, and the parties buying property through which it ran knew of the encumbrance when they bought the property and bought it cheap because of the conditions. And now a City Council which must certainly have been asleep has permitted the channel to be filled up and its channel to be diverted from Main Street of the city and now wants a storm sewer built down Sixth Street at a cost to the adjacent blocks. Ye Gods, is justice blind.--A storm sewer twenty-four inches in diameter will not carry one-tenth of the water in time of flood!
    The City Council have called an election for August 2 to vote on amounts to give them more power to repeat such blunders and charge the same to local people.
A MOSSBACK.           
The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 3

    September first witnesses work begun on a large storm sewer a mile in length to carry off the flood waters from the West Side, and the beginning of work on contracts let for nine miles of sewer extensions, making Medford the best-sewered city on the coast.
"What September Finds in Medford,"
Medford Mail Tribune, September 1, 1910, page 4

City Files Answer to Amended Complaint and Demands Damages
for Violation of Contract and Sale of Gravel, Necessitating Sewer Be Placed on Trestle.
    City Attorney Neff filed answer to the amended complaint of I. J. Phipps against the city of Medford in the sewer case Monday afternoon. The city, as defendant, maintains that after a permit had been given by I. J. Phipps to construct a sewer through his property across Bear Creek, the complainant sold a large quantity of gravel and sand from the bed of the stream, making it necessary to build trestlework across the stream rather than lay the pipe on the bottom of the stream, as originally planned. This, it is claimed, cost the city $800 and made danger of the sewer proving an impediment to the winter floods possible, as, if the pipe had been laid on the bottom of the creek, as originally planned, the floods would have flowed over it. The city demands that Phipps reimburse the city $800 to cover the loss occasioned by his action.
Bridge Agreement.
    The city admits the agreement to build a $2500 bridge, but maintains that investigation proved that a bridge could not be built for that sum and that the city did not have the additional funds necessary to complete a bridge. However, the answer explains that the city intends to levy taxes in December that will include the amount necessary for the construction of a wagon bridge at this point and that a permanent structure will be built during the coming spring.
    City Attorney Neff further argues that the sewer across Bear Creek is high enough to allow all but an unusual high water to pass underneath, and maintains that the sewer is being constructed so that the trestlework can, in case of emergency, be drawn from under the sewer and the pipe and contents be precipitated into the stream, thus protecting property owners on each side of the stream from danger of damage. The sewer is only a temporary structure, the answer reads, and will serve during the coming fall and winter not over 50 homes. During flood time this amount of sewage will be carried away by Bear Creek without difficulty.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1910, page 1

    The city engineer, Harry E. Foster, has men at work on the sewer across Bear Creek again. The injunction brought by I. J. Phipps did not delay the construction work over a week. The trestle and sewer will be completed by the latter part of next week.
    The big storm sewer down Sixth Street from Oakdale to Bear Creek is completed from Apple Street to the creek. The ditch in which the pipe is being laid is over 12 feet deep.

Medford Mail Tribune,
September 18, 1910, page 1

    The present unusual heavy rainfall following a deep snowfall is producing flood and high water throughout this section. Much inconvenience, but little real damage, is likely to follow.
    The storm calls attention to the need of a storm sewer system in Medford to carry off the surplus water.
    Medford is built upon a flat. In pioneer days, before Bear Creek cut a deep channel through the valley, at times the entire townsite stood under water.
    It is impossible to give the streets grade enough to drain the flood waters. They will answer for the ordinary rain, but not for floods. The townsite is too level.
    The sewer system already constructed was not intended for storm water. The first storm sewer was constructed this fall and is not yet completed. It relieves the territory it drains, but only emphasizes the need of more such sewers. Until it was built it was impossible to drain a basement in the city.
    The most difficult of the many problems the city administration has been compelled to solve has been the extension of public improvements without municipal funds. Mayor Canon devised a way whereby the water mains were extended and has made a good start on a storm sewer system.
    A city cannot be built in a day, and Medford has been crowding into two years the improvements that most cities take years to make.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 28, 1910, page 4

Sample of H. E. Foster's Skill As City Engineer--
Sewage Overflows with Every Rain
    Among other marks of the professional skill of City Engineer H. E. Foster, head of the public works department in Mayor Canon's cabinet, is the manhole from the sewer passing through Fir Street at the Woods Lumber Company corner.
    Whenever there is a rain this manhole gets busy and has an eruption. The material that comes out is designated politely as sewage, and there is little chance for a mistake in its identity.
    The air in that vicinity at such times is stifling, and the peril to human life is great. The Sun learned from a prominent physician yesterday that as a result of the overflow of this manhole three persons employed by the Woods Lumber Company had been taken down with typhoid, one of them a young woman stenographer and bookkeeper.
    This is another case of the sanitary sewer being used to carry away the storm water, with the result that irreparable harm has followed.
    There are other such overflows in the city through manholes by reason of Foster's style of engineering, and various cases of typhoid can be traced to them as the direct cause.
Medford Sun, January 7, 1911, page 1

Property Owners Urging Enforcement of Ordinance
Which Provides that All Must Connect with Sewers as Health Measure.
    Now that hot weather has set in, property owners in various parts of the city are complaining of different cesspools and outhouses and are preparing to ask that the city officials compel all to connect with the sewer mains on their streets in order to do away with offensive odors and fly breeding places. In many portions of the city the nuisance is becoming very bad, and many complain. There is a city ordinance requiring that these connections be made, and different property owners state that they are going to take the matter up.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 16, 1911, page 6

    Street Commissioner Baker will have a gang of workmen engaged tomorrow in taking out the old sewer pipe on Ninth Street from the alley near Front Street to Riverside Avenue and replacing it with a new line.
    The old line was all right, except that the discharge end at the trunk line was a very little higher than the intake, and very little success has been achieved in efforts to compel water to run uphill
    Mr. Baker is also having deep sanitary and storm water sewer connections made at the city hall on Sixth Street. The pipe here is being put in at a sufficient depth to permit of basement drainage for all of the city's property on this street.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1911, page 2

    The city dads are considering building a new septic tank to replace the present one on Bear Creek in which to dispose of the city's sewerage. The old tank was built four or five years ago and is said to be too small for practical purposes. The new tank will be much larger than the old one. It will be of concrete. The city engineer is now engaged in preparing plans for it.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 3, 1912, page 8

    We have found that contrary to the generally prevailing impression, no sewerage is drained into Bear Creek; that only the overflow taken care of by the storm sewers empties there; and that the sewerage has been adequately disposed of, until the present by the septic tank provided for that purpose, and that upon completion of the second septic tank now in process of construction, the future in connection with this problem is well taken care of.
"Sanitary Survey of Medford Made by Greater Medford Club," Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1912, page 6

    The new septic tank just completed in the city on the banks of Bear Creek north of the city will be placed in use within the next few days and is expected to properly care for all of the sewerage from the city.
    The tank is of concrete throughout and is a third larger than the old tank, which was of wood and caved in a few months ago. The tank is divided in three compartments to regulate the flow and is built according [to] latest data obtainable under the supervision of Olen Arnspiger, city engineer.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 17, 1912, page 3

    The city council awarded the contract for the building of a sewer on Dakota Avenue to W. W. Fristo, at the rate of 73 cents the foot.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 21, 1914, page 2

    New sewers laid during the year totaled 1400 feet at a cost of $1200.12, bringing the total of the sewerage system to 27.54 miles, representing an outlay of $209.606.82.

"City Pavement,"
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1915, page D8

    "One thing of interest I did learn, however, in this connection, and that is the engineer from the United States Bureau of Health stated that Medford had the only satisfactory septic tank in the state of Oregon and that installations of this kind were usually not satisfactory and that possibly we might find in the future when it became necessary to increase our sewage disposal facilities to install something in the nature of a sewerage disposal plant in place of additional septic tanks. This, I believe, is a matter that should be given careful consideration when the time comes."
City Councilman A. J. Crose, quoted in "Crose Reports to City Council in Portland Meet," Medford Mail Tribune, February 3, 1926, page 8

    Among the many rumors current in Medford the past few days was one to the effect that the city septic tank on Bear Creek near the Biddle Road was in a disgraceful condition, a source of disease contamination, with no top and swarms of flies carrying deadly germs to the surrounding country.
    Investigation today disproved this rumor entirely. Last May, City Superintendent Fred Scheffel declares, he had the septic tank completely cleaned out, and at a cost of $3500 fitted with a new top and placed in an up-to-date sanitary condition in every way.
    For a brief period last summer there was no top while the new top was being constructed, which no doubt accounted for the origin of the rumor, with many other rumors flying over the community.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 25, 1927, page 2

Ordinance No. 2213.
    An ordinance providing for the construction and repair of Bear Creek as a sewer, drain or ditch beginning at the intersection of Bear Creek with the south line of Barnum's Addition in the city of Medford, Oregon, and running thence north along said creek to its intersection with East Main Street at the Bear Creek bridge, and for the assessment of the cost thereof on adjacent property [and] providing for a meeting of the council to consider protests against said improvement and providing for the serving of owners of adjacent property with notice thereof by the Recorder.
    Section 1. It is the intention of the council to grub out the brush, trees and other obstructions in the channel of Bear Creek and for a convenient width on each side thereof and otherwise deeper, widen and straighten Bear Creek as a sewer, drain or ditch so as to carry off flood waters through said city beginning at the intersection of Bear Creek with the south line of Barnum's Addition in the city of Medford, Oregon, and running thence north along said creek to its intersection with East Main Street at the Bear Creek bridge and to assess the cost thereof upon the property adjacent thereto and benefited thereby.
    Section 2. The council will meet in the council chamber at the City Hall on the 15th day of November, 1927, at 7:30 p.m., at which time and place the owners of said adjacent property are hereby called upon to appear before said council and show cause, if any, why said sewer, drain or ditch should not be constructed and why said property should not be assessed for the construction thereof.
    Section 3. The City Recorder is hereby directed to serve notice hereof upon the property owners aforesaid by publishing this ordinance once in a daily newspaper printed, published and of general circulation in said city at least 10 days before the date of said meeting and by posting 5 copies of this ordinance in 5 public and conspicuous places in said city for a period of 10 days prior to said meeting.
    Passed by the city council and signed by me in open session in authentication of its passage this 1st day of November, 1927.
    Approved by me this 1st day of November, 1927.
    Attest: M. L. ALFORD, Recorder.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 2, 1927, page 5

City Health Officer Gives Council Plan to Minimize Problem
of Septic Tank Overflow, Pending New Plant Installation.

    Although it has long been recognized and discussed by city officials that Medford must have a new sewage disposal system within a very few years, and the matter of inaugurating a new one has been deferred from time to time because it will entail a bond issue of not less than $150,000 to defray the cost, the subject was brought up again at the special city council meeting this forenoon by Dr. L. D. Inskeep, city health officer, who outlined a plan by which the city could save money gradually to build a new sewage disposal plant, and avoid the necessity of a big bond issue.
    This plan, if found feasible on further investigation, will enable the city to make use of the present septic tank for several years yet, if the city officials adopt still another plan adopted by Dr. Inskeep to daily flush the sewage from the septic tank overflow out of Bear Creek north.
Bad Situation
    In bringing up the subject, Dr. Inskeep stated that the Bear Creek situation north of the city's septic tank at the Biddle Road crossing is deplorable, due to the occasional overflow from the septic tank into that stream, especially at this time of the year when the liquid sewage putrefies and uses up the oxygen, which kills the fish. In the winter time there is no trouble of this kind, because of the constant flushing out of the creek.
    He then outlined a plan of using the overflow and waste from the city's water system (both old and new lines) by conveying it by ditch to dilute the sewage and abate the nuisance in Bear Creek north of the septic tank and flushing out the creek once or twice daily. By use of this plan Dr. Inskeep held that the present septic tank could be used for several years yet.
    His plan provided that the overflow city water could be brought in an open ditch to north of the septic tank and therefore the cost would be little. However, City Superintendent Scheffel declared the plan for an open ditch was not feasible, as such a ditch would have to cross a number of private properties, hence the overflow water must be piped, which would entail quite a cost.
Health Measure
    The city officials, deeming that this matter is of great importance to the health and welfare of the city, thought the plan of converting the overflow city water and diluting and flushing out the sewage was a good one if the cost was not too great, and decided to study the matter.
    Then Dr. Inskeep launched his second plan before the council--that of raising a fund gradually over a course of years to build a new sewage disposal plant. This plan was to set aside 50 cents a month to be paid by each water user and lay it aside in a fund for the new sewage disposal plant. According to present figures this fund would amount to $20,000 a year, and in five years would amount to not less than $100,000.
    The council also liked this idea, and instructed its finance committee to see if the raising of such a fund in that manner was legal and otherwise feasible.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 7, 1930, page 5

    Sewage disposal is another serious problem for the immediate future. Our present plant is inadequate, and during the summer's low-water season the condition of Bear Creek below the plant is a menace to health. If the surplus water from the city reservoir were permitted to flow down Bear Creek below the plant the condition would be greatly relieved. The surplus water, being picked up above the sewage plant for irrigation purposes, and thus kept out of the creek channel, leaves the holes of the channel to become stagnant pools and a health menace. Investigation of sewage disposal plants has been made, and a proposed bond issue for this purpose must in time be submitted to the people.
E. M. Wilson, "Mayor Wilson Announces Policy and Appointments in Inauguration Address," Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1931, page 7

    During the past week a number of ranchers and property owners owning property or living adjacent to Bear Creek north of Medford have come to us urging that we again publicly call to the attention of the city of Medford the deplorable condition of this creek due to the unsanitary method of sewer disposal that is permitted by said city of Medford. While we have not made a strict survey of the conditions now existing, yet we feel justified in the face of the information at hand to most earnestly urge upon the new city administration the abating of this dangerous menace to health.
    The water in said Bear Creek or sewer at this time is so filthy that it is a disgrace, especially so when same is permitted to go unchanged after the matter has been brought to each succeeding city administration, and it would seem that now is the time to begin to urge upon this administration the utmost importance of immediate action in abating this nuisance.
    The sewerage disposal of Medford has long been a source of menace to many citizens living north of Medford, and were we to have a health survey in Jackson County that was not influenced by politics, the city would find itself facing serious charges from the health department occasioned by the unsanitary conditions of this sewer disposal into Bear Creek.
Excerpt, Pacific Record Herald, January 29, 1931

    The citizens' budget committee recommended "that no time be lost in construction of a new sewage disposal plant, pointing out the imperative need for such improvement to be inaugurated, before the hot weather sets in, as the present septic tank contaminates Bear Creek in the summer and makes it practically an open sewer."

"New Lights on Main St. Urged on Councilmen," Medford Mail Tribune, March 4, 1931, page 6

    Purchase of a new chlorination plant for treatment of city sewage until construction of the contemplated new sewage disposal plant was authorized yesterday morning by the city council of Medford at a special meeting. The chlorination plant will cost about $1,900 and will take the place of the small plant which had been borrowed from the water department of the city.
    The purchase was made on the insistence of the city health department. The new plant, which is to be selected by the health committee headed by W. W. Allen, chairman, will use about 240 pounds of chlorine a day at capacity, whereas the capacity of the present small plant is about 75 pounds a day, an amount deemed insufficient to care for the sewage problem in warm weather.
    The cost of the chlorine is about 10 cents a pound, which would mean $24 a day if the plant must be operated at capacity. It is believed the cost will approximate $500 a month, however, during the summer season.
    Dr. L. D. Inskeep declared that the system of handling the sewage problem would be adequate until construction of the new plant.
    A bond issue will probably be brought to vote soon on construction of the $215,000 disposal plant, held to be a pressing need of this city. At present Bear Creek, into which the sewage flows, is virtually dry, and a drastic sanitary condition is arising, with the threat of lawsuits hanging over the city. The present purchase is temporary, necessitated by the delay in construction of the large plant.
Medford Daily News, May 23, 1931, page 1

    A written communication was presented to the council from C. E. Peyton, asking for $1250 damages to his land along Bear Creek near the city's septic tank, because of a pipeline breaking and flooding his corn patch with raw sewage to a depth of several feet, which not only renders the land so covered useless for agriculture or grazing purposes, but creates a very offensive stench at his home nearby. Mr. Peyton was present in person and told the situation in detail.
"Damage by Sewage at City's Door," Medford Mail Tribune, June 17, 1931, page 1

    Reasons why it is necessary for the City of Medford to build a new trunk sewer line from the Cottage Street bridge to the disposal plant were outlined today by the city council health committee, as follows:
    Before Bear Creek can be cleaned up and beautified through the city, it is necessary to eliminate the outfall from four septic tanks now dumping sewage direct into Bear Creek. One of these tanks is located just above the Cottage Street bridge on the west bank of the creek and is serving the South Sea Addition. Two tanks now serve the Merrick campground, and the old tank built in 1909 located in the rear of the Gaddis and Dixon property was built for the purpose of serving the business district. All of the above septic tanks are too low to discharge the effluent into the Riverside trunk sewer.
Riverside Trunk Sewer
    The present trunk sewer from the intersection of East Jackson and Riverside Avenue running north along Riverside Avenue to the septic tank is running to capacity with sanitary sewage only. No additional capacity is available for storm water. The runoff from the streets of an area of 1570 acres must pass down this line; it being unable to carry the storm water during the rainy season, the raw sewage flows down the gutters.
    This line was constructed in 1910 for the use of sanitary sewage to serve a population of 10,000 people. Our present population is 11,200 people. This line is 21 years old.
East Side Trunk Sewer
    The present sewage from the East Side is diverted into the Riverside trunk sewer at the intersection of Jackson and Riverside Avenue. This line is suspended on cables to the Jackson Street bridge. It is necessary to cut the raw sewage direct into Bear Creek under the bridge during storms. The iron pipe is constantly washing out during winter months as debris flowing down Bear Creek collects against the line and washes it out.
    A new trunk sewer is not for the use of the East Side only, as there are a total of 3840 business houses and residences within the city. There are 1446 business houses and 1657 residences on the west side of Bear Creek, or a total of 3103.   
    On the East Side there are 10 business houses and 727 residences, or a total of 737. There are also 2523 vacant lots within the city, of which 1747 are on the west side of Bear Creek and 776 on the east side.
Storm Sewers
    The question has been asked "Why not separate the sanitary sewer systems in Medford from the storm sewer?" This is not at all impossible, but to provide the new storm sewers to carry the storm water from 1562 acres would cost the city about $500,000. It is therefore unwise at the present time to make a separation.
    However, provision is made in the new trunk sewer to serve a population of 25,000 people. The additional capacity which will be available in this line can be used for storm water until such time as the city reaches the population of 25,000.
    The city is liable for damages due to the known lack of repair of sewers or its failure to maintain them to a standard of efficiency. The city is liable for any damage which may result from the inadequate capacity of a sewer (N.W. Rep. 699, Wisconsin Supreme Court).
    Washington Supreme Court case Boyer vs. City of Tacoma. City held liable for overflow of insufficient sewer--In this case, it appeared that the sewer was originally sufficient for the territory it served, but it became inadequate through growth of the territory. The overflow occurred in a period of heavy but not extraordinary rainfall.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1931, page 8

    The deplorable condition of Bear Creek resulting from the present disposal system, and threatened suits of property owners of the Bear Creek locality, were presented and the people urged to realize that the problem confronted is to be solved by them, not by the city council.
"Lions on Record Favoring Sewage Disposal Bonds," Medford Mail Tribune, July 8, 1931, page 5

    The proposed system will care for storm and sanitary purposes for 15,000 people without house meters, or for 24,000 people with meters, he said. He related that the proposed system will abolish four septic tanks and sewer cleanup nuisances.
    [Dr. Inskeep] declared the proposed system is designed to provide for future expansion as the city grows, so that if at any future time any immediate adjoining communities, like Berrydale, should be annexed to the city the added communities could be easily connected up with the city's fine sewer system, if the bond issue passes, and enjoy the benefits of that system.
    In dwelling on the deplorable unsanitary conditions along Bear Creek, caused by the antiquated and inadequate main septic tank, Dr. Inskeep said:
    "Do not take my word for it. Go out and look over the situation for yourself. You will quickly realize the necessity for a new sewage disposal system and vote the bonds for it."
State Engineer Warns
    Imperative reasons for the passage of the new bond issue were given by Carl E. Green of Portland, state sanitary engineer. . . .
    "The present city septic tank is not approved by our office for the following reasons: The Rogue River below Medford is used by the cities of Gold Hill and Grants Pass for drinking water purposes. A nuisance exists along Bear Creek caused by Medford sewage.
    "The creek water is used for the irrigation and washing of vegetables, which are sold in the city of Medford. This is a dangerous practice and no doubt has resulted in cases of dysentery and typhoid fever. The organic matter of the sewage so depletes the oxygen of the creek that fish life is destroyed..
    "The Medford city officials were advised last January to proceed immediately with the design of a modern sewage disposal plant providing for adequate treatment. Our office will not approve of any plans which do not provide for complete treatment.
No Makeshifts
    "Extensions to or modification of the present septic tank will not be approved.
    "The term 'septic tank' has been improperly used in connection with the proposed new sewage treatment plant. Septic tanks are considered by competent sanitary engineers to be obsolete and inadequate for cities of any size. Septic tanks still are the most practical of all treatment plans for private homes and small institutions, especially where the tank effluent may be disposed of underground by sub-irrigation.
    "The effluent from a septic tank is not harmless, as so many have been led to believe. Its bacterial content may equal that of the incoming raw sewage. Though it is often said that one may safely drink the tank overflow, only the foolhardy will risk the danger involved.
    "During the last ten or twenty years much has been learned about the treatment of sewage. Tried and proven modern methods of sewer treatment are at our command, and there is no reason why the older, inadequate methods should now be used. Though there are different processes used to accomplish the required results, they all provide for different units which have different functions and accomplish the same results. The functions are sedimentation, digestion and oxidation.
    "Their processes are carried on separately and not in intimate contact. Herein lies the chief difference between the old septic tank and the modern methods of treatment."
"Voters Get City Sewer Facts, Need," Medford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1931, page 8

Efforts of Valley Towns to Secure Sewage Disposal Plants
Gives Hopes for End of Stream Pollution
    The possibility that within the near future Bear Creek will no longer be polluted by sewage disposed at various points along its course is becoming apparent with the continued efforts of valley officials to secure federal aid for the installation of sewage treatment plants.
    Besides the plant at Medford, now under construction, applications have been filed with the PWA for disposal plants at Ashland, Talent and Central Point. Plants at those municipalities would mean the elimination of much contamination of the waters of Bear Creek, which has been a source of considerable vexation in the valley for many years.
    Applications from Ashland have been on file for some time, and word from the PWA is now being awaited. Talent and Central Point both recently followed suit.
Talent Plan Extensive.
    Attorneys Neff and Frohnmayer announced that the application sent PWA engineer C. C. Hockley for a plant at Talent calls for an expenditure of $33,625, which would include both a sewer system and a disposal plant. If the application is granted, 45 percent of the total would be received in form of a federal grant, and the other 55 percent as a loan. The application papers have been sent to Washington, D.C., after a preliminary examination by Hockley. The plans have already met with the approval of the state board of health, according to word received here from Frederick Stricker, state health officer.
    The plant, which would cost approximately $13,300, allowing about $15,500 for installation of the sewer system, exclusive of engineering and other fees, would be located near Bear Creek, about a quarter mile from the center of the town. The sewer system would do away with all backhouses and septic tanks. P. H. Walker of Ashland has been employed as engineer for the project, with Greeley and Hansen of Chicago consulting engineer.
Central Point Applies.
    Attorney Harry Skyrman, representing the Central Point application, stated that a plant in that city, where an adequate concrete sewer system is already in use, would cost approximately $16,000, of which 45 percent would be a federal grant and the remainder a loan.
    The application has been sent to Hockley, and officials are now awaiting its approval or disapproval. The plant would be constructed on the banks of Bear Creek north of the city. A bond issue in Central Point is contemplated if the plant is authorized, attorney Skyrman stated, and some funds are already on hand.
    In investigating the possibilities of the local disposal plant, it was proved that sewage so treated is pure, and that if all sources of sewage were provided with a plant, Bear Creek would be as clean as any mountain stream.
    Steps are expected to be taken for installation of a plant at Phoenix in the future, although no application for this remaining source of contamination has yet been made.
    If pollution of the stream is eliminated, one of the benefits would be a great improvement in fishing conditions, as pure water would encourage increased numbers of salmon, steelhead and trout to seek the headwaters of the creek. Another benefit mentioned today by a prominent Medford man would be the possibility of constructing a dam for a swimming pool in this city.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 18, 1935, page 1

    At one time Bear Creek was known as one of the finest, if not the finest, spawning beds in the United States, due to the purity of its water, depth of water, frequency of shallow riffles and direction in which it flowed.
    With the advent of civilization, however, it has become an open sewer.
Purification Planned
    Now, according to officials, it may again become useful for a spawning stream, as the water that is left in it will be purified by sewage disposal plants.
    Medford has already started a disposal plant which will purify the sewage coming from Medford, and Talent and Ashland are planning to build like plants, if PWA loans can be arranged.
Central Point Has Plans
    Central Point is also talking about a new plant, according to Attorney Harry Skyrman, city attorney for that city.
    Since the only water that flows in Bear Creek during the summer months is sewage, all other water being taken for irrigation, it has become necessary, for a health measure, to purify the sewage. From Medford down to Rogue River the stench is terrible during the summer, and a type of grass entirely foreign to the clear mountain streams of Southern Oregon has grown up in the creek, giving it a swampish look that never existed before.
    Time was, and not so very long ago either, when Bear  Creek was the best trout stream in the valley, with steelhead and salmon spawning in it by the thousands. Irrigation and sewage, however, mostly the former, have reduced Bear Creek to a mere trickle of its former self.
Medford News, September 20, 1935, page 1

Favorable Weather Helps Stuart Speed Completion of Project

    Due to favorable weather and "rush" orders, Medford's new sewage disposal plant is practically one-half completed, according to R. I. Stuart, general contractor.
Six Tanks Completed
    Six of the 10 tanks are completed, with only four more to complete. Concrete has all been poured in the six. The aeration tank, the largest of the 10, is under construction, the building of forms in the 47-by-138-foot tank following closely upon excavation by the huge gasoline shovel. The big aeration tank will be 15 feet deep.
    Tanks which are completed, according to D. L. Buckingham, PWA inspector, include the sludge digestion tank, preliminary treatment, settling and contact.
Weekly Payroll 40 Men
    The weekly payroll averages about 40 men, Buckingham said, and work is progressing more rapidly than expected.
    "When the disposal plant is in operation," Buckingham said, "the water will be as clean and pure as when it comes from the faucets. The water flowing out of the disposal plant over at Baker was as clean as any mountain stream. Fish live and propagate in it as well as in a mountain stream."
    The plant will cover two acres of ground, according to K. V. Hill, resident engineer for Medford, who helps to supervise construction of the project.
Progress Better Now
    "We are making good progress now that bird hunting season is over," Hill said. "I used to have a hard time keeping Miles Stuart on the job. We should be done two months ahead of schedule, if we don't have any bad weather."
    Hundreds of tons of gravel are being shoveled around the project in filling up low places with the dirt taken out in excavation. They are still taking out almost pure gravel in the bottom of the pit for the big aeration tank, indicating that Bear Creek has done some fancy roaring around in its day.
    The new tank project is being built adjoining the old septic tank and is near the airport road, just a short way from where the P. and E. tracks cross the highway.
Medford News, December 20, 1935, page 1

Work 95 Percent Complete, Many Men Given Work

    Medford's new sewage disposal plant is 95 percent completed now and should be in operation by July 1, according to City Engineer Fred Scheffel.
    Main construction has been completed, and now all that remains is making connections, completing the trunk line sewer to connect with the new plant, and other finishing touches.
Will Purify Stream
    "When the disposal plant is in operation," Scheffel said, "about 90 percent of all Medford's sewage will go through the plant. Part of the sewage is from the South Sea Addition, which cannot be connected with the main trunk line, Another trunk line will be necessary before this can be put through the disposal plant."

    R. I. Stuart and Sons, contractors, have been working hard to complete the job as early as possible, and will soon be ready to turn the plant over to the city.
    Sportsmen of the community are particularly pleased with the new plant, because it will mark a big step toward the abolition of pollution in Rogue River, which has been a bad factor in keeping fish life built up to par. With Ashland and Talent both building new disposal systems, Bear Creek will be a good spawning bed once again.
    The plant was built with PWA help and is one of the many useful projects made possible by the present administration. Besides providing a civic asset, and adding to the civic wealth, the project has provided work for a large number of men all winter.
Medford News, June 17, 1936, page 1

Sewage To Start Through Today in Official Test
    Medford's new $120,000 sewage disposal plant will be formally opened and "tested" today, according to plans of city officials late yesterday, marking the first completed step in a campaign to not only purify Rogue River, but to protect the health of the Rogue River Valley.
    Started about eight months ago, the new disposal plant, built by R. I. Stuart and Sons, has progressed rapidly. Yesterday workmen were hard at it to install filters and gauges, the last finishing touches.
Purification Immediate
    "Purification of the water should start immediately," City Superintendent Fred Scheffel said. "It will take a month or two for the sludge tank to get in operation, but the water coming out of the plant should be immediately purified. It will take about 24 hours for it to get filled up."
    K. V. Hill, engineer for Greeley and Hansen, designers of the plant, is supervising the final work and will make tests today. Samuel Greeley is expected here Thursday.
Costs Medford $86,000
    The $120,000 system, of which Medford put up bonds for $86,000 and the Public Works Administration about $34,000, will be one of the most modern in the United States. The Medford bonds will be repaid in 10 years by taking six percent of the present water assessment.
    An average of 35 men have been employed since the work started eight months ago, greatly relieving the unemployment situation in Medford.
Porter To Officiate
    If plans as made yesterday work out, Mayor George Porter will throw the switch that turns the sewage into the new plant. City officials are planning a quiet ceremony to mark the huge step in civic progress represented by the plant.
    "The bad odor of Bear Creek will likely persist for a month or two," Scheffel said, "because the old sewage has caught on roots and vegetation growing along the creek, and it will take time before it decomposes, but later this fall the bad odor should all be gone. Next summer you'll see a different Bear Creek."
To Change Vegetation
    "Grass around the old septic tank formed a regular jungle," Scheffel said. "Sweet clover, ordinarily six or seven [inches] high, was 10 and 15 [inches] high. The entire growth of grass along Bear Creek that is characteristic of open sewers, and such as we see along Bear Creek, will change in a year or two to natural grass again."
    No definite hour was set for cutting the sewage over from the septic tank to the disposal plant.
Medford News, July 22, 1936, page 1

    R. H. Corey inspector for public works projects in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana, was in Medford early this week inspecting the new sewage disposal plant which is now ready for operation. While in this district Corey also inspected the Ashland Normal gymnasium and the Kerby school house.
    Corey said that Medford has received an excellent bargain in its disposal plant, and complimented engineer Hill for his good work.
Medford News, July 24, 1936, page 1

    During the month of December Medford's new sewage disposal plant functioned very effectively, it is shown in the report submitted by John A. Clark, superintendent. The effluent, or treated sewage, is of sparkling clear water as it enters Bear Creek, free of all noticeable suspended organic matter.
    Relative stability tests show that the effluent contains enough dissolved oxygen to more than satisfy the small oxygen demand for a period of at least 20 days.
    Results from the sludge or solid matter standpoint have not been so satisfactory, he reported, due to a minor breakdown in November, which caused loss of use of the digester for 10 days. The lower or oldest portion of sludge in the digester is now completely digested, however, and will soon be withdrawn to the drying beds.
    A beautification program at the plant is now under way, with 10 youths working under auspices of the national youth administration, Fred Scheffel, city superintendent, reported. Brush is now being cleared along the banks of Bear Creek and the road serviced. Shrubbery will be planted and the ground leveled for seeding.
Medford News, January 15, 1937, page 1

Flies Cause Cost of Sewage Plant to Exceed Limit
    Problems are always arising to plague City Engineer Fred Scheffel, and sometimes he's in quite a quandary as to what to do about them. Take Medford's sewage disposal plant, for instance.
    Cost of operating the plant is about $3000 a year more than it was estimated that it would cost, and now he's faced with getting that cost down.
Acids to Blame
    Reason for the additional cost is not so much the domestic users of water as it is industrial concerns in the city that use acids in their work and flush the acids into the sewer.
    Packing houses have been forced to use acids in cleaning fruit, but in the past two years most of the fruit packing houses have installed equipment that neutralizes these acids before they go into the sewer. When raw acids go down the sewer and get to the disposal plant, they disrupt [the] normal process of treating the sewage and run up [the] cost of operating the plant many times over.
    Another of the main sources of trouble, Superintendent Scheffel said, is the cannery and the catsup factory in Medford. These two plants turn their acids into the sewer and greatly increase cost of operating the plant.
Half of Expense
    "In fact," Superintendent Scheffel said, "cost of treating sewage from these two plants approximates the entire cost of treating all the domestic sewage in the city."
    The cannery and catsup factory are not entirely to blame, however.
Petition Real Cause
    A few years ago, they dumped their refuse into a huge vat, where it dried and was sold to farmers for hog feed. The vat drew flies by the billions, and residents living close to the cannery presented a petition to the council asking that the cannery and catsup plant be enjoined from putting their cannery refuse in the vat and thus drawing flies.
    The two industries were glad to cooperate, and the cannery installed huge ball grinders, at a cost of more than $1000, and ground up their refuse and dumped it in the sewer. That brought about the present situation of costing the city a lot of money to treat the sewage with the acid in it. The neighbors got rid of the flies, however, even though it did cost the cannery and catsup factory a lot of money. Furthermore, they used to realize a revenue from the refuse they sold to the farmers. Now they do not.
Medford News, October 15, 1937, page 1

Our Sewage Improvement
    Medford voters should, in the light of common decency, support part of the city improvement program which will be voted upon at a special election to be held June 12. The rest of the program could better be held up for "post-war" building.
    This newspaper has consistently insisted that proper care of municipal sewage is necessary if a municipality is to call itself a civilized one.
    When Medford dumps untreated sewage into Bear Creek, allowing that sewage to pollute the waters of Bear Creek and of Rogue River for the entire length of the valley, Medford does not live up to the standard of a decent and civilized municipality. And that is what Medford is doing now. Therefore, we feel that support of the proposals to improve the Medford sewage disposal plant, and improve the sanitary sewer system for the east side of the city, are mandatory. We cannot imagine anyone voting against them, except persons who have absolutely no sense of decency.
Medford News, June 1, 1945, page 4

Proposed Sewer System To Replace
Inadequate Facilities; To Cost $313,000.
    Two of the civic improvement projects to be included in the special bond election June 12 are a necessity from the standpoint of health and sanitation, according to city officials. These are construction of a new trunk line sanitary sewer and enlargement of the sewage disposal plant. The trunk sewer would cost in the neighborhood of $78,000 and the plant enlargement about $235,000.
    The proposed sanitary sewer would run the length of the city from the South C addition to the disposal plant and would serve certain south side sections now without sewer connections. Several blocks of houses and business places in the vicinity of Bear Creek cannot connect with the present trunk line because they lie below its course, according to Frank Rogers, city superintendent, and the new sewer would serve these.
Line Overlooked
    At present the west side trunk line is greatly overloaded, especially in certain seasons, it is stated, making it necessary at times to bypass the sewage directly into Bear Creek under the Jackson Street bridge. During heavy rains and flood periods, many residences in certain areas have sewage backed up into drainpipes, and "spouting" sewers are a common sight on the streets. Construction of the sanitary trunk line would relieve this overload on the west side.
    An overload of about 100 percent is now being forced through the sewage disposal plant, according to the city superintendent. As a result, at certain times it is necessary to dump raw sewage into the river and at no time is the sewage processed the proper length of time, he states. Built for a capacity load of 1,200,000 gallons of sewage daily, the plant is now forced to carry from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 a day, and when the figure rises above this, the sewage is simply bypassed into the river.
To Provide Digester
    The unsanitary conditions have brought remonstrances from the state board of health from time to time, and the condition should be corrected as soon as possible, city officials declare. The sum of $235,000 will not only enlarge the plant to the point where it will handle present and future sewage disposal needs but will also provide a digester large enough to handle garbage as well if in some future time this is found necessary.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 5, 1945, page 1    The ballot measure passed.

Sewage Disposal Plant Considered at Camp White
    Possibility is seen here that Medford's sewage disposal problem may be solved by use of the Camp White sewage disposal plant, and that use of the plant may also be spread to include Central Point and the Berrydale area.
    The sewage disposal plant at Camp White is one of the best in the Northwest and capable of handling sewage of 35,000 people. Medford's sewage disposal plant is now inadequate for the increased population. Central Point has recently voted $80,000 for the building of a sewage disposal system, and the Berrydale section, which is as thickly populated as the average city, has none.
    Cost of making use of the Camp White plant would be about the same as the cost of increasing the Medford plant, officials point out, because it would be necessary to lay a pipe to the plant, on the banks of the Rogue River. But in so doing, Berrydale and Central Point could hook onto the line, thus dividing the cost.
    Plans for such a program are still in the formative stage, as there are unknown factors, such as whether or not the Camp White plant will be declared surplus, and the possibility that Camp White might again be used by the Army.
    City fathers at Central Point look with favor upon joint use of the Camp White plant, and so expressed themselves at a recent council meeting.
    What Berrydale citizens think has not been determined, as there has been no concrete proposal that Berrydale come under the plan, but those advocating such use of the Camp White plant can visualize the prevention of a serious pollution problem in the Berrydale section if a sanitary district could be formed there.
Medford News, August 23, 1946, page 1

    Bids of Werner and Jeske, Eugene, F. W. Riddle, Springfield, and S. S. Mullen, Seattle, for three major Medford sewer projects were accepted by the city council at their regular meeting last night.
    Werner and Jeske gained the Camp White trunk sewer job with a $150,200 offer; Riddle the Bear Creek interceptor sewer task with a $37,273.20 bid and Mullen the southwest Medford trunk system work with a $65,269 bid.
    Proposals of 10 contractors were opened at a meeting Monday and referred to A. D. Harvey and S. C. Watkins, consulting engineers, for tabulation. Councilmen made the awards on the engineers' recommendation. The successful bids totaled $252,742.30 compared to the $268,924.20 overall offer of Werner and Jeske and the $296,995.50 engineers' estimate.
    It was reported last night that negotiations are under way for the final right of way for the trunk from Medford to the newly acquired Camp White disposal plant.
    Councilmen last night approved construction of a sewer on Valley View Drive from Hillcrest Road to the north line of Williams subdivision, then east 180 feet, north 300 feet and east again 180 feet. They called for hearings on November 16 on proposed sewers on South Park Avenue, Catherine Street to Belmont Avenue and King Street between Belmont and Stewart avenues.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 4, 1948, page 1

    Work started this week on construction of the southwest Medford trunk sewer system. S. S. Mullen, Inc., Seattle, is the contractor. Deadline for completion of the project is July 31.
    The work started at the Cottage Street bridge. The new sewer line will run down Spencer to Mayette, then swing westward to Twelfth. Medford voted $100,000 in bonds last July for the project.
Medford News, January 28, 1949, page 1

Disposal Area at Camp White Given to City by WAA
    A letter of transmittal and contract conveying to Medford 996.32 acres of former Camp White land, "more or less," has been received by the city administration from [the] War Assets Administration, Mayor Diamond Flynn announced today.
    The communication included notification that the deed will follow. Medford is getting the property, which surrounds the former Camp White sewage disposal plant, on a 100-percent discount basis and subject to government reservations over a 20-year period.
To Be Studied
    A meeting of the health committee was held on the matter Saturday, but the WAA document has not yet gone before the complete city council or legal department for study of terms and conditions and official recognition, Flynn reported.
    Medford's city administration desires the land for garbage disposal and isolation purposes. Official notice that the city's application was approved was contained in the letter. The application previously was approved verbally.
    Fair value of the land is set at $12,917. This amount will decrease at the rate of five percent per year over the period of 20 years. No money is being paid for the property on the 100-percent discount basis. However, during the 20 years Medford, if it wishes, may purchase the property outright by paying the existing fair value.
Similar Contract
    The contract proposed is similar to that now existing between the city and WAA for acquisition of the Camp White sewage treatment plant.
    "Medford is fortunate to have a disposal plant and dump ground which will serve for years to come and which, because of their isolation, will not be objectionable to residents," Flynn declared.
    The mayor said that several requests have been received for grazing rights on the land but that the city administration will be unable to negotiate such agreements until the WAA contract is studied further.
    Flynn reported that a city-wide cleanup may be suggested when the council convenes June 7. At that time complete usage of the Camp White property and the program of its availability to the public may be outlined.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1949, page 1

New City Sewage Disposal Plant Trunk Line Open
    A project which began three years ago was completed at 9:20 a.m. today when sewage from eastside and southwest Medford started flowing into the new trunk line to the Camp White treatment plant.
    Workmen opened the siphon at the Medford Corporation bridge just north of the city and at the same time cut off the bypass into Bear Creek. No more raw sewage is flowing from Medford trunks into the creek, City Engineer E. N. McKinstry stated.
To Close Old Plant
    He said that it is contemplated that the old disposal plant on Biddle Lane will go out of operation at the end of this week, at which time all sewage will be directed into the Camp White line. First Medford sewage to be processed at the new facility was to reach the treatment plant about 2 p.m., about five and one-half hours after the siphon was opened, McKinstry said.
    In August 1946, city officials began preliminary negotiations with [the] War Assets Administration for the plant. Formal application was made in July, 1947.
    About a year later WAA approved the transfer subject to a vote of Medford residents authorizing city acquisition of the facility and a $400,000 bond issue for construction of a trunk sewer from Medford to the plant. This authorization was granted in an election on July 16, 1948.
    Werner and Jeske, contractors, were awarded the task of constructing the trunk in November, 1948. Their work was completed on schedule. Specified deadline for finishing the task was July 31 this year.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 1, 1949, page 1

August 2, 1949 Medford Mail Tribune
The Camp White sewage plant comes on line, August 2, 1949 Medford Mail Tribune.

Central Point Begins Joint Sewer Line Use
    Central Point, June 30--Central Point began joint use with Medford of the former Camp White sewage treatment plant this week as the final connection with the Medford to Camp White trunk was made.
    Checks are being made to ascertain that Central Point's new pumping station and pipeline are functioning adequately, City Recorder Arden Pinkham said.
    Construction of the station pipeline began early in February, and actual construction was completed more than a month ago. Delays in arrival of machinery and meters held up operation.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 30, 1950, page 1

Gas Leak Found, Fixed Thursday
    Crews of the California-Pacific Utilities Company early yesterday afternoon found and repaired an explosion-causing gas line leak at Canon Ave. and Eighth St., company officials have announced.
    Early yesterday morning at least four storm sewer covers on Eighth St. were blown off and others were disturbed after an explosion which city officials said was caused from an accumulation of domestic gas in the recently completed sewer line.
    One window was reported broken, but there were no injuries.
    Gas company officials said a one-inch line at Eighth St. and Canon Ave. was broken at a pipe coupling. They said apparently it was damaged when the storm sewer was installed and was not noticed at the time.
    The principal blast occurred about 3:20 a.m. yesterday and was followed by a series of smaller explosions when sewer covers were blown off along the sewer line.

Medford Mail Tribune, January 17, 1958, page 1

41 Take Tour to View Sanitation Problems in Area
    The 41 members of [the] "See It For Yourself Tour" of the proposed Bear Creek Basin Sanitary Authority area literally followed their noses to sewage disposal problem areas in Jackson County yesterday.
    Most frequent comments were "Why doesn't somebody enforce present state laws against this pollution?" "Now that it is almost too late, it looks as if something will be done about this problem." "It's a wonder this county has got by with this problem as long as it has." "Phewee."
    The tour ran an hour over the three hours originally planned. It covered such places as the Talent sewer plant, Suncrest Bridge area, Lithia Drive-In Theater area and some homes along the old U.S. 99 in the Talent area, Starlite Drive-In Theater area, Crooked Creek at Walker the Weeper's trailer sales, Oakdale Drive and the 600 block of Lozier Lane, Thunderbird Market area, Central Point pump station, Medford sewage treatment plant.
Ran Out of Time
    Because of lack of time some areas had to be commented on briefly or bypassed. Bypassed areas included the White City sewage lagoon, Gilman Road sewage lift station and Hawthorne Park at Main Street.
    The tour was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Medford Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber of Commerce, Izaak Walton League, Bear Creek Basin Sanitation Study Committee and health organizations.
    There were two representatives from Medford and one from Gold Hill. Almost all of the sponsoring organizations were represented. The League of Women Voters had a strong and active representation.
    County Judge Earl M. Miller told the group that residents of the 31 precincts involved would be voting Aug. 30 on creation of a Bear Creek Basin Sanitation District. The proposed area would range along the Bear Creek Valley floor and exclude Jacksonville, Medford, Phoenix, Eagle Point and Central Point. The City of Talent voted by resolution to be included. The other cities' governing bodies resolved not to be included.
    If the district is approved residents of the 31 precincts would vote for five persons to act as a board of directors. They would be elected at large. This means they could all come from one precinct or could be residents of five different precincts.
    Overall cost for the sanitation improvement project would be $9,500,300 and would cover four phases. The first phase of the sanitation system construction would come in 1967-68 and would cost about $2,855,000. The fourth phase would be completed in 1970-71, Miller said.
Vote Only on Formation
    The county judge emphasized that on Aug. 30 residents of the affected area would be voting only on the proposed area for consideration as a district.
    The touring group, traveling by Evergreen Lines chartered bus, first visited the Talent sewage treatment plant, built in 1936 to serve a maximum population of 700. Les Wierson, project engineer for Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merrifield (CH2M), noted that the Talent population has increased considerably since then. Due to inadequate sewage treatment facilities, restrictions have been placed on the Talent area's further growth.
    The master plan requested of CH2M by the Jackson County Court would eliminate spot development of treatment facilities.
     Wierson explained that the solids in the treatment plant pile up, so they are carried into the sewage flow and back into the plant. The sewage is not chlorinated mechanically, so that much of the waste is discharged into Bear Creek without chlorination, he said.
    Leo L. Baton, district sanitary engineer, said only a portion of the Talent sewage runs through the plant. State law does require chlorination of all sewage waste. The City of Talent is taking steps to take care of this situation now, he said.
    A broader new state law, which becomes effective Sept. 1, 1967, specifies that it is unlawful to put any untreated waste into the state's waters. The original law was designed to regulate discharge of sewage from houseboats.
    Baton admitted that he covers seven counties and finds it difficult to enforce such sanitation laws. The entire State Sanitary Authority is woefully short of enforcement personnel, he said.
    Baton said at one time Bear Creek had 170,000 steelhead fingerlings.
    This year there were only 1800, and 600 of these were killed. He indicated discharge of sewage wastes into the stream removed much of the life-giving oxygen for the fish.
On to Phoenix
    As the bus moved through the Phoenix area, Baton pointed out that the south Talent area and much of the Phoenix area has an adverse draining area for sewers.
    Phoenix is tied into the City of Medford sewage treatment facilities through the South Bear Creek Sanitation District.
    Sewage disposal problems are especially bad around the hill areas above Phoenix, and around Griffin Creek and Wagner Creek. Many times homes are built on rocks, and the sewage is discharged directly into the creeks without septic tanks, it was stated.
    The Medford sewage treatment plant had such a tremendous overload last year that only 50 percent of the sewage passing through its system could be treated. Only 9 percent of the solids were removed by the plant, according to tests taken.
    A brief stop in the Jefferson School area showed how sewage was coming onto the ground surface near the nice homes in that area. The shopping center complex was finally hooked into the Medford sewage system through annexation to the city, Baton explained.
    He told how the Lozier Lane area has good soil only 12 to 18 inches deep. This makes for poor septic tank drainage. Rain raising the water table complicates the problem.
    The group saw how the Central Point sewage treatment plant was started and never finished. The pumping station was abandoned when Central Point hooked onto the Medford system. Baton pointed to major bypasses which allowed much of Central Point sewage to flow into Bear Creek directly.
    Back at the Medford plant, Jan Niehaus, new Medford sanitation plant manager, explained its operation.
    His assistant said addition of more filters would greatly improve the Medford plant operation. A recorder showed that the plant was then processing almost 8 million gallons. It was designed to process 2½ million gallons of sewage.
Filters Would Help
     Addition of two more filters would enable the plant to process sewage waste from a population equivalent of 40,000 to 50,000. It now serves a population equivalent of 35,000. It now has a hydraulic capacity of 11 million gallons.
    While the bus passed by the White City sewage lagoon, the CH2M engineer explained that a lagoon operation requires an acre for a population equivalent of 175 people.
    All sewage plants and problem areas visited had strong sewage odors. It was explained by Niehaus' assistant that the odor at the Medford plant was due to septic tank cleaning companies' dumping wastes near the treatment plant. However, Judge Miller said, this would account for only part of the odor.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 17, 1966, page 1

    Voters in the Bear Creek Valley Tuesday authorized the forming of a Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority by a vote of 1,369 to 311. Fourteen percent of the 11,937 eligible voters within the proposed boundaries voted.
"Sanitary Authority Formation Approved by 1,369-311 Vote," Medford Mail Tribune, August 31, 1966, page 1

Last revised April 4, 2017