The Up Side of the Orchard Boom

    A Business Man:--"Medford business men are enjoying the most prosperous year I believe in the history of the city. They all seem to be doing a big business and it is constantly increasing. As a business center Medford is outdoing the other towns and cities of the valley and now is at the top of the heap in that line. This isn't the result of a boom, or a spasmodic increase in trade, but it is the result of the steady, continuous growth which has been ever characteristic of our city. Nor is there any immediate likelihood of a cessation of this growth; rather it will increase in rapidity. I foresee a brilliant future for Medford."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, November 3, 1905, page 1

    George J. Post:--"There are a whole bunch of people from the cold countries dropping into Medford these days. See that fellow over there? I'll bet any amount of money he is from North Dakota or Minnesota. How do I know? Well, look at the heavy clothes he wears, also the overshoes and cap with ear mufflers attached. A fellow, a stranger to me, stepped into the exhibit building a few days ago, clad about as above described, and I went up and spoke to him something like this:--'Had pretty cold weather up north where you are from this winter, haven't you?' His reply was:--'Well, yes, we've had very little July weather for several months past, but how did you know I came from the north?' I called his attention to the fact that the skin was peeling off his ears and nose. He had evidently frozen these members not long since, and he didn't freeze them in Southern Oregon. He finally told me he was from the Alberta country in Canada."
"Things Told on the Street," Medford Mail, March 1, 1907, page 1
March 16, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune

Fruit Industry Gains in Importance.--Over 200,000 Trees in Thirteen Months.--
Facts for the Skeptic To Consider.--One Order for Thirty Thousand Trees.
    L. E. Hoover, local representative of the firm of J. H. Settlemier & Son, proprietors of the Woodburn Nursery, called at our office Monday and gave us the pleasure of a lengthy conversation on the fruit industry of Rogue River Valley.
    Mr. Hoover has been doing business for the above-named firm for a number of years, representing them in Northern California and Southern Oregon, but the fruit industry has so increased in this valley that he seldom goes outside of Jackson County. The Woodburn Nursery has been doing business for forty-four years and has 300 acres of ground for nursery purposes. Ninety percent of orchards in Rogue River Valley are planted in trees from this well-known nursery, and the question now is not one of selling trees, but of getting them to the orchardmen in time to save the reputation of the company.
    During the year 1906 and the few months of the present year, Mr. Hoover has taken orders in the valley for about two hundred thousand trees. One shipment alone, made to the Western Oregon Orchard Co., amounted to thirty thousand trees. Besides this large order, there were several smaller ones, running into the thousands, the names of the purchasers being as follows: Col. R. C. Washburn, Dr. T. C. Page, Geo. A. Morris, I. C. Bradshaw, Fitzgerald Bros., R. M. Stockard, Geo. W. Taylor, Fish Lake Water Co., Phipps Bros., John R. Morgan, Geo. M. Anderson, Bates Bros. and Iseman Bros. of Grants Pass. The nursery firm has purchased a tract of land near Central Point and will set 60 acres in trees in the near future. One may understand the strides that are being made in horticulture when they have read these facts, and still better when they are informed that Mr. Hoover has two men at Ashland taking orders for him. This may sound like an advertisement for the nursery company, but it is a better advertisement for our valley, for it shows that our soil and climate are adapted to horticulture, else these large sales would not be made.
    There are some who are skeptical of the fruit industry of Rogue River Valley, and this because they do not take the pains to read and otherwise inquire into the past and present of the orchards that stretch away on every hand and dot our fair valley from one end to the other. There are facts beyond number to confirm the statement that horticulture in the Valley of the Rogue is a permanent asset and one that will make known to the civilized world the exceptional richness of this section, if it has not done so already. The large shipments of apples and other fruits from this valley and the sale thereof at prices unexceeded by the products of other sections adapted to horticulture have worked marvels in attracting the attention of the world to our nature-favored section. When apples can be shipped from Medford to Chicago and sold for $1 a dozen, or to New York, where they have been sold for $3 a dozen, there is certainly something of quality in them of which we may be imbued with confidence for future success. There are men today in business in Medford who obtained their capital from the sale of Rogue River apples, and others who made their start in the orchards [but] quit it to engage in other pursuits, and are now back on the fruit ranch, finding it more remunerative and pleasurable and attended by less risk for the capital invested. Men who cut down their apple trees a few years ago have replanted, and men who sold their orchards have purchased others after noting their mistake. One man who thought there was no money in apples was made sorry that he sold his orchard of some twenty-five acres because the man to whom he sold paid for the land from the proceeds of the fruit on the trees at the time the orchard was sold.
    These are not all the cases to which we could cite those who have no faith in the fruit-raising industry of Rogue River Valley; there are hundreds of others, and we shall mention some of them in the future, when the opportunity presents itself.
Medford Mail, March 1, 1907, page 1

    George J. Post:--"There are a whole bunch of people from the cold countries dropping into Medford these days. See that fellow over there? I'll bet any amount of money he is from North Dakota or Minnesota. How do I know? Well, look at the heavy clothes he wears, also the overshoes and cap with ear mufflers attached. A fellow, a stranger to me, stepped into the exhibit building a few days ago, clad about as above described, and I went up and spoke to him something like this:--'Had pretty cold weather up north where you are from this winter, haven't you?' His reply was:--'Well, yes, we've had very little July weather for several months past, but how did you know I came from the north?' I called his attention to the fact that the skin was peeling off his ears and nose. He had evidently frozen these members not long since, and he didn't freeze them in Southern Oregon. He finally told me he was from the Alberta country in Canada."
"Things Told on the Street," Medford Mail, March 1, 1907, page 1

Autos and Roads.
    The number of automobiles used by both the city and country residents already tells the story of good roads.
    This good roads movement, bringing the city and country nearer together, is making the Rogue River Valley one wide but closely welded community. Every farmer has daily or thrice-weekly mail, by one of the star routes, or rural deliveries from Medford; also he has a telephone. Many have their residences and barns electric lighted, as power lines are available in every section of the valley. The rural resident here has all the real comforts of the city, and his children have the same educational advantages, as every home is but a short distance from the district school house.
    It is this close communion of town and country, the intense production, the rapid settlement and rapid growth, the concentration of the immense wealth of farm, orchard, forest and mine to this natural center of supply that will ultimately and inevitably make Medford Southern Oregon's chief city. No prophetic vision is necessary to discern this. The handwriting is on the wall, in letters so plain that all may read and understand.
    Because of this assurance of things to come, the men who stake their capital here, particularly those who put their money and energy into manufacturing enterprises for which there are many favorable openings, must realize handsome returns.

Medford Mail, April 26, 1907, page 8

Medford's Prosperity.
    "There is a wonderful difference between the Medford of today and the Medford of several years ago, when I first came here," said a prominent business man, "in every way imaginable, business or social.
    "Those days Seventh Street didn't look like it does now by a whole lot, on either side of the S.P. track. The site of the Palm-Niedermeyer and the Rialto buildings were occupied by tumble-down wood shacks, and that of the Jackson County Bank by tin ones. One had a clear view from the depot to the water tank, and while business was brisk even then, the volume wouldn't approach that of the present.

    "Another thing--there is an entirely different class of people coming into the city and the valley now. Then many of the newcomers were not overly well fixed in this world's goods, and were compelled to look for a job as soon as they alighted from the train almost. They were good citizens, though, and have helped build up the country by industry and perseverance. The people coming in now are, many of them, men of means, who are seeking homes in a climate where they can live in comfort and are ready to invest money in a prosperous community, and it is our prosperity and advantages that are attracting them."
    "Do we prosper?" answered Asahel Hubbard in reply to the reporter's question. "I should say yes. Not only in the city, but everywhere in the valley. I think we in our business have a pretty good line on the well doing of the farmer. It wasn't so many years ago that a farmer who owned a buggy and a good driving horse was regarded as a bloated bondholder by his neighbors, but now they all have them and sometimes more than one. Our buggy sales to farmers have increased wonderfully."
    The same story comes from all branches of business. The people are buying more and better clothes, more and better furniture, and their bank deposits are growing all the time. It isn't an ephemeral prosperity born of a boom, but a steady, healthy, legitimate growth, brought about by the development of the natural resources of the surrounding country. The people are not only buying more, but they are selling more. There is a ready market for everything produced on the farm, the stock ranch or in the orchard, and the prices are of the best.
    Truly Medford and Rogue River Valley are prosperous, and will continue to be so.
Medford Mail, July 5, 1907, page 5

    Wortman & Gore closed the deal Saturday by which they became the owners of the old Lumsden property on C Street opposite the post office, the consideration being $5000. They will likely erect a building thereon sometime in the near future. No piece of property in the city is a better illustration of the increase in values that have come about during the past few years. Four years ago the property could have been purchased for $1200. Less than two years ago Karnes & Ritter bought it, paying $2,000 for it. In April this year A. A. Davis became the owner for $3,500, and now he has sold it for $5,000, an advance of over 300 percent in four years. There isn't a town in Oregon that can show such advances in price of property.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, August 9, 1907, page 2

How We Grow.
    About three years ago Talisman Lodge, K. of P. sold their two-story building on 7th Street between A and B to J. C. Smith for $4000. The lodge thought it was getting a mighty good price, and so it was at that time, and some of the wiseacres about town predicted that Smith would be a long time getting his money out of it. Smith didn't worry any, apparently, but kept right along owning the building, which hasn't been empty a week during that time, and collecting his rent, until about a year ago when he jarred the wise guys again by selling the property to F. E. Martin for $6,500, a neat little advance of $2,500 on the original price. Mr. Martin held it until last week, when he turned it over to C. H. Corey in return for $9,000, another little profit of $2,500. There is another coincidence in these sales, aside from the repeated jars to the sensibilities of the pessimists and the same advance on each sale, and that is that each sale was made through the agency of the same real estate firm, White & Trowbridge, who are willing to take it in hand again if necessary.
Medford Mail, August 23, 1907, page 1

    I. A. Armstrong--"You fellows have no idea how this town of Medford is growing. Let me tell you something. I mend umbrellas sometimes for a livelihood--when I am not living on my homestead which is situated pretty well toward the topmost point of Roxy Ann--but that is not what I started out to tell you. Six years ago I made a canvass of this town and did umbrella repairing--visited every house in town--and it took me less than a week to do all of this, and I earned $17. This year I am making a similar canvass, but it's quite different now. I have been at work five weeks and am not through yet. How much have I made? That question is immaterial to this story and I decline to answer, further than to say that I have made good wages. The point is this:--There are more houses to visit and more people by a whole lot to slam bang their umbrellas around and get them broke and give Dr. Armstrong an opportunity to mend. Verily, Medford is growing."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 10, 1908, page 5

Medford Growing Fast.
    If you want to move this summer you had better begin to look for a house right now. The only chance you will have to get another house will be to locate someone who is going to move out, then make an ironclad contract, or you may lose your chance. A canvass of real estate men fails to show a house listed for rental. And when one is vacated it is immediately taken up by other parties.
    Expressions from different realty agents show it to be the belief that at present there are at least 150 residences in the course of construction throughout the city, and many more are contemplated. The principal business done by agents at present is the sale of small building lots, and nine out of ten of the lots sold, the buyers contemplate building. Where one large ranch is sold 5 building lots change hands, and dealers state that they expect a constantly increasing business during the summer.
    Just as soon as the city completes a few of the projects under way at present, such as the paving of Seventh Street, the water system and the like, a tremendous impetus to the realty business is expected. Strangers are arriving daily, and the majority of them are on the lookout for suitable sites for homes.
    The P.&E. railway, the coal mine and other industries contemplated and under way in Medford and vicinity will bring a host of men to Medford, and the majority of them are homeseekers and will in the course of time own their own homes. The town has got to the place now where it is going to grow without any hard pulling on the part of its citizens, but hard pulling will hasten its growth. So if you are thinking of moving you had better "get busy."
"Medford Growing Fast," Medford Mail, March 20, 1908, page 4

Contractors Follow Closely on Real Estate Deals
    The sale of lots and home sites in and around Medford continues to go forward at a rapid rate, and plans for building which are now being made mean that many of the lots purchased are to be immediately adorned by attractive homes.
    Among the transfers made yesterday was the sale of five finely situated lots in the Benson addition to Medford. The lots sold to Mr. Lowrey will be occupied in the near future by neat cottages of the most modern design.
    W. H. Humphrey, who is disposing of lots in the Kenwood addition on Columbus Avenue, yesterday sold a lot to L. J. Quigley, who purchased the lot as a site for a home. The construction of an artistic bungalow is to be begun immediately. The bungalow is to have all the appointments of that type of home.
    It is a noticeable fact that a large percentage of the lots disposed of by local real estate men are not long left free from lumber piles and other building supplies. In almost every case the purchase of a lot is followed by the letting of a contract to the contractor and builder. In a few days the sound of hammers and saws is heard, and shortly another home is filled by a happy family which has found its way to Medford to remain and add prosperity to the town.
    The new homes appearing in Medford show a decided desire upon the part of the owners to follow the most artistic design that their means will allow. The bungalow type of home seems to find great favor and is doing much to add charm to the town. The care shown in keeping yards and lawns in proper order is also most gratifying.
Medford Mail, April 9, 1909, page 3

    Last week observations made on one of the Southern Pacific trains bound north resulted in the following data being obtained.
    Passengers leaving train at--
Medford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Grants Pass  . . . . . . . . . . .   9
Woodville  . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
Gold Hill  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
Central Point  . . . . . . . . . .   9
Medford Mail, April 30, 1909, page 2

    An eastern publication bewails the fact that the so-called "land hunger" of people of all degrees of wealth is responsible for an enormous movement of money from the financial centers to the West, but consoles itself with the suggestion that the withdrawals of cash is probably accompanied by an exodus from the same neighborhood of a class of ne'er-do-wells and generally worthless "critters" who would never amount to anything in the East anyway. Well, it may be so--at any rate the West takes pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of the cash, and imagines that the present status of the "critters" who used enough discretion to substitute an investment in land for the popular game of "heads I win and tails you lose" as played in the Wall Street of eastern cities, is not so bad after all.
Medford Saturday Review, June 11, 1910, page 4

    At this season of the year, while we are waiting returns from our labors and investments, there are always to be found a few "croakers" who paralyze themselves with chill fear about the tightness of money, and who can't see that even a rose is a rose, but insist on referring to it as a cabbage. Every community has such croakers, as uninformed, usually, as they are insistent.
    The fact is, Medford and the Valley of the Rogue are looking out upon an ever-widening horizon of prosperity, upon which appear only insignificant clouds which we can disperse at will, clouds which are merely a matter of preferable methods, and have no direct bearing upon the triumphant reach of the valley's affairs. A dozen or more of Medford's leading bankers and business men, men who know how capital is being employed and what outcome may confidently be expected, come forward to attest our fair prospects. We are able to quote, directly, some of these gentlemen:
    "Prospects very flattering. Not a cloud on the horizon. Financial outlook sound." L. E. Wakeman, Farmers' and Fruitgrowers' Bank.
    "We are working more men and handling more goods than ever before. The outlook is fine for fall." J. H. Butler, Medford Furniture Company.
    "The fact that money is pretty well loaned out is no scare head; it merely shows there's use for it, and that things are developing. Medford's era is only just beginning. The new railroad into the timber will open up another invaluable resource. Cattle, this fall, will bring the highest prices we've had for years. There's not going to be any stop." Judge Crowell, First National Bank.
    "The outlook for first-class trade, judging from the steady growth in the last few months, could not be better." E. H. Holt, Sherman-Clay Company.
    "I believe the outlook to be perfectly sound. Certainly, there's no town between San Francisco and Portland that has more to offer." O. E. Tackstrom, The Emporium.
    "Best it's ever been. Large fruit crop. Prospect of good prices." H. F. Platt, Nicholson Hardware Company.
    "Looks good to me. Enough projects on hand to keep business booming another year, and after that there'll be more projects to keep things good." C. M. Kidd.
    "I have handled fruit and studied conditions in every fruit valley in the country, and I've yet to find the equal for possibilities of the Rogue River Valley. It isn't exactly the Garden of Eden, but it's a good substitute." C. W. Wilmeroth, Manager, Rogue River Fruit and Produce Association.
    "There's plenty of money in the valley for all legitimate business needs, but not for speculative needs, and so much the better for the valley. Opening up the new railroad ought to see a development of the lumber interests in another year, with an increased payroll and larger money outlook." W. I. Vawter, Jackson County Bank.
    "The critical time for the East and here is past. Financial situation never better. With the opening up of the lumbering industry, we'll have factories here. The P.&E.R.R. will probably be extended to the Oregon Trunk, thus a Hill line, and the competition with the Southern Pacific will secure us advantageous shipping rates. There's no limit to the outlook." John Orth, Medford National Bank.
    "We are going to have a positive year. Growth looks substantial, more so than in any town I've ever lived in for any length of time." B. T. Van De Car, Jeweler.
    "Don't see how things could be better. Beyond our expectations." C. A. Meeker, Meeker & Co.
    "I don't see how any place could look better." G. F. Cuthbert, Cuthbert & Co.
    "It's getting better all the time." Herbert Kentner, for the H. C. Kentner Company.
    "Things very favorable. So many banks wouldn't get caught if they followed the policy these do here." W. D. Allen, Allen & Reagan.
    "I look for Medford to number 25,000 people in the next three years. With development of our water system and irrigation, population will greatly increase. This and development of the railroad system will make great changes. We shall eventually irrigate 40,000 acres. Medford's outlook is assured." Fred N. Cummings, Rogue River Valley Canal Co.
    "No lull in business this summer such as heretofore. Things steady. Outlook fine." F. C. Edmeades, Edmeades Bros.
    "We'll have a good fall. All indications point that way--best we've ever had. Increasing demand for labor; increasing payroll; and increasing payroll means more money to spend." W. H. McGowan, Weeks & McGowan.
    "Volume of business constantly increasing. Better all the time." M. J. Reddy, Jeweler.
    "Business twenty-five percent better this year than ever before. So many new people are coming that trade is constantly increasing. I see no reason for anything but constant growth. This is my candid opinion." C. I. Hutchison, Hutchison & Lumsden.
    "Things improving every day. One thing noticeable is the class of trade. The same class of stock is demanded here that is demanded in cities of 100,000 or more." Jonas Wold, Medford Pharmacy.
    If you know where to look for it, the air is fairly vibrating with such opinions among those who are qualified to know, and the facts also are forthcoming with which to support their claims.
    Medford is not a "boom town," not a mushroom; but springing from a soil that is solidly and permanently productive, and vitally needed as a distributing center for the outputs of that soil; it is here to keep on growing, in widening circles of usefulness and power.
The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 2

Percentage Increase in Population Makes Great Showing.
    MEDFORD, Or., Dec 1.--(Special.)--The census bureau at Washington announced today the population of Medford to be 8840. an increase of 392 percent over the population of 1900, which was 1791. This increase is greater than that of any other city in the country, with the exception of Oklahoma City, whose percentage of increase was 393.
    Medford's greatest percentage of growth occurred during the last three years, the estimated population at that time being 3000. The census of Medford was taken last May. Since that time the population has been increased to 10,000. according to deposits in the banks and estimates made by contractors and postal authorities.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 2, 1910, page 1

    Statistics show seven cities of more than 5000, an increase of four since 1900. Most of them showed large increases. Medford heads the list with 393.5 percent; Eugene with 178.3 percent; Portland with 129.2 percent, and Ashland with 90.5 percent. None of the cities showed a loss.
"Suburban Count Shown,"
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 14, 1911, page 4

    . . . the complete rejuvenation of the Rogue did not come about until about five years ago when the East imperatively demanded more of the perfect northwestern fruit than the comparatively small bearing orchard area could supply, when fruit prices tumbled over each other in their eagerness to go up the ladder first, when London joined New York in the clamor for the western apple and pear, when small tracts of old trees in one year yielded more revenue than had been paid for land and trees the year before, when the towns and hamlets along the Rogue kicked off their warm blankets, arose, seized the brazen microphone and began to tell all the world of the wealth they had been snoozing over for lo! these many years.
    At that time Medford was a town of about three thousand inhabitants. For the preceding ten years it had been practically standing still, marking time. In 1906 Medford organized a commercial club that also marked time for a year before it began to labor. Since then the club and the city have been working overtime, hitting a gait so speedy that the whizzing wind made the old-timers' eyes water. In four years the city trebled its population, quintupled its business and octupled its property values.
Walter V. Woehlke, "Transplanting the Garden of Eden," Sunset magazine, June 1911, page 592

Increase in Enrollment is 23 Percent, Which Applied to Census of 1910
Shows an Increase of 2075 Persons in Medford.
    According to the increase in the enrollment in the public schools of Medford at the close of the second week, Medford has nearly 11,000 people. The increase in enrollment in the schools over one year ago is 238 or 23½ percent. This percentage of increase applied to the 1910 census of the city gives Medford 10,915 people. As the school enrollment and population of the city increase correspondingly, the estimate is a fair one.
    The total enrollment of the schools to date is 1236. In 1910 at the close of the first month 988 pupils were enrolled, while in 1909 but 804 students attended school.
    The enrollment by grades is as follows: Primary department, 163; second grade, 157; third, 126; fourth, 159, fifth, 136; sixth, 107; seventh, 108; and eighth, 80. The enrollment of the high school is 200.
    Four additional teachers have been added this year, bringing the number up to forty.
    Medford continues to grow steadily, and with the opening of the fall season at hand a great revival in business circles, which during the summer season have been quiet, is expected.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1911, page 1

    Judging by the responses received, our "Do You Remember" feature has made a decided hit; the "20 Years Ago" column being particularly appreciated.
    In the many comments received from old timers, there is one common note which might be expressed in the familiar complaint, "Them days has gone forever." One subscriber notes about what a pity it is that the spirit of 1909 is not in evidence today.
    Medford was a genuine "boomtown" 20 years ago. There WAS something doing every minute. People from all parts of the country were pouring into the city, the two small hotels were filled to the doors, and a tent city had to be put up to accommodate the overflow. Orchards were being sold as high as $2500 per acre, big deals were being closed by wire, the purchasers fearing they would lose out if their checks were put in the mail. It was a great time to be in Medford, and it is perfectly true "them days has gone forever."
    But there was another side of the picture. And as an aid in gaining this perspective, one should underline the word "DAYS." For, after about 400 of them, the stampede was over and in 90 more the "boom" had definitely busted. In 1911 Medford awoke and--what a headache! A majority of those attracted by the "easy money" departed, and it took the "biggest little city on the coast" nearly a decade to completely recover.
    So, as one of those who shared in this period of recuperation, we do not agree with "old timers" who deplore the fact that the "spirit of 1909" has departed. In fact, we much prefer the spirit and the conditions at present prevailing.
    Medford has grown up. The exuberance and extravagance of youth have been replaced by the sober sense and wisdom of maturity. Instead of building on the sands of hysteria and speculation, Medford is building upon the rock of constructive development and genuine achievement.
    In other words, we believe that the conditions in Medford today are not only better than they were 20 years ago, but better than they have ever been in the city's history. It is natural to paint the past in roseate colors; youth in retrospect is always the "perfect era." But calm analysis almost always discovers half of the picture to be hallucination.
    The "whoopee" has gone, but so has the hot air. The big kick has departed, but so has "the morning after." Those who wish the old days back may have them; but give us these new days, with less inflation and more production; with less ballyhoo and more performance--the good ship "Medford" going full steam ahead, with a firm hand on the wheel and a clear eye on the bridge, determined to steer clear of those rocks which no real boomtown of the "glorious past" ever avoided.
    Yesterday is dead! Long live today!
Medford Mail Tribune, May 8, 1929, page 4

Last revised March 5, 2023