The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


    In the "Resources of Southern Oregon," published by the state in 1890, among other things recited therein is:
    Among the early pioneers were those from every nation on earth, brought hither by the universal greed for gold, and among these were those from the vineyards of Europe, the peach orchards of Delaware, and the orange groves of the South. Thus, fortunately, the early fruit culture of Southern Oregon fell into worthy hands. During the early days the "big red apples" from the Willamette Valley obtained a reputation as wide extended as the state itself. The completion of the railroad brought a worthy rival for the summer hills of Southern Oregon, until now the Southern Oregon apple, peaches, grapes and melons are claiming first place in all the markets of the coast and interior.
    It is not strange that the natural home of the wild grape, the plum, the cherry, the strawberry, blackberry, huckleberry, serviceberry, hazelnut, acorn and haw should be supplanted by varieties improved by cultivation. The long summers or warmth, with summers not too hot, and the autumns perfect in thermal poise, gives to all fruit an
excellence of flavor and perfection of ripening excelled by no country on earth. As indicative of the mildness of the climate, figs, almonds, apricots, melons, sweet potatoes, peanuts, corn, tobacco and kindred fruits and vegetables thrive.
    In the past few years orchards have been planted by Eastern people who have chosen Southern Oregon as against all others for profitable fruit culture. From twenty- to eighty-acre peach orchards are not uncommon. All the large orchards, with rare exceptions, are but a few years old, although nearly every old settler has an orchard of from one to ten acres, Apples, peaches, plums, prunes and pears are the principal crop; yet nectarines, nuts of all kinds, berries, etc. may attain equal perfection.
    Southern Oregon is preeminently a fruit-growing country, and as such is destined to rank second to none in the markets of the world. The largest vineyards in the state are in Jackson County, the grapes successfully competing in the markets with the California product, the flavor unexceled.
    It is the prevailing opinion that Rogue River Valley is destined to become one of the noted champagne districts of the world, being similar in so many respects to that of France, specially partaking of the characteristics of the province of Champagne and the rich valley of the Aronne.
    However viewed, the great Inland Empire to the north and east, incapable of successful fruit culture, will make a market so extensive and varied that, of necessity, Southern Oregon must supply that demand; her fruit seasons seldom conflict with those of California. The legislature of 1889 appropriated $4,000 for a State Board of Horticulture to prevent and destroy fruit pests. There are two fruit-growing associations in Southern Oregon. The legislature of the same year appropriated $2,000 for a weather bureau, and the State Agricultural College is doing good work in aid of pomology and horticulture.
Medford Mail Tribune,
January 1, 1928, page I5

    It is argued by some that the native wild grapes are the true indicators of propitious climatic conditions. The Oregon grape (berberis aquifolium), low Oregon grape (berberis nervosa), are both indigenous, and were eagerly sought for before the imported varieties supplanted them in the early settlement of the country. Rogue River Valley is specially adapted to the raising of grapes. It is destined to be a profitable industry in this part of the state. As yet the only disease of the vine here is mildew, occurring but rarely. Vines are rarely injured by winter freezing. The French method of pruning is the one in vogue in this region. No fertilizers are required, and the best vineyards are not irrigated.
    The Indian summer with its warm hazy atmosphere lasting from thirty to forty days, with possibly one shower of rain, makes a season for ripening of fruit unequaled, perhaps, by no place on earth. Grapes are picked and shipped from the vines in the valley as late as December first.
    The conditions for grape culture in the valley are analogous to the celebrated champagne districts of France, with better climatic conditions, being about the same annual temperature, the same rainfall, nearly a like distance from the ocean. The soil is different in that chalk beds are absent from the vineyards of Rogue River Valley, yet chalk is found in several places, while lime is found in close proximity to some of the best vineyards. Although the elevation of the vineyards of southwestern Oregon exceeds by nearly twice the elevation of those of France, yet the difference is equalized by their being several hundred miles nearer the Equator. More than that, and the chief advantage, is the longer season for ripening.
    With the hills of Jackson and Josephine counties dotted with vineyards and beautiful villas, and the valleys rich in harvest of wondrous fruitage, the castled Rhine will need to look to her laurels in the realm of song, while the classical vales of Italy and the sunny slopes of France will find a rival in the Rogue River Valley.
Grape Culture in Rogue River Valley
    Dr. T. F. Bioletti, grape expert of the University of California who came to Rogue River Valley in the fall of 1922 to investigate the possibilities of the grape-growing industry in the valley, said in his report that a Californian crossing for the first time the sheltering walls of the Siskiyous is filled with bewilderment when he wakes up in Rogue River Valley and finds himself still in Mendocino County, California. "A little reflection, however, explains everything very simply," he continued. "It is all evidently due to the mistake of an ignorant draftsman in the land office, who ruled the line delineating California an inch or so too far south--an inch or two that represents a vast extent of beautiful hills and rich valleys which culturally, if not politically, belongs to California."
Medford Mail Tribune,
January 1, 1928, page I5

Last revised January 25, 2023