Travelers' descriptions and assessments of the state of things.
The Coquille Valley in Oregon.
(By Dr. H. Hermann.)
Coquille River, Coos County, Oregon.Gen. Lane* in Washington had given me a number of letters of introduction to officers and other gentlemen in various parts of Oregon; these letters were of great benefit to me in giving me the advice and assistance I needed, especially the letter to Capt. Gordon in Roseburg. Gordon is a consummate gentleman of true Virginian blood, and through his participation in the Indian wars and his hunting expeditions he has acquired an extensive knowledge of the topography of Oregon. When I told him that I was quite discouraged because I had not found a suitable land for a large settlement, he replied: "Do not despair, I know a section of land for you and your companions on which 400 families can comfortably settle; the same has all the qualities you desire, and is in the valley of the best land in Oregon." He now pointed out to me the valley of the Coquille River.
I reached the same from Roseburg in three days. My journey was over the mountain ranges that stretched near the coast, about 3,000 feet above sea level, then down the middle and south branches of the Coquille River until I reached the junction of the middle and southern branches and came into the main valley. From here the river takes a northerly and then southwesterly course towards the Pacific Ocean. Six miles below the junction of the middle and southern arms it meets the northern one. So united, the river is 100-150 yards wide and 14 feet deep, the tide extends more than 50 miles outwards, and in the rainy season (winter) the flood goes much further out into the individual branches, as does the water in all of them. At this time of year water rises 25-35 feet above the level it occupies in the dry season (summer).
The Coquille and its tributaries are rich in salmon and trout; in spring and autumn the vast majority of salmon move up the main river to its individual branches. The bed of the river is gravelly and sandy and contains gold; but so far gold is being mined only on some of the upper tributaries and near the mouth of the Coquille, on the beaches of the ocean. The mouth of the Coquille is narrow and partly blocked by sandbanks and rocks, so that only steamboats and small sailing ships can pass through it. The river is navigable for small steamers 50 miles upstream, as far as the tide reaches. The Coquille is a truly beautiful river, winding through the bottomlands of a splendid valley, whose rich bottoms, hills, and magnificent prairies are unparalleled in any other part of Oregon. The valley is 3-5 miles wide, including the hills which border the bottoms; the bottomland lies on both sides of the river and extends from it ¼ to 1 mile, in thousands of hills. The soil of the bottoms consists of rich loam with a substratum of dark clay, and is an average of 10 feet deep; in some places the clay is mixed with some sand. The wealth and fertility of the soil emerge from the hills as well as the actual valley; the grasses, the trees and all the vegetation show the most luxuriant growth. The prairies have an abundance of useful and ornamental plants and offer delicious food to the bees all year round. The willow never withers, except in tight places near rocks; It is best in winter and spring. The bottoms are covered with moorland, ash and maple, the hills with pine, red and white cedar, hemlock, live oak, red alder, meadow balsam, etc. Pines and cedars reach a height of 150-250, and sometimes more than 300 feet. The undergrowth in the forests, both in the heights and in the bottoms, consists of the most diverse species of trees, shrubs and smaller trees: hazelnut, wild cherry, wild plum, black elderberry, willow, crabapple, raspberry, black, blue and red blueberries, blackberries, wild grapes, rose licorice, etc., and a multitude of other shrubs, etc. The most luxuriant vegetation develops from the prairie and from the open mountain ridges where the tall trees are burnt, in short, everywhere where the sun shines its rays unhindered. The bridal grass, the blue, wild timothy and other grasses, the blue and yellow wild clover, the Oregon pea, the wolf bean, the wild sourflower, the lily, and many other plants, some nutritious, some beautiful, cover the prairie. The wild clover grows in such abundance and density over many fields that it falls over and rots on the spot. Where the prairies are burnt down at the end of September or the beginning of October, the young grasses come up immediately after the first rain, which usually occurs at the end of the same day, and at the end of October or the beginning of November, when the rainy or winter season is pleasant, the young grasses thicken and cover the whole prairie 6 inches high. The seeds of most other plants also go out at this time and they grow throughout the winter. Violets and other flowers bloom all winter long. The horses, cattle, elk, deer, etc. fatten themselves over the winter with the young grass and other nutritious plants; bulls of 3 to 4 years weigh 800-1000 pounds in the spring. Wild geese come to roost in winter and feed on the young grass. The wildlife is so good all year round that oxen that are not put to work regularly become so sick that they can no longer be used for work. The cows harvest the rich pasture and produce the finest milk I have ever tasted. The butter is extraordinarily strong and good and the calves look unusually good and grow so quickly some reach maturity at just 16 months old. The pigs feast on the nuts of the trees in the bottoms, oak trees, dead berries and roots.
*Editor’s note. As Dr. Hermann the left the East, Gen. Lane was in Washington as a delegate from the Oregon Territory. Now, as is well known, Lane is a federal Senator from the new state of Oregon.
(continued)Baltimore Wecker, February 23, 1859, page 2 Translated with Google Translate.
The Coquille Valley in Oregon.A very remarkable feature of the Coquille Valley is the almost total absence of stones on the surface of the earth, both on the mountains, and in the bottoms. Only here and there does a rounded flint, quartz, porphyry or serpentine rock emerge from this deep alluvial soil.
(By Dr. H. Hermann.)
The varied soil of the Coquille Valley; the sandy banks of the river are subject to regular flooding in winter; the rich, loamy myrtle bottoms, which are inundated only a day or two when the water reaches its utmost height; the loamy and clayey hill country; the strong messenger of the heights bordering the valley, rising 100-150 feet, which are partly covered with a soil 1½ feet deep composed of rotten wood; the rich black soil of the prairies and the variously colored (red, blue, black, etc.) heavy and mostly clayey soil of the higher mountains; the fertility of this diverse soil, which remains the same everywhere and in all seasons, which is promoted in winter by rain and partial flooding of the bottoms, but in summer by moist sea winds, nightly dew and a rain shower that occurs almost every month; the direction of the valley from east to southwest; the hills and mountains surrounding the valley, which break the power of the cold and biting northwest wind in summer, so that it only comes to the valley as a cooling balm; the flood, which extends from the sea 50 miles up the river; the gradual elevation of the ground from bottom to hill country, which then gradually rises to the coastal mountain range rising 3,000 feet above the sea level; the sufficient heat in summer, especially on the south side of the hills; finally the pleasant, mild weather and winter--all this together enables this country to produce almost every kind of vegetable, grain, and fruit that grows from Maine to Florida, and makes the Coquille Valley the richest land in Uncle Sam's extensive domain.
Because the Coquille Valley and the surrounding areas were until recently inhabited by Indians, and because several Indian wars then took place, which, however, ended due to the removal of the Indians to the reservation at Umpqua City; so the settlement of the valley by white people only began about two years ago, covering an area of 75 miles. About 30 claims were taken out by settlers, mostly single men. In 1857 and 1858 about five townships of the best land on both sides of the river were surveyed. Most of the settlers built a hut and cut down a few trees on their claim just to secure the right to buy boron [sic]; but only the married settlers have made real improvements and cultivated the soil to a greater extent. In the entire valley I have hardly seen 300 acres of land under cultivation and only a few acres plowed. If the ground is cleared, the seed is scattered and dug or dug in without any plowing being done beforehand, and yet the field itself yields 40 bushels of wheat and 60 bushels of oats. All the grains and vegetables that I saw planted here grew to the highest perfection, and never in my life did I enjoy tastier bread, more delicious vegetables and meat, better milk and butter than here in Coquille Valley. The entire vegetation here shows lush natural growth everywhere; this develops all the more in cultivated plants. Wheat, oats, etc. not only bear fruit freely for years, but they bear this fruit twice a year, as I have seen before. The same is the case with grains, beans and other garden vegetables. They become extremely large; I have seen cabbages weighing 38 pounds, potatoes weighing 1-6 pounds. (I dug potatoes of this size myself from a claim I had bought from the garden land, which had not been worked with a spade or a plow before the potatoes were planted.) In addition to the vegetables already mentioned, yellow turnips, turnips and radishes grew, onions, turnips, parsnips, tomatoes, etc. in abundance and become very large, as well as cucumbers, muskmelons, watermelons with the finest smell and taste. As far as grain is concerned, in addition to wheat and oats, barley, buckwheat and corn also grow well, the latter becoming completely rice in the bottoms and the field containing about 60 bushels. Fruit was grown organically, none at all; some 1-2-year-old trees have been planted that are growing vigorously; I saw one peach on a small two-year-old tree. I saw young trees that had arisen from a small branch planted in the ground in the manner of willows. There is no doubt that fruit of all kinds, even grapes, lemons and oranges, thrive here and that this fruit will form a major export article. However, the first settlers can certainly do without fruit in the first few years, as the whole country has the greatest abundance of the most delicious berries, which can be collected for nine months of the year: yellow and common raspberries, dew and blackberries, gooseberries, strawberries, white berries, black, blue and red blueberries, cranberries, various other types of berries and wild plums.
Although all domestic animals here multiply so quickly, the settler who starts with a cow, a mother pig and a few chickens becomes rich in such domestic animals within five years, yet only a few fat piglets and chickens are advertised for domestic use slaughtered. As far as meat is concerned, people devote themselves entirely to hunting: deer, elk and bear skins form the main food and taste excellent; there can be no better meat. They also provide a lot of fat that is used in cooking, as it is more beneficial to health than regular lard. One elk sometimes yields over 100 pounds of suet. There are plenty of elk, deer and bears here; in winter you can see elk in herds of 150 or more from the prairies. Raccoons, opossums, beavers, squirrels, as well as geese, ducks, curlews, hazel grouses, quails, and all kinds of wildfowl abound. Fish are also plentiful: As already mentioned, the Coquille is teeming with salmon and trout, and at the mouth of the river and on the seacoast anchovy, herring, sardines, lobster, mussels, etc. etc. are just as plentiful.
Little has been known about the mineral wealth of the country, because the minerals on the sides and summits of the mountains are hidden by the deep soil and only appear in a few ravines and riverbeds. But this much is confirmed that gold, coal, iron ore, copper, iridium, lead, potter's clay, building and other valuable stones are present in the river. Gold mining operations are in operation in various places and with varying degrees of success, making individuals $3-$12 per day. Once the Coquille Valley is more densely populated, all kinds of foodstuffs will of course be produced more abundantly and other goods will also become cheaper, so that the miners will no longer pay such exorbitant prices for their needs, in fact probably ⅔ less than before. Then the gold diggings will multiply in the Coquille Valley and on all its tributaries; because then the miners can not only meet their needs cheaper, but also closer to their workplaces, i.e., with less cell loss, and thus advertise themselves with a lower yield ($2-$3 per day). The settler can also, if he has free time or needs money, go to the nearest river and pan for $2-$3 gold a day, and if he's lucky, more. I have seen copper in small pieces, and in a ravine at the source of the southern branch of the Coquille there is, as an old Indian chief claimed, hidden a deposit of copper which will one day be uncovered and worked upon. The coals run in a horizontal vein 5-6 feet thick through the hills on the Coquille, and will form a valuable export article in the future. I visited several coal mines on Coos Bay, worked by various companies; this coal is brought on sailing ships to San Francisco and other markets.
The wood in the Coquille Valley can hardly be found anywhere else: our famous wood is considered by the carpenters to be equal to mahogany; just as excellent is the white and red cedar wood, the wood of the pine, ash, maple and live oak.
I traveled from here to Coos Bay and the Coos River, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of the Umpqua River, and out that river to Scottsburg and the Elk River, I have the Smith River, a pretty one, from north to south flowing and at Gardiner 6 miles above the mouth of the Umpqua itself in this flowing river; but nowhere have I met land so well suited for a large settlement as this one on the Coquille. It is true that I have not been to the great Willamette Valley because there is no longer any land available there for a larger settlement; but from the information which I have obtained from all parts of Oregon, I can assure you most definitely that the land of the Coquille leaves behind all other parts of Oregon, and all the country in California, as to wealth and fertility of the soil throughout the year, and beyond the natural sources of legumes, minerals, vegetables and animals and especially the climate.
As for the climate, let me mention the following: since my departure from San Francisco I have traveled almost 1000 miles through valleys in the south and through the mountains; I was exposed to a wide variety of hardships and weather conditions, camping in dry and wet weather, wrapped in a carpet made of bare earth, having previously become damp in the rain; I was wet to the skin for days; I drank all kinds of running water and ate all kinds of food, wild berries, wild things, fruit, raw and cooked meat and vegetables; I made the whole journey wearing one and the same clothes; and yet, even though I am already quite advanced in manhood, I have always been healthy and whole and now feel as strong and strong as I did in my younger years; I do my daily work with this method and with a pick, and I thank God that I can work like this and that I have gotten rid of the stress that plagued me as long as I was busy in urban practice, packed in a carriage.
Baltimore Wecker, February 24, 1859, page 2 Translated with Google Translate.
TRIP FROM PORTLAND, OREGON TO SHASTA.--Messrs. Baker & Covington arrived in town yesterday afternoon from Portland, Oregon, via Eugene City, Yreka, Shasta, etc. They left Portland on the 11th of May, with nine mules. About the 20th they traveled eight or ten miles through the snow between the South Umpqua and Rogue rivers, following the trail only by the blazes on the trees. They stopped in a little valley to rest, and while asleep were aroused by what they supposed to be the bursting of a cap, but owing to the thickness of the brush, etc., could not ascertain the cause of the alarm, although strongly inclined to think that Indians were about. On or about the 23rd they encamped about sixty-five miles beyond Shasta, and in the morning discovered that their mules were missing. Four of them were found subsequently about five miles from the encampment, and after a further hunt found the balance in another direction. In hunting for the latter they came upon a rancheria of about 400 Indians, nearly a mile from their camping ground. They say that persons not acquainted with the trail between Rogue River and the South Umpqua had better give it wide berth. On that route Baker had the good fortune to kill a black bear with his revolver.
Sacramento Daily Union, June 2, 1859, page 3
THE DISPUTED TERRITORY BETWEEN CALIFORNIA AND OREGON.--A traveling correspondent of the Christian Advocate, writes thus:
From Cottonwood, it is twelve miles to the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains, at the point of crossing. The country is broken and mountainous for some twenty miles, the road being quite passable for loaded teams. Pilot Rock, some two miles to the right as you travel north, lifts its bold head above its fellows, as if to serve some special purpose, but I do not profess to understand its silent teaching. Just here is a strip of "border territory," disputed ground, between California and Oregon. I do not know the grounds or merits of the controversy in regard to the line between these Pacific states, at point; but it serves a very important purpose for an individual residing here. As I learn, he lives in Oregon or California, or "somewhere," as the case may be. He lives in O. or C. as the collectors call for taxes from either side, and so he lives nowhere, and though he has some $25,000 of property, the treasury of Siskiyou or Jackson County is never replenished by levies upon it. It seems to me there is a way to "define this man's position."
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 15, 1859, page 4
JACKSONVILLE AND VICINITY.--Jacksonville is the seat of justice for Jackson County. It is at the base of a mountain, and overlooks Rogue River Valley and those of its tributaries, Stuart's Creek, and Big and Little Butte creeks. We could not learn the number of inhabitants, but suppose there may be five hundred or more. About one thousand votes are cast at the annual election in the county. The buildings are generally of wood, though there are several substantial brick stores and business buildings. The Methodists have a church of fair dimensions and appearance. The Romanists are now completing one. There are no others in the town. There is a flourishing Sunday school connected with our congregation.
The valleys referred to are all settled, and many of the farms are under good cultivation. The various hardy grains, including corn, grow here; and generally, a fair average yield is realized. Stock ranges on the foothills and mountains, and is the chief staple of the country. The grain crop is light this season, and stock is as high as with us, or nearly so.--Christian Advocate.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 19, 1859, page 1
Trip to the Interior.Having business in the interior, on Saturday the 23rd ult., we secured a seat in McLellan, Mann & Co.'s stage for Sailor Diggings, and long before the break of day were aroused from our slumbers by the felicitous voice of our friend, Sam Hillman, informing us that it was time to "git up and git." Hastily dressing, and casting a hurried glance at the Great Mogul of the Anti-Lecomptonites, lying safely ensconced in the arms of Morpheus, dreaming of the brilliant victories to be achieved by his party in September next, we made for the stable, like a quarter-horse running the last heat, when after trying a "nip" or two of "Baxter's best," we took our seat in the coach, and Charley cracking the whip, the horses went off at a brisk rate, and ere long left the slumbering city behind us. On they speed through Elk Valley, and as Old Sol began to make his appearance from behind the hills, arrived at the first station. By this time, our appetite being pretty keen, we sat down to an excellent breakfast, prepared by Mr. Meyer, formerly of the "City Hotel." Took a fresh team, and started for the next station, stopping only at the "Robber's Den" (Clendenin's) to water the horses and liquor ourselves; arriving at Rockland about half past eleven o'clock. Found the good-looking junior partner of that establishment on hand, ready to render whatever assistance in his power to make comfortable the fatigued and weary traveler. After indulging pretty freely in water and soap and rubbing and brushing the dust from our exterior person, we began to look like a white man again, proceeded to the dining room and appeased our craving appetite. Having but little time to spend, we bid adieu to our amiable friends and Master James Buchanan Cook (may he live to be as great and good a patriot to his country as his illustrious namesake), the eldest scion of our worthy driver. The team being a fresh one, commenced ascending the North Fork Mountain, and in the course of two hours reached its summit. Descending at a rapid rate we soon arrived at the hospitable abode of Mrs. Murphy (familiarly called Widow Murphy), who is, by the bye, "a broth of a gal." Inquiring if she kept anything stimulating for the inner man, were answered no, but plenty of pure, cold water, which was more invigorating than bad whiskey. We also found her in a very badly disordered state of mind, owing to the boys on the road not strictly confining themselves to the truth when speaking about her affairs. Procure a shillelagh, Mrs. Murphy, and wear it out over their heads if they don't quit telling their stories about you. Changing teams again, we were once more jolting over the road for Sailor Diggings, stopping at McGrew's to water, and try some Scott Valley [sic]. From this point the road is comparatively level to Sailor Diggings, where we arrived, pretty well worn out, at about six o'clock p.m. Dismounting, we found ourselves in front of Logan & Thompson's new hotel, one of the very best in the state of Oregon. The table is all that the most fastidious epicurean could desire, and the house is furnished in the most sumptuous style. Got supper and took a stroll through town to "see the sights." Business of all kinds appeared to be lively, and the inhabitants doing well and prospering. Finally found ourselves in the billiard saloon of Messrs. Walls & Huntingdon, took a drink or two with some "honest miners" "who there do congregate," and concluded to retire to bed. Stepping across the street to the hotel, one of the gentlemanly proprietors conducted us to our apartment for the night, and we were soon in the land of dreams, sleeping as only tired individuals know how to sleep.
About two o'clock in the morning we thought pandemonium had turned itself loose, and his Satanic Majesty was visiting this "mundane sphere" for the purpose of gathering together all his loyal subjects. Rubbing our eyes, and not thinking the time had yet arrived, we then imagined ourselves at the battle of Magenta, amidst the thunder of Louis Napoleon's artillery, and the Austrian bugles sounding for retreat. Wondering what could be out, looked out of the window, and the first words that saluted our ears was some fellow, with a pair of stentorian lungs, bellowing forth, "toot your horns, boys." Our fears being considerably relieved, we soon ascertained that the harmonious strains emanated from the Sailor Diggings brass band, under the leadership of Frank Freer, awakening passengers for the stages.
Taking our seat for Jacksonville, we went whirling through Illinois Valley, at a rapid rate, arriving at Kerbyville in time for breakfast. The stage stopped in front of Vining's hotel, met several acquaintances and went to breakfast. After breakfasting, and meeting several more friends, were about resuming our seat in the coach when we observed a beautiful young lady occupying it. Discovered several other unoccupied seats, but fearing we might become captivated with the graceful charms of the young and lovely female passenger, and perhaps lose our susceptible heart, and never more return here, we concluded to take a seat on the "hurricane deck," with Mr. Ballard, the driver. Found him to be quite an intelligent and agreeable companion, modest and unassuming, yet bold and courageous when necessity requires it. Traveling through Illinois Valley, and changing horses but once, we arrived at the ranch of our old friend Hugh Heaps, where the passengers stop for dinner. Found Hugh all right, only regretting the loss of his cook, who was married a few days previous. He wants to engage another, and any female wanting a good situation would do well to take advantage of Hugh's offer, and she might, perhaps, contract a partnership with him for life. We were now in Applegate Valley, and within five hours ride of Jacksonville; found the valley tolerably well settled up with enterprising and thrifty farmers. Changing horses for the last time about fifteen miles this side of Jacksonville, we were soon ascending the mountain; arriving at its summit, the traveler can see one of the loveliest views he almost ever beheld. As far as the eye can reach, he sees nothing but one vast plain, dotted here and there with trees. Fields of teeming grain and bands of roving cattle everywhere meet his vision. Descending the mountain we reached our destination at five o'clock p.m.
The town of Jacksonville is pleasantly located at the head of Rogue River Valley. The principal business buildings are fireproof and are of the most substantial structure. Its citizens are rich and prosperous, refined and intelligent. Everywhere appears life and animation, a sure sign of prosperity. Not a vacant house is to be found in the place. All are satisfied and contented; for they are doing well. The farmers, too, in the Valley, are making solid and substantial improvements on their farms. Like the business men of Jacksonville, they are generally wealthy. Nearly every foot of arable land is under cultivation. Jackson County is now considered one of the wealthiest in the state of Oregon, and when her mineral resources are fully developed, she will rank, in point of population and wealth, second to no other county on the Pacific Coast. All that is wanted to develop her vast mineral wealth is water. A ditch can be constructed, at a moderate cost, to the extensive mining region in and around Jacksonville, which whenever completed will enable hundreds of miners to find employment. Whenever that is accomplished, we predict that Jacksonville will rival Yreka, and become the largest inland town in Oregon.
We met many old friends and formed many new acquaintances. Among the former, we met our generous-hearted friend, Capt. J. W. Hillman, who is esteemed by all who know him for his many noble qualities of heart and soul. We were happy to make the acquaintance of Col. W. G. T'Vault, the able editor of the Oregon Sentinel. The Col. has but recently fought a bitter and unrelenting battle against the factious opponents of the Democratic Party, and we were glad to learn by the election of Stout that he was triumphantly sustained by the people of Southern Oregon. Truly the Democratic Party are under many obligations to him for the able manner in which he conducted the last campaign in the southern portion of the state. He has also occupied many honorable and responsible stations in Oregon, both in her council chambers and on her battle fields, and surely none are more deserving of the honors of the Democratic Party of Oregon than Col. T'Vault.
Having been invited by a friend to take a ride round the Valley, we availed ourselves of the kind offer, visited different localities and were much pleased with the appearance of the country. Rogue River Valley is certainly the "garden spot" of Oregon, and her citizens are as hospitable and generous as can be found in any community on the Pacific Coast. We return our sincere thanks to many friends in Jacksonville, and never shall forget the pleasure of our trip there.
Crescent City Herald, August 3, 1859, page 2 Attributed to Upton Barr Freaner.
A NORTHERN VALLEY.--The editor of the Crescent City Herald, in describing a recent trip through some portions of Southern Oregon, refers to Applegate Valley: "We found the valley tolerably well settled up with enterprising farmers. Changing horses for the last time about fifteen miles this side of Jacksonville, we were soon ascending the mountain; arriving at its summit, the traveler can see one of the loveliest views he almost ever beheld. As far as the eye can reach, he sees nothing but one vast plain, dotted here and there with trees. Fields of teeming grain and bands of roving cattle everywhere met his vision."
Sacramento Daily Union, August 11, 1859, page 2
We noticed some time ago the visit of Mr. Freaner, of the Crescent City Herald, to this place. In the Herald of the 3rd inst., the leading article is a "trip to the interior," from which we make the following extract. From the style and feeling manifested by Mr. Freaner towards the good people of the interior, we should not be astonished if he becomes one of them. Just read what he says about our own town:
"The town of Jacksonville is pleasantly located at the head of Rogue River Valley. The principal business buildings are fireproof and are of the most substantial structure. Its citizens are rich and prosperous, refined and intelligent. Everywhere appears life and animation, a sure sign of prosperity. Not a vacant house is to be found in the place. All are satisfied and contented, for they are doing well. The farmers, too, in the valley are making solid and substantial improvements on their farms. Like the business men of Jacksonville, they are generally wealthy. Nearly every foot of arable land is under cultivation. Jackson County is now considered one of the wealthiest in the state of Oregon, and when her mineral resources are fully developed, she will rank, in point of population and wealth, second to no other county on the Pacific Coast. All that is wanted to develop her vast mineral wealth is water. A ditch can be constructed, at a moderate cost, to the extensive region in and around Jacksonville, which whenever completed, will enable hundreds of miners to find employment. Whenever that is accomplished, we predict that Jacksonville will rival Yreka, and become the largest inland town in Oregon."
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 13, 1859, page 2
Description of the Physical Features of Southern Oregon.
Cascade Mountains, Oregon,Editor of the San Francisco Bulletin:--The country lying between the summit of the Cascade Range, overlooking Rogue River Valley and Klamath Lake, and extending from Mount McLoughlin on the north to the California line, has been but little visited, and I think no description has been published of its physical character, condition and agricultural capabilities. To supply this want, I have prepared some notes of a government survey and exploration undertaken in company with Deputy Surveyor S. T. Truax.
August 25, 1859.
The survey gives opportunity for minute examination of townships in Ranges 37, 38 and 39 south, and 3, 4, 5 and 6 east, while the tour of observation extended over the most of the country indicated, embracing a range of about 25 townships, or 900 square miles. About one-halt of this is unfit for settlement, being too rugged for tillage, and too elevated for fruits or cereals, but the remainder embraces some of the finest country in the Pacific States, and is well worthy the attention of those interested in developing their resources.
THE SODA SPRINGS.We made the ascent by the Soda Springs, leaving the Yreka road about two miles south of Judge Tolman's residence. These springs are worthy of notice. They are situated about five miles from the road in the foothills. The waters flow abundantly from the seams of the rock, and as they are in an attractive situation and easy of access; they will be resorted to by persons suffering from weakness and indigestion, for which they are said to prove especially beneficial. No analysis has been made of them, but they bear a striking resemblance, in taste, to the Congress Spring at Saratoga, while the ferruginous deposit shows a larger proportion of iron, giving greater tonic effect.
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF THE COUNTRY.The ascent of the mountains at this point is gradual and easy, though generally the western slope is rocky and precipitous. The general elevation is about 2,000 feet above Rogue River Valley, or 3,500 feet above the sea level. This is about the average elevation of the country examined, being about 1,500 feet lower than the plateau of the Sierra Nevada, the general aspect of which it very much resembles, although the prairies are not so broad, being more broken by peaks and ridges. The hills, also, are more thickly settled, and the timber is of a better description.
After crossing the summit there is a descent of a few hundred feet, which is so gradual as hardly to be perceptible, which brings you upon these elevated plains. On the other side of the plateau there is another ridge or sierra, extending south by southwest from the high table land lying east of Mount McLoughlin, known here as the "Snowy Butte," and separating the waters of the Upper Klamath and Klamath Lake from those of Bear Creek, flowing southerly into the Lower Klamath, and Butte Creek flowing northwesterly into Rogue River. The small prairies scattered over this region are watered by these streams and their tributaries, which, although not carrying large quantities of water, are well distributed for purposes of irrigation. In some localities, indeed, they fork past each other, flowing in opposite directions, where there is hardly a noticeable divide. These prairies are bounded and configured by small hills or buttes, from 1,000 to 2,000 feet in height, and by spurs of the mountains, which give them as many arms as Briareus. Frequently their glades intersect between the hills, so that by a winding course almost the whole district could be traversed without any hard travel, and level roads can be constructed in almost any direction.
The soil is generally a sandy or gravelly loam, and, where it is well watered, produces the natural grasses in great abundance. There are no swamps or tule lands, and no marshes except some of small extent, where the water finds no ready outlet; or else those indefatigable mechanics, the beavers, have overflowed the lands by means of their ingenious structures. The dry, sandy benches rising from the prairies and lying against the hills contain little organic matter, and so give birth to little vegetation besides timber, except service and whortleberry, and occasionally prickly oak and heather. But the timber is of the finest description, so that a fair proportion of this land is as important to the settler as that for crops and grazing.
ITS TIMBER.The mountains furnish abundance of fir and cedar, together with some white oak and yew. But, for most building purposes, the pines which grow on these sandy benches are the most useful as well as the most convenient. There is a white pine which grows on moist land, and resembles the white pine of the East in texture; but it is much smaller, and differs in its botanical character. That to which I refer is a yellow pine of good size and height, is easily worked, and makes fine clear lumber. The redwood and cedar are of fine size, but are said to be inferior in strength and durability to those of the south. The fir is the most abundant of the mountain trees, and of this and the Douglas spruce there are specimens of immense size. I have measured some of the latter, perfectly sound and symmetrical, which were ten feet in diameter. This is not quite so large as the "Big Trees," but it is "big" enough. The only deciduous trees which grow on the low lands, large enough to be called trees, are the willows and silverleaf poplar, and these are hardly of sufficient size to serve any practical purpose.
THE CLIMATE.The climate of this extensive district is dry and bracing. It is not too cold for wheat and some root crops down in the prairies, but in the open country, near the summit, water froze an eighth of an inch where we were camped the 13th and 14th of August last. Here, however, there is splendid grazing at the very season when it is most wanted. The climate is certainly salubrious, for we all slept on rock mattresses and gravel beds, upholstered with the stars and trees, and not one of the party ever suffered an ague chill or rheumatic twinge, or any of those throat roughnesses which come to dwellers in houses below the level of the pure mountain air.
No white man has been here in the winter, but the indications are that the snows are heavy and the cold severe--more so than at higher elevations east of the Sierra Nevada. Mr. Grubb, who has improved a claim in T38S, R3E, near what is called "Dead Indian" prairie, and the only person who has built a house in the district, says that he found ten inches of snow when he came in, the 1st of April, and that there were then drifts on level land two to three feet in depth; but it went off rapidly, and by the last of the month had entirely disappeared, except among the hills.
The spring rains continue through the month of May, after which there are only occasional showers, when the fall rains commence. They do not, however, suffer from drought, owing to the abundance of pure springs which aid the streams in carrying out the complete system of irrigation which nature has arranged here.
GRAPES AND FLORAL PLANTS.The natural grapes are abundant and of fine quality. They more closely resemble the cultivated grapes than any of the natural growth I have observed, either in the Western prairies or in the valleys of California or Utah. But the species are not so numerous as in the valleys east of the Sierra Nevada. I have found 13 species of meadow grass, among which the most noticeable, perhaps, is a variety of timothy, which differs from the cultivated variety only in having the head thicker and shorter. I met also 3 species of clover, 3 species of peas and a species of beans. One of these, known as the "mountain bean," is a thrifty succulent vine and bears pretty abundantly a bean of good size. A man who had planted it told me that the size is much increased by cultivation. A proportion of the plants here which furnish food for stock are not among those classed as "forage plants," and to any having time and facilities it would be an interesting and useful investigation to determine them and test their relative value.
THE ABUNDANCE OF GAME.In the region of country of which this district forms a part, there is probably more game than anywhere on the continent. This is accounted for by the fact that on account of the distance from the center of their operations and the hostility of the Indians, the Hudson's Bay Co. never hunted or trapped here, and the Indians themselves were not supplied with firearms, so that the game has not been frightened away, and of beaver especially there is probably more in Southern Oregon than in all the rest of the continent together. Grouse and pheasants constitute the chief of the feathered game, but the larger animals are actually the most numerous. Not a day passes without our meeting plenty of deer, and they have been hunted so little that they stand to be shot with revolvers. Elk are also very numerous; we have met them only in companies of ten or a dozen, but parties stopping here say it is no uncommon thing to see bands of two or three hundred, and I have seen the ground where they passed along torn up as much as a thousand acting ordinarily would have done.
We have seen several of the common black bear, though we came in actual conflict with but one, which we failed to bag. Considering, however, that we were without firearms and ammunition, I think he will have good cause to remember the day as one of blood and violence. Of the grizzly, we have seen only the "sign," and according to the freshness of his tracks, ours might generally be seen diverging at an angle of greater or less radius. We did not come prepared to encounter the demons of the forest, as the result of our bear fight would indicate. It was not Gunter's chain the poet meant when he said, "The tiger's cub I'll bind with a chain;" and whatever assistance the tripod might render in a desperate extremity, the best service the magnetic needle could give would be to show us our way from the field of battle. But anyone, whether settler or adventurer, bringing his armament along, need not fear for an abundance of sport and tough "bar meat." Those, also, who love the sound of wolves' voices will be regaled mightily with delicious music.
VARIETY AND BEAUTY OF THE SCENERY.The scenery does not present the features of grandeur and sublimity such as are furnished by the Alps and the Andes. The mind is not possessed by those sublime emotions which enchain it in the valley of Yosemite, or when viewing Shasta Butte and those mighty monuments of creation in Northern Oregon. But the lover of Nature will find that which constitutes the most essential element of picturesque beauty--variety. I have never passed through any country where the scenes succeeded each other with such rapidity--almost, it would seem, by magic power, and quite with magic effect. There is nowhere great breadth of view except from the summits overlooking the valleys which flank the Cascades on each side. But turn from these and descend among the hills to find the characteristic features of the place. You enter little prairies, surrounded by open woods, which extend themselves sometimes beyond the margin far into the unruffled surface, as if they deemed it was a lake in which they could view their graceful forms. The time has doubtless been when the speckled trout glanced here in the clear waters, and the swan "pruned his ruffled wing," but now that mirror is changed to a carpet of grass and flowers, whose beauty is enhanced by the presence of the forest which encircles and indents it.
Leaving the prairie, a few steps take you through the open forest, and you climb a steep and rocky hill, forcing your way through dense and almost impenetrable woods, where the gloomy beauty is forgotten in the labor of progress, and you are ready to sink in despair; but a ray of light appears, a few plunges are made, and you emerge upon a lawn which an English nobleman, with unbounded means at his command, with connoisseurs to suggest, engineers to plan and gardeners to execute, might emulate in vain--for nowhere, under the guidance of art, have I seen Nature luxuriate as she does in the nooks and glens of these mountains. Fir and spruces, seventy or eighty feet in height, rise singly, and in groups of three or four, from the plush-like lawn so densely covered with their evergreen foliage as wholly to veil the trunk, from the far-reaching spire down to where the broad branches rest on the thick grass.
From these you can pass by grassy glades to other, and still other such sylvan scenes, or plunge at once through the walls of verdure, where the yellow-leafed cedar is interwoven with the dark Douglas spruce and the silver fir, and again force your way up the steep ascent, through the thick trees and tangled shrubs, by the springs that trickle over the rocks--assured that very soon you will again emerge in open woods, or prairie, or glen, or lawn, or some scene that will give pleasure to the eye and excite emotions of love, to the Giver of all Beauty, in the heart. E.
San Francisco Bulletin, September 8, 1859, page 3
(WRITTEN FOR THE ALTA)
From Foot to Summit, or a Trip in the Dog Days.
Wishing to allay the fever in our blood, and look at the world from an elevated point of view--say three or four thousand feet above life's dusty thoroughfares--on the 10th July we started from Upper Gold Bluff, that unique mining establishment where Gen. Wilson, of your city, and J. M. Maxwell, the resident partner, were washing their collected sand in two machines, from which they were cleaning up from $600 to $800 per day. Twelve miles brought us to the mouth of the Klamath River, that Arcadia of Diggerdom, where we met a posse of attachés from the Reserve--situated a few miles up the stream--in pursuit of some squaws that had taken French leave to go on a fishing excursion, in commemoration of which event there is now to be seen, penciled on a drift board, in not very correct orthography, the appended classic lines:
THE MODERN ROMANS AND THE NATIVE SABINES.
With loosened rein "three horsemen" came
Fast riding down the coast-a;
They swore two squaws, without a cause,
Had run the Klamath Post-a.
With spur and goad, down the Bluff road
They cantered in pursuit-a;
And run the squaws, without their draws,
Two native streaks of brant-a.
Alas! they caught the squaws, and brought
Them back that night to Irka:
When morning broke, they gently woke
The squaws to go to work-a.
O, squaws that's young, like birds that's hung
For safety in a cage-a,
Should not take wing when comes the spring,
And put us in a rage-a.
The old and grey may have their way,
Nor do we care a cuss-a;
The young can serve on our Reserve,
And none need make a fuss-a.
We thatch their backs with old flour sacks,
And learn 'em there to so-a;
We feed 'em greens and roasted beans,
And make 'em 'taters hoe-a.
O, Uncle Sam, you open clam;
You'd better bag your head-a;
To feed your bums on sugar plums,
And give your Diggers lead-a.
Fifteen miles by water, and twenty-five by land, above the Klamath nestles like an aquatic bird Crescent City, that Undine of towns, with her big toe dipped in the wave and her left shoulder confidentially leaning on the "eternal" Coast Range and those "inexhaustible placers" of Southern Oregon. There their tattooed ladyships, or females indigenous to the soil, done up in a hybrid costume of hoops from Paris and the mantilla of Madrid, promenade the extreme back streets, with all the self-complacency of Fifth Avenue belles on the shady side of Broadway. Next morning the order was given,
"Bring forth the horse; the horse was brought;"
To tell the truth, he was knock-kneed,
And of the purest Cayuse breed;
For sixty-five the thing was brought,
And Johnson, pocketing the cash,
Says, "Boys, look out, don't use him rash."
Be quiet, shade of Byron; Mazeppa was mutilated enough in the original. Well, we loaded our instrument with a mixed cargo of grub, blankets, tobacco, ammunition and patched pants, and commenced our journey through the redwoods to strike Big Flat, on Smith River; getting there, Hank Gabe, the fat boy, and myself found the Kelsey Trail, leading over the Siskiyou, and striking the Klamath about one hundred miles above its mouth. Following the South Fork, through deep gorges and rocky cañons, we came to the foot of the rocky wall dividing California from Oregon, and extending from the coast to the Cascades.
"Where's Kelsey, Gabe?" (meaning the trail).
"In h-ll, I hope," responded the fat boy, puffing like a porpoise. "That winding brown thread; don't you see it?" "Yes."
"From peak to peak, the rattling crags among."
We toiled up the steep ascent through falling trees and blazing underbrush, for the first pack train of the season had fired the mountain to clear the trail and facilitate their return. Fire, smoke, sun and cinders.
"Is't hot, Gabe?"
"A foretaste of your future state," yells the fat boy, with delight. Sweating, I muttered the lines of Cooke, in honor of the brave compatriot of William Tell--
Right hardy are the men I trow,
That live upon the mountain's brow,
And love the gun and scorn the plow.
The sun was going down as we arrived under the highest peak of the range, and on the northern slopes the snow lay in deep banks, up to whose very edge bloomed the tall lily of the mountains, pure white, with a rainbow pink radiating from the petals, and in a large basin, hollowed out in the mountain, gleamed a sheet of water, pure and sparkling, as the lakes of Switzerland, on whose grassy edge the large and small-leaved clover grew rank and green as any lawn by the moist Atlantic. The elk, deer and bear visit it at sunrise and nightfall. A covey of young grouse are feeding in a clump of spruces, and on yonder peak loiters the fading remnant of today, polishing the rocky turrets of Castle Manfred.
"On the iced mountain top,
Where insect dare not build,
Nor bird flit o'er the herbless granite."
Now, the horseflies are big as your thumb, and mosquitoes are thick as fleas in Australia or lice in Portugal, which countries, by the way, I would not advise anyone to visit, unless, like Sut Lovegood, they wish to experience a "new sensashun."
Here we met "Tennessee," a specimen of the California waif, sometimes seen in the valleys, but more often found in the mountains, his most congenial haunt.
The waifs left their homes some nine or ten years ago. Their sisters cried a little; their silent and sad-looking mother, ever provident in her imperishable love, carefully packed their trunks with innumerable pants, coats, warm flannel and knit socks, all of which the dutiful waif threw away on his arrival in El Dorado. Their fathers, bent with toil and wrinkled with years, hands them two, four or five hundred dollars with an unspoken blessing, and hopes John, George and Joe will be steady, industrious and saving; returning home in a year or two with an honorably gained competence, to smooth their declining years and finally lay them away to rest in that house that has gathered their fathers. Mary, on the neighboring farm, and Nancy, in the village, weaves them a bracelet of their own hair, and presents them with a picture of their sweet selves, caught by some itinerant daguerrean, with promises to love them always; O, yes, forever!
The waif made money; a thousand a month; perhaps five thousand in six months; he would go to San Francisco and enjoy himself; he could make plenty more; spends his money in a month or two; goes back to the placer, but the oro is gone, vanished like the keys of the genii; he has sought it ever since, but can't "strike" it, and now, like Japhet in search of his father, he is soberly looking for a thousand or two to take him to Chile, to eat cracked corn and sugar, or to the breadfruit groves of the far-off South Pacific isles, those modern Hesperides for disappointed adventurers and dernier voyage for grizzly shellbacks.
Dost think the waif has forgotten the tears of his sisters, the gray hairs of his father, and the sacred grief of his mother? No, he remembers the lullaby sung by his cradle and the prayer his mother repeated by his youthful bedside; the prayer he remembers yet, but has not repeated it for nearly a score of years. Though the waif believes in God--Him who smiles upon the valleys and speaks upon the mountains--he ignores creeds, from Mohamed to Joe Smith, and the ruins of a once-populous wigwam have as much interest in his eyes as the charred stake of an early martyr, and the braid of Indian's hair he wears upon his arm as a trophy taken by himself in battle has more value in his eyes than the calcined toe of a saint.
With locks à la Samson, and "bearded like the pard," nothing frightens the waif but civilization, for he is about as gregarious as a grizzly bear, and with the wrinkles of nearly thirty years between his brows, he's blasé, believes that the infernal regions contain nothing worse than walks the present earth with upright, brazen brows.
To make it short--we followed to the Klamath and coursed up that stream, and noticed that the miners had neat cabins with plenty of cabbages and onions growing around, and many of them seemed to have come to the determination
"To take some savage woman
To rear their dusky race."
IRKI.Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 15, 1859, page 6
ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--This valley is composed of the lands lying on Butte, Antelope and Bear, or Stuart's, creeks, where they empty into the river. I don't know how the river came to have its unpleasant name, and I am sure it is not expressive of the character of the present population of the valley. The Legislature passed a useless act, substituting "Gold" for Rogue as the name of the stream, but, like a bad character, the old name is still used, and will be. The longer diameter of the valley from the crossing of the Siskiyou Mountains to Table Rock is about twenty-five miles; the shorter one, from Jacksonville to the point where Butte Creek emerges from the mountains, is some twenty miles. Along the rivers and creeks the land is fertile. Between Jacksonville and Bear Creek the plains also are remarkably fine, and many places are in a high state of cultivation.--Pacific Methodist.
Weekly California Express, Marysville, California, September 17, 1859, page 4
Southern Oregon as a Mining Country.
A correspondent of the Echo du Pacifique, writing from Jacksonville, Southern Oregon, gives some interesting information, which we translate as follows:
"When the Fraser River excitement arose, we all hoped here that there would be a great increase in the population of Oregon, and that we should finally see our mines developed--mines which, as compared with those of California, are scarcely prospected. Our hopes proved delusive; a multitude of miners passed through here, but they cast a disdainful look on our mines, and went back to the diggings which they had abandoned for Fraser. To tell the truth, our mines do not offer any grand prizes; it is probably more easy to find here than in California a claim paying two or three dollars per day--but there are few spots where great fortunes can be made, and two or three dollars per day was a small consolation to the extravagant wants of those who went to Fraser. Nevertheless, some stopped, and among them a number of Frenchmen. More than thirty French miners were present several days ago at a burial of a compatriot.
"The miners are making little now at Jacksonville and vicinity for the want of water, which will not come for several months yet. Meantime the miners are preparing their flumes and cutting away the trees and brush which would be in the way of the sluices.
"There is an excitement just now about Williams Creek, where a town has been laid out and styled Williamsburg. The ditch company has made a reservoir, and thus doubled its supply of water, and the miners are doing very well. Next winter it will be the most lively place in Southern Oregon, but its prosperity will probably be brief, for it is said that the gold is found only in shallow gulches or small flats.
"New diggings have been found on Applegate Creek, thirty or thirty-five miles from here, and some Germans are doing well there.
"Little is to be said of our agriculture. The harvest has been a poor one, owing to the coldness of last spring. The wheat crop is poorer than in 1858, but it bears a double price now. Potatoes, cabbage, onions etc. are worth six cents a pound, and we look forward to the winter not without anxiety. The time has passed when Oregon sent the surplus of her grain and vegetables to California, and now we should be glad to receive some supplies from the South."
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 31, 1859, page 1
JACKSONVILLE, ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--The town of Jacksonville in Rogue River Valley, Southern, Oregon, was settled in 1852. The Sentinel of that place furnishes some records of its history, which we condense as follows:
"The pioneer settler of Jacksonville was James Clugage, who was attracted by the fertility of the soil and by other natural advantages presented. Pretty soon it was discovered that the hills, gulches, bars and creeks about, and throughout the whole country nearly, contained an abundance of gold--placers as rich, extensive and inexhaustible as any in California. The discovery once made, people flocked to the new settlement from every quarter. As in California, a town sprung up almost in a day, destined to become large, populous, prosperous and wealthy. In earlier years, men had left their homes in Upper and Southern Oregon to seek their fortunes in the gold mines of California, without ever stopping to examine whether within their own Territory diggings of equal richness existed. Even persons who had lived within one hundred miles of Jacksonville passed on in their march to California, entirely ignorant and unsuspecting that so close to their homes their fondest dreams of wealth dug from the earth could be realized.
"But now that it became a fixed fact that gold lay buried in profusion throughout this section, men sought the country as eagerly as did the first emigrants seek California after the discovery of gold there was announced to the world. They came of all nations, of every class, of every grade of character, just the same heterogeneous community of souls which has characterized the early settlement of every mining town or country. The good and bad were strangely intermixed, yet never, as it were, fused. With the growth and permanency of the town a better state of things was gradually being effected. The men of business and of labor--the merchant, mechanic, professional man, the miner and the sturdy laborer--continued to remain. The idler, the non-producer, the lounger and the class who live upon others' weakness or infatuation to what are termed "fashionable vices" were as gradually thinned out--the days for thrift from their practices being over. At this date, it is not only a very much improved town in external point of view, but it can truthfully boast besides as much morality, excellence and propriety socially as any town in Oregon. And Jacksonville has a bright future in store. Each passing year leaves us in a more flourishing condition than its predecessor. Its central position, the wealth of the surrounding country, the individual worth and enterprise of its population--all tend to ensure to the town a thriving destiny."
San Francisco Bulletin, November 4, 1859, page 3
A Visit to Williamsburg.During the early part of the week, we made a visit to the new town sprung up on Williams Creek since the discovery of gold there a little less than a year ago, and called by the projectors Williamsburg. Two bright, pleasant days were vouchsafed us for the trip thither and back, and in every way we enjoyed it. Going we were shown the small tract which an industrious German has fenced in and prepared for a vineyard. To the ordinary observer the soil appears harsh and barren, but the occupant is an experienced vine grower and wine manufacturer, and he expresses great confidence in the adaptability of the place to the uses designed. We are not aware what particular sort of grapes will be cultivated, but believe the intention of the owner is to engage in the manufacture of the pure light wines, somewhat similar to Hock and Sauterne.
Farther on we passed through the little settlement called Logtown, named doubtless from the style of its cabins. [More likely named for Francis Logg.] We were shown several quite rich gulches and flats through this region, which, during the rainy season, pay handsomely to the miners, and could water be furnished throughout the year would become noted for the steady abundant yield of gold.
Near Spencer's Farm stands the old cabin formerly occupied by the notorious Judd brothers, now confined at Crescent City upon the charges of murder and robbery. This cabin was for a long time the chief rendezvous for those desperate fellows and their accomplices in crime. Near by, along the banks of Applegate Creek, are dense chaparral thickets, admirably adapted for hiding or lurking places for offenders and refugees. The cabin and grounds are now deserted.
Upon reaching the valley we stopped for a few minutes at the house of that thrifty, frugal, industrious old Pennsylvania German farmer, George Long. He has some of the best land in the valley, and surely none cultivate their grounds more thoroughly nor profitably. His vegetables are always a premium article in market, and he is quite as successful in every other branch of husbandry.
Next we stopped at the store of O'Brien & McKay, both hard-working, enterprising men, who settled upon their present lands early, and by a course of well applied labor and integrity have secured to themselves not only a valuable claim, well stocked, but have besides been enabled to accumulate a very fair ready capital. They have both merited the success which has greeted them, and will continue to do so.
From this vicinity, along the creek flat, and quite to the foothills on either side, there is a very fair amount of gold procured every year. The mines have not the reputation of being very rich, and therefore there do not occur the same rushes and stampedes to and from then, which characterize most other diggings. But it is a fact that the same parties have worked there for seasons together, and cling there yet; and what is more, all of them have done quite as well as the most favored in other mines which have a much better name. A pretty good supply of water is furnished nearly all the year, by two medium-volume ditches owned by Messrs. Fowler & Keeler, who have likewise a trading store about midway in the valley. These ditches are constructed along on each side of the river, both being some seven miles in length. At present there are about sixty to seventy white men and Chinamen engaged in mining there.
No other stoppage was made until we reached Williamsburg. The town breaks full upon the view at once. You turn a sharp angle in the road, ascend a low bench, and all of Williamsburg is before you. It presents a very brisk business appearance, and is by far the best-built new mining settlement we have yet seen. There are some forty buildings of all sorts already up, and others were in progress of erection. There are several well-stocked stores, shops, and saloons in active operation; a large, well-built hotel is nearly finished; and everything indicates the future prosperity and permanency of the place.
We took a long stroll over the mining region, to satisfy ourself personally in regard to the reports concerning it. The mines extend from the creek to the elevated bases of the great foothills back, stretching over three broad benches, upon the lower one of which the town is built. The topography of the country is very similar to that of the oldest and best mining localities in Nevada, Placer, Calaveras, Amador, Tuolumne, and other of the chief counties of California, being cast in low divides, tortuous gulches, irregular flats, and easy slopes, throughout which there is found a good deal of quartz, projecting boulders, the dry red lower soil and rotten slate, which almost invariably reveals the presence of gold. There is a large area of yet unprospected country in the immediate vicinity of the town, and we were told that across some higher divides the show for gold was equally favorable.
These mines are supplied with water from a ditch very recently constructed, and owned by Messrs. Maury & Davis, merchants, of Jacksonville. This ditch is about twelve miles in length. The water is brought from Williams Creek, high up on the mountain, a few miles below the source. It has not capacity at present to furnish all the claims opened with sufficient water, and the miners are compelled to work and rest on alternate days, until a better head can be obtained. It is the intention of the proprietors to extend it further next year, and by tapping the creek higher up, a much greater volume will be supplied. When this projected work shall be completed, there will be five persons employed in mining, doubtless, where there is one now.
A few hundred yards above the town and almost midway between the town and ditch, a large reservoir has been built by Maury & Davis, capable of furnishing the few claims fed from it, a supply of fourteen hours every day. Beyond the floodgate in the ditch which supplies this reservoir, enough water flows to enable the miners using it a good ten hours' work per day. At present the supply is insufficient to go beyond these lower town claims, on to Whiskey Creek, and one or two other good paying localities.
The following companies are now actively engaged in profitable mining at and near Williamsburg: Griffin & Co.; Layton & Nail; Thomas & Savage; Cleveland Co.; Cornelius & Co.; Barcelona & Co.; J. F. Kelly & Co.; and Goodwin & Co. All of these have good claims and are doing well. Indeed we were told that there has not yet been a single claim opened in that locality which had proved a failure. This is a remarkable instance, if true, and we have it from so many reliable and intelligent persons that we cannot doubt it. We do not wish to paint the country any better than facts will justify, because such a course would in the end be productive of more harm than benefit.
Like all prosperous mining settlements, Williamsburg presents an unusually lively appearance in the evening. Yet we will venture the remark that in no similar community can there be found better opportunities for persons to pass away the leisure hours in an entertaining and beneficial manner. Among the other attractions, a debating club has been organized, at which the members meet one night in each week to discuss the questions presented. We attended a meeting of this club and were much entertained with the character of the debates. There was a considerable audience present, and several ladies graced the occasion with their attendance. Some of the debaters handled the subject at issue quite cleverly, and others were amusing. The exercises were conducted with courtesy and good feeling throughout. The initiation of this club is a very laudable object, and it merits the success in promoting the mental culture of the members, which its projectors undoubtedly designed. An evening passed at their club gives more healthful present pleasure than if devoted to the excitement of the town, and surely the benefits flowing from hours thus occupied cannot be otherwise than instructive and elevating. In connection with their debating club, the members could easily contribute means towards the purchase of books, periodicals and newspapers, and in time a very respectable library might be accumulated.
A mile or two from Williamsburg are two other small settlements. As time was not permitted us to visit either of them, we cannot undertake any description of their appearance, condition or prospects. But we were assured that both promise to become permanent trading and mining localities. From the top of a high hill which we climbed back of Williamsburg, a magnificent view was presented of the surrounding country. Across the creek, back from the front low hill, there stretched a beautiful valley, clear to the mountain base, with an area of a mile or more, and which seemed to be of good rich soil. In the distance was seen snow-capped mountain summits, and the great gap through which it is contemplated to bring the newly projected Josephine wagon road. Below, tortuously coursed the ditch stream, resembling a silvery cord in its minuteness; and lower still, the reservoir, looking a tiny lake of sparkling liquid, with fragmentary threads of golden tint branching from its edges.
It is a very considerable drawback to Williamsburg that at present there is no regular line of stages running between it and the chief places in Jackson and Josephine counties. If this facility were afforded, there is no question but that a large addition would be made to the population and trade within a brief period. Miners and others would journey there from Crescent City, Yreka, and other portions of California, and from adjacent sections of our own state, if ordinary traveling facilities were offered. From what we have heard and seen of the place, we do not hesitate to express the conviction that Williamsburg will in less than another year become a town of first importance, and the wealth and extent of the mines there will continue equal to this rapid development.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 5, 1859, page 2
Notice of a Trip to the Klamath Lakes.
The Jacksonville Sentinel gives some notes of a recent expedition made to the Klamath Lakes, by G. H. Abbott, Indian agent, and party. Sewall Truax, County Surveyor of Josephine County, who supplies the information, accompanied the expedition, and carried along instruments to ascertain the height of the various mountain ridges on the way, and the elevation of the valleys about the lake country. The Sentinel says:
The usual road was followed from Jacksonville to Soda Springs, at which point the party bore away to the northeast. A gradual ascent was made for about four miles to the summit of the mountain which divides Keene Creek, a tributary of Klamath River, from Bear Creek, a tributary of Rogue River. This is the lowest gap in the range between the Siskiyou and Cascade chains, and was found to be 2,400 feet above the level of Rogue River Valley. From this pass there is a moderate descent of ten miles, over a good natural road, to Beaver Creek. The whole country is thickly wooded with a fine growth of fir, pine and cedar. Another mountain spur has then to be crossed, the altitude of which is about 100 feet greater than that through the pass. From the summit to Klamath River it is some seven miles, over gradually descending ground, with only one or two sharp pitches in the whole distance. Instead of continuing on along the immigrant trail, the party crossed the Klamath River just below where it emerges from the lower lake, and followed up the east bank of that sheet of water. A hot spring was discovered a half mile from the lake, the temperature of which proved to be 186 deg. A small stream which flows from this spring was found strongly impregnated with sulfur.
The country immediately surrounding the lower lake is entirely unfitted for cultivation or settlement by whites, and Mr. Abbott has recommended to the Chief Department that it shall be given to the Indians as a reservation. The whole country is a mass of marshes and tule swamps, and the few dry spots through it are covered with greasewood and sagebrush. It was with difficulty that the party made their way over this region to the upper lake. After entering the mountain gorge at the southern end of this lake, a magnificent scene was presented. To the west rose the mountains, while eastward there stretched a broad, beautiful valley for from ten to fifteen miles, clear to the foothills, and extending northward as far as the eye could discern. This valley is estimated to be from seventy to eighty miles in length, the whole of it covered with a rank growth of grass, notwithstanding the nightly frosts. Mr. Truax is confident that 600 quarter sections of first-quality lands can be furnished in this great valley. At nearly equal distances there flow four streams of most excellent, limpid water, in which trout are abundant. There are, besides, groves and clusters of cedars, firs and pines, which beautifully dot the valley.
The party were two days traveling up the lake country. They discovered three small lakes off to the northward and westward, not before known. These were bordered by tule lands and mountain spurs, which rendered close approach to them almost impossible. The only lands at all susceptible of cultivation found by the party were in the great valley mentioned above. The soil is a deep, rich, sandy loam, equal to the best in this section. The balance of the country can never become valuable or desirable to our people. Mr. Truax made several calculations to ascertain the elevation of the valley, and estimated it at 2,500 feet above this valley. The distance from Jacksonville to the middle of Big Klamath Lake in an air line is 47 miles--by road and trail 75 miles. He is confident that a good wagon road can be made all the way.
If the Indian titles to these lands were extinguished they would furnish the best of grazing to innumerable herds, and in a year or two, doubtless, the better portion of them would be taken up by our people. Mr. Abbott procured from the Indians there a positive promise that hereafter none of their people should offer harm or molestation to immigrants or settlers passing through or remaining in their country, but this is not enough. The land should be purchased from them by government, and peaceable possession secured to our citizens by the presence of a sufficient body of United States troops to deter the Indians from hostile incursions. This is the only sure way of arranging the matter.
San Francisco Bulletin, November 15, 1859, page 1
THE COQUILLE COUNTRY.--The Coquille country is described by the Oregon Statesman as one of the most promising spots in Oregon. The Coquille River empties into the Pacific between Coos Bay and the mouth of Rogue River, after flowing for many miles through a beautiful and fertile valley in the interior. The valley is now fast settling up with an enterprising population, among which is a flourishing German colony founded by Dr. Herman. It was recently discovered that the Coquille is navigable over the bar at its mouth for vessels of at least one hundred tons burthen.
San Joaquin Republican, Stockton, California, November 17, 1859, page 2
THE COQUILLE.--The Coquille River empties into the Pacific Coos Bay and Rogue River [no, it doesn't], after flowing for many miles through a beautiful and fertile valley in the interior. The valley is now fast settling up with an enterprising population. It was formerly supposed that there was not a sufficient depth of water at the entrance of the river to admit of the passage of even small vessels, and the exterior trade of the valley has been transacted through Coos Bay and Port Orford. Recently, however, the schooners Twin Sisters has entered and departed in safety, and reports a sufficient depth of water on the bar for a vessel of 100 tons. When our informant (a reliable gentleman of Port Orford) wrote, the schooner Rambler--a vessel of about 45 tons--was expected, with a cargo of goods for Dr. Herman, the leader of the flourishing German colony on the Coquille. She also carries the engine and machinery for a grist mill, saw mill, &c. There is yet plenty of vacant land in the valley, but from present indications it will not long remain unoccupied.--Oregon Statesman.
Sonoma Democrat, Santa Rosa, California, December 1, 1859, page 1
AN OREGON TOWN.--We have received the first two numbers of the Roseburg Express, a good local paper published at Roseburg, the shire town of Douglas County, Oregon, which is situated on the east bank of the South Umpqua River, about fifty miles above Scottsburg. The last mentioned place is the harbor of the Umpqua, and the shipping place for nearly all the supplies of Southern Oregon. Roseburg is built in the midst of a beautiful oak grove in the center of a small prairie, and surrounded on nearly all sides by a range of gently rising mountains, and contains several fine public buildings, including one three-story academy, sixty by ninety feet, said to be the finest educational edifice in Oregon.
Hydraulic Press, North San Juan, California, December 10, 1859, page 2
Last revised October 5, 2023