The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1868

    Rogue River Valley, occupying the extreme southern portion of western Oregon, and extending into California, is a broken country, or series of valleys, separated by rolling highlands, covered in some places with dense forests of fir and cedar, and in others thinly timbered with oak, and finely set with grass. It is a very good country for farming, and a superior one for stock raising. Rogue River is not navigable on account of its numerous cascades. Like all the western  portion of the state, this valley is well watered by numerous mountain streams, which are sufficiently large to afford motive power for running any amount of machinery. It is thinly populated, and would furnish homes for an indefinite number of immigrants. Jacksonville, its principal town, is a place of some importance as a mining town.
Report of J. Ross Brown on the Mineral Resources of the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1868, page 587

The Klamath Lake Country.
    An interesting article about the Klamath Lake country appears in a late number of the Yreka Journal. We give the material portions of the Journal's article:
    "The extensive region of country in the vicinity of Klamath, Tule and Goose lakes is now in a fair way of being speedily settled up for farming and ranching purposes, and destined to build up a trade that will be of great wealth to whatever place is enterprising enough to secure it. The entire country north of this place as far as John Day's River and east to Idaho is a continuous range for cattle, covered with a luxuriant growth of bunchgrass, which is regarded as a superior feed for stock. There are also thousands of acres of the finest land for agricultural purposes to be found anywhere, that only needs tilling to make it abundant in the production of cereals, plants and fruits customary to the climate of California and Oregon. The lakes and rivers also afford excellent opportunities for irrigation, and by very little effort in digging the outlet of Klamath Lake thousands of acres of marsh lands could be uncovered for agricultural purposes. All the streams are navigable for flatboats, and large vessels can sail comfortably for 40 miles on the lake and 80 miles up Sprague River towards Fort Klamath. Good landing can also be effected almost any place along the lake or Sprague River, as the water is quite deep close to the banks. On the south side of the lakes, as well as on the islands in the lakes, there is an abundance of good timber of every variety, but on the northeastern side the country is almost barren of trees or shrubbery, though the soil is good. Some sixty or seventy claims have already been taken up in the vicinity of Link and Lost rivers, and there are great improvements in progress on the reservation at the mouth of Sprague River, where a saw mill and grist mill will be put up this summer, as well as a large tract of land cultivated with grain. At Link River, where the principal settlement is at present, another saw mill is to be put up, thus affording excellent opportunities for settlers to build boats toward supplying the country and transporting produce to market. The people of Link River are anxious to do their trading with Yreka in preference to Jacksonville, although they belong to that county, for the reason that they can get to Yreka at all seasons of the year. A good wagon road now runs from Yreka to Killibrew's ferry on the Klamath, turning off from the Oregon road at Jas. Bradley's ranch towards Bogus, in reference to which we learn a petition is to be presented to the Board of Supervisors, asking to have this private road declared a public highway. From Killibrew's ferry to the old emigrant or Applegate road, there needs to be but seven or eight miles of road built, which will connect us with the Klamath Lake country, as well as opening a direct road to Surprise Valley. This short piece of road could be built at a trifling expense and render Yreka within seven miles as near the Klamath Lake as Cottonwood, or sixty-five miles from Yreka to Link River. Mr. Nurse, the sole trader of that section at present, who has two trading posts, came into town last Monday for goods to replenish a portion of his needed assortment, and says this is the best place for him to purchase goods if the road is opened from Killibrew's to the Applegate road, from the fact that he could team cheaper by getting goods via Red Bluff than packing from Jacksonville and getting goods via Crescent City. The California and Oregon boundary line is to be reestablished by a commission, for which Congress appropriated $35,000, and it is believed by the settlers [it] will make the line 12 miles further south than is now claimed, thus taking from our county nearly all of Little Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, all that section on a parallel from a little this side of Killibrew's ferry to the Nevada line. The Oregon authorities have been surveying the whole country in that section, of which upwards of 140,000 acres are school lands donated to Oregon, running out into the Goose Lake Valley and the head of Surprise Valley. The prospects are very favorable soon for a new county being established in Southeastern Oregon, as well as a new county in Northeastern California. The Modocs are all to be taken in on the reservation the coming summer, leaving the entire country open for settlement, and we learn that a school will be opened for the education of the Indians, toward civilizing them."
Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 10, 1868, page 2

    ASHLAND.--We paid a visit to Ashland this week, and find that it has outgrown any place in the county during the past year. It now numbers two stores, a flouring mill, a woolen mill, which will be in running order this fall, two saw mills, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, a cabinet maker's shop, marble tomb stone works, and a nursery for growing young fruit trees. The village is pleasantly located on a small stream of the same name, which supplies abundant water power for all the machinery that is used. Before long, if the place improves as it bids fair to do now it will rival towns of more pretensions.
Oregon Sentinel,
Jacksonville, May 2, 1868, page 3

Resources of Rogue River Valley.
    We receive letters of inquiry from time to time from persons in the eastern states and elsewhere, wishing to emigrate to this valley. For the information all such we have compiled the following brief and impartial summary of facts:
    What is generally known as Rogue River Valley proper comprises more particularly the western portion of Jackson County, though the tributaries of Rogue River drain Josephine County likewise (these being the southernmost counties of the settled portion of Oregon) and bordering on California. It includes that tract of country which is drained by the waters of Rogue River or Gold River, which rises in the Cascade Mountains and flows west into the Pacific Ocean. In extent and population it forms an influential part of the state.
    Like all the Pacific Coast the climate is equable the year round. The thermometer rarely reaches 100 in the hottest summer days, while in winter frosts are so unusual or so slight that vegetables are often kept in open garrets during the whole winter without freezing. Our chief rains come in winter. In summer there are generally several months of little or no rain. Though this valley, we think, affords a happy medium between the excessive droughts and dust of California and the protracted rains of northern Oregon and Washington.
    The chief industry of this valley is devoted to mining and grazing or stock raising. The gold mines are inexhaustible, or are limited only by the supply of water. Probably nowhere on the coast is there so large a body of farming land in the immediate vicinity of extensive gold mines.
    We have gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, zinc, nickel, salt, coal and marble. Of these the gold, salt and marble have already been successfully worked. The rest are undeveloped, but capable and destined to become so in a few years.
    Of these we have several varieties. There are several salt springs, one hot spring of white sulphur, one black sulphur, and the eastern portion of the valley abounds in soda springs all more or less impregnated with iron. These, with the well-known salubrity of our climate, are destined to become more or less a resort for invalids.
    of many varieties exists here, and is conveniently distributed all over the valley. That used by manufacturers is generally fir, pine, cedar and oak. We have plenty of good wood for fencing and fuel. Most of the wood used for fuel is oak, laurel and fir. Our oak, however, a species of white oak, is of an inferior quality to that mostly found in the East. Our black oak works up neatly into cabinet ware.
    Our soil along the watercourses is mostly an alluvial deposit, and on higher ground a sandy loam. All the cereals grow to perfection--wheat for instance yields an average of twenty-five bushels to the acre, and that without manuring. All our hills are adapted to grazing. The luxuriant grass remains green all the year except one or two months. Livestock is often left to shift for itself all the year; in fact, feeding in winter is very rare. Grapes grow prodigiously on our soil, and are destined to become one of the staple products. All kinds of fruit and berries do well. Horticulture is quite successful, but owing to the dryness of midsummer it is managed best by irrigation.
    Lumber, flour &c. are manufactured mostly for consumption in the mining districts. For these purposes there are mills all over the valley. Our woolen mill, recently started, will afford a ready market for the large annual yield of wool.
    The gold mines consume most of our flour, bacon, beef, butter, cheese, vegetables, at fair prices, but owing to the high mountains and rugged roads which surround this valley, our outside market for bulky articles is limited. Transportation being difficult and costly, what we export is chiefly gold and livestock. These always bring the cash. Some future time we will probably be able to export wine, woolen fabrics and various kinds of minerals. Capital and enterprise are very limited there as yet, but we trust that the necessities of commerce will before many years build a railroad through this valley to connect California with the north, and afford an easy access to every kind of market.
    Improved farming land ranges from five to twenty dollars per acre. Plenty of government land can still be had here at government price. Farming implements, whether made here or imported, are high. Wheat ranges from 50 to 75 cents per bushel, oats from 40 to 60; potatoes from $1.50 to $3 per 100 pounds; apples 50 cts. to $1 per bushel. First-rate stock commands a high price here. But there are great numbers of Indian and Mexican ponies here, and other inferior stock which can be had for a trifle. For common labor, white men get from $25 to $50 per month (in gold), though Chinese labor can be procured for much less, probably half. Mechanics get from four to six dollars per day; clothing, groceries and other transported goods, owing to the cost of transportation, are high.
    Our hills abound in elk, deer, antelope, bear, cougars, wolves, ducks, grouse and quails, and the streams in salmon and trout.
    There are good public and private schools, though the present population being mostly from the western states do not seem to appreciate their advantages as well as they might, and as a consequence many of our people are lacking in that thrift and enterprise which is found in some newly settled portions of the country. There are churches of several denominations.
    The entire valley numbers about 8,000 souls. Most of these are from the older states. There are many Germans and Irish. Next in number comes the Chinese. There are few French and Norwegians. There are very few Indians, and these are only visitors, being subject to the reservation rules of the U.S. government.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 8, 1868, page 2

Facts for the People.
    A speaker at the "bread-and-butter" meeting in Jacksonville on Saturday last made a statement that we cannot allow to pass unnoticed. He declared that when the Republican Party in this county went out of power the county was deeply in debt, and county warrants worth only thirty-five cents on the dollar. The reverse is exactly the case, and we dare any man to disprove it. When the Republican Party of Jackson County came into power in 1862 the county was sixteen thousand dollars in debt, and its warrants selling as low as thirty cents. In 1866, when the "bread-and-butter" Democracy assumed the control of the county, not a single dollar was owing; there was money in the treasury, and scrip was payable on presentation. These are actual facts, well known by every citizen who has been a resident of this county since 1862. They are proved by the official exhibits of the county, and any person who can stand before the people and make such a false statement as was made on the occasion referred to must either be very ignorant, very unscrupulous, or have a wonderful degree of effrontery.
    Now we ask: What have the "bread-and-butter" administrations done for the county? How have they lightened the burdens of the people? Let us see. From the organization of the county in 1852, to the present time, nearly four hundred thousand dollars have been taken from the pockets of the people in the form of taxes. Where has this immense sum gone? How has it been applied? Look at our county buildings. A court house scarcely fit for a barn, a jail somewhat like a "spring house" on a first-class Pennsylvania farm, and a dingy and dilapidated building in which are the Clerk and Sheriff's offices, comprise them. Look round at our roads and bridges. Start out to California, and it is over a toll road. Travel northward, and you pay toll at the crossing of Rogue River. Go east, and a ferry on the same stream compels you to put your hand in your pocket again. Westward, you are stopped by Applegate, which at times is impassable for want of a bridge. How many head of stock have been stolen since the organization of the county without the thieves being punished? Facts are stubborn things, and if the people of this county will look around and ask themselves how the taxes have been applied, they will fail to find any answer. The people of this county pay a heavy sum annually for hospital purposes. How are the sick poor provided for? In nearly every instance by charitable contributions. It is not a month since a collection was taken up to aid a sick miner and enable him to go to San Francisco for medical assistance. It is notorious that the county hospital has been so badly conducted that it is the dread of our sick poor, and a disgrace to a civilized community; and if people pay a tax for its support, they have a right to demand that it be expended to some purpose. Be it understood that we do not charge fraud on any person, but say that a thorough and searching reform is needed in the administration of our county affairs; and we presume the people care more for light taxes and security for life and property than they do for the success of political wire-pullers.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 23, 1868, page 2

From Cottonwood to Jacksonville--Character of the Road--Towns on the Route--Kanakas--Their Marriages with Indian Women--Ashland--Fine Horses--Jacksonville--Drew's Quartz Mill.
    On my travels north after leaving Yreka, the next and last place of note before crossing the line into Oregon is the little mining town of Cottonwood, situated twenty-two miles from Yreka, and six miles north of the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains, on a creek of that name, and near where it empties into the Klamath River. Nearly all the miners here have families, cottages, and small tracts of land, on which they spend much of their time in gardening.
    The gold in this district is coarse in size and fine in quality. Nowhere in the vicinity can you fail to obtain a good prospect with the pan, though water is scarce the year round. At the time I was there first some miners were prospecting for the blue lead, and had already gone some fifty feet through rock and expected to have to go one hundred feet further before striking it. On my return I was informed that the company were getting well paid for their trouble, they having already struck a prospect of $20 to the pan.
    The bed of the Klamath River yields well, as a company that worked a portion of the river last fall found out, and now several other companies are making the necessary arrangements to go to work this season.
    Curious to say, there are few Chinamen here, but a number of Kansas, who, like the Chinamen, having bought claims which were supposed to have been worked out, are doing well. They are favorites with the whites and are quite intelligent. They would make good citizens if it were not for their liquor-loving propensities. When drunk they are entirely within the power of the whites, and if a person wishes to make any trade with them all he has to do is to obtain a bottle of whiskey and they will sign anything. While I was near their camp, a white man by this policy purchased for $50 a claim in which a pan had yielded $12. Some of them have married Indian women according to the forms of law, and the couples thus united live very happily together. One intelligent fellow, calling himself Daniel Mason, claims to be a correspondent of the Honolulu paper, and produced copies of that sheet, showing me his name attached to communications. He talks good English, and had recently attached himself to an Indian woman in marriage by the regular church ceremonies, and was serenaded in accordance with the American style.
    The town supports one hotel, two saloons, two stores and a good thriving school. Mr. Donaghy is doing the principal business in merchandising.
Cole's Ranch.
    The road from Yreka to Cole's, at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain, six miles from Cottonwood, runs over an undulating and gravelly country, and in sight of Mount Shasta most of the way.
    We left Cole's ranch after an early breakfast, and proceeded on our way across the Siskiyou Mountain. Much snow having collected, we found our progress impeded, but after repeated stops to let the horse rest we succeeded in reaching the summit. Far below, as we descended the north side of the Siskiyou Mountain, we saw, pleasantly located, farms of the Rogue River Valley. The grass was green and beautiful, forming a striking contrast with the snowy mountain district I was then passing over, for as yet Oregon had escaped the snows, while Yreka, so near by, had already had large quantities of it.
    Ashland, eight miles from the foot of the mountain and sixteen miles south of Jacksonville, is a thriving town, with splendid water privileges, a flouring mill, planing mill, saw mill and an unfinished woolen mill. This last mill is owned by a joint stock company, with a capital of $30,000 in 300 shares. The building is four stories high, and will be in running order next fall. It will be run by one of Leffel's American double-turbine water wheels, and will consume about 60,000 pounds of wool per year. Since the commencement of this mill the sheep raising has increased in this (Jackson County) 50 percent. Ashland also contains a marble yard, two stores, butcher shop and a good hotel.
    I remained here a few days, and, in the meanwhile visited several of the principal farmers in the vicinity, among whom were Mr. W. C. Myer, the celebrated Oregon horse-raiser. He is the owner of the trotting horse "Capt. Sligart," which he imported into Oregon some two years ago to cross with his Coburg stock, which is reputed to be the finest in Oregon.
    Jacksonville may be called about the third town in the state, and might properly be called the capital of Southern Oregon. It is situated in Rogue River Valley, Jackson County, 120 miles from Crescent City, from which seaport it obtains its supplies. It is in the center of a wealthy farming and mining district. Most of the mines at present are in the hands of Chinamen, who run many good claims, and never give one up so long as they can get a yield of one dollar per day. The former white owners not unfrequently regret that they sold out under some gold excitement. They found none but Chinamen as purchasers, and now they cannot get the claims back or get unemployment, since the Chinamen hire none but their own kind.
    Jackson Creek, where the principal mining is, runs through the town. About three miles up the north fork is the Occidental quartz mill, the main dependence of this mining district at present. This mill was built about three years ago, at an expense of $15,000, yet by some mismanagement the original company failed, and it has recently fallen into the hands of Capt. L. L. Drew [sic], one of the former stockholders, who was then engaged in making some considerable improvements at an additional expense of about $2,000 more, with the intention of testing the new quartz ledges that have recently been discovered here, there being some seven or eight ledges that are quite extensive. The mill has since been put in good running order, and the ledges have turned out to be profitable. The mill has ten 600-lb. stamps, with Rutger's English Concentrating Boxes--the only mill, I believe, that has adopted them excepting the Eureka Mills, at Grass Valley--also, Hungerford's Patent Concentrating and Amalgamating Tubs, on the principle of those used in Washoe.
    The town is very pleasantly situated, many of the buildings being new, and of a pleasing style of architecture. The town is on the improve, and some nine new brick buildings will be erected this summer. It has about five hundred inhabitants. Among the principal merchants are Sachs Brothers, who were the first to get their spring goods from below, they having them packed on mules from Red Bluff at double the usual expense.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 18, 1868, page 1

    The conviction is growing that better things are immediately before us. The Pacific Coast is quickening with new energy, and Oregon feels the impulse. The Pacific railroad will soon begin to pour a population across the continent, and Oregon shall be ready to meet and receive the incoming tide. Naturally, the people of the southern part of the state want a chance with the rest. The scheme in which they take a most lively interest is the proposition for
forming a junction with the Central Pacific, crossing the Cascade Mountains in the vicinity of the California line, traversing Rogue River and Umpqua valleys, and forming a connection with the Willamette. This is the proposition submitted in Mallory's bill asking for a subsidy, now before Congress, and recent information from Washington, received in this quarter, inspires a hope here of its passage at an early period of the next session. It is claimed that the Cascade Mountains may be crossed by this route as easily, if not more easily, than by the middle fork of the Willamette; and certainly if the thing is practicable the connection should be made by a route which will accommodate Southern Oregon. A surveying party is now out in the Cascade Mountains east of this place with a design of making more [of] the rough observations of their nature than were ever made before. It is proposed to demonstrate the fact this summer that the mountains in this quarter are actually pervious to a railroad. Another great problem to be demonstrated is the existence of an easier route than has yet been surveyed through the hills and mountains between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys. It is confidently believed that a better route can be found than that traced in the United States Railroad Surveys.
    This place seems to be steadily flourishing and present an appearance of freshness and thrift not equalled by many of our Oregon towns. Stocks of merchandise here are certainly larger and better than any to be found south of Salem. Imported goods of every description, including agricultural and mining implements, are hauled from Crescent City (Cal.), a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. The road is a mountainous one, and every pound of freight hauled over it to Jacksonville costs three and a half cents. This is the price at present, though it is sometimes higher. From San Francisco to Crescent City freight costs ten dollars per ton, so that by the time goods reach here they have paid a tariff of eighty dollars on the ton. A people who have to struggle with such [a] disadvantage must have many circumstances in their favor to counterbalance them. These the people of Jackson County seem to possess, for it is certain that no portion of the state shows better evidences of prosperity.
    The southern part of the state still derives great advantage from its mines and gold. These extend over a large section, and though few rich and extensive strikes are made, the aggregate amount of gold produced each year is very considerable. This keeps the "circulating medium" in this quarter of the state comparatively abundant. Of course many mines are entirely worked out, and in many other places work is suspended on account of scarcity of water, but when water can be obtained the miners are still delving away. Chinese are working over many old diggings, and along the bars of Rogue River these people may be seen in numerous places employing their patient industry in washing out the gold which white labor has neglected as too small pay. In some places they have large wheels constructed, driven by the current, for raising water for their sluices. It will be many years before the placer mines of Southern Oregon are exhausted, and after a while many localities will be worked with profit which will not now afford sufficient pay. It is expected also that the quartz interests of the southern counties will eventually have great importance.
    For the products of agriculture there is a fair market in Jackson County--quite as good in fact as in any part of the state. The supply required by the mines is a considerable item. For some time past the government demand for flour and grain at Fort Klamath has called for no small portion of the products of this valley. Flour is also sent from here into Northern California. Some of the best-improved farms in Oregon lie in Jackson County, and their owners are doing fully as well as any farmers in Vermont.
    The harvest is about ended here, and the yield is large. On the whole, this is probably the most productive season Oregon has ever known.
    The way the temperature rises here in an August afternoon is decidedly uncomfortable to contemplate, yet it is not so hot how by several degrees as it was some days ago. It is not an unusual thing for the mercury to rise about 100 deg., and last Sunday it was 110 in the shade in this town. In the coolest place that could be found the thermometer indicated 102 deg. Yet it is observable that the heat seems less oppressive in these parts than in many others where the thermometer indicates a temperature lower by ten or fifteen degrees. The air is less sultry, and seems less close and stagnant. Its elasticity is such that the hottest days do not produce the feebleness and languor which are experienced in many localities.
is Ashland, sixteen miles from Jacksonville, on the stage road. Quite a number of buildings are going up at that place this summer, and the woolen mill, which is expected to be an interest of great value to this part of the state, will, ere long, be in operation. A portion of the machinery has already arrived, and the rest will come without delay. The building is now ready for the machinery. The manufacture in Southern Oregon of a large and important class of goods which have heretofore been imported at high prices will be a great point gained.
    The disgust which prevails among the "Democracy" on account of the action of the New York Convention is painful to see. Of course all, or nearly all, of them "can eat crow" and vote for Seymour and Blair, and nine-tenths of these would as soon be one as the other. Every Republican who meets a Democrat is loud in his praises of Seymour's gold-paying policy and Frank Blair's war record. Blair is especially commended for his prompt action in clearing Missouri of "Democrats," for firing upon a promiscuous crowd in St. Louis in 1861, for offering a resolution in Congress to expel Clark, a Democratic member from Missouri, for the conflagrations of rebel property which he caused when "marching through Georgia," etc., etc. All these things are wormwood to the "unterrified," and many are the deep-drawn d--ns which escape the barrier of their teeth. But the dilatability of the Democratic esophagus is wonderful, and before the close of the campaign most of them will be seen devouring "crow" with astonishing voracity. But there are some who cannot do it, and the Republicans of this county have assurances that quite a number who voted "Democratic" in June will vote for Grant and Colfax.
"Editorial Correspondence," Oregonian, Portland, August 8, 1868, page 2

SCOTTSBURG, Aug. 10, 1868.
    From Oakland to Scottsburg by mail. Started at an early hour; driving out "under the opening eyelids of the morn"; tasting what the poets call the fresh, dewy breath of the rising day. Beholding the sun, which a few hours since sank to its bed in ocean, now "repair its drooping head, trick its beams, and flame with new-spangled ore in the forehead of the morning sky." Taking large draughts of an atmosphere whose elastic, vitalizing energy gives new life and causes the blood to
forget its sluggishness and to leap and flow with renewed activity and vigor. Over hills gilded by the beams of the rising sun; across valleys whitened by the hand of Ceres; winding through columnar forests; passing brooks and streamlets which wander under pendant shades with mazy error; coursing along the precipitous banks of a river which tears impatiently through mountain gorges; now slackening the pace so as to linger where the great trees throw their shadows far away upon the road, and now rising upon the crest of a high-climbing hill where the heat of the sun is tempered by breezes from ocean--such was my employment during a day in the forepart of the present month of 1868.
    But it may be as well to quit this attempt at sentiment right here--for unlike the wit of the person in the old play, it is not at all nimble, and does amble well. Mr. Gradgrind's philosophy about facts, however sordid it may be, affords safer grounds to tread on. Let us therefore look about us for something which the world regards as a little more substantial than sentiment about sunshine and breezes and warbling brooks. In short, let us see what we find at Scottsburg. 
    I have before me the first ten numbers of the Umpqua Weekly Gazette, a paper which made its first appearance at Scottsburg, on the 28th of April, 1854. Its publisher was Wm. J. Beggs; its editor, D. J. Lyons. Mr. Beggs, after having been variously employed upon the Oregon press for a number of years, went to California about 1860, where he has since been connected with sundry newspaper enterprises. Mr. Lyons is still a resident of Scottsburg. The Gazette was the first paper published in Oregon south of the Calapooia Mountains. The introductory number contains an appeal to the citizens of Scottsburg to come forward with liberal subscriptions to build a wagon road from their town to Winchester, as this was deemed the measure upon which the prosperity of both places depended. The wagon road was built, but neither town has fulfilled its early promise. Of Winchester, the site only is known; the town, with the exception of the residence of the proprietor, is no more. Scottsburg is a little more fortunate. The town at this time contains about half a dozen families, with one store and one receiving and forwarding warehouse. The great flood of 1860 carried away about thirty buildings on the lower street, the most considerable portion of the town. In the last number of the Overland Monthly we have an account of Klamath City, a town that was and is not. Scottsburg is hardly to be reckoned in the same category, for the place still exists, and as a shipping point has considerable business; but it is not the place which it promised to be in the heyday of its youth fifteen years ago.
    Succeeding numbers of the Umpqua Gazette inform us that the Umpqua River is a very favorable place for the entrance of shipping; that the bar is short and easily passed; that there is a good depth of water in the river and that "although we do not claim the depth of water on the bar which the Columbia has yet we should be unwilling to exchange, and take its twenty-odd miles of dangerous navigation between the outer bar and a harbor for the extra two fathoms." Also, that the "Umpqua should not be placed by the side of the picture" of stranded vessels; "for it is quite exempt from those causes whence result such serious losses of human life." But the Umpqua, though a tolerably safe entrance, did not succeed in establishing its claims as a rival of the Columbia. Yet it was once supposed that there was serious rivalry between the two rivers, and Scottsburg actually contended with Portland for the trade of Oregon. Indeed the Umpqua Gazette did not hesitate to prophesy "that in a few years the T-rail will cover the wagon road, and heavy trains, laden with produce and provisions, will be running from Scottsburg to Portland." It is amusing now to revive these incidents in our history; yet fifteen years hence many of the expectations and enterprises of this time will seem as strange and extravagant as do the pretension which were set up by Scottsburg in 1853-4.
    It ought to be added here that the Umpqua Gazette, which professed such brilliant things for this town, expired after a brief existence of less than one year. The material of the office was taken to Jacksonville, and used to commence the publication of the Sentinel.
    The decline of Scottsburg was owing to the failure of the mines in the Southern part of the then territory, which were supplied through this place, and to the completion of the road from Crescent City to Jacksonville, thus cutting off the remainder of the trade in that quarter. Yreka, Cottonwood, Sailor Diggings and all the mines of that region at one day got their supplies here. Citizens of this place relate that they have known times when pack trains numbering in the aggregate more than one thousand animals have been waiting here for vessels to arrive to give them loads for the interior.
    Yet this place is still a shipping point of considerable importance. All the goods consumed in the valley of the Umpqua are supplied through Scottsburg. Oakland, Roseburg and Canyonville receive their goods by wagon from here, and at this time this forwarding business is going on with considerable activity. A steamer from San Francisco enters the river once a month, bringing merchandise for this trade, and carrying away the products of Umpqua Valley. Wheat, flour, bacon and wool are shipped from this place in considerable quantities; and from Gardiner, a point on the river some miles below, a large amount of lumber, sawn at that place, is sent away. The manufacture of lumber at Gardiner last year amounted to three million feet. Timber in great quantities grows upon the Umpqua River and the tide sloughs about its mouth, and lumbering will long continue to be an important interest here. The valley of this river for a distance of sixty miles from the ocean is in all places quite narrow, never exceeding a couple of miles in width. Bound by difficult mountains which seem in most places quite impervious, and destined for ages to come to defy the efforts of the hand of man to subdue their native wildness, there is little chance here for a community, based on agriculture, to grow and expand. But there may easily be great improvement, and in a few years there doubtless will be. In the valley, within fifteen or twenty miles of this place, are many thousands of acres of land equal to the very best in the state; and though all of it is claimed, a very small part only is cultivated. If flour can be made at Canyonville, ninety miles distant, and hauled here for shipment to California, it could surely be made with profit in the valley a few miles above this place. There is yet no mill in operation this side of Oakland; but this want will soon be supplied by the completion of one new building six miles distant from here. Twenty dollars a ton is now paid for hauling each way between Scottsburg and Oakland, and a little more between Scottsburg and Roseburg. The completion of a railroad from Portland through the upper valley of the Umpqua would cut off the trade in general merchandise through the mouth of this river; yet the lumber and agricultural interests of this quarter will always be considerable enough to keep communication with San Francisco open. Freight is taken from here to San Francisco by steamer for eight dollars per ton. The last steamer took out forty tons of wool and a large lot of bacon--products of the upper valley. Probably a third part of the wool of Umpqua goes to the mills of Willamette; the remainder finds an outlet by this way to San Francisco.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 17, 1868, page 2

The Lake Country--The Branch Railroad.
    As many inquiries have been made in regard to the southeastern part of our state in order to determine its fitness for settlement, or the practicability of building a railroad through it, [it] may not be inadmissible for me to give my views on the subject, as I have some experience in that region. In summer I have roamed its broad grassy plains in search of the fleet-footed antelope, hunted the antlered buck in its beautifully timbered hills, or have angled for the golden trout in its pellucid waters. Roaming these lovely plains, with a verdant carpet beneath, evergreen trees around, clear streams flowing in silent majesty, wild fruits in "luscious glory pendant," and a bright blue sky above, one's ideas of the romantic and beautiful are made bright and vivid. But this summer experience is not all. In winter I have looked for months on fields of ice and snow, in the colder parts of that region.
    The discussion of the Humboldt railroad idea has brought forth some curious representations, some of them apparently not well consisting with each other, and of course calculated to produce sorry impressions. Some would convey the idea that the Lake country is a paradise, and other extremists would represent that it is a vast sage plain, almost entirely destitute of water and timber, and hence that hundreds of miles of the railroad route would lie through a region approximating in features and condition to the desert of Sahara, even having nomadic Snakes drifting around amid the sands, like wandering Arabs. There is a very natural disposition to enlarge upon the truth, and from this comes that flying into extremes of which so many are guilty; and in this way the imagination may be so distorted as to make a sage plain appear to spread out and envelop many a beautiful valley, or a little valley to become immense by gobbling up some huge sage plain. Now, fellow citizens, if the pen's point has driven these false impressions into your minds, allow me to make an humble effort to disabuse them from some of these hallucinations. Being ourself of a romantic, fierce and fiery nature, we may allow our imagination to soar a little before we bring our pen to the last period, but we will try to keep the wanderings within the bounds of truth and reason.
    Opposite the southern part of Rogue River Valley, the Cascade chain is broken down to a broad summit plateau, not of great altitude, with gradual descent on either side. This bench is called the Dead Indian Country. South of this the country is rougher but not usually as high, admitting of a route across the mountains to a fine pastoral and agricultural region, lying on lower Klamath, Rhett and Wright lakes, and stretching off to the southern extremity of Goose Lake, and beyond. This is the route of the old emigrant road, established in 1846 by fifteen pioneers then living in the Willamette Valley. The Dead Indian plateau admits of a splendid route from Ashland, via Grubbonia in Dead Indian, Lake of the Woods, norther extremity of Middle Klamath Lake, Fort Klamath, Klamath Indian Agency, Williamson River, to Sprague River Valley, thence intersecting the Central Military Road from Eugene City. Then passing the central road in almost a direct line from Ashland, to Goose Lake Valley. We will make it our peculiar province to describe this route, as by this we may illustrate, as we proceed, the characteristics of a country almost every foot of which we are familiar with.
    Leaving Ashland we ascend the eastern rim of the basin in which Rogue River Valley is contained, by a good wagon road, and at the end of about sixteen miles find ourselves at Grubbonia in Dead Indian. Around us for miles is a splendid pastoral region, now extensively used for grazing purposes every summer. This plateau is here near twenty miles wide, is well watered and magnificently timbered, and has many beautiful prairies. Although on the summit of the Cascade Mountains, the latitude of this region is not so great, but that in case a construction of a railroad through it, it would be extensively settled, in fact we think this will occur at no distant day even if the railroad should pass some other way. Leaving Grubbonia we pass on through noble forests of pine, cedar, fir and yew, the tall sugar pine standing among them like a monarch, until after having crossed the plateau we find ourselves ready to descend the eastern side of the mountains. This we find an easy task. About a mile and a half down a gradual descent, we find ourselves on the first bench of the Cascades. Here surrounded by evergreen forests, coming down at many places to the water's edge, reclines placidly the clear beautiful Lake of the Woods, which is near three miles long. North and east is a beautiful prairie about half a mile wide, and covered with fine meadow grass. Passing along on the southern border of the lake, if the day should be clear, we can see far below us in the clear water a long extent of the Cascade chain, reflected from the smooth surface. Among the lesser summits and pinnacles we can see Mt. Pitt's basaltic spire piercing the clouds, and clad in garments of everlasting white.
PILOT ROCK.  [Attributed to Isaac Cox]
Ashland, Sept. 2nd, 1868.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 19, 1868, page 1

The Lake Country--The Branch Railroad.
    Reaching the eastern rim of the summit plateau, we descend gradually about three miles to a prairie, and two miles further brings us to the Pelican Bay on Klamath Lake, scarcely forty miles from Ashland. Here we intersect the old Ft. Klamath road which crosses the mountains further north, and at a greater altitude.
    In order to avoid the marsh land lying near the lake, we change our course more to the north, and following the mountain's foot some miles we take our direct course again, and commence crossing the upper Klamath Valley. This valley is about fifteen miles long, and from eight to fifteen wide, lying at the northern extremity of the principal Klamath Lake, and eight miles below the Klamath Agency, at the head of navigation on the Lake.
    This valley, although in some parts containing pumice stone, is generally covered with a luxuriant carpet of grass, abounds in fertile soil, and is beautifully timbered, the prevailing variety tamarack being dispersed in groves all over its level surface.
    The Cascades "swing around the circle" on the west and north, shooting aloft their extinct volcanic peaks, and sending down a long tapering ridge on the east to separate this valley from that of the Klamath Marsh.
    Beautiful clear streams run their unchangeable floods across this splendid valley.
    On by Ft. Klamath we pursue our way, and about 40 miles from where we first saw the lake we reach the Klamath Agency.
    The climate of this valley is tolerably severe--local causes of course, such as proximity to the mountain chains, effect changes of climate, and hence this valley will be found colder than the valleys further east, through which the railroad would pass. But notwithstanding this fact, a great variety of garden vegetables and cereals can be produced, and at Link River, thirty miles south, cucumbers and like tender plants flourish and mature.
    Pursuing a course nearly due east from the agency, in three miles we strike Williamson River at the junction of Sprague River with that stream, and pursuing our course a few miles further, alternately through forest and meadow, we find ourselves in Sprague River Valley 50 miles in extent. Since coming into the Klamath Basin we have been traveling through a country comparatively level, passing great streams of water bursting from the earth and suddenly becoming rivers by uniting with other great springs, and then running slowly across the prairies to mingle with the lake waters, or some of its large tributaries.
    Making our way up Sprague River Valley towards the source of its beautiful stream, we see antelope scampering across the broad meadows, and eventually diving out of sight in grand old forests. Golden trout are dancing in the clear streams, their scales shining like burnished gold in the transparent waters; and prairie chickens, rising near us, sound an alarm and diving a little way through the air disappear in the tall rye grass.
    The soil of this valley is generally very fertile, its climate is comparatively mild and will someday teem with a healthy population--most of it now on the Reservation.
    Again pursuing our direct course beyond this valley, we cross several low divides, usually timbered, and between them, rich valleys, and having climates comparatively mild, as we are now getting far way from the fields of snow. We pass near the valleys of Chewaucan, Lake Albert, Summer Lake, Christmas Lake and others--all well timbered, well watered and fertile.
    Some ninety miles from Ft. Klamath we reach Goose Lake Valley, than which none of the others are near so extensive; yet it possesses the usual characteristics of those we have described, and is capable of supporting a very large population.
    I believe it has been decided by the prospectors of the railroad to Humboldt to leave the matter as to where the road shall cross the Cascades to the decision of the directors or stockholders of the company. This idea is a sensible one--many who otherwise would have opposed it now support it. The whole of Oregon will now lend it their aid, and the bill before Congress to extend government aid to the enterprise will certainly become a law.
    We of this section, in case the enterprise goes on as it is now shaped, apprehend no danger of its crossing the Cascade wall at any other place than through our gate. Instead of turning off at Sprague River Valley from its direct course towards Rogue River Valley, and bearing off, nearly at a right angle through one hundred miles or more of country almost entirely unfit for settlement, to cross the mountains at a greater altitude, the road will certainly be constructed from Sprague River Valley on through a country presenting no considerable obstacles, the most of which will admit of settlement either by way of Ft. Klamath or Link River into Rogue River Valley, and thence through Southern and Middle Oregon.
    If the different railroad interests could be united on this route, in a few short years the iron steed, fresh from the sterile plains of Humboldt, will rush with all the fierceness of his fiery nature along the graded sides of the Umpqua Canyon.
    We may regard it as a significant fact when the iron band shall be drawn from the Central Pacific to the heart of our state, that it shall come so near following the footsteps of the fifteen pioneers who first marked a way for civilized people across the then wild land.
    I opine that in a few years more Southeastern Oregon will teem with an energetic population. Flocks will graze on a thousand hills--the hunter will chase the antelope across the grassy plains--will dive into secluded forests after the nimble stag, or climb after the retreating big horn on lofty crags, like Victor Emmanuel scaling some Alpine height after the fleeting chamois; and the fisherman, seated like some "sedentary frog" on an "ancient log" spanning some crystal river, will behold in the glassy water the splendid trout swallowing his hook and know "just when to haul."
    You and I may stand on some rocky spire and from our pinnacle behold the iron horse tearing down the side of the Cascade wall, his nostrils wide dilated and clouds of smoke arising--and then we may see him flying like the wind across the plains, pausing at some prairie town to increase or decrease his burden, and again speed onward--onward towards the rising sun.
Ashland, Sept. 22nd, 1868.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 3, 1868, page 2

Last revised September 21, 2022