The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1877

    The little town of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon,where we taught school seven years ago, was then a dull and dreary little village. It now boasts a foundry, a woolen mill and a newspaper--not a patent-outside affair either; but a lively little local journal, brimful of new ads, and sparkling with originality.
Puget Sound Dispatch, Seattle, Washington, January 20, 1877, page 4  The writer must be Beriah Brown

    A CLEVER NOTICE.--J. W. Bird, of the Yreka Union, who was recently over on a visit here, gives the following notice of our town in his latest issue:
    "Jacksonville is prettily located and is nearly, though not quite, as large as Yreka, and is the county seat of Jackson County. In business matters, we should judge it to be about the same as in our own town. There are several fine brick buildings, especially the one recently erected by the Masonic fraternity at a cost of $12,000. It is two-story, and besides a very fine lodge room has a large club room also in the second story. The first floor is readily rented for business purposes. There are a number of stores in Jacksonville, the most prominent one in the dry goods line being the establishment of Reames Bros., who had just received their spring stock and were doing a big business. They are wide-awake, energetic gentlemen and would make business anywhere. Beekman is the banker, express agent, etc., and is a sociable, accommodating gentleman and can appreciate a joke as well as anybody. Our old friend Helms has a fine saloon, the Table Rock, which he keeps in tip-top style. His liquors are good and his cigars No. 1; he has a fine cabinet of curiosities which will well repay an inspection. Henry Pape, well known to all Yrekaites, has a snug little corner in the Masonic building and a stock of good material in fine order. He is as jolly and sings as well as ever. We were unable to see as much of the town as we would have liked, and consequently cannot do it justice. We expect shortly to pay it another visit and, if we do, will endeavor to give our readers a fuller account of Jacksonville and its surroundings."

Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 19, 1877, page 1

    Of all the varied and beautiful country which is found between Los Angeles and Puget Sound, none is more lovely in climate, more fertile in soil, more varied in products and more exquisite in scenery than the valley of Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Jackson County, through which the river runs, is the southern county of the state. There the almond, the fig and the magnolia, the pride of the South, grow and bloom in the open air. With the Siskiyous on the south, dividing it from California, the Cascades or Sierras on the east, and the Coast Range on the west, and its beautiful prairies--dotted with oak groves and teeming with grain, orchards and vineyards--running up to the foot of the mountains--it presents a scene at once soft and grand, like "Beauty sleeping in the lap of Terror."
"A Trip to Crater Lake in Southern Oregon," Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 28, 1877, page 4

    After leaving Cottonwood our road winds around, up and down hill. After climbing the Siskiyou Mountains and arriving on the summit, we stopped to take a farewell view of California. We could not see very much, as our view was somewhat limited by surrounding hills and mountains. We look ahead and see a portion of Oregon, travel down a steep hill, pay $1.25 toll for the privilege, and discover that the road workers failed to remove all the loose stones. We pass a mill, etc. We pass orchards, gardens and grain fields, with an abundance of grass. Occasionally we see an emigrant team, bound to or from California. We reach Ashland at 1:15, where we get a good dinner, then take a look at the place. This is a manufacturing town, making clothing, woolen mills, tannery, etc. It is also the proud possessor of the Ashland academy, so well and favorably known. Mr. Leak, of whom I made mention in my last as being sick at Oro Fino, is now well and teaching I am told. Ashland is well supplied with flowers and fruits. I saw a number of new buildings and other improvements going up. The business men seem to be doing well, while the merchants are carrying heavy stocks. On the whole, it is a very nice place. The surrounding lands are generally good.
    At 4:30 we started on our way again, and after passing some nice grain fields and the town of Phoenix, which is now considerably the worse for age, we reach Jacksonville at 7. Here I had the pleasure of grasping the hand of Frank Abell, Mr. Welsh's partner in the photographing and mining business. He passed most of the winter in Ashland, I believe, and is to start tomorrow at 3 a.m. for Roseburg, the county seat of Douglas County, Oregon.
    Jacksonville is the county seat of Jackson County, and I think does a very large business. At 10:30 a.m. we start for Canyonville, distant 72 miles. We passed Rock Point and crossed the Rogue River here, 50 cents toll. Near Woodville I had the pleasure of meeting J. C. Williams, an old Lake County friend. He likes this neighborhood, says he can purchase land and improvements for what the improvements alone cost.
R. D. Nunnally, "Notes on the Way to Oregon," Pacific Rural Press, San Francisco, July 7, 1877, page 2

    When morning dawned we were in Oregon, having mounted again in the early hours. A different landscape greeted us. We were passing between thick woods with close undergrowth of fern, trailing creepers of the wild cucumber, and berry-bearing bushes, black and red.
    There was no trace of the stony arid soil of the California mountains, with their prevailing tints of grey, yellow, and light brick dust red; but fresh green everywhere round us. A trickling stream by the roadside had formed a carpet of bright spongy moss, and the plants of the English woods and hedges, or their American cousins, seemed like old friends.
    We stopped to breakfast at a roadside inn, and were fed with abundance of cream and wild strawberries. A clear running rill of water had been led through a pipe from the hillside above, and flowed freely through the tank, where we washed off the dust of our second night's ride. We climbed to our places, and started refreshed for our day's journey.
    We passed through a wide tract of undulating country, green everywhere with woods and copses; on the upper ranges of the hills the firs showed black in the distance; but there were wide slopes of corn land and grass fields ripening into their summer yellow, and here and there a farmer's house, each with its wide veranda, and fruit trees round it, with its one barn and stable. The corners and angles of cleared land, cutting into the woods above, showed that the settlers were extending their cultivated fields and developing the productiveness of the country; and the soil, red or dark grey in prevailing tints, and free from rock and stone, prepared us, on the very boundary of the state, for the fertility we were to take note of for hundreds of miles on our northward journey.
    As the day wore on the heat became oppressive, while the sun poured down on the road, winding through the valleys. We passed one or two little towns and villages, all looking prosperous, with new houses being built or old ones enlarged.
    By the middle of the day we reached Jacksonville, a town of from 1,000 to 1,500 inhabitants, depending not only on the agricultural riches of the surrounding country, but on the gold mines on the headwaters of the Rogue River, which we were soon to pass. [The headwaters are actually on the slopes of Mount Mazama; Nash would be passing nowhere near them.]
    The day being Sunday the town was in absolute quiet; had we been in Scotland there could not have been a more perfect rest from all worldly pursuits. On the road as we drew near the town we passed wagons full of the country people on their way to church or chapel: the women in light print dresses, holding great blue or green umbrellas to protect themselves from the burning sun; the men in dark cloth jackets and trousers and soft felt hats. As the stage approaches they speak to their horses and draw slowly to the side of the road to let us pass, using no whip, and scarcely needing to touch the reins to get instant obedience. So far as horses are concerned, no Humane Society seems wanted in Oregon; we hardly ever saw one struck, never one maltreated or overdriven, from one end of the state to the other. The inside places of the stage were now filled up close. A farmer's wife, some fifty years of age, dressed in a brown alpaca suit of gown and tippet, of a fashion of fifty years back, with brass-rimmed spectacles on her nose, and tight little curls round her face, was put in. Her maiden niece, who had never smiled in her life, and never would, accompanied her, and sat in the corner, stiff, gaunt and angular. Then there was a cheery little Jewish bagman, who sold sewing machines all about the country and boasted he had left twelve behind him in Jacksonville and should never see them again; and then a seller of a new reaping machine, the wonder of the century, completed the full number. The farmer's wife never forgot it was Sunday, and tried to repress the irrepressible Jew; but he made jokes and told stories all the more. The reaping machine man gloried in having an Englishman to talk to who knew nothing of reaping machines; so on he droned, explaining principles and patents, and showing how his machine could cut and bind into sheaves, while others could only cut, and so on, till his auditor wished his machine and him together in the bottom of the Rogue River.
    Then we came to the mining district--nearly all washed out now--only a few Chinamen, picking up the white men's crumbs, being left. The deposits had been found generally in the beds of the rivers; so they had been diverted into fresh channels, and sluices run; and now the abandoned watercourses, with heaps of rough stones and gravel, and holes dug here and there, looked forlorn and ragged beyond description in the bright, hot sun. The forest was all round us; the stumps and roots of the trees had not been cleared from the road, and the horses often ran neatly on each side of a stump over which the bottom of the stage passed with only an inch or two to spare.
    By this time we had reached the high, rocky, broken ground dividing the headwaters of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers, and in the evening came to the little town of Galesville, where we changed drivers for the last time. [Nash is referring to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide, just south of today's Canyonville, which separates the two drainages, not their headwaters.]
    We were again in the heart of the mountains surrounding the head of the Rogue River Valley. The land in the valley was rich and the crops luxuriant, only the corn which the settlers raise beyond their own needs they must give to the hogs, for there is no way of getting it to a profitable market. The stage passing daily each way with mails and passengers is their one link to the outer world; but it takes no passengers to the valley, nor brings any away; summer by summer, winter by winter, they live on in their isolation, without even the ordinary farmers' topics of markets, labor and stock: self-contained and happy in their freedom from all wants they cannot supply and from all ambitions they cannot satisfy.

Wallis Nash, Oregon: There and Back in 1877, MacMillan and Co. 1878, page

    Leaving Roseburg, by private conveyance we arrived at Jacksonville on the evening of the second day, after a buggy ride of one hundred miles over the prettiest road and through the most romantic scenery in the world. The road winding through deep canyons, beside rippling mountain streams, passing over high, narrow grades, traversing glades of gigantic forests, mounting to the summit of lofty mountains, and descending again into rich valleys inhabited by the thriftiest of ranchmen, render the whole route one complete succession of delightful surprises.
    Jacksonville, the metropolis of Southern Oregon, is romantically situated in a lovely little nook at the side of Rogue River Valley and under the shadow of Mount McLoughlin, one of the monarchs of the Siskiyou chain of mountains, which describe a crescent on the south of that most lovely valley. The Rogue River Valley is a large basin, almost oval in shape, and contains many thousands of acres of rich agricultural land, besides having its margin covered with rich gold placer diggings, from which in the winter seasons the miners pan out large quantities of the precious dust. New mining interests are being constantly developed in the region. At present Hon. D. P. Thompson, of Oregon City, ex-Governor of Idaho, has some 350 men employed in constructing a water ditch for the purpose of working a gold mine situated eight or ten miles from Jacksonville. The ditch is to be some forty-one miles in length, and will cost something over one hundred thousand dollars. The company of which Gov. Thompson is the head are all "heavy men," and are determined to push this enterprise to a successful completion at an early day. But as they are confident there is millions in the mine they are not at all frightened at the expenditure of a few hundred thousand just now. Other extensive mining schemes are being pushed forward, both in Jackson and Josephine counties, and if they prove as profitable as their owners anticipate, Southern Oregon is destined to become in time the real El Dorado of the Pacific.
    At Jacksonville we met many valued friends, among whom were Judge Prim and family, Hon. A. C. Jones and family, Mrs. G. T. Vining, widow of the late Hon. G. T. Vining, who went down on the ill-fated steamer Pacific, Gen. Jno. E. Ross, Col. J. N. T. Miller, Hon. Henry Klippel, Thos. G. Reames, Rev. Mr. Bell, et al. Indeed, to attempt to enumerate or name the friends with whom we clasped hands and upon whose bosoms we sighed would occupy the full space of our valuable columns. To Mrs. Judge Prim and daughter, Hon. A. C. Jones and wife and Mrs. G. T. Vining we are especially indebted for courteous hospitalities. Also to Mr. Hermann Helms for valuable relics from his cabinet of geological specimens. Indeed, Mr. Helms has one of the most interesting cabinets in the world, but as he had a rattlesnake skin in most conspicuous view we didn't stop to investigate things very closely. The fact is, the writer of these few lines accidentally and without malice aforethought placed his hand upon a live rattlesnake once, since which time the serpent business has not been extensively patronized by the deponent.
    It was terrible warm in Jacksonville--the geewholloper climbing clear over the 100 pole--hence we drive to Ashland (17 miles south) by moonlight, arriving a little before midnight and stirring out mine host of the Ashland Hotel, with a nervous vim which started several neighborhood canines to howling and came near bringing the "perlice" down onto our exhausted frame. (And by the way, that would have been a diversion for Ashland, for they have had a city government and a mayor and recorder and marshal and the other useless appendages of a country town for a year and a half and haven't yet had a single unfortunate character incarcerated in their neatly constructed calaboose. Indeed, the last Legislature was deluged with long-winded bills granting incorporation charters to the towns throughout the state, at a cost of many hundred dollars to the taxpayers, and it is probable that these charters were all about as badly needed as the one at Ashland. However, this is parenthetical.)
    The little city of Ashland is decidedly the most beautiful and romantically situated of any town in Oregon. It nestles in a little nook at the southern limit of the Rogue River Valley, and is the very footstool of the giant chain of [the] Siskiyou Mountains, which divide Oregon from California; it is carved and checkered by irrigating streams which cause every home within its limits to bloom with loveliest flowers and feed on richest fruits. And besides being a little paradise of home loveliness, its unrivaled water power is busily engaged in driving a large flouring mill, a woolen factory, and other important industries. Indeed, Ashland may be called the Lowell of Southern Oregon, and is destined in time to outstrip many of her more pretentious rivals. And, by the way, there is one thing peculiar about that burg, viz.: Although it numbers some eight hundred inhabitants, yet it contains neither a church nor a saloon!--and it is claimed to be the most moral place in the world! The mystery to us is how in the dickens did they all get so strictly moral without having some brimstone talked into 'em or having the terrible example of a gin mill daily thrust in their faces. The peculiar morals of this town everlastingly knocks the philosophy and reason out from under us, and leaves us in a chaos of uncertainty whether to advise against the establishment of churches or jerk an ethical discourse against the liquor traffic. Come to think of it, however,  morality is only a precept which all men preach and but few follow, hence our injunction to abolish churches and saloons would most probably have about the same weight with this degenerate world.
    At Ashland we met many old-time friends whose tum-tums seemed to vibrate with ecstasy at sight of our night-blooming serious countenance. Here is the mountain retiracy of Hon. W. A. McPherson, once State Printer and therefore much cussed; here is Hon. Jno. McCall, at present a member of the Legislature and a hospitable gentleman--for a Republican; and here, as the blooming city marshal for whom there is nothing to do, is Uncle Isaac Miller, formerly of Linn County, and a Democrat in whom there is no guile. And here are several other Linn County nomads, among whom may be named Hon. Ed. Farlow, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Jackson County, Dan. Gaby, Jas. D. Fountain and Elias Miller, all of whom got their start in "Old Linn," and all of whom express the abhorrent disgust of anybody that won't brag on our grand county. We were glad to learn that they were all flourishing like the traditional green bay horse, and expect to "keep up their lick" till they make their everlasting fortunes.
    From Ashland we drove out on the Linkville road, ten miles, to the Saratoga of the Siskiyous, the Soda Springs--a famous place of resort for Southern Oregonians. Mr. Jas. B. Russell keeps an elegant hotel here, and "lays himself out" for the accommodation of his guests who drink his soda water and make wry faces. Our better half told us confidentially that "Mr. Russell kept a very nice hotel, but if all the inducements he offered his guests was that nasty truck called soda water he couldn't get her patronage again for a long series of years." Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Sawyer (traveling on their wedding tour) were with us, and they unanimously ratified the seditious sentiments above quoted. So far as the undersigned is concerned he can state that he likes this soda water. Its component parts are varied and copious. The iron in it corrodes tin cups and gives a cast iron coating to the stomach; the effervescing qualities makes a smokestack out of your nose, and its peculiar taste of the green persimmon fixes your mouth for whispering politely to a waiter at a state dinner. And then it is more effective than a dose of compound cathartic pills. Yes, and the rattlesnakes in the rocks around the spring keep you lively and frisky, and don't allow you time for reflection on your latter end.
    We don't see how any well regulated family can do without one or two of these soda springs. They are warranted to stir people up any time in the day or night, and the wakefulness which they produce is represented as a cheap substitute for alarm clocks and fire bells.
    The Soda Springs is as far as we went south, but on our return we saw and experienced some things which we reserve for future infliction.
"The Switzerland of America," State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, August 10, 1877, page 2

A Trip on the Rogue River Foothills.
    On Sunday, August 3, a party started from Wagner Creek for a horseback excursion over the mountain ridge north of Ashland. There were Wallace B., W.B., Mrs. N., and Miss Tassie; the redoubtable James; Joe A., and Laura, all mounted on prancing chargers, gaily caparisoned. The order, "Forward March!' was given, and down the Wagner Creek lanes we swept, to the stage road, where a solitary traveler was wending his peaceful way. When he beheld the cavalcade he undoubtedly thought that Joseph and his hostile band had come to Rogue River, or that the Turkish hosts had made a sudden attack. But by crowding up close to the telegraph poles he was enabled to escape. The route of our party lay up the dusty stage road to where the road crosses the tail race of Anderson & Co.'s mine. To the right can be seen the extensive excavations made by the little hydraulic giant, which has been in use during the past winter, and has yielded unknown quantities of dust--unknown at least to the writer. On the left is a large bottom of rich Bear Creek land, covered with the debris and tailings of the mines. It has always been a matter of speculation (to Billy) whether it was profitable to cover up and ruin so much land which would be certain to compensate for the labor spent on it in cultivation, for the chance of making money out of the precarious mining bank in which so many have deposited their funds, never to be withdrawn. Crossing the bridge over the tail race, the order to left turn was obeyed, and down the hill we went to Bear Creek, where the horses drank of the sparkling stream. Passing through a gate the party crossed the extensive possessions of Frank Myer, a valuable tract of land, comprising several hundred acres, capable of producing, if properly cultivated, thousands of bushels of grain. It now affords range for a fine band of sheep. We soon came to the former fine residences of Frank and W. C. Myer, where some years ago we were wont to be welcomed with kindness and hospitality. Now they are vacated and are going to ruin, the abode of digger squirrels innumerable. Their owners, having become wealthy in the stock business, have removed nearer to the Granite City, for the purpose of educating their children. Passing through another gate we were upon the commons--the pasture grounds of the stock belonging to the citizens of Ashland and vicinity. Here we commenced the ascent of the long ridge up the road which can be seen so plainly from the public square in Ashland. Two miles brought us to the residence of L. B. Low on the left, and a quarter more to the residence and fine large barn of Mr. John Vandyke, which is filled to overflowing with good grain hay, which proves that this mountain soil is productive. We noticed here an orchard set out last year which is growing beautifully. Here several more excursionists of both sexes joined us and we proceeded on our way, passing several springs of overflowing, sparkling water. At Shell Rock Spring we halted under some old oak trees. This spring derives its name from the shell rocks out of which it bubbles forth, and was a favorite watering place for the herders in former times. While refreshing ourselves and horses Johnny M. made his appearance and was surprised to see so many gay and festive valley folks intruding on his mountain domains, where his flocks had hitherto ranged undisturbed. He gave us a hearty welcome but declined to accompany us. He said his imperative duty was to guard his flocks with unfailing zeal. Our guide announced that 20 minutes' riding would bring us to the summit, so--"prepare to mount; mount; up the hill," were the orders given in quick succession, and the summit was soon reached, and all expressed themselves amply repaid for the trip by the grand view presented to their delighted eyes.
    In front and to the westward was a grand panoramic view of the beautiful valley with grain fields, corn fields and orchards forming a beautiful variegated patchwork with here and there glistening streams like silken threads woven in. Jacksonville was plainly seen in the far western corner and Ashland in the south almost beneath us, seeming so close that some of the younger members thought they could jump into the public square. Away, far to the southeast was Pilot Rock and, still beyond, old Mt. Shasta loomed up with his covering of perpetual snow. The scenery is indeed grand and amply repays the excursionist for climbing the hill, only six miles from the flag pole in Ashland.
    I am afraid you would be wearied or I would tell all about how we made a raid on Geo. W. Fredenburg's sheep camp and took possession; how some of the ladies rolled up their sleeves and went into the bread business; how others prepared the venison, tea and coffee and berries, and how it all resulted in a repast fit for any hungry person. In the meantime the horses grazed on the luxuriant grass for which the north side of the ridge is noted. At sundown the party arrived safely at home. Several incidents occurred which have not been noted, among them the one wherein W.B. was swept off his charger by an overhanging willow bough, falling backwards into a deep mud hole. Fortunately he was not hurt, and the incident afforded much merriment when found that no serious damage was done.
Ashland Tidings, August 17, 1877, page 1

    While at Ashland we met Mr. Put. Smith, formerly of Portland, who has a large band of thoroughbred Merino sheep, which he purchased in California and intends to dispose of in Oregon. He has already sold a large number of sheep, at good prices, but is saving the cream of his flock for sale in the Willamette Valley about the time of the State Fair.
    At Ashland we met Mr. O. C. Applegate, editor of the Ashland Tidings, to whom we are indebted for many courtesies. While there we observed a large party arranging for a trip to Crater Lake, and as Mr. Wicks, of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, will most probably join the party, we may expect to see in a short time a correct illustration of that most remarkable inland sea.
    At Ashland we also met Rev. Mr. Bell, a Southern Methodist preacher whose circuit extends about as widely as did that of Lorenzo Dow. He preaches at Jacksonville, Ashland (17 miles away), Kirbyville, Josephine County (70 miles away), at Linkville, Lake County (90 miles away), and at many intermediate points besides. Indeed it is probable that Bro. Bell scatters the Gospel over a radius of at least five hundred miles, and is said to keep his appointments to a dot. But we suppose he must be paid at least one hundred and ninety-five dollars a year for his services, and is therefore happy! Methodist preachers can usually afford to perform a great deal of work--they get so well paid!
    We forgot to say that at Jacksonville the Masonic fraternity have the finest hall in the state, except the one in the Portland Masonic Temple. It is thoroughly ventilated, amply proportioned and elegantly furnished with all modern comforts. The building in which the hall is located cost about $11,000, is owned by the fraternity, and is the pride of Jacksonville.
    There are some waggish boys in Jacksonville. While there we noticed a patent medicine man vending his wares in the street from a goods-box stand, and while he absented himself from his stand for a little while one of the town boys went to work and sold the goods all out and had most of the proceeds spent in cigars and lemonade. Tom. Reames, the principal merchant of the city, said it was "the best sale made that day."
    At Jacksonville the air is the clearest and lightest we ever experienced. Indeed the atmosphere is fully fifty percent lighter than in the Willamette Valley. One gentleman asserted most solemnly that the air was so clear and light and conveyed sound so distinctly that he could hear a man who had money to loan some 40 miles away!
    Jacksonville has two well-conducted newspapers--the Times and Sentinel. Both are edited with care and ability, and are valuable acquisitions to that flourishing burg.
    At the margin of Rogue River Valley, 14 miles south of Jacksonville, we had a fine view of Table Rock, seemingly many miles to the eastward. It is apparently an upright wall, some hundreds of feet  high, supporting a level surface resembling a table. It is said that during the early struggles between the whites and Indians a band of the latter were pursued and driven to the very verge of Table Rock, and that after a hard fight, in which the whites steadily gained the advantage, many of the Indians, to escape being shot or captured, leaped from this fearful height to the chasm below. As it was said to be about three hundred feet from the top to the nearest "lighting" place, we leave the imaginative reader to guess how much of each Indian was left for practical purposes. A loquacious Dutchman who "keeps store" at the point where we got our first view of Table Rock [Willow Springs?] recited this legend to us, and after he had concluded his thrilling narrative he very suddenly says: "Ofer I forgets by myself. Dose Injuns get killed py dot yump!" We gazed in an awe-stricken manner at the fearful height, and told him we thought so.
    Leaving Rock Point and coming down Rogue River, we saw some splendid cornfields. Mr. Birdseye has one of almost 80 acres which is as thrifty in appearance and will doubtless yield as heavily as any of the great corn-producing prairies of Iowa or Illinois. Indeed all the little valleys from the time we left the Willamette until we arrived at the California line were dotted and checked with corn fields of most promising growth. Therefore, anybody that says we can't raise corn in Oregon is a bad egg.
State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, August 17, 1877, page 2

A Missourian's Observations in the Webfoot state.
(From the Holt County (Mo.) Sentinel)
    I am writing back as fast as I can find time. I am finding out all about the country as fast as I can. I saw a man who has been horseback to the sea coast, who says Curry County, Oregon is nearly an unbroken wilderness, and is inhabited by a few white nomads who worked their way through from California. Crescent City, California, is 16 miles south of Chetco, and for many years was the only shipping point for Jacksonville and the entire Rogue River country; but since the roads have been graded via Ashland and the Siskiyous to Yreka and Redding, all the trading goes that way. The merchants of this valley do not care for reaching the sea on a shortcut across the country; they can make more money hauling their goods farther and selling them at fabulous prices. The trading men here all get rich, and are getting richer from day to day. A number of wagons with movers on board pass through here daily from California, bound for Washington Territory. But few emigrants stop in this valley. I meet very many of the early settlers who have been here since 1852. A new infusion of population into this valley, and a road to the ocean would help things wonderfully, and give everything a new impetus. Table linen would not sell for a dollar a yard as is now the case.
    At the first settlement of Oregon, Congress donated 610 acres to every head of a family. Time has shown that this has retarded the development of the state. The best farming land was thus taken up in great quantities, and those coming afterwards, finding the best locations taken up, had to pass on to remote or more inconvenient parts of the country. These "donationists" are fast disappearing, and land is gradually changing hands and being cut up into smaller farms. In this manner the many who are land-poor will be ultimately relieved and the state greatly benefited. When in San Francisco I told several of my friends--ardent Californians--that I was going to Oregon. One of them sneeringly remarked: "What! Do you want to go to a country where it rains thirteen months in a year?" I have been in Astoria, in Portland, all through the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue River valleys and have conversed with dozens of people, and not one seemed discommoded by the rains of winter and spring. There has not been any rain in the state since I got here. It rained on me on top of the Siskiyou range of mountains, over in California, 40 miles southeast of here. In my opinion it would be a good thing if we had a little rain just now. The roads that are traveled, as for instance the stage road, are quite dusty, but as there are no blustery winds the dust does not inconvenience anybody. The soil in the valleys and on the foothills, too, is of a dark reddish color and quite gravelly. One used to our alluvial, black, loamy Missouri soil would suppose that nothing could grow in this gravelly red soil, but if he looks at the rank vegetation of this entire country he will soon be undeceived. The fine cornfields in the valleys, the remarkable size of potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, plums, figs, pears, prunes and apples are an evidence of the remarkable fertility of the soil. But the growth of trees is perhaps the best criterion to judge this country by. Taller fir, pine and cedar trees I have never seen in my life. Not only do these trees thrive in the valleys, but anywhere on the very tops of the highest mountains can they be seen. Many of these trees are very tall, varying in height from 150 feet and upward, and some measure at their base 12 feet in diameter. Col. Markland has a picture of Jacksonville, in which is shown, in the vicinity of Henry Klippel's residence, one of these evergreen fir trees, 150 feet high. Down towards the coast, I am told, they are much taller; men who have seen them assure me they are perfect monsters; trees that are 300 feet in height, and measure at their base from 15 to 20 feet in diameter are of common occurrence. The oak trees in this valley are also very remarkable. Some of them are tremendous in body and foliage, and when far enough apart they afford a dense shade. The grain of the great sugar and white pine trees is so perfect that while at the quicksilver mines I saw one-inch, two-inch, three-inch and four-inch lumber, split with a froe which was as smooth as if it had been sawed with a circular saw.
    The farmers' pest here are the squirrels. They are so plenty that they destroy the grain before it is cut in the fields, as also the vegetables that grow in the gardens. But vigorous measures are being adopted to exterminate the "varmint." As for the celebrated fern wheat, about which some newcomer writes to one of the Atchison County papers, and which was copied into a Holt County paper, and which is represented as being such a great source of annoyance to the farmers here, I would say, that it is no more than our foxtail. The fields of the good farmers here are as free from the fern weeds as are good farmers' cornfields in Holt County from foxtail and cockleburs. The wild oats grow more rank here than the fern weeds. A field once sown to oats one season and wheat the next is very sure to have a lively sprinkle of wild oats the following season. I noticed many wheat fields in the Willamette Valley badly sprinkled with oats. Wild oats is a common occurrence over many portions of Oregon, and is a favorite grass with the cattle. In northern and central Oregon the harvest was progressing as I passed through on the 18th of August. In the Umpqua Valley and Rogue River country, harvest is invariably and fully three weeks earlier. And the climate is also very different in many respects. The excessive rains complained of in the Puget Sound country and the great Willamette Valley do not molest the Umpqua and Rogue river regions. There is really more danger of too little rain here than too much. This is corroborated by all the older settlers here. Many of the settlers of Southern Oregon before coming here tried a number of climates and finally settled here as the best.
    A rather singular feature of the people of this coast is the rapid changing of the auburn, blond and black hair to gray. People here turn gray early but live long. An old gentleman met me whilst traveling in alone from Applegate River, who although he had attained his eightieth year, was as pert as a man of fifty. I meet many others in the prime of life who are perfectly gray and look as patriarchal as can be.
    The great attraction on the Pacific Coast being the Rogue River Falls, and Crater Lake on the summit of the Cascade Mountains; my friends thought it wouldn't do for me not to see these wonders of the continent. So we rigged up a wagon and team, tent and camp equipage, with two weeks provisions and started on our 200 miles journey. When I say we, l mean Richard Klippel, Lannes Klippel, Aaron Maegley, Wm. Peninger and myself. We started from Jacksonville Tuesday evening Sept. 4, lodged at Mr. Fisher's where we took in balance of provisions; sack of flour, and 20 bushels of oats for the horses. As we passed out of the fertile Rogue River Valley we entered the so-called twelve-mile desert. This body of land seemed to me as if it had once been the bottom of the sea, and consists of a continuation of gentle hills and valleys. The hills are a sandy, pebbly formation, and the valleys are filled with coarse gravel and round rock.
    We are taking a northeastern course from Jacksonville, and at Bybee's Crossing we ferry from the left side of Rogue River to the right of that stream; we
keep on the right for a distance of 44 miles where we cross it once more over a brand-new bridge near Mr. Deskins' ranch and saw mill, one and one-half miles above the falls. Here we halt again for the night, and in the morning we visit the falls, and in doing so we have to pass through a dense growth of timber and underbrush. Having reached the precipice of the falls we had a fine view. It is not an abrupt fall but a succession of falls. The river falls 300 feet in as many yards, and works itself through and overshoots huge boulders of rock. Two hundred yards below is another and by far the finest of this cluster of falls. A large tributary to Rogue River empties its waters into it over its perpendicular left bank which is here 198 feet in height. The deafening sound of the leaping waters, the dampening spray and the multitudinous rainbow tints present a scene both wild and grand. To give a description of the rugged, precipitous Rogue River canyon, so as to impress its magnitude upon persons at a distance, is quite an impossibility for me, and I will have to leave it to your imagination to supply the deficiency of my description.
    In the afternoon of Friday the 7th, we left the camp at Deskins' (the Rogue River bridge near the falls) and drove nine miles farther on our way to Crater Lake, and stopped one and one-half miles this side of Union Creek for the purpose of enjoying a bear and deer hunt, which game abound in all this region of country. Up to this writing (at 2 p.m.) our hunters have brought in but two deer and one lynx (wildcat) but "nary bear." Harvey Deskins is among our hunting party. About a mile from camp he shot a deer, and as he was dragging it down the mountain he came across two cubs (young bears). He tried to capture one, when its mother made her appearance and showed fight for the protection of her offspring, whereupon Mr. Deskins retreated, believing that to be the better part of valor. The most wonderful bear stories are related by these courageous backwoodsmen. I can only believe them by taking a look at their stocks of bear, panther and deer skins. I am thinking of bringing home with me enough bear skins to carpet one or two of our rooms. I asked if there was any danger of exterminating this game, and received as an answer that there would not be in 200 years.
    Reached here at 3 p.m. Went up to the rim of Crater Lake, 8,500 feet above the level of the sea. We looked over an immense precipice 2,290 feet into the blue lake below. We viewed this wonder of the Pacific Coast from different elevations on the western banks. It is six miles across and fifteen long, and a gentle island (mountain peak) rising from the center is covered with a scattering growth of tall fir and pine trees. The top of the peak has a deep hole in it, at the bottom of which lies a bank of eternal snow. As we had no trusted guide to pilot us, and as the surface of the lake appeared to us very ruffled from a storm and the white waves were visible, we did not feel like risking our precious lives in an attempt to descend to the water's edge. A commanding view of the entire lake is afforded from a high rocky point on the northwest. The high rocky walls which surround this remarkable body of water on this high range of mountains, and the great fields of pumice stone that are strewn in great quantities all over this country all go to show that this was once a mighty volcano, which poured out fiery lava in every direction. Huge boulders of burned rock and immense beds of pumice stone could be seen for forty-five miles of our journey ascending the Cascade Mountains. The same is true on the east of this mountain.
    We have passed Fort Klamath, 22 miles from Crater Lake, and Klamath Indian Reservation, 27 miles from Crater Lake. The Indians do not go near this remarkable lake. They maintain that looking down upon its blue waters is certain death to the Indian.
    Many questions are asked and still unanswered concerning this lake. How much higher was this mountain before it exploded? When did the eruption take place? Where does this great body of water come from, and where does it go to? It has no inlet and no outlet. And how deep is it? Owing to the high altitude and cold and snow, we have no account that it has ever been visited in the winter time. The government owes it to the world of science to have this lake and its surroundings thoroughly explored. The explorations so far have all been by private parties and very unsatisfactory.
MONDAY, Sept. 10th.
    We had intended to spend this day and the next in visiting the elevation on its northern boundary and descending to the water's edge, but before daybreak on Monday morning a storm arose and a rain set in, which by eight o'clock turned into a furious snowstorm. We were in a quandary what to do, whether to remain in camp and wait for the storm to subside, or to pull up stakes and strike for the head of Klamath Valley, fifteen miles southeast of the summit of Crater Mountain. There appeared to be every indication of a lasting storm and we concluded to abandon Crater. As we descended the mountain into Eastern Oregon we endured a pelting rain accompanied by a chilling atmosphere. In looking back, the dense clouds were enveloping the mountains in every direction. In passing the Klamath Indian Reservation the next day, we had a fine view of the mountains we had left. They were white with the snows of the previous day.
    On our way to Fort Klamath, we came to the biggest spring on the trip. It bursts forth out of the earth eight feet one way and seventy-five the other and forms what is called Wood River. The waters are very cool and as clear as crystal, and the stream is full of fish. This spring evidently receives its waters from the Crater. The point where it issues from the earth lies an elevation of 2,470 feet above the level of the sea, and is almost twelve miles distant from Crater Lake.
    We passed through the so-called Klamath Marsh, a vast tract of meadow land with thousands upon thousands of head of horses, cattle and sheep. None of this land seemed marshy to us. It is much in the shape of our Missouri prairie bottoms, with only this difference that the streams which flow through it (of which there are quite a number) flow very rapidly.
    From the Rogue River Falls to the U.S. military post, Fort Klamath, a distance of 53 miles, there is not a house to be seen. The country between these points is too varied to attempt a satisfactory description at this moment, and I must reserve it for some other time.
    In driving down from Fort Klamath to Linkville, a distance of 36 miles, we have Upper Klamath Lake to our right, a fine sheet of water 30 miles in length and 10 to 16 miles wide. On our left the road winds along the foot of a high chain of mountains. Across the Upper Klamath Lake may be seen a still higher chain of the Cascade Mountains. The scene of valley, meadow, lake and mountain is grand beyond description, and in order to be fully appreciated must be seen.
    The Upper Klamath Valley and the Lower Klamath Valley are two distinct geographical formations. The waters of the Upper Lake force their way through a narrow canyon in the mountains, for a distance of only a mile and a half, and enter the Klamath River at Linkville. Only an arm of the Lower Klamath Lake was visible, the main body being screened from us by a vast expanse of swamp and meadow, connecting Lake Tule in California with Lower Klamath. Lakes Warner, Goose and Abert are close by, but have other outflows. I have not the figures at hand to give the number of square miles that these lower lakes cover. But the area is very great, and the maps now in use give but a faint idea of their magnitude. The whole country hereabouts is a vast grazing region, but rather high altitude, and consequently cold in winter. With a little effort a thrifty man can cut enough hay in the fall to do all the cattle he wants to feed in the winter. The hay meadows are inexhaustible.
    The boiling Hot Springs at Linkville are a real wonder. We tried to dip some with our hands and scalded them badly. Eggs and potatoes can be boiled in them. One of the citizens told me that the waters of this spring are used for scalding bogs.
Ashland Tidings, October 12, 1877, page 1

ASHLAND, Oct. 28th, 1877.
    EDITOR TIDINGS:--The ears of all the world are pricked up to hear from Stanley and learn something of the source of the Nile. And why should they not? It is certainly a subject of deep interest, but I think there are sources of more interest to the readers of the Tidings in the mountains of Southern Oregon.
    I shall endeavor, with your permission, to give you a brief sketch of a recent trip to the source of Fall Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River. Our first drive was to the Toll House, where I received the hospitality of Messrs. Dollarhide, and enjoyed a fine opportunity of breathing in the perfume wafted from the vast mountain forests and bathing in the sharp atmosphere above the fogs of the valley.
    The Toll House is situated three miles above the northern terminus of the Siskiyou wagon road and constitutes one of the most lovely mountain homes in Southern Oregon. Messrs. Dollarhide have made much improvement since their advent. They have cleared off a large farm on the mountainside, and this year have housed over one hundred tons of hay cut from their land. This is an interesting item, when we take into consideration the fact that there are thousands of acres of such land now unoccupied on our mountainsides. They have just completed a large, well-constructed wagon shed for the accommodation of teamsters and others who stop overnight with them. This house bids fair, ere long, to be one of the most popular stopping places on the road.
    Next morning I took my seat in the buggy with Mr. Clay Dollarhide, and his fine matched grays were soon wheeling us down the mountain at an exhilarating speed, our route by way of the Soda Springs and up the mountain towards Linkville, crossing the Siskiyou Mountains and descending Jenny Creek, a tributary of the Klamath. From the base to the summit of the Siskiyou on this route is found an almost continuous body of rich soil, although much of it is badly mixed with stones. Some settlers are already found here, but there is much land awaiting future occupants. After crossing the Jenny Creek bridge and ascending the grade about one-half mile, we turned to the right and left the Linkville road. From here we traveled over an almost level plain for eleven miles, through a forest of magnificent sugar pine, fir, cedar and spruce. The whole distance is almost devoid of underbrush and is carpeted in many places with princess pine and uva-ursi, with an occasional clump of oak, manzanita and the usual varieties of evergreens peculiar to our mountains. This level country offers a good route for a railroad, a survey already having been made through it, showing an almost air-line grade from Klamath River to its intersection with the Linkville road, a few miles beyond the Jenny Creek bridge. We arrived at the ranch of Mr. J. A. Grieve, just as night shut out the view, where we remained until morning. Mr. Grieve's ranch is located on and includes within its limits the source of Fall Creek. Numerous springs rise on a level plain, some of them producing enough water to turn a mill. These spring branches wind through the glade in shallow furrow-like channels, more resembling irrigating ditches than natural streams. A single furrow running across some of them would carry the water in a straight line for hundreds of yards at right angles to its former bed. Mr. Grieve has some sixty acres of fine meadow land at this place, the productiveness of which he proved this year by housing eight tons of hay, from three acres of wheat sowed in June. He is engaged in stock raising and has located this place as a homestead.
    Fall Creek is represented as rich in wild mountain scenery, producing a succession of waterfalls of rare beauty on its way to the Klamath River, a distance of four miles by the road.
    On our return next day we stopped at the new saw mill just completed above the Jenny Creek bridge by Parvis & Co. It has already proved its ability to make lumber. At the time we were there, however, it was awaiting a supply of logs which was fast accumulating, some dozen or so already being on the ground.
J. M.S. [James M. Sutton]
Ashland Tidings, November 9, 1877, page 1

Last revised March 27, 2024