We receive so many letters asking information concerning this part of Oregon that we find it most convenient to answer them in our columns. Our description of Jackson and Josephine counties can only be general without going into minute details. Jackson County embraces an area of twenty-eight hundred square miles; Josephine County about thirteen hundred, being jointly about three times as large as the state of Rhode Island. Of this area there is about one-eighth only cultivable, the remainder being mountainous and only valuable for grazing purposes, or for gold mining. The climate varies according to altitude, that of Rogue River Valley in Jackson County, lying 1,400 feet above the sea, being particularly genial and salubrious, snow rarely falling more than three or four inches in depth, and ice of greater thickness than half an inch being an exception. The same may be truthfully said of all the valleys of Josephine County. The rainfall is moderate, being a mean between the excessive moisture of Northern Oregon and the drought of Middle California, but sufficient for crops of every description. Wheat, barley, oats and corn are the staple crops. On the rich bottom lands sixty bushels of wheat to the acre is not an extraordinary yield, while twenty bushels on any land is an inferior yield. The other cereals, as well as corn, yield exceedingly well. The fruits are apples, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, cherries, apricots and figs, all but the two latter being extensively cultivated, and with the exception of an occasional season when a late frost injures fruit, all bear abundantly. Improved farms can be purchased at from eight to thirty-five dollars per acre according to character of improvement and locality. A few locations may still be found where small tracts of government land may be secured sufficiently large for those who contemplate fruit raising, which industry is destined to become one of our most important interests. Timber of the finest quality is very abundant, fir, yellow pine, sugar pine, black and white oak, ash, laurel and maple being the most common varieties. Saw and grist mills are plenty and are successfully managed. A woolen factory, located at Ashland, produces fabrics of the best quality and is continually adding to its capacity. Extensive experiments in the culture of amber cane have been made, both in Jackson and Josephine counties, during the past two years with very satisfactory results. The climate and soil are found admirably suited to cane culture, and it is safe to predict that with proper mechanical appliances sugar will be made here in large quantities for export. There is a moderate quantity of the finest vine land skirting Rogue River Valley inviting tillage, and a considerable quantity of delicious wine is manufactured annually, nearly all of which is consumed at home. For fertility, the soil of Rogue River Valley--the largest compact body of land south of the Willamette--is unexcelled, and for picturesque beauty the valley has no rival on this coast. Beginning in the angle made by the junction of the Siskiyou Mountains and the Cascade Range the valley stretches northward and widens, before the river is reached, into a beautiful expanse of grain fields, meadow and orchard, interspersed with groves of oak and other timber. The valley is highly cultivated and dotted with comfortable houses but is capable of supporting three times the present population as many of the farms are much too large for the actual wants of their owners. The mineral interest of this section is still quite important. Since 1852 it is estimated that over $30,000,000 in gold has been mined out in Jackson and Josephine counties and there is a large and industrious population engaged in mining and being well remunerated. Iron, coal, copper, cinnabar and marble are among our minerals, but for lack of transportation little or no developments have been made. The railroad, now being rapidly extended in this county by the Oregon and California Railroad Company, is to reach this valley within a twelvemonth, and its completion will open a market for our fine fruits and other products and give an impetus to every branch of industry. Nearly all denominations of religion except the Episcopalian are here represented, and the public schools of Southern Oregon are equal to and, in some instances, superior to those of most agricultural sections of the country. We do not advise any person to come here expecting a rapid fortune to accumulate without labor but to sober industrious people, willing to work, we say come and share the richest soil and the most healthful climate to be found in Oregon, for there is room for many more.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 15, 1882, page 2
Jackson County is in Southern Oregon, bordering on the California line. Area, 3,000,000 acres; population, 8,154. Here corn grows, and figs and sugar cane [sorghum] are also raised. This is the only county in Oregon in which grapes are raised in sufficient quantity for wine-making. Many thousand gallons of wine and brandy this county exported last year. Fine fruits and garden vegetables thrive abundantly. This county includes the Rogue River Valley. There are bright prospects for the western part of this county, and [I] would like to live in it myself. The climate here is similar to that of Central California. Less rain falls here than in the [Willamette] Valley.
"Our Oregon Letter," New Holland Clarion, New Holland, Pennsylvania, May 27, 1882, page 4
FROM ROSEBURG, OREGON TO YREKA,
CALIFORNIA, THE UMPQUA AND
ROGUE RIVER VALLEYS.
As the completion of the Oregon and California railroad, from Roseburg in Oregon to Redding in California, now a foregone conclusion, a brief sketch of the country through which it is to pass will doubtless be read with satisfaction.
Those of us who have suffered the agonies of a dozen or more trips by the overland stage line have perhaps a more vivid conception of what is in store for "ye traveler" than he who has never braced against the bruises and tribulations of a night stage ride, over the Grave Creek Hills, across the Siskiyou Mountains or down the Sacramento.
He who has gazed with interest, under such circumstances, upon the grandeur, beauty and diversity of the scenery along this route, may well anticipate the satisfaction he will feel when, reclining on the velvet cushions of a "Pullman palace coach," he is rushing over this selfsame country at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, and inhaling poetic inspiration from the most genial breezes that fan the face of Nature.
Having traversed the greater part of the Pacific Slope from Los Angeles to the Columbia River, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, I can safely assert that nowhere can be found so equable and pleasant a climate, such diversity of scenery and production, more richness of soil or beauty of landscape, than are to be seen on this route.
Roseburg, the county seat of Douglas County, is an enterprising town of nearly one thousand inhabitants. Until a few weeks ago it was the terminus of the O.&C.R.R. It is situated in the heart of the Umpqua Valley on the east bank of the Umpqua River, two hundred miles south from the city of Portland.
It possesses many good buildings and has an extensive trade with the surrounding country. It is also the site of the U.S. Land Office for the Roseburg district, and aspired a few years ago to be made the head of navigation on the Umpqua River. To this end a congressional appropriation of twenty thousand dollars was secured and by dint of perseverance and outlay of money, muscle and steam, a steamboat was landed at its wharf. The event was hailed with joy by the people of the Umpqua Valley. The experiment, however, was never repeated and Roseburg lapsed into its former state of isolation until the advent of the O.&C.R.R. aroused it from its lethargy, revived its spirits and infused new vigor into its varied resources. The temporary terminus of the railroad being fixed at Roseburg created a boom not only among the merchants there, but also among the farmers and wool growers of the valley, and gave to the town an extensive forwarding and commission business for points to the south.
The Umpqua Valley in unlike any other that I have ever seen, and is in fact no valley at all, but an extensive plain bounded on all sides by lofty, timbered mountains and made up of a succession of vales and low half-wooded hills. Its climate is less humid than that of the Willamette Valley and like the Rogue River it is never subjected to the droughts so frequent in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California. The ground is seldom frozen so as to interfere with the work of the farmer, and though sometimes whitened with snow it is rarely covered more than a few hours at a time. Frosts scarcely ever injure the crops, and a great variety of fruits and vegetables grow to perfection.
Apples, pears, prunes, plums, apricots, peaches, berries and grapes are produced in abundance and of the finest quality. This valley ships yearly great quantities of wheat, rye, oats and barley. The soil is remarkably productive, and with increased facilities for shipping and travel it is destined to take rank among the most delightful spots on the Pacific Coast. It is remarkably well watered and the timber is so well distributed that little seems needed to complete its adaptability for the farmer, while the hill ranges furnish an extensive pasturage for sheep, horses and cattle.
It is neither a timbered nor a prairie country, but a harmonious blending of the two, that adds as much to the beauty of the landscape as to the convenience of the husbandman. The timber consists of oak, ash, alder, maple, mountain mahogany, pine, fir and cedar, and supplies every demand for fuel, building or cabinet work. The North and South Umpqua are large streams, rising in the Cascade Mountains and flowing in a westerly converging course, until, reaching the center of the valley, they join and thence flow west to the ocean--a broad, beautiful river, but unnavigable by reason of rapids between Roseburg and Scottsburg, the latter being at present the head of navigation, about thirty miles from the ocean. Innumerable other smaller streams flow through the valley, wending their tortuous course among the thousand hills, through the grassy glades and groves of oak, cooling the air and giving vigor to vegetable and animal life. The denizens of the Umpqua have strong hopes of a railroad that will at no distant day connect them with the coast at Coos Bay, sixty-five miles distant. The surrounding mountains are well stocked with a variety of game, among which may be found bear of the grizzly, black, brown and cinnamon species, deer, panthers, wildcats, and occasionally a band of elk.
The streams furnish mountain trout, and salmon are plentiful in the rivers at the seasons for their runs. The railroad survey follows the same general course as the Oregon and California stage line, varied somewhat, of course, as the face of the country demands it. Several thousand men are now at work, and the din consequent to railway construction in this age of steam,, electricity and giant powder wakes the echoes among solitudes hitherto silent since the beginning of the world. All rejoice at this progress of civilization, except perhaps the invincible stage driver, who sighs as he sees his occupation almost gone, and looks with a jealous eye upon the driver of the iron horse, who impels his "fiery untamed steed" with a rush, a roar and a deafening scream over the route where for so many years he has held his half-despotic sway and narrated his adventures with fiendish satisfaction to trembling, frightened novices in stage riding.
Leaving Roseburg we will now follow the old stage road southward. At the edge of the town we commence the ascent of a ridge which crowds its rocky point into the river, forcing the sparkling stream further to the west. Reaching the summit of this ridge, we pause to view the landscape o'er. Roseburg nestles in its little cove at the foot of wooded hills, looking fresh, bright and cozy beside its winding river. Pleasant cottages, prosperous-looking business houses, churches, schools, court house, and all that goes to make up a thrifty western county seat, with a laudable ambition to excel, is spread out to our view, and with its shade trees of oak, alder and maple presents a pretty picture for our contemplation. Bordering either bank of the river, where the hills do not crowd too closely are seen pleasant farmhouses and gardens, with oak- and fir-covered knobs and knolls for a background. The bushes at the roadside tell of one of the chief occupations of the people, bearing as they do stolen fleeces of wool from the sheep that graze among them. Above this point and further south, the valley bordering the river spreads its arms further to the east and west, and furnishes broad farms of level ground and excellent soil. Our road follows the river, and as we traverse its crooked course new attractions are constantly presented. Now we are passing around a rocky point, the road a mere artificial shelf cut in the solid wall, with a mountain above and the roaring river below. Anon we have passed the point of danger, and the sharp crack of the driver's whip rings out on the morning air. We go flying over a fine level road, with fences, farms and orchards on either hand. Thus in and out, now skimming along the water's edge, lulled by its ripple, again at a giddy height on the hillside, with a beautiful prospect below, or stifled in the dust of some neighborhood lane, our journey is sufficiently varied to keep both ennui and Morpheus at a distance. Oak Grove, until recently the first stage station, is 16 miles from Roseburg. Four miles further on, we reach Myrtle Creek, a pleasant little burg, with a prosperous farming community around it. About eight miles south is Riddleburg, at the present time the terminus of the railroad. Nine miles from Myrtle Creek, by stage, we reach Canyonville, at the extreme south end of the Umpqua Valley. This village constitutes the base of supplies for a fine farming country, stretching away for miles up and down the Umpqua River, which passes about two miles to the north and flows west by north. The railroad will cross the mountains through Cow Creek Canyon, about six miles west of Canyonville.
From Canyonville to the southward our route lies over a heavily timbered and mountainous country, until we reach Rogue River Valley. We pass occasional settlements nestling at the foot of high mountains and half hid away beneath the shade of the ever-present forests of fir, cedar and pine. Many of these little vales and valleys possess all the attractions for which Switzerland is famous, except that which time and an industrious people alone can make. The people who dwell in these isolated nooks are necessarily frugal and industrious, and are fast making some of the most attractive homes to be found in the state, and only await the advent of the railroad to complete their comfort and conveniences. The soil in these little valleys is an accumulation of centuries, from the surrounding mountains, and is as productive as any that can be found anywhere. The climate is healthful and invigorating, and all that is needed for domestic use, except such articles as the latitude will not produce, is raised. Cow Creek, Wolf Creek, Grave Creek, Jumpoff Joe and Grants Pass are successively the settlements passed after leaving Canyonville and before we reach Rogue River Valley, a distance of about seventy miles. These settlements are all small and will come under the general description given above. This stretch of country has a great many gold mines which are being worked with profit, principally placer. Without stopping for further observation, I must hasten on to Rock Point, a little hamlet on the north bank of Rogue River just in the northwest corner of the valley of that name. It contains a store, saloon, hotel, school house, blacksmith shop, and is a station on the overland stage line. The river here is a roaring, rushing torrent, deep, clear as crystal and filled with a plentiful supply of trout, and in the springtime with salmon. Its turbulent channel is here spanned by a bridge, though the one crossed by the stage is about two miles farther up the stream, and is a very substantial structure, having crossed which, we are fairly into
ROGUE RIVER VALLEY,which I conceive to be the most pleasant and desirable one on the Pacific Coast. It has an altitude of from one to two thousand feet above tidewater. It seems to be peculiarly adapted to the highest perfection of the apple, the pear, the peach, the plum, apricot, quince, grape, the blackberry, strawberry and raspberry. Almonds are produced in abundance and the fig tree grows well, but does not produce abundantly. The climate is remarkably healthful, and the high mountains surrounding it give off grateful breezes which temper the summer's heat. Rogue River Valley is bounded on the north by the Rogue River Mountains, east by the Cascades, south by the Siskiyous and west by the Coast Range. Its greatest length is from southeast to northwest, and the distance about forty miles. It is irregular in shape but has an average width of about eight miles, though in places it is much wider. The river which gives name to the valley rises among the snow peaks of the Cascade Mountains, and flowing west through the north side of the valley finds its way, after a tortuous course through deep dark canyons and overhanging forests, to the ocean. I venture the assertion that no valley on earth, in its natural state, presents so many delightfully pleasant features of landscape as does this one, or whose surrounding mountains afford more of the grand, rugged, picturesque and sublime, as do the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains that bound the valley on the east and south. Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County, occupies a cove at the junction of the Siskiyou and Cascade Range of mountains, eleven miles south from Rock Point. Without describing the delightful ride between these points, through the groves of fir, pine, oak and maple, I will invite the reader through the streets of Jacksonville, and to the summit of the hill at the foot of which it stands. We now find ourselves between five hundred and a thousand feet above the town, and with a magnificent prospect spread out below us. Immediately at our feet, nestling in its little mountain cove, shaded with oak and maple, whose leaves are tinted with the bright colors of autumn, stands the town through which we have just passed. Its neat and tasteful residences, its school houses and church spires, and its solid buildings of brick bespeak wealth and prosperity, and a population of nearly 1,000 people. Its hillsides and ravines furnish an index to its history as a mining town. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been taken from the earth, and yet its gravel beds are not allowed to rest undisturbed, though the attention of the people has long since been directed to other pursuits, and now agriculture forms the chief occupation of the valley, though mining is still carried on to a considerable extent, and but a few miles away is worked the heaviest mining machinery of the state. A great variety of precious metals have been found, and the prospector remaineth not idle during the winter months. Looking now to the north and northeast, the valley spreads out in all its beauty. Bright fields of stubble and groves of oak and fir blend in fine relief. Farm houses and barns, orchards and vineyards, dot the level plain as far as the eye can distinguish these smaller objects. The course of numberless streams are easily traced by their sinuous lines of maple, alder and ash, while in the distance rise the noble Cascades, already whitened by the approaching winter, and Mount McLoughlin, capped with eternal snow, its symmetrical form towering 10,000 feet above the sea, and standing as a monarch of the giants that modestly crowd about his foot. To the northeast are other shining peaks piercing the sky and dimly seen because near 100 miles away. These are the rough jutting points that stand as sentinels guarding that mystic spot, Crater Lake. The Table Rocks stand as natural wonders in this panorama to the north, with a history clustering about them which I have no time here to chronicle. To see all that may be found of interest, one should spend a summer here and explore the hundreds of nooks, crannies and coves that reach out into the surrounding mountains, and the little valleys that are hid away from the casual observer. Every home has its orchard and vineyard, its grain field, its garden and its "woods pasture." I known of no spot where the people live so independently and enjoy such advantages of climate and soil. Seventeen miles southeast from Jacksonville is the town of Ashland, by far the handsomest village in the state. It has a thousand inhabitants, is growing rapidly, and presents advantages which are sure to build up here one of the chief towns south of the Willamette Valley. Ashland has two drug stores, two hardware establishments, four general merchandise establishments, two or three minor stores, two hotels, [a] large and popular flouring mill, a large woolen factory, two large cabinet factories, marble works, one newspaper, two fine church buildings, an excellent college, and a fine public school, but no saloon. It is situated directly on the line of the O.&C.R.R. on a fine mountain stream that furnishes [an] abundance of pure, cold snow water for all purposes, manufacturing and otherwise. The town is more than usually attractive. The lots are large, and nearly every lot has its orchard, its garden, and ornamental shrubs and flowers. The soil is of granite and consequently neither mud nor dust is produced to a troublesome extent. The valley at this point is not more than a mile wide, but the mountains to the north have but little timber, and, possessing an excellent soil, are farmed halfway to their summits. To the south the Siskiyou Mountains rise abruptly and are clothed with magnificent forests. Besides the fruit of this valley, there is no part of the coast that can outdo it in the quality or quantity of its vegetables, its wheat, rye, oats and barley. The mountains furnish an abundance of sugar and yellow pine, from which the finest lumber in the world is made. There also abounds in the streams the festive trout, the joy of the angler, and among the woods and canyons bear, deer, elk, panther, cougar, wildcats, etc. so that the searcher for game and pleasure need not go away dissatisfied. Ten miles farther up the valley is a cluster of soda springs, already a place of great resort, and which promises a wide fame when the R.R. comes along to enable the outside world to reach them. Ashland is the last town in Oregon as you go southward, the first reached from California. Following the proposed line of the railroad, from Ashland to the state line it is about 25 miles, though on a direct course it is only fourteen. Leaving Ashland our course runs to the southeast for eight miles where we commence the ascent of the Siskiyou Mountains; though steep, the distance is not great, and when the summit is reached a magnificent landscape greets the eye. The Klamath and Shasta valleys are spread out before us, and Mount Shasta, 14,440 feet high, seems almost within a stone's throw, though sixty miles distant. Its eternal snow, its glaciers and pinnacles of ice shine like polished steel in the bright sunshine, and all other objects seem dwindled to insignificance. From the summit of the Siskiyou to the California line is about two miles, and we soon find ourselves whirling along toward Yreka, the first town of significance after leaving Oregon.
C. B. WATSON.West Shore, Portland, October 1882, pages 184-185
SOUTHERN OREGON.That part of Western Oregon lying south of the Calapooia Mountains is called Southern Oregon. It includes Douglas, Jackson, Coos, Josephine and Curry counties, in all about fifteen thousand square miles of territory. The climate of the Southern Oregon counties is much dryer than that of Western Oregon, but not so dry as that of Eastern Oregon. It is a little colder in winter and a little warmer in summer than the climate of the Willamette Valley. It has great resources of land, timber, coal and the precious metals, and has been settled in spots for thirty years or more.
Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Lake and Curry Counties.
A GREAT COMPARATIVELY UNDEVELOPED SECTION.
A Country Capable of Producing All the Grains and Fruits of the Temperate Zone--Wide Stock Ranges--Vast Coal and Timber Fields, Etc.
Douglas CountyIs the largest and most important of these counties at present. It lies north of its neighbors of Southern Oregon and extends east and west from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Agriculture and wool growing are the chief industries of Douglas County. Although 200 miles from a port of shipment, Douglas has been a wheat growing section for ten years, and each season contributes some thousands of tons of wheat to "the Oregon surplus." Freights have of course been very high, but on the other hand crops have been certain and very large and farmers have made money. Comparatively little of the land of Douglas County is under cultivation. The river bottom and prairies are all under the plow, but the rougher hill and brush lands are not cultivated and are given up to sheep and cattle. Douglas County is the best sheep range on the Pacific Coast. All the conditions of climate and food are perfect from the shepherd's standpoint, and the product of wool brings a higher price than that of any other section. Wool growing is made a specialty by many, and the best grades of wool sheep have been introduced.
The Umpqua River, a beautiful stream, not navigable, runs through the county and drains its entire length. The Umpqua near its mouth broadens to the bay which is entered by schooners and is the seat of a large lumber business. At Gardiner, a large sawmill town, about eight miles from the entrance, two sawmills, both the property of San Francisco capitalists, are in constant operation and turn out a hundred thousand feet of lumber per day. This is naturally the shipping point for Douglas County. The grade from the middle of the county west down the Umpqua River is easy, and a narrow-gauge railroad could built for a comparatively small sum. The valley itself would afford a large business, while the country north and south would also contribute to its support.
At regular seasons, salmon of fine quality abound in the lower Umpqua, and two canneries put up each year about ten thousand cases. Timber, fish, wool, hops, hides, fresh fruit and leather are the exports of the lower Umpqua, and their value in the year amounts to half a million dollars. Lumber is of course the greatest item.
RoseburgIs the principal town of Douglas County. Its population is about 1200, having increased about 150 during the past year. Roseburg sells during the year about $400,000 worth of general merchandise and farming machinery. It ships about 000 [sic] tons of wheat each year and about 550,000 pounds of wool--most of which is handled by its merchants. A great share of the livestock, poultry, etc. consumed in the Portland market is also shipped from Roseburg. Much fine finishing lumber is also sent from Roseburg to Portland. The whole shipments of this point are about two-fifths of the total shipments of Douglas County.
For several years past Roseburg has been the southern terminus of the Oregon and California railroad and consequently the distributing point for all of Southern Oregon except the bays on the coast which deal by ocean with San Francisco and Portland. All goods used in Jackson and Josephine counties have been sent via the O.&C.R.R. to Roseburg and from there freighted in big wagons across the mountains. All shipments of these counties have likewise been sent out by wagon to Roseburg, which of course became the depot for a considerable transfer business. With continuation of the railroad south, this transfer business has moved along and away from Roseburg. And yet relations of acquaintances and credit send a good deal of the Southern Oregon trade to the town, and it has not lost as severely as even its merchants feared. People coming in wagons from the south to lay in household stocks leave their teams at the end of the track, which is now 40 miles beyond Roseburg, and come on by train to town where they do their trading. But this, of course, is but temporary. Just as soon as the railroad is through, towns along its line will take the southern trade and Roseburg must look for support to her own local field. This, fortunately, is rich and capable of great development. Fine opportunities for newcomers abound, and during the past year several hundred immigrants have come in. There is scarcely any doubt but that the rapid growth of the surrounding country will amply compensate for the retiring southern trade, and that Roseburg will not only hold its own but continue to grow.
An enterprise is now on foot to connect Roseburg and Coos Bay on the coast by rail, and this, if consummated, will make Roseburg a place of great importance. The ocean route from San Francisco to Coos would then compare with the ocean route from San Francisco to Portland for the freight of Western Oregon, and Roseburg's position at a point of junction would be most favorable. Roseburg has good churches and schools, fine residences, two of the best general stores in Oregon and several smaller establishments.
Roseburg is the chief, but there are several other good towns in Douglas County. Oakland and Drain north, and Canyonville south of Roseburg, ship large lots of grain and other produce and are thriving local centers. Wilbur, another small place, is celebrated for its very excellent academy.
Jackson CountyExtends from the southern limit of Douglas to the California line. It is a rough, mountainous region, seamed with valleys, the main one being that of the Rogue River, thirty or more miles long, north and south, and varying in width from two to fifteen miles. It is one of the finest bodies of farming land "out of doors," and is the seat of a large settlement. For an old settled county the Rogue River Valley is but poorly developed, a condition due to its complete isolation. It is hemmed in the high mountains many hundred miles away from the great markets, and while rolling in fatness, has been unable to sell its products. The only market available for the farmers of Jackson County to this time has been that afforded by the miners in the mountains, the stage company and the freighters. The demands of all these have been comparatively small, not great enough to stimulate production, and so the county has jogged along at a slow pace. But it has great resources which only need to be awakened to spring into greatness. The climate is the most agreeable in the state. There is more sunshine and less rain than in Western Oregon, while there is no danger of drought. Crops every year are absolutely certain. Jackson County has a wider range of production than any other county in the state. Grapes which grow only on warm hillsides and do not fully mature in Eastern and Western Oregon here attain the highest perfection. Several vineyards near Jacksonville have produced well during a course of years and have given the business of wine making a start. In no other section of Oregon does corn grow well. But, under the genial sun here, it grows in vast fields, which reminds the traveler of the western prairies. Peaches grow well here, and all other fruits. All kinds of vegetables thrive and all the cereals grow in the same full abundance as in other sections.
Mining is the chief industry of Jackson County and the one on which all others depend. Without the miner Jackson County would have remained till now a sparsely settled stock country. The gold and silver taken out of the ground has been paid to the outer world for goods. Without this the people could not have become rich in their inland situation because it has been impossible to transport their products to market. But mining has never been a fitful industry dependent upon "booms" and seasons of excitement. Great areas of ground are known to be rich in gold and by the hydraulic process to pay about a given profit. Men have engaged in the business as regularly as others engaged in the business of wheat growing, and without making great fortunes, have prospered steadily. No less than six hundred men are engaged in the mining business in Jackson County, and fully as many more in the adjoining county of Josephine.
There are few industries in Jackson County besides those of agriculture and mining and those which depend upon them. A small woolen mill at Ashland consumes a good share of the wool grown in the county and turns out a fine quality of cloth. This is one of the few products which will stand the heavy freight rate out. Wine making, alluded to above, engages the attention of three firms, who do a small but profitable business. Brandy making is also carried on by several small establishments.
The principal towns in Jackson are Jacksonville and Ashland. The former is the county seat and each has a population of about nine hundred. They are thrifty, well-built towns, well provided with church and school privileges. At Ashland there is a college under the management of the M.E. Church which is locally famed as a place of thorough instruction.
This is the condition of Jackson County at the present time; but it is on the eve of great development. The O.&C.R.R. is pushing toward it, and within the next two years will run through the Rogue River and other valleys, affording them the market facilities for which they have so long waited. There are indications that the must wonderful development seen in Oregon will be rivaled by the advancement of this splendid region.
Josephine CountyIs a large, sparsely settled region valuable for its mines, its timber and its farming and stock lands. Several small mills turn out most of the lumber used in the mines of Josephine and Jackson counties and for building purposes. Mining is the chief industry, however, and will be "till the railroad comes."
Coos CountyOn the southern coast is a rich county which practically belongs to California. It enjoys the special advantage of a good harbor--Coos Bay--and is the seat of a great business in coal and timber. Coos is separated by rough country, and comparatively great distances, from the other sections of the state, and its industries [are] almost wholly in the hands of California capitalists. Half of its surface is underlaid with coal and it is covered with magnificent forests of fir and spruce. Several large merchant mills, all the property of nonresidents, cut enormous quantities of lumber which is carried to the San Francisco market by vessels, also the property of nonresidents. Five or six coal mines, in each of which the investment is in the neighborhood of $250,000, produce great quantities of coal which like the timber is shipped away to the San Francisco market. But one of these mines is owned by parties resident upon Coos Bay. The inhabitants of Coos County are mostly people engaged in these foreign industries; but as a rule they have come to the country to stay and they are rapidly acquiring property there. The profits of the several great enterprises, however, are not retained in the county as part of its permanent wealth.
But besides these foreign industries and the population of lumbermen and miners which attend them there is a large agricultural class. There is much good tide flat and bottom land about Coos Bay and along the rivers and creeks putting into it, and on this there are hundreds of settlers who carry on a general agricultural business. The mills and mines afford a large market, which is supplied wholly by the farmers of the bay; and in addition to this, they ship large quantities of produce to San Francisco. Coos Bay potatoes and apples are known as the San Francisco market as the best class and command at all times the highest market price. Leather is one of the exports of Coos Bay, a tannery located near Marshfield being the largest establishment of the kind in the state. Ship building has been a regular and profitable business for many years past and some of the fastest sailors in the Pacific were built at North Bend, where one or more vessels are always on the ways.
The oldest town of Coos County is Empire City, which is located on the south side of the bay, four miles from the bar. It is adjacent to fine anchorage, and the water is deep enough to allow the largest ships to lie alongside the wharves. Two sawmills, a stave mill and sash and door mill give the place the air of a manufacturing town, while the docks and shipping add to its business life. Marshfield, several miles further up the bay, is the largest town in the county, its population being about six hundred. Several sawmills and a shipyard are located here. Marshfield is really the business center of the bay and county. It is built like Astoria, partly on a hillside and partly on piles over the water. A dispute regarding titles in Marshfield is now in the courts. Holders of lots are uncertain of their rights and so no really substantial buildings have been erected in the town. The capital is there, however, and just as soon as the matter of ownership is settled there will be a building boom.
The business and social relations of Coos County are wholly with California. Only the courts and the tax gatherers remind the people that they are citizens of Oregon. Coos County ought to have a great future. Its wealth of timber, coal and the mines along its ocean beaches will someday make it a rich section. But first it must shake off the curse of nonresident proprietorship. The Coos Bay bar, which is of shifting sand, has been a great drawback to commerce, but improvements now in progress by the government promise to give a draft of twenty-six feet. The proposed railroad to connect the bay with Roseburg and the Willamette Valley, will do wonders towards that development for which all are so fondly hoping.
Curry CountyLies south of Coos and directly upon the coast. It is sparsely populated and its chief industries are stock raising, wool growing and beach mining. Its single harbor is the mouth of Rogue River, which admits
only light draft vessels. Its isolation will probably prevent its development for some years.
Lake CountyIs east of Jackson and one of the group of "big counties." It is at present a great stock range. Its distance from railroad or other means of transportation renders its fine resources at present unavailable, but it has the elements of great future wealth. It is very sparsely settled.
Crook CountyLies south of Wasco and was partitioned from it only a few months ago. It is a fine stock country and though naturally a fine field for agriculture, cannot be fully developed till sometime in the future when it is tapped by a railroad. At present its isolation is complete. There is much good land there open for entry; as there is also in Wasco. Oregonian, Portland, January 3, 1883, page 4