The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1893

    Rogue River Valley is an intermediate link between the inland valleys lying east of and parallel with the Coast Range and extending from the Willamette on the north to the Sacramento on the south. Here is where the conflicting elements meet and compromise between the dreaded drought of the south and the excessive rains of the north. Here all extremes are amicably adjusted, and the result is no drought and no unusual rainfall. In addition to the rare climatic conditions with which this valley is specially favored, it is one of the most productive and healthful to be found on the coast, and withal a very gem cozily nestled in a richly variegated mountain setting. The valley is an irregular amphitheater about forty miles in length and twenty miles wide and is completely surrounded with lofty mountains. Sharp spurs, alternating with low hills, extend into it at intervals, and the whole is delicately touched and toned with striking diversity and mellowed by the pleasing light and shade peculiar to mountain scenery. It is truly a lovely valley, such as would delight the artist's heart and almost attune with poesy the most determined stoic. It is little wonder that the outraged Red Man, crowded to ocean's surf, with not a foot of land to call his own, fought and fell and died to save this, his goodly heritage, for surely there is none fairer on earth. The fabled vales of cashmere, with all their wealth of blooming flowers and perennial founts that fling their silvery spray amid a world of richest fragrance, could scarce excel the reality that here alternately delights and inspires the rapt beholder when first this valley greets his wondering gaze. What is now the valley was once a lake. The evidences of this fact are most unmistakable, and Rogue River was doubtless the stream that fed it. Sometime in the remote past it discharged its waters through what is now known as Sterling Creek. Applegate at that time was a large river, as is abundantly shown by the immense wash from the head of Sterling to its present junction with Rogue River. How long the waters of the lake were discharged through this channel, if at all, it would be impossible to tell; but from the deep wash in the solid bedrock for miles down the creek it would be safe to say centuries elapsed before this gorge was cut to its present depth. The mountains at the head of Sterling were probably much higher than now, and that there was no opening or low pass through which the waters of the lake were first charged, cutting the deep channel referred to above [sic]. Later, there must have been a great slide from some of the adjacent mountains, and the pass and river channel were filled up and the pent-up lake was forced to find an outlet elsewhere for its surplus water. This it did by cutting a pass through the mountains from Gold Hill to Grants Pass and thus finally flowing into the old channel where it now forms a junction with Applegate. This is bold speculation, but there is strong presumptive evidence to support it, and one gratifying feature about it is that it can be more readily believed than disproved.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 3, 1893, page 2

    We make the following extracts from a private letter from Central Point, Jackson County, Oregon, dated March 2nd, giving some interesting facts regarding that country:
    "We are having delightful weather now, and gardens are being made and spring crops put in. We have not had near as much rain as usual this winter, so the mud is only hub deep instead of being clear over the wheels. While all those storms were raging in the north part of the state, and in the Willamette Valley, we had very good weather here.… Southern Oregon has got a boom this spring. Several rich ledges and pockets of gold have been discovered, some near here. A party of capitalists from Seattle are here, and have made arrangements to build a flume from near the headwaters of Rogue River to open up the vast forest of sugar pine up there. The shares have been sold, and our town being the terminus of the flume of course makes things lively. A bank will be established soon, and the Southern Pacific R.R. Company have contracted with a man hereto furnish him 1,000 tourists at $8 apiece, if he will put on a line of stages and run to Crater Lake, about 80 miles from here. He says he has ordered the coaches and necessary tents, etc., and will be ready for business in June. I only hope all this will materialize. The Rogue River Valley R.R. will be extended up the river also. They took a layoff not long ago, and swept the car out and gave it a coat of paint. The mail was carried to Medford in wagons, and the passengers walked down the railroad while all this was going on. Business was dull. The folks from the "states," as they say here, are not coming here by the hundreds, as they used to. They are wise, for when one has a good home there, they had better stay. When the climate and fruit is taken out, there is little here to induce one to stay.…
    "Eggs are low here now, only 12 cents per dozen; butter 20 cents, wheat from 40 to 52 cents per bushel, pork $6 per cwt., beef 10 cents per pound. Vegetables are plenty and prices reasonable. Apples are scarce and high, fish plenty at 5 cents per pound and sometimes cheaper than that. The canneries at the mouth of Rogue River were compelled to take out their nets this spring, so the run of fish is larger. There was nearly as many salmon canned at Gold Beach last year as there was on the Columbia."
Blue Valley Blade, Seward, Nebraska, March 15, 1893, page 3

A Land of Boundless Possibilities and Unlimited Resources.
An Eldorado for the Husbandman, Fruit Grower and Miner.
    Oregon is bounded on the north by Washington, on the south by Nevada and California, on the east by Idaho and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The western part of the state is traversed by parallel ranges of mountains, known as the Coast Range and the Cascades. The latter range, which begins in California, at a point less than 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and stretches northward into British Columbia, forming an almost continuous chain for a distance of nearly 1,000 miles, is cleft by the Columbia River, which flows between Oregon and Washington for a distance of 240 miles, and is pierced by numerous smaller streams, of which, in Oregon, the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue rivers are chief. The Cascade Range is noted for its many and magnificent snow peaks, of which Mt. Hood, the monarch of them all, is so near the great lines of travel and so advantageously enthroned upon the lesser heights, that every tourist may behold it, no matter what part of Oregon he may choose to visit. The Cascade Range is covered with valuable timber to the snow line upon its western slopes. This timber is mostly evergreen and climbs the mountainside with soldier-like regularity. Oregon is kept moist by the vapors of the Pacific Ocean, which meet the icy currents on the lofty snow-clad heights, and sends them down the mountainsides in the form of rain, in its season, or store them away as snow and ice in winter to be drawn upon in the summer months by the action of the sun and air. The Coast Range is a low and somewhat irregular chain of mountains, running parallel with the ocean, and bordering almost directly upon it in some places, but in others making the boundary a level stretch of alluvial base land lying between them and the sea. Dense forests of fir, cedar, pine and spruce timber abound, many of the trees being of gigantic stature, straight as an arrow and often running to a height of 150 feet before sending out a branch. The undergrowth of bushes and ferns is often so dense as to form jungles of vast extent, in which deer, bear, elk and other wild animals will remain as sport for the hunter for many years to come. The streams are all stocked with fish, and near the seaboard are fairly alive in proper season with aquatic fowl.
    The includes the valleys drained by the Umpqua and Rogue rivers, important streams which take their rise in the Cascade Range, and flowing westerly empty into the Pacific Ocean. These valleys are as productive as the Willamette Valley, and being farther south and well sheltered are especially adapted to fruit. This industry is only in its infancy, and the time will soon come when Southern Oregon will be known far and wide as one of the greatest fruit sections in the world.
    The Rogue River Valley occupies the central part of Jackson County, and is about thirty-five miles long by twenty miles wide. It takes its name from the river which flows through its northern extremes, though Bear Creek drains the greater portion of the Rogue River Valley proper. Little Butte Creek and Sams Creek form considerable additions to the main valley by their contiguous territory. All of these streams empty into the main river within a few miles of each other. Rogue River Valley is next to the Willamette in extent on the west side of the Cascades, and is nearly two-thirds as large as the state of Rhode Island. Its soil is composed of the successive denudations of the surrounding mountains, and as they are the product of widely distributed geological areas, it is often found that several kinds of soil are deposited within a limited area, making diversified farming easy and practicable. Lying contiguous to California, and having its climate tempered by the warm ocean breeze laden with moisture, it is specially favored as a locality for the most perfect flavoring and ripening of fruit; in this, Rogue River Valley always will excel. On the gentle slopes of the surrounding hills thousands of acres can be put into vineyards and choice fruits, while on the low bottom lands anything and everything grown in a semi- or subtropical climate can be produced. Medford, Ashland, Jacksonville, Central Point, Phoenix, Talent, Eagle Point and Gold Hill are the principal towns in the valley.
    Jackson County has 1,416,000 acres of surveyed, and 392,600 acres of unsurveyed land. The latter is principally on the high mountain ranges. The general surface of the country embraces three divisions of land--that which is on the high mountaintops, that on the hills or broken ridges, and that in the valleys. The first is utilized for summer range for stock, the green grass growing as the snow disappears, and affording rich pasturage for numerous herds, and is also a most desirable place for butter and cheese making. The hill land is the timber-bearing region and the home of the stockman. The soil is capable of a high degree of cultivation, and as it is denuded of its timber, is usually planted in cereals and grasses. The valley land is composed of the alluvium deposits of different geological periods and the constant disintegration from the surrounding mountains. The soil of Jackson County is more varied than that of any other in the state, and it is not unusual to find five or six different kinds on a farm of 160 acres.
    The climate of Jackson County is a happy mean between the humidity of Northern Oregon and the droughts of California. Here the two extremes meet and amicably compromise--the result is a perfectly equable climate. The main valley through which the Southern Pacific railroad pases is completely environed by a continuous chain of hills that separate it from the several smaller valleys that form such an important part of Jackson County. These hills rise in successive steps and benches into the Cascades, Siskiyous, Coast Range and Grave Creek Mountains, giving the valley the appearance of an immense amphitheater. Here nature holds enrapt the astonished beholder when he views for the first time the gorgeous panorama that opens out before him, blending in variegated beauty the snow-capped mountains, the distant hills, the verdant valley and sparkling waterways in changeful alliance with summer's sunshine or winter's storm.
    Not inappropriately has the beautiful valley of the Rogue River been called the "Italy of Oregon." Approach it from whatever source, an amphitheater of mountains encircles it on every side, girding the horizon with a cordon of snow-crowned peaks, towering, in many places, over 8,000 feet above the valley and sending long forest-encumbered ridges down into the lower levels. Innumerable streams leap, in foaming cataracts, to the sea, while the sylvan dell, rugged cliffs, rippling waters woos with resistless power. The long sweep of graceful hills on either side of undulating valleys running far up into the horizon, and there crowned by rugged mountain peaks, snow-created, making the picture equaled only by the Alps, and excelled by no other land upon the earth.
    Out of 1,416,600 acres of surveyed land only 182,374 is yet in cultivation. The home-seeker can find good government land to be had under the preemption or Homestead Act. Land can be bought from the railroad at prices varying from $2.50 to $20. Land owners part with the land at reasonable figures, ranging at from $5 to $500 owing to location. Farming land sells at from $10 to $100, $25 to $50 being the prevailing price for good land. Wheat, rye, oats, barley and corn grow well on all soils, and yield fine crops. The straw is bright and clean, free from rust or mildew, and the grain full, plump and well matured. Of wheat, the best lands produce from 30 to 40 bushels, and of oats, from 40 to 50 bushels per acre. Common grade land runs from 5 to 10 bushels under the above estimate. Phenomenal yields often produce 60 bushels of wheat and 80 bushels of oats to the acre. Corn yields from 40 to 60 bushels to the acre. Corn does not require so much cultivation as in most countries. Timothy, clover and bluegrass do not do well on uplands, but make good crops on the low bottoms. Alfalfa grows anywhere, producing two good crops on the uplands, and from three to four on the bottoms; or, with irrigation, wild oats once seeded produce successive crops without planting and is much used for hay.
Medford Mail, December 1, 1893, page 1

Last revised December 18, 2021