Jackson County 1897
OUR OREGON LETTER.Dear Republican:
EUGENE, OR., March 29, 1897.
According to promise in my last, I will now give your readers some account of quartz mining as I saw it in Southern Oregon. This kind of mining has been engaged in to some extent for a long time, but owing to the great expense of developing a plant of this kind it has not been nearly so extensive as the placer mining. A stamp mill in close proximity to the mine, so as to make the expense of getting the quartz from the mine to the mill as light as possible, and a stream of water for use in crushing the quartz are a necessity to the largest success. Where the quartz must be hauled from ten to twenty miles to a custom mill it cuts off very much of the profit. The quartz mining until recent years was done in a primitive way, the arrastra being used. This machine for pulverizing quartz is a curiosity to him who never saw one. Boulders are dressed off on one side and laid to make a smooth floor, upon which the quartz is to be crushed. Large stones with one side dressed smooth and with holes drilled in the sides in which to fasten an iron clamp or hook are drawn round and round on the stone floor either by mule or water power. There are four arrastras at work on different veins on the "Jumpoff Joe" crushing quartz at a great rate. I was privileged to visit a 5-stamp mill in Ashland while in Southern Oregon. All one can do while visiting such a place is to look and listen. Such a clatter it keeps up! The five great rods with steel hammers on the ends are lifted by steam power and dropped one at a time on a steel plate, keeping up such a din that there is a sense of great relief when one's visit is over and he steps outside.
Through the kindness of Mr. Mead & Sons, we were driven out one day to their "Sun Beam" mine. It is located on a mountainside about four miles northeast of Grants Pass, on the north side of Rogue River. They have sunk a shaft 80 feet deep and are now taking out gold-bearing ore from what seems to be an exhaustless vein. What ore they have had milled they have taken to the stamp mill on Williams Creek, a distance of about twenty miles. But they are putting up a mill near their mine and when that is completed they estimate that the yield of the Sun Beam will be $500 per month, with five men to operate it. While not as rich ore as some mines yield, the quartz is soft and therefore easily taken out and crushed.
We also visited the Jewett mine, which is owned by Mr. Darwin, of Grants Pass. This mine is located on the south side of a great mountain known as "Old Baldy." Mr. Mangum, a mining expert, gave us a rare treat by driving us out to this mine one morning. We drove to within about three-fourths of a mile of the mine, when, owing to the precipitous condition of the trail, we deemed it expedient to leave our team and go the rest of the way on foot. After a little climbing we found ourselves at the mouth of a tunnel into which we could walk perfectly erect. Lighting candles, with which we were provided, we made our way into this tunnel a distance of about 300 feet, when we came to the end. Here a shaft was sunk to a depth of 90 feet. Down this we climbed, clinging to a pine pole ladder with one hand and holding a tallow candle with the other. When within 15 or 20 feet of the bottom the ladder ran out and we had to swing ourselves down on a rope. The first inquiry we made of the lone miner down there was if he had any dynamite? Being assured that we were perfectly safe we rested easy--that is to say, as easy as it is possible for two preachers to rest 190 feet below the surface of the mountainside directly over our heads. After obtaining some specimens of the rich quartz from the bottom of this shaft we climbed out. This is a mine upon which much money has been expended, but when Mr. Darwin's plan for its complete development is carried out it will be sure to make its owner a Croesus. It is very expensive to drill into the solid rock, blast it out, lift it 90 feet with buckets, wheel it out 300 feet on cars, then haul it a mile or more with wagons. It costs at least 75 cents a ton to get the quarts to the mill. The plan is to continue down with the shaft some 60 feet further, tunnel in from another side of the mountain, then the quartz can be carried out to a point just above the mill. By putting in a cable tramway the ore can be let down to the mill in buckets at a very nominal cost. The vein they are working gives every evidence of containing plenty of wealth, for there is no indication of the ledge "pinching out."
The gold-bearing quartz of Southern Oregon varies greatly as to richness. Some of it assaying as low as $3 per ton, which will hardly pay for working unless the conditions are most favorable. Difficult ledges assay different amounts--$10, $20, $40, $75, $100--and I heard of one four-foot vein of ore which assays as high as the fabulous sum of $415 per ton. This is the Queen Ann ledge on Coyote Creek, in the Mount Reuben district. But I must stop writing about these mines, for I want to tell you of the wonderful sight we had from the top of Old Baldy, to which we climbed, a distance of about a half a mile above the Jewett mine. The beautiful valley spread gracefully out before us, bordered on either side by the rugged mountain spurs and ridges, while through the center, in graceful curves, ran Rogue River, on the north bank of which, five miles away, is the city of Grants Pass. This natural picture, brought near to us by Mr. Mangum's powerful glass, was one of surpassing grandeur and loveliness. After feasting our eyes upon this scene of beauty we turn our faces to the east, where looms up high above the rough and jagged peaks of the Cascades, the grand, symmetrical, snow-capped old mountain, Mt. Pitt, some sixty miles away, but which appeared to be but a stone's throw as we looked at it through the glass. How wild and rugged is that gorge out of which twists and wriggles in serpentine beauty Rogue River! How grand and shaggy the appearance of the sixty miles between where we stood and Mt. Pitt! The summits of the mountain spurs covered with snow and gleaming in the sunlight are beautiful in the extreme. The awful solitude of the deep, dark canyons is broken only by the dashing mountain streams, as they come dancing and leaping in cascades from among the lofty crags and cliffs. But we are reminded by the stiff, chilly breeze from the snowy summits that we must make the descent, so after a fast walk down the steep side of the old mountain, we were ready for our drive back to town. I saw one nugget of gold of $180 value, and a brick of gold worth $1,400. Last year a nugget of $440 was picked up within a few miles of Grants Pass. Bro. Jenkins and I expect to visit two of the wonders of America in July--Crater Lake and the Josephine Cave. I will be pleased to give your readers a description of them.
J. T. ABBETT.Warren Republican, Williamsport, Indiana, April 8, 1897, page 4
A Letter from California.
SISSON, Calif., April 14, '97.Editor Medford Mail:--As this is my birthday I thought I would begin the year by doing some noble deed, and could think of nothing better than writing to the Mail. I made the trip on my wheel from Medford to this place in a little less than two and one-half days. The riding was very hard in some places and delightful in others; in fact a series of grades almost the entire distance. If you can appreciate beautiful scenery you should not fail to see California on a wheel. One has time to dwell on the passing scene in detail as you cannot when riding in a car. I think the most enterprising-looking town on the S.P. line between Ashland and Sisson is Pokegama. As you know, large lumber mills are located here, which give it a very businesslike appearance. Tho buildings of the town look clean, new and bright, among which were several churches. It was at this place where I saw some people fishing in the Klamath River, and with better success than the proverbial "fisherman's luck," for they drew out many fine salmon trout, fishing where the water was swift and deep, just below the big dam.
Mt. Shasta looked beautiful in its mantle of glistening snow, with a fleecy cloud resting on its summit. My first desire was to climb it, and a gentleman told me that this feat might be performed some years in June, but last year the snow did not melt off enough to give right-of-way to climbers until August. It is said that only one tourist has ever succeeded in getting his mule to the top of the mountain, and while in the attempt last year an unfortunate burro lost his footing and fell several hundred feet. It is needless to say that the poor animal was dashed to pieces. It has been the general impression that Mt. Shasta was 14,444 feet high, but more recent investigation has shown its height to be nearly 14,449 feet. The ascent is generally made from the southern spur of the mountain, passing the night in cabins built for the shelter of the tourists. The following day the summit is reached and the return made as far as the cabins. At the top of the mountain you will find a boiling spring, a monument, erected by Mr. Sisson, which was carried up in sections by Indians, and also a large register.
Sisson has a settled population of from 800 to 1000 people; and in the summer, owing to the great number of workmen employed in the mills, the rate sometimes reaches 3000. Among some of Sisson's advantages is the fine water supply coming as it does from the very foot of Mt. Shasta, so cold, clear and sparkling even in summer, which is most refreshing, indeed. In fact, the country around here seems to be dotted all over with fine springs. The finest hotel here is the Sisson Tavern, located a short distance from the business portion of the town, and built more especially for the entertainment of tourists and people seeking rest during the heated season. Near this hotel and among the beautiful pines is found a small and pretty artificial lake, on which one may take a boat ride. The lake was made to put fish in. The state fish commission is located here and the plant is said to be one of the largest in the world. It is in charge of an expert in this line, who receives a fine salary for his service. Here may be found every species of trout in the world, excepting one. The collection boasts of trout from the beautiful Loch Leven in Scotland, to the many-hued rainbow trout of Virginia, and fish from almost everywhere. But alas! They are not for the enthusiastic angler, for a signboard will remind you to leave all fishing tackle at home, and not, even in your dreams, picture yourself eating a speckled trout fried in butter. From this hatchery fish are shipped to all parts of the state, and owing to skillful treatment, arrive at their destination in perfect condition.
The only newspaper here is the Sisson Mirror, published, as you know, by Wolcott & Rogers, formerly of the Monitor. The settlement around the mills, which are some distance from the business portion of Sisson, forms a small town of its own, although it is all classed with the town proper. Many men are arriving every day, hoping to secure work either in the mills or box factories, which will begin operations in the immediate future. The logs which are sawed in these mills are sometimes hauled from a long distance by means of traction engines, or engines which may be run on an ordinary wagon road.
Owing to the great elevation, which is fully 3000 feet above sea level, not much farming or gardening is carried on in the vicinity of this place. We conclude that Sisson is strictly a sawmill town with a progressive, energetic, businesslike people. There are several secret organizations here; one meeting nearly every night in the week. But more than all the little city may be proud of her musicians, having several who are certainly far above the ordinary. Among the most accomplished, if not indeed the leader of all, is Mr. Leroy Lee, proprietor of the Mt. Shasta Pharmacy, who plays with ease seventeen different instruments. There are but two churches in the town, viz., Methodist and Catholic.
I am very pleasantly located in the above mentioned drug store, but I do not forget our own unrivaled Medford, situated as it is in the most picturesque valley of the Pacific Slope, like a beautiful gem in a setting of gold. And whatever I see, I am apt to think as did the old Englishman who was making his first visit to America, and when shown any new thing of beauty always said, "It's very fine you know, but not so good as we 'ave at 'ome."
"Take the bright shell from its home on the lea,
And wherever it goes, it will sing of the sea.
So take the fond heart from its home and its hearth,
And 'twill sing of its friends to the ends of the earth."
EARL E. VANANTWERP.Medford Mail, April 30, 1897, page 5
A Brief Outline of its History
The district commonly known as Southern Oregon embraces the seven counties of Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Coos, Curry, Klamath and Lake, but more particularly those of Douglas, Josephine and Jackson.
It contains an area in the southwestern part of the state of approximately twenty-five thousand square miles, which, on account of the Cascade and Coast Range mountains, together with their many spurs, renders the country thoroughly diversified.
In the three counties west of the Cascade Mountains, of which this article will treat, there are two large valleys, the Rogue River, in Jackson County, and the Umpqua, in Douglas County, besides many smaller valleys, in which the agriculturist and the horticulturist have long since demonstrated the productiveness of the soil. Historians inform us that Cabrillo, a Spanish explorer, sailed along the Pacific Coast in 1542, but the English explorer, Sir Francis Drake, is credited with having landed near the mouth of the Umpqua River, on his expedition around the world, and there placed his Spanish pilot ashore to find, if he could, his way to the Spanish settlement in Mexico. He must have done so as the narrative is taken from Spanish records. Hence Drake might be called the real discoverer of this section of Oregon. Jedediah Smith, who stands in history as being the first white man to lead a party overland to California, passed along the coast in 1827 to the mouth of the Umpqua River, and while stopping at that place to construct a raft with which to convey their effects across the river they were attacked by Indians who killed all of the party but three--Smith himself being one of the survivors. These three men finally reached the Hudson Bay Company's headquarters on the Columbia River.
In 1828 or 1829 a party of trappers from Vancouver, led by Alexander McLeod, and guided by one of the survivors of the Umpqua massacre, were sent to penetrate into California. They passed through Rogue River Valley into the Sacramento, where they lost themselves and came very nearly starving to death. But after wandering around for a time and suffering many hardships, they finally reached Vancouver again. From this time on Rogue River Valley was traversed often by the Hudson Bay Company's agents, who did an extensive trapping business in Northern California.
Fort Umpqua, in Douglas County, was headquarters for the company in this section.
In 1837 the Willamette Cattle Company was organized, and it sent to California about twenty men, led by Ewing Young, to undertake the hazardous task of driving seven hundred head of cattle from the Sacramento Valley through the Rogue River country to the Willamette Valley. These men had a great deal of trouble with the Indians in Southern Oregon, but they reached their destination with six hundred head of the cattle.
Shortly after the drove of cattle passed through this section emigrants began to travel over this route from California to Northern Oregon. In 1846 a party of settlers from the Willamette Valley, among whom was Lindsay Applegate, made an eye survey of the country through Southern Oregon to Fort Hall, Idaho, with the view of making a wagon road for the emigrants from the states.
Mr. Applegate gave a detailed account of this trip, which is very interesting.
Such is very briefly the history of Southern Oregon prior to the time of permanent settlement, which began in Jackson County about the time of the discovery of the rich placer mines on Jackson Creek in January, 1852, by Messrs. Sykes, Clugage and Pool. In March of the same year, there were no less than 150 men working in the vicinity of Jackson Creek, and by the middle of the summer there were fully 1,000 miners in the Rogue River Valley. With the opening of the placers and the influx of the miners began the active progress and development of Jackson County. There naturally sprang up a demand for the necessaries of life, from which trade took root and flourished. The beautiful valley, with its waving plains of grass, offered inducements to those who were not subject to the mining fever to till the soil and produce abundantly.
In February, 1852, Appler and Kenny, packers from Yreka, pitched their tent and began trade with the miners. But in March, W. W. Fowler built a log cabin, the first building of any description in Jacksonville.
Clapboard houses soon took the places of the many tents, and Jacksonville became the first permanent settlement in Jackson County. Gamblers and sharpers of every description began to flock to this new El Dorado, saloons and gambling dens increased rapidly and disorder and confusion were fast taking the place of quiet. There was no law until the miners constituted themselves a tribunal of justice, and, after giving a murderer a fair trial, they found him guilty, hanged him to a tree and thus quieted all disorder for the time. This hint to the reckless was sufficient.
The miners made their own laws and held their own courts until September, 1853, when a regular court was held by Matthew P. Deady, who had just been appointed United States district judge for the territory of Oregon.
Not long after the settlements in Jacksonville, the now beautiful site of Ashland became a point of attraction to the passerby--not because of the discovery of gold, but perhaps on account of the beautiful stream of water that comes dashing and splashing down from Ashland Butte. Here Messrs. Hargadine and Pease located and built the first dwelling house. A sawmill by Emery and others, and a flouring mill by A. D. Helman and others, constituted the beginning of the city. Other places of historical interest in Jackson County are the three ferries, or rather, where there used to be ferries, on Rogue River, settlements made in 1851; Phoenix, settled in 1852 by Samuel Colver; Willow Springs, settled about the same time as Phoenix, by N. C. Dean, and later by John Kennedy; Foots Creek, named for O. G. Foot, who discovered gold there in 1851, and which a year later became a noted mining center.
The county of Jackson was organized by an act of the territorial legislature in January, 1852. Miners and settlers came flocking into the county in such numbers that in October, 1855, Jackson County could boast herself the most populous and wealthiest in the territory of Oregon.
To Josephine County belongs the credit of first revealing the glittering particles of gold dust on Canyon and Josephine creeks to the anxious seeker in 1857.
In the spring of 1852, during the rush for Jacksonville, Philip Althouse discovered gold on the creek which bears his name--this is said to have been the richest in the country, hence Josephine County claims to have been first and best.
The principal historical interest of this county relative to settlements is found in Waldo, situated between the two forks of the Illinois River and Kerbyville, on the Illinois River. These two places were centers of trade for the hundreds of miners in and around the Illinois Valley. Waldo was named in honor of a California politician, as the place was thought to be in that state. It has the distinction of being the first county seat, but afterwards the seat of county government was changed to Kerbyville and later the now thriving and beautiful city of Grants Pass. Since there is not so much tillable land in Josephine as in Jackson County, many miners, when they thought the gold fields of this section were exhausted, did not turn their attention to home-making, but sought other gold fields. The gold fields were not exhausted, however, for this county today can boast, perhaps, without fear of contradiction, of being the best mining county in the state.
Oregon Mining Journal, Grants Pass, Midsummer Edition 1897, pages 19-20
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Western Oregon, separated from Eastern Oregon by the Cascade Range of mountains, is divided by the Calapooia Hills into the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon. The latter section embraces the counties of Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Curry and Coos. It is of the counties of Douglas, Josephine and Jackson that we shall mainly treat in this publication.
A glance at the map will show that the counties above named are well watered. The two principal streams are the Umpqua, in the north, and the Rogue River, in the south, each with numerous tributaries and feeders. Rogue River is the great river of the counties of Jackson and Josephine. It rises in the vicinity of Crater Lake and flows in a circuitous course in a general direction, at first, northwest, then southwest, emptying into the Pacific Ocean. It is an impetuous, unnavigable stream, winding sometimes through wild and rough canyons and at other times through narrow valleys. Its principal tributaries are Bear Creek, in Jackson County; the Applegate, in Jackson and Josephine counties; and the Illinois, in Josephine County. Each of these streams drains valleys varying from three to ten miles in width, and in each of these valleys many fine farms and orchards are found. Below Grants Pass, too, the valley of Rogue River for some ten to twelve miles widens out into a valley three to five miles in width, well studded with farms and orchards. Into the Applegate flows Williams Creek, which drains a beautiful valley of the same name, while the Althouse, Sucker and Deer creeks also flow through beautiful valleys, all the seat of numerous farms and orchards, and all, save the last, for 40 years and now the scene of many mining enterprises. Besides these streams, there are many others whose waters are devoted, in the main, to hydraulic mining. On the north lie Cow Creek, and--proceeding south--Grave Creek, with its tributary, Wolf Creek; Jump-Off Joe, with its tributary, Louse Creek; Evans Creek, with its tributary, Saxe Creek; Sardine Creek and Sams Creek. All these lie on the east side of the Rogue River. The western tributaries of Rogue River, not already mentioned, again proceeding from the north to the south, are Mt. Reuben Creek, Galice Creek, Pickett Creek, Foots Creek, Galls Creek and Kanes Creek. Canyon Creek, Josephine Creek and Briggs Creek, in the south end of Josephine County, are all important tributaries of the Illinois River.
It may be surmised, from what has been said, that only a mountainous country could be so well cut up by different rivers and creeks. And such is the case. From the California line to the Calapooia Hills the landscape presents an alternating series of mountain, valley, hill and dale. Geologists identify the mountains with the "Klamath group" of mountains, in Northern California, but to the initiated it appears that the Siskiyou, the Coast Range and the Cascades have here intermingled their tall cones and lost their identity.
The Oregon & California Railroad passes about midway through the the counties of Josephine and Jackson, and connects with each other 8an Francisco and Portland, the towns of Roseburg, in Douglas County, Grants Pass, in Josephine County, and Gold Hill, Medford and Ashland, in Jackson County. Thirty miles southwest of Grants Pass is Kerby, the old county seat of Josephine County, and ten miles farther is Waldo. Jacksonville lies six miles west of Medford, on a branch railroad.
The climate of Southern Oregon is the golden medium between that of California and Northern Oregon, and varies but little from that of Southern France. The four seasons are definitely marked, with none of them extreme. The winters are mild, snow seldom lying in the valleys more than a few hours at a time. The summers are warm, but great discomfiture is prevented by the invariably cool nights and generally cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The seasons may be otherwise divided into the wet and dry. The rainy season begins about November 1, though steady rains seldom are seen before Christmas, and they continue until about June 1. However, during all this period there are frequent spells of bright, sunshiny weather, sometimes lasting as long as six weeks at a time.
Oregon Mining Journal, Grants Pass, Midsummer Edition 1897, page 20
The town of Gold Hill is beautifully situated on the banks of Rogue River. It has made much solid progress during the last year, and is still marching onward.
It has now a population of 450 and is steadily increasing. The best part of Rogue River Valley is tributary to it. It is connected by rail with Portland and San Francisco, on the main line. The town is well supplied with stores, among which may be mentioned the Gold Hill Mercantile Company, an enterprising firm doing a large business with the miners and ranchers of the district. A. R. Merritt and others carry large stocks and do an extensive business. The Rogue River Mills are fitted with machinery "up to date," and manufacture a fine quality of flour, etc. The town is well supplied with hotels, livery stables, good schools, churches, etc.
Gold Hill has a good future before it, being the center of very extensive placer deposits. It only requires the introduction of capital to utilize the water of Rogue River for mining, irrigating and manufacturing purposes to yield enormous profits.
Olwell & Sons, who have some 200 acres in fruit trees of different varieties. From its position and location it becomes the center of the mail routes for the country east of Rogue River and north of Central Point, distributing the mails to Eagle Point, Brownsboro, Leeds, Climax, etc.
The town is well supplied with business houses, a flouring mill, warehouse, good hotel, and with a good school and church, and a population of some 600.
The town commands a very picturesque view of the valley, and from here Table Rock and Mount Pitt are plainly seen. It is favorably located to become a lively trade center.
The other railroad towns in the Rogue River Valley are Woodville, Phoenix and Talent.
Woodville is situated 11 miles east of Grants Pass, and is the key to the Evans Creek country, where some fine land and orchards may be found, also where considerable mining is going on. Some 16 miles up this creek is Bybee Springs, where many people go for health and pleasure.
Phoenix is some 5 miles south of Medford, and was before the era of the railroad quite a settlement. Weeks Bros. furniture factory is located here, on account of the water power. It still has a population of some 300, with good school and church privileges.
Talent is some 5 miles north of Ashland, a rich agricultural settlement, and is the shipping point for fruit for Anderson and Wagner Creek country.
It has a population of some 200, with a good school and a Baptist church.
Considerable mining centers at this point, making it a live center in some respects. It also has the distinction of being one of the oldest towns in the valley.
Barclay & Sons are the merchants of this place.
JACKSONVILLEJacksonville, the seat of Jackson County, is the oldest town in Southern Oregon and one of the oldest in the state in point of settlement. The first settlement was made in 1851. It lies about six miles west of Medford, on the main railroad line, with which town it is connected by a motor line. When the Oregon & California Railroad was built through the Rogue River Valley, some 15 years ago, a bonus of $25,000 was demanded by the company before coming to Jacksonville. This was refused, and in consequence the town was left off the main line and Medford sprang rapidly into existence.
The present population of Jacksonville is about 900. The main support of the town is the agricultural and mineral resources of the adjacent country. The output of gold from the mines in the neighborhood is still great, although not equal to the returns of the mines in early days. The bank of Jacksonville still yearly handles several hundred thousand dollars of the precious metal. The mines are both quartz and placer. Last year a new quartz mill was erected close to the town by Beekman & Huffer, and it finds plenty of ore to keep it busy from the quartz leads on Jackson Creek and elsewhere.
The business interests of Jacksonville are principally in the hands of the early settlers. The people live a happy and easy existence, well assured that the town will grow with the development of the mining resources found so abundantly in all directions close at hand. The town has good schools, good churches, and one newspaper--the Times--published by Charles Nickell.
The town is built on the side of the sloping hills, and is plainly seen from Medford and Central Point. It is finely shaded by trees through the residence portion. It is said that all the ground on which Jacksonville is located is rich enough to mine, and there are instances where miners have in their greed for gold dug under cellars of their neighbors' houses before discovered. So in buying a lot you become a mine owner.
Ashland is a thriving city on the Southern Pacific railway, 341 miles south of Portland and 415 miles north of San Francisco, and has a population of about 2,500 people, who are enterprising, intelligent, social and ready to welcome all worthy home-seekers. The town is credited with being the largest in the Rogue River Valley and within a radius of 200 miles, though it is very nearly approached in population by both Grants Pass and Medford. Elevation, nearly 2,000 feet above the sea level. Rainfall, 15 to 25 inches per annum. Its pure air, even temperature, medium rainfall and grand scenery make it a most delightful place for a home or for health.
Ashland has an enviable reputation as a school center. The excellent public schools, which occupy three buildings and employ a corps of twelve trained teachers, are the pride of its people and are unsurpassed in the state. The Southern Oregon State Normal School is also located at this point and attracts pupils from distant parts of the state as well as from the Southern Oregon counties.
A woolen factory is one of the manufacturing industries of the city in active operation. We have also an iron foundry and machine shops, two planing mills, a successful creamery, a 5-stamp quartz mill, sawmill, a steam laundry, electric light plant, brickyard, large opera house, three hotels, one being the finest brick hotel in Oregon south of Portland; bank, newspapers, seven churches, besides a representation in every line of mercantile industry, flouring mills, etc. Its splendid gravity water system covers every part of the city.
Ashland is also the location of the Southern Oregon Chautauqua, which holds assemblies for ten days in July of each year. The beautiful Chautauqua Park and buildings are much admired by visitors. Mineral springs abound and fine sulphur springs rise within the corporate limits. Without, in close proximity, are found splendid soda springs, rich in magnesia, iron and other valuable medicinal qualities, where many people each year are attracted.
Within a radius of a few miles of Ashland placer mines have been operated for many years to a limited extent. During the past few years much attention has been attracted to quartz deposits in the surrounding country and from the "Ashland" $100,000 in gold has been taken. A number of propositions are now being developed within a few miles of town which are full of promise to their owners and seem sure to add to the wealth of this section and make Ashland a rich mining center.
One of the chief industries of the territory about Ashland, aside from general farming and stock-raising which flourish, is that of fruit growing. Ashland peaches took the first premium at the Chicago World's Fair, than which there could be no higher recommend for excellence. The crop of peaches in the immediate vicinity of Ashland for the year 1897 is estimated at 300,000 boxes, many of which will doubtless find their way east in search of a market. Other fruits thrive, including apples, plums, pears, prunes, apricots, nectarines, cherries, as well as all kinds of berries, almonds, etc., all of which are grown in considerable quantities.
Ashland is also a railroad town insofar as being the terminus of freight and passenger divisions on the Southern Pacific. The company has built a large eating house and hotel here, costing $30,000, as well as a large brick roundhouse and other buildings. The company has a considerable payroll here each month.
Ashland has made progress during the past few years of hard times and bids fair to continue a steady and healthy development for years to come.
RESOURCESThe forests of Southern Oregon, in common with those of the whole region west of the Rocky Mountains, are composed chiefly of coniferous trees.
The Timber and Lumber
The average of the belt line of timber through Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties is about 40 miles; through the Rogue River basin it averages about 35 miles. The timber interests of Oregon have made our state famous among the sisterhood, and has advertised us among the commercial nations of the world.
The one tree, beyond doubt of greatest commercial and economic value, in all the region west of the Rocky Mountains, by reason of its wide distribution, is the Douglas spruce, usually called red fir and yellow fir. Next comes the sugar pine known and found only in the southern part of the state, the yellow pine, red cedar, white cedar, spruce, larch, yew, oak, maple, ash, laurel, and a species of cottonwood, are the woods of this section.
Josephine County is the only one that manufactures its timber into lumber, to any considerable extent, and the only one to export this valuable and widely sought material, which is now shipped as far east as Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sugar pine, for the purpose of manufacturing it into doors, sash, shelving, fine counter work, patterns, etc., has no equal.
A large number of sawmills are located throughout Southern Oregon, and lumbering is one of its principal industries, and will be for many years to come. Several large factories are located in this section, the largest of which is the Sugar Pine Door & Lumber Co., at Grants Pass. It will not be amiss to mention that the manufacturing of fruit boxes has become a very extensive industry in this section, and keeps many mills running summer and winter, as many million boxes are shipped to California.
AgricultureIn character the agricultural lands of the Rogue River Valley are table or heavy rolling, with some small tracts of low and comparatively flat lands immediately along the river and its tributaries. The soil is very much the same as that of Umpqua and Willamette valleys, and adapted to the same purposes. Wheat, rye, oats and barley grow well on all soils and yield fine crops. The straw is generally bright and clean, free from rust or mildew, and the grain full, plump and well matured. The best lands will average 30 to 35 bushels of wheat and from 40 to 50 bushels of oats per acre. Common grade land will average 20 to 25 bushels of wheat and 35 to 40 bushels of oats per acre. Fields under high cultivation often produce from 50 to 60 bushels of wheat per acre and a corresponding amount of oats. As in other sections, much depends upon the manner of cultivation. Indian corn grows well on all good soil and yields on an average from 30 to 50 bushels to the acre, and this valley is the best section for Indian corn west of the Cascade Mountains. The summers being dry, less labor is required to keep the land free of weeds than in other sections further north. Farm grasses, such as timothy, clover, bluegrass, alfalfa, etc., are not a success on common uplands, but on bottom lands, where the soil is more damp or where the land can be irrigated, all farm grasses grow in abundance. The poorest sandy, gravelly soil, favored by irrigation, will produce two or three crops of alfalfa each season. This valley is also admirably adapted to fruits of all kinds.
Southern Oregon as a Fruit-Growing SectionDuring the sixties, while Jackson Creek, Sterling, Williams Creek, Althouse, Sailor Diggings (Waldo now) and other mining camps of Jackson and Josephine counties were flourishing and yielding large quantities of gold from their shallow gravel beds, Willamette farmers reaped a rich harvest in selling to these prosperous camps the surplus from their orchards.
By A. H. Carson, Fruitgrower.
In those days, as now, the miner craved fruit to give variety to his pork and beans, and the prices he paid then for the large red apples of the Willamette Valley attested [to] that craving. Miners of that period will tell you that they have paid from 10 to 20 cents per pound for green apples, while the dried product, quartered and strung on strings and cured over the kitchen stove amid swarms of flies, readily sold at 75 cents to $1 a pound. Southern Oregon then was too new a country to know or realize her adaptability to the growing of fruits.
Since then time has demonstrated that Jackson and Josephine counties are of the best fruit-producing localities on the Pacific Coast. Today these two counties have vast orchards that annually produce tons of fruit for export.
The apple--the king of fruit--is grown in large quantities in Southern Oregon, and is sold in carload lots, going south to California markets and thence to Australian ports, as it has been demonstrated that the apple raised in Southern Oregon has keeping qualities that makes it safe for dealers to ship to distant markets. Apples are shipped from Southern Oregon to Denver, Chicago, New Orleans, and all Eastern markets at a fair profit to the grower.
It must not be supposed because I put the apple at the head of Southern Oregon fruits that it is the only kind of fruit grown here; there are grown also in large quantities the peach, plum, prune, nectarine, apricot, almond and pear, and in their season our markets are stocked with all of these fruits in abundance, besides blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants and gooseberries. The prune is one of the leading fruits grown in Southern Oregon, and is becoming one of the many sources of profit to the residents of the section, as the cured product is shipped to Eastern markets in carload lots and brings the grower from 4 to 5 cents per pound.
The grape, both of the American and foreign varieties, grows here to perfection. Of the foreign varieties the writer has 12 acres in bearing, such as the Flame Tokay, Rose of Berne, Mission, Malaga, Black Hamburg, Black Malvoisie and White Muscat, which yield annually tons of as choice table grapes as are grown in the famed vineyards of California. There are thousands of acres of grape lands lying adjacent to the mines of Southern Oregon, and time and enterprise will make this section famous as a grape and wine country.
The seasons of Southern Oregon are such that the miner, if he has the taste, can, with profit to himself, engage to an extent in fruitgrowing.
A Sportsman's ParadiseRogue River has long been noted for the number and variety of its game fish. Anywhere along the course of this noble stream, from its headwaters in the neighborhood of Crater Lake to its embouchure into the Pacific Ocean, and in all its affluents, the Chinook salmon may be found in season, to be caught with rod and line. Twice a year this noble fish swarm in great numbers towards the spawning beds at the headwaters of the river and its tributaries. The ascension is made a short time before the fish are ready to deposit the spawn, and then they lie in deeper water until the the spawn ripens.
There are many varieties of salmon. The principal species is the Royal Chinook salmon; then comes the steelhead and next the silverside. The Chinook of the Northwest is superior to all other varieties of salmon in the world. It weighs as much as 89 pounds, its average weight being from 10 to 20 pounds. It has a delicious flavor. The Chinook begins running in April. The steelhead enters fresh water in October, and it is distinguished from the Chinook by its slender body, pale flesh and tapering tail.
The salmon enters fresh water only when fully grown and for the purpose of spawning. The young salmon desert the streams for the ocean in the spring freshets, and in almost four years they reach their maturity. It is said that this fish eats nothing in fresh water. Thus it is useless to attempt to catch it with bait in any of the rivers. The consensus of opinion is that few, if any, of the full-grown salmon that enter the rivers ever return to the ocean. This is borne out by the fact that they are never caught heading downstream. They are often found at the headwaters of the streams in great numbers, cut and bruised, with broken fins and tails, the marks of their many struggles with the rapids and currents of the stream below.
An expert Rogue River fisherman thus describes his art:
"I usually take with me two rods, one an 18-foot cane rod for salmon, and the other a 6½-ounce split bamboo for salmon trout. Just before sunset and just before sunrise are the golden hours for fishing with the fly, and I use my light rod at that time, devoting the hours of sunshine to the heavier work of taking the salmon. And heavy work it is too, if they are striking freely. I have caught eleven in one day, hardly any below twenty pounds, and some weighing as much as forty pounds. I have chopped and sawed wood, shoveled up bedrock, roped Texas steers, swung the cradle in the grain field and at midnight in the nursery, but I never put my hand to any work that more completely tired me out for the time being than did a tussle with a healthy, vigorous, forty-pound salmon."
It is an historical fact that the Indians of Southern Oregon lived almost entirely on the salmon. This fish is still a common fish on the tables of poor and well-to-do in this section. In season the banks of the river and its tributaries are well lined with fishermen, and it is seldom that one returns without a mess of delicious fish.
For the Nimrod Southern Oregon presents many attractions. This whole section was not many years ago swarming with the legitimate prey of the sportsman. With, however, the settlement of the country, the larger game were driven back into the mountains, and immediately around the towns and cities only quail, squirrels and rabbits are to be found. A few hours' ride, however, brings one to the haunts of the bear, panther, elk, deer, and antelope, among the larger game, and of the wildcat, fox, coyote, raccoon, mountain quail, pheasant, grouse and duck, among the smaller animals and birds. Not infrequently panthers, pumas, jaguars and mountain lions, as they are differently called, are killed within a few miles of the towns.
In the heart of the Coast and Cascade ranges is the hunter's paradise. This is the haunt of the bear, deer, elk and panther. The country is rugged, full of narrow canyons and gorges, and well covered with timber and bushes. The hunter who enters these wild precincts of nature may be assured that he will have plenty to eat and no end of sport.
Oregon Mining Journal, Grants Pass, Midsummer Edition 1897, pages 22-27
Last revised January 13, 2021