The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1900 

Travelers' descriptions and assessments of the state of things.

    About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the next day we saw two large signs which read: "California" and "Oregon." Those marked the state lines. I jumped from the buggy and almost ran to drink from a spring on the Oregon side, for it made me feel as though we were much nearer home, you know. The road continued for eight miles over the summit of the Siskiyou, to a toll gate, where $1 is charged each team. A comical thing occurred as we neared the toll house, when a little child ran out, closed and padlocked the gate in our very faces. We camped here overnight and I purchased a fowl to fry; the lady kindly volunteering to bake a pan of biscuit for me. We enjoyed a meal fit for a king that night--fried chicken, hot biscuit and butter, with plenty of good milk. Was that not fine? At 11 o'clock on the following day we left the toll gate and had proceeded some way down the road when a woman's voice called upon us to stop and, running up behind our buggy, the friendly mother of the toll house presented us with a supply of hot doughnuts for our lunch.
    A drive of twelve miles carried us to Ashland, Or. All spare space in the town was covered by small white tents, where an army of Chautauquans were camping. Next came Gold Hill, and from there our road led along the Rogue River. For some distance we met parties out killing rattlesnakes, and we did not dare to alight, neither would I allow "Sport" or "Tom" to leave the buggy. Then came Grants Pass, Roseburg and Cottage Grove. On the roads of California we covered some miles in four minutes, we were able to tell by the mileposts, but in Oregon or the southern portion of it, the roads were fearful, and especially so in the timber, where the mud was hub deep [in July].
Mrs. Edward Thompson, "Thirty-Five Days' Drive," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 5, 1900, page 11

    Overlooking the Rogue River Valley on one side are the Siskiyou Mountains and on the other the Cascades and Coast Range. The train does not run so fast that the careful observer will fail to note the fine fruit, grain and stock farms. The fertility of the soil in these valleys is something wonderful, and the climate is such that wheat may be sown and harvested every month in the year. The Blackford County farmer will be surprised to learn that four or five big crops of wheat may be harvested from one sowing. It is a fact that many farmers here actually harvest three, four and sometimes five crops from one seeding. One wheat grower has the record of harvesting 37 bushels to the acre the second year, 20 bushels to the acre the third year, 15 bushels to the acre the fourth year, making a total of 102 bushels to the acre from a single sowing. It is no uncommon thing to see here plowing, harrowing, seeding, harvesting and threshing all going on at the same time. With these advantages it is little wonder that Oregon, although sparsely settled in some parts of the state, produced last year a twentieth of the entire wheat crop of the country. These valleys and the southern part of the state had the biggest apples, pears, prunes, peaches and cherries at the World's Fair.
"Across the Big Divide," Hartford City Telegram, Hartford City, Indiana, August 22, 1900, page 1

County Never Has Been Prosperous As It Is Now.
    There has never been a time in the history of Jackson County when all classes have been so prosperous as at the present. Every industry is in a flourishing condition. The mortgage indebtedness is less than at any time in the past 35 years, and a greater percentage of it was paid of last year than during any preceding rears.
    There was greater activity in the mines last year than at any time in the past 30 years. Many hydraulic enterprises were started, and many more are in contemplation for this year. The demand for mining property was never so great, and there were never so many large cash sales made in any one year as in 1900. The lighter placers have been almost wholly worked out, and those engaged in this branch of the industry have turned their attention to deep hydraulic mining. Unusual interest has been manifested in quartz the past year, and many promising veins have been discovered. More or less preliminary work was done on 300 to 400 ledges during the summer, and a number give promise of developing into permanent and valuable properties. There are now about 25 stamp mills in operation in the district, and a number more projected for the present year. The time is near at hand when the quartz branch of mining will surpass the placer. The output of 1900 is estimated at $400,000, and exceeds that of 1899 by $150,000.
    A number of important enterprises in connection with quartz are in progress. Among them may be mentioned the 20-stamp mill and cyanide plant of Opp Brothers, on Jackson Creek. Dr. C. R. Ray, of the old Swinden ledge, near Gold Hill, is installing a cyanide plant, and will soon have it completed and ready for operation. He is adding to his machinery with a view to operations on a larger scale. Dr. Ray and the Opp Brothers will employ a force of 50 men each. The Ashland mine, under the new ownership of the Montreal & Oregon Company, is undergoing steady development, with a force of 40 men. The company will add five stamps to its mill in Ashland. The new Humason custom mill, at Gold Hill, is regarded as one of the most perfect and complete in the district. Two new discoveries in quartz are creating considerable interest. One is near the base of old Gold Hill, the famous strike of 1860, and the other on the divide between Forest Creek and Applegate. Both give promise of large value. The recent quartz discoveries at Elk Creek bid fair to make this the most permanent and valuable quartz section of the district. The veins, like those at Bohemia, are large and base and the country volcanic as at Bohemia. The idea, originated in an early day, that this was only a pocket country, has been exploded by the deep levels of 300 to 900 feet, the ore maintaining its value to the greatest depth yet attained.
    The increasing demand and ready sale for good fruit for shipment have had a stimulating effect on this industry, and a number of new orchards have been put out and the older ones better pruned and cultivated, with more attention given to spraying. Leading fruit dealers estimate the export apple crop of 1900 at 225 carloads, an excess of 100 cars over any previous year. This represents a value, at the present price of 80 cents a box, of $108,000.
    The projected enterprises of greatest magnitude are the Gold Hill High Line and Medford ditches. The former will be 94 miles long, 1 foot wide on top, eight on the bottom and six deep. Its capacity will be 15,000 miner's inches. The estimated cost of construction is $700,000. Eleven thousand dollars has been expended in completing the surveys and clearing part of the right of way. The ditch will cover 20,000 acres of fertile foothill and light bottom lands specially adapted to fruit-growing, and which, without the ditch, are practically worthless except for timber and grazing. In addition, there will be available for mining about 6000 acres of mineral land which cannot be utilized without artificial water supply. With 400 feet [of] fall at Gold Hill, the ditch may be continued down Rogue River indefinitely.
    The Medford ditch will be 53 miles long and have a capacity of 10,000 inches. The estimated cost of construction is $200,000. It will cover, approximately, 50,000 acres of valuable farming land and furnish water for domestic and power purposes at Medford and other points in the valley. Three thousand five hundred dollars has been expended in surveys. It is expected that work on both enterprises will be commenced in the spring.
    Improvements in the towns and valley during 1900 have been in keeping with the general prosperity. Several brick business houses and something like 75 dwellings were built in Ashland and vicinity during the year at a cost of $100,000. A number of brick houses and, perhaps, 60 dwellings were built in Medford, at a cost of nearly $100,000. Gold Hill, Talent and Eagle Point show many new buildings and improvements, and evidences of prosperity are observable all over the county.
    At least 300 families moved into the county in 1900--most of them people of means for investment. Of these, 100 should be credited to Ashland, 80 to Medford, and the remainder to other towns and sections of the county.
    Sales of livestock, horses, cattle, sheep, hogs and goats for the year aggregate $140,000. Fruit, hops, wool, lumber, pelts, poultry and manufactured articles, $180,000. Output of gold, $400,000.
    The income of the county for the year aside from grain, hay, vegetable and general products of home consumption, may be set down, approximately, at $720,000.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1901, page 15

Last revised April 9, 2021