The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1902

Mr. G. H. Howland Tells His Minnesota Friends of the Good Things Which Abound Here.

From the Blanchard, Minnesota Register.
    G. H. Howland this week has a brief but interesting letter in the
Register, written at Medford, Oregon, December 30. It will be perused with pleasure by Mr. Howland's many old neighbors and friends in this county. He writes:
    Through the columns of the Register, I will keep my promise to old friends.
    The first question you would ask, "Do you like Oregon?" Yes, better than Minnesota. The other day when we read a letter from back there, and knew how cold you were having it, I said to my wife, "I am glad we are not there." We have been here over one year and the climate is delightful. There has been only about twenty-five days in that time that we have not seen the sun some time during the day. Not much rain. When it does rain, it comes generally in the night. But little fog, always a little breeze, but the wind never blows hard. Have some frosty nights, but does not get colder than 20 above and very seldom hotter than 90 above.
    This section is called the Rogue River Valley. It is about twenty-five miles long, and from four to fifteen miles wide, with several smaller valleys leading into it. There are four towns, Ashland, Jacksonville, Central Point and Medford, the latter about the center, population 2500, eighteen years old.
    All kinds of cereals are raised here. Wheat on good land yields from thirty to forty bushels per acre, price 50 cents. Oats sixty to 100 bushels per acre, price always 50 cents. Barley forty to seventy-five bushels per acre, price 50 cents. Corn twenty-five to forty bushels per acre, always 50 cents. There is no grain shipped out. Hay is a paying crop. There is wheat hay, wild oat hay, there's volunteer and alfalfa--the latter cutting four to six tons per acre, brings $8.00 to $12.00. I am selling now for $10 at the barn. Fruit of almost every kind, apples, pears and prunes principally. There is one man who has 160 acres into apples and he cleared above all expenses $30,000 this year. I know of another who cleared $1000 off six acres, then sold for $2400. He paid $1500 for it a year ago. Fruit farms sell well. An "eighty" sold for $15,000.
    Several hundred carloads are shipped from here every season. Of timber there is a great supply in kinds and quality. There are great tracts of sugar pine in this country that will run from 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 to the quarter. This is worth $40 per thousand here on track. There are mountains all around. There are a great many rich gold mines, the output being about $250,000 to the five banks in this valley, besides there is a great deal the banks do not handle. There are also copper, quicksilver, asphaltum and asbestos, and coal and oil indications are good. They are being prospected for. There are building stone and granite quarries. The stone for the United States post office at Salem is being taken from this valley.
    I wish if there are any Blue Earth folks that come to the coast and are dissatisfied would come to this valley before going back.
    For fear I will take up too much space, also tire you out, I will stop. I will be glad to answer any questions that you may care to ask.
G. H. HOWLAND.           
Medford Mail, January 17, 1902, page 2

ASHLAND, OREGON,               
March 13, 1902.               
Editor Republican:
    A few lines from the Pacific Slope may be of interest to your readers. We have most delightful weather in Southern Oregon this winter, up to the first of February. Since then we have had a great deal of rain, and much snow in the mountains. When I say "Southern Oregon," I use a sort of Oregonian speech peculiar to itself. That phrase does not correctly designate the geographical locality we mean when we speak of it. It simply means Josephine and Jackson counties. Coos and Curry counties which lie off against the coast are right-called "Southwestern Oregon." Klamath and Lake counties, which lie next to the California boundary, and west of a line dividing the eastern and western half of the state, are, in spite of the geography and the dictionary, called Southeastern Oregon. The summit of the Cascade Range of mountains being the dividing line, instead of a line halfway across the state from east to west. The same thing holds true in the northern part of the state. The Willamette Valley being known as Western Oregon, while all of that vast empire lying east of the summit of the Cascades is known as Eastern Oregon, though the line dividing "Western" from "Eastern" is not a third of the way across the state from west to east. Southern Oregon shared in the pioneer life of the state. Until 16 years ago this part of the state had no railroad, the Southern Pacific extending no farther south than Roseburg. Since then all is changed. The old stagecoach, bringing mail once a week, has given way to "overland," and the "Flyer," two superb vestibule trains each way daily. Ashland, the little hamlet on the old Oregon & California stage line, halfway between Portland and San Francisco, has become a town of 4000 people, the end of a R.R. division, where 250 employees of the Southern Pacific make their homes. It has become a town which claims the admiration of every visitor passing through this coast country. In early days Jacksonville, the county seat, was the center of Southern Oregon life. First settled in 1852 by prospectors for gold dust, it soon became a town of miners, and one of the largest gold dust shipping points in the state. In the '70s it was a crowded town of 4000 population, with all the energy and push of a mining center, but now there are scarcely 800 inhabitants. It received its death blow when the S.P. railroad was built, missing Jacksonville about 5 miles. It is thought to be a question of but a few years when the county seat will be moved, either to Ashland or Medford. In a few weeks Ashland will appear its loveliest, the peach orchards being in full bloom. The almond trees are in bloom now. Ashland is indeed a beautiful town. A beautiful mountain stream, Ashland Creek, dashes through the center of the city, not only making the town picturesque in the extreme but furnishing an abundant supply of ice-cold, sparkling water for house and irrigating purposes, as well as for power for mills and factories. The moral tone of the town, which has long been acknowledged to be superior to any other Southern Oregon town, has greatly increased during the past year, under the rule of "no license," which went into effect one year ago the 15th of last January. A rare treat is given the people of this part of the state every summer by the Chautauqua Association, which is one of the established institutions of the city. The best talent that comes to this coast is secured for Ashland. The place is well supplied with churches and schools, there being nine denominations represented here, and three large public school buildings, including the high school, beside the Southern Oregon State Normal School, which is situated at the edge of town.
    Southern Oregon will always, and under all conditions, be an attractive country. Its scenery is of unrivaled beauty--a succession of mountain pictures in association with lovely vales and abounding waters. It has a warmer sun and a brighter sky than the more northerly parts of Oregon. It has all the charm and beauty of California, and it has what California has not, a sun and an adequate rainfall. Its elevation of from 500 to 2000 feet in the valley, and from 2000 to 7000 feet in the mountains, gives to its atmosphere the bracing quality which goes so far toward creating and sustaining human energies, and one comes quickly and easily to understand the charm which holds the imagination and the sentiment of those whose homes are here in a bondage from which they would not willingly be free. As I write I look from my study window, and see fruit trees in bloom, green grain fields beyond the town, and lifting my eyes slightly, I see the snow-clad mountains in every direction surrounding the town--the snow in places extending down the mountainsides to within a mile of the city. My letter is already too long. People are coming to the coast this spring by the thousands. I send kind greetings to all readers of the Republican.
        Very truly
                J. T. ABBETT.
The Warren Republican, Williamsport, Indiana, March 27, 1902, page 4

of the
Issued by the Medford Board of Trade
    To homeseekers and intending settlers, the Board of Trade of the city of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon, in brief outline presents a few of the many inducements which are offered to those seeking a change of residence from the cold, rigorous winters and the torrid summers, to a climate where nature has done much toward making existence both a profit and pleasure.
    This valley, which takes its name from the picturesque and historical Rogue River, is one of the most beautiful, fruitful and healthful valleys in the state of Oregon. The Rogue River is a sparkling, icily cold stream, rising in the Cascade Mountains in the northeast corner of Jackson County, Oregon, flowing in a southwesterly direction for half its distance, and thence running nearly due west to the Pacific Ocean. Its waters are supplied by melting snow and are always pure and cold.
    Properly speaking, the Rogue River Valley is not a single valley, but a series of valleys, tablelands and hills, mixed and commingled in wild, romantic confusion apt to bewilder and lead the stranger to erroneous conclusions. Many have been thus mistaken by supposing that a certain range of hills was the limit of the valley land. Under such conditions it is well for immigrants, capitalists and others to spend two or three weeks' time in Medford (the central city of the valley) and from this city visit various parts of the valley and thus form a correct idea of the topography and physical features of this famous valley.
    The visitor, emigrant or intending settler arriving at Portland, Oregon, will take the train of the Southern Pacific railroad, purchasing ticket for Medford with stopover privileges, and will be carried southward through the Willamette Valley. Along this entire valley the country wears one aspect peculiar to itself. But upon crossing the Calapooia Mountains into Douglas County the most casual observer cannot fail to note the sudden change and deep contrast noticeable on every hand. The formation of the hills and valleys, the trend of the mountains, the flow of the streams, the character of the soil and its varied products are marked by differences as great as if they occupied different continents. Passing through the northeastern corner of Josephine County, the visitor enters the most western portion of Jackson County. Here nature seems to have taken a holiday, and, running wild in all manner of fanciful notions, has made a desert here and a garden there, over there a valley, beyond a hill, sending out from one fountain salt water, from another soda, another sulfur, another iron, and from another the pure, sparkling waters, ever so refreshing to man and beast. She has deposited in one mine lead, in another iron, another copper, in another gold; forming here a bank of coal, there a quarry of limestone; yonder marble, granite, cement, banks of potter's clay, and graphite to write the history of all Christendom. And, as if jealous of her jewels, she has thrown around them ranges of lofty mountains, capping their peaks with eternal snow and draping their sides with a magnificent forest, and spread over it all the canopy of a mild and salubrious climate. Such is a brief presentation of some of the varied characteristics that will greet the stranger in this peculiarly antique land as he journeys to Medford, the metropolis of the valley.
    The great diversity of soils and the admixture of the elements composing one class of soil with those of another grade renders it exceedingly difficult, in the space at our command, to describe it so that one not acquainted with its peculiarities and the climatic influences can form a rational conclusion concerning its merits. The soil of all sections of a country seems to be adapted to the climate, or the climate to the soil. These two conditions appear to be admirably adjusted here. There is no frost to loosen up or pulverize the mineral elements, but this work is done by chemical action, caused by the admixture found in nearly every grade of soil.
    Possibly no subject can interest the homeseeker more than that of climate. If such be the case, no section will bear the scrutiny of close observation or scientific investigation and give so favorable results as Jackson County. In its climate this delightful region has the combined advantages of other sections, without the accompanying drawbacks. It enjoys the warmth of summer and the frosts of winter without extremes in either. Having rainfall ample for all purposes, it escapes the continual rains of the Willamette Valley. The annual rainfall ranges from 20 to 30 inches, averaging about 25 inches. The extreme limit of the thermometer in summer is 106º, though it seldom exceeds 90º, while in winter it seldom sinks as low as 10º, the average for winter being about 40º and in summer 70º. Snow falls in winter to the depth of three or four inches, and occasionally from 6 to 10 inches deep, but it seldom remains but a short time--a few hours or a few days only. This is in the valley at an altitude of from twelve hundred to sixteen hundred feet. In the mountains and valleys having a greater altitude there is more snow and ice. It rains earlier in the fall and later in the summer [at greater altitudes], so that a person can select nearly such conditions in climate as will suit his peculiar condition or fancy.
    The next important question after climate is that of resources. To answer this question favorably two conditions are indispensable. First: The country must possess the latent elements of wealth; and, secondly: Those latent resources must be available, that is, the material elements necessary for the support of a great commonwealth but be of sufficient quantity and variety to diversify the labor required in their development. It is also necessary that those resources should be within the reach of the willing hand of industry. Land is the basis of all wealth; agriculture the basis of civilization; and diversified industries the key that retains wealth in a community. Examine Jackson County and the country around Medford on this hypothesis. She has 1,658,880 acres of timber, grazing, mineral and agricultural land. From this land may be produced all that is necessary for the support of beasts and men. Her vast forest, comprising every variety of wood necessary for the wants of ripe civilization, awaits the echo of the woodsman's ax, the buzz of the saw, the mellow hum of the planer and the merry clatter of arms of iron and fingers of steel. To aid the advance of civilization and give it permanence there are stored large banks of potter's clay, beds of cement, veins of coal, quarries of limestone, sandstone, marble and granite, mountains of iron sufficient to bed a continent, and mines of gold, capable of yielding, when developed, circulating medium for a grand, prosperous commonwealth. These are some of the latent elements of wealth, some of the factors of a progressive society, which only await the magic touch of the willing hand of industry to cause them to bud and blossom and bear rich fruits of a progressive Christian civilization.
    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. Owing to this fact the wheat of Rogue River Valley is sought after and always commands the highest market price. 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 the modern, thorough system of farming often produce 50 to 60 bushels of wheat per acre and a corresponding amount of oats. Tame grasses, such as timothy, clover, bluegrass, alfalfa, etc., are not a success on common uplands. But on bottom lands, where the soil is damp, or such as is generally used for meadow land, or where the land can be irrigated, all tame grasses grow in the richest profusion. The poorest sandy, gravelly soil, favored by irrigation, will produce three or four crops of alfalfa each season. It is a frequent fact for the land around Medford to produce three crops of alfalfa each year and without irrigation.
    Corn grows well on all good soils and yields on an average of from 40 to 60 bushels per acre. The summers being dry, less labor is required to keep the land free of weeds than in other sections. This section affords fine opportunities for the raising of hogs, and nowhere can quicker or more profitable returns be made from an industry of this character, as the mildness of climate and the absence of epidemic diseases, coupled with a ready and accessible market, ensure immediate results. There is no section where hogs can be more easily or profitably raised than in Rogue River Valley.
    What has been said of hogs can be said of poultry. They are remarkably healthy and profitable, and many of our people make handsome profits from this industry and our women find themselves ever supplied with needful "pin" money.
    The mildness of the climate and the absence of any prevailing disease among stock makes this an inviting field for stock-growers. It is a well-known fact that the colder the climate the greater the amount of nourishing food required to sustain animal life. Very few persons furnish shelter for their stock in winter. Stock ranging in the interior foothills seldom require feeding in winter. In the valley where it is more densely settled and the native grass more exhausted, more hay for winter feeding or more tame pasturage is required. Some of the best horses ever grown on the Pacific Coast were the product of this country.
    The timber forests are of fine and grand proportions. Here we have the sugar pine, the fir, the cedar, and the various woods needed by a progressive society, and the people from all sections of the country are rapidly taking up "timber" claims and syndicates purchasing large tracts of the virgin forests.
    The success attending fruit culture is no longer an experiment. By direct analysis the soil has been found to contain all the elements required to produce fruits from the semi-tropical to the hardiest varieties. Over these favorable conditions hangs a climate coordinated and adjusted to the nature of the soil. During the past year the yield of fruits has been enormous and the profits large. Many fruit ranches have changed hands to newcomers, and hundreds of thousands of trees have been set out to new fields, while thousands of acres, heretofore given over to cereals, have been planted to fruit and soon will be bearing. This is the "home of the celebrated Newtown" pippin, the Spitzenberg, Ben Davis, Jonathan and many of the other varieties. Rogue River Valley apples command the highest prices in the markets of the world, and most of our apples are purchased in the orchards and engaged for shipment to Europe and Asia and other foreign ports. The pear finds the valley its natural home and yields annually large and profitable crops. We have early and late varieties, and all do exceedingly well and there is no more certain income than from a well-ordered fruit ranch. We ship hundreds of carloads of green and dried fruit during the season and seldom are we able to have the best for home consumption, so great is the demand for our fruit products. In the larger book, to be issued by the Board of Trade of Medford, will be found more particular information concerning this chief industry.
    So far as all general crops are concerned, irrigation is not practiced nor it is necessary, but with the aid of water, timothy, alfalfa and other tame grasses may be grown to great perfection, while the yield of other crops, such as berries and small fruits, may be greatly increased, and several crops may be produced. The Fish Lake Ditch Company has, under construction, for irrigating, manufacturing and electrical purposes, a large ditch which will supply water and power to a large section.
    This, the "queen" city of Rogue River Valley, is the most centrally and naturally located of all the towns of the valley. It is situated on the west bank of the Bear Creek, on the line of the S.P.R.R.--in the very heart of the valley--surrounded by a country of surpassing beauty, rivaling in picturesqueness the grandeur of the highlands of Scotland, equaling in loveliness the beauty of the alpine valleys. It has a population of nearly 2500 industrious, wide-awake citizens.
    The business houses of Medford are nearly all of large dimensions and solidly built of brick and are filled with large stocks of varied assortment and at prices differing little from those of the largest coast cities. All branches of trade, industry and professions are ably and well represented. Medford is a city of "schools and churches." All the denominations are represented and have comfortable accommodations and buildings.
    The average Oregonian who has had his choice in selecting land will say there is no government land worth the price and labor of entry and cultivation. There are now vacant thousands of acres of land superior to lands settled long ago in many of the states east of the Rocky Mountains. Rolling hill and narrow valley land may be found situated along the waters of the various tributaries of Rogue River on which families could find comfortable homes, and where from 10 to 60 acres on a quarter section might be successfully improved. In fact much of the best land that now lies in the mountains is destined to become, when brought under cultivation by the woodman's axe, the farmer's plow and the orchardist's skill, the most desirable and valuable of the valley land. Improved farms range, on or near the line of the R.R. and in and around Medford, from $35 to $100 per acre. Land ten or twenty miles distant from Medford sells for from $5 to $20 per acre. The railroad has large tracts of unimproved lands, and it is purchasable at reasonable figures on the most favorable conditions. The improved fruit ranches range from $100 to $500 per acre. We would not advise anyone to come expecting to secure government homesteads other than such as are mentioned above, but we assure them if they decide to cast their lot in this land of sunny slopes, blooming roses, gentle zephyrs, luscious fruits and where freezing frosts and chilling blasts disturb not and where the body is nightly refreshed with sweet slumber during the entire year and where Nature seems to have lavished her choicest gems and scattered her charms to woo and win, that our arms will be open wide and our welcome will be true and our friendship a tie which bindeth fast.
    Any further information concerning this famous Rogue River Valley will be cheerfully given by addressing a letter to the Board of Trade of Medford, Oregon.
Respectfully Submitted,
The Board of Trade of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon.
"A Few Facts Concerning the Famous Rogue River Valley, Oregon," [1902], SOHS 1963.181.4; M44 A5

    At Portland there is a large and very fine union depot with pleasant waiting rooms supplied with all modern conveniences, including a dining and lunch room. With just time for breakfast we again take a Southern Pacific train for a ride across the state of Oregon south to our journey's end, where we arrive at one o'clock the next morning, just a week from the time we left Bolivar. A large group of friends await our arrival including three generations, and again the man in the moon witnesses the
happy reunion of long separated kindred.
    After a few hours sleep we go out in the morning to see if five years have wrought any changes in the town of Ashland, Oregon. The same foothills surround. They are decorated with more cottages and peach orchards. The mountain peaks back of them still show their familiar heads, the canon fringed with fir and pine, deep and narrow, still echoes with the murmur of waters, fresh and clear, tumbling over the smooth boulders on their way from the snow-crowned butte ten miles
away. The orchards are loaded with peaches, red and yellow, and prunes of purple hue, and the yards are decked with various-hued roses, chrysanthemums and dahlias.
    The population has more than doubled, and building has nearly kept pace with the increase. The climate is quite like that of California, only a little cooler and a little more moisture. The sun shines a great part of the time. The early settlers came from the Middle West, Iowa and adjoining states. It is claimed that lung troubles are benefited here, and many come on that account and so advertise the climate, etc., to others. There are more people than there are houses for at present and many live in tents, not only in the town, but in the suburbs and outside until they can build or buy homes.
    The fields are brown and dry, but the dried vegetation has had but little storm on it and stock thrive on it. Cattle men are prospering. Their business resembles the oil business in some respects; their stock has a cash value always and affords a fair profit. Many live in town and go out to their ranches, some spend nearly their whole time out, coming in only occasionally.
    Most merchandise sells higher here than in the East. Footwear is about the same, clothing some higher, hardware, paints, and paper about one third higher, sugar sells seventeen pounds for a dollar, eggs thirty-five cents per dozen, butter thirty-five cents per pound, kerosene oil thirty cents. All prices are made so that no change is given less than five cents, and even the banks make change in the same way. If a check calls for twelve cents one gets ten cents, and if it calls for thirteen cents fifteen are given. The Breeze reaches us on Wednesday and is indeed a welcome visitor. The boys can hardly wait for an opportunity to scan its columns and get the news from home.
Ashland, Oregon, Oct. 29, 1902.
"Letter from Oregon," Bolivar Breeze, Bolivar, New York, November 13, 1902, page 2

Useless Exaggeration.
    Nathan Tuttle, a timber locator, more or less known in Southern Oregon, has written a letter to the Potter Enterprise, of Coudersport, Pa., in which he sings the praises of Southern Oregon in a manner calculated to give people an impression of this country which is bound to create a disappointed feeling in the minds of those coming out here with the expectation of finding conditions as Mr. Tuttle depicts them. Mr. Tuttle's enthusiasm for Southern Oregon has evidently caused him to slightly exaggerate the many advantages of the country. Mr. Tuttle says that this is the land of plenty, the greatest fruit country in the world. This is all true, but he further states that it is the greatest stock country in the world, which is not a fact, although stock of all kinds are successfully raised here, but we do not lay claim to having the greatest country in this line. Mr. Tuttle also says that fish are so plentiful that they are caught on ripples with pitchforks, loaded into wagons and fed to the hogs--this is not true of Southern Oregon for three reasons, first, because the fish commissioner wouldn't stand it; second, the fish are not so plentiful as that, and third, it is not policy to feed fish to hogs, because bacon or lard with the slightest taint of fish about it smells like an ancient fish market, and nobody can eat it. In Klamath County, where the climate is as different from that of Jackson County as it possibly can be, at certain seasons of the year a species of mullet run up Lost River from Tule Lake in sufficient quantities so that they may be caught by the wagonload, but that is not in Jackson County. Mr. Tuttle speaks of seeing twelve deer hanging on one pole, killed by one man in one day. It is safe to say the game warden never saw that sight. In relation to the timber Mr. Tuttle informs his friends that there is not much of it left, but that he has a few claims upon which he is willing to locate his friends. He also mentions that he accidentally ran across the man who helped survey this country, and through him learned of the location of a number of good homestead claims in the timber belt. As this country has been surveyed on the installment plan--so to speak--and a dozen or more different men have been in charge of the work, Mr. Tuttle has evidently been "deceived" by some unsophisticated Oregonian. Mr. Tuttle while here has been following the occupation of a timber locator, and has located a number of his eastern friends on claims, not to their entire satisfaction in some cases.
    Jackson County is all right. It is the land of fruit and flowers, big game and bigger timber, but the newcomer must not expect to be able to find a sugar pine timber claim right on the line of the railroad, catch twenty-five-pound salmon with a pitchfork in every ripple on Rogue River, nor dig gold in his front yard.
Medford Mail, December 26, 1902, page 2

Last revised October 2, 2021