The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1904

    Jackson.--Population, 13,628. Jackson County has 199,183 acres in a public reserve, out of a total area of 1,779,662 acres. Of her total area, 1,273,529 acres have passed from the government, leaving a total of 306,952 acres of unappropriated land, of which 229,077 acres are surveyed and 77,875 acres unsurveyed. The latter is timber, grazing and fruit. There is some building stone in the county of an excellent quality. Mining for gold is extensively followed. The land is rolling, mountainous and level. Rogue River furnishes an excellent water power. The roads are good. Some coal is found. Pine and fir timber abound. Rogue River is used for floating logs and lumber. The fuel is wood, which brings from $4 to $6 per cord. Wheat is the principal product. There is a poor house, occupied by fourteen males. The general health is good. Climate fine. County seat, Jacksonville. R. P. Neil, of Medford, Oregon, cut 70 tons of alfalfa hay from 16 acres of land in Jackson County in July 1904. The ground is what is known as the black, sticky land. No irrigation. Jackson County peaches find a ready sale in New York and Boston.
First Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Inspector of Factories and Workshops of the State of Oregon from June 3, 1903 to September 30, 1904, Oregon State Printing Department, 1905, page 90

Thriving Centers of Southern Oregon Population
    Few towns or cities in the state of Oregon have enjoyed a healthier growth during the past few years, have a brighter prospect ahead of them, or [are] endowed with greater natural advantages for becoming a city of permanent importance than Grants Pass, the county seat of Josephine County. Grants Pass is located 286 miles south of Portland, and is directly on the main line of the Southern Pacific. The elevation of the town is 960 feet in the business section, the resident portion being from 100 to 200 feet above this. The city has at present a population of about 4,200, there being over 1,000 pupils enrolled in the three schools of the town.
    The name of the city would indicate that Grants Pass occupies a "pass" in the mountains, but this is misleading and is far from the truth. The city, while located at the southern end of the railroad and wagon road through the mountains, is itself located in a pretty and verdant vale of the lower Rogue River Valley, and nestles cozily between the bank of the Rogue River and the hills that slope back gently to the higher mountains.
    Grants Pass has been growing, growing, growing steadily, surely, substantially since the time of its incorporation in 1887. It is the hub and center for all of the Southern Oregon mining district, comprising Josephine County and a portion of Jackson and Curry, as well as a part of Douglas. Within this vast mineral demesne are the many already rich, and the growing mines of the Southern Oregon mineral zone. Grants Pass, being the center, enjoys the golden fruit of the district's bounteous harvest. Into Grants Pass the treasure streams empty, and this envious and excellent natural advantage accounts for the healthy growth the city has enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy.
    The business section of the town, consisting as it does of two- and three-story brick buildings almost exclusively, bespeaks the thrift and permanence of the place. There are two banks, three brick hotels, two large department stores, and three newspapers, to say nothing of the scores of other stores and business houses of perhaps lesser importance. The Sugar Pine Door and Lumber Company's factory, employing from forty to fifty men, is also located in Grants Pass, as is the factory and lumber yards of Williams Brothers & Kendall, which, with the outlying mills, employ a large number of men. The lumber from the fourteen or more sawmills of the county is all hauled and shipped from the central yards in Grants Pass. Many of the big orange orchards of Southern California derive their entire supply of boxes from the sugar pine box factory in Grants Pass.
    Aside from the extensive timber and lumbering business about Grants Pass, the city derives a large revenue from the fruit orchards, melon fields, hay and stock ranches, hop yards and vineyards. The river bottom lands of the Rogue and Applegate are well adapted to the growing of melons and berries and alfalfa. Some 500 or 600 acres are devoted to watermelons alone in Josephine County each season, and many carloads of this very popular fruit are shipped from this city. The melons are large and of exceptionally fine flavor. Then some 500 acres are planted to hops about Grants Pass, the several yards employing immense crews of men, women and children during the picking season. The apple, peach, prune and other orchard trees bear well here. One of the big apple orchards of the county, located on Applegate River, about six miles from Grants Pass, is owned by Consul Henry Miller, of this city, who is now stationed at Niu Chwang, China, and who disposes of nearly his entire crop of Newtown pippins in the markets of the Orient.
    As the pages of this issue of Mineral Wealth will treat in detail of the mines surrounding Grants Pass, no attempt will be made here to say anything of this, the greatest of the several industries of which Grants Pass is the center. But the foregoing hint of conditions here fully suffices to show the remarkable possibilities of Grants Pass, "The Golden City of Southern Oregon."
    It has been said by an observer that "an important mining region usually enjoys no other resource." This rule, however, will not apply to the Pacific Coast, from Central California to British Columbia. On the contrary, the district extending from Central California across the Oregon boundary, which has produced more gold than any like area of which we have history, can make unusual claim for varied natural favors, conducive to material prosperity.
    Rich valleys spread in broad expanse from mountain to sea, or smaller laterals studded with happy homes, emerge from the eternal hills. Orchards and farms, grazing lands, and then the magnificent forests of pines, clothing the higher foothills, all prove that the observer quoted in the beginning had never visited the most prolific gold-producing section in the world.
    Strange as it may seem, the name of Oregon is not associated to any great extent with mining, though the region immediately north of the California-Oregon boundary is a continuation of California fields, with a wealth of metal occurring under like geological conditions.
    The first important point across the California line is Ashland--only twenty miles from the boundary. A number of mines are operated near this beautiful city of homes, schools and churches, but its support is varied in character; orchard, farm and manufacturing contribute to the prosperity of the community.
    Ashland has a population of fully 3,500 people. The state normal school is located here, and the environments of education and refinement are further enhanced by its selection as the meeting point of the Southern Oregon Chautauqua, and its members have here constructed a "tabernacle," in which its meetings are held.
    Eighty-four miles to the west is the Pacific Ocean, the city in a beautiful setting of mountains and valley, is 2,000 feet above sea level, with a climate all that can be  desired.
    The view of Ashland presented herewith, was taken from a point which inspired the following pen picture by a member of the National Editorial Association on the occasion of the Association's excursion through Oregon:
    "From the Chautauqua building a walking climb of five minutes will carry the pedestrian to a hilltop perch from whence is obtained a view which for scenic beauty cannot be excelled. From this spot one looks down upon the little 'Granite City,' and out upon the valley beyond. Many an exclamation of surprised delight has been uttered at this spot. Before the visitor lies a picture of beauty that defies the skill of the artist to represent, or the word-painter to describe. With face to the north and eyes toward the valley, the little city is revealed, nestling half hidden in the luxuriance of nature's growth, among gardens and orchards, where flourishes the peach in all its luscious glory, with an accompaniment of apples, pears, plums, prunes, apricots, cherries, etc., berries ad libitum, and flowers of variety, beauty and fragrance to sate the most fastidious queen; while there is ever present the music of water, rising through the treetops that fringe and border the limpid mountain torrent below. The valley with its farms, gardens and orchards, its many streams bordered with the fantastic adornments that nature has seen fit to clothe them in, spreads out a little beyond, where it would seem that the Almighty has intended perfect contentment to be found. Beyond these there rises a majestic framework of mountains, adorned with fragments of evergreen forests of pine and fir, relieved by ridges, canyons and pinnacled cliffs, among which spots of sunshine and cloud-shadow chase each other in and out, picturing alternately with light and shade these billowy monuments to the power and munificence of Him whose works we see, and whose bounties we enjoy. Behind us rise by terrace and cliff the rugged Siskiyous--the 'granite range'--to a height of 8,000 feet, covered with luxuriant forests and crested with snow. From thence comes the perennial flow of sparkling water, cold as a winter's morning and pure as the dawn of youth; a life-giving and sustaining element to the valley below. Sparkling, leaping and singing over its rugged bed of pebbles and boulders, it seems a thing of life, rejoicing in its mission of mercy; an instrument of music, waking the stillness to a fit accord with the fragrance of fruit and flowers."
    This town occupies a position in Jackson County, Oregon, similar to that of Montague in Siskiyou County, and Redding in Shasta County, California. These three towns represent the chief centers of railroad traffic for their respective counties, and, singularly enough, each has superseded, at least to some extent, an old-time mining town situated in each case six or eight miles from the railroad, and to the west. Yreka is still the center of commerce for Siskiyou County, and Jacksonville has also managed to hold her own quite well. These towns were able to do this by building short branch railroads to the Southern Pacific line. But the old town of Shasta in Shasta County was handicapped from doing this because of the natural and topographical conditions. Medford, like Redding, has seen phenomenal growth.
    Medford should be ranked as the best business point in Jackson County, and further than that is declared by some unbiased people to be the town of greatest energy and enterprise in Southern Oregon. It is the center of an excellent fruit, stock, dairy, hay and grain district, and is by no means inclined to allow the mining resources of Jackson County to go unnoticed either.
    The famous Olwell fruit farm, whose apples are alike noted in Europe and the Orient, is located within four miles of Medford. The fruit possibilities of this district have only recently been brought much to light, and it is an easy prediction that this locality will someday be rated with the best fruit-producing section of the Pacific Coast.
    The stock, hay and dairying industries are all being developed, and as already implied, the geographical situation of Medford marks it for one of the coming interior towns of the state of Oregon.
    The business men are alive also to the timbering resources of eastern Jackson County, or all that district drained by the upper Rogue River, and occupying the western slope of the Cascade Mountains. It is evident that the business interests will unite, if necessary, to extend an electric road to tap that territory. Toward the establishment of a big lumber and box factory now operating at Medford, the business men went down into their pockets and contributed the sum of $3,000. Toward the establishment of a foundry and machine shop they did the same for $1,000. A prominent business man told the writer that the town could be depended upon to raise $10,000, if necessary, to land the Blue Ledge railroad at Medford. All this shows an excellent spirit for a town of scarce 3,000 people. It is this spirit that has made Medford what it is and has given it its high standing among the Coast's interior towns.
    The time-honored and historic old mining town of Southern Oregon, Jacksonville, is still the county seat of Jackson County, and also the center of some little mining activity. Two of Southern Oregon's biggest placer mines, the Sterling and the Vance, are within a radius of eight or ten miles, as also two of its most promising quartz leads, the Opp and the Oregon Belle. The Blue Ledge copper district, moreover, is believed by some to be more tributary to Jacksonville than any other point. It has been these mining conditions, as well as the prestige of county seatship, that have combined to keep Jacksonville where she is, in spite of her isolation from the Southern Pacific railroad, which came to her when the surveys for that line left Jacksonville a distance of six miles to one side, a distance which, however, is spanned by a stub broad-gauge railway owned by a private party, Barnum & sons, and having the name of the Rogue River Valley Railroad.
    The town is situated on Jackson Creek, where that rich stream of the early days emerges from the foothills into the Rogue River Valley, and occupies at once the point of advantage, the gateway between that rich and fertile valley on the east and the famous Applegate mining country on the west.
    Neither is the spirit of improvement or enterprise entirely dead, a fact evidenced by the handsome new $12,000 brick school house, completed a year or two ago. The climatic conditions are ideal, the material resources are unexcelled, all ensuring Jacksonville an excellent chance of continuing to hold a front rank with the other Southern Oregon towns of today.
    The question of water supply, which has in late years become one of some concern to the town, is today being solved by the enterprising efforts, in a private way, of the county's assessor, Mr. Peter Applegate, and son, who by a system of shafts and tunnels are already able to accumulate about half enough for a very ample city supply.
    Gold Hill is the railroad point and center of interest for quite a mining and farming district, and is especially noted for a number of rich pockets or bunches of high-grade rock that have been found within a radius of six or eight miles of the town. These pockets may or may not be the oxidized or surface portions of deep quartz ledges. They unfortunately have given the whole district the reputation of being "pockety," a reputation that can be offset only by a substantial output on the part of her best prospects. These today are the Braden, Lucky Bart, Bill Nye, the Millionaire, the Alice, and others of this class. And these are the properties that will effect this change of reputation.
    Gold Hill, like her sister towns on the railroad--Central Point, Talent, Phoenix and others--is supported also by grain, fruit and stock ranching, but, more fortunate than they, she has a point decidedly to her advantage in her mines.

    This issue of Mineral Wealth is devoted, in the main, to that district referred to, in a general way, as Southern Oregon. While Oregon has never attracted the attention of the mining world as a distinctively mineral state, nevertheless, the Eastern Oregon district, as well as the region known as Blue River and Bohemia, and also the district covered by this issue are today of unquestioned mineral importance, and when compared with like areas of mining territory elsewhere the state does not suffer by comparison.
    The Southern Oregon district, comprising Jackson, Josephine, and also parts of Curry counties, is, in fact. but a continuation of the Northern California mineral region, the state line passing over what promises to become some of the most important mineral deposits of the Pacific Coast. Geological conditions are not determined by artificial geographical boundaries, yet it is unquestionably true that comparatively few mining men are well enough posted on the situation to associate Southern Oregon with the mines of Northern California--the latter now by far the most prolific region of the Golden State.
    The location of a good mine, or a good mining district, should make no difference, save as it relates to the question of accessibility. Even though the name of Oregon is not associated with big mines as is that of California, Nevada and the various other Rocky Mountain and Coast mineral states, this fact should not mitigate against the state, but should rather create a desire to determine its proper rank in the list of metal-producing commonwealths. Happily, this attitude is now coming to prevail, and the regions named are rapidly winning a position as important mining territory. The larger mines are being put in operation, and the state of Oregon will soon take a place with her sister states as a state where the mining industry is of truly great importance.
    Judicious publicity is what the mining industry of the state of Oregon needs, and this issue of Mineral Wealth will, we believe, be of vast benefit to the industry in general and Southern Oregon in particular--the character and distribution of the publication assures this desideratum. Mining, as a business, is unlike other callings--particularly the mining of gold. There is no competition in this industry, the mint coins all the gold which may be offered by the miner, and there is no fluctuation from $20.67 an ounce, its coinage value. There is, moreover, a self-acceleration in gold mining that is found nowhere else. No place is the old saying more true that "Nothing succeeds like success." A miner welcomes a neighbor; the advent of a new operator in a district adds ultimately to the sum total of knowledge of the district. Geological conditions are better understood, metallurgical problems more easily solved and the cost of operation and production correspondingly lessened. Among broad and liberal operators this is looked upon as a most important and valuable means of contribution to the common knowledge of the district which in turn is used to the mutual benefit and advantage of all.
    To every established community in a mining region, the development and operation of a new mine is equivalent to the installation of a factory employing a similar number of people--in fact, it is of more importance, as the wage paid is, as a rule, larger, and the product of the mine is more lasting than the product of the average factory, with its benefits therefore more widely distributed. The statement that everyone residing in a mining region is interested in the welfare and progress of the mining industry is, therefore, not far fetched, and where the product consists of money metals this is doubly true. It behooves every individual to encourage the development of this great industry, and encourage also every agency organized to promote its welfare.
    Mining has evolved from the purely speculative, and is now recognized by the first financiers of the world as one of the most profitable fields for safe investment. The value of the minerals annually produced in the United States exceeds $1,300,000,000. The United States census shows it to be the most profitable industry of the country, producing more value per capita than do even the manufactures. This is the industry to which the chief value of Southern Oregon attaches, and the importance of that district is rapidly extending and making itself felt in the mining world.
    Mining regions have not always been favored by nature as Southern Oregon. The presence of mineral alone is not usually the only requisite to make the industry profitable. The surrounding conditions must be somewhat congenial otherwise, and in this respect Southern Oregon has no superior anywhere. Timber, water, climatic conditions and favorable opportunities for transportation facilities--all these are available to the operator. Within easy reach of the mines are produced cereals and fruits to feed an empire. In short, few regions are blessed with so magnificent a foundation for lasting prosperity as Southern Oregon.
Mineral Wealth, Redding, August 1, 1904, pages 2-6

    People in general are loath--at least, slow--to appreciate the value of their local papers. The Southern Oregon weeklies and semi-weeklies (there are as yet no dailies) are accomplishing no little good in the advancement of their respective districts and deserve the liberal support of their communities. Grants Pass has three papers, the Oregon Mining Journal, the Rogue River Courier and the Oregon Observer; Ashland has three, the Tribune, the [Tidings] and the Record; Medford has two, the Mail and the Southern Oregonian; Jacksonville has two, the Sentinel and the Times; and Gold Hill and Glendale each have one, the News.
Mineral Wealth, Redding, August 1, 1904, page 57

Southern Oregon and Northern California
Have Abundance of Magnificent Scenery.
E. S. VanDyke in the Evening Telegram Describes a Southward Trip.

    The never-ending glories of the Adirondacks have been told and retold by writers of fantastic humor and the dreamers of poetic dreams; the snow-capped peaks of the old world have been scaled and rescaled, both in poetry and in prose, and even here on our own Pacific Coast the beauties of the Yellowstone Park and the Yosemite Valley have already been presented many times to the public by vivid pen pictures snatched from some admirable brain.
    But of Oregon, with its snow-capped mountain peaks, its dashing mountain rivers leaving vast and unexplored canyons in their flow onward to the Pacific, little has as yet been written; and of Southern Oregon, the Italy of the state, comparatively nothing. Yet here in this secluded little paradise, with its Italian skies, its unanimity [sic--sublimity?] of climate, its vast mineral wealth of gold and copper, its abundance of all varieties of fruit, and, above all this its sturdy, resolute citizens, nature has displayed some of her grandest handiwork.
    Many inspiring bits of scenery such as the great gorge of the Rogue River, the giant caves of Josephine County, and that wonderful world-famous mirror of the Indian gods, Crater Lake, combine to give to this chosen district an enchantment in the minds of the old settlers. And especially are they dear, as they are nearly all hallowed with a crown of Indian lore.
    The Siskiyou Mountains, perhaps the grandest of all this charm of scenery, lie along the southern boundary of the state, and may be said to bind Oregon and California together, since they extend partly into Northern California, and thus form the connecting link of the two states.
    Leaving Grants Pass, a thriving little city of about 4000 inhabitants, nestled close on the bosom of Southern Oregon hills, at about noon, we begin the journey which, during the course of the day, is to take us over the Siskiyous on down into the state of California.
    For about ten miles the railroad follows the bends and curves of Rogue River, a mischievous little stream, laughing and chattering like a child at play on its way seaward, and now we begin to catch occasional glimpses of rare beauty.
    Here at our left arises a gigantic cliff, perhaps 1000 feet high, its sides showing the warring and beating of the elements on its surface for thousands of years. Its top is as smooth as marble, and here is the famous council table of the Rogue River Indians. We can almost see the mighty chieftains as they meet there night after night, with their strange customs and dances, either to smoke the peace pipe or to listen to the wild harangue of one of their number inciting them to war with the Klamaths in the south.
    For a moment the huge rocks of a canyon obstruct our view, but now we are out in the glorious sunlight again, and right before us is Jackson County's metropolis--Ashland, the last city on the Southern Pacific lines in Oregon. At Ashland our train takes on new engines of a much larger type than those of the valley country, massively and powerfully built.
    Now we begin the ascent in earnest, and the three engines on our train as they puff, puff, puff seem like some great monster Titans as they wearily toil up the slope of their Olympus. One almost pities them, for as the huge drive wheels push on and on, at the pulsations of their mighty hearts one can almost hear them groan with their gigantic labor. But now we are nearing the summit, and as we look hundreds of feet beneath us on either side we can see in horseshoe bends and curious circles the winding tortuous way over which we have made our climb.
    There to the east is a pretty little valley, with a farm house almost overgrown with the fields of alfalfa; here a modest farmer lives, to all intents and purposes eking out a scanty existence from his little farm and bringing up his family to follow in his footsteps. Little does he know of the maddening rush and hustle of the busy world beyond his narrow sphere--yet "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."
    Now we have reached the summit of the mountains, a little over 4000 feet above the sea level, and can look away in all directions upon a perfect sea of mountain peaks beneath us. At the summit stands the little station of Siskiyou, a picturesque little place built right over a cliff, and in this isolation one or two families must spend a part of their lives.
    We are on the down grade and can hear no more the labored breathing of the engines, and we give a sigh of relief that their trouble is ended. A long wail from the whistle reminds us that we are nearing the wonderful Siskiyou tunnel, and almost before we can realize it we are plunged into the bowels of the earth.
    Once more into daylight, and we are whirled along over high steel trestles that make one shrink with terror, until the sound of the whistle again tells us that we are nearing a little station. As the train draws up--back on the hills, and almost surrounded with mock orange and its native forests of pine and fir, stands a rustic little summer resort called Colestin. Here the people of Southern Oregon come to spend their summers and to build up their physical bodies with the health-giving waters of the springs. Around the train are gathered perhaps 100 people from the hotel and camps who have come down to witness the one excitement of the day--the arrival of the train. A few miles on again and in the distance we see--Shasta, the most beautiful of mountains. Clear, cold and white as a specter, it rises before us, and seems to pierce the ethereal dome above it with its regal head; 14,444 feet above the sea level, it stretches its kingly crown to meet the empyrean above it, and its lofty efforts cannot but inspire its observer with a feeling of wonder and admiration, and cause him to long to emulate its magnificence and purity.
    But now we have crossed the line, and are rapidly nearing the Sacramento Valley; so as this stretch is only to portray a little of the scenery of Southern Oregon, we still stop at the summer resort of Shasta Retreat, while in the hazy distance the train dashes along toward the sunset city of the West--San Francisco.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, August 18, 1904, page 1

Last revised September 7, 2021