The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1911

Descriptions of and advertisements for the valley.

Original Home of the Grape Industry. Present Mining Center of Jackson County. Homeseekers' Paradise.

    Jacksonville is recognized as the choice residence city of the Rogue River Valley. Nestling in an arm at the western edge of the valley, it is quite outside the path of periodical winds, and a continual calm throughout the winter season pervades the locality. When the central sections have their wind sweeps, comparisons have shown Jacksonville untouched at all times. The city located near the foothills has natural drainage, and her wells afford pure water. Not a single case of typhoid fever has developed in Jacksonville in the past fifteen years. The city has begun the work of installing a modern water system, and a sewer system in contemplation will follow at once. These considerations, taken together with the fact that the Rogue River Valley Railway furnishes rapid and frequent transportation to and from Jacksonville, make Jacksonville a mecca for the settler who deems health and comfort a primary consideration.
    The elevation of Jacksonville and vicinity is a large factor in establishing local supremacy in fruit growing. Above the frost line the fig, the lemon and the orange grow and mature. Failure of crops in this section from frosts is unknown. English walnuts raised about Jacksonville are celebrated for the size, perfection, and abundant yield. The region justly claims to be par excellence the grape center of Oregon. It is pleasant to remember that the grape still reaches its highest perfection on the very spot where the grape industry in Oregon had its origin.
    Eleven million dollars in gold have been taken from the placer mines about Jacksonville, within a radius of ten miles. Indeed Jacksonville stands upon a rich placer mine--the richest known in Southern Oregon. It was the constant belief of expert miners and geologists that the vast yields of gold from the bed of Jackson Creek were but crumbs that had fallen from the tables laden with infinite wealth on the high lands above. Greater wealth than yet known awaits to be revealed to organized wealth and industry. Even now several quartz mines have been opened up west of Jacksonville. The Opp mine, one mile away, has 7000 feet of tunnel, and 40 men are at work developing this mine. Already $200,000.00 have been taken from this mine. A twenty-stamp mill is in daily operation. Other paying mines will pour their wealth into the great stream of resources yet to be opened up with the advent of capital into this miners' paradise.
    Jacksonville is full of historic interest. It was long the metropolis and capital of a vast empire, with 5000 population. Here gathered in her halls the intellect and culture of the Northwest. Baker, Nesmith, Delazon Smith, George H. Williams have in turn done legal and political work here. U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman and Benjamin Harrison have in turn graced the city with their presence. Many historic relics remain in the homes, and monuments and buildings rich in historic incident still resist the vandal march of progress. All these things lend a distinct charm to resident and visitor alike.
    The peanut is grown successfully each summer in small quantities.
    A good many critics and judges have been disposed to say that the Ish farm, one and one-half miles northwest of Jacksonville, is the richest in Oregon in proportion to its size. It contains 600 acres and is in alfalfa and orchard. The soil is deep alluvial and is subirrigated. The income from this farm with a minimum of labor and care is almost fabulous. Much land of the same sort is found near it, now offered for sale in five-acre and ten-acre lots. A few acres of this land will afford a good income at once. This region is especially noted for its deep alfalfa lands and its broad expanse of alfalfa fields, which lend to the landscape a tone of unfading green.
    Jacksonville is just now attracting much attention in Southern Oregon as a desirable home section. The foothills surrounding Jacksonville will ere long be adorned with beautiful homes overlooking the Rogue River Valley. Nature seems especially to have carved out this locality to be par excellence the spot superior to all others for its beauty and convenience and healthfulness as a home center. All other localities yield the palm gracefully in this particular. Many are now planning to build and live in Jacksonville, even though such may carry on business elsewhere.
    Just now assurances reach us that a line through Southern Oregon to the sea is fully and finally determined upon by Mr. Hill. Jacksonville is in the path of that road and the town is to be rescued from the long-standing misfortune of being off the main line.
    Nature destined Jacksonville to a life of prosperity and singular charm. Artificial forces are now cooperating to return the ancient historical capital to the prestige and importance that, in the early pioneer days, none disputed.
Jacksonville Commercial Club advertisement, Oregonian, February 4, 1911, page 12

"The Last Great West"
"Oregon Fully Twenty Years Behind Washington in Industrial Progress"
(By Wilford Allen.)
    When the husbandman and the flockmaster succeeded the French trapper in the occupancy of southwestern Oregon, the geographer changed the spelling of the word Rouge [not true], as applied to the stream that finds birth on the green timbered slopes of the Cascades below Crater Lake, and after a short but turbulent career pours its volume into the Pacific, to Rogue. The transition was natural and unpremeditated. The Frenchman saw in the tints of the water a real or fancied resemblance to the rouge of his sister's handmade complexion; later comers were impressed with the playful roguishness of a stream that exhibits all features of river character in its length, the placid pool of the lower reaches, the swirl of the eddy, the fall--700 feet of drop in one of its miles--and then the beauty of its setting gives it a charm that is as exquisite as it is indescribable. To the lover of the great outdoors the Rogue breathes of fishing for trout, and salmon that has no superior on the continent, and of tenting amid beauteous surroundings, with the scent of the oak, the pine, and the fir in the air, and of game from the quail and gray squirrel to deer and bear so plentiful that the novice need not return from the quest empty handed.
    But it is in the valley of the Rogue as it figures as an asset in the commercial world that the people of today are becoming interested.
    The Rogue River Valley lies down on the California line, separated from that state by the Siskiyou Mountains, with the Umpqua Mountains to the north, and the Cascades and Coast Range to the east and west, being hemmed in on all sides by towering peaks, timbered and snow-capped, giving the valley climatic conditions all its own. Climate, we are told, is what we have with us all the time while weather is what happens, and the Rogue booster says his country is long on climate, but that weather seldom occurs. The winters are mild, 18 to 20 above zero being the lowest the old-timer will talk about, and summer heat, while occasionally up around the century mark, is tempered by the breeze from the mountains, and "the nights are always cool." Wind? That is an element that can find no starting place in the Rogue Valley, and the trees grow upright and symmetrical, without that pitch away from the direction of the prevailing wind that we find in a less sheltered country.
    The valley proper has an average width of about ten miles, and a length of thirty, but in addition to this there are various tributary valleys lying along the creeks and streams that reach back into the foothills, and that with transportation will likely prove as valuable as the principal valley has already become. The elevation is from 1000 feet at Grants Pass to 2000 feet at Ashland. Medford, which lies at about the center of the valley, having an elevation of 1400 feet.
    The rainfall of the valley is an average of 21 inches per annum, largely in the winter and spring months, with an occasional flurry of snow that does not lie long upon the ground. To augment the light rainfall of the summer months the numerous streams, branches of the parent Rogue, are being requisitioned to supply water for many private and public irrigation systems.
    The Rogue, like the Klamath, is an old settled country, for sixty years having yielded up an easy living for the farmers and stockraisers who lived there in content. But a few years ago it blossomed out as a fruit district, taking front rank in the production of apples, pears and grapes, reaching out for, and grasping, too, capital prizes at national apple shows and fruit fairs. Two varieties of apples, the Yellow Newtown Pippin and the Spitzenberg, are being planted in the main now, as these reach the highest development and command the best prices, but several varieties of pear, as the Comice, Bartlett, Winter Nellis and d'Anjou, are giving the apple a close race for supremacy, and some of the tales told of bank accounts made fat by the product of a few acres almost shake one's belief in the veracity of the Roguerite till he takes you to the "association" secretary, and the books are brought out in proof. Think of a single tree yielding $122 worth of Newtowns, and an acre netting $2187.50 at the orchard! Of course, these two instances are exceptions, but the returns are so alluring that prices of good orchard lands have gone upward by leaps and bounds, and the sales of developed orchards are made at better than $2000 per acre, while $1000 seems a common price. Undeveloped lands can be purchased in the main valley at from $75 to $300 per acre, according to quality and location, while year-old orchards sell at from $300 to $600 per acre.
    And speaking of soil quality: the Rogue has it in the greatest diversity. There's the river bottom land, the choicest of the valley, fertile and free, and pleasant to work; then there's the "sticky," red and black. Stories are told, true of course, of hens that become anchored in this sticky soil, and of cows that can't come home because the mud gathers on their tails till it's a bigger load than they can carry. Yet some of the richest, most productive orchards are in this same "sticky," but when it is not understood it is ugly stuff to work. Other soils are the "red" of the foothills, productive even without irrigation, and various degrees of sands, loams, gravels and clays. One district formerly known as the "desert" is underlaid with a hardpan from six inches to three feet below the surface, but this is now being made to grow thrifty orchards, water having been brought to it from Butte Creek. Where a tree is to be planted on this hardpan, a hole is sunk with a crowbar, a stick or two of dynamite exploded, and the shattered hardpan slakes like lime, the young tree having no further difficulty in getting a root-hold. Another soil met with near the foothills is a decomposed granite, fertile when irrigated, and the best for peaches and apricots. With this great diversity of soil conditions it behooves the prospective purchaser to investigate well before he invests, and to buy that character of soil that will produce best of the products he proposes to grow. The red soil of the foothills, impregnated as it is with iron, and usually sub-irrigated, is being largely planted to apples and grapes, while in the free, sandy soils of the outlying river bottoms, quantities of alfalfa are produced, and all the soils produce heavily of vegetables where water for irrigation is applied.
    The development of the country has been handicapped and retarded because it was traversed by a single line of railroad, the Southern Pacific having had a monopoly of the transportation business for years, but relief is expected with the completion of the Hill line, now being built out from Medford to connect with the Oregon Trunk under construction down the Deschutes. While Medford is the temporary terminus of this line, it is not likely that construction will cease till Hill finds outlet upon the Pacific Coast, as he recently announced that the development of Western Oregon was one of the problems his company had undertaken. There are also surveys and rumors of various lines of electric roads that will someday utilize the great water power that only awaits development. The Rogue itself contains power greater than that of Niagara.
    During the past two years the population of the Rogue has increased at a most rapid rate, Medford, the metropolis of the valley, having become a city of 10,000 people, a people gathered from all parts of the Union, yet with less than 2 percent of foreign population. The settlers of this new old country have been attracted by the salubriousness of a climate far enough south to escape the rigors of a northern winter, yet far enough north that the burning rays of a tropic sun have lost their scorching force; they have been attracted by the beauty of the surroundings, by the opportunity for sport and for outing, and by the proven horticultural excellence and supremacy.
    But climate and attractive surroundings and the production of fruits are not the only features that are expected to make an empire of the Rogue. The resources of the valley are most varied. So varied, in fact, that the Commercial Club of Medford offers a reward of $5000 to „any community in the United States that within a radius of from ten to fifty miles from a common center can equal a like district of the Rogue in variety or excellence of resources. They point to the billions of feet of fir and pines with which the foothills and mountains are covered, and of the wonderful water power, now being wasted, that will one day manufacture this timber into lumber, and the lumber into its many possible products. For sixty years the mines of the Rogue have yielded, and are still yielding, fortunes of the yellow metal, and quarries of marble and granite await transportation to become wealth producers. The salmon fisheries likewise occupy an important place in the development of this "last great West," and a number of canneries are operated on the lower Rogue.
    Western Oregon is truly the last West. Twenty years behind Washington in material development and industrial progress, she is just now coming into her own, and the tide of immigration that for the two decades has beer peopling Washington, is now being turned toward Oregon. There will soon be no more West.
Pullman Herald, March 3, 1911, page 1

    Below the Willamette Valley comes the Umpqua Valley, which is much smaller, but just as productive as the one above. Then we reach the Rogue River Valley, of which I have read so much in the past two years. Medford is the principal town here, although Grants Pass and Ashland are close seconds. Land is very high here, selling as high as $1200 and $1500 per acre. This is of course in bearing orchards of either apples or pears. They also raise peaches and small fruit very successfully here. Everything is proportionately high in price. House rent about $35 per month, and the furniture to put into it is a little higher than it is in Alta. Groceries are about the same except butter and eggs; the former averages about 40 cents a pound and eggs about 35 cents a dozen. We did not stay in Medford more than a few days, long enough to find out that the position I had expected to get was filled.
John S. Wegerslev, McMinnville, "Interesting Oregon Letter," Altra Advertiser, Altra, Iowa, April 21, 1911, page 1

Transformation of This Valley of Wonders
Editor, Medford Sun:
    Sir--I was pleasantly remembered recently by a special invitation from my much esteemed neighbor and fellow townsman, Samuel Bateman, of North Maple Street, to accompany him for a day's rest, sightseeing and recreation to our sister city of Central Point, so we took tie-pass at 8 o'clock in the morning, leaving noisy, busy Medford behind for a day. We became interested in our walk from the start, as the day was warm and cheerful and the view delightful. My friend became at once infatuated with the sights and scenes through Rogue River Valley. They were so indescribably different from Montana, his former cold, bleak, fruitless home, and he also made it pretty interesting for me, pointing out the different towns and landmarks and their names that dotted the valley in the distance. We reached the city of Central Point at 10:30 o'clock fresh and game as a bantam rooster, found the city's streets full of farmers' teams, a very desirable class of citizens that gives life and activity and a pretty good indication that she is getting her share of the valley trade. Also the right impression to the visiting stranger.
    Central Point, centrally located as it is, is a trading center and in the midst of fruit, grain and alfalfa fields galore, now clothed and carpeted with much promise; with her clean streets, attractive business houses, residences and brick building in construction, certainly points to a city of much promise. Here, somewhat bewildered, while looking about me with the untold changes and developments of the old Rogue River Valley, I at once called to memory my first ride through this section in the fall of '76. Things moved pretty slowly and quietly in those pioneer, mossback days, with Jacksonville and Ashland as the only two trading points. Their supplies were furnished from Roseburg, consuming about two weeks' time by freight teams, with amusing scenes of balky horses, breakdowns and cuss words through Cow Creek Canyon.
    At that time old Rogue River Valley cultivated about one-quarter of its choice land. The balance was pastured, as stock raising was the principal industry. One wagon road then split the valley north and south, marked with stage stations and a cloud of dust from the overland coaches. One bridge, and it toll, spanned the Rogue at Rock Point. The court house, church and residences of Jacksonville and Ashland were principally wooden structures of the pioneer pattern, and the log residences and school houses dotted the country districts with the old worn rail fences. No party politics in those days. Every man who had any respect for his country or his yellow dog voted the straight Democratic ticket. Wheat was 40 cents a bushel, flour 50 and 75 cents a sack at the Phoenix and Eagle Point flouring mills, then run by water; hogs, cattle and sheep were a drug on the market. Ducks, quail and jackrabbits were as numerous as the stars and about as gentle as the barnyard chick. The circuit rider minister earned his salary of spuds, sorghum, flour and an occasional crazy quilt donated by some good Christian sister, for preaching the good old-time religion. But those were the good, old, happy, independent days when a man could kill his deer, catch his fish and dam the Rogue with salmon and fatten his hogs all without a license; also pay his 50 or 75 cents for the privilege of being put across Rogue River on Captain Bybee's ferry boat.
    But to my pioneer farmer, merchant and associates of thirty-five years ago that are still living, and we hope enjoying health, peace and contentment on the sunny side of life, what do we observe today spread out before us in this rapid life and activity? Can we realize the endless transformation of this grand old Rogue River Valley in this brief space of time that has unfolded to us such a charming, lovable valley, newly clothed with indescribable changes and improvements in every industry over the dear old Rogue Valley that is almost forgotten, save her history. The new valley is now before us, the envy and admiration of all Oregon, the most attractive spot on earth for the tourist to rest and recuperate and the homeseeker to cast his everlasting lot. Isn't it pleasant for us today to see and admire the new Rogue Valley with her eight thrifty incorporated cities and suburban towns galore that dot the new valley with unsurpassed beauty and with her three undreamed-of railroads, telegraph and telephone lines that traverse the most remote sections of the new valley, with three free bridges that span the broad, swift Rogue River and as far as the eye will permit us to see her countless acres of clean commercial fruit orchards, with productive farms without number that have been carved out of the once rough, uninviting tracts once considered worthless to the pioneer farmer, orchardist, and speculator that gave us the interesting history of the old Rogue River Valley while in its infancy.
    And now, patient, reader, is not the credit mostly due to the advent of the iron horse of the Southern Pacific Company, the new emigration of capital, custom and methods of industry that have so completely revolutionized the aged, decrepit Rogue River into this young, hopeful valley and gave to you, Mr. farmer, orchardist, stock raiser and speculator, a brighter and more promising future?
Medford Sun, May 12, 1911, page 5

Last revised April 9, 2021