The Infamous Black BirdSouthern Oregon History, Revised `

Jackson County 1928

Southern Oregon and Northern California Development
    The following story appeared in a recent issue of the California Journal of Development [and] was sent to Charles A. Wing, of this city, by his uncle, George L. Wing, attorney in Banning, California, and is given this paper for publication.
(By G. K. Spencer)
    "California, building a highway through giant redwoods and around patriarchal mountains to complete the Redwood Highway between Eureka and Crescent City; and Oregon completing her highway from the state frontier to Grants Pass, Oregon, are creating one of the last successful links in the all-Pacific Highway which will be before the end of 1927, the longest highway-by-the-sea in the world. Though the road will provide a military highway of national importance it is intentionally built out over exceptionally beautiful sea scenes, making it probably the most majestic thoroughfare in the world--America's Appian Way.
    "More than two thousand workers recruited by Oregon and California are enthusiastically crashing through the coastal mountains, leaving behind them a thin streamer of road with which the two sister states will open more than two hundred billion feet of timber, fifty million tons of valuable ores, and ten thousand acres of the finest fruit and dairy land in the world.
    "While state crews drive their road ever nearer the sea, and struggle unseen beneath forests almost four hundred feet high, in a perpetual sea of twilight, civil and military aircraft drone overhead planning airways which will open a nation within a nation to rapid communication with the 'outside.'
    "Behind the crews which are weaving the motor artery through redwood trees, which were standing before Christ began teaching on earth, the steam hammers of comrade railroad builders resound.
    "With faith in the indomitable energy of two mighty states, the government of the United States has already begun a harbor at Crescent City, California. The resolve of the government to finally open this mighty district is the result of more than fifteen years of gradual development. This development the United States navy has been carefully watching because of the necessity for arranging to defend the 800-mile strip between San Francisco and Puget Sound. Consequently, all naval commanders of ships on the Pacific have been studying the situation, and prominent members of the war college have long advocated at the very least a harbor of refuge at the Crescent City district so that ships need not be so far away from a port when the heavy coastal storms sweep Pacific shipping.
    "A slow-moving tide of settlers into this region has grown to a brisk stream, following the naval announcement several months ago
that detachments of air units would plan air basing facilities in the district, and the official approval of the War Department for development of the harbor. Added to these developments, bids have already been advertised for in the leading engineering journals for a standard-gauge railway to tap the rich valleys.
    "The highways converge at Crescent City from three directions: the Redwood Highway entering from the south; the Redwood Highway entering from Grants Pass on the northeast, while the Roosevelt Highway is building rapidly down the coast from Portland and Astoria on the north.
    "A railroad has been constructed toward Crescent City harbor a
distance of eighteen miles from Grants Pass, leaving a gap of about seventy-three miles to be completed, giving this vast back country a tidewater outlet. High freight rates have made it impossible to ship products from this back country, the nearest ports being 400 miles distant in either direction.
    "According to War Department records, Southern Oregon and Northern California are 'richer in undeveloped resources than any like
area of the United States.' In this vast empire, consisting of more
than 100,000 square miles of territory, there in a great abundance of timber, minerals and agricultural products.
    "This section contains 180 billion feet of the nation's best sugar pine, yellow pine, Oregon fir, spruce cedar and redwood, as well as unestimated billions of feet of oak, laurel, maple, ash, elm, cottonwood, alder and tanbark. This territory is estimated to contain one-seventh of the remaining standing timber of the United States. About 50 percent of this amount is owned by the government and the remaining portion by private interests and large lumber corporations.
    "The heart of the great mineral district of this section is Waldo, in extreme southwestern Oregon about forty miles from Crescent City, California. In this district there is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 100,000,000 tons of copper. There are also large quantities of gold, chrome, lime, manganese, pyrite, silica, marble and coal. During the late war the greatest deposits of chrome in America were found in the mountain range dividing Oregon and California, and experts state that
the supply of manganese is inexhaustible.
    "The Illinois Valley and the Rogue River Valley, both in Southern Oregon and containing tens of thousands of acres, raise the highest class agricultural and horticultural products, but only a small percentage of their available suitable land is under cultivation on account of their great distance from tidewater. The very fact that they are able to ship a small percentage of their products at exorbitant rail rates, and still leave a small profit, is a glowing tribute to the quality of the foodstuffs which this fertile soil is capable of producing.
    "Here is grown successfully almost every crop of the temperate zone, including paper shell walnuts, Bing and Royal Anne cherries, berries of every variety, melons, artichokes and tobacco. There are strawberries and lettuce to be grown from May 1 to October, four crops of alfalfa per season, and world-famous apples, pears and the Flame Tokay grape.
    "The region has seen a struggle for access to the sea which perhaps has been duplicated only by the Russian empire in its conflicts for seaports. Lack of transportation has been its bane, and one county, Jackson County, Oregon, with Medford the center and county seat, has actually spent $1,500,000 on roads which at least allow the county to assemble more efficiently its products.
    "With the government's $710,000 initial appropriation for the Crescent City harbor and the tremendous road-building program now in hand, an additional transportational field is to be developed in the county. The National Aeronautical Association is organizing chapters throughout the Redwood Empire, and airports are being established to service and handle air liners which will transport aerial tourists.
    "At Eureka, California, aerial facilities are now being provided, and intermediate air stations will be completed within the latter six months of 1927 over the terrain between Eureka and Portland, Oregon, which is expected to be the northern terminal. Twenty-one airports will care for aircraft moving between San Francisco and Portland.
    "It was the desire and necessity for giving a safety valve to the tremendous producing power of this country that forced Congress to begin harbor construction at Crescent City. For, until the produce of the soil, the huge reserves of timber, and the rich minerals of her mountains can be moved freely out of Crescent City, Southern Oregon will be paying more for freight from Reno than it costs to transport the freight from New York to San Francisco.
    "An idea of the enormous freight rates paid in the area can be gained from the federal estimate that Grants Pass products would, with a harbor at Crescent City, pay 40 cents per hundred pounds of freight against a present rate of 95 cents per hundred pounds. These are the highest freight rates in the United States, if not in the world.
    "One of the astounding incidents in the history of this transportation difficulty is that the interior empire is so frantic to reach the sea that a town of 5000 souls--Grants Pass, Oregon--bonded itself for $200,000 in order to provide for additional construction of the railroad. It is believed that the saving in one year on the fruit crop in the Rogue River Valley in Oregon will more than equal the entire cost of the harbor construction by the government at Crescent City, when the orchards already planted are bearing.
    "Crescent City, in the lowlands between two great horns of mountain ranges, was chosen for the federal harbor because it drains by low grades the entire forest, mineral and orchard lands of the Oregon-California border regions to the northward and southward.
    "Not only is Crescent City the logical terminus for ocean shipping for this district, but it must equally be a rail center, as authorities have declared that it is practically impossible for rail lines to reach any other point on this section of the coast for a distance of 250 miles in either direction, owing to the fact that the Coast Range mountains present an impassable barrier elsewhere.
    "There is now more railroad activity in Southern Oregon than in all of the West combined. Furthermore, it is badly needed in this section which possesses a total of only 1200 miles of rails; and a great portion of this mileage consists of stub lines which terminate in timber belts, thus serving no particular purpose except for the hauling of lumber. However, these timber railroads are of standard gauge, proving that their builders had an eye for the future. It is the linking together of some of these stub lines which now appears to engage the attention of railroad interests."
Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1928, page B4

Last revised January 6, 2023