Medford in 1901

Jackson County, incorporated as a city in [1885], in the Rogue River Valley, on Bear Creek, 328 miles south of Portland, 443 north of San Francisco, and 5 east of Jacksonville, the county seat, on the Southern Pacific railway, settled in 1884. Contains Christian, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Episcopal South, Presbyterian and Catholic churches, public school, opera house seating 600, water works, fire department, electric light plant, three newspapers--Enquirer (Democrat, weekly), Medford Mail (Republican, weekly) and Pacific Rural World (semi-monthly), two banks and the Medford roller mill, capacity 100 bbls. The Hotel Nash is a prominent institution. A distillery, brewery, two planing mills and a saw mill are located here. Annual rainfall 20 to 40 inches, averaging about 26 inches. Among the leading placer mines in the vicinity is the Sterling mine, which yields from $60,000 to $100,000 annually. Another industry of Medford is the Sugar Pine Company, which at present is hauling 100,000 feet of sugar pine lumber per week 35 miles with a large traction engine, averaging 24,000 feet each trip. Water canal ten feet on the bottom and sixteen feet on top is now being surveyed from Butte Creek and Fish Lake; when finished will be about 45 miles long, to furnish power and water for Medford. The land is fertile, suited to grain and fruit. Shipments, flour, fruit and livestock; quartz and placer mining extensively carried on. Population 2,500. Telegraph Pacific Post and Western Union. Express Wells Fargo & Co. Mail daily. George F. Merriman, postmaster.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1901-02,
page 225     Abbreviations spelled out to facilitate searching.

    Medford is located almost directly in the center of the Rogue River Valley. It is fifteen miles north of Ashland and six miles northeast of Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County. It has a population close to 3,000 people, and there are very few towns which are showing greater growth and evidence of prosperity than this place. Its principal resources are horticulture, agriculture and stockraising. Although but a comparatively young town, it has, in the matter of progress, outstripped many of the older places of the county. It comprises about all that a first-class, thriving city of its size needs, to make it thoroughly independent and up-to-date.
    Among the enterprises to be noted are packing-houses, cold-storage plants, brewery, flouring mill and saw and planing mill. It has excellent schools, numerous churches and, on the whole, has as bright a prospect as any young city in the whole State of Oregon today. As an illustration of how extensive its fruitgrowing industry has become and how famous the apples grown there are becoming, the following is cited: During the recent fall an order was received by one of the fruitgrowers from the president of Wells, Fargo & Co. for 1,000 boxes of apples. These were to be put up and shipped to a list of names sent him by the president. They comprised people located in all parts of the United States, and were sent out simply as a present, or a reminder of the good things which could be found upon the Pacific Coast. As an advertisement for Oregon-grown fruits nothing could excel it. People are settling in and about Medford very rapidly, and it will not be long before all the lands in this vicinity will be occupied and turned to profit. What will assist Medford more than anything else is the construction, now under way, of an irrigating plant. Water will be brought in from a considerable distance and in such large volume as to enable the irrigation of a very great tract of land not now found profitable to cultivate, besides furnishing power for electrical and other purposes, This plant will be completed within the coming year, without a doubt.
    A good hotel denotes a good town, and in this particular Medford is very good. The Hotel Nash, of which I. L. Hamilton is the proprietor, is one of the very excellent places to be found in the interior part of the state. Mr. Hamilton has been conducting this house for six years. While it is the only hotel of consequence in the town, it is conducted so good and upon such liberal lines that there is really no need for another. Mr. Hamilton has built up such a large business that during the coming year another story will be added, and in this way a third more room will be provided for the guests he now finds hard to accommodate.
Alfred D. Bowen, Oregon and the Orient, 1901, page 143

    BLOOMFIELD, IOWA, Aug. 2, '01.       
    EDITOR MAIL:--I thought it good to write you a brief letter, giving some of my impressions and observations on a recent visit to that vicinity. We arrived at Medford on May 4th. We were greatly surprised to find it a beautiful town of two or three thousand inhabitants, and all grown up in the last seventeen years. Its situation and surroundings are beautiful and picturesque beyond any conception we had formed of it, being situated in the midst of a beautiful and fertile valley, with gently rounded knolls, foothills and abrupt, wooded mountains forming pleasing features of the landscape in various directions.
    The climate seems to be salubrious. According to the testimony of the inhabitants, the country is exceedingly healthful. If its merits in these respects were fully understood abroad, it would deserve attention as a health and pleasure resort equally with many places which have become famous as such.
    This seems to be an era of coal oil discovery. Many new regions are attracting attention on account of these discoveries, and this region of Southern Oregon among the rest. On the farm which was the chief scene of our visit, the farm belonging to Mrs. Priscilla Evans and heirs, about five miles northeast of Medford, are strong indications of oil. On either side of a large knoll near Mrs. Evans' residence rise two springs, and we were told that the water flowing from these springs was often covered with oil to the thickness of a pane of window glass. Other places in the neighborhood showed indications of oil. Men were there while we were there, seeking to bond the land to prospect for oil.
    We greatly enjoyed our five weeks' visit in the vicinity of Medford. If we should be permitted to return there in two or three years, we may find the beauty and picturesqueness of the scene marred by oil wells scattered through this once-beautiful valley, and the neat and thriving town of Medford transformed into a great, bustling oil metropolis.
Medford Mail, August 16, 1901, page 2

Bouquets for Southern Oregon
From the Sherburn (Minn.) Advance.
M. M. Jenkins is in receipt of a letter from his daughter, Miss Hope, who is visiting in the state of Oregon. We are permitted to publish a portion of the letter regarding her observations, along the line of fruit raising and other lines of interest to people in Minnesota. Under date of Oct. 12th, she writes from Medford (Oregon):
    "I have been here just a week, and the more I see of the country the better I like it, and if half they tell me is true, it certainly is a very delightful country. Thursday we drove to Jacksonville, the county seat. Coming back we came by what is known as the mountain road, but I would never have known it had I not been told. Both going and coming we passed such prosperous-looking places, and so many of them have large apple, peach, pear and prune orchards. The valley has gone quite extensively into the prune raising, and they say hundreds of bushels are going to waste for the want of dryers. Land is raising in value quite rapidly around here. Alfalfa seems to be the most profitable crop. After getting the land once seeded down it does not have to be seeded again for ten years. Three crops can be cut from it during the season, and average from four to six tons to the acre and brings from $8 to $10 per ton. As near as I can figure it, this will be the home of farmer millionaires in a very few years. The greatest drawback to the valley is the Southern Pacific railway. The freight rates are simply outrageous. There is a railroad here that has never experienced any trouble with strikes. It runs from here to Jacksonville, a distance of five miles, and it is owned and operated by a man and his son. The rolling stock consists of an engine, a passenger and baggage car combined and one freight car. They make two trips a day, and the road is well patronized. One thing which I cannot understand out here is that you can see anything off fifteen miles, and it won't look more than a half mile distant."
Medford Mail, November 8, 1901, page 2

All Kinds of Questions Are Asked.
    People in the East and South are always asking all sorts of questions regarding Oregon. These questions are ofttimes too ridiculous to be taken seriously or answered intelligently. Below is a list received this week by one of our citizens, which we print because of the fact that there are several new ones and someone who may receive this paper in the East may want to add them to their list of foolish inquiry. There are some of the questions, however, which are such as any prospective locator would want to know, and these we will endeavor to answer. Here is the list:
    "Is the climate mild?" Answer:--Yes. There is probably not a country anywhere with a more even temperature than here. The climate in Southern Oregon is a very agreeable medium between the extreme wet and fog of northern Oregon and Washington and the warm, dry climate of California. Here the weather is neither too hot nor too cold; or neither too dry nor too wet--just right for all purposes.
    "What about the winter; is it long or short?" Answer:--We in reality have no winter as the term is understood in the East. From the middle of November to April we have frequent showers of rain--from one to two days each week--with warm sunshine between and some frost at night. Rarely ever any snow in the valley. Unprotected water pipes are rarely ever frozen.
    "Are the summers very warm?" Answer:--Yes. Ofttimes the temperature reaches 100 in the shade, but there are never any prostrations from heat. The atmosphere is so dry--never humid during warm weather as it is in the East--that no inconvenience is experienced, and all work progresses at the same pace it does with the temperature at 70. The nights are always cool.
    "What would it cost to build a small, comfortable house?" Answer:--A five- or six-room cottage can be built for from $400 to $700. Price would depend largely upon a person's idea of comfort. A dwelling which will serve all purposes and be comfortable so far as ample protection from the weather is concerned can be built for much less than figures given above.
    "What are the wages for a Chinaman servant, a cowboy, a shepherd, a cook, servants and workmen?" Answer:--Few people here employ Chinamen. Servants are an unknown quantity in most Southern Oregon families. The wages of a good farm hand range from $18 to $26 per month, and he don't usually care very much whether he herds cattle, stacks alfalfa or sprays fruit trees. The wages of a hired girl are from $2.50 to $4 per week. In most Southern Oregon homes the hired girl is the whole thing--cook, general housekeeper, washerwoman, servant (?) and companion--sometimes. In fact she is it from cellar to garret.
    "What is the price of a cow, horse, sheep, mule (this isn't what he called it), pig, poultry?" Answer:--Cows are worth from $20 to $70; horses, from $35 to $125; sheep, from $2.50 to $3.50 per head; mules, about the same as horses; hogs, from $4 to $5 per hundredweight; chickens, from $2.50 to $3.50 per dozen; turkeys, 9 cents per pound; ducks, $3 per dozen; gees, $5 per dozen.
    "What is the price of meat, a bag of flour, a bag of potatoes, of bread?" Answer:--Meat retails at any of Medford's three markets at from 8 to 15 cents per pound; a 50-pound "bag" of flour is worth 85 cents; a "bag" of potatoes--100 pounds--is worth from a cent to a cent and a half a pound; a loaf of bread will cost a five-cent nickel. You can buy six loaves for five nickels.
    "How are sold the cattle? Do the people buy on the farm?" Answer:--Cattle are sold almost any old way at from $3.50 to $4.50 hundredweight. People do not buy on the farm, but city buyers buy FROM the farmers who have raised cattle ON the farm.
    "Do the grazing cattle sell easily?" Answer:--Yes. Ofttimes the buyers are sold, but this is not general, as Southern Oregon beef is a prime article always. The buyer with the longest sack [i.e., biggest purse] always ships the longest trainloads of cattle.
    "How many sheep can a shepherd keep?" Answer:--On the range two herders usually handle from 3000 to 4000.
    "How many cows will a cowboy keep?" Answer:--Depends altogether on what he is doing with the cows. Ofttimes four cowboys can keep one cow very satisfactorily, then again and under different conditions 100 cows can be kept headed for the home ranch by one cowboy. Then again the number of cows a cowboy can "keep" depends upon the distinctness of the brands. As a usual thing he will keep all he can and keep himself out of the penitentiary.
    "Is Medford a consequent town, and can I find the necessaries for my living and nothing too expensive?" Answer:--Yes, sir. Medford is of more consequence than a bunch lot of all the other towns of the valley--with an apology to Tolo. Medford is a town of 2500 people. Every line of business is represented here. You can buy anything you will need to live on--from a cambric needle to a threshing machine. All household necessities are very reasonable in price in Medford--cheaper in fact than in most coast towns. Prices do not vary much from those of eastern towns, except in cases of local production, where we are undoubtedly cheaper.
    "Are the sheep subject to disease; do they all die off at once?" Answer:--No. There is no disease here peculiar to sheep except scab, and this succumbs very readily to treatment. They die off at once when the butcher decides he needs one for the block, or they get caught in a barbed wire fence--and these are sometimes for the block.
    "Can I find in Medford the agricultural instruments necessary on a farm, and are they expensive?" Answer:--About the only agricultural "instrument" necessary on a farm is a piano, although many farmers seem happy and prosperous who have only the music of a buck saw, the crow of the family rooster and a threshing machine with which to amuse themselves. Agricultural implements, however, can be bought in Medford from one or all of three dealers and at prices as low as they can be bought for elsewhere.
Medford Mail, November 29, 1901, page 2

    Medford is the second town in size in Jackson County, occupies a central position to the agricultural region, is a place of much enterprise, is rapidly growing, does an extensive business, and is well equipped with schools and other things required to make a prosperous and lively town. Medford's position will always give it an importance in Southern Oregon. A large ditch is now in course of construction which is intended ultimately to carry the waters of Butte Creek around the foothills of the valley for irrigation purposes, and to supply Medford with the necessary quantity of excellent water for all purposes, domestic and irrigation.
C. B. Watson, "Jackson County,"
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1902, page 22

Last revised April 30, 2013