Medford in 1914

Rogue Valley Folk Are Ones in Thousands.
Farmers Go to Opera in Autos and Garbed in Full Dress.
David Swing Rlcker Finds All That Goes to Make Up Most Desirable Communities in Vicinities of Medford and Ashland.
    MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 25.--(Special.)--Few of us are self-steering men. We let others steer us. We sit among the cushions, contented, complacent or in a quarrel with our desires and our purposes and let other hands manipulate the steering gear.
    Usually our chauffeur is Circumstance. Sometimes Lack-of-Opportunity or Shortsightedness. Most often it's Poverty. But whatever his name--the name we blame so that we may hold ourselves blameless--we allow him to take us wherever he wants us to go.
Most People Followers.
    We surrender our right of self-command and our privilege to give direction. We are followers. We accept leadership. We mark time. Out of 20,000 of us one of us is able to steer himself. The rest of us are steered. That's because something is the matter with most of us.
    If we have initiative, we lack the ambition to use it. If we have the ambition, we are without the sand. If we have the sand, we haven't the money or the ingenuity to get it.
    We accept our destiny as we accept our baptism, without protestation, because of the selection of occupation as in the ejection of creed we are hampered by the expectations of our relatives, who won't live to suffer with us the grief that comes with the mistakes they gave to us when they asked us to keep in step with family traditions.
Jackson Folk Self-Steerers.
    To the casual reader the foregoing observations would seem to have little or nothing to do with the resources, the fruitfulness or the good roads of Jackson County and its one best bet--the Rogue River Valley. But they have. They have a lot to do with all of them.
    It is the self-steering man who has made Jackson County and its unequaled valley. The self-steering man lets nothing stand in his way. He fixes his destination. Then he slashes the bush and clears the path that leads to it. If blades and axes and saws fall him, he uses fire. If fire fails him he uses dollars. He destroys the barriers that stand in his way. He holds the steering wheel in his two hands. He has an instinct for self-leadership. He determines what kind of a life pleases him most; then he leads it. He doesn't say he would lead it if he could. He does lead it. He tears down every obstruction.
Rogue Valley Men Impress.
    The Rogue River Valley is crowded with men who ought to have been lawyers or doctors or politicians or publishers or bankers or brokers--ought to have been had they allowed family traditions to direct their lives. But they concluded to snap their fingers at ghosts and ancestral memories. Jeer at tradition, laugh at predestination's grip on society, tear loose from the harrowing narrowness and the stifling closeness of the occupations that had been marked down for them and go back to the land!
    That "back to the land" cry we have heard so much of lately has set most of us to thinking. That is the difference between us and the men down here. It set them to doing.
    Like most of us they dreamed of a bungalow-shelter set down among fruit-giving trees in a valley filled with soft air and sunshine, the rosy glow of exquisite dawns, the glare of richly colored evenings and wind-tossed, sun-painted, perfume-exhaling blossoms. Unlike most of us, they got up and did what they dreamed.
    And they are here--many of the ones in many twenty thousands, the men with the nerve, and the resolution back of the nerve, to steer themselves and to choose the sort of life that pleases them most.
Many States Represented.
    One group came from Chicago, one from Minneapolis, one from the Dakotas and smaller groups from New York and other places farther back East.
    One by one they settled in the Rogue River Valley. They believed they had found Paradise. They still believe it. They are surer now than they were then. And other groups are coming. And they believe they have found Paradise. And they are going to be surer of it tomorrow than they were yesterday. Whether it's self-hypnotism or just a feeling caught out of the air, everyone's got it and whatever else it has done or has not done, the feeling that "here is Paradise" has built up the most contented community I ever have discovered engaged in the occupation of farming or gathered together in a city of 10,000 people. And what have they done--these people who are so cock-sure they have found Paradise?
    They have set about their work as orchardists with an earnestness that has enabled them to produce several world's record yields of pears for the acre.
    They have gone about the work of producing for the markets with the same quality of zeal that their father and grandfathers went about the work of controlling the markets.
Civic Pride Created.
    They have helped to create the civic pride that has laid 20 miles of asphalt-paved streets in Medford.
    They have brought to their little "paradise" the life of the East. They have organized a University Club with more than a hundred members--graduates of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Cornell, from nearly every university of importance in America. They have established a country club with golf links and tennis courts; a drama league with an enthusiastic membership; a splendid theater, a hotel with metropolitan atmosphere and furnishings. And they dance the tango!
    The other day my wife and I were invited to the country club. We found 18 cars standing at the entrance--cars that belonged to the silk-stocking farmers and orchardists of "Paradise." Last night we strolled past a church where they were holding choir practice. There were seven cars standing at the curb.
    At night at the Medford theater both sides of the streets are lined with cars, standing two abreast. The farmers of Rogue River Valley come to town with their wives to see the "troupe" at the "opry-house."
Evening Clothes Farmers' Garb.
    The University Club gave a tango dance. The farmers came in evening clothes and their wives with bared shoulders. In the farmhouses you do not find embroidered towels thrown over chair backs, embroidered piano scarfs or Battenburg! You find Chippendale and Sheraton, Sheffield and Warsaw and old English prints. And it is by these impressions that Medford lets you take its measure.
    It was late in the afternoon that my wife and I swung into the main street of this miniature metropolis of a miniature empire and made our way to the hotel. As we pushed open the swinging doors and stepped into the hotel office, we got our first impression of Medford. Unconsciously my wife's hands tucked some stray hairs into place and adjusted a hatpin. To get rid of my pack I motioned to a bell boy and allowed my freed arm to drop carelessly over the patch in my khaki coat. I was conscious of my unshaved chin.
    We slipped away that night to a little cafe down by the railroad tracks and ate our supper behind the shielding curtains of a booth. Thus did we gain our first impression of Medford's atmosphere--an impression that faded like the chilling and unpleasant mists of morning long before the mists themselves next morning surrendered to the sun while we stood on top of Ben Sheldon's hill and found about us a gathering of friendly names.
Growing Instinct Shown.
    Off under Wagner's Butte and the Grizzly Peak, nestled against the skirts of Roxy Anne, down in the valley, over toward Table Rock and the foothills of the Coast Range set down in natural snuggeries or looking out on the panorama of mountains, budding trees, bending river and well-kept city from the flattened tops of gently sloped hills were the shelters of folks from back home, city folks called to the country by the charm of an irresistible landscape or the natural impulse to make things grow--the impulse that causes the city-reared child to plant a peach stone or a watermelon seed and sprinkle the spot with water in the hope of prevailing upon a tiny tendril to break through the earth and open a leaf to the sun.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 26, 1914, page 1

Medford and Southern Oregon
(From the Portland Oregonian)
   June is perhaps the best month to visit Southern Oregon. The weather is balmy. Cool winds sweep gently across the landscape. The healthy green of foliage and grain harmonizes with the mild blue sky. Vegetation glistens in the sunlight with the vigor of its growth. The fruit trees, pruned to a sturdy framework of branches, have already put forth long shoots. Over the porches of the houses Virginia creepers fairly scramble upward, such is the energy of the life in them. Roses riot everywhere in color and fragrance. But, speaking of fragrance, nothing can compare with that of a clover field in bloom. Toward night as the air cools, the honeyed odor of the clover blossoms makes it almost cloyingly sweet so that a traveler on the gloaming highway might fancy without much difficulty that he was speeding through a paradise without any serpents.
    The alsike clover, as well as the great fields of vetches twining among thrifty oats, is for the dairy cows. All up the Willamette Valley, in every mountain vale between Cottage Grove and Grants Pass, and everywhere in the Rogue River section, the dairy cow is queen, and the whole country shows the blessings of her kindly reign. Western Oregon has been transformed magically in the last dozen years. Lumbering has helped in the change, perhaps mining has done something here and there and certainly fruit has played an important part, but to the dairy cow we must ascribe most of the miracle.
    The wonder of new life and creative energy shows everywhere. The farmhouses have shuffled off that forlorn aspect of contented shiftlessness which was once so disheartening to the traveler. Paint has made them bright and cheerful. Ambition speaks in the gay flower gardens, the sleek horses and cattle, the big new barns and the neat surroundings. The hapless motorist who begs a pail of cool water for his hot engine receives it, not from the old oaken bucket, germ-laden and backbreaking, but from a mountain stream through pipes that serve the farmer's kitchen and bedroom. The farmer himself bubbles over with interest in the great world. He is up to the minute upon the Mexican situation. He is alert to get the latest wisdom about the business situation. The good roads movement has become something more than a city fad to him, for he has bought an auto.
    All the way from Eugene to Ashland, Oregon is astir with a road making revolution. Just south of Eugene they are making a highway where for many years there has been a rack, for men and horses. Between Cottage Grove and Drain the good work is humming. The frightful grade through the Cow Creek Canyon has been made passable on the south side. On the north it still waits for the engineer's magic, but stakes have been stuck to show where work is soon to begin. The grades between Glendale and Grants Pass are now in fair condition on both side of the mountain, so that a car runs pleasantly where once a packhorse trod in momentarily peril of its life. The Pacific Highway from Ashland to Eugene is not a perfect road by any means, but it is improving so rapidly that last year's pilgrims would recognize it today.
    Next to the encouraging signs of good dairying, the young orchards along the road delight the eye of the attentive traveler. Walnuts are working their way into favor over an astonishing large territory. No big groves are in sight from the highway, but hundreds of tree have been planted, experimentally perhaps, among fruit trees, and they seem to thrive in all sorts of situations on the hillsides as well as on the valley floors. It is noticeable that the walnut flourishes particularly well where native oaks abound. Better than the mere planting of orchards is the tidy cultivation they are receiving. There are no neglected plantings to be seen between Portland and Ashland, from the Pacific Highway at least, of course the varieties are almost countless. Apples of many kinds, peaches, prunes, pears, walnuts, loganberries have been planted, and all seem to promise well.
    The peach, which begins at Eugene as a somewhat risky experiment, bursts into splendid vigor as one approaches Grants Pass. Apples thrive everywhere. But nowhere has the foliage that enchanting luster and the twigs that sturdy vigor which one observes in the Rogue River country. Perhaps the principal charm of travel through that favored region is the constant spectacle of growing orchards. There are many old plantings in full bearing, of course, but as hope delights us more than fulfillment, so the young trees with their promise of wealth and happiness to come give the traveler more pleasure than the old veterans which have done as well as they ever can.
    The modified delights of motoring over the Pacific Highway in Oregon are sweetened by the many good hotels which have sprung up in the towns along its course. No doubt these hotels, for the most part conducted by women, have been nourished, if not created, by the automobile. The traffic arising from this expensive toy is already considerable and its promise is large. It has transformed the standards of hotel keepers, diffused urban comforts through all the big Western Oregon towns, and encouraged a mode of entertaining travelers which has more of Switzerland than of local pioneer days in it. Except in small villages, where motorists rarely stop, the hideous hostelry of olden times is but a nightmare vanished from reality if not from memory.
    Nor are good hotels the only mark of the new and energetic Oregon city. It is curious to note the garages which have been called into being by the motorcar, one at least even in small places, half a dozen in bustling centers like Medford. Whoever wants proof that mechanical inventions change the lives and habits of men may profitably contemplate these shops which have sprung up like mushrooms in the last few years and now support a great army of workmen, too, well paid, intelligent and self-respecting. The garages are like Jonah's gourd for growth, and we need not fear that they will wither like that unfortunate vine.
    Nor will the new pavements in the Western Oregon towns be likely to disappear, for centuries to come. What a wonderful stretch the surfaced streets would make if they could be placed end to end! Salem, Albany, Eugene, Corvallis, Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland have all been spending money like water to pave and beautify their streets. And at the same time they have been building new stores, banks and churches faster even than the dairies and orchards roundabout have developed. A visitor who had not seen Eugene for ten years would not recognize the town. The pioneer buildings have been swept away. In their places stand solid and beautiful structures whose facades look calmly down on the smooth, gray pavements, all made to endure.
    No Western Oregon town has changed for the better more than Medford in the last few years. The streets are so wide that every building shows all its good points, the dwellings speak plainly of taste and the means to gratify it, and the stores cater evidently to patrons who know and desire the good things of the world. Medford seems singularly metropolitan to the passing traveler. Is it because the orchards have attracted colonists from all parts of the world?
Medford Sun, June 23, 1914, page 4

Medford Prosperous Despite Shortage of Fruit.
Bad Bills Are Few, Streets Well Laid Oat, New Buildings Under Way, Farm Exhibits Gathered for Jackson County Fair.

    MEDFORD, Or., Sept. 4.--(Special.)--Of the 10.000 or 12,000 comprising the population of Medford, all who are old enough to think believe that they live in the finest city in the world. They not only believe, but can prove that Medford is in the exact center of the earth, that the distance from here around the world and back to the starting point, say at the Southern Pacific depot, is just the same whether you start to the east or to the west. They will tell you that this central location is responsible for the Rogue River Valley having the finest climate in the world--I mean this particular part of the valley. I make this proviso for the reason that the Rogue is some river and has numerous valleys along its banks, some of which are claimed by other towns.
Town Beautifully Laid Out.
    I am free to admit that Medford is a city of great beauty. Fine buildings, wide and well-paved streets, kept scrupulously clean; splendid lawns and shade trees, with an abundance of water to maintain continual verdure and all under the fairest sunshine and in as pure and invigorating atmosphere as can be found in the world; all of these assets Medford seems to have.
    You will hear that the Medford country is going to be shy on fruit, particularly on apples and pears, this fall. Nobody knows just why the failure is to occur. It cannot be laid entirely to the drought. Even last spring before the blossoming began it was known that the yield would be short. All season the prospects have grown poorer and poorer, and now it is sure there will not be much more than an eighth of a crop.
Bad Bills Are Few.
    A drummer from Portland told me that he had booked larger orders here than he did a year ago, and that the collections in Medford would compare more than favorably with the other cities of about the same size in Oregon and Washington.
    And this drummer said his house had been selling goods to from three to ten houses in Medford continuously for more than 25 years, and the losses on bad bills would not sum up to a mill on the dollar. Indeed they had lost but two small bills, and that was during the panic of 1907.
    Secretary F. U. Streets says the area planted in corn this year was much larger in the valley than ever before, but it will be materially increased next year. As to hogs and dairy cows, the same story of increase is told.
    Medford has two daily newspapers, the Evening Mail Tribune and the Morning Sun. The Sun is run by S. S. Smith as manager and Robert Waldo Ruhl as editor. The Mail Tribune is responsible for George Putnam, one of the best-known editors in the state. Mr. Putnam is also fully responsible for the Mail Tribune. He is also responsible for a whole lot of other things. All of the candidates in the county are either for or against Putnam--for, if they land. That is, as a rule.
    The Farmers & Fruitgrowers' Bank has a capital of $50,000, surplus of $2031 and deposits of $158,800. Delroy Getchell is president, T. B. Lumsden cashier. The Jackson County Bank has a capital of $100,000, a surplus of $75,000, and undivided profits of $14,386, and deposits of $561,000. W. I. Vawter is president, C. W. McDonald cashier. The First National Bank has a capital of $100,000, a surplus of $30,000, undivided profits of $26,999, and deposits of $637,000. F. K. Deuel is president, W. L. Alford cashier. The Medford National Bank has a capital of $100,000, a surplus of $25,000, undivided profits of $22,656 and deposits of $617,000. W. H. Gore is president, John S. Orth cashier. These deposits total almost $2,000,000, which is mighty good when it is considered that deposits at this time of the year are at their very lowest ebb.
    The percentage of cash on hand and in reserve banks is not only far above the requirements of the law for the Medford banks, but for all of the 15 banks in the county, showing that the entire county of Jackson is in good financial condition.
New Elks' Temple Under Way.
    One of the finest of the new structures not yet quite completed is the magnificent Elks' Temple. The contract soon will be awarded for the erection of the Federal building, for which $110,000 is now available. When completed Medford will be in the front rank of Oregon cities for postal and other government quarters.
    The Medford Commercial Club has always been an organization of great merit. It never goes moribund, never sleeps, is always alert and active for the good of the valley.
County to Hold Fair.
    Jackson County is to hold the regular county fair September 9 to 12, and as usual it will probably be one of the best agricultural and fruit exhibits in Oregon; for the Jackson people seldom do anything by halves never in the way of exhibiting their products.
    One of the prime resources of Medford is the Crater Lake trade, for this is the logical place to come to to get to that great scenic wonder. There are daily autos from here, over 80 miles and return. The Southern Pacific Railway makes a special round-trip rate from Portland and Medford of $13; the stage fare is $18. Perhaps no one could find in the country a trip of equal grandeur at so low a price.
    The hotels here are exceedingly good. They are usually run by Emil Moore. At least he has three, the Medford being the finest. There is one independent of the Mohr trust, the Nash. One cannot be far amiss by taking the first one he reaches.

Sunday Oregonian, Portland, September 6, 1914, page 10

    MEDFORD (Mahlon Purdin, Mayor)--Incorporated in [1885]. Altitude, 1,377 feet; area, 2,080 acres; population, 11,500. Is 329 miles south of Portland, and 434 miles north of San Francisco, on the main line of the Southern Pacific railroad; five miles east of Jacksonville, the county seat, and is the present western terminus of the Pacific & Eastern railway, now in operation to Butte Falls, in the midst of the great timber belt in the Cascade foothills, 35 miles to the east. Is also the terminus of the Rogue River Valley railroad, in operation to Jacksonville, and junction point with the Southern Pacific. Assessed valuation of city property is $5,608,090; bonded indebtedness, $1,174,250. Four brick public school buildings and one brick high school building aggregate a value of $150,000; also a private school, St. Mary's Academy, managed by the Catholic sisters, and a business college. There are 12 churches, Adventists, Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Christian Science, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, German Lutheran, Free Methodist, Methodist (South) and Presbyterian. Skilled labor receives $4 per day and upward, and common labor $2.50 to $3 per day. Paid fire department with equipment, including auto fire truck, costing $15,000. Electric light plant is privately owned. Has a gas plant, privately owned. Gravity water system, installed at an expense of $450,000, and furnishing a water supply sufficient for a city of 25,000, is owned by the city. Fruit growing, diversified farming and mining are the principal industries of the surrounding country. Gold, copper, cinnabar, iron and asbestos mines exist in the county, but the mining industry, except gold mining, has been at a standstill for the past several years. There are two first-class hotels and several others, grocery stores, hardware stores, general merchandise stores, etc., sufficient for a city of its size, with planing mills, brick yards, lumber yard, blacksmith shop and garages, also sufficient; cigar factory, 11 saloons paying $1,000 license per year, two ice plants and pre-cooling station for fruit. Public library that cost $35,000, and the bids have been called for construction of federal building to house the post office, U.S. forestry and pathologist's offices and U.S. weather bureau, all located here, at a cost of $100,000. United States Court holds term of court here once a year. Public market built by the city; space furnished free to farmers, where splendid exhibits of varied products of the surrounding country may be seen. Has two daily newspapers and four banks, two national and two state. Also a fine public park in the heart of the city. Also a natatorium and amusement place, with plunge and tub baths, dancing floors, skating rinks, etc., under private ownership. Canning factory for fruits and vegetables has recently been built. Jackson County has voted $500,000 bonds for building of permanent highway which will pass through Medford. Crater Lake National Park, one of Nature's most marvelous scenic creations and situated about 80 miles northeast, at the summit of the Cascade Range of mountains in Klamath County, is within easy auto and other vehicle stages from Medford.
Sixth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Inspector of Factories and Workshops of the State of Oregon from October 1, 1912 to September 30, 1914,
Oregon State Printing Department, 1915, page 125

Last revised April 2, 2014