Medford in 1923

Also see the Bixby columns for this year.

MEDFORD. Jackson County. Population 5,756. Is the commercial and business center of famous Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon. It is located on the Southern Pacific railway and on the Pacific Highway. It is a terminal for the Medford Coast Railroad, which line is electrified. The elevation of Medford is 1,368 feet. The average temperature for the past 20 years has been 55 degrees. The annual rainfall is from 18 to 22 inches. Surrounded by 25,000 acres of irrigated lands. Medford is the gateway to Crater Lake. Auto stage every day. It has a cosmopolitan population; people from every state in the Union have come here to make their permanent homes. The following are some facts about Medford: The best paved city for its size in the world, having 25 miles of pavement; 26.21 miles of sewers; water mains 28.45 miles, cement sidewalks, 4 grade schools and one high school, St. Mary's Academy, business college, conservatory of music, and a kindergarten. Modern-equipped fire department, electricity and gas for lighting, heating and power purposes, 4 banks, a public library, 3 modern hotels, 3 second-class hotels, 5 restaurants, 6 apartment houses, 3 weekly and 1 daily newspaper, city park, baseball park, fair grounds, auto camp grounds, country club. Five ladies' clubs, farm bureau cooperative exchange, Chamber of Commerce. All denominations of churches, two hospitals, opera house, two movie houses and a natatorium. All leading lodges and societies. Federal building and offices of weather bureau, district forestry, U.S. [plant] pathologist. Public market, jobbing and wholesale center, aviation landing field. Auto stages--interurban auto routes to all points of Southern Oregon, hourly service to Ashland. Auto stage to Roseburg and Klamath Falls, stops at all towns along line; also auto stage station on line from Los Angeles to Portland. Has 4 lumber mills, one of which has a daily capacity of 125,000 feet. Two box factories, 2 large creameries, 2 fruit and vegetable canneries, fruit evaporating plant, pickling and catsup works. Eight fruit associations with 2 large pre-cooling plants. The district surrounding Medford is the greatest pear country on the coast and one of the best apple-growing districts. Stock raising and diversified farming are among the greatest resources of the valley. Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., Independent Telephone Co. Telegraph Western Union. Express American Railway.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1923-24,
page 299     Abbreviations spelled out to facilitate searching.

is the "biggest little city" in the West. In the heart of the Rogue River Valley, whose pears are known wherever fruit is eaten. Business center of Jackson County and of Rogue River district. Gateway to Crater Lake and other scenic wonders. Altitude 1350 feet. Population 7500.
Southern Pacific Co., "Oregon for the Settler," August 8, 1923 edition, page 60

    THE GOOD OLD DAYS! Every now and then someone hereabouts heaves a sigh and regrets that Medford isn't the Medford of the golden days--the boom days--the get-rich-quick days of 1910-11.
    To hear these gloomy goslings talk, one would suppose that Medford reached its pinnacle a decade ago and has been steadily declining ever since.
    As a matter of fact, the very reverse is true. Many years ago Medford did have a boom, which is only another term for an economic spree, and like most sprees in the pre-Volstead era, there was an awful headache the next morning.
    The good-old-day wailers have never gotten over that headache. Their heads have never cleared up. Nor their eyes. Convinced that the boom had busted, they proceeded to assume that Medford had busted, and they have been suffering under the delusion ever since.
    The good old days. Oh, if they would only come back. Well, let's hope they don't. For booms, while exhilarating, never last. And in the end they always cost more than they are worth.
    Today Medford is in better shape in every way than it has ever been before. It has more people, it has more homes, it has more money in the banks, it has more payrolls, it has more prosperity and it has better promise for the future than it ever had before.
    This isn't booster talk. It isn't even propaganda--as yet. It is the plain unvarnished truth supported by plain undeniable facts.
    The Medford Chamber of Commerce has recently completed what might be termed an economic survey of the city. The results have been charged. The survey includes everything from bank deposits to building permits, and from precipitation to postal receipts--and the index line of every chart is not only higher than in those so-called good old days, but in nearly every case has steadily risen ever since!
    These charts are soon to be printed in this paper [see below]. They will make excellent reading. The will be particularly excellent for those poor victims of the inferiority complex, who harp on the good old days, without realizing for a moment apparently that they can't hold a candle to the days that are here.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 17, 1923, page 4

Has Found

Chamber of Commerce
Medford, Oregon

What Does This Survey Show?

That everything points to PROSPERITY and UPWARD DEVELOPMENT
in Medford and vicinity.



This booklet is the answer.

Committee of the Medford Chamber of Commerce
in charge of this survey.
R. W. RUHL, Chairman
Editorials by R. W. Ruhl.

    Once upon a time Medford had a boom. Like most booms the Medford boom busted. Also like most booms the Medford boom was followed by several years of acute depression, rendered all the more painful by the contrast between abnormal activity and subnormal activity.
    That Medford boom has never been forgotten. Its aftereffects have never been forgotten. But what has been forgotten, what very few local residents have apparently realized, is that several years ago Medford recovered from this boom collapse, regained its normal health, and since then has been going steadily forward, until today Medford is in every way in better condition than it has ever been before.
    In an effort to dispel this inferiority complex, to return Medford to that spirit of optimism and self-confidence and faith in its destiny, which the conditions justify, the Mail Tribune is starting today a series of statistical articles, illustrated by charts, showing in graphic form just what condition this city is in today, just what condition it was in during the so-called boom days, and just what condition it has been in during the period intervening.
*   *   *   *
    These statistical charts have been prepared by the Medford Chamber of Commerce. But they are not of the familiar and somewhat discredited "hot-air" type. It is not pretended that they show Medford is once more a boom town, that the economic millennium has again arrived, that all the people of Medford have to do is open their eyes and see a city of 100,000 people tomorrow morning.
    Not at all. These charts are not even booster propaganda. In a sense, they are not propaganda at all. They are merely official facts, supported in every case by the official records, giving in chart diagram form the true history of Medford's business development during the past twelve or fourteen years, the good and the bad.
    Know Thyself! That is the idea. These articles are printed so that the people of Medford may know what their city really is, what its condition is today and therefore what it is reasonable to believe its future is to be.
*   *   *   *
    The first charts printed below show the growth in building permits and telephones. In explanation of these charts and those which follow it should be noted that no pretense is made that this is a complete survey, or even that all important local developments have been included. The committee in charge, instructed to find out the precise business condition of Medford at the present time, simply adopted the methods employed for a similar purpose in other fields.
    Limited by space and time, the committee proceeded to investigate as many salient departments of the community as possible and particularly departments in no way related, so that the final result could be fairly termed representative. No attempt was made to pick and choose. What might be called "samples" were taken here and there without any particular system and the results tabulated.
    It might be stated at the outset that the committee members were amazed at the result. We believe anyone who carefully studies today's tables and those which will follow will also be amazed to find just how encouraging the local situation is.
    The first samples are printed below, and more will follow until the survey has been completed:

Building Permits.
    Medford enjoyed no war prosperity, but since the war her growth and industrial improvement has been steady and consistent. See how the building permit curve has jumped upward since 1918 from a value of $6,900 to a value of $332,335 for nine months of 1923, an increase of nearly 5000 percent in less than one year. This record will undoubtedly be exceeded in 1924. For Medford has a genuine house shortage. There is a crying need for more homes to rent and buy, particularly of the better class. There is a great opportunity here for business capital to make a safe and profitable investment in new and modern home construction.

    This chart tells the same general story. Over fifty percent increase in the number of phones in Medford in the past nine years. The record starts at 1674 phones in January, 1914, and the increase is gradual until 1920, when the number of phones jumps sharply upward.

Receipts Municipal Water System.
    In these days everyone drinks water. The sensational increase in water consumption indicated above merely confirms from another angle the truth of the statement that Medford is bigger and better today than ever before in its history. Of course the almost perpendicular rise in 1917 is partly accounted for by the fact that water rates were increased, thus increasing the receipts, but the fact remains that the receipts since the boom year of 1911 have doubled, and are steadily climbing. The main factor in this rise has been a steady and consistent growth in the city.

Water Users.
    This chart supplements the one above showing water receipts, with the increase in water rates eliminated. The curve is not so sensational, but it is certainly a curve in the right direction. A healthy, steady growth, year by year, is shown conclusively in these two charts. More charts will be printed Monday and continue throughout the week.

Tourist Travel.
    Here is a chart that has only started. At the present rate the curve will be higher than the Woolworth Tower in a few years. And probably no crop is going to bring more money--outside money--into Medford and Southern Oregon than this tourist crop, not only the tourist travel to Crater Lake but to other points in Southern Oregon and along the Pacific Highway. In the boom-busting days, the good old days, the Crater Lake tourist crop totaled 4500; this year it reached a total of 52,017, an increase of about 1200 percent. And tourist travel to this great scenic wonder has only started.
    Aside from the advertising value of this tourist travel it is estimated that the tourist crop of 1923 alone was worth approximately half a million dollars to Medford and the Rogue River Valley.

1923 Automobile Camp Ground Report.
Here is the record of the present year in Medford's auto camps:
                     No of.                       
Cars     Tourists                      
Municipal camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,877    12,838
Privately owned camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,111    24,896
    Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,988    37,734
Families Staying at Camp More Than 30 Days
Municipal camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Privately owned camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
    Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
Families Taking Up Permanent Residence in Jackson Co.
Municipal camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Privately owned camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
    Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  47
    Thirty-seven thousand, seven hundred and thirty-four tourists in Medford means hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in Medford. The tourist crop in the "good old days" was an unknown factor, for strictly speaking there was none. Today it is one of our best-paying crops and is steadily increasing.

Postal Receipts.
    There is no better barometer of a community's growth than postal receipts. The chart above shows that the postal receipts in Medford have increased by nearly 300 percent in the last fourteen years.
    The peak of the 1910-11 boom is clearly shown above when from a total of $16,710 in 1909 the total reached $32,646 in 1911. Then for eight years the postal receipts fell below this total until 1918, when they jumped to $34,595 and except for 1920 have been jumping ever since. Today postal receipts are nearly 100 percent greater than they were when Medford was known as the record-breaking boom town of the Pacific coast.

    The sewer records tell the same cheering story. Quite a slump from 1915 to 1920, then a rise and steadily upward.

   The Medford 1923 Cut of Timber.
1923 cut of pine (25,000 ft. to the carload) . . . . 600 carloads
Cut of fir (30,000 ft. to the carload) . . . . . . . . . . 400 carloads
    Total 1923 cut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1000 carloads
    Equal to 25 trains of 40 cars each.
1923 cut of pine (25,000 ft. to the carload) . . . . 600 carloads
Manufactured in boxes before shipment . . . . . . . 400 carloads
Shipped as lumber  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200 carloads

   Estimated 1924 Cut at Mills Now Operating in Medford.
Pine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800 carloads
Fir  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700 carloads
    Total 1924 cut (estimated). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1500 carloads
    Equal to 37 trains of 40 cars each and 1 train of 20 cars.

    Logs are being transported to Medford by the Medford-Butte Falls Logging Railroad, Southern Pacific company, Jacksonville railroad and by logging trucks. Approximately 1500 loads of 3000 feet each was the 1923 record of logs being transported by trucks.
430 Men on Payroll.
    During the summer 130 men were employed at the mill and factory of the Tomlin Box Company, two shifts being employed during this period. At the present time 70 men are at work. The Olds Lumber Company employed an average of 300 men at their mill, in the woods and at work on their railroad. More than the average number are employed at the present time.
    This is practically a clear gain since 1910--for the lumber business has been a sensational development of the last few years, and the timber resources of Jackson County have not, as yet, been scratched.

    The chart above merely drives another nail in the coffin of the "good old days" myth. Compare the customers and K.W. demand of the California Oregon Power Company in the boom days and the same record today. The customers in 1911 were 1315 and in 1923 they are 2504; the K.W. demand in 1911 as 700 and in 1923 2724. Nearly 100 percent increase in customers and nearly 400 percent increase in K.W. demand. And this growth moreover is typical of Medford today, in practically every line of business, as further documents will demonstrate.

    A few words about climate. If a perfect climate is a mean between two extremes--and experts declare it is--then Medford has the perfect climate. Look at the two charts above showing the range of temperature and the precipitation. From the standpoint of an artist in weather, could anything be more nearly perfect?
    No extreme cold snaps, no extreme hot spells, no cloudbursts, no floods, no parched Sahara weather.
    Unfortunately the humidity is not charted, but it should be noted that thanks to a low humidity, 90 degrees in Medford is less oppressive than 75 in the East and Middle West.
    The normal maximum ranges from 45.6 to 90.5, and the normal minimum from 30.2 (just below freezing) to 52.6. The normal average temperature ranges from 37.9 to 71.5. A climate like that for health and general well-being could scarcely be surpassed.

    Now as to rainfall. There is an unfortunate impression outside of Oregon that Oregon is a cross between a frog pond and a London fog. It may be admitted that along the Oregon coast it rains a great deal, in some places over 100 inches annually. But look at Medford's rainfall--a normal average of 16.59 inches!
    San Francisco, with its glorious California climate, has an average rainfall of 22 inches annually, nearly 4 inches greater.
    Moreover, during the spring, summer and early fall months, when the average person is most anxious to enjoy the out-of-doors, there is practically continual sunshine in the Rogue River Valley. Finally, these charts are not booster literature. They are based upon official reports of the U.S. Weather Bureau--the final word in climate data.
    In this connection it may be noted in addition to the best trout fishing in the world and wild game hunting that cannot be excelled, Medford will have in 1924 one of the best golf courses on the coast, laid out by a Medford rancher, H. Chandler Egan, former national amateur golf champion and present golf champion of the Pacific Coast.
    Perfect weather, unequaled outdoor sports! As a place to not only live, but enjoy life, Medford and the Rogue River Valley can't be surpassed.

Seasonal Snowfall.
    The following chart shows that Medford has a seasonal average of 9.17 inches of snow, which will be a great surprise to many residents of the city, for snow is seldom seen, except on the peaks of the Siskiyous or the peaks of the Cascade or Coast ranges far in the distance. The fact is, however, some snow falls on during the winter months but usually disappears at once, because of the relative high average temperature. Those people who wish to escape blizzards and the rigors of the East and the Middle West could find no better place in the Northwest, however, than Medford. For the chart above shows Medford has less snowfall than either Portland or Seattle, and less than half the snowfall of Washington, D.C. Yet now and then there is a touch of winter--just enough to tingle the blood and prevent the monotony of a one-season and debilitating climate.

    The table above finally disposes of the myth that Southern Oregon is part of a Webfoot state. Medford has less than half the rainfall of Portland and Seattle and is far below Washington, D.C. and New York City. What the table above doesn't show, however, is that the average rainfall in San Francisco, California is nearly four inches more than in Medford, while the average rainfall in Santa Rosa, California, where Luther Burbank extols the wonders of California sunshine, the average rainfall is twice as great as in Medford. Statistics of the U.S. Weather Bureau demonstrate that the climate of Southern Oregon is indeed hard to beat.

Medford Shipments of Canned Fruits.
    Here is another Medford industry which did not exist in the "good old days," but which is now very much alive and growing steadily. Conditions bearing no relation to the cannery possibilities in the Rogue River Valley have restricted the local output somewhat, but from 3 cars in 1915 to 33 cars in 1923 is certainly a long jump in the right direction.

Medford Outbound Shipments.
    As the [above] chart shows, Medford is shipping out over a thousand and more carloads of produce annually now than when the city was breaking the speed record as the fastest-growing town on the Pacific coast.
    Seven hundred and eighty-one carloads were sent out from Medford alone in 1912, then the shipments fell down to only 423 in 1914, but since that time they have been steadily rising, until this year when in only ten months the total reached 1985, and for the year the total will exceed 2000 by a large margin.
    It should be noted that the above chart includes only the Medford shipments. From Medford and Jackson County in 1923, approximately 2000 cars of pears alone were shipped out.

    This chart might also be labeled the effect of irrigation in Medford and the Rogue River Valley. See how the curve jumps from from 1920 to 1923 when water became available to local orchardists--production doubled in 4 years.
    The above chart only includes Medford shipments to November 15th, 1923. To date, that is December 7th, 1923, the total shipments of pears and apples from the Medford station totals 1808 pears and 558 apples or a grand total of these two fruits alone of 2366 cars. Compare this with a total of 373 cars in 1912, and only 168 cars in 1914, and one gets some idea of the growth and monetary value of the fruit crop, with the increase in bearing acreage and the installation of a comprehensive irrigation system..
County Production Statistics.
    The growth of Medford would not be of a substantial character without a corresponding growth and development of the agricultural and horticultural industries of Jackson County.
    A marked advance in production has been made in the county, and comparisons are here submitted.
Gain over          
1911        1923         1911              
Acres of irrigated land . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,500      35,000      27,500
Carloads pears (in round numbers)  . . . . . . . . 500        2,000        1,500
Acres of alfalfa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,000      20,000      13,000
Acres of corn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,000        8,000        4,000
Number of hogs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,800      12,000        1,300
Number of dairy cows (inc. young stock)  . 3,500         6,500        3,000
No. of farms having more than 200 hens . . .     10            100             90
    In 1911 sufficient turkeys were raised to supply home trade, and a very few small express shipments were made. In 1923 several carloads of turkeys were shipped, and it is estimated that one thousand percent more turkeys are being produced this year than in 1911.
    The statement above shows again and in emphatic fashion the great increase in production in Jackson County since the "good old days of 1911-12"--500 cars of pears for example in 1911, 2000 cars in 1923--production quadrupled in 12 years.

Bank Deposits.
    Yes, money talks! In the chart above it not only talks, it yells. In the "good old days" a million-and-a-half-dollar bank total was proclaimed an epoch-making achievement. Now Medford has a total of bank deposits well over $4,000,000. (And the returns from the bumper pear crop of 1923 are not yet all in!) If there are any members of the anvil chorus still at large, this chart alone should be enough to send them to cover. Over two and one-half times as much money on deposit in Medford today as there was in the days of Medford's boom!

Experience [of a] Medford Business Man.
    For obvious reasons  the name of the business man whose report is given above can't be announced, but this is a bona fide report voluntarily made by a representative business man of this city. It is undoubtedly true that there is scarcely a business man in Medford who isn't enjoying a better and more profitable business today than ever before in Medford's history.

    These charts today complete the economic survey of Medford. As was stated at the outset a complete survey of the city and surrounding country, or an exhaustive survey in any one department, was not attempted.
    What was attempted, and what we believe has been accomplished, was to show by the presentation of official facts supported by undisputed evidence that Medford's business conditions today are better than they were in those good old boom days--better than they ever have been before.
    There have been varying degrees of growth and betterment, shown in various departments, ranging all the way from 50 to 5000 percent, but in every instance from sewer permits to telephones, from produce shipments to tourist travel, from building permits to bank deposits--THERE HAS BEEN GROWTH--consistent, substantial, wholesome growth. Moreover, in not a single instance has there been a decline of recent date, and in every instance the record of 1923 HAS SURPASSED THE RECORD OF ANY PREVIOUS YEAR IN THE CITY'S HISTORY.
So there is Medford as she is today--in every way bigger and better than ever before, a statement based not on hot air or guesswork but on the solid foundation of the official records.
    And what is the moral? The moral, as we see it, is this:
    Medford has more of everything today than she ever had before except spirit. By "spirit" we mean civic spirit, the old-time Medford spirit, the spirit of enthusiasm, of self-confidence of united aggressive effort, the spirit of faith in our city, faith in ourselves, the faith to do things--big things in a big way.
    That spirit is the only thing we need now to achieve the benefits which the material conditions justify. It shouldn't be difficult. For the elements of which that spirit should be a product ARE HERE!!
Before being gathered into a booklet, the above editorials were serialized in the Medford Mail Tribune November 30 through December 8, 1923.

Last revised July 2, 2014