Medford in 1931

Medford in 1931, facing east.

MEDFORD. Jackson County. Population 11,095. 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 during season. 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; 30 miles of sewers; water mains 28.45 miles, cement sidewalks, 5 grade schools and 2 high schools, St. Mary's Academy, business college, conservatory of music, and 2 kindergartens. 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, 1 weekly and 2 daily newspapers, city park, baseball park, fair grounds, 4 auto camp grounds, country club, 2 golf courses. Five ladies' clubs, farm bureau cooperative exchange, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Craters Club, Business and Professional Women's Club, Greater Medford Club. All denominations of churches, 3 hospitals, opera house, 4 movie houses, a natatorium and $80,000 armory. All leading lodges and societies. Federal building and offices of the weather bureau, district forestry, U.S. [plant] pathologist. Jobbing and wholesale center, Class A airport. 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 3 lumber mills, 1 box factory, 2 large creameries, fruit and vegetable canneries, pickling and catsup works; 21 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, lumbering and diversified farming are among the greatest resources of the valley. Independent Telephone Co. Telegraph Western Union and Postal. Railway Express agency.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1931-32,
page 163     Abbreviations spelled out to facilitate searching.

    Population has increased, not rapidly but steadily. [Medford's population grew by 493% between 1900 and 1910, then declined 35% by 1920.] The census of 1920 established the number of residents at slightly over fifty-seven hundred. An estimate made from the school census according to the accepted ratio allows a conservative 1925 figure of nine thousand.
    An examination of the 1925/26 school census shows also a practically pure white population, there being in attendance only eight colored children, all of whom are Japanese. Those in positions having contact with the public characterize the population as not only practically pure white but very largely pure American. There are a few English people but no distinct foreign strains.
    There is practically no illiteracy and relatively little poverty. Those cases coming under the charge of the social agencies are chiefly subnormal individuals who are outside the field of library activities.
    A view at this point of the industries and occupations will give a further understanding of the population to be served.
    This section has become chiefly agricultural. A large part of the population is engaged in the growing, packing, marketing, drying and canning of fruit. Although the thinning, picking, packing and cannery and dryer operations are seasonal occupations, this work is practically all done by the permanent residents, chiefly the women who thus earn extra money, and not by migratory laborers.
    The growing and shipping of grain and hay and the manufacture of flour is important.
    There are large timber interests here. Within a year a million-dollar mill has been erected just outside the north city limits which gives employment to a large group. Other smaller mills are scattered about the county. Incident to the production of lumber are two selling companies [i.e., lumber yards] and two factories doing cabinet work and inside finishing. There are endless contractors and builders at present, for the building of both homes and large buildings has experienced a decided impulse with the coming of the mill company. The population of Medford has always been a quiet, home-owning population and not a transient one.
    Stock is raised both in the valley and in the foothills surrounding Medford. While it is not shipped out, it is nearly sufficient for local consumption, and there are two good-sized creameries for the manufacture of dairy products.
    There is a box factory, an ice plant with modern machinery, and a cement block factory.
    Medford is the headquarters of a large electric power company with a very complex and efficient organization. It employs a large group representing interests varying from the latest methods in office record keeping to those of the office draftsman to the engineer in the field. The employees' organization, called The Forum, has for several winters followed systematic plans of study in history and literature.
    Although the mines are not now so active as formerly, there are vast undeveloped mineral resources, and there is a constant demand for books in the fields of geochemistry, metallurgy, ore identification and industrial chemistry.
    There is a prosperous business section in which all the usual commercial activities of an American city are represented. The stores and business blocks are well organized and well kept. Window displays are attractive and indicate that the best class of merchandise is handled.
    Commercial transportation is handled entirely by the Southern Pacific. The main local artery for automobile traffic is a link in the Pacific Highway. Passenger transportation is carried on by both state and interstate stage lines as well as by trains. There are no public carriers from one part of the city to another.
    The governmental framework of the community is conventional and rather simple. The official directory reads as follows:
City Attorney
City Superintendent
Chief of Fire Department
Chief of Police
Judge of City Court
Health Officer
Market Master
Caretaker of Park
    The city is divided into four wards, from each of which two councilmen are elected. The standing committees of the council consisting of three members, each are as follows:
Land Appraisal
Streets and Sewers
Light and Water
Parks and Public Works
In addition to these are two special commissions: The Water Commission of five members and the City Planning Commission of ten members.
    The social organization of the community, after a canvass of the field, was found to be as follows:
Churches                                                Membership
Baptist                                                           540
First Presbyterian                                         400
Christian                                                        350
Methodist Episcopal                                    325
Roman Catholic                                            300
Protestant Episcopal                                    150
English Lutheran                                          100
Seventh Day Adventists                               100
Nazarene                                                         70
Christian Scientist                                         60
Woodmen of the World                              600
Royal Neighbors                                          125
Knights of Pythias                                       400
Pythian Sisters                                             100
Masons                                                          350
Eastern Star                                                   350
I.O.O.F.                                                          250
Rebekahs                                                       300
Theosophists                                                   ?
American Legion                                          350
American Legion Auxiliary                            75
Business Clubs
Chamber of Commerce                                487
Kiwanis                                                            76
Crater Club                                                      60
Retail Merchants Association                        60
Rotary Club                                                      32
Lions Club                                                        27
Women's Clubs
Greater Medford Club                                     75
College Women's Club                                   90
Pan Hellenic Society                                       45
Delphian Society                                              40
Wednesday Study Club                                    25
Daughters of the American Revolution          47
P.E.O.                                                                25
Parent-Teacher Associations                           ?
    There are several expert services with which the librarian should expect to cooperate. For the giving of scientific information and advice as to methods to the agriculturists there is a county agent, assisted by a pathologist, a club leader and during the spring a frost expert. Connected with this staff there is a home demonstration agent for the teaching of domestic economy. These experts work under the Smith-Hughes Act and are considered as field workers for the state agricultural society.
     There is a Jackson County Health Association working through the assistance of the Rockefeller Institute. Headquarters are in Jacksonville, and except for instruction in the city schools, this expert service is given chiefly in the rural districts and the small towns.
    The headquarters of the district office of the National Forest Service is located in Medford and is equipped with a good technical library.
    A representative of the American Red Cross and a Y.M.C.A. secretary are established here.
    There are no other libraries here except that of the high school. From this are administered the small grade school room libraries. The work of these libraries supplement each other, as neither is large enough to meet the demand of about five hundred high school students.
    Besides the new and modern high school building, which will be occupied this fall, there are four large grade school buildings. Aside from this school system, the library is the only education institution in the city.
    The professions are represented by the school faculty, the ministers of the churches, the musicians, the journalists connected with the two newspapers, the doctors, the nurses of the two hospitals.
Excerpt, E. Fay Woolsey, "A Survey of the Library Services of the City of Medford, Oregon," 1931. Jackson County Library.

A Visitor Sizes Up City.
    To the Editor:
    Glimpses here and there about Medford--
    Clean streets, pure water, snappy air. Wide-awake people. Those are here, and oh, ever so much more.
    Few empty buildings or dwellings. Reasonable rents and property values fair. Taxes moderate.
    A store window with green cross laid in background of white eggs.
Very appropriate and eye-arresting. One of best windows in shopping district.
    Street car track, no cars.
    Street signs, many places not there, ought to be.
    Hotels well filled for this season.
    Good hotels, excellent service, charges reasonable.
    Property to be had at reasonable figure. 'Twill soon be higher.
    One realtor quitting at time when things are picking up, when everyone will make money. Foolish man. Should have stayed with his ship to reap harvest that's coming.
    Apples rotting in boxes stored in building of vacated premises. Someone would like to have those apples.
    Beautiful little stream running through town. Banks decorated with old tin cans and other rubbish. Shouldn't be.
    A fine chamber of commerce in attractive home. Will now come awake with the spring.
    A few beggars, as everywhere. Mostly young men who'll soon have work.
    Nice little Y.W.C.A. building needs paint and brushing up generally. Lack of funds likely. Too bad.
    Shoe soles won't last much longer. Have to get half soles or quit browsing about.
    Interesting things and people all about. There'll be more to see tomorrow.
"ROVOR." (Name on file.)
        Hotel Jackson, Medford, April 6.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, April 7, 1931, page 5

Interesting Things Noticed About the City by a Rover
    Mail box at P.O. with long handle attached to flap for convenience of motorist. Dandy idea.
    The little city park, a beauty spot, conveniently located. (All the district a park though.) Been given to understand the city is to acquire acreage out toward Jacksonville for a real honest-to-goodness park. Here's to it!
    We're told average daily registration at Chamber of Commerce is but 14. Plain to be seen many come and large portion remain who do not register. They're coming in to look you over, and if they mostly don't locate they are the losers. Think though you grab off a fair percentage.
    Your other road to sea and other railway will really put you on map. You'll be surprised how you'll grow. Yes, you will indeed. You've not started development and growth yet.
    Meat markets unsurpassed by those in very much larger cities. Clean stock, clean stores and clean men waiting on trade. All stores up to date.
    Yes, we owe the city dads an apology. We gave them a dirty dig about the cemetery the other day. We'll take it all back. That is, we blamed the city dads instead of the Odd Fellows for the looks of things. The criticism still stands, but the other fellows must be the goats. Funny rebound to it is we are an Odd Fellow ourself, but not connected here yet. Will be later.
    The fire lads are getting the tennis and handball ground in shape, putting up high fence, etc. The more seen of fire station force, the more impressed we are with the organization. The boys don't loaf on the job, but are always busy at something. Chief is one of the boys, yet there's the necessary discipline needed in such place.
    We were taken for a ride (not Chicago style) the other day, over Jacksonville way. An interesting spot. Saw one little mine in woman's back yard, where enough gold is being taken out for her living expenses and then some.
    Must see more of that old historic spot and get acquainted with some of the old-timers. Fine people and interesting, too.
    Have met two Bolshevists since landing, who had us in a bloody revolution right soon. What was told them in few words was plenty and they sneaked pronto. Told them we're revolting right now, and in a very peaceable, sensible way much needed.
    Fishing season opened yesterday. Lordy, I'd like to be up on some good water and will soon be. We're sure they'll not quite all be caught today, so will have some of the sport a little later.
    Should have trash receptacles on busy corner. Why not? More soon.
"A. M. ROVOR."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 16, 1931, page 6  "Rovor's" letter about the cemetery was printed April 10.

Last revised January 22, 2024