Medford Under Canvas

Many "histories" of Medford insist that the town began as a tent city. However accurate, contemporary references to tents in early Medford are very few. Medford's canvas era apparently only lasted a few weeks, during the initial wave of construction.

Better documented are Medford's experiences with a population under canvas during two of its boom periods. Below are all the Medford tent references known. 
Central Point Herald, July 1, 1915, page 4
Central Point Herald, July 1, 1915, page 4

    S. B. Hadley has a good assortment of merchandise in a temporary store building, and will put up a good, permanent building, 25x40.
"Medford Items," Ashland Tidings, January 25, 1884, page 4

     After being shot and finding he could not use his pistol, [William Caldwell] walked nearly a hundred yards before he fell. He was then carried to a tent in which he was staying, and Dr. Vrooman was called. The doctor found that nothing could save him, and within about four hours from [the] time of shooting he died.
Excerpt, "Homicide at Medford," Ashland Tidings, April 4, 1884, page 3

     Medford was visited by a heavy gale of wind a few days since, which tore down a number of the canvas sun shades in the front of the business houses.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 6, 1888, page 3

    The Great Eastern Photo and Advertising Co. will be in Medford for two weeks only, commencing on May 27, 1889.
    All who desire pictures can now be supplied in the way of FIRST-CLASS PHOTOGRAPHS. Remember that a Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever, and a good Picture of a dear friend is memory's greatest Souvenir. We are prepared to do just as fine picture work as can be done in San Francisco or Portland, at prices ranging from $3.50 to $4.50 for the best cabinet photos ever made in Rogue River Valley. Remember we do not tarry. When our time is up we go. And how often said and yet how true, that you will never miss the music until the sweet-voiced bird has flown.
    We guarantee satisfaction in every respect and give TWO SITTINGS. Don't think, because we are in tents, that we do inferior work, as this is not so. The best of light can be obtained in a tent if you know how to work them. From long experience in scientific photography, and with superior instruments, [we] can do as fine work as produced in the best photograph galleries. Positively we will be in this place but two weeks. Don't miss this chance; come and see for yourselves. Do not stop for rainy or cloudy weather, but come and bring the babies early in the day.
    $10 in cash will be presented to the best lady subject out of 50, during our two weeks' stay in Medford. No work done on Sundays.
    Will be at Eagle Point for one week, commencing Monday, June 10, 1889.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 30, 1889 et seq., page 3

     The gospel tent of the Seventh Day Adventists has sheltered large audiences during the week.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 22, 1889, page 3

La Grande, Oregon Chautauqua tent, 1910
La Grande, Oregon Chautauqua tent, 1910

    The gospel tent meeting conducted by Rev. Isaac Morrison and William Potter west of the railroad track for over a month past were closed last Monday.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 26, 1889, page 3

    The chief of all worn-out plays, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," will be presented by a company of barnstormers in a tent in Medford. It is about time that this very ancient chestnut were retired for awhile, at least, if for nothing more than rejuvenation.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 3, 1891, page 2

    Yes, sir; I am Mackey, the red-headed photographer, and this is my tent. . . . Remember the tent, west side of S.P. track--and Mackey, the red-headed photographer.
"A Red Headed Picture Man," Medford Mail, September 20, 1895, page 1

    The Seventh Day Adventists are holding a big camp meeting in Medford, which is well attended and creates considerable interest. A number of camps are pitched near the school house.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 30, 1900, page 2

    Petition of H. C. Mackey & Boyd for the privilege to erect a tent on the vacant lot on the corner of C and Seventh streets to be used as a photograph gallery for a term of ninety days was granted.

"City Council Proceedings," Medford Mail, March 22, 1901, page 2

    H. C. Mackey & Boyd received their large tent Tuesday, which will do service for their photograph gallery for a few weeks.

"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 29, 1901, page 6

    H. C. Mackey & Boyd have not left town, and we are not going to leave. We are now in a big brown duck tent on C Street and are fitted up for the very best of work. We have always led in photography in Medford, and we will still lead.
H. C. MACKEY & BOYD.       
Medford Mail, May 3, 1901, page 2

Uncle Tom's Cabin ad, June 21, 1901 Medford Mail
Uncle Tom's Cabin ad, June 21, 1901 Medford Mail

    As many people as could crowd into the big tent, with a seating capacity of 1200, witnessed the production of Uncle Tom's Cabin in this city last Friday evening. The company failed to come up to the expectation of the audience, however. One or two features were fairly well presented, but with these possible exceptions the performance was very coarse.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 28, 1901, page 7

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" Coming.
    "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the only play that is identified with American history, which is one of the most beautiful plays in the English language, which always interests all classes of people, will be a welcome visitor in Medford Tuesday, July 19th--one night only. It has endured forty years, and every year but serves to add popularity to its wreath of popularity. It breathes of loyalty and liberty; it will include in the youthful mind honesty, morality and Christianity. It boldly stands for all that is good and upholds to scorn and contempt all that is bad, and for these reasons it appeals to all Christian people as the ideal of a great moral play. Warren & Day's great mammoth New York "Uncle Tom's Cabin" company is the biggest, brightest and best of all the "Uncle Tom's" companies on the road. Five great acts, twenty-eight realistic scenes, culminating in twelve impressive tableaux and a superb, awe-inspiring transformation scene.
    A grand and gorgeous street parade will be given at noon on the above date. The performance takes place in a large tent, which will be pitched on the R.R. grounds.
Medford Mail, August 15, 1902, page 6

    There are more people [in Ashland] than there are houses for at present and many live in tents, not only in the town, but in the suburbs and outside until they can build or buy homes.
R. L. Andrus, "Letter from Oregon" dated October 29, 1902, Bolivar Breeze, Bolivar, New York, November 13, 1902, page 2

Interest Still Good.
    The canvas temple at Seventh and G streets is still a center of attraction each evening, and evangelist Holmes does not fail to please and instruct those who come to hear him from night to night. His sermon on Monday night was a revelation to many of the citizens of Medford. The subjects to be discussed are: Friday night, "Heaven"; Sunday, 11 a.m., "Prayer and Missions"; 3 p.m., meeting for women only; 7 p.m., special song service; 7:30 p.m., "What Shall I Answer God?" Seats for all. Room comfortable. All invited.
Medford Mail, November 21, 1902, page 6

    The wind on Monday blew down H. C. Mackey's big tent, damaging photographic goods and unfinished work to the extent of several hundred dollars. He has already ordered a new tent and will soon be on deck again.

"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 28, 1903, page 1

     Nobody supposed that the removal of the old, wooden awnings would work the improvement that it has. The street looks wider, the stores have more light, and everyone wonders why they had never thought of the improvement before. Looking down Seventh Street now, the appearance presented is that of a city. Tasteful [canvas] awnings decorate the fronts of the business places, and make the town appear like it really is--strictly up-to-date.
 "Additional Local," Medford Mail, April 3, 1903, page 6

    Jeweler Elwood has purchased a lot on South [Central], near Charlie Cranfill's new residence, and now has carpenters at work building a dwelling thereon. The main building will be 24x24 feet in size, with two annexes, one 16x24 and one 12x16. A. S. Moyer is doing the carpenter work. Mr. Elwood will move his family thereto as soon as the dwelling is completed. This is another case of build or live in a tent. Medford dwelling houses which may be had for rent are becoming an article that do be mighty scarce.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail Tribune, October 6, 1905, page 5

    Two rifles were stolen from the shooting gallery, owned by Mr. Daily, in a tent near the Office Saloon, Friday night. A hole was cut in the tent, and a chest in which the rifles were stored for the night was broken open. Chief of Police Turpin instituted a search for the thieves and after some difficulty located them in Grants Pass, where they had disposed of the shooting irons.
Excerpt, "City Happenings," Medford Mail, February 8, 1907, page 5

    Bennett's Tent Show entertained quite a large audience Friday evening, in a canvas opera house on the west side, with moving pictures and vaudeville. They presented a few illustrated songs, a sketch or two and about the same number of farces, and showed that the members of the company are artists in their line. It is seldom that such marked talent is found in a small tent show as is apparent in Bennett's, and they are sure to have a full house if they come this way again. They played on the camp ground, contended with many other difficulties and gave general satisfaction.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 19, 1907, page 5

Medford Daily Tribune, September 9, 1907

    In calling to mind events of the more than 35 years spent in this city, [Clarence A.] Meeker says that era beginning in 1907 was the most outstanding. Of that period he says:
    "Our people marveled at the change that ensued almost overnight. Soon people began [to] arrive from South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and several other states. Medford was immediately changed into a tent city, so rapid was the growth and development, and became a beehive of industry and action. Some properties changed hands as many as six times and prices jumped to $1000 an acre."
Excerpt, "C. A. Meeker Has 21-Year Record," Medford News, July 7, 1933, page 1

    The Medford Auto Co., consisting of A. W. Walker, George Merritt and J. A. Elmhirst received five new machines this week, which they will use for livery purposes. The machines received were one Buick, one Oldsmobile, one Reo, a six-cylinder Ford and a four-cylinder runabout. The company has erected a tent 40x60 on the railroad grounds near Perry's warehouse, which they will use as a temporary garage until a suitable building can be secured.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 2, 1907, page 5

    The Medford Auto Co. have removed from the big tent which has been their quarters to the building formerly occupied by the laundry, on 8th Street, and they are fitting up the premises in shape for their business.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 20, 1907, page 5

Upper Rogue Timber Claim, 1909 Davis' Encyclopedia
A wall tent on an upper Rogue timber claim, from the 1909 Davis' Encyclopedia

    A big land boom hit the valley in 1909 with so many buyers getting off the trains that the Southern Pacific Railroad company set up tents on the Medford station property to bed down as many as two hundred investors every night. Dad was offered double his investment, but we were settled in the new home and he turned it down. Within three years nine out of ten of the new orchardists had moved on or returned to their former homes. The value of the young orchards had taken a nose dive. The land boom actually ended in two and a half years, and without irrigation water, the young trees didn't have a chance.

George W. Vilas, Tales of a Rogue Valley Rogue, 1974, page 29

    The little 10-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stone, who are camped temporarily on North Beatty Street, is lying dangerously ill. Dr. Pickel was called. She is resting today with hopes of recovery.
"North Medford Notes," Medford Mail, October 1, 1909, page 8

Rush of People to Medford May Necessitate Canvas Hotels.
    MEDFORD, Or., March 12.--(Special.)--So many people are coming to Medford that the town is unable to accommodate them all, and many are obliged to go to neighboring towns to secure lodgings. All the hotels are crowded, and every train brings people interested in this section of the country. At the meeting of the Commercial Club, held March 3, a petition was presented by the women of the Greater Medford Club, asking that steps be taken to procure a plat of ground on which tents might be pitched for the accommodation of the traveling public.
    The secretary of the Commercial Club of Medford reports that his office has received an average of 30 letters a day from people making inquiries about this section of the country and its resources.

Sunday Oregonian, Portland, March 13, 1910, page 62

The tent city on South Oakdale, 1910. The first two lines of the sign read "Tent City / Furnished Tents."


Accommodations Provided To Care for Overflow from Hotels--
Everything Prepared Complete and Sanitary--
Tents Built on Platform.
    The property on Oakdale Avenue, just south of the Washington School, has undergone a rapid transformation in the past two days, and a neatly arranged city of tents has made its appearance there.
    It will be remembered that some time ago the Greater Medford Club initiated a move to establish a tent city to accommodate the tremendous influx of people now being drawn to Medford by the city's extensive advertising campaign. The ladies took the matter up with the Commercial Club and a committee was appointed to further the project.
    Owing to the time and expense necessary for carrying out such an enterprise, the matter was finally dropped by the club. The committee, however, interested G. F. Cuthbert of G. F. Cuthbert & Co., the new house-furnishing concern, who at once took hold of the matter.
    Mr. Cuthbert states that the plan followed in the erection of the tent city is similar to that carried out in Santa Cruz and Southern California, and that no expense has been spared to make everything complete and sanitary. Each tent is built on a platform, with rustic sides, fitted with screen doors and wire screen on the walls, so that the entire sides of each tent may be raised, giving most complete ventilation. Canvas partitions between the tents give absolute privacy. Each tent is protected by a fly overhead. All are electrically lighted, and lights have been placed in the streets. The furnishing is entirely new and attractive.
    The entire premises will be well fenced, and a large office tent, toilets, etc., provided. E. S. Parsons, recently of Portland, has been engaged as manager.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1910, page 5

Medford Has Trouble Finding Room for Tourist Trade.
    MEDFORD, Or., April 6.--(Special.)--The tent city project that was first started by the Greater Medford Club has been taken up by G. F. Cuthbert & Co., and today the tents are being erected near the city park. They are to be used for the overflow of incoming tourists that the hotels are unable to accommodate.
    The tents are built in platforms, are lighted by electricity, well ventilated and comfortable. The premises are fenced in and an office tent will be built, of which E. T. Parsons, of Portland, will be manager.
Oregonian, Portland, April 7, 1910, page 7

Tent City, April 29, 1910 Oregonian
Medford's Tent City, April 29, 1910 Oregonian

Proprietors of New Furniture Company Decide to Erect Temporary Quarters
Outside of Fire Limits--Will Go on Oakdale Avenue, Near Tent City.
    Bowing to the demand of the fire company that they do not erect a tent, as given permission by the city council, for temporary store purposes at Sixth and Central Avenue, Cuthbert & Co. will remove the structure to Oakdale Avenue, near their tent city.
    As soon as the firm found that the council acted without a legal right in giving them permission to erect the tent inside of the fire limits, the company decided to press the matter no further.
    The meeting of the city council Friday afternoon was a long, drawn-out affair and was more of a free-for-all discussion on the controversy between the firemen and the council on the matter of the erection of the tent than anything else.
    When the tent question came up Mr. Welch spoke in favor of granting the permit to Cuthbert & Co., saying that they had lost out on buildings they had thought to secure for business purposes and should be given some kind of a show.
    Cuthbert & Co. presented their side of the case, explaining that the structure was merely temporary and that they had acted in good faith in supposing their authority from the council was ample; also had agreed to tear down and remove the tent as soon as they were through with it.
    Councilman Eifert thought the firemen were not showing a spirit of fairness, but admitted that the action of the council was not legal.
    Merrick admitted that there had been carelessness heretofore, but that owing to the expense gone to by Cuthbert & Co., thought they should be allowed to go ahead.
    The mayor expressed his opinion that the matter lay entirely with the chief of the fire department, and that hereafter he would have entire control and the council would "keep their noses out."
    Mr. Butler, assistant fire chief, who had some part in the controversy, made the following statement:
    "I would like to correct the statement that a fellow businessman was trying to keep Cuthbert & Co. out of a place to do business. Holding the office of assistant fire chief, I was ordered by the chief (he being unable) to attend a special meeting [and] had authority to grant building permits within the fire limits. I took no part in the proceedings until requested by a member of the council to give my view in regard to the matter.
    "My objection (as a fireman) was, first, that it was strictly against an ordinance passed by the city council; second, because I considered it very dangerous to construct such a building (board walls and tent roof) so close to the business center of Medford; third, because the dry season, with our north winds, would place in jeopardy thousands of dollars' worth of property, if this fire trap was allowed to be constructed; fourth, because I think the property owners in that locality are due to some consideration."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 24, 1910, page 1

    A misleading article in the last issue of the Mail Tribune represented us as bowing peacefully to a public demand for the removal of a tent with wood side walls which we were erecting on the northeast corner of the intersection of Central Avenue and Sixth Street for temporary store purposes.
    To correct this impression we publish the following statement of fact:
    It was only after the mayor of this city warned us that he would fine us heavily in case we proceeded with the erection of our tent that we discontinued operations thereon, notwithstanding we had gone before the city council at two distinct regular meetings, first six weeks ago, and again last Tuesday, and obtained its consent by motion to erect this tent.
    We believe there was no general public demand for such removal, but on the contrary a strong opinion in our favor, especially by those who knew the facts.
    We wish publicly to thank Messrs. Welch, Eifert and Merrick of the city council for their efforts to obtain for us fair treatment at the hands of your city.
    We respectfully submit that our investment here, coupled with the fact that we have thousands of dollars worth of merchandise en route, ordered forward at a time when we believed we had a temporary location engaged, and with the further fact that we have made very effort in our power to rent a suitable building, but have been unable to secure one, also the fact that we have been the cause of the erection of one of the finest buildings in the city of Medford, entitle us to some consideration at your hands.
    We were astounded after getting the above-mentioned consent from the council and after having made our lease and commenced work on our tent floor and framework, to be told that we must go before the youths of the fire department as a court of last resort for their consent. Not knowing the nature of the body, we consented at the council meeting Friday afternoon to go before them; but we found the whole matter was a cut-and-dried affair with them. They warned us before the meeting Friday evening that they always stood together; that we were up against the right bunch now, etc. We would like to ask the following questions:
    Why was JOHN BUTLER of the Medford Furniture Co. the sole representative the fire department at the council meeting Friday afternoon?
    Why was JOHN BUTLER at the chief's home Thursday morning to prevail upon the chief to take the matter up against us?
    Did Mr. JOHN BUTLER also have the good of the city at heart when he wrote to the Portland jobbers to endeavor to prevent our buying merchandise there?
    Why did Mr. JOHN BUTLER not rise in protest when the photographer erected his tent on West Main Street a week or two ago? It seems a strange situation that a case like ours should have been left for its decision to a lot of young men inexperienced in questions of public policy and incapable of discerning that actual justice sometimes lies outside the technicality of the written law. The members of the council were broad-gauge enough to consider where actual justice and the best interest of the city lay in such an unusual case as ours, and we again express our thanks to the city council for its courteous treatment and respectful hearing.
    We have decided, however, to remove our structure to West Main Street, just west of the Washington School, where we will have a temporary show room covering thirty-two hundred feet of floor space, and we believe the people of Medford, knowing the conditions under which we have been compelled to go there, will take the trouble to examine our goods before making purchases.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 25, 1910, page 2

    Miss Minnie B. Space of New York and Robert R. Ebel of the Rogue River Electric Company, living at the Tent City, were married this morning at Jacksonville. They will be home at 615 Central Avenue after August 15.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 1, 1910, page 5

    Reed Miller, the tenor who sang here last May with Walter Damrosch and his orchestra, has this to say, in an interview printed in a magazine, about the concert in which he took part at Medford, Or. "At Medford, Or., we thought for a time that we wouldn't have any place to sleep. We got in at 5 p.m., only to find every hotel filled, but after walking all over town we finally found a 'tent city' on the outskirts, and so we spent the night under canvas. You see, it was a growing town, and the 'boom' kept it ahead of the hotel facilities. We were nearly frozen, but the warmth of our welcome made up for that. The hall was very small and the solos were punctuated by the croaking of frogs in a marsh outside, but they evidently wanted good music; for, figuring on the capacity of the hall, it must have cost each listener about $5 a ticket." Observe the use and position of the word "they," after "frogs." Mr. Miller evidently does not mean that the Medford frogs paid $5 per ticket for admission--something else. Mr. Miller will likely retort that he was misquoted.

"Music," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, July 17, 1910, page 37

Medford Saturday Review, August 6, 1910
Medford Saturday Review, August 6, 1910

Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1910-8-14MMT
Medford Mail Tribune, August 14, 1910

    In lieu of houses, five more tents were pitched by newcomers Saturday. There is no such thing possible as housing the people who are arriving every week, and the only salvation is tents as a temporary shelter. A department pavilion would be a moneymaker here at present.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail Tribune, October 10, 1910, page 2

    In the absence of lumber to build with there is quite a number of tents scattered around the town. Mrs. Howlett has three large tents in the yard to accommodate her guests.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1910, page 2

   Medford, though a new inn opens for business almost every week, though two five-story hotels are near completion, had to build a tent city to avoid hanging out the sign "Standing Room Only."
Walter V. Woehlke, "Where Rolls the Oregon," Sunset Magazine, November 1910, page 495

    Hotels, apartment houses and dwellings are crowded to overflowing, and tents are now being provided to take care of the unprecedented rush of newcomers.
C. A. Malboeuf, "Oregon's Wonder City,"
Sunset Magazine, November 1910, page 585

    At the old Cuthbert tent store, which is located at the corner of West Main and Laurel, the water filled the whole crossing of Laurel and formed a rushing torrent and whirlpool.
Excerpt, "River Flowing on Main Street," Medford Sun, December 4, 1910, page 9

Medford Sun, December 18, 1910

Humorous Situation Develops When School Board Orders Survey
and Makes Discovery That Upsets Things
    Tent City, located in the rear of Washington School, and facing on Oakdale Avenue, opposite the city park, owned and maintained by G. H. Cuthbert, must move, and thereby hangs a humorous tale.
    Mr. Cuthbert owns the tents and fixtures, but leases the ground. Mr. Barnum's railroad runs within a few feet of the tents on the south. To get the ground on which to erect his tents Mr. Cuthbert applied to Mr. Barnum for a lease. Mr. Barnum, like Barkis, was willin'. Mr. Cuthbert and Mr. Barnum made a contract. Mr. Cuthbert got the lease and Mr. Barnum got the coin. The coin went down into Mr. Barnum's blue overall pockets, and jingled every time the little choo-choo locomotive hit the rail joints between Medford and Jacksonville.
    In the meantime, the young Americans of the male persuasion attending the Washington Street school grumbled, growled and at times, howled because the aforesaid tent city cut off a large slice of their former ball ground. But there was no recourse for the youngsters. Tent City was thriving and catching the overflow from downtown hotels.
    Rent time came around and Mr. Barnum collected more coin and bought axle grease for the puffing, snorting choo-choo. All went merry as a marriage bell in the rural districts. Mr. Barnum was getting rent money and Mr. Cuthbert was getting the tourists. Then one day the Medford school board ordered a survey made of the Washington School grounds. The survey was made. The man who made it turned in his map, and there, right down in black and white, or red and blue, or whatever color the map man used, was Tent City looming large on the Washington School land. Telephone bells jingled and jangled and Mr. Cuthbert found out. Mr. Barnum's monthly revenue stopped with a jerk. Mr. Barnum was quite surprised and in his nervousness allowed the whistle on the choo-choo to waste four ounces more steam than necessary, and scared a widow woman's chickens in the outskirts of town.
    The Medford school board held a session yesterday and Mr. Cuthbert applied to the board for a lease for the ground for Tent City. The application rested on the long table and the cabinet sat around the table eying it. There was Tent City. Tent City had connected a sewer to the Washington School sewer. It was a city in fact and in name. The board members eyed the prostrate application some more. Then some more. Finally one shook his head. Then another one shook his head, and finally all shook their heads, and it was unanimous. The clerk sat with pen poised waiting to enter the fateful decree. Then the decree was announced. It was: "Nothing doing."
    Mr. Cuthbert is a good loser and smiled last night over the comical situation. And Mr. Barnum, he's still got the coin.
Medford Sun, January 15, 1911, page 1

G. F. Cuthbert, Owner, States That Only Small Portion on School Ground--
Disconnects Sewer
    Tent city, on Oakdale Avenue, has been leased by Cuthbert and company to O. D. Sturgess, who is getting things in shape to open the same to the public during the next thirty days. Mr. Cuthbert says a major portion of tent city is located on the railroad property and that that part occupying school property has been removed, including the bath and toilet room, and new connections have been made with the sewer.
    Tent city was started by Cuthbert and company about a year ago to accommodate the overflow from Medford's hotels, was a popular place, has modern conveniences and had a prosperous season. Greater preparations are being made for this year.
Medford Sun, January 22, 1911, page 1

Survey Shows Only Tenth Overlaps School Property--
Will Open Next Month Under New Management--Little Alteration.
    That the "tent city" will again be open for the accommodation of visitors to Medford this summer and not, as reported some time ago, done away with on account of its proximity to the grounds of the Washington School, was the announcement made yesterday by G. F. Cuthbert and company, owners of the property. A recent survey of the location of the canvas city resulted in the discovery that less than one-tenth of it overlapped the school grounds and so, with only the offices removed from their former position, the property will be opened to the public within the next 30 days.
    It will be operated this year by O. D. Sturgess, who has secured a one-year lease on it.
    The city originated last year when the influx of visitors became so great that the hotels were filled to overflowing all the time. Many people were forced to secure their sleeping quarters in Ashland while transacting business here, with the result that the tent city was built to accommodate them.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1911, page 2

    Houses for rent are a scarce article in Medford, if the complaints being made in this regard are any criterion. Newcomers state that it is almost impossible to secure a single modern house in the city. A few "oldtimers" in the house line are offered, but these are taken up very rapidly. According to local contractors, there will be a great amount of building done in the resident portions of the city this summer, as well as in the business sections. But nearly every house that is erected is for some family and is either owned or rented months in advance.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, February 2, 1911, page 7

    This afternoon neighbors erected a tent alongside of the frame cottage in which the [Veach] family live on South Front Street, and the sick boys were moved into it. During the days they will both be allowed all the sun that they can stand, and the tubercular trouble with which both are affected will find it has a harder battle to fight to gather either boy as a victim with them breathing the fresh air of a tent than it had in the stuffy and cramped quarters where they were formerly lodged.

"Fresh Air for Sick Veach Boys," Medford Mail Tribune, February 28, 1911, page 1

Patronizing the food wagons on West Main, May 17, 1909.

    A movement is on foot among a number of prominent citizens who favor the organization of a civic improvement league here to petition the city council to clean Front Street and the more public portions of the city of the peanut and "hot dog" stands and express wagons which now decorate them.
    The tent-like structures on wheels from which the "hamburger" vendors nightly distribute their wares have also come in for their share of caustic comment, the more so now that recent changes in the lobby of the Nash Hotel permit of an uninterrupted view of those "dining out a la cart(e)."
Excerpt, "Move on Foot to Move 'Blots'," Medford Mail Tribune, February 6, 1911, page 8
Licensed vendors were allowed to remain until the expiration of their licenses. See "Street Vendors to Remain," Medford Sun, June 29, 1911, page 1.

Grants Pass, Oregon, May 17, 1911.
Dear Mother and all:
    Arrived safely about 7:35 p.m. Was escorted to the tent by two men. G.'s tent pardner is a very pleasant man. Laughed at G. this a.m. He forgot to put the soda in his hotcakes, i.e., the first griddle full. But he had plenty of batter so we didn't need them. It began raining about 8:30 yesterday morning & rained until we were near Shasta Springs. Began again in the night and has been showery so far. It is now 12 o'clock. G. is making a fire. Didn't he enjoy hotcakes & real syrup. He has been making syrup with Mapleine. He says this beats mine. The tent is in the middle of madrones, pine & chaparral. It's just dandy, or will be when I get some curtains in front of the bed. Love to all. Give Aunt Gamma a kiss. Lovingly, Carrie.
Postcard addressed to Mrs. H. C. Ball, 2029 Essex Street, South Berkeley, California

Forced To Walk Streets 24 Hours a Day--
In Trying to Connect House Tent with New Lot There Is Trouble--
Horse Takes a Hand
                        Carpets to right of him, dishes to left of him,
                        Into the wreck did the officer thunder.
                        Over a chair he fell,
                                Hollered he--What to? Well,
                        Me for the timber to get some more lumber.
    Officer Hall of the Medford police force is homeless. His house is a mass of wreckage, and he is forced to walk the street 24 hours instead of his usual 12 hours.
    Hall had a house tent and a new lot, and the smashup occurred when he tried to connect the two. He couldn't move the lot, so he decided to move the tent and hired a drayman to make the change.
    The house tent was a creation of art. It was fitted up with curtains and rugs and contained some nice furniture also--but the drayman's horse didn't fancy it. The house was loaded on the wagon while the horse was asleep in the shafts.
    Giddap! yelled the driver, but the horse never moved. Giddap! Giddap! The horse opened his eyes, gave one look behind him, saw the house tent on the wagon and lit out for Prospect..
Medford Mail Tribune, June 20, 1911, page 3

    A collision between W. E. Crewes' automobile and the Jacksonville motor near the Tent City at Oakdale and Eighth Street last evening, put the motor off the track, smashed the rear end of the auto, and shook up sundry people, but miraculously enough hurt no one.
    W. E. Crewes and his nephew, W. E. Crews, were in their E.M.F. 30 running south on Oakdale at a rate estimated by Mr. Crewes at about four miles an hour, while the motor was rounding the curve through the Tent City from Jacksonville. Mr. Crewes saw nothing of the approaching train and only heard the bell a few seconds before the collision occurred. He made a sharp turn to the auto asternships, smashed the wheel, bent the axle and generally put it out of running order.
    There is an inclination to take the blame off both drivers and place it upon the tents that make the track invisible at that point when approached from the north. Last year a delivery wagon containing Doc Butler's little boy was struck by a Barnum car while at the same crossing.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 27, 1911, page 6

Will Fold His Tent and Steal Silently Away on July 8--Others Remain.
    "When my license expires July 8 I will get off the street," says W. L. Clark, a peanut vendor affected by the recent ordinance of the city council which makes it unlawful for stands to operate on the streets of the city. "All I was kicking about from the start was the injustice of putting me off before my license had expired. I had bought stock to last me until July 8, and if I had been forced to get off June 20, as the ordinance provided, I would have lost money. The other men have a long time to stay. James Delaney and W. S. Weston both have contracts with the city allowing them to retail ice cream cones on the street for nearly a year to come. It is not likely that they will be molested."
Medford Sun, July 5, 1911, page 3

Tent stables of the Clark & Henery Construction Co. paving firm in downtown Medford, 1911-12.

    An inquest into the death of John A. Dixon, plumber, aged forty-five, who died at 1:30 yesterday morning, may be held this morning. The death occurred in a tent on North Pine Street after a short illness, the man being attended by a few friends before death. It is probable that alcoholism caused death.
"Dixon's Death Likely Due to Alcoholism," Medford Sun, July 12, 1911, page 6

    My wife, the former Clara Sample, came to Medford with her folks when they used to wash the mud from Main St. with a fire hose. She worked at the [Natatorium] confectionery when I started there. We were married at Jacksonville, Ore., July 20, 1911.
    After our marriage we were permitted to erect a tent house in the rear of the Nat along the banks of Bear Creek. Mr. Weyed, the engineer, also had a tent house near us. Our son was born while we lived there.
    Bat Nelson and his brother Frank had a tent pitched on the Nat grounds. He was in training for his fight with, I believe, Bud Anderson.

V. A. Nelson, "Former Resident Recalls Historic Merrick Building," Medford Mail Tribune, December 28, 1955, page 14

Minstrel Show ad, July 31, 1911 Medford Mail Tribune
July 31, 1911 Medford Mail Tribune

    To get the hoarded treasure of an old miser, four thugs attacked George Kibbe, the aged knife sharpener, at his home [in an old barn] on Apple Street Thursday night and beat him over the head until he was delirious. A neighbor, living in a tent, was awakened by the old man's struggles in time to see the thus make their getaway.
"Thugs Seek Gold of Old Knife Sharpener," Medford Sun, August 25, 1911, page 1

    With the big tent purchased Wednesday for an exhibition tent, the District Fair Association is rapidly getting in shape for the biggest fair in the history of Southern Oregon.
"Big Exhibition Tent Secured," Medford Sun, September 14, 1911, page 3

May 11, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune
Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1912

    One street in the west end of town, Benson, has sewer in but no water. [The] Weaver tract at [the] end of West Tenth Street and Eleventh Street is rented quite extensively to campers. No provision is made for sanitation of any kind.

"What Is the Matter with City Sanitation?" Medford Sun, May 12, 1912, page 8

The end of the tent city, Mail Tribune, November 20, 1912

Circulation of Literature Authorized at Medford Meeting.
    MEDFORD, Or., July 25.--(Special.)--The first important work of the session of the Seven-Day [sic] Adventists of Southern Oregon now being held in Medford was completed today when the resolutions were adopted, calling for circulation of the church's literature and authorizing a levy on members to pay the expense.
    There are more than 500 people attending the conference, and they live in a tent city near the outskirts of town. The meeting will be concluded at the end of this week.
    Arrivals today included Professor E. C. Kellogg, president of Walla Walla College, and W. P. Beatty, of Portland.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, July 26, 1913, page 15

    The Jackson County fairgrounds have been leased by the Seattle-San Francisco auto service line, and a tent city will be erected for the overflow from the Medford hotels. The first rush of the tourist travel is expected by about May 1st, and the auto service will start about then.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 1, 1915, page 6

    Evangelistic meetings are being held every evening at 7:30 by the Free Methodist Church in a large tent at the corner of Tenth and Ivy streets. Mrs. Rozella B. Douglas, pastor of the church, is conducting the meetings, which will be continued indefinitely. The general public is invited to attend the services.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 28, 1917, page 4

    The clever Frank & King comedians made their usual hit last night in the comedy "Girls Will Be Girls," at their tent theater on the corner of North Riverside and McAndrews Street. So successful was last night's showing that this attraction will be duplicated this evening. According to Mr. Leifur, representative of Frank & King, the drama "St. Elmo" will be the next attraction to be presented Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday there will be no show in the tent since the tent show management has offered to close the opening night of the Robin Hood pageant.
    It has been definitely decided by the Frank & King comedians to move into the Medford city limits in the near future. It seems that the present location makes it difficult for Medford people who do not have cars to walk to the corner of Riverside and McAndrews, so as soon as arrangements can be made the company will move to a central location in Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1924, page 8

    The summer campaign of the big tent opposite the post office is gaining momentum with every service, fine weather adding to the attractiveness of the meeting.
"Tent Tabernacle Well Attended," Medford Mail Tribune, June 3, 1927, page 7

Medford News,
September 2, 1928

    An early-day stock company played in a huge tent, featuring the Frank and King Players. The bill changed twice a week and the action was fast-paced, except for the dragging intermissions when candy (with valuable prizes, yet) was sold in the aisles. Almost every play included the firing of stage blanks in revolvers that would often set all of the neighborhood dogs barking far into the next act.

J.W.S., "On Stage," Medford Mail Tribune, April 7, 1963, page 4

    In the spring of 1942 my family, Glenn and Carol Clymer and kids Barbara, 10, Dorothy, 8, and Wayne, 6, came to the Rogue Valley, as Dad was in search of a job working at the [Camp White] cantonment. We were like transients coming to a new area with no place to live. We spent a week in a motel and then Dad moved us to "Tent City." It was located where the North Medford High School now stands to where Roberts Road is. There was only one way in and that became Brookhurst Road. There was a makeshift store and meeting hall where they let us kids skate if there were no meetings. They were located about where the Christian Church is now. There were rows upon rows of tent structures with wood floors and walls up to about 4 feet. The top was framed and a tent top draped over that. Each row of tents had its own outhouses, one for men and one for women. There were also several shower rooms for the whole area and a few washing machines. The tents were about 15 by 18 ft. and all five of us lived there. Mom and Dad had a double bed and we three slept in another double bed. They were at one end of the tent with an aisle between and Mom put up a sheet at night to separate the beds. The sheet was pushed back in the day time. We had a gas range, a sink and a round card table and 4 chairs in the other half. Mom made it a cozy place to live. I don't think we had running water, but there were water faucets every so often.
    Dad got a job at Camp White helping to lay the sewer pipes; the job only lasted until fall. When the men were let off the job for the evening, there was a string of cars for as far as you could see coming down Crater Lake Hwy. (Hwy. 62 had not been built then.) It was quite something to see who could see his car first. It was the highlight of our day to watch for Dad in that string of cars. Almost all of the cars turned into Tent City.
    This was the hottest summer I could ever remember, and we stayed outside most of the time and played with the neighbor kids. On evenings and weekends Dad built a trailer house for us to live in, and we all five lived in that for several years before Dad bought a lot and built our house in Eagle Point.
Excerpt, "Tent City," by Barbara Clymer Hutchinson, 1996, SOHS vertical file

    The recreation committee of organized labor is erecting a tent at Coryell trailer camp for which Timber Products Company furnished the lumber and Jackson County furnished the canvas. Work on the tent is being done by the labor group at Coryell with the help of the organized labor recreation committee.
    A similar project is being planned for the camps at Four Corners. This recreation center will serve the four camps in this location. The organized labor recreation committee would like to know if there is any lumber company that would be willing to donate lumber for the floor and trusses for the project.
    The committee would like to thank the Timber Products Company, Jackson County and the workers for their fine cooperation.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1942, page 3

Last revised March 23, 2022