The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County Timber

The Rush for Timber Lands.
    Roseburg, Aug. 10.--These are busy days at Roseburg Land Office. Filings under the timber act and the homestead law are many, and it is no unusual sight to find the local hotels full of strange faces and of an early morning to see the stairway and corridors leading to the United States Land Office crowded with men and women, all waiting, sometimes for several hours. their turn to file or to make proof and payment for 160 acres of the finest timber in the world.
    This activity in the timber line is caused largely by the lieu selections filed by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, which under a recent act of a generous Congress is permitted to select any vacant government land in this state in place of that lost by it in the Mount Rainier National Park Reserve of Washington. Since December last this company has had the woods of this district full of bands of timber cruisers, and already during the present year has selected over 120,000,000 acres of the best timber land.
    The people of Oregon, realizing at last the opportunity to secure a quarter section of timber and the last chance to avail themselves of their timber right, have taken many acres of this land; but it is by the people from the East, who live in states once densely timbered, that most of this filing is done. They see the timber disappear there, and knowing its value, come to the coast, cruise the woods for the land, make the filing and return to their homes, again to cross the continent to make their final proof and payment for the land. They know what timber is, what it has been, and its future value.
    This impetus given to the timber business has caused many locators to come here from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and other lumbering states, who have opened offices in many of the valley towns and are deep in correspondence with their people East in regard to the greatness of Oregon timber, making selections and locating them upon choice quarter sections for a fee of from $50 to $250. These locators seem to be for the most part honest in their dealings, and few complaints have reached this office in regard to fraud in the locations. This was not the case a few years back, when the last timber craze swept over the country. Many rascals were in the business then, and the intending purchaser for $100 of a fine timbered claim often found it bare of trees.
    Then the big lumber companies of those states have their men all over the state cruising, surveying and selecting vacant land, locating it with Cascade forest reserve scrip, with state selections and in other ways securing large, compact bodies of timber. Their purchasers are also in the field selecting and buying tracts of the best timber, located to the best possible advantage with regard to streams, railroads and other means of transportation so as to bring it early into market. All this is to protect their future business when the lumber shall have been exhausted in the East. This period, many of them contend, is already in sight. Then they will come West to engage in the manufacture of lumber and to make fortunes from Oregon forests here in the future as they have in the past. Meanwhile our Oregonian dreams complacently on.
    Another class of timber men is the Eastern firm which sends men West to cruise the lands located by individuals, who buys their land at a fair price as soon as final proof is made, and who secures large tracts in this way to speculate upon and resell to other Easterners. So it may be seen that if one is not to be left in the scramble for timber lands he must make a lively hustle for it.
    Where is the best timber land located? This is the question constantly asked by newcomers and by correspondents in the East with eyes upon Oregon timber, yet there are four great bodies of it. One is in the foothills along both sides of the Cascade Range, another follows the western slope of the Coast Range to the ocean, while a third is along the Siskiyou Mountains in Southern Oregon, extending over into the great Klamath Basin; the other lies in Eastern Oregon.
    In this district the recent locations lie for the most part in Linn, Lane and Coos counties, although some locators have been partial to Klamath County, and others are invading distant and mountainous Curry County, both claiming much for their respective districts. The valley of the Siuslaw and its tributaries has been a favorite field for purchasers, as the logs may be floated almost from the headwaters of the streams to tidewater and thus brought upon a ready market, realizing a good profit upon a short investment. The headwaters of the Calapooia and the Santiam is another favored region, and locations have been so numerous that an office plat of that county looks like a checkerboard. The aim of all investors is to secure land in a section near the railroads or on streams down which the logs may be driven so that their timber may not long lie idle awaiting a market. Now, however, that this land is all taken by the first comers, locations are being made wherever the timber can be found, knowing that sooner or later it will be in demand, and that no better investment may be had for so small an outlay.
    The amount of timber standing on an acre, or even a quarter section, of land in Oregon is a revelation to Eastern lumbermen, who cannot be made to believe it until they see for themselves. With locators here a tract carrying 5,000,000 feet of timber about 18 inches in diameter is only picked up on a second cruising, while in the East 2,500,000 feet would be now considered fine timber for a quarter section of land. Much of the fine timber land of this state will go 20,000,000, and even 30,000,000 feet to the quarter section.
    Many people of this state and from the East are now filing for homesteads. These make the permanent class of citizens. The people from the East are attracted by the fine climate and the opportunity to secure cheap land. They file and settle upon the land to farm, to raise stock and to run dairies. It takes hard work now to find and clear a good tract of 160 acres of land for agricultural purposes, but for the one who is not afraid of labor the opportunity is great, and results await his coming.
    During the quarter ending June 30, 221 homesteads were filed in this office, covering 31,760.97 acres; 79 final proofs were received on 10,831.62 acres. In dollars and cents, the receipts of the office for the quarter were as follows:
    Fees and commissions . . . $7,206.78
    Cash sales of lands . . . $55,470.49
    The present quarter promises to be the most active in the history of the office, and the receipts will doubtless exceed those of any other corresponding period of time. In the 11 counties included in this land district, 3,770,550 acres remain unappropriated and unreserved, of which 2,215,767 acres are unsurveyed. The total area of the land in the district is 11,892,098 acres.
    Receiver U.S. Land Office
Valley Record, Ashland, August 16, 1900, page 2

Some Items of Local Interest Concerning the Most Productive Industry Now Before the Consideration of the Coast.
    The timber land investments are the topic of discussion these days in this section, and one after another all the big corporations of the eastern states have been camping on the forests of Southern Oregon and Northern California looking at the prospects for an opening for these lands in considerable bodies. What remains subject to entry under the federal government's timber land act is being rapidly taken and can be marketed at a fair margin a short time after approval by experts.
    We are informed that of the fine, large body of timber land lying north of Klamath River and between Jenny and Spencer creeks, the Congressman Hopkins tract contains 40,000 acres, John R. Cook & Co. own 16,000 acres, the Oshkosh Lumber Co. about two years ago secured possession of 14,000 acres, and there are 12,000 acres held by various different small holders. Lindley, Mason & Co. have contracts with the S.P.R.R. Co. for 20,000 acres of railroad grant lands and options on enough more to give them the control of 70,000 acres.
    All these lands are contiguous and are covered in one mass, being a virgin forest until the limited operations of the last decade.
    The Sugar Pine Lumber Co. at Klamathon receives $14 per 1000 feet for the common lumber supplied to the box factories and from $16 to $26 per 1000 feet for that converted by sash and door factories. These prices are what makes the investor wish he owned a sawmill or a large slice of timber land.
    When Cook & Co. erected their large plant and began their then modern attack on the untouched Jenny Creek forest, some nine years ago, they cleared the land clean of both pine and fir as they went along. We are informed these trees averaged in age in the neighborhood of 200 years or more and the size at butt of tree would average 2½ and 3 feet. A rank growth of young forest is already noticeable upon the late scene of destruction, and the saplings are now ten and twelve feet big and after a growth of from 20 to 30 years will again he ready for market, as at the present time the Pokegama Lumber Co. is cutting trees that go as low as 14 inches at butt and 10 inches at top. In this climate and soil timber makes a prodigious growth and comes forward at a more rapid rate than in the more rigorous climates of the East where the long cold season compels a dormant state for a greater period every season.
    Eastern timber men call the saw mill business of Siskiyou County in the swaddling clothes of its infancy. One of the best-posted [i.e., best-informed] timber authorities informs us that Siskiyou County saws 1,000,000 feet of lumber every day. An idea of this amount can be conceived by the daily hauling away to the markets of the world of 60 carloads. One third of this is the daily product of the Scott & Van Arsdale company near Mt. Shasta.
    Some idea may be had of the timber product just north of us in this state when it is known that only the lamber bound for California, Nevada and Arizona points passes south of the S.P. lines through Ashland, and of the trainloads after trainloads of southbound freights passing Ashland daily ninety percent of all is lumber and mill products.
Valley Record, Ashland, July 10, 1902, page 1

The Timber of Jackson County
(By A. E. Kellogg.)
    Jackson County, with probably the largest reserve of standing timber of any county of the state, and it hardly touched by the timberman's ax, cut only a little over 100,000,000 [board feet] of lumber in 1927 from this reserve, while Klamath, an adjoining county with much of its forests already harvested, cut 435,700,000 feet of lumber. These figures seem strange, yet it has a meaning. It indicates that the timber owners of Jackson County have been wise in delay in bringing their timber onto the market during the season of low prices, when vast tracts of valuable timber was squandered at ridiculously low prices compared with present prices for stumpage.
    There has been a sentiment in some of the counties in the state to force timber into the market by high taxation, thus killing the goose that laid the golden egg. After the timber is gone in the mountains there is nothing to tax but a burned-over area of a former rich forest which, after being exhausted of its timber, the owner refuses to pay the taxes and eventually goes to the county.
    There are billions and billions of feet of timber in the forests of Jackson County, which will run much the larger percentage of pine, the rest being red fir, some white fir and some cedar. Of the pine, the percentages are approximately 30 percent of sugar pine, perhaps more, and from 60 to 70 percent of California white pine, locally called yellow pine.
    There are trees in these forests which will cut more than 40,000 feet of lumber, with 70 percent of it clear, and thousands of sugar pine trees which will cut 20,000 feet of lumber, much more than half being absolutely clear lumber. In places free from underbrush and small trees as many as 200 trees can be counted from one place--all pine, and not a tree less than five feet in diameter.
    While this timber, owing no doubt to the character of the soil, is not mature, yet every year many of these trees may reach maturity, and under a scientific manner of logging it could be made to produce a large annual revenue, and yet remain a magnificent forest to the end of time, and Jackson County have something to tax. And here lies the preservation of the Jackson County forests, if its people will endeavor to keep the taxes down on timber at a fair rate, [and] never allow prejudice or bias to force the owner to cut the timber in self-defense. It is safe to say that the timber owner will do more to perpetuate the forests than any other class. And why not, for none loves a pine tree so well as the timberman, and none other would take the pleasure in planning to assist nature to perpetuate one of her great and economic masterpieces.
    The government endeavors in forestry work have taught the lumberman much, as also the forestry bureaus of other nations, until today the plans of the timber owner have become as widely divergent from that of twenty years ago as the plans of the deer slayer and trout hog.
    Each season shows additions to the believers of perpetuating of forests, and many have arrived at the conclusion that the best way to accomplish the purpose is by only cutting the larger trees or thinning sufficiently to bring in sufficient revenue to pay taxes and interest on the investment after all expenses of fire patrols and costs of maintaining a sufficient force of competent foresters.
    Jackson County, with its fifteen to twenty billion feet of timber, may thus become the banner lumber center of the state, supplying work for thousands of people annually in its logging camps, saw mills, and box factories, furnishing a great quantity for the necessities of the American people and for export. And during all the time of the harvest which shall continue until the end of time, they can do this without decreasing its and Nature's supply by a single thousand feet of lumber or by injuring the watershed of the valley, and still have something to assist in carrying the burden of taxation. In fact the amount of timber in the mountains of Jackson County will by such methods be greater in a thousand years than today, and the conservation of water will be vastly improved.
    Jackson County wants mills and logging camps all over its mountains, but the timber owners are fast becoming exponents of science, and with the assistance of the tax commissions of the state and counties should before long arrive at a method of logging which will preserve perpetually this one great product of the soil and will cause the citizens of the state to rejoice rather than sorrow whenever a monarch of the forests is felled to earth to supply man his wants.
    It might be added that no timberman of fair mind would evade paying a reasonable tax where it is possible, and no such timber owner would ask for an assessment proportionately less than his neighbor owning any other class of lands, but they are quite unanimous today in the wish that the people of the counties wherein large timber areas are located would investigate the conditions as they prevail today and assist in the preservation of forests, instead of forcing their destruction as did the states of Michigan and other middle states.
    Jackson County has been fortunate. It has been guided and directed in its county affairs by fair-minded and sensible men, while in many counties of this state and the neighboring state of Washington they have forced the timbermen to strip their timber lands to the last stick, and leave the land to its fate. It is hoped that Jackson County will continue its fair and wise policy and that the goose which lays the golden egg may be driven up to the Fountain of Youth instead of being dragged to the block and its head severed.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 12, 1928, page B4

Last revised September 6, 2023