Shasta Indian name for Bear Creek: Ussoho
Roland B. Dixon, "The Shasta," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1907
Upper Takelma name for Bear Creek: Si-ku-ptat, "dirty water"
John P. Harrington, quoted in Dennis J. Gray, The Takelma and Their Athapaskan Neighbors, 1987
Published 1889--most likely an irrigation ditch (maybe the Medford Water Ditch)
off Jackson Creek or Bear Creek.
Originally nearly all of the floor of the central valley, except what is known as the "Desert," was covered with a growth of pine, oak, laurel, manzanita, and ceanothus, while along the stream bottoms occurred a heavy growth of cottonwood, alder and brush. Many of the streams are still fringed with a growth of trees and brush, but the larger part of the level lands in the valley have been cleared and the native growth replaced by cultivated fields and orchards, only a few small woodlots remaining to indicate the presence of the former forest.
A. T. Strahorn, et al., Soil Survey of the Medford Area, Oregon, 1911, page 7
Origin of Bear Creek Name RecountedTo the Editor: Regardless of where our fortunes be cast, to value the present we must know the past. For instance, when crossing Bear Creek on one of its handy, dependable bridges, take a look at its well-contained and tamed waters. 'Twasn't always that-a-way, not by a jugful of of tens of millions of 'em. That peaceful-looking stream has been as unpredictable and cantankerous as the ornery critter it's named after.
(By June McMillen Ordway in Sunday's Oregonian)
"Well, if you are writing of Bear Creek, just say it flows through the most beautiful country God ever made, and you'll have it all right."
Thus spoke a friend when informed that the late Captain James H. McMillen was one of a party of pioneers who gave this name to the stream in 1851, before it was spanned by the great concrete bridge and before Medford was ever through of [as] a "boom town." On Table Rock in 1851 a battle took place between a small party of whites and a band of Rogue River Indians. Several packers had been killed near this point by Indians, while on their way with flour, bacon and butter to the miners at Yreka, Cal. Among those killed was Lieutenant James Stewart. His body was buried hastily near the scene of battle and the letters J. S. were carved in the bark of a large oak tree near the grave. Then a fire was kindled on the grave, beef bones and brush were burned upon it and later horses were led over the spot, so as to obliterate the appearance of a grave. Otherwise the Indians would have removed the clothing and blanket in which the body was wrapped.
Later, Governor Joseph Lane had Stewart's body removed to Vancouver, Wash., for final burial.
About this time the late Joseph McMillen, father of Captain James M. McMillen, with a number of men, one of whom was Calvin C. Reed, were returning from Yreka, Cal., with ox wagons. When nearing the shore of the stream they saw three grizzly bears leave the carcass of an ox and run into the dense thicket at the roadside. Two horsemen rode, who had three dogs with them. The dogs were sent into the brush in quest of the bears. They returned quickly, yelping at a great rate. One of the bears, which was wounded by a rifle shot from one of the horsemen, rushed out of the thicket and, seeing Reed standing by the ox team, charged him. Reed had just borrowed a double-barrel shotgun belonging to Joseph McMillen, and when but a few feet from the bear he fired, killing the beast. The other two were dispatched quickly and their bodies were left in the road. As the men resumed their journey someone remarked, "We will christen this stream 'Bear Creek'."
The christening of Bear Creek was but one of many incidents of 1851 in Southern Oregon. Every man was said to be a hero, and the women were as brave as the men in that unsettled part of the state. They were brave and gallant; as only such had the hardihood to endure the perils and hardships encountered in reaching this "promised land." Whenever danger threatened any portion of the new community all were ready to rush to its defense without regard to personal danger or pecuniary loss.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 10, 1913, page 4 See Bill Miller's story for a much more accurate account of Captain Stuart's death--for which the creek was named Stuart Creek.
On father’s claim in a bend of Bear Creek was one camp of Chief Sam of whom I have already spoken, under the shade of the great spreading red oak trees just across from our home. There he and his people spent much time. One morning the Chief came over and told my mother that his boy was going to die, very sick. In sympathy for a sick boy she went with Sam, entered the tepee and there found not a boy but a grown man, who was as Sam had said very sick. He was starving. They could prepare no food that he could assimilate. She prepared food that was suitable, gave him medicine, visited him two or three times daily for a time, and one day the Chief came to express his gratitude saying that his boy was well and also saying to father “she has a good heart.”
Walter Scott Gore 1852-1943, manuscript memoirs in the possession of great-great-granddaughter Marty Mielen Monroe
THE BIGGEST FLOOD ON RECORD.
In 1853 It Snowed 17 Days and Nights--the Country Was Submerged.
The following are recollections of '52 and '53 in Rogue River Valley, by William Hamilton, an Indian war veteran, as given to the Junction City Times:
Mr. Hamilton, then a young man, resided in this valley. That winter it snowed 17 days and nights, which was followed by three days of incessant rain. The snow was from three to four feet deep on the level, and the three days' rain caused such a flood that the like was never known before or since.
In the Willamette Valley the snow was from 18 to 24 inches deep. Only two settlers were recorded, John Ferguson and Chris Taylor, and as they both settled in the foothills, the flood that followed did not do them much damage.
In Rogue River Valley the few settlers lived on meat alone for some six weeks. Game, however, was plentiful, and Mr. Hamilton and a neighbor kept the carcasses of from 20 to 25 deer hanging in front of their cabin all the time, and all were allowed to help themselves. Flour sold at $1.60 per pound, and salt at $16 per pound.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 4, 1903, page 2
The flood there has been very destructive, causing considerable damage to the dams of miners and other property. There were eight persons drowned in Jackson County during the high water.
"Oregon," New York Daily Times, March 29, 1853, page 3
Bear Creek Tamed
When Elijah B. Gore and family arrived in 1852, its channel was said to be up near the Community Hospital. Amazon-like, later on it decided to flow near where Elijah's son Ed now lives at 116 Geneva St. Fact is, as Mr. Gore remarked, it had several channels, none of them very permanent, coursing through a morass of trees, brush and swamp grass "so thick a dog could scarce penetrate," as Homer Harvey of 1880 coming put it.
Fording Bear Creek and other valley streams was ever risky, especially during winter rains and spring freshets. Saddle and harness horses, wagons as well as human life was lost. The ford at old Gasburg [Phoenix] was best, being wide, shallow and firm-bottomed. But that was a long way around going to Jacksonville or downriver points. A prod pole was usually taken along to feel out any treacherous hole in its shifty bed. Early bridges were so uncertain that a ford was kept at McAndrews crossing as late as the close of World War I. County Engineer Paul Rynning built one there that endured till the one of concrete was built two years ago.
The very first one of timbers pressured for and built by the county, oldtimers say, was never used. Bear Creek, changing its course, left it out in a clearing where it "melted" away with settlers' need of plank or timber. County commissioners' journals of 100 years ago are filled with petitions for viewers to view out new county roads or a bridge, followed by settlers paying county dads for damages by new roads across their properties. [The inverse was the case.] The first one found by this writer was built in 1854 across Little Butte Creek. A couple of years later two were petitioned for where Medford is now, one to be known as the "creek bridge," 125 feet long, and the other "the slough" bridge," 165 feet long. [There was no county road at Medford until the 1880s.] Was this the slough just south of Main St. where Medfordites used to hunt ducks? Anyway, Bear Creek is tamed, for the present at least.
F. J. Clifford
1211 West Main St.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 8, 1954
Bear Creek Eight Feet Deep at Corey's Grocery
In 1854, my father and his brother came to Medford from the Willamette Valley. That spring a flood swept down Bear Creek. The water extended from the present west bank of Bear Creek to the foot of the hospital hill.
By measuring the driftwood in the trees then out on the level at the present location of Corey's Grocery [529 East Main--today's Hawthorne Park], the depth of the water was found to be eight feet.
Two men by the names of Dover and Lewis had a large herd of cattle grazing on the east side of Bear Creek. These cattle were all swept down the stream and drowned.
Several years ago Bear Creek broke through the southeast corner of Earhart's place [near Barnett], on the east side of the creek, and quite a stream passed through the old channel across the proposed school site.
(Signed) S. P. BARNEBURG
Medford Mail Tribune, May 14, 1925, page 6
[In 1856] The Davenports were living in Gassburg when Olive Oatman was rescued from the Indians and lived with her relatives there for a time. She and Florinda, "Tim's wife," were great chums, and Olive gave Mrs. D. and several other women friends exhibitions of her swimming prowess in Bear Creek, teaching some of them swimming lessons there.
Orson Stearns, Reminiscences of Pioneer Days and Early Settlers of Phoenix and Vicinity, 1921
I think father and Uncle Emory [Gore] went about building the sawmill [on Bear Creek near South Stage Road] as soon as fairly settled in their new home. The family moved out to the claim when I was six months old, so 1853 was more than half gone before they had been fairly settled, thus the mill must not have been ready for use before late 1854. They sold lumber all over the valley. The great flood of December 1861 washed much of the mill and the logs away and so changed the creek channel that the mill was never rebuilt.
Walter Scott Gore 1852-1943, manuscript memoirs in the possession of great-great-granddaughter Marty Mielen Monroe
In 1861 "the channel of Bear Creek was narrow, and ran through Medford about the place where John Mann's house now stands [at 815 East Main]. The flood was exceptionally bad because of the narrow channel, and the present channel was cut at that time."
"Charley Strang is 'Vet' of Veterans," Medford News, March 30, 1934, page 1
THE STORM.--During the week there has been a very brief period of dry or clear weather. By Friday the flow from Jackson Creek through the town had materially subsided, and the pools had quite disappeared from the valley. But Friday night the rains returned and poured without cessation until Sunday morning. Before midnight of Saturday, Jackson Creek had broken over its banks and came sweeping in through the lower part of the town. By morning the flood reached its height. Again, as on the Sunday morning preceding, houses were surrounded, lots submerged, fences torn away, and some damage done to gardens. Down the valley as far as could be seen were streams and sheets of water. The inundation extended over a greater area than that of the week before. A slight rain fell during Sunday, but the flood gradually abated, and yesterday it had disappeared from one portion of the space it had covered, and only a small stream coursed outside of the regular channel of the creek.
Excerpt, Semi-Weekly Gazette, Jacksonville, December 10, 1861, page 3
On last Sunday, we were visited with a much more destructive flood than that of the previous week. On the night of Friday, 6th inst., a heavy rain set in, and continued to pour down heavily almost without intermission until Monday morning. This body of water pouring into the channels, which were yet full from the flood of the preceding week, was too great for the ordinary bounds of the streams, and in consequence it spread over a considerable portion of the valley. The lower portion of our own town was submerged from the waters of Jackson Creek, and the valley was converted into a group of numberless small islands and lakes. Jacksonville and immediate vicinity has sustained no material damage, but from other portions of the county we learn that the losses have been very severe.
It is said that in Neal's Cañon, beyond Ashland, through which a stream of water was running on Sunday, [it] became clogged by accumulated drift logs, and backed up an immense body of water. Under the heavy pressure the dam gave way and the water rushed with irresistible velocity down the valley, carrying everything before it. By this torrent, we understand that Mr. Wm. Taylor lost his outhouses, grain, etc. We have not particulars as to the full extent of damage, but the loss must be heavy. The farmers along Bear River have suffered. One gentleman who owns a farm on that stream tells us that, on Sunday, he stood by for a while and watched his property, in fences, float on at the rate of about one hundred dollars per hour. He lost a number of horses and several thousand rails, and, without doubt, many others have been equally unfortunate.
The Rogue River bridge, which had weathered the first storm, was not able to withstand the latter. Its loss up to the present time has effectually blocked communication north of us. We think it safe to say that there is scarcely a bridge left in its position over a single stream in the county.
Excerpt, Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 14, 1861, page 3
ANOTHER FLOOD.--The week has furnished to us another flood. It lasted through Wednesday and Thursday. Jackson Creek boomed up into a very fair-sized river, spanning one hundred feet breadth just below its mouth, in town, and rose to a greater height than at either of the previous floods. Three families were obliged to leave their homes, a part of a lot on Oregon Street was washed away, and some injury done to gardens. In the county, the loss was severe. Bear Creek rose higher than ever. At Gasburg a portion of the race to the flour mill and the tannery was destroyed, about thirty acres of Colver's farm was washed away, and Oatman's orchard was swept of every tree. Farms in that neighborhood and above have sustained much loss. Throughout the county, but particularly on Butte and Antelope creeks, cattle have greatly suffered. Several hundred have already perished. Judge Tolman, who came from home by stage on Sunday, says the roads are too bad to talk about.
Semi-Weekly Gazette, Jacksonville, January 21, 1862, page 3
Mr. W. Gore, though less than two years old at the time, retains a clear memory of the flood of 1862 and described his sensations at seeing his father's sawmill floating down the creek which at normal times had supplied its power. He also told his recollections of the rescue of two fat hogs from their floating pen.
Alfred Segsworth, Works Progress Administration Survey of State and Local Historical Records, 1936-1937
Mary's River--better known as Bear Creek--flows the entire length of the valley, issuing from the Siskiyous and discharging into Rogue River. This stream divides the valley as near centrally as could have been done by the most competent surveyor.
"Jackson County--Its Agricultural and Mineral Resources," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 8, 1871, page 2
On the 15th there was a waterspout or cloudburst about four miles from Ashland, Jackson County. A small brook emptying into Bear Creek was swelled to a depth of eight or ten feet and to a width of fifty, bearing down driftwood, fences and great boulders.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 23, 1877, page 4
The 1883 Medford plat shows Bear Creek running considerably east of today's course (lower left corner of image).
P. W. Olwell's sons have a fish trap in Bear Creek, in Phoenix, with which they have taken a large number of fine salmon trout this spring. The fish find a ready market here and at Jacksonville.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, May 2, 1884, page 3
Medford (Or. & C.)--Bear cr. nearby. Trout and salmon; May and June best months; hotel $2 p. d. See Phoenix, Oregon.
Phoenix (Or. & C.)--Bear cr. ½ m.; salmon and trout, salmon in majority; baits--salmon eggs for trout (flies not used by local anglers), and the spear for salmon; hotels charge $1.50 p. d.; guides and boats not needed.
William Harris, The Angler's Guide Book and Tourists' Gazetteer of the Fishing Waters of the United States and Canada, The American Angler, 1885
Bids are wanted for the contract to build a new bridge across Bear Creek on the county road at Mr. Dunn's place south of Ashland. See notice by the County court in another column.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, August 14, 1885, page 3
Water Ditch Notice.
All parties not having the right to use water are requested to discontinue taking it out of Bear Creek and its streams, as the mills below need it at present; also after night, as the above practice damages the mills below on next day for want of its use.
Respectfully, P. W. OLWELL.
Ashland Tidings, August 21, 1885, page 3
Six persons were baptized in Bear Creek at Talent by Rev. Mr. Hummer last Sunday.
Wild geese and ducks in large numbers have been alighting in the fields along Bear Creek north of Ashland during the past week. They stop here for a brief rest on their long journey southward.
Bear Creek has been very high during the past few days, and has been cutting its banks slightly in places. Below the Eagle Mills it has been encroaching upon the stage road to some extent, but has not yet done much damage.
P. W. Olwell, of Phoenix mills, gives notice that the mills on Bear Creek used all the water to which they are entitled, and warns people against turning the water of Bear Creek and tributaries out of the natural channels.
Cold Weather.During the past week we have experienced the coldest weather known in Southern Oregon for a great many years. . . . Rogue River, Applegate, Butte, Bear, Evans and other creeks have been frozen over during the week, for the second time in the memory of "the oldest inhabitant."
Excerpt, Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 20, 1888, page 3
J. B. Riddle has gathered several tons of ice from Bear Creek, which he has stored for summer use.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 27, 1888, page 3
Fish from Bear Creek find ready sale in this market. P. W. Olwell's sons find no trouble in disposing of all they bring in.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 23, 1888, page 3
The county commissioners will probably authorize the building of a bridge across Bear Creek near Medford. This structure should be built, by all means, as it is needed, especially in the winter.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 16, 1888, page 2
The bridge contractors quit work last Saturday and telegraphed to San Francisco for instructions whether or not to proceed and entail certain risks to the contractors. High water in Bear Creek interfered with properly laying the mud sills. A story is afloat, to the effect that the contractors attempted to bribe the contractor's representative, Mr. Daley, to allow them to place the superstructure on an insecure foundation. We trust that the report is not true, however, and that the bridge will progress towards early completion.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 6, 1888, page 3
The ditch leading from Bear Creek to [Medford], which will furnish our town with a fine supply of water, is nearly completed. It will prove of much benefit to our town.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 14, 1889, page 3
Medford rejoices over the flowing of water through its new irrigating canal, which taps Bear Creek about two miles above the town. The water was turned into the ditch last week for the first time.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, May 3, 1889, page 3
Low Water.The streams everywhere are lower than ever known in the history of this section since first settled by white men, at this season of the year. Rogue River itself is a mere creek compared with its usual June volume, while Bear Creek is well-nigh dry, and the lesser tributaries are but reminiscences of water courses.
Excerpt, Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 4, 1889, page 1
A violent thunder and hail storm visited the upper portion of Bear Creek Valley Tuesday evening last, doing considerable damage in the grain fields and orchards in the vicinity of Wagner Creek. A culvert washed out in the railroad near there and delayed the southbound train for several hours yesterday morning. Bear Creek rose very rapidly for a short time, but the waters soon subsided. Hail fell to the depth of several inches in a limited area.
The waterspout in the neighborhood of Wagner Creek caused Bear Creek to become a raging torrent within a few minutes, and it continued high for some hours. Such was the amount of hail that fell that slush ice was floating in Rogue River yesterday morning, having been swept by the rising waters from many miles up Bear Creek. The rise in that stream is said to have been fully ten feet. There was enough precipitation to have supplied the whole valley, had it been properly distributed.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 11, 1889, page 3
Pot-hunters along Bear Creek are causing some complaint among farmers in that vicinity. Carelessness in handling firearms frequently causes loss and injury to stock.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 21, 1889, page 3
The following Saturday it began to snow, and before it let up there was 17¼ inches of snow on the ground. The weather was not so cold at that time as during the recent big snowfall, which amounted to a foot, and if Mr. Bennett's memory serves him right the thermometer stood about 8 degrees above zero, whereas during the recent snowfall it was about 10 degrees below.
Chaparral somewhere in the Medford area, 1913
It was just 30 years ago last Tuesday night that [N. S. Bennett] and Mrs. Bennett arrived in Medford from their old home near Keokuk, Iowa, with the intention of staying here a year if they liked it. They have been here ever since. Medford was a small village then, and the site of the Farmers & Fruitgrowers Bank was out in the suburbs, covered with scrub oak and chaparral. There was then three inches of snow on the ground, and then the developments of the next few days and month the newly arrived Iowans did not fall in love with Medford.
The majority of this great depth of snow, although it thawed a little and snowed a little several times, remained on the ground about a month, and then when it did go away rather suddenly caused big flood conditions, and the Bear Creek bridge was washed away by the raging torrent.
The business part of Medford was on this side of the creek, and to enable the farmers living in the territory across the stream to come across a cable was rigged up over the torrent. The farmers drove to the other side in their stick carts, consisting of rear wheels of a wagon attached to a wagon pole, and then were pulled across in a big basket attached to the cable.
Due to the flood conditions in Oregon and California at that time Mr. Bennett says the train service was demoralized in both directions, and because of washouts on Cow Creek Cañon and the Sacramento Valley there was no through train service from January 26 to February 26, and no mail was received from the east and west during that time.
In relating the above Mr. Bennett recalled that the previous year had been a very dry one and hence food, grain and other prices were very high, but that about that time he purchased a dressed hog for six cents a pound and wheat at about  cents a bushel.
"Recalls Medford When Wheat Sold for 60 Cents a Bushel," Medford Mail Tribune, January 9, 1920, page 6
"Clutter & Co., the Medford artists, prepared a series of flood photos, showing the Bear Creek bridge when the water was at its highest and Hammon's barn still standing on the further side, and subsequent pictures showing the bridge in various stages of demolition after the barn had fallen. ---Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 13, 1890.
When Ed Wilkinson Went Down with the Bridge
Something like thirty-three or thirty-four years ago [in February 1890] when Bear Creek was up to a height that it took some of the buildings downstream, one barn on the east side that was filled with hay went out, with the chickens floating downstream on bunches of hay.
The wagon bridge on Main Street, and also the footbridge, went out when Ed Wilkinson, standing on the latter, went down with the bridge into the water and lost his umbrella. This would have been a bad time for a high school on this low land. I hope it will never come again like that, but it still rains in Oregon. The stream was wide and covered some of the ground on the east side.
We are sure the soil is good on that side, for it has been washed in by high waters. . . . In this flood I helped swing the box across the creek to bring the people over. The old creek has been some menace to the public most every spring.
W. M. DAVISMedford Mail Tribune, May 14, 1925, page 6
The heart of the valley has presented the appearance of a turbid sea for days. Bear Creek itself has borne off a good deal of wreckage, bridges, fences, outbuildings and even a few barns and houses, and has wrought much destruction in undermining and sluicing off the deep alluvium composing its banks. It is one of the most treacherous streams in the valley and perhaps the least capable of retaining its volume of water when bank full. Whole farms have been submerged for days.
Democratic Times, February 6, 1890, quoted in Medford Mail Tribune, February 10, 1916, page 3
Then, as now, the duties of the fire department were not only to fight fire, and when the big flood of the '90s reached Medford, the firemen were the first at salvage work. It was told how one fireman, as the Main Street bridge left its moorings and swept downstream, tied a rope to it from an apple tree. When the rope tightened it snapped like a string. A barn, with haystack, chickens and all, came floating downstream, the firemen recalled.
"City's First Fire Lads Swap Tales," Medford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1935, page 2
RECALLS MEDFORD WHEN WHEAT
SOLD 30 CENTS A BUSHEL
It was just 30 years ago last Tuesday night that [Mr. and Mrs. N. S. Bennett] arrived in Medford from their old home near Keokuk, Iowa, with the intention of staying here a year if they liked it. They have been here ever since. Medford was a small village then, and the site of the Farmers & Fruitgrowers Bank was out in the suburbs covered with scrub oak and chaparral. There was then three inches of snow on the ground, and then [with] the developments of the next few days and month the newly arrived Iowans did not fall in love with Medford.
The following Saturday it began to snow, and before it let up there was 17¼ inches of snow on the ground. The weather was not so cold at that time as during the recent big snowfall, which amounted to a foot, and if Mr. Bennett's memory serves him right the thermometer stood about 8 degrees above zero, whereas during the recent snowfall it was about 10 degree below.
The majority of this great depth of snow, although it thawed a little and snowed a little several times, remained on the ground about a month, and then when it did go away [in February 1890] rather suddenly caused big flood conditions, and the Bear Creek bridge was washed away by the raging torrent.
The business part of Medford was on this side of the creek, and to enable the farmers living in the territory across the stream to come across a cable was rigged up over the torrent. The farmers drove to the other side in their stick carts, consisting of rear wheels of a wagon attached to a wagon pole, and then were pulled across in a big basket attached to the cable.
Due to the flood conditions in Oregon and California at that time Mr. Bennett says the train service was demoralized in both directions, and because of washouts in the Cow Creek Canyon and the Sacramento Valley there was no through train service from January 26 to February 26, and no mail was received from the east and west during that time.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 9, 1920, page 6
"People forget things," [D. T.] Lawton said, "but I remember when the Bear Creek bridge washed out and you could swim a horse clear to the Hospital hill. I remember, too, when water would come down from Griffin Creek and Jacksonville and flood the west end of Medford. They used to have to dismiss school at the old Washington School, where the courthouse is now, because of the water."
Medford News, January 5, 1934, page 1
The boys say that the creek is almost full of fish.
Thomas T. Edmunds, "Letter in Grammar Class," The Young Idea, Washington School publication, April 1891, page 2
Last Sunday the church at Central Point was crowded, and then the people did not all get in. The baptismal service in the church was an impressive one, as also that at the ford on Bear Creek, an immense crowd gathering to witness the baptizing there. Everything was quiet and orderly and 22 in all were baptized.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 30, 1891, page 3
Judge Willard Crawford is a fisherman of no mean qualities. He informs us he has hooked about twenty-five hundred of the sparkling trout from Bear Creek this season.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, May 20, 1892, page 3
Fishermen have been lining the banks of Bear Creek during the past week, angling for the innocent little "trouts."
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, June 17, 1892, page 3
The city water tank is kept running day and night now by engineers E. G. Hurt and H. E. Baker. A dam has been placed in Bear Creek making a headworks to keep a good flow of water in the ditch supplying the water tank and thus insuring a fair pressure in the water works in case of a fire these dry times.
Southern Oregon Mail, September 16, 1892, page 3
Medford people who reside in the vicinity of the Seventh Street Bear Creek bridge wish us to gently call the attention of the city board to the fact that the small boys are making of that particular portion of Bear Creek a swimming resort and in too close proximity to their respective places of abode--and that these swimmers are more scantily attired than is considered within the boundaries of even a slight degree of modesty. If on the opposite side of the river from the city is outside the limits a state law "made and provided for in such case" should be resorted to.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, July 28, 1893, page 3
Bear Creek has been hammering away at its banks furiously the past week, diminishing the number of acres of land in some places near Phoenix.
"Phoenix Flashes," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 2
Rains in Southern Oregon.
MEDFORD, Or., Jan. 16.--Considerable damage is reported from different parts of the country on account of the recent rains and high waters. The bridge across Bear Creek at this place is badly damaged. The creek changed its channel at the bridge, near Central Point, leaving the fine steel bridge some distance away and useless at present.
Oregonian, Portland, January 17, 1894, page 3
The bridge over Bear Creek at Medford was broken [in the flood Saturday] and will have to be rebuilt or a new and better bridge put in its place. The large bridge at Central Point was also badly crippled up, and cannot be used. The channel of the creek was so changed that it can be forded without the bridge now.
Excerpt, "The Work of the Flood," Valley Record, Ashland, Oregon, January 18, 1894, page 3
The rain storm of last Saturday and Sunday, which was general throughout Oregon, Washington and California, was the worst one which has been experienced for years. From Saturday morning until late Sunday night the downpour was almost continuous--and the water came thick and fast. During the forty-odd-hour rain ending Sunday night, the rainfall is reported at Medford to have been 2.43 inches.
Sunday forenoon the many spectators who stood watching the muddy waters of Bear Creek go rushing through our city were not watchers long ere 'twas noticed that one bent near the east end of the bridge was sinking slowly from a line of level. This kept sinking until Monday morning, when it had gone down five or six feet and very near to the water's edge, in which position it still remains. This sinking was caused by the water cutting into the east bank and taking away and loosening a couple of tiers of piling. Aside from this, which can easily be repaired, the bridge is in as good shape as ever.
At the Central Point Bear Creek bridge one of the approaches was taken away and the current so changed as to form a good-sized creek between the mainland and the bridge.
Up at and about Ashland, it is reported that Emigrant Creek took away the Dead Indian bridge and carried it some distance below. Ashland creek was higher than it has been for many years and damage was apprehended, but little, however, was done
The Medford-Jacksonville train has been running since Sunday in a catch-as-catch-can way--sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. Griffin Creek was so rampant Sunday night that Mr. Barnum hardly deemed it safe to cross over with his train, but instead carried the mail and express from that point to Medford on his back. The east approach to the bridge was washed [away] considerably and the track settled, but by filling in with rock it was made passable. Tuesday morning it began sinking again and additional repairs were required. Monday morning he ventured across with his engine and flatcar. Trains, however, are now running on schedule time.
Sunday afternoon the water ditch south of the city overflowed, and nearly the whole country between the Earhart ranch and the city was one solid sheet of water. On South C Street there was a perfect current of water which went tumbling down across resident lots and into Bear Creek.
Bear Creek, as we have before stated, is a wicked little stream when she gets to feeling that way, and she was in that notion Saturday and Sunday very hard. Many acres of good land has undoubtedly been washed away, and consequently a great amount of damage has been done. The creek is said to have been higher Sunday afternoon than it has been before for many years.
"Heap Plenty Rain," Medford Mail, January 19, 1894, page 3
The Central Point bridge was partially carried away by the flood, thus making it impossible for people from this side to reach the Point. Roadmaster W. F. Moore, however, quickly came to the rescue and made a little footbridge that enabled anyone who wished to cross over safely.
"Big Sticky Items," Medford Mail, February 2, 1894, page 4
The county court, at their last session, decided that if the city of Medford would repair the Bear Creek bridge temporarily, they would make permanent improvements to both bridge and channel as soon as the water gets low enough to perform effective work.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, February 16, 1894, page 3
Enos Carver came near getting swamped in Bear Creek while attempting to cross. He got below the regular ford, and his horse went in all over. Enos cut the traces and the horse went out on one side and Enos on the other, the buggy remaining in the quicksand. As the horse refused to come over to Enos, Enos had to wade over to the horse, and as it was after dark and extremely cold, it was anything but a pleasant experience.
Prof. Newbury, the tall sycamore of Phoenix, got ducked while trying to cross Bear Creek. The horse he was riding became unmanageable and went in where it was so deep that the water struck the professor under the chin; that's pretty deep, you know, when it does that, of course the horse was out of sight, but there happened to be a tall cottonwood tree standing out in the water and the professor made a grab and caught one of the topmost branches and pulled himself up high and dry, as good luck would have it, but held on. I was going to explain how he got out to dry land, but if anyone wants to know, let them ask the professor and he will no doubt explain. While we think about it we will say right here that Mr. Newbury is making arrangements to build a nice new house in Phoenix in a short time, and will become a permanent resident.
"Phoenix Items," Medford Mail, March 2, 1894, page 4
Our mail, carried by Ike Williams between Eagle Point and Central Point, met with a severe loss on last Saturday. Ike attempted to cross Bear Creek with his team, but the water was too deep and his buggy was turned over, breaking all the top off; the mail bags were lost and one horse drowned. The mail carrier and one passenger were washed downstream a couple of hundred yards before they got out. The team and buggy washed downstream about 300 yards and were lodged on a sandbar. The horse that survived was badly bruised. Both the letter and paper mail was lost, as was also that of W. R. Norcross which was being delivered by the driver.
"Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, March 23, 1894, page 2
The city council met Tuesday of this week to consider the proposals for building a dam across Bear Creek at the head of the Medford water ditch. Bids received were D. Cofer and S. S. Wilson, $234.75; Frank Wait, $345; F. A. Bliss and W. K. Davis, $138. Cofer and Wilson being the lowest bidders, the contract was awarded to them.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, March 23, 1894, page 3
The city council last week awarded the contract for the construction of a dam across Bear Creek, at the head of the Medford ditch, to D. Cofer and S. S. Wilson for $234.75.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 26, 1894, page 2
Quicksand Is a Treacherous Article.
Ted Howard, while riding across Bear Creek at the McAndrews ford Tuesday, came near be out just the value of a good horse. His horse encountered a bed of quicksand from which it was unable to extricate itself. A team of horses was procured, a rope fastened around the almost entirely submerged animal and it was pulled out, and found uninjured. The horse was in the water and sand about four hours.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, April 6, 1894, page 3
A little precaution sometimes, in fact ofttimes, prevents a considerable amount of unnecessary inconvenience and perturbance. In this line of thought we want to suggest to the people of this city that it would, right at the present time, be a very sane idea not to use the water from the city water works for laundry use or any other domestic purposes so long as there remains a case of diphtheria at Phoenix. The water used by the city is taken from Bear Creek and flows through the above place, and it is possible that germs diphtheric may be contained therein. As a precaution don't let's use it, for a few weeks at least.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, March 8, 1895, page 5
Walter Anderson has devised means whereby he is enabled to water his garden that--while not especially novel or unique--at least shows enterprise. He has placed a water wheel in Bear Creek, below the Seventh Street bridge. The wheel is so arranged that by means of a rope belt, to which are attached tin buckets, water is elevated to an altitude greater than his garden spot. A trough is made fast to the top of the wheel frame and from that point it extends to his garden, a couple of hundred feet away, where the water is discharged and the same used for irrigating purposes. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this method of irrigating the land in close proximity to the creek may become general should Mr. Anderson's experiment prove entirely successful--and there's no good reason why it should not.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, July 3, 1896, page 7
George and Walter Anderson are this week constructing a large pile driver and next Monday will commence the work of driving timbers along the bank of Bear Creek to protect the land. The creek has already did a great amount of damage to the land along the banks, which is repeated almost every winter, and the owners have found it necessary to begin preparations to protect themselves at once. They will commence work at Thos. McAndrew's place and work toward the bridge as long as the weather will permit and next spring as soon as the rains are over they will commence at Central Point, where they have already secured several contracts. There is no gainsaying that this laudable enterprise will be productive of much good--and the boys will no doubt be well recompensed for their work.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, December 4, 1896, page 7
The work of fortifying the land along the banks of Bear Creek from high water, which has been playing havoc for some years past, is progressing to quite a noticeable extent. A. L. Rose and Gus Newbury, of Phoenix, have had a large pile driver built for them at the Ashland Iron Works, with which they will drive timbers along the banks of this troublesome stream. This makes two pile drivers now being used for that purpose--Anderson Brothers, of this city, being the first to commence the work.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, December 18, 1896, page 7
Anderson Brothers have been doing good work with their pile-driving machine along the banks of Bear Creek. They have driven piles on both sides of the creek from about two hundred yards above the bridge to an equal distance below, which will greatly lessen the damage usually caused.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, January 22, 1897, page 7
Several persons were baptized in Bear Creek on Sunday. Among them were Mrs. John Jacobs, Frank Gregory, Miss Magruder and some of Mr. Lee's children. It was an interesting ceremony.
"Central Point Pointers," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 28, 1898, page 2
The recent cloudburst at Ashland and in this vicinity had a perceptible effect on Bear Creek, and water is again abundant in Medford, much to the satisfaction of our citizens, who have been greatly discommoded by the drought.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 8, 1898, page 3
At the meeting of the city council last week a right of way for a sewer was purchased through the land of W. T. Nelson, for $250. The route of the sewer will be from the school house down 7th Street to the alley back of Hotel Nash, thence to A Street and down that street to the Nelson place, where the dumping grounds will be made.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 20, 1899, page 3
Our town will have a sewer in the near future; in fact, arrangements have already been made for its construction. It will dump on land along Bear Creek, purchased of W. T. Nelson.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 23, 1899, page 3
Mr. Shearer, the drayman, lost a team of fine, large horses Thursday afternoon while attempting to cross Bear Creek near the bridge. Although the stream was not deep, the current was quite strong and quicksand unusually abundant. In trying to get out the horses broke the tongue of the wagon and got themselves tangled in the harness. Mr. Shearer had a narrow escape from drowning, saving himself by catching some willows.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, March 6, 1899, page 3
A Smart Dog.
J. D. Heard of Medford, Or., an enthusiastic sportsman, relates an interesting story showing the sagacity and intelligence displayed by an English setter dog called Puppy, owned by G. E. Neuber, one of Jacksonville's leading sportsmen. Heard, Neuber, J. A. Whitman and Chas. Prim were quail shooting one day last fall, along the banks of Bear Creek, one of the tributaries of Rogue River, and a superb hunting country, by the way. A bevy of at least fifty birds were suddenly flushed and took flight across the creek, about 150 feet wide there, seeking cover in the willows fringing the opposite side of the stream. Heard called to his dog Rex, a son of Puppy out of Neuber's bitch Snow, and ordered him across the water, intending to send him around behind the quails so that they would be driven back to the shooter's side. Rex took to the water at his master's behest and bravely swam the rapid current, quartering down the stream. In doing so he got into a strong eddy caused by a large brush heap, and the best he could do was to "swing around the circle." Efforts to recall him were of no avail. Suddenly Puppy, who had been an interested observer of events, seemed to discern the predicament of the other dog, and springing into the water was quickly in the miniature maelstrom, and without more ado took a firm grip on Rex's ear with his teeth, turning shoreward, and soon had the almost exhausted Rex in safety. After a short rest Puppy and Rex, with Whitman's Gordon setter, crossed the stream further down and were directed up to and behind where the quails were still in refuge. They flushed them, the birds flying back to the side where the shooters were, and a number were bagged in good style.--[S.F. Breeder and Sportsman.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 5, 1900, page 3
Bulkheads Save the P.&E. Site
The old channel of Bear Creek runs under a house just west of Corey's Grocery.
. . . This old channel can easily be seen from the rear of the lot.
In 1900 a flood began to cut through the old channel. Two different times in the early history of Medford they took up subscriptions to build bulkheads to keep the water from following its old channel. (It did break through near Cottage Street, and, no doubt, such men as H. T. Nicholson, Charles Strang, Hubbard brothers, the Lawtons, Dr. Pickel, Ed Wilkinson and Jackson County Bank will remember contributing to this fund.)
T. E. POTTENGER
The steady downpour of rain Tuesday and Wednesday transformed the usually placid flow of the water in Bear Creek into a roaring, turbulent river. Sidewalks in some portions of the city were completely submerged.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, February 22, 1901, page 6
John J. Brown, who is catching turtles (called terrapin in San Francisco) in Bear Creek, is fattening about 300 of them, and capturing 25 every day.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 29, 1901, page 3
Tying a heavy rock around his neck and jumping into the chilly waters of Bear Creek is the way in which a man by the name of Garrett, a carpenter, decided to die. His body was recovered shortly after he made the fatal plunge. He had been sick and despondent for some time, and was tired of living.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 27, 1902, page 5
Some parties have been depositing dead horses and other animals in the vicinity of the McAndrews ford of Bear Creek, neglecting to bury them. Such reprehensible conduct, no matter where perpetrated, should be punished.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 23, 1902, page 5
A Big Storm.
This section has passed through one of the severest rain storms in its history, and decidedly the heaviest since 1890. Nearly five inches of water fell between Jan. 18th and 26th, a period of eight days. Almost an inch and a half fell in 24 hours Saturday, which breaks the record. Had there been any amount of snow on the ground and hills at the time, there would have been no calculating the damage that would have resulted.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 28, 1903, page 1
A Treacherous Stream.
Bear Creek was probably higher Saturday and Sunday than at any other time in the history of Jackson County. It carried an immense volume of water and did a great deal of damage to the fine soil along its banks. The bridge across it, near Central Point, was considerably injured, but not carried away as reported. The creek cut a new channel through some of the best land in Southern Oregon, in Talent and Phoenix precincts. An effort will be made to turn it into its original course.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 28, 1903, page 1
For the seven days ending Monday morning 5.54 inches of rain fell, according to the record kept at the Southern Pacific depot. This is the heaviest rainfall of the season or even for several seasons past. Medford was practically under water Saturday afternoon; all the drains were filled to overflowing and water backed up in every low place in the city. Bear Creek rose three feet in less than 12 hours and at one time was raising at the rate of five inches per hour. For the 24 hours ending Saturday morning the precipitation was 1.30 inches.
Bear Creek always has had a fashion of laying out new channels for itself during high water, and this season has not forgotten its old tricks. A. H. Walker is grieving over the fact that his summer bathing place has been spoiled. Just behind his place of residence was a thick line of willows, with a bank on the other side, the creek running between. In the summer evenings, thus safely screened from observation, Mr. Walker was wont to take a cooling bath after the labors of the day. Now, he says, that is all past. When the high water went down the willows were on the other side of the creek. At the Phipps place the creek has changed its channel, cutting across one corner of the place.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 30, 1903
In the matter of ballast [for the Medford & Crater Lake railroad], it has been the intention to run a spur track into the head of Bear Creek above the bridge and take gravel from there, deepening and straightening the channel at that point, while securing the necessary ballast for the road. It is not deemed politic to do this now, as Bear Creek has a habit of getting on a rampage occasionally and might cause a loss of the spur track, and the latter being above the bridge would endanger that structure if washed out.
"Operations Suspended," Medford Mail, December 8, 1905, page 1
The Fish Lake Ditch Co. is now on this side of Bear Creek with its extension of the ditch to the Hopkins orchard, and Supt. McCray informed The Mail Wednesday that he would have the extension completed by July 1st.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 29, 1906, page 5
The location [at Maple and Bartlett] is about an acre of ground on which Dr. Adkins made very favorable rates and is a pretty situation for the school and in about the right place. It is the intention to run a sewer to the creek from the site.
Thursday the city council purchased from I. D. Phipps a tract of land on the west side of Bear Creek, 40x80 feet, for $500 and other considerations. This tract is near the present discharge of the sewers and will be the site of the septic tank, which will be built at once.
A special meeting of the city council was held Monday evening to take action on the matter of installing a septic tank for the impounding of sewage. The committee on sewers was instructed to proceed with the matter of installing such tank.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 17, 1906, page 5
The Tribune stated in a late issue that the council of this city had paid Mr. I. J. Phipps $500 for a worthless tract of ground on the creek for the location of a septic tank, which is a long ways from being strictly true. The city had no rights on Mr. Phipps' premises. It was discharging its sewer matter into a cesspool hole in the creek with no water to carry it off. The consequence was that the conditions became unbearable to Mr. Phipps, whose residence was about one hundred yards away. The town was threatened with a damage suit and an injunction suit, with good ground for complaint. A deal was made with Mr. Phipps whereby the town was to be immune from the threatened suits and a tract of land for a septic tank and the right of way of the sewer to the creek was obtained, for all of which the city is to pay Mr. Phipps $500. The concessions and immunity obtained from Mr. Phipps will be much more valuable to the city than the small tract of land for the septic tank. That is all there is to it.
J. S. HOWARD,
Mayor of Medford.
Excerpt, Medford Mail, August 24, 1906, page 4
SURVEYING FOR A DAM
John D. Olwell and others, who are promoting the enterprise of which mention was made some time ago, that promises to be of infinite value to the farming territory for a large area north and west of Ashland, have succeeded, it is now reported, in interesting a wealthy New York syndicate in the scheme to construct a fine cement dam across Bear Creek, at a point about 1½ miles north of Ashland, where the banks stand about 20 or 30 feet above the water. The location is an ideal spot for the construction of a dam, says the Tidings.
This syndicate, through their representative, Mr. Olwell, has already been granted an option to buy a large tract of land in the vicinity of the proposed dam, and has a Portland company making the necessary surveys preparatory to beginning work on the dam.
Central Point Herald, October 11, 1906, page 4
Dr. Reddy was mayor [1907-1908] in the days when we drank Bear Creek "liquid." It was generally liquid.
Minnie (Mrs. Harry C.) Stoddard, "Medford's Hall of Fame," Medford Mail Tribune, December 18, 1912, page 4
BEAR CREEK ON RAMPAGEThe continued rainstorm which began at midnight Saturday and lasted without interruption until Monday morning resulted in the highest water that has been experienced in this valley for several years. Bear Creek reached the highest stage Monday morning that had been reached for several years and considerable damage was caused by the flood cutting its banks and encroaching on adjacent farms. The bridge just east of town also suffered to a considerable extent, one of the steel caissons which supports the steel span of the structure being undermined until it settled almost two feet.
Some damage was also reported from different parts of the valley in the way of the washing away of fences, culverts, etc., but aside from the damage occasioned by Bear Creek the loss will be nominal.
Excerpt,Central Point Herald, March 21, 1907, page 1
Looking west down Main Street, summer 1906.
Water Supply in Rogue River Valley.
The upper end of the valley is drained by Bear Creek and its tributaries. This stream is subject to heavy winter floods, but becomes almost dry in summer, and the low-water flow has been practically all appropriated. Any scheme to increase the acreage under irrigation must therefore involve the construction of storage works or long, highline ditches from the streams of the lower part of the valley, where there is a great summer flow.
Excerpt from U.S. Geological Survey bulletin, Central Point Herald, September 5, 1907, page 3
OUR CITY WATERWas there any water ever made dirtier than now being pumped through the city water works?
Is it possible for water to contain any more solid matter and still remain liquid?
Is it any wonder that meters don't work, that water pipes fill up and that people drink booze and go unwashed?
Bear Creek in all its mud-carrying career never was muddier than now, and this solution of mother earth is retailed, without an effort at settling or filtering, to consumers.
If Medford cannot afford a good supply of pure mountain water, and people must continue to use the liquid soil of Bear Creek, and filtration is too costly, a large settling basin or series of settling basins should be built, so that the silt in the water may have a chance to be deposited somewhere besides in the family wash basins and bathtubs.
It is a serious question whether to sell such stuff as water is not a violation of the pure food law, as well as obtaining money under false pretenses.
Medford Daily Tribune, December 27, 1907, page 2
Controlling Bear Creek.
A few small pieces of work done along Bear Creek last fall to try and turn the channel shows what might be done to save much valuable land lying along that stream, if the work was done on a more extensive scale. E. Gibbs built a dam or breakwater--this was built of brush and boulders placed slightly across the current--thus shielding the bank and turning the current, that has stood the high water so far. The secret of success seems to be that the water flowing over the obstruction must fall upon brush, or something that will not allow the washing away of the gravel below the dam thus built and the clearing of drifts and all obstructions in the way of a straight channel.
Subscriber.Medford Mail, January 31, 1908, page 4
A Serious Accident.
(From Thursday's Daily.)
A serious accident occurred yesterday afternoon near the bridge on Seventh Street, and as a result Mrs. H. W. Winterhalter of the Little Antelope district was severely injured. She is not in a dangerous condition at all, but will have to remain in Medford for a few days with friends before leaving for her home.FISHWAY ON BEAR CREEK
Mr. and Mrs. Winterhalter had driven in from their ranch, which is about 15 miles from Medford, and had brought in a large amount of produce and was leading behind the buckboard they were riding in a steer. When the river was reached Mrs. Winterhalter drove down and through the creek in order to water the horse, while Mr. Winterhalter led the steer across the bridge.
After the horse had finished drinking, Mrs. Winterhalter started to drive out on the city side of the creek when the horse became frightened and started to back. One of the lines parted, giving Mrs. Winterhalter no control over the animal. She started to climb out in order to catch the horse by the head when the buckboard upset and caught her under it. The horse backed and stepped upon the back of her head, severely cutting it. Her teeth were all loosened and she was severely injured in the back.
Bystanders rushed to her aid and carried her into the nearby laundry, where she received medical attention at the hands of Dr. H. E. Morrison.
Mr. Winterhalter had the buckboard repaired and left for his home. Mrs. Winterhalter will follow in a few days.
Medford Mail, June 19, 1908, page 1
It is doubtful if anyone ever thought a fishway would be necessary in Bear Creek. As a matter of fact, it is not to be presumed that anyone ever thought much about it. However, the dam which the city of Medford placed across the creek has made the fishway necessary, and one is being put in. The necessity for this fishway has proven the fact that there are a number of fish in this creek, a fact which did not heretofore exist, and it is said there are a great number of fish now to be seen near the dam and fishway.
Deputy Fish Warden Messler is calling attention to the state fish law as applies to dams and fishways, which is that the taking of fish within 600 feet of any dam or fishway is an offense, punishable by a heavy fine.
The fish, to be sure, are not as large in Bear Creek as they are in Rogue River, but the same law is applicable in all cases, and the size of the fish is not a material factor. The fish in Bear Creek are hardly sizable for men, but the boys are said to be catching them at the dam, and Mrs. Messler will call parents' attention to the fact that their boys are offenders against the laws of the state and will be punished unless they desist.
Medford Mail, July 24, 1908, page 1
DIGGING A TRENCH IN BEAR CREEK
Active work was commenced this morning on a trench which is to be dug across Bear Creek near the city's pumping plant in order to catch the low water in the creek in order to supplement the present water supply. There is considerable seepage in the creek, and it is claimed that much water can be obtained across the bed of the creek and turning this under flow into the well.
Yesterday in many sections of the city--in nearly all sections--there was no water in the city mains. The cloudy weather, however, has caused a slight increase in the amount of water in Bear Creek, and should the rain, which seems promised at this time, materialize the situation will be much improved temporarily.
A four-inch main is being laid north from the distributing main on A Street to connect with the Fish Lake Ditch 4000 feet distant. A pump is being installed, and this will also furnish a certain amount of water. The well on the station and the tank is to be kept full if possible so that a splurge of some kind can be made in case fire should break out.
Yesterday the box factory of the Crater Lake Lumber Company was forced to shut down, as no water could be obtained to feed the boilers.
The water committee notified the Southern Pacific company that their supply may be shut off at any moment, and it is likely that this notification will soon be followed by action to that effect.
The situation is fast becoming desperate, and despite the fact that these steps are being taken by the water committee, Medford seems face to face with a water famine.
Southern Oregonian, August 15, 1908, page 1
People living near Bear Creek, in southwest Medford, are complaining because of the fact that persons living in the city seem insistent upon depositing the dead carcasses of dogs on the gravel banks of the creek. Unless it is stopped the residents nearby will enter a complaint, and arrests will follow.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, December 4, 1908, page 5
BEAR CREEK IS ON RAMPAGE
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS LOST TO EAST SIDE PROPERTY OWNERS
ONE BARN MOVED; WILL MOVE HOUSES IF FLOOD KEEPS UP
Property Values Will Suffer Heavily--Three Acres Swept Away--
Kahler Is Heaviest Loser--City Takes Steps for Relief and Protection
Thousands of dollars loss has been entailed by the property owners on the east side, due to the present high water in Bear Creek.
One barn had to be moved in order to save it, and if the flood does not abate or the efforts of the men fighting the stream prove [un]successful at least three and possibly more houses will have to be moved.
Over three acres of land worth at least $1000 an acre have been swept away.
The greatest damage is the effect that the flood and attending danger will have on property values in the bottom land on the east side of the creek.
The city authorities have taken the matter in hand and are doing what they can to build a short levee to turn the current.
Thomas Kahler and Thomas Collins are the heaviest losers. Kahler's property [at 23 Almond Street] has been cut in two by the waters, over half of it going downstream. He was forced to move his barn, the water wearing the land away so that the spot where it once stood is no more. A corner of Mr. Collins' place [at 110 Almond Street] is gone, and his house is within 100 feet of the edge of the bank, which is constantly caving in and being washed away.
Angus McDonald [at 122 Cottage Street] is also a sufferer, a large portion of his property washing away. His barn may have to be moved. Joe Caskey occupies the house.
A large force of men is at work filling sacks with soil and dumping them into the creek in an endeavor to turn the current back to the old channel.
Bear Creek continues to rise, due to the heavy rainfall in the mountains surrounding Ashland.
The weather man says that there is as yet no abatement of the storm in sight. Heavy rains are predicted for tonight and tomorrow.
Started on Sunday.
The stream showed tendencies of leaving [the] channel, which at this place is very narrow, on last Sunday, but it was thought at that time that the water would not rise high enough to work any damage to the property other than carrying away a few feet of the bank. As day after day brought no abatement of the high water it was seen that something would have to be done, but the flood had started on its course of destruction and could not easily be checked. Each property owner waited for the other to act, no preconcerted attack being made upon the waters of the creek, and what would have been easily averted in the early stages of the flood has become a formidable task.
Barn Is Moved.Excerpt, Medford Daily Tribune, January 21, 1909, page 1
The water finally started cutting into the bank at a rapid rate, and Mr. Kahler saw that unless his barn was moved it would be swept away. He took steps to move it, and where it once stood is now the main channel of the creek. Although it was moved some 250 feet, it is now only some 75 feet from the edge of the bank.
The water is cutting into the land in the form of a great semicircle. The current gains its greatest swiftness nearest the bank, which accounts for the rapidity with which the bank is caving away. The bank stands up some 12 feet from the water, and as it is all deposited soil, thrown up by the very force that is now carrying it away, it is going rapidly. The creek that gave it is again claiming its own.
From a 1909 Medford booster booklet.
RAISING FUNDS TO CHECK BEAR CREEK
STREAM CONTINUES ON ITS COURSE OF DESTRUCTION
EVER WEARING AWAY BANK TOWARDS TOM COLLINS' RESIDENCE
Creek Fell Over Three Feet Last Evening--Heavy Snowfall in Mountains Will Bring it up Again--
Efforts of Workers Prove of Little Avail.
In order to obtain the necessary funds with which to check the ravages of Bear Creek, a subscription list was started in the city Friday morning and met with hearty response on the part of Medford citizens. The money will be employed in building a substantial levee which will keep the water hereafter in the old channel of the creek. Those who headed the list are: L. G. Porter, $50; Tom Collins, $50; Angus McDonald, $50; Tom Kahler, $50; Dr. C. R. Ray, $20.
Although the water in Bear Creek is some three feet lower than it was at this time yesterday, the stream is continuing on its course of destruction, the edge of the bank now being some 50 feet closer to the residence of Tom Collins. By this time tomorrow, if no change comes, his barn and dwelling will have to be moved.
Trying To Check It.There have been some 30 men at work at the cut, endeavoring to check the current of the stream from cutting into the bank, but so far they have been able to accomplish but little. Street Commissioner Orr has a crew of men in the bed of the stream with a team and plow, and it may be that they will be able to turn the current, which now hugs the bank and cuts it away rapidly. The building of levees with sacks filled with mud has done some good, but the work is necessarily slow, and in the meantime the creek continues to cut away the bank.
Dynamite Is Tried.It was thought on Thursday evening that should a certain point of the bank be blown away with dynamite that the cutting into the bank on the part of the water would cease. The experiment was tried, and while the point was gotten rid of to a great extent, the current did not halt on its course of destruction.
The barn of Mr. Kahler, which was moved to avoid being washed away, is again within 50 feet of the bank, and it may be that it will again have to be moved. However, as it is still upon rollers, this will be a comparatively easy task. There is not a great deal of land left which was owned by Mr. Kahler upon which to move the barn, however.
Excerpt, Medford Daily Tribune, January 22, 1909, page 1
The recent high water in Bear Creek has done considerable damage to the adjacent lands. Among other places where ground is being washed away is near the south end of Almond Street, in East Medford. A. McDonald and Thomas Kahler have each met with a considerable loss in this way. The waters were approaching rather closely to the barn of Mr. Kahler, which stood upon the bank, and he was yesterday moving it to a safer location.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, January 22, 1909, page 5
All of the farmers of North Phoenix have been compelled to go to Talent bridge in order to get across Bear Creek the last few days.
Word was received by your correspondent Saturday that two of the costly cribs built by the county on the county farm, in Bear Creek, were wrecked by high water Friday night.
"Eden Precinct," Medford Mail, January 22, 1909, page 8
SITUATION ON BEAR CREEK IMPROVES
Waters Fall in Stream, Wearing Away of Bank Ceases--No Further Damage Is Expected
The situation on Bear Creek has materially improved during the past 24 hours, and no further damage is expected, unless something unforeseen in the matter of high water ensues. The wearing away of the bank by the high waters has practically ceased, and the work of the men who are endeavoring to change the current of the stream is having its effect. They are making a cut which will turn the water to a great extent away from the bank on the lower side, and it is expected that before the water raises again they will have accomplished their work of turning the water.
As to the Loss.There is a diversity of opinion concerning the amount of land that has been taken away by the high water. Mr. Collins on Saturday morning stated that the land ran farther out than it really did, and that but little over an acre had gone downstream. He is thoroughly conversant with the lay of the land before the flood and says that the soil did not extend to the bushes which are now standing in the stream and which were pointed out as the edge of the old channel, but that it was back a considerable distance.
As soon as it is possible there will be a dike constructed in the stream, which will in the future keep the water within bounds, so that there is no reason to anticipate trouble from floods. This will make the property on the east side side safe, and property values should keep up their original figures.
Excerpt, Medford Daily Tribune, January 23, 1909, page 1
TEAM HAS CLOSE CALL.
Carried Downstream While Working in Bear Creek.
What came near being a serious accident occurred yesterday on Bear Creek, where the work of putting in the cribs to turn the water is in progress. F. A. Piel was hauling sacks of gravel to dump into the cribs and, in attempting to cross near where the temporary work was put in, his horses got into the rapidly flowing stream between the ends of the dam and were swept off their feet and down the stream until the wagon struck some falsework and careened almost on its side, one horse at the time being up to its withers in the water.CHECKING BEAR CREEK.
Mr. Piel got off the edge of the wagon box that was out of the water and steadied himself by a wire that was stretched across and under which the team had passed. After Piel the movements of the team and [omission] after several anxious moments for the strong current caused the falseworks to give way when the team got a good footing and was able to draw the wagon to dry land. The water in the channel at this point was about five feet in depth, and only the giving way of the timbers prevented a horse, and perhaps its driver, from being drowned.
Medford Mail, January 29, 1909, page 1
Wing Dams Being Placed To Prevent Bank Cutting.
W. H. Liptrap has been engaged to superintend the putting in of a series of wing dams on Bear Creek so as to prevent future high waters from striking the banks where the recent washout near the city occurred. This is to be a permanent work, and in connection with what is being done by the city engineer's force, no fears of further damage at that point need be feared. Mr. Liptrap commenced work yesterday afternoon with a small force. More men will be put on and the work pushed before there is another raise of the water.
Medford Mail, January 29, 1909, page 2
To Medford Morning Mail: A statement was recently published in your paper from your Phoenix correspondent to the effect that two of the costly cribs put in by the county in Bear Creek, on the county farm, were badly wrecked. We feel it is our duty to make a correct statement in this matter, and will do so.MYSTERY SOLVED.
At the time the county bought the poor farm the property owners living below the farm along Bear Creek made a proposition to the county to the effect that they would stand their proportion of the cost of building a permanent water break, or as near permanent as could be constructed with a limited amount of money, and the county to have charge of the work. This proposition was accepted by the county, and the work was done and has stood for two years, with the exception that this last high water caused three of the cribs to tilt somewhat on account of water washing the gravel from underneath on one side, but they are all intact and are doing all the work for which intended, and had it not been for this or some other substantial structure the land along Bear Creek, on the west side, from and including the poor farm and what is known as "Stringtown," would have been overflowed with water. As it is, no damage has been done, and there has been high water.
(Signed.) JOSHUA PATTERSON,
S. S. STEVENS,
J. A. COPELAND, Supt. Poor Farm,
ROBERTS & SON.
Medford Mail, February 5, 1909, page 7
Considerable anxiety was caused the police of Medford yesterday when Night Officer Brophy, late in the morning, found a horse and buggy wandering about the north end of town without a driver. There was nothing to indicate whether the owner had met with foul play or accident. The horse was taken to a livery barn by the police, and yesterday evening Charles Terrill came to town and claimed the rig.BEAR CREEK TAKES OUT DAM NEAR PHOENIX
It seems that Terrill had been dumped out of the rig while crossing McAndrews' ford, the approach to which is very steep, and that after his fall the horse had gotten away, while he went to a nearby house to spend the night and get dried out.
Medford Mail, March 12, 1909, page 8
SEPTIC TANK MUST BE MADE OVER FOR USE
Bottom Must Be Raised Two Feet before it Can Be Drained, Owing to Level of Creek.
CLAIMED THAT CREEK HAS FILLED UP DURING WINTER
Steps Will Be Taken by City Engineer to Rectify the Matter So That it Can Be Used.
The new septic tank which was recently constructed at the end of the new lateral trunk sewer on Riverside Avenue is out of commission for the time being, owing to the fact that it can be drained only down to a two-foot level. The bottom of the tank will have to be raised that much before the tank can be successfully used.
The fault is said to lie with Bear Creek. It is claimed that when the tank was put in that the bottom of the creek was two feet lower than it is at the present time and that at that time the tank could be successfully drained. During the winter the bottom of the creek filled up, and now the tank will remain useless until it is fixed by having the bottom raised.
City Engineer Foster is at present looking into the matter and will take immediate steps to remedy it.
Medford Daily Tribune, April 13, 1909, page 1
The present high water in Bear Creek has carried out the dam which diverts water for the millrace in Phoenix. During the past few days strenuous efforts have been made to repair the damage. It will in all probability be imperative that a cement dam be installed.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 7, 1909, page 2
After Thursday morning the people of Medford will no longer be compelled to depend upon the water (?) of Bear Creek, as the Fish Lake Company is now prepared to turn the water in at the Bradshaw drop and give the people of Medford pure mountain water.
For the past two months the successors to the Fish Lake Ditch Company have been at work cleaning the canal, and the city has in consequence been forced to fall back upon Bear Creek water, which was fit for irrigation purposes only.
Excerpt, "No More Bear Creek Water Need Be Used," Medford Mail Tribune (weekly edition), March 24, 1910, page 1
A rock screen is in operation [for the company paving Medford streets] which loads 400 wagons daily, scooping the material from the creek bed.
"Handling a Million-Dollar Job," Medford Mail Tribune, July 24, 1910, page B1
ASK PHIPPS TO PAY $800 FOR HOLDUPCity Attorney Neff filed answer to the amended complaint of I. J. Phipps against the city of Medford in the sewer case Monday afternoon. The city, as defendant, maintains that after a permit had been given by I. J. Phipps to construct a sewer through his property across Bear Creek, the complainant sold a large quantity of gravel and sand from the bed of the stream, making it necessary to build trestlework across the stream rather than lay the pipe on the bottom of the stream, as originally planned. This, it is claimed, cost the city $800 and made danger of the sewer proving an impediment to the winter floods possible, as, if the pipe had been laid on the bottom of the creek, as originally planned, the floods would have flowed over it. The city demands that Phipps reimburse the city $800 to cover the loss occasioned by his action.
City Files Answer to Amended Complaint and Demands Damages
for Violation of Contract and Sale of Gravel, Necessitating Sewer Be Placed on Trestle.
Bridge Agreement.The city admits the agreement to build a $2500 bridge, but maintains that investigation proved that a bridge could not be built for that sum and that the city did not have the additional funds necessary to complete a bridge. However, the answer explains that the city intends to levy taxes in December that will include the amount necessary for the construction of a wagon bridge at this point and that a permanent structure will be built during the coming spring.
City Attorney Neff further argues that the sewer across Bear Creek is high enough to allow all but an unusual high water to pass underneath, and maintains that the sewer is being constructed so that the trestlework can, in case of emergency, be drawn from under the sewer and the pipe and contents be precipitated into the stream, thus protecting property owners on each side of the stream from danger of damage. The sewer is only a temporary structure, the answer reads, and will serve during the coming fall and winter not over 50 homes. During flood time this amount of sewage will be carried away by Bear Creek without difficulty.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1910, page 1
STORM SEWERS NEEDED.
The present unusual heavy rainfall following a deep snowfall is producing flood and high water throughout this section. Much inconvenience, but little real damage, is likely to follow.
The storm calls attention to the need of a storm sewer system in Medford to carry off the surplus water.
Medford is built upon a flat. In pioneer days, before Bear Creek cut a deep channel through the valley, at times the entire townsite stood under water.
It is impossible to give the streets grade enough to drain the flood waters. They will answer for the ordinary rain, but not for floods. The townsite is too level.
The sewer system already constructed was not intended for storm water. The first storm sewer was constructed this fall and is not yet completed. It relieves the territory it drains, but only emphasizes the need of more such sewers. Until it was built it was impossible to drain a basement in the city.
The most difficult of the many problems the city administration has been compelled to solve has been the extension of public improvements without municipal funds. Mayor Canon devised a way whereby the water mains were extended and has made a good start on a storm sewer system.
A city cannot be built in a day, and Medford has been crowding into two years the improvements that most cities take years to make.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 28, 1910, page 4
TO BULKHEAD BANKS OF STREAMS
Von der Hellen Has Plan to Offer to State Engineer--
Wishes to Save Heavy Loss to Land Owners
Mr. von der Hellen proposes to take up the subject with the state engineer and evolve a plan for bulkheading and declaring reclamation districts on petition of property owners.
Bear Creek and the Applegate are examples of the great harm always possible with spring freshets. Often great quantities of rich soil are carried away, alfalfa fields and gardens ruined and general harm done.
Hydraulic mining has raised the beds of the streams until they overflow more than they did in the old days, Bear Creek at the Main Street crossing being many feet higher than originally when the freshet of 1862 changed the course of the stream from what is now the western base of Siskiyou Heights to its present course.
Medford Sun, December 18, 1910, page 1
BEAR CREEK IS SAFE NOW
Danger from Logs Great While High Water Was On--
Creek Goes Down Three Feet During the Night--All Danger to Property Is Now Past.
Fears for the safety of property along the banks of Bear Creek were dispelled this morning when it was discovered that the waters had gone down about three feet during the night. Up until last night, the creek remained at the high water level, about six feet higher than under ordinary conditions.
Fearing that the logs in the stream might jam at the bridge approaches, Street Commissioner W. P. Baker put a crew of men to work with pike poles to keep the logs from piling up.
Several jams occurred that proved difficult to dislodge, but this morning all danger was found to be over.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 20, 1911, page 1
BIG MOTOR AND HOIST FOR FACTORY
Concrete Construction Company to Use Them
for Hoisting Sand and Gravel--Pipe on Display
A seventy-five-horsepower motor and friction hoist for the Concrete Construction Company, owner of the concrete sewer pipe factory of Medford, arrived and were unloaded from the cars yesterday. The outfit will be used to hoist sand and gravel from the bed of Bear Creek to the bunkers for use in the factory.
Manager C. J. Semon has placed a fine specimen of eight-inch sewer pipe on display in Olwell's exhibit building. It is one of the strongest and best pieces of pipe ever seen in Medford or any city. Its being the product of a local factory makes its appearance notable and worth seeing.
Medford Sun, March 11, 1911, page 5
POLICE RAID HOBOES' CAMP
Evidence Found Showing Where Medford Chickens Have Been Going--
Camp Broken Up and Men Told To Hit the Ties.
The local police force Saturday raided the hoboes' camp on Bear Creek, and after destroying the rough domiciles of the weary Willies ran the men out of town. No less than a dozen knights of the road were given hurry-up orders and hit the ties.
From the great quantity of feathers found in the camp it is believed that the hoboes are responsible for the chickens which have been missing from Medford roosts during the past week, which has been a subject of daily comment.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1911, page 1
LIVING PICTURES ON BEAR CREEKTwo young women and a lad about eighteen showed to a full bank on Bear Creek yesterday afternoon. The lad was dressed in regulation bathing costume. The young women were not so regular. They could not swim, and removed their shoes and stockings preparatory to deep wading. They lifted their garments and waded in. The deeper they waded the higher the garments were pulled. The spectators encored the performance. The lassies smiled and continued to wade. One of the spectators, in the silence of his interested observation, was accused of rubbering. Yes, he rubbered, while another, just a simple, modest Sunday school lad, viewed for the first time a sight he never saw before. He said, "He, he." Another spectator was a long, green product from the headwaters of Bear. He 'lowed it beat anything he ever saw. He blushed a backwoods blush and pulled his cap down.
The waders came ashore and stretched their bare limbs out in the sun to dry. This was another interesting performance. It brought a cheer from the Sunday school kid, while the man from the headwaters shed tears like a sugar maple during a thaw. A snapshot picture was made showing four pairs of legs without even skin-tight garments to cover the extremities. When the Sun artist has time to develop the pictures it hopes to make a halftone picture for its readers. The only regret is that the Sunday school kid and the tearful fellow from headwater will not appear in the background of the picture.
Medford Sun, April 23, 1911, page 5
MEDFORD POLICE ROUSED
Raid to Be Made on Jungle in Hope of Driving Out Thieves.
MEDFORD, Or., Aug. 10.--(Special.)--To clean out the "jungle," as the brush along Bear Creek is called, Medford police are planning an organized raid. Continual thefts in Medford have forced the issue with the officers, the latest being the robbery of a department store of $400 worth of clothing.
The same store was robbed of $1000 worth of goods not long ago. The robbers entered the place by prying open the windows with pieces of iron.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 11, 1911, page 2
With a record-breaking precipitation in the last 12 hours, Bear Creek overflowing its banks, a rise in the Rogue River and rain still falling, Medford and the Rogue River Valley are threatened with a disastrous flood.
"Flood Threatens City of Medford," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, February 18, 1912, page 1
SPRAY DUMPED IN SEWER KILLS FISH IN CREEK
Because the Rogue River Fruit & Produce Association in washing out spray barrels allowed the washings to be carried away in the Eighth Street storm sewer, a large number of fish in Bear Creek have been killed, and game warden McGowan has taken steps to check the practice. The company has been selling spray and afterward washing out the barrels before reshipping them from the warehouse a block south of Main Street. The washings have been turned into a depression drained by the storm sewer. The spray has a deadly effect on fish.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 5, 1912, page 1
DON'T EAT FISH FROM BEAR CREEKPhysicians are warning residents of the city against fishing in Bear Creek and eating the fish. A short time ago the septic tank, into which the sewer system of the city empties, burst and since that time the sewers have emptied into Bear Creek direct and will continue to do so until the new septic tank, of concrete, has been completed. Sewer-fed fish are not recommended by Dr. Wiley.
The old septic tank was constructed three or four years ago of wood, and it took only a comparatively short time for the wood to rot out and the tank to give way. The city council recently ordered a new one constructed.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1912, page 3
[Burglar] Van Sickle has been "laying out" in the willows on Bear Creek, seldom showing himself up town, but securing enough at night to live on during the day.
"Leads Officers to His Buried Loot," Medford Mail Tribune, August 12, 1912, page 3
CLASS OF EIGHTEEN ARE BAPTIZED IN CREEKA class of eighteen converts to their faith was baptized in Bear Creek last Saturday at high noon by the Seventh Day Adventists. The ceremony was most impressive and was attended by a large number of church members.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1913, page 2
GARBAGE IN CREEK ENDANGERS HEALTHChief of Police Hittson this morning notified the garbage haulers of the city that they must stop dumping garbage along Bear Creek at the south end of Cottage Street on the east side. Much of the refuse is burned, but there is enough decomposed matter left on the ground to pollute the creek and to scent the air for many blocks around, endangering health.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1913, page 4
MANY WAGONLOADS OF RUBBISH ARE HAULED TO CREEK
The street cleaning department was very busy today hauling away rubbish piled by property owners on the curb in front of their residences, as today is cleanup day. A large force of men and teams were at work at an early hour and will continue to haul rubbish until Saturday but will not cover the same street twice.
The rubbish is being piled in a huge heap at Riverside and Twelfth near Bear Creek, where it will be burned on Saturday night. Several hundred wagonloads will be collected.
Cleanup day, following, as it does spring house cleaning, nets annually a huge amount of trash and rubbish. Each year sees a huge bonfire at the close of the cleanup period. This year residents are cleaning up as never before.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 1, 1913, page 6
R. B. Wyant, who had been indicted by the grand jury for dynamiting fish in Bear Creek and who had just returned from without the state, was arrested by Sheriff Singler at Talent Friday.BEAR CREEK HIGH; STREETS, YARDS FLOODED
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, January 17, 1914, page 3
STORM SEWERS CLOGGED BY RISING WATER CAUSES OVERFLOW ON CENTRAL
Creek's Banks Cut by Torrent--Chinook Causes Rapid Rise--
Snow Melting Fast--Trains Delayed Both Ways
Owing to heavy rains in the valley Wednesday, and the melting of snow in the mountains, Bear Creek was the highest in two years last night, and rapidly rising at 10 o'clock. The roar of the rushing waters could be easily heard two blocks away, and many went down to take a look at the usually placid stream, when in an angry mood. A warm Chinook wind began to blow late yesterday over southern Oregon, causing a rapid rise in the streams of the Rogue River watershed with prospects of highest water today.
Residents on South Central found their yards flooded last night, due to the heavy flow of water through the storm sewer, overflowing and becoming clogged at the mouth. Sidewalks floated, and the banks of Bear Creek were cut deep. Back of the Smith apartment house the water ran off Riverside Avenue in torrents, causing the bank to cave in, and also threatening to undermine the foundations of the Japanese laundry in the same district.
The waters of Bear Creek backed up the Jackson Creek sewer, over which there has been so much alderanic controversy recently, causing inconvenience in that section. The street department was busy all night keeping the manholes free from debris. Much driftwood is floating in the stream. At the corner of Jackson and Woodstock streets, the sewer overflowed, flooding the street. Main Avenue near the Washington School was flooded.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1914, page 1
The recent high water in Bear Creek caused a slight shifting in the channel of that pioneer stream, the main current now directing its efforts against the east bank. A gravel bar has been deposited directly behind the middle pier of the bridge. The old channel was on the west side, and a constant menace to the Medford Laundry's woodpile.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 9, 1914, page 2
Charles Estes pled guilty to dynamiting fish in Bear Creek, was fined $250 and sentence was suspended by the court pending good behavior and the promise that he would report once a month to the prosecuting attorney.
"Negro Acquitted by Forgetfulness of Girl in Case," Medford Mail Tribune, February 28, 1914, page 8
A number of fishermen persist in trying to catch fish in Bear Creek though the creek is full of driftwood and muddy. The snow is melting rapidly the last few days in the mountains under the warm sun.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1914, page 5
The warm weather of the last week has caused a rise of about a foot in Bear Creek, the cold nights stopping the thaw in the mountains and preventing high water. The stream is very muddy and filled with driftwood.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 14, 1914, page 5
The rains and high water of the last winter have made any number of changes in the Bear Creek channel, there being a general tendency of the current to eat away the east bank, for a mile each side of the Bear Creek bridge.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 2, 1914, page 2
A number of young men in the city schools, who could not withstand the lure of Bear Creek in ideal weather, have added figures to the hooky records the last two days.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 30, 1914, page 2
Complaint has been received by the police that small boys go swimming in Bear Creek close to family residences, garbed in such a manner as to be highly embarrassing to women.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 20, 1914, page 2
The water is [so] low in Bear Creek that city employees have dug a ditch under the bridge so the flow will be maintained. It is only a tricklet.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 8, 1914, page 2
Bear Creek, which nearly lost its being during the dry spell, is slowly resuming proportions of a creek, there being enough water in the bed at present to make a noise like a stream.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1914, page 2
Frank Coleman caught a four and a half pound steelhead in Bear Creek Sunday afternoon. Mr. Coleman reports that the early run is on.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 8, 1915, page 2
Barefooted boys made their appearance on Main Street Friday, an unfailing sign of summer. Youths also have taken to swimming in Bear Creek, and the police warn that something besides original garments must be worn.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 17, 1915, page 2
It now develops that when Sheriff Singler and Constable Al Hammond swooped down upon the [safecracking] gang in the Bear Creek "jungles" Thursday morning they were engaged in making "soup," as nitroglycerin is called. "Soup" is the boiled extract of dynamite, the explosive being put in a pan of simmering water. The grease comes to the top and is skimmed off, being emptied with extreme care into small bottles.
"Yeggmen Making Dynamite Soup When Arrested," Medford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1915, page 6
The authorities are looking for a party of small boys who went swimming in Bear Creek Wednesday afternoon, and disported on the bank in nothing but their original garb. A woman made a protest to the boys, and the sights became more unseemly, after the manner of young America.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 9, 1915, page 2
The hot weather has sent the small boys to Bear Creek, and the police have been forced to issue the annual edict against appearing in nothing but the bare skin, the youths not caring much for the proprieties.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, June 16, 1916, page 2
Friday morning the sheriff and deputies emptied about 112 gallons of booze into the creek, it being the whisky found in the cars when Smith and Estes were arrested plus the 35 gallons secured in the raid on Estes' house Thursday evening.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, September 1, 1917, page 3
Bear Creek is so dry, and the laundries so few, that some of our old-fashioned but ingenious townsmen have taken to washing their handkerchiefs in the drinking fountains.
Arthur Perry, "Ye Smudge Pot," Medford Mail Tribune, August 8, 1919, page 4
UNKNOWN SLEEP WALKER WADES IN B. CREEK, TO CITY
A strange case of sleep walking was brought to light last Friday morning early, when Horace Nicholson of the Medford Furniture and Hardware Company found a man clad only in his undershirt and a pair of socks wandering aimlessly on Central Avenue near Paul's Electric Store at 5:30 in the morning. He was unable to give his name, but said he lived two miles beyond Central Point "near Carlson's."
Mr. Nicholson took the thoroughly chilled man to the Rex Cafe, where he got warm soup and a cup of coffee, and was taken home by taxi. According to the story told Nicholson by the man, he first discovered that he was walking in his sleep when he found himself entangled in a barbed wire fence in Bear Creek, near the Jackson Street bridge. He was drenched to the skin, and his face and legs were badly cut where he had walked into the barbed wire fence. He said he had waded Bear Creek for a couple of miles. He also claimed that it was his first experience as a sleepwalker.
The man appeared dazed and exhausted, and on the verge of a breakdown from his experiences. He was lost and unable to find himself when Mr. Nicholson found him.
Kid Stevens, the well-known boxer, took the man home, but did not find out his name, the man recognizing his house when they came to it.
The sleepwalker made all of his unusual journey in his undershirt and a pair of socks, and it was bitter cold. When he reached this city, he found an old pair of overalls in an alley, and put them on out of self-protection. Mr. Nicholson told the man to take care of himself and stay in the house until all danger of exposure had passed.
He was described as about 40 years of age and a farmer.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 1920, page 6
POLICE CAPTURE BOOTLEG STILL ON BEAR CREEK
There was some booze-enforcing excitement in the city last night, caused by the sheriff locating an idle still in the brush along Bear Creek, south of the city, and the arrival of a man with two quarts of whiskey in a suitcase on the late train from the north. These incidents were not connected, only that they were related to the violations of the prohibition law.
Sheriff Terrill, Deputy Sheriff McMahon and Night Patrolmen Adams and Hempstreet took part in the excitement, which started by someone tipping the sheriff off to the fact the still was lying in the brush along Bear Creek. The sheriff and his deputy forthwith went there and pounced upon the still, which was a fine and complete one with coils, lying quietly in a grain sack. Then the arms of the law lay concealed in the vicinity for an hour or more waiting for the owner to come and get it, until they finally decided that he had been tipped off that they were watching for him.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, April 20, 1921, page 8
BEAR CREEK WATER IS IN LITIGATION
Talent District and Water Master Sued for Holding Bear Creek Flow
MEDFORD, August 11--An action involving the water of Bear Creek for irrigation purposes in Ashland, to reduce the drain on the city water supply, has just been filed in the circuit court at Jacksonville by the Medford Irrigation District and the Rogue River Canal Company against the Talent Irrigation District and Fred N. Cummings, water master. An order of estoppel is sought.
A water right was granted in 1854 for the power for the old flour mill at Phoenix. The Medford Irrigation District and co-defendant assert they acquired this water right--22 second-feet--and that defendants are holding it back by storage at the Emigrant Creek Dam, now in course of construction, preparatory to divert it through a 14-mile ditch for irrigation purposes on the south portion of the Talent project.
On the other side of the argument it is alleged that the main source of supply for the Medford Irrigation District is from Little Butte Creek, and that the Bear Creek water is but supplementary. The case will be tried at the September term of court.
Another case in the fight for water in Jackson County this dry summer is that of the state against Frank Rendley, Little Apple River rancher section, charging willful and unlawful opening of irrigating headgates.
Ashland Daily Tidings, August 11, 1924, page 1
EMIGRANT DAM IS READY FOR WATERConstruction of the Emigrant Creek dam, eight miles southeast of this city, has been completed, and within two weeks the impounding of water in the giant reservoir between this huge dam and the Pacific Highway, an area of 240 acres, will be started, according to engineers of the Talent Irrigation District.
New Dam Will Be Subject for Study by Prominent Body of Engineers.
Dam Is an Arch Type, Not Now in Common Use Because of
Difficulty of Construction. Will Be Able to Impound 8,000 Acre-Feet of Water.
The houses on the Dodge, Tucker and other ranches in the canyon and valley which will form the reservoir have been torn down, and everything is ready for the storing of the 8,000 acre-feet of water, the capacity of the reservoir, which the engineers' estimate will not only be absolute insurance against serious shortage in any year, such as has been felt during the previous summer, but will provide water for the irrigation of 4,000 acres more than is included in the Talent Irrigation District at present.
Excerpt, Ashland Daily Tidings, October 25, 1924, page 1
FLOOD DOES MUCH DAMAGE TO AUTO CAMP IN MEDFORD
Cabins Washed Away; Others are Undermined by Severe Storm of Monday Night
MEDFORD, Dec. 31--The downpour of rain Monday night, almost record-breaking, created flood conditions in the streets of many places because of inability of the storm sewers to carry away the fast-falling rain quick enough, caused Bear Creek and smaller streams throughout the country to flood their banks, and caused the greatest rise in the Rogue River during this year. The river at Gold Ray yesterday morning was at a depth of 15 feet and two inches, far more than normal.
In all during the 24 hours ending yesterday morning 1.43 of an inch of rain had fallen, most of which came down Monday night. It stopped raining along towards morning, and the flooded condition of the streams and the streets began to fast subside.
The rapid rise of Bear Creek caused that usually quiet stream to overflow its banks after midnight and reach the dignity of a raging river, which flooded the east side of the Merrick auto camp and the city auto camp.
Considerable damage was caused at the Merrick camp, as the flood washed away several of the tourist cabins and undermined others in the first row and one-half along the river. Several of the cabins are overturned by the flood, but did not float away. In this flood among the cabins stands the auto of a man who was living in a cabin. Two men residing in one of the cabins were awakened sometime after midnight to find their structure flooded and had to wade out quickly, with what personal effects could easily be seized, to safety on higher land.
The main portion of the Merrick camp, however, was not touched by the swollen stream.
Ashland Daily Tidings, December 31, 1924, page 1
Bear Creek, 1920s.
HAVE ROUGH TRIP IN EXPLORING
LOCAL BOYS ENJOY DIP IN COLD RIVER WATER
Swift Current and Taking Wrong Channel Upsets Boat of Searchers
The following letter sent by Louis Salade Jr. of Central Point to his friend, Col. Ralph B. Croskey, 526 Stephen Girard Bldg., Philadelphia, Pa., tells of a little incident that happened to him and several local boys on a recent trip down the Rogue River in search of a valuable Russian wolfhound, lost by Mr. Salade.
The story is interesting and the American is indebted to Mr. Salade to publish his letter.
Yesterday we had quite an adventure and experience none of the three of us will forget for a long time.
It came about like this. Saturday my Russian wolfhound went off with the police pup and never returned, even though the pup came back the following day. So although we have searched most everywhere about this section without a clue as to his whereabouts, I assume he was caught in a trap, probably along Bear Creek. We went along both banks of the creek, where boys are known to have set out traps for miles in both directions, but in several places were not able to even see the creek due to the dense underbrush. Therefore, having no results, I thought the best and only way was to go down the creek by boat. Due to the heavy rains this creek had swollen greatly and some time ago was a raging torrent with logs and all sorts of debris rushing down to the Rogue River, some few miles below here. But now it had gone down to a more normal size, and with care we thought it could be successfully done. So with Leon Boomer, Ed. Boardman, Truman Brenner, all of Central Point and who wanted some excitement, we were fortunate in getting a strong metal-covered flat-bottomed boat, owned by Bert Peck, also of Central Point, and with the three of us aboard we started down Bear Creek.
The current was much swifter than was at all suspected, and although one of us was at the bow and another at the stern with sort of poles and the third at the oars amidships and pulling upstream, the boat went along entirely too fast for comfort. At a short distance on and where the stream made a split, we took the wrong channel and ran aground in a small rapids, but finally managed to get clear with some pulling and pushing.
To our surprise, after going on some little distance further and too swiftly at that, due to the strong current, we saw just above the surface what had been the top wire of a barbed-wire fence. We had just come around a bend in the stream and did not have a chance to get to the side in time to reach the bank before hitting the fence. Evidently the risen creek had been so much higher than this fence that the logs, etc. had gone right over this and not torn it away as we expected and had been the case in places where the stream was not so hemmed-in by the high banks.
So before we knew it, the boat had hit the fence and the current had taken it sidewise and held it against this fence in midstream, causing the water on the upstream side to come over the side and sink the boat several inches below the surface,when, fortunately, the lower wires of the fence against the force of the current held the boat in this position. This saved us from a probable serious catastrophe at least for me, for as you know, in my condition of not being able to handle myself because of my semi-paralyzed side, the situation would have been very trying.
But with the help of that top wire and some outstretched willow branches, we finally managed to reach the bank by climbing on to a willow tree.
Wet thoroughly to my waist, and the water was somewhat cold too, my teeth began to chatter and although I hated to give up the trip, realizing my condition I called to the others that they should try to draw the boat up on the bank and get some dry clothes on immediately. But just to show the pluck of those boys, one called back that they would rather try to go on with the journey.
Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the stream and had to go all the way around to the other side by way of the bridge from where we had started, and so walked several miles to my home as quickly as possible.
The other two companions righted the boat and started once more downstream when they hit a very narrow place where the creek turned around a high bank and capsized, both boys getting wet all over, one disappearing entirely from sight and taken downstream. It was a funny sight to see Leon and Ed. holding onto a willow branch growing from the bank, and he extended at length on the surface of the water, which at this point had an unbelievable strong current. This ended the adventure, for as soon as the boat could be pulled up on the bank, the two hurried back to the house for a complete change.
Of course there was not much of an opportunity to look for my dog, and almost a week has passed without a sign of him. It goes to show how much a person undergoes for the sake of dumb animals, in particular for a pet dog. I have fairly scoured this part of the valley, and had half a dozen boys helping me to do it, to say nothing of my daughter Helen.
Wish I were with you to celebrate this Christmas, at least hope this letter will arrive in time to give you my greetings.
With best wishes for the season to your family from me, I am
As ever yours,
L. A. SALADE, Jr.
Central Point American, December 31, 1926, page 1
Record Floods of Bear Creek
According to Dr. E. B. Pickel, pioneer physician, the sudden overflowing of Bear Creek Sunday afternoon was of less magnitude than the big flood in February 1890, which occurred under practically the same conditions. In 1890 there was 18 inches of snow on the ground. A warm wind and rain turned Southern Oregon streams into torrents.
Two years later Bear Creek again went on a rampage, this time cutting away the banks. The entire town went out and fought the encroaching waters in an effort to save two homes located in the neighborhood of the P.&E. depot. The barn of L. Niedermeyer succumbed to the high water and floated away.
Dr. Pickel believes that the volume of water in the creek in 1890 was greater than yesterday.
With the overflow of yesterday, the above two risings were the greatest in the history of the ordinarily placid stream, since it was dug.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 21, 1927, page 1
VALLEY AND CITY SWEPT BY FRESHETS
BEAR CREEK OVERFLOWS ITS BANKS
Crest of Flood, Caused by Torrential Rains, Passed--Homes and Business Houses Suffer--
Rail Service Delayed--Rural Sections Inundated.
The flood, which was precipitated by the storm that started in early last Saturday morning and was practically continuous until late last night with copious rainfall during which 2.02 inches of rain fell, of which 1.53 inches fell up to 5 p.m. yesterday and .32 of an inch after that hour, which together with .17 of an inch that fell on Saturday, makes the total.
The flood turned the streets of the city into raging torrents of water, flooded basements of homes, businesses and public buildings and churches, surrounded homes in low-lying sections, flooded the auto camp and washed away a number of its frame cottages, stalled cars in many parts of the city, especially in the low-lying section of the east side, put many phones out of service, crippled the power service somewhat and did much other damage.
Bear Creek was turned into a raging flood; the Rogue River was higher than for many years, and all the streams of the county were out of their banks.
Among the basements flooded were those of the Federal Building, the First Methodist Church, the Methodist Church South, the Hotel Medford, the Terminal Hotel and the Liberty and Medford Center buildings. The furnaces were extinguished in these buildings. The services of the fire department were called yesterday afternoon and last evening to pump out the basements of the Federal Building and Hotel Medford.
The water on Riverside Avenue caused miniature dams to be built in front of doorways and entrances to garages, homes, apartment houses and stores and was nearly two feet deep at its peak. Numerous cars with venturesome drivers developed trouble when in the center of the raging stream, and a number of women occupants were carried from the cars for a block and often more to dry ground.
The high water mark in the city came at 8 p.m., and from then on gradually decreased until the Riverside stream, which had its mouth at the rear of the public market building, was gone, leaving mud and a surprising amount of driftwood and refuse behind. A large portion of the flow had its beginning on Dakota Avenue, from which street it flowed down Oakdale, across the railroad tracks, onto Front and down Eighth Street to Riverside. Another branch of the stream flowed the full length of South Riverside and apparently covered the highway beyond the Earhart ranch.
A sudden rise in Bear Creek caught numerous sightseers, who had crossed onto East Main Street, by surprise. From late in the afternoon on until the climax of the flow was reached, water flowing down Cottage Street onto Main and across to the creek by the old Pacific and Eastern Railroad depot was over two feet deep, making it impossible for pedestrians to cross and foolhardy for motorists to attempt. However, numerous machines plowed through the water successfully, but a large number stalled in the center of the swift stream.
Dynamite was used to blow out the Cottage Street bridge, which was causing the flood to flow onto the city streets because of driftwood which had piled against it. When the bridge was taken out of the way, the water receded appreciably, but was flowing worse than before onto the streets when the flow rose, causing more than 15 families to leave their homes to go to hotels, some removing all household goods due to water which was commencing to cover the floors with indications of rising more rapidly every minute.
Houses which were built in the lowlands immediately adjoining the creek were this forenoon still surrounded, and several were moved somewhat from their foundations. Household goods were removed from the premises before water could reach them. Such scenes were fully typical of the scenes usually depicted here in pictures or in moving picture newsreels.
In the neighborhood of $20,000 was the loss figured by the Merrick auto camp, which lost two rows of camp houses numbering approximately 38, 15 of which had only recently been constructed for next summer's business. A number of the houses were swept for long distances down the creek, and others are scattered all along its banks. The houses even in normal weather are situated fairly close to the stream, which in summer time is not much more than a brook. In order to prevent flood damage, the majority of the houses had been fastened securely to trees, but the fastenings were unavailing in the terrific force of the water, which in addition flooded a large number of other camp houses.
Abridged, Medford Mail Tribune, February 21, 1927, page 1
RAIN DELUGE WORKS HAVOC
SOUTHERN PACIFIC TRAINS HELD ALONG ROUTE
Damage Is High
High water in Jackson County lasting several hours, while rivers and creeks went out of their beds, played more or less havoc with farms and cities of the county the first of the week.
Many homes in the lowlands west of Central Point narrowly escaped damage from the high water. Many small bridges were entirely submerged, and roads were inundated at many points, and made impassible.
Thirty-eight cabins were washed out at Merrick's camp [site of today's Medford Red Lion].
Worst in History
Southern Pacific railway men, some of them who have been here with the company for 25 years, declare the storm has rendered unprecedented damage to their line and is the worst in history. Slides and washouts have occurred at numerous points north. The line is also blocked at several points south. The line was out for a distance of 200 years near Bear Creek Orchards, where the grade has been washed out from under the track. It is also reported that part of tunnel 13 at the summit of the Siskiyous had slid in. Several huge rocks were on the track near Steinman and various other blockades occurred in the south.
At Jackson Hot Springs, water for an eighth of a mile covered the highway to a depth of three feet, and families marooned in cabins were removed in boats. The highway was slightly undermined but not greatly damaged. Tourists' cabins at the resort were wrecked, and two cars ran into the ditch.
Medford High School closed until Wednesday due to the inability of ten teachers to reach the school.
Basements of the Medford Center Building, Terminal and Medford hotels, federal building and many smaller buildings flooded and were pumped out, after causing damage to stocks.
Two Medford campgrounds, built along the banks of Bear Creek, are washed out with heavy property damage when the creek broke over its banks.
Abridged, Ashland American, February 25, 1927, page 1
HIGH WATER CROSSES THE HIGHWAY
AND PAYS A VISIT TO MEDFORD
Last Sunday all streams in the county were running over their banks.
A drive up the Pacific Highway was thrilling, and many cars were out "taking in the sights." At Jackson Hot Springs everything was under water, and the creek and mounting streams broke across the pavement in many places. The camp was a lake, the cottages floating and one or two tourists' cars had to be towed out to islands and dry spots.
Two houses were in the path of the creek, and it is reported that one party had to leave his home altogether to be saved. Another report from an oldtimer states that this was the first time in forty years that the creek has been so high.
Our sister city of Medford got lots of flood experience. The old "market" building [the public market, 33 South Riverside] was full of water, a creek running out the front door. On Pacific, near Medford's main street, water was hub deep on the automobiles, and some cars couldn't ford the stream. Basements were full of water and high pressure pumps were brought into use.
Considerable damage to basements, streets, sewers and walks is reported in Medford.
The weather wasn't cold, but was wet and fine for boating or for ducks.
Ashland American, February 25, 1927, page 4
Now that the sidewalk building campaign, which has taken so much of City Engineer Fred Scheffel's time, along with his many other duties as engineer and city street superintendent, is well under way, Mr. Scheffel will now take up the work of making a survey of Bear Creek and the lots along its banks. This must be done before the plans of the city administration for the flood control work can be matured and put under way, to be completed before next winter.
It has been decided by the city officials that the work of cleaning out the creek bed and straightening out Bear Creek inside the city limits, and erected protecting embankments, will not be undertaken until the land owners deed the banks to the city, so as to protect the city against possible damage suits and give plenty of room to make the flood control improvements.
"City Inspection for Sidewalks Now Building," Medford Mail Tribune, July 10, 1927, page 3
FLOOD DANGER TO BE FOUGHT BY CITY, IS COUNCIL IDEA
Widening Creek Channel Is Proposed
Disastrous floods such as swept the east side of Medford in February of this year will be prevented or at least effectually combated by a resolution passed by the city council last night regarding clearing out and widening the channel.
Residents of the east side, about 300 of them, signed a petition asking that this be done to remove the flood danger, and the council voted that an experimental acre be cleared to get a line on the cost and that a move be started to obtain deeds on property along the creek bed so that the slashing crews can widen as they see fit.
Is ExpensiveAll agreed that it was merely a question of money--that such inundations were to be fought. The cost would run from $5000 to $10,000.
February's flood, which came at a time when the entire Northwest was being inundated, did heavy damage in Medford. Basements of large buildings over the entire city were filled with water. Cabins and houses along the banks of Bear Creek were washed downstream. Residents of the east side were forced to sleep in hotels when their homes became filled with overflow water from the creek.
Roads OutRoads, bridges and railway tracks through the county went out in the high water, but Medford's east side blamed their loss on an obstructed creek bed, which allowed backwater to flood the district.
Excerpted, Medford Daily News, August 3, 1927, page 1
SPEND $10,000 TO MAKE BEAR CREEK FLOODPROOF
If no trouble is encountered in obtaining deeds to creek bottom property, work will probably commence early next month to prevent Bear Creek from repeating the expensive flood of last February by tearing out brush from a point near Eleventh Street north to Jackson Street, according to a decision reached last night by the city council, which also passed 15 ordinances for the construction of sewers in different parts of the city.
The cost of the brush removal, which is a preliminary step to deepening the creek channel by a steam shovel next year, is expected to total approximately $10,000, none of which will be borne directly by the interested property owners. The procuring of deeds, so that the clearing may be put under way unhampered, is expected to consume at least a month, with an approximate cost of $2000 alone. The action was taken by the council, in view of a petition with 300 signers, all of whom are residents east of Bear Creek.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 3, 1927, page 3
WORK STARTS TO CLEAR OUT BEAR CREEK
Medford's flood danger--a blocked-up, tree-throttled Bear Creek--will soon be reduced greatly.
Yesterday workmen with a gasoline steam shovel started work on the creek bed near Cottage Street to remove trees and bushes by the simple means of uprooting.
At their last meeting the city council authorized the clearing of the creek bed in answer to a 300-name petition asking that such a move be made to protect the east side residents from a recurrence of February's floods.
Later on a rock reef at Cottage Street will have to be removed by some means, probably blasting, and the work be extended all along the almost-dry creek bed in an effort to open up a clear channel for high waters to flow through.
The work is under the supervision of City Manager Fred Scheffel, and the estimated cost was placed at $10,000.
Medford Daily News, August 9, 1927, page 5
While the high water in Bear Creek occurred early last spring, washing out numerous bridges and approaches, giving ample time since then to effect repairs, the bridge across the creek on Biddle Lane as yet is practically in the same condition as it was after the flood had done its work. Numerous autoists have been forced to turn back when reaching the bridge, the approaches of which have not been replaced, causing loss of time and much inconvenience.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 9, 1927, page 2
The flood protection situation was brought about by a petition signed by over one hundred owners of property along or near Bear Creek, asking the council to grub out brush, trees and other obstructions in the channel of Bear Creek, and otherwise deepen, widen and straighten the channel so as to carry off the flood waters during the rainy season, and assess the cost on property owners adjacent thereto, or benefited thereby.
It was reported at the meeting that little headway has been made so far in getting deeds or easements from owners of property along Bear Creek, giving strips of land to the city, to enable the clearing out and straightening of the channel. This is mainly due to the city superintendent's department being so busy with other city improvement matters.
It was also reported that a few property owners objected to having trees cut down on their abutting property to Bear Creek in order to clear and straighten the channel. This reported attitude on the part of the few was due to the fact that they did not understand the situation, or the importance of such removal for the much-needed improvement, and the city officials expressed the feeling that when they fully understood they would deed the needed strips of land. The majority of such strips would not be more than 20 feet of such property to each individual owner.
"City Lighting Change Is Considered," Medford Mail Tribune, August 17, 1927, page 2
AUTO CAMP FENCE IS PROTESTED AS A FLOOD MENACE
The matter of the drainage of Bear Creek and keeping the channel open north of the Bear Creek bridge, as was recently done by the city south of that bridge, as a further flood protection and which has been tentatively under consideration by the city officials for some time past, was brought to a head last night when attorney Gus Newbury presented a petition, signed by forty east and west side residents, to the city council in person protesting against a fence that has been built by the Merrick auto camp management on its property extending out to the present channel, as a flood menace and unsightly obstruction.
Mr. Newbury, in this remarks on the matter, declared that the fence would tend to deflect the present creek channel in case of another flood like that of last February and cause an overflow on east side property adjoining the creek. The petitioners pleaded that the council cause this obstruction to be removed and take such other steps necessary to keep the channel open and unobstructed.
After a formal discussion of the matter, during which it developed that the situation north of the bridge presented a number of legal tangles and some other channel obstructions, including the fact that the auto camp management was probably within its legal rights in maintaining the fence on its own property, it was thought that the matter could amicably be straightened out by a conference between Mr. Merrick and the city administration so as to enable the city to take steps which would be generally satisfactory.
Unless an amicable solution can be reached, the city will probably declare Bear Creek a public drainage sewer, which would enable it to go ahead and clear, straighten and widen the channel as a public necessity in flood protection.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 1927, page 3
BEAR CREEK MENACE UP TO COUNCIL
Removing obstructions from the channel of Bear Creek so that the stream won't be a potential flood menace to residents living along the east and west banks will claim the attention of the city government for some time to come.
Gus Newbury was at the council meeting last night with a petition to which 40 residents had attached their signatures, and he read the document to the councilmen. The text of the petition called attention to the danger to property north of the Main Street bridge from floods and prayed for relief.
Mr. Newbury was informed by the mayor and councilmen that immediate steps will be taken by the city superintendent, city attorney and others to the end that the channel be opened so that rising waters may escape and the creek made as safe as possible.
Excerpt, Medford Daily News, December 21, 1927, page 2
A committee was appointed to confer with the city officials and report back to the [East Side Improvement Club] at its next meeting, regarding the possibility of a new amusement building [the Childers Building] that is being built at the west end of the Bear Creek bridge on Main Street, being a flood menace, by holding back the stream during high water periods.
"East Side Club To Raise Funds for Oiling Road," Medford Mail Tribune, May 24, 1928, page 5
Also during the year protective measures and work against Bear Creek floods were taken. This includes the widening, deepening and removal of brush from the banks of the stream, and the building of a dike representing an outlay of $8800. Besides reducing the flood damage peril, the flooding of the sewer system by backwater of the flood is eliminated.
"Resume Paving City Streets After 17 Years," Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1928, page C6
DUMP MOONSHINE IN CREEK TODAYThe flow of Bear Creek was enriched by wine and moonshine, valued at $1000, when 126 gallons were dumped into the creek by Deputy Sheriffs Paul and Louis Jennings at McAndrews ford in the presence of several witnesses. The liquor, with the exception of a few gallon jugs, was contained in kegs and 56 gallons of wine taken last week from Louis F. Sanguinetti, south of Ashland, and 60 gallons of moonshine and 10 gallons of wine seized from L. Farnaro. Both men were en route from northern California to Klamath Falls, according to officers, and are now serving sentences in the county jail of two months each.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 4, 1929, page 5
WILL WE PARK BEAR CREEK?
A lady asked us that question several days ago, and we were stumped for an answer because we hardly know whether Medford will ever wake up and develop its natural resources instead of fencing BULL PASTURES and calling them a part of Medford's future park and playground program.
The parking of Bear Creek is no small job, but it could be begun and carried [out] over a period of, say, FIVE YEARS, and the burden upon the taxpayers would be negligible because of the increase in the taxable property that would be benefited by the improvement.
Now, in saying this we do not mean that the property adjacent to Bear Creek should pay for the cost of this park any more than all the rest of the city, but it is good common sense to assume that when you make a place of beauty out of a public nuisance such as Bear Creek now is that you most naturally enhance the value of all the property adjacent thereto, and thus you automatically increase the taxable value of the city to an extent that offsets the cost of the improvement.
If Medford can, and we can because we did, afford an adequate AIRPORT, just so can Medford afford a real CITY PARK along Bear Creek, and the sooner this is done the better for Medford.
Pacific Record Herald, October 17, 1929, page 1
Medford has acquired a garbage dump, located south of the city along Bear Creek, where the natural flow of the decadent filth must flow directly through the city. Hogs have been permitted at this garbage dump, which hogs are wading in filth up to their bellies. Rats swarmed over the dump and raided the city by the thousands, all of which situation as brought about by POLITICIANS who hoped to do something, but did not know how.
"The Garbage Situation Here in Medford," Pacific Record Herald, June 12, 1930, page 1
Sewage disposal is another serious problem for the immediate future. Our present plan is inadequate, and during the summer's low-water season the condition of Bear Creek below the plant is a menace to health. If the surplus water from the city reservoir were permitted to flow down Bear Creek below the plant the condition would be greatly relieved. The surplus water, being picked up above the sewage plant for irrigation purposes, and thus kept out of the creek channel, leaves the holes of the channel to become stagnant pools and a health menace.
E. M. Wilson, "Mayor Wilson Announces Policy and Appointments in Inauguration Address," Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1931, page 7
A report to the council on the Cottage Street bridge announced that all footings have been poured, and that the concrete in four piers has been poured to date. The work is progressing rapidly.
"City Park Site Sales Are Urged," Medford Daily News, January 21, 1931, page 2
THAT BEAR CREEK SEWERDuring the past week a number of ranchers and property owners owning property or living adjacent to Bear Creek north of Medford have come to us urging that we again publicly call to the attention of the city of Medford the deplorable condition of this creek due to the unsanitary method of sewer disposal that is permitted by said city of Medford. While we have not made a strict survey of the conditions now existing, yet we feel justified in the face of the information at hand to most earnestly urge upon the new city administration the abating of this dangerous menace to health.
The water in said Bear Creek or sewer at this time is so filthy that it is a disgrace, especially so when same is permitted to go unchanged after the matter has been brought to each succeeding city administration, and it would seem that now is the time to begin to urge upon this administration the utmost importance of immediate action in abating this nuisance.
The sewerage disposal of Medford has long been a source of menace to many citizens living north of Medford, and were we to have a health survey in Jackson County that was not influenced by politics, the city would find itself facing serious charges from the health department occasioned by the unsanitary conditions of this sewer disposal into Bear Creek.
Excerpt, Pacific Record Herald, January 29, 1931
CLEAN UP BEAR CREEK!
If Bear Creek CAN'T be made--as this paper has frequently advocated--a real civic beauty spot, there is at least no excuse for allowing it to become what is at present an eyesore and a blot upon the landscape.
We will soon be in the midst of the summer tourist season. Hundreds of visitors will stroll across Bear Creek bridge to enjoy the evening air and get a glimpse of the town.
On both sides of the bridge they will see a trickling stream of sluggish water, lined by tin cans, weeds, broken boxes and the usual miscellaneous filth that accompanies a rubbish dump.
Bear Creek should be dammed, made into an attractive body of water, its banks planted to trees, shrubs and flowers, with ornamental walks meandering through them. Perhaps when Medford's new sewerage disposal system is installed this can be done.
But until such time, we should at least be able to prevent this natural "civic center" from being little better than a garbage heap.
There is now a city playground at the Bear Creek bridge, on which is situated the Boy Scouts' headquarters. Might we suggest that the Boy Scouts, always interested in civic betterment, devote a day or two to removing the debris from both banks of the stream, and thus making that section of the city at least decently presentable?
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1931, page 12
BEAR CREEK FISH TASTE MOONSHINE
Every so often, Bear Creek flows rich with alcohol and liquor inspired by the destruction of intoxicating beverages, seized by officers from bootleggers and rum runners. Yesterday afternoon the sheriff's office poured quite a quantity of liquor out at McAndrews ford in the creek in the presence of witnesses.
Some of the beverage may have been good and the rest of poor quality, but it all came to the same end. The liquor had been used as evidence in cases tried in court the past several months and included all the county had, with the exception of 10 cases of whiskey seized Wednesday in Medford from two Italian rum runners.
The liquor included the following: Eight quarts of wine, 83 pints of moonshine, three quarts of moonshine, three gallons of wine, 20 gallons of alcohol and 28 gallons of moonshine.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 22, 1931, page 8
A bond issue will probably be brought to vote soon on construction of the $215,000 [sewage] disposal plant, held to be a pressing need of this city. At present Bear Creek, into which the sewage flows, is virtually dry, and a drastic sanitary condition is arising, with the threat of lawsuits hanging over the city.
"New Sewage Plant To Be Bought Here," Medford Daily News, May 23, 1931, page 1
CREEK PROJECT GIVEN CWA OKEH
Approval was received this morning, according to City Engineer Fred W. Scheffel, on the amended application to CWA headquarters of the Bear Creek project, which will include an expenditure of an approximate $18,000.
The work will include the deepening and widening of the channel, and placing hand-laid rock walls for about 1800 yards from Jackson to Tenth Street.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, December 12, 1933, page 1
BEAR CREEK WALL BUILT BY CWA AS FLOOD PROTECTION
Should mother nature in the future pour rain onto the city of Medford with the generosity she has shown [recently] in sections to the north and south, the retaining wall, now under construction under the CWA along the banks of Bear Creek, is expected to do much toward preventing the repetition of flood conditions known here in 1927.
The fifty men at work on the project, which is one of fifty-three under way in Jackson County, are also changing the channel of the creek, which will do still more toward insuring safety here during high water levels.
The rock retaining wall, which will also be an attractive addition to the city, will be constructed from Tenth to Jackson Street on both sides of the creek. The channel will be widened for considerable distance to prevent the breakover, against which constant, although minor, effort has been exerted by the city during the past six years.
In addition to improving the looks and safety of the Bear Creek region, the CWA workers will level the playground adjacent to the creek on the east side, filling in the corner for a rock garden and parkway.
All the improvements are being accomplished with hand labor with the exception of the trucking of rocks to the scene of the project. They are loaded and unloaded by hand, keeping the fifty men at work. Picks and shovels and shiny wheelbarrows, synonymous with other times when the United States did not have millions of unemployed, are much in evidence on the grounds, and they are all in motion.
While the men are receiving the work and their pay in real money every week, the city is at the same time realizing in a gift from the government, as it were, improvements which have long been needed and for which municipal funds would have in time been spent if the CWA had not made them possible during the present. All money expended on the project is coming from Washington, D.C., and most of it is going to hand laborers.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 3, 1934, page 3
The widening of the Bear Creek channel and erection of a retaining wall is more than half completed, and 90 percent of the street work approved has been done.
"City CWA Work Report Honored to Councilmen," Medford Mail Tribune, February 8, 1934, page 9
The Bear Creek improvement is now 68 percent complete, and the city is now planning to build a rock wall north of the Bear Creek bridge.
"Benefits to City Under CWA Listed by Supt. Scheffel," Medford Mail Tribune, March 8, 1934, page 10
"On the Bear Creek project, we hope to complete the rock wall along the west side of the creek to the north line of the Merrick campground," Mr. Scheffel stated.
"3 City Projects Are Favored for CWA Completion," Medford Mail Tribune, March 22, 1934, page 1
BEAR CREEK AND ROXY PARK JOBS FIRST APPROVED
Ninety-three men started work in the Medford area today, under the State Emergency Relief Administration program, following approval of the first two projects in this district. Thirty-eight are employed on the Bear Creek flood control project and 55 in the Roxy Ann park.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, April 25, 1934, page 1
The progress of the [S.E.R.A.] work on the Bear Creek project is complete to the north line of [the] Merrick campground.
"City and County Offices Close Up Today in Jubilee," Medford Mail Tribune, June 7, 1934, page 6
CONTINUING BEAR CREEK SERA WORKWork on the project of widening and straightening Bear Creek just north of Jackson Street in Medford is being conducted under the SERA [State Emergency Relief Administration] program, and is expected to be completed in a short time.
Approximately 50 men are employed there, and are banking the creek on both sides similar to the banking along the Main St. bridge.
Brush and weeds are being torn out by the men, and the appearance of the stream will be greatly improved.
Medford News, February 22, 1935, page 3
At the westerly end of the structure a drinking fountain has been provided where men, women and children may freely refresh themselves by drinking the pure and sparkling mountain spring water from Medford's million-dollar water system, a fit and worthy substitute for the putrid waters of Bear Creek.
"Palm Memorial Dedication Held in City Park," Medford Mail Tribune, April 19, 1935, page 1
OIL IN CREEK KILLING FISHPurification of the waters of Bear Creek, through the building of sewage disposal systems at Ashland and Talent, and the recent change in CCC regulations which permit the CCC to accept as a project the building of parks within municipalities, has made possible the start of an extensive park program for Medford. . . .
Oil is being dumped into Griffin Creek in such quantities that it will kill any fish life that happens to be in the creek, as well as harm fish life in Bear Creek below the mouth of Griffin Creek, according to farmers living along Griffin Creek.
The oil appears to be smudge oil.
As there is a law against dumping oil into streams, the persons responsible are being sought and will be warned against a repetition of the illegal practice.
Medford News, April 9, 1937, page 1
Would Fence Bear Creek
To the Editor:
Would like to make a suggestion, that I believe is worthwhile, and that is for the city to cooperate with the property owners on each side of Bear Creek within the city limits and install an A-1 woven wire fence along the top bank on each side. This complete should result in a triplicate benefit: i.e., first in importance would be to keep little children away from danger of drowning in the creek waters; second, by putting in temporary cross fences every two or three blocks the adjoining owners who have milk goats or cows could get the pasture benefit and if the proper number of goats are kept within each area the city will never have any more expense of brush cutting to keep the creek channel clear, as the goats will keep the brush killed out; third, how much more attractive will the district look with all of the high weeds and willows gone. If some civic organization would take this matter in hand on behalf of the city and see that this project was completed at once, they could look back two or three years from now and have something to be proud of. I don't own any Bear Creek property but would be real glad to donate $10 toward the cost of the fencing if I knew it would be fully completed this year.
Medford is already one of the most beautiful little cities on the coast, and let's keep on pulling till we don't have to take second place with any of them.
Just one of your clodhopper subscribers, Medford, June 4th.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 6, 1937, page 8
Conditions in the city were not so acute as they were on two previous occasions this winter, Frank Rogers, inspector, said. The Stewart Avenue drain ditch was carrying off the water reasonably well, a repetition of flood conditions in the southwest part of town thus being averted for the time being at least. Storm drains overflowed at times but caught up with the drainage as the rains let up from time to time. A sudden downpour would alter the situation, Mr. Rogers said, pointing out that the rains of the past week, while steady, have been comparatively light.
Nevertheless the cellars of homes were flooded in several sections of the city, and the overcast skies held a constant threat.
"Heavy Downpour Cripples Traffic," Medford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1938, page 1
VFW RALLIES TO BEAR CREEK DUTY
Medford residents smiled significantly today after near-hysteria was created late yesterday afternoon by a call for Veterans of Foreign Wars emergency squads to cope with what was called an immediate flood hazard. No one seemed to know precisely where the emergency existed.
Veterans of Foreign Wars were summoned to the armory at 7 p.m. by W. H. Hamann, member of the organization. About 20 members and other veterans assembled, sat around until midnight and then departed when no calls for help were received, it was stated by Joseph Todd, VFW commander.
Mr. Hamann, however, stated that about 60 veterans and others responded and patrolled Bear Creek, along whose banks Mr. Hamann thought an emergency existed.
Records of the county watermaster's office, however, showed that there was no danger of the creek overflowing its banks. Peak flow yesterday was at the rate of 2200 second-feet as compared with more than 10,000 in 1927, the flood year, records showed. The creek, since cleaned, deepened and walled, can now carry off twice the volume of water that brought flood conditions in 1927, the watermaster's office said.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 8, 1938, page 1
BEAR CREEK PARK POSSIBLE
Excerpt, Medford News, April 8, 1938, page 1
Bear Creek, October 1942
STORM CAUSES FLOOD DAMAGE ABOUT COUNTY
For once the people of Central Point are all of one mind and opinion and are talking about the same subject, the high water. Early this morning the water was over the railroad track at Kyle's [Restaurant], and a track walker went ahead of the train, we are told.
Children cannot get to the school house without riding or wearing rubber boots. Even as bad as the reports are, oldtimers according to their stories, have seen it worse. Vintie Beall reports that there was more water on the ground in [the flood of] 1890.
O. T. Wilson came into Central Point down Beall Lane and crossed the railroad track in a rowboat. Water is running into some Medford stores, it is reported. Many telephone wires are down and lines out. The water is running into the Southern Oregon Sugar Pine Co. office and through the yards. They went into the office in a rowboat.
Abridged, Central Point American, January 21, 1943, page 1
Medford Area Flood Is Worst in 16 Years
The worst flood in 16 years struck Medford and the floor of the valley early this morning, inundating parts of South Central Avenue and South Riverside Avenue, seeping into the basements and ground floors of business concerns and causing miniature lakes in many parts of the city as drains clogged up at street intersections.
While Bear Creek, swollen by a torrential rain and by melting snow in the Ashland vicinity, stayed within its banks in Medford, water racing down the Stewart Avenue canal overflowed near the SOS Packing Company, ran north down the railroad tracks and spilled onto Central and Riverside avenues.
From 13th Street to Boyd Central Avenue was under water, as was most of Riverside from 12th Street to Stewart Avenue. Along Central the water was almost up to porches of houses, and the Montgomery Ward basement was flooded. On Riverside, Skinner's Garage, Firestone and Western Auto Supply were flooded, as was Faber's Farmers Supply Company on South Bartlett Street.
City Superintendent Frank Rogers said that Bear Creek rose about four feet between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. today, following a rainfall around 1 a.m. of cloudburst proportions, but that it started to receded at 10 a.m. and was still going down. Main Street, following the severe downpour, was covered with water, but it slowly drained away and later today was free
Outside of Medford, however, Bear Creek went on a rampage. North of the city it overflowed its banks, ripped out the Midway Road bridge near the Crater Meat Company, forced the closing of the Biddle Road Bridge for safety's sake and endangered the Table Rock Road bridge near the Medford Meat Company. Fields along the creek were flooded, and the high water was washing out trees, which were ramming against supports of the Table Rock Road bridge. Bear Creek was overflowing its banks near Jackson Hot Springs and the Chateau, although doing little damage.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 21, 1943, page 1
Cottage Street Bridge Near Collapse
SWIRLING WATERS WEAKEN SUPPORT ON NORTHERN END
Skinner Garage on Bank of Creek Suffers Damage--County Damage $40,000.
The $25,000 concrete bridge spanning Bear Creek on Cottage Street was dangerously near collapse today as the swollen stream, though receding rapidly from yesterday's high mark, swirled around the support of the first arch at the north end, eating away the earth and causing the structure to sag as the support settled.
The bridge, constructed in 1931, was closed to traffic, and city employees said they expected one section to slip off its shelf and plunge into the water. The creek has changed its channel to roar around the support and wash away a part of the foundation.
Skinner's Garage, 143 South Riverside Avenue, was the only local business firm to report damage due to the turbulent Bear Creek. The stream washed away the bank in the rear of the building and caused a section of the structure's wall to collapse. At its highest point yesterday the creek was only feet from the rear of the Riverside Apartments, adjacent to Skinner's.
Damage was widespread throughout the county, with four bridges washed out, numerous others in bad condition and many roads injured. Paul B. Rynning, county engineer, estimated damage to bridges, roads, culverts, etc., at between $35,000 and $40,000 and said that repairs would of necessity be made at a slow pace because of the difficulty in obtaining materials and labor.
Bridges swept away were the road bridge over Bear Creek near the Crater Meat Company, one over Wagner Creek at Talent, the Kane Creek bridge on the Old Stage Road and a portion of the bridge spanning Bear Creek on Barnett Road near the county shops.
One piling was washed away under the Table Rock Road bridge, and traffic confined to a single lane. The Biddle Road bridge was still closed, as was a bridge over Bear Creek just south of Talent where the approaches were washed away.
The U.S. Weather Bureau reported that exactly four inches of rain fell Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The highest precipitation for any 24-hour period of the three days was Wednesday, with 2.20 inches.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1943, page 1 The Cottage Street bridge was later repositioned with hydraulic jacks and restored to service.
BEAR CREEK FLOW BACK TO NORMAL; ROADS SLIPPERY
Bear Creek was rapidly returning to a normal flow yesterday, despite a storm continuance that deposited considerable snow in the hills and on the floor of the valley, and no further rise was expected unless a heavy rainfall occurred to speed melting of the white blanket.
At height of the Bear Creek flood early Thursday morning the garage and automobile of Mr. and Mrs. Howard F. Lind were washed away. With Mr. Lind's parents, Mr.and Mrs. Ernest Lind, they live in a seven-room house on Morrow Road just north of McAndrews Road on the east side of the creek.
They reported that the water also undermined part of the house, washed away the chicken house, about 25 trees and shrubs and 75 feet of ground. They were forced to evacuate the house at 7 a.m. Thursday, and hope to be able to return now that Bear Creek is going down.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 24, 1943, page 10
COTTAGE BRIDGE WILL BE SAVED, ROGERS' BELIEF
The $25,000 concrete Cottage Street bridge over Bear Creek, one support of which settled about a foot when the stream changed its channel during last week's flood, will not collapse and can definitely be repaired when the creek, rapidly receding returns to normal.
City employees and equipment are diverting the creek from the east end of the bridge back to its regular channel and are reinforcing weak spots along the bank, the city superintendent said.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 25, 1943, page 3
When the [bean] plants showed signs of sending out runners we went down to Bear Creek below the railroad bridge and cut a whole carload of willow poles about the size of your thumb and six feet long, as well as some longer ones.
A. E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, April 29, 1943, page 1
[During today's Memorial Day parade,] at the Bear Creek bridge the Rev. Herald G. Gardner of St. Mark's Episcopal Church pronounced the invocation, after which veterans strewed flowers on the water in memory of those who have given their lives for their country on oceans, lakes and rivers.
"Memorial Parade Lent Color by Unit from 91st," Medford Mail Tribune, May 31, 1943, page 1
It has been suggested that a dam be built above Ashland to control flood waters on the main creek. That is all right, but doesn't go far enough, as we see the picture. Last winter the writer drove all over the valley during and after the big flood, and the trouble as we saw it was that there was just more water coming down the various creeks than the choked-up channels could carry, with the result that the water overflowed the banks in thousands of places and flooded the fields everywhere. The greatest need, it seemed to us, was to clean out the main creek channels from one end to the other. It is our belief that if this is done, the ordinary flood waters will be carried off by the natural channels and little or no damage done.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, October 21, 1943, page 1
Our Sewage Improvement
Medford voters should, in the light of common decency, support part of the city improvement program which will be voted upon at a special election to be held June 12. The rest of the program could better be held up for "post-war" building.
This newspaper has consistently insisted that proper care of municipal sewage is necessary if a municipality is to call itself a civilized one.
When Medford dumps untreated sewage into Bear Creek, allowing that sewage to pollute the waters of Bear Creek and of Rogue River for the entire length of the valley, Medford does not live up to the standard of a decent and civilized municipality. And that is what Medford is doing now. Therefore, we feel that support of the proposals to improve the Medford sewage disposal plant, and improve the sanitary sewer system for the east side of the city, are mandatory. We cannot imagine anyone voting against them, except persons who have absolutely no sense of decency.
Medford News, June 1, 1945, page 4
At present the west side trunk line is greatly overloaded, especially in certain seasons, it is stated, making it necessary at times to bypass the sewage directly into Bear Creek under the Jackson Street bridge. During heavy rains and flood periods, many residences in certain areas have sewage backed up into drainpipes, and "spouting" sewers are a common sight on the streets. Construction of the sanitary trunk line would relieve this overload on the west side.
An overload of about 100 percent is now being forced through the sewage disposal plant, according to the city superintendent. As a result, at certain times it is necessary to dump raw sewage into the river and at no time is the sewage processed the proper length of time, he states. Built for a capacity load of 1,200,000 gallons of sewage daily, the plant is now forced to carry from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 a day, and when the figure rises above this, the sewage is simply bypassed into the river.
"Construction of Sewer Disposal Plant on Ballot," Medford Mail Tribune, June 5, 1945, page 1
When the sewer system in this city was first put in the lower end of the big pipe emptied at the edge of an immense gravel bar beside Bear Creek, and little or no sewage ever reached the creek. But successive floods have carried away that gravel bar, and at present the pipe empties directly into the creek. It has been known by all city officials for several years that SOME DAY this condition would have to cease. And not long ago the state sanitary authorities lost patience and threatened suit to compel the city to build a modern disposal plant.
So the city council got busy and got a revised estimate of the cost of such a plant and started proceedings to call an election to authorize the issuance of the necessary bonds. According to the estimate the plant should cost in the neighborhood of $70,000, so that was the amount of bonds asked for. There was absolutely no interest shown by the voters of the city, as only 88 votes were cast at the election Saturday--85 for and 3 against. But that was enough to carry the bond issue.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, August 8, 1946, page 1
FISH CLEANUP IN BEAR CREEK GETS UNDER WAY
A speedy cleanup of the dead carp and other fish floating by the hundreds in Bear Creek this week is being effected by city officials who yesterday had a crew of men at work removing the bodies, it was reported this morning by Dr. A. Erin Merkel, Jackson County health officer. In the meantime, city and health officials are trying to determine who dumped what in the stream to cause the death of the fish.
Dr. Merkel stated that from two to four men worked all day yesterday cleaning the stream and that two men are working today. The carcasses are being gathered at a designated point on the stream and dumped into trucks for disposal. In addition, a bulldozer was used at one point near the Cottage Street bridge to deepen the channel and increase the flow of water, the health officer reported.
Dr. Merkel stated that various reports had been received as to what had poisoned the fish, one being that someone had dumped three barrels of lead arsenate fruit spray into the creek waters. All angles were being investigated, he said.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1947, page 1
Once again Jackson County is suffering from overflowing creeks and rivers. Bear Creek was a raging torrent, and much damage was done along its course. The rain was general all over the state, and Southern Oregon was not alone in feeling its effects. The Pacific Highway was closed in several places by flood waters. It was a jim dandy while it lasted.
To start at the upper end of the valley, Ashland suffered the most damage from the flood. Ashland Creek rose to a point which covered much of Lithia Park, and several business buildings were undermined. The Emigrant Dam above Ashland was filled to the brim and the water spilled over the top.
The highway bridge near Jackson Hot Springs was partly undermined and settled out of line. None of the county bridges along Bear Creek were damaged, although the bridge on the Kirtland Road was closed temporarily on account of deep water over the road on both ends.
Probably the worst damage along Bear Creek was to the new bridge east of [Central Point]. There the contractor had just finished putting in the concrete piers and also the posts and stringers to support the concrete forms. All of these posts, caps and stringers were washed away. It looked for a time that they might hold, but when the Lininger bridge above gave way it lodged against the center span in such a way as to destroy the whole structure. Only the first section on the west end of the bridge, which was practically complete, was undamaged.
Arthur E. Powell, "Musings," Central Point American, January 8, 1948, page 1
Small boys know so very much. They know the big turtles sunning themselves on a log in Bear Creek's shallow waters are NOT the ones from which to make soup. They know that on a sandbar in the same stream, you can find bait for fishing. They know that now is the time the carp, useful as scavengers but not for food, appear in the creek. These things they know, and so much more.
"Sallying Forth," by Sallie Butler, Medford News, July 28, 1950, page 5
221 Feet of Sewer Line Damaged by Flood
Bear Creek changed its course and washed out 221 feet of the Central Point sewer line on the east side of [the] creek, Arden Pinkham reported today. The line washed out was part of the newly constructed system, finished about three years ago, which connected with the Medford/Camp White system.
Sewage is now being dumped into Bear Creek until repairs can be made, Mr. Pinkham stated.
Central Point American, January 22, 1953, page 1
Park Viaduct OpposedTo the Editor: Members of the Medford Garden Club feel the proposal to build an elevated freeway for Highway 99 along the east side of Bear Creek over and through Hawthorne Park is very alarming to all people who have worked for the park and who love and enjoy its beauty and restful facilities.
The park is located along the east side of Bear Creek, which gives it a natural setting. Bear Creek will be cleaned up and improved someday, which would enable it to be utilized to its full capacity. Unquestionably, the locating of a freeway along the east side of Bear Creek will to a large extent destroy this natural setting.
Mrs. LeRoy Cline, Pres.Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, March 27, 1955, page 4
Mrs. C. L. Nordquist, Sec'y.,
Medford Garden Club
The Freeway ProposalsWe have heard a lot of discussion about the route which the proposed new freeway through or around Medford should take. Most of the discussion has been a bit previous, because the State Highway Commission is now surveying one route, and probably will survey another before a decision is made.
The two routes which have been proposed thus far are (1) an elevated highway down the east bank of Bear Creek, and (2) a bypass route to the east of the city.
Not long ago E. M. Tucker proposed a variant of Plan 1, which made sense to a lot of people. This would have put the highway down the bed of Bear Creek, with the creek itself confined to a concrete channel under the highway.
This, he suggests, would eliminate some of the criticism of the route from those who are afraid (with some justification, it must be pointed out) that an elevated route there would destroy much of the attractiveness and utility of Hawthorne Park.
Perhaps his suggestion should get a more thorough going-over by engineers to determine its feasibility.
--Eric AllenExcerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, April 18, 1955, page 4
Bear Creek Danger Warning Is Issued
Medford parents were warned by county health officials to keep children from wading and playing along banks of Bear Creek in and near the city.
Dr. A. Erin Merkel, Jackson County health officer, said he has received complaints from residents and city officials that children have been wading in Bear Creek. He said danger of children cutting themselves on broken glass and cans in the creek is high, and infection would follow quickly.
Water in Bear Creek is stagnant, he said, because there is not enough flow to keep it clear. Spraying has been done by county equipment to control mosquitoes along Bear Creek, he said.
Dr. Merkel reminded parents that children up to 10 years old may use a free wading pool at Hawthorne Park.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 11, 1955, page 1
Mail Tribune, December 22, 1955
State police late this morning closed the Bear Creek bridge at Highway 62 near the Big Y because [the] underpinning was considered unsafe. Police were checking other bridges along Bear Creek for unsafe conditions.
The irrigation flume across Bear Creek, part of the system of the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District, was washed out, according to District Manager Harold Sexton. The flume crossed the creek at McAndrews Rd., and its value was estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.
High waters this morning washed out the right abutment of the district's diversion dam across Bear Creek, Sexton said.
Excerpt, "Swollen Streams Menace Area," Medford Mail Tribune, December 22, 1955, page 1
Barnett Road, Medford Mail Tribune, December 25, 1955
Rogue River Times, December 30, 1955
Medford Youth Dies When Creek Ledge Caves in Saturday
David Dunn, Others Playing Along Stream
David Dunn, 14-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dunn, 2444 Biddle Rd., was killed about 3:25 p.m. Saturday, when a ledge gave way and a rock apparently rolled over him while he was playing in a gravel pit at the edge of Bear Creek on Midway Rd.Bear Creek Bank Project Completed
Jackson County Coroner Carlos Morris reported that David was digging a tunnel in the area with two other youngsters, Gary Beach, 13, of 1245 Corona Ave., and Donald Cranston, 14, of 1210 Covina Ave.
Washed in Flood
Water from Bear Creek during the recent flood had washed sand and gravel from the pit, making an eddy and overhanging ledge. The bluff was about 10 to 14 feet high, and the ledge about four feet thick, Morris said.
When the ledge gave way, the area was showered with mud and large rocks. Gary and Donald were thrown into Bear Creek. Morris said he believed David died almost instantly.
One of the boys ran for help, and the sheriff and state police were notified. Conger Morris is in charge of funeral arrangements.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 1, 1956, page 1
Embankment work on the west bank of Bear Creek in the north Medford area, where the interceptor sewer was washed out in last December's flood, was completed last week by F. L. Somers, Medford contractor, it was announced today.Heavy Weekend Rains Cause Flooding in County;
Somers was awarded the contract on a bid of $19,253 by the Army Corps of Engineers, Portland. The project included 5,620 cubic yards of excavation, 500 yards of embankment from gravel borrow and 4,020 cubic yards of dumped stone revetment.
Gravel layers six inches thick were applied to the bank and a layer of stone from 1½ feet to three feet thick topped the gravel. Work on the project was started Aug. 29.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 19, 1956, page 1
Creek Pollution To Be Discussed at Izaak Meeting
Panel To Be Made Up of Five Officials
Pollution abatement of Bear Creek will be discussed by a panel of five officials at a meeting of the Izaak Walton League's Jackson County chapter at 8:30 p.m., Monday, May 11, at the Girls Community Club.
Col. Paul H. Weiland, chairman of the pollution committee of the local chapter, said the purpose of the panel discussion of the problem is to inform "members and the public of the potential of Bear Creek and its pollution problems and the possibilities of securing corrective action."
Weiland said the committee hopes that "owners or managers or representatives of the slaughter houses now using Bear Creek to dispose of their wastes will be present to state their problems." He also said that city officials of Medford and Ashland and the Jackson County court are invited.
Following introductory remarks by Denman, Rivers will cover the importance of Bear Creek, [Cole] Rivers will cover the importance of Bear Creek to steelhead fishery and pollution law enforcement. Root will discuss the possibilities of improving flows of Bear Creek; Dr. [A. Erin] Merkel will review pollution of the creek and law enforcement problems, and [T. M.] Gerow will discuss pollution laws and enforcement.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, May 7, 1959, page 1
Creek's Hazard Is Noted by Dr. Merkel
Dr. A. Erin Merkel, Jackson County public health officer, stated this morning that Bear Creek is a definite health hazard.
"Anything I said which has been interpreted as meaning that Bear Creek is not a health hazard far from states the true facts," the public health office said. "It is true that we are warning people to stay out of the creek and warning against any wading in it."
Dr. Merkel was referring to a statement made Wednesday by Russell DeForest, Medford attorney, president of the Oregon Sportsmen of Jackson County. DeForest appeared with representatives of other sportsmen's organizations and community representatives who met with the county court to discuss the county's role in supporting Bear Creek pollution abatement.
Quotes Dr. Merkel
DeForest quoted Dr. Merkel as saying that "Bear Creek is not a health hazard because the people have been instructed not to go near it."
Dr. Merkel said today that the stream pollution "would have to be tremendously alleviated" before it could be used for recreation purposes. It will not be safe until water is added to boost the stream flow, Dr. Merkel explained. Meanwhile the Jackson County health department will do all under its jurisdiction to help correct the pollution of the stream, he said.
"People quite often fail to recognize the tremendous amount of work already done to help alleviate the pollution factor in Bear Creek," Dr. Merkel said.
Creation of Bear Creek Sanitary District about two years ago and routing Phoenix-Central Point sewage into that sewage system helped considerably, the public health officer said. Before Medford connected to the Camp White sewage disposal system, it passed half of its sewage into Bear Creek after a rough screening process.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 29, 1959, page 1
Huge machines tear great chunks of earth from the ground--others pull it from one place to another--still others smash it flat.
Some machines rip tangled masses of dirty black underbrush from the soil and toss it effortlessly on large piles. A man in a steel helmet puts a match to them and columns of grey smoke rise over the city.
The scene is looking north from the Jackson St. bridge at any time during the past month. For it is here that 50 men and as many great machines are tearing a long barren scar through the heart of the city.
But, even with the scar an oldtimer looking north will have to admit that Bear Creek looks better now than it has for a long time past.
The right of way will generally follow the course taken by Bear Creek through the valley. O. D. Rawlins, right of way agent for the state highway department, feels the freeway will help considerably in the general beautification of the Bear Creek area.
Tons of brush and a "terrific lot" of other unsightly area will be removed or covered up during construction, he said. Also much of the creek bed is being straightened to eliminate erosion and channel movement.
Greg Nokes, "Men, Machines Tear Path Along Bear Creek," Medford Mail Tribune, February 12, 1961, page 6
March 2, 1962 Medford Mail Tribune
The Medford city council last night approved a plan to provide off-street parking under the freeway viaduct but postponed until its next meeting a decision on where the money will come from to pay for the project.
Tentative cost estimates for the project range from $35,000 to $37,000. That amount would provide for installing about 130 parking spaces under the viaduct, riprapping the bank of Bear Creek adjacent to Hawthorne Park and realigning a section of the stream channel.
"City Council Votes in Favor of Plan of Viaduct Parking," Medford Mail Tribune, April 20, 1962, page 1
Question of Creek Bank Restoration Settled by Council
What is to be done with the Bear Creek bank adjacent to Hawthorne Park, which has been hanging fire for several months now, was settled at last night's meeting of the Medford city council.
On a motion of councilman R. L. Van Sickle, the council voted to inform the freeway contractor that the city "has no objection" to his proposals to restore the creek bank under the freeway viaduct which borders on the park.
The contractor had proposed to restore the area to the level of the park out to the east columns of the viaduct, and then to slope the bank down to the edge of the creek.
This work, which will be done at no expense to the city, will effect a slight straightening of the creek bank in that area.
Will Provide Space
The stored bank will provide space under the viaduct which could be utilized for between 35 and 70 parking spaces if the city so desired at some future date.
Present plans, however, call only for the area to be planted with grass, work which will be performed by the city park and recreation department. Funds have already been budgeted for the project.
An amendment by councilman Donald Hansen, which would have provided for straightening the creek channel, restoring the stream banks and riprapping them, at an estimated cost to the city of between $17,000 and $18,000, was defeated.
The vote on the Van Sickle motion was unanimous.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 8, 1962, page 1
Groups Agree That Something Be Done Along Bear Creek
A joint meeting of the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Izaak Walton League last night on improvement of Bear Creek for recreation came to no definite conclusions other than [that] something must be done soon.
"The first Bear Creek study was made in 1934," Commission Chairman Laurance Espey remarked. "Think what we would have now if that had been carried through."
Espey explained the commission's function as an advisory group to the county court. He said he was disappointed in the small attendance in the Jackson County Extension Service auditorium. About 30 people attended.
George Brenner, of the bureau of municipal research working on the federal 701 project here, said federal help on a parks and recreation study of the Bear Creek Valley is available. However, the current phase of the 701 planning study is mainly an economic one, and the recreation study would come under another phase and contract, Brenner said.
The Bear Creek urban region included in the study includes the area extending generally from Emigrant Lake north to Rogue River. Area population is approximately 64,000 people, or about 80 percent of the total county population.
The joint planning program will cover mapping, existing land use study, subdivision and zoning ordinance patterns, economic base study, population estimates and projections, industrial land needs, and a preliminary land use plan.
People expressing their opinions last night generally agreed that (1) a flow of 25 cubic feet per second is needed, (2) a small stream can be a clean stream, (3) gravel removal operations and dumping of wastes into Bear Creek should be rigidly controlled under existing state law, (4) planning would provide direction for volunteer work, and (5) much, if not all, of the work can be done by volunteer labor.
Medford Parks and Recreation Director Robert L. Haworth said plans for Bear Creek beautification within the city limits will be presented by a consultant firm to the city council in about two weeks. Phoenix residents have been actively interested in Bear Creek, but unfortunately have had no plan to follow, Espey said.
Clem Ault, of the Soil Conservation Service, said his agency's application for a small watershed program to aid Bear Creek is "still alive." Public demand could make it a reality, he said.
Col. Paul H. Weiland, Izaak Walton League, said land ownership along Bear Creek must be established so the owners can be contacted for improvements of their properties.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1963, page 1
Hopes for Bear Creek
It is gratifying to see that at long last something is being done to see if Bear Creek, our stagnant, valley-long community open sewer, can be cleaned up.
For years it has been a case of everyone talking about it but no one doing anything about it.
Now, with the Rogue Basin Project in the offing, it finally appears that a solution is in sight. The addition of a few cubic feet per second to summertime flow would do worlds of good in making the creek the attractive waterway which it should and could be.
There are many uses for water. We drink it, bathe in it, do dishes and laundry in it, use it for livestock and irrigation and power, for fishing and recreation.
Each of these uses is a legitimate one.
It can also legitimately be used for the double purpose of increasing the enjoyment of a stream, and eliminating the twin problems of pollution and health danger, both now inherent to the situation along Bear Creek.
If, for a relatively minor cost, we can change summertime Bear Creek from a stinking, scummy sewer, a menace to health and an offense to the eye, into a stream large enough to carry away the dirt and the filth, to regain its beauty, and perhaps even to carry fish again, this then will be money well spent. E.A.
Eric Allen, Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1963, page 4
Pollution of Bear Creek Discussed at Association Meeting
Clearing up the pollution of Bear Creek, goal of various agencies, claimed the attention of representatives of federal, state, county and city governments last night at the meeting of the Rogue Basin Flood Control and Water Resources Association at the Rogue Riviera.
The need for additional stream flow: The plan is to obtain this through the Rogue Basin Project. The benefits will require the cooperation of all agencies.
The program involves the building of irrigation canals and an exchange of water between existing water users. The big problem, it was emphasized, is justifying water usage without adding costs to the present users. As one observer commented, "Bear Creek is a very important stream. It grows more important as a solution of its problems is sought."
Presides at MeetingHenry Stewart of the Corps of Engineers presided at the meeting.
John Mangrum of the Bureau of Reclamation presented the problems of diverting water from the proposed Rogue Basin Project into the flow of Bear Creek and its tributaries.
Jim Britton of the Public Health Service discussed some of the problems the people of Jackson County would encounter in cleaning up Bear Creek, stressing sewage control.
Others participating in the discussion were Bob Corthell of the state game commission, Bob Rolufson of the fish commission and Malcolm Karr, chief engineer of the State Water Resources Board.
Jackson County government representatives presenting opinions were commissioners Don Faber and Ed Taylor. Robert Haworth of the Parks and Recreation Commission of the city of Medford spoke from the local level. Patrons of the various irrigation districts involved in the streamflow project were present as observers.
Test Some TheoriesThe fish commission would like to participate in the Bear Creek project to test some of the theories involved in the reestablishment of game fish in a stream that has been polluted through the years, it was stressed.
"We firmly believe that a good run of silver salmon could be brought back into Bear Creek waters. There is already a sizable run of steelhead in the stream, and with water quality control that run could be materially increased," the agency representative stated.
"It is our hope that Bear Creek can be reestablished as a clear and healthy stream," Haworth said. "There are three parks now being planned on its banks, and trails for horseback riding and hiking are on the drawing board."
Britton noted that Bear Creek in its present "state" does not complement the city of Medford but is seen by occupants of a million cars traveling its banks on the freeway. He contended that if the people involved will live up to their responsibilities and refrain from indiscriminate polluting of the stream, with the help of federal agencies, Bear Creek can become a true asset, a cause for pride in the Medford community.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1963, page 1
Freezing Level at 9,100 Feet
The early snow load in Southern Oregon's higher elevations, welcomed by irrigation districts, industrialists and all others who view the valley economy dependent up[on] water, was being washed toward the sea today, swelling streams to the point of flood danger as rain fell throughout the area. Little streams, which are always first to show the impact of a storm, were overflowing in many sections of the county.
The greatest threat in the Medford area was to St. Mary's High School, where Larson Creek overflowed its banks. Fed by the runoff from the neighboring hills, the stream left the Ellendale Drive bridge under water and slushed through the front door of the school. Immediate action by the city public works department, the Rev. John J. Keane, principal of the school, and students was believed to have the situation under control, Vernon Thorpe, city engineer, reported.
Sandbags were placed at all strategic points, and drainage ditches were being dug to carry off the surplus water.
Lazy Creek was flooding at Highland Drive and Crestbook Road.
City crews and county crews started work at an early hour this morning to combat the onslaught of the storm, which brought .65 inches of rain to Medford during the 24 hours ending at 10 o'clock. The rainfall for the 48 hours was 1.85 inches.
The North Mountain Avenue bridge over Bear Creek has been closed because of the flood threat.
County Engineer Robert Carstensen listed heavy flooding on Myer Creek, north of Ashland, and on Butler Creek. Bear Creek, he said, was reaching the threatening stage at Valley View Bridge.
Excerpted, Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 1964, page 1
Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 1964
EIGHTH STREET BRIDGE ACROSS BEAR CREEK CLOSED
High water in Bear Creek during the night caused extensive erosion of the east bank through downtown Medford and washed out the east approach to the Eighth Street bridge, which was closed.
City crews were at the site this morning in preparation to dumping riprap into the five-foot-wide hole. The concrete bridge, including sidewalks, remains secure, Vernon Thorpe, city public works director, stressed. The soil at the east end of the bridge washed out, leaving the asphalt surfacing, which had to be cut out by crews this morning.
Riprap of one-ton rocks was being placed under the Main Street bridge today as a precautionary measure to protect two 12-inch water mains in the area. One runs parallel to Main Street and the other to Bear Creek, according to Bob Lee, city water department manager. The rock is being brought from Roxy Ann, Lee said.
Thorpe said this morning that water on Stewart Avenue between King Street and Oakdale Avenue reached a critical point early this morning, but was picked up by nearby catch basins before flooding became a problem. Water in the Mace Road area Tuesday originated west of the railroad tracks, Thorpe said. Some sandbagging of homes in the McAndrews Road and Corona Avenue area was reported this area.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, December 22, 1964, page 11
Medford Mail Tribune, December 22, 1964In Medford, which appeared to be better off than most other valley areas, Bear Creek crested at 7.02 feet at the Main Street bridge at 10:30 o'clock this morning. That was a foot below the peak reached in the 1962 flood in the city.
"Rogue Runs Wild; Homes Evacuated," Medford Mail Tribune, December 22, 1964, page 1
Net Benefits Told for Bear Creek
Net annual benefits from the long-delayed Bear Creek Development Project would be about $1.2 million, Charles Collins, executive vice president of the California Oregon Recreation Development Association, told the third annual conference on Parks and Outdoor Recreation Thursday and Friday.
Annual cost of adding 50 cubic feet per second flow to Bear Creek to help correct the water pollution problem would be as much as $1,292,000, Collins said.
The Bureau of Outdoor Resources has estimated preliminary benefits from $670,000 to $745,000.
Proposal for improving Bear Creek and establishing a parks and recreation complex along its banks is unique, since the creek flows through nearly all of the major towns in the county, and 80 percent of the population is within easy commuting distance. Its 32 stream miles traverse about two-thirds of the country's north-south distance.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1965, page 1
41 Take Tour to View Sanitation Problems in Area
The 41 members of [the] "See It For Yourself Tour" of the proposed Bear Creek Basin Sanitary Authority area literally followed their noses to sewage disposal problem areas in Jackson County yesterday.
Most frequent comments were "Why doesn't somebody enforce present state laws against this pollution?" "Now that it is almost too late, it looks as if something will be done about this problem." "It's a wonder this county has got by with this problem as long as it has." "Phewee."
The tour ran an hour over the three hours originally planned. It covered such places as the Talent sewer plant, Suncrest Bridge area, Lithia Drive-In Theater area and some homes along the old U.S. 99 in the Talent area, Starlite Drive-In Theater area, Crooked Creek at Walker the Weeper's trailer sales, Oakdale Drive and the 600 block of Lozier Lane, Thunderbird Market area, Central Point pump station, Medford sewage treatment plant.
Ran Out of TimeBecause of lack of time some areas had to be commented on briefly or bypassed. Bypassed areas included the White City sewage lagoon, Gilman Road sewage lift station and Hawthorne Park at Main Street.
The tour was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Medford Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber of Commerce, Izaak Walton League, Bear Creek Basin Sanitation Study Committee and health organizations.
There were two representatives from Medford and one from Gold Hill. Almost all of the sponsoring organizations were represented. The League of Women Voters had a strong and active representation.
County Judge Earl M. Miller told the group that residents of the 31 precincts involved would be voting Aug. 30 on creation of a Bear Creek Basin Sanitation District. The proposed area would range along the Bear Creek Valley floor and exclude Jacksonville, Medford, Phoenix, Eagle Point and Central Point. The City of Talent voted by resolution to be included. The other cities' governing bodies resolved not to be included.
If the district is approved residents of the 31 precincts would vote for five persons to act as a board of directors. They would be elected at large. This means they could all come from one precinct or could be residents of five different precincts.
Overall cost for the sanitation improvement project would be $9,500,300 and would cover four phases. The first phase of the sanitation system construction would come in 1967-68 and would cost about $2,855,000. The fourth phase would be completed in 1970-71, Miller said.
Vote Only on FormationThe county judge emphasized that on Aug. 30 residents of the affected area would be voting only on the proposed area for consideration as a district.
The touring group, traveling by Evergreen Lines chartered bus, first visited the Talent sewage treatment plant, built in 1936 to serve a maximum population of 700. Les Wierson, project engineer for Cornell, Howland, Hayes and Merrifield (CH2M), noted that the Talent population has increased considerably since then. Due to inadequate sewage treatment facilities, restrictions have been placed on the Talent area's further growth.
The master plan requested of CH2M by the Jackson County Court would eliminate spot development of treatment facilities.
Wierson explained that the solids in the treatment plant pile up, so they are carried into the sewage flow and back into the plant. The sewage is not chlorinated mechanically, so that much of the waste is discharged into Bear Creek without chlorination, he said.
Leo L. Baton, district sanitary engineer, said only a portion of the Talent sewage runs through the plant. State law does require chlorination of all sewage waste. The City of Talent is taking steps to take care of this situation now, he said.
A broader new state law, which becomes effective Sept. 1, 1967, specifies that it is unlawful to put any untreated waste into the state's waters. The original law was designed to regulate discharge of sewage from houseboats.
Baton admitted that he covers seven counties and finds it difficult to enforce such sanitation laws. The entire State Sanitary Authority is woefully short of enforcement personnel, he said.
Baton said at one time Bear Creek had 170,000 steelhead fingerlings.
This year there were only 1800, and 600 of these were killed. He indicated discharge of sewage wastes into the stream removed much of the life-giving oxygen for the fish.
On to PhoenixAs the bus moved through the Phoenix area, Baton pointed out that the south Talent area and much of the Phoenix area has an adverse draining area for sewers.
Phoenix is tied into the City of Medford sewage treatment facilities through the South Bear Creek Sanitation District.
Sewage disposal problems are especially bad around the hill areas above Phoenix, and around Griffin Creek and Wagner Creek. Many times homes are built on rocks, and the sewage is discharged directly into the creeks without septic tanks, it was stated.
The Medford sewage treatment plant had such a tremendous overload last year that only 50 percent of the sewage passing through its system could be treated. Only 9 percent of the solids were removed by the plant, according to tests taken.
A brief stop in the Jefferson School area showed how sewage was coming onto the ground surface near the nice homes in that area. The shopping center complex was finally hooked into the Medford sewage system through annexation to the city, Baton explained.
He told how the Lozier Lane area has good soil only 12 to 18 inches deep. This makes for poor septic tank drainage. Rain raising the water table complicates the problem.
The group saw how the Central Point sewage treatment plant was started and never finished. The pumping station was abandoned when Central Point hooked onto the Medford system. Baton pointed to major bypasses which allowed much of Central Point sewage to flow into Bear Creek directly.
Back at the Medford plant, Jan Niehaus, new Medford sanitation plant manager, explained its operation.
His assistant said addition of more filters would greatly improve the Medford plant operation. A recorder showed that the plant was then processing almost 8 million gallons. It was designed to process 2½ million gallons of sewage.
Filters Would HelpAddition of two more filters would enable the plant to process sewage waste from a population equivalent of 40,000 to 50,000. It now serves a population equivalent of 35,000. It now has a hydraulic capacity of 11 million gallons.
While the bus passed by the White City sewage lagoon, the CH2M engineer explained that a lagoon operation requires an acre for a population equivalent of 175 people.
All sewage plants and problem areas visited had strong sewage odors. It was explained by Niehaus' assistant that the odor at the Medford plant was due to septic tank cleaning companies' dumping wastes near the treatment plant. However, Judge Miller said, this would account for only part of the odor.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 17, 1966, page 1
Voters in the Bear Creek Valley Tuesday authorized the forming of a Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority by a vote of 1,369 to 311. Fourteen percent of the 11,937 eligible voters within the proposed boundaries voted.
"Sanitary Authority Formation Approved by 1,369-311 Vote," Medford Mail Tribune, August 31, 1966, page 1
He came, he sledged, he left.
But Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt stuck around just long enough Wednesday to laud Medford's removal of Jackson Street Dam for fish, hear jeers and cheers from onlookers and declare confidence in resolving the fate of Savage Rapids Dam.
Babbitt's three sledgehammer swings knocked the first wedge out of the 37-year-old Bear Creek dam, which will become the first Northwest dam removed to help threatened salmon this summer.
Mark Freeman, "Bruce Babbitt: Dam Buster," Medford Mail Tribune, July 16, 1998, page 1
Last revised May 10, 2013