Rogue River Valley, occupying the extreme southern portion of western Oregon, and extending into California, is a broken country, or series of valleys, separated by rolling highlands, covered in some places with dense forests of fir and cedar, and in others thinly timbered with oak, and finely set with grass. It is a very good country for farming, and a superior one for stock raising. Rogue River is not navigable on account of its numerous cascades. Like all the western portion of the state, this valley is well watered by numerous mountain streams, which are sufficiently large to afford motive power for running any amount of machinery. It is thinly populated, and would furnish homes for an indefinite number of immigrants. Jacksonville, its principal town, is a place of some importance as a mining town.
Report of J. Ross Brown on the Mineral Resources of the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1868, page 587
Resources of Rogue River Valley.
We receive letters of inquiry from time to time from persons in the eastern states and elsewhere, wishing to emigrate to this valley. For the information all such we have compiled the following brief and impartial summary of facts:
GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION.What is generally known as Rogue River Valley proper comprises more particularly the western portion of Jackson County, though the tributaries of Rogue River drain Josephine County likewise (these being the southernmost counties of the settled portion of Oregon) and bordering on California. It includes that tract of country which is drained by the waters of Rogue River or Gold River, which rises in the Cascade Mountains and flows west into the Pacific Ocean. In extent and population it forms an influential part of the state.
CLIMATE.Like all the Pacific Coast the climate is equable the year round. The thermometer rarely reaches 100 in the hottest summer days, while in winter frosts are so unusual or so slight that vegetables are often kept in open garrets during the whole winter without freezing. Our chief rains come in winter. In summer there are generally several months of little or no rain. Though this valley, we think, affords a happy medium between the excessive droughts and dust of California and the protracted rains of northern Oregon and Washington.
RESOURCES.The chief industry of this valley is devoted to mining and grazing or stock raising. The gold mines are inexhaustible, or are limited only by the supply of water. Probably nowhere on the coast is there so large a body of farming land in the immediate vicinity of extensive gold mines.
MINERALS.We have gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, zinc, nickel, salt, coal and marble. Of these the gold, salt and marble have already been successfully worked. The rest are undeveloped, but capable and destined to become so in a few years.
MINERAL SPRINGS.Of these we have several varieties. There are several salt springs, one hot spring of white sulphur, one black sulphur, and the eastern portion of the valley abounds in soda springs all more or less impregnated with iron. These, with the well-known salubrity of our climate, are destined to become more or less a resort for invalids.
TIMBERof many varieties exists here, and is conveniently distributed all over the valley. That used by manufacturers is generally fir, pine, cedar and oak. We have plenty of good wood for fencing and fuel. Most of the wood used for fuel is oak, laurel and fir. Our oak, however, a species of white oak, is of an inferior quality to that mostly found in the East. Our black oak works up neatly into cabinet ware.
SOIL.Our soil along the watercourses is mostly an alluvial deposit, and on higher ground a sandy loam. All the cereals grow to perfection--wheat for instance yields an average of twenty-five bushels to the acre, and that without manuring. All our hills are adapted to grazing. The luxuriant grass remains green all the year except one or two months. Livestock is often left to shift for itself all the year; in fact, feeding in winter is very rare. Grapes grow prodigiously on our soil, and are destined to become one of the staple products. All kinds of fruit and berries do well. Horticulture is quite successful, but owing to the dryness of midsummer it is managed best by irrigation.
MANUFACTURES.Lumber, flour &c. are manufactured mostly for consumption in the mining districts. For these purposes there are mills all over the valley. Our woolen mill, recently started, will afford a ready market for the large annual yield of wool.
MARKETS.The gold mines consume most of our flour, bacon, beef, butter, cheese, vegetables, at fair prices, but owing to the high mountains and rugged roads which surround this valley, our outside market for bulky articles is limited. Transportation being difficult and costly, what we export is chiefly gold and livestock. These always bring the cash. Some future time we will probably be able to export wine, woolen fabrics and various kinds of minerals. Capital and enterprise are very limited there as yet, but we trust that the necessities of commerce will before many years build a railroad through this valley to connect California with the north, and afford an easy access to every kind of market.
PRICES.Improved farming land ranges from five to twenty dollars per acre. Plenty of government land can still be had here at government price. Farming implements, whether made here or imported, are high. Wheat ranges from 50 to 75 cents per bushel, oats from 40 to 60; potatoes from $1.50 to $3 per 100 pounds; apples 50 cts. to $1 per bushel. First-rate stock commands a high price here. But there are great numbers of Indian and Mexican ponies here, and other inferior stock which can be had for a trifle. For common labor, white men get from $25 to $50 per month (in gold), though Chinese labor can be procured for much less, probably half. Mechanics get from four to six dollars per day; clothing, groceries and other transported goods, owing to the cost of transportation, are high.
GAME.Our hills abound in elk, deer, antelope, bear, cougars, wolves, ducks, grouse and quails, and the streams in salmon and trout.
SCHOOLS.There are good public and private schools, though the present population being mostly from the western states do not seem to appreciate their advantages as well as they might, and as a consequence many of our people are lacking in that thrift and enterprise which is found in some newly settled portions of the country. There are churches of several denominations.
POPULATION.The entire valley numbers about 8,000 souls. Most of these are from the older states. There are many Germans and Irish. Next in number comes the Chinese. There are few French and Norwegians. There are very few Indians, and these are only visitors, being subject to the reservation rules of the U.S. government.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 8, 1868, page 2
The conviction is growing that better things are immediately before us. The Pacific Coast is quickening with new energy, and Oregon feels the impulse. The Pacific railroad will soon begin to pour a population across the continent, and Oregon shall be ready to meet and receive the incoming tide. Naturally, the people of the southern part of the state want a chance with the rest. The scheme in which they take a most lively interest is the proposition for
A BRANCH RAILROADforming a junction with the Central Pacific, crossing the Cascade Mountains in the vicinity of the California line, traversing Rogue River and Umpqua valleys, and forming a connection with the Willamette. This is the proposition submitted in Mallory's bill asking for a subsidy, now before Congress, and recent information from Washington, received in this quarter, inspires a hope here of its passage at an early period of the next session. It is claimed that the Cascade Mountains may be crossed by this route as easily, if not more easily, than by the middle fork of the Willamette; and certainly if the thing is practicable the connection should be made by a route which will accommodate Southern Oregon. A surveying party is now out in the Cascade Mountains east of this place with a design of making more [of] the rough observations of their nature than were ever made before. It is proposed to demonstrate the fact this summer that the mountains in this quarter are actually pervious to a railroad. Another great problem to be demonstrated is the existence of an easier route than has yet been surveyed through the hills and mountains between the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys. It is confidently believed that a better route can be found than that traced in the United States Railroad Surveys.
MATTERS ABOUT JACKSONVILLE.This place seems to be steadily flourishing and present an appearance of freshness and thrift not equalled by many of our Oregon towns. Stocks of merchandise here are certainly larger and better than any to be found south of Salem. Imported goods of every description, including agricultural and mining implements, are hauled from Crescent City (Cal.), a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. The road is a mountainous one, and every pound of freight hauled over it to Jacksonville costs three and a half cents. This is the price at present, though it is sometimes higher. From San Francisco to Crescent City freight costs ten dollars per ton, so that by the time goods reach here they have paid a tariff of eighty dollars on the ton. A people who have to struggle with such [a] disadvantage must have many circumstances in their favor to counterbalance them. These the people of Jackson County seem to possess, for it is certain that no portion of the state shows better evidences of prosperity.
THE GOLD PRODUCT.The southern part of the state still derives great advantage from its mines and gold. These extend over a large section, and though few rich and extensive strikes are made, the aggregate amount of gold produced each year is very considerable. This keeps the "circulating medium" in this quarter of the state comparatively abundant. Of course many mines are entirely worked out, and in many other places work is suspended on account of scarcity of water, but when water can be obtained the miners are still delving away. Chinese are working over many old diggings, and along the bars of Rogue River these people may be seen in numerous places employing their patient industry in washing out the gold which white labor has neglected as too small pay. In some places they have large wheels constructed, driven by the current, for raising water for their sluices. It will be many years before the placer mines of Southern Oregon are exhausted, and after a while many localities will be worked with profit which will not now afford sufficient pay. It is expected also that the quartz interests of the southern counties will eventually have great importance.
FARM PRODUCTS.For the products of agriculture there is a fair market in Jackson County--quite as good in fact as in any part of the state. The supply required by the mines is a considerable item. For some time past the government demand for flour and grain at Fort Klamath has called for no small portion of the products of this valley. Flour is also sent from here into Northern California. Some of the best-improved farms in Oregon lie in Jackson County, and their owners are doing fully as well as any farmers in Vermont.
The harvest is about ended here, and the yield is large. On the whole, this is probably the most productive season Oregon has ever known.
HOT WEATHER.The way the temperature rises here in an August afternoon is decidedly uncomfortable to contemplate, yet it is not so hot how by several degrees as it was some days ago. It is not an unusual thing for the mercury to rise about 100 deg., and last Sunday it was 110 in the shade in this town. In the coolest place that could be found the thermometer indicated 102 deg. Yet it is observable that the heat seems less oppressive in these parts than in many others where the thermometer indicates a temperature lower by ten or fifteen degrees. The air is less sultry, and seems less close and stagnant. Its elasticity is such that the hottest days do not produce the feebleness and languor which are experienced in many localities.
A THRIVING VILLAGEis Ashland, sixteen miles from Jacksonville, on the stage road. Quite a number of buildings are going up at that place this summer, and the woolen mill, which is expected to be an interest of great value to this part of the state, will, ere long, be in operation. A portion of the machinery has already arrived, and the rest will come without delay. The building is now ready for the machinery. The manufacture in Southern Oregon of a large and important class of goods which have heretofore been imported at high prices will be a great point gained.
POLITICS.The disgust which prevails among the "Democracy" on account of the action of the New York Convention is painful to see. Of course all, or nearly all, of them "can eat crow" and vote for Seymour and Blair, and nine-tenths of these would as soon be one as the other. Every Republican who meets a Democrat is loud in his praises of Seymour's gold-paying policy and Frank Blair's war record. Blair is especially commended for his prompt action in clearing Missouri of "Democrats," for firing upon a promiscuous crowd in St. Louis in 1861, for offering a resolution in Congress to expel Clark, a Democratic member from Missouri, for the conflagrations of rebel property which he caused when "marching through Georgia," etc., etc. All these things are wormwood to the "unterrified," and many are the deep-drawn d--ns which escape the barrier of their teeth. But the dilatability of the Democratic esophagus is wonderful, and before the close of the campaign most of them will be seen devouring "crow" with astonishing voracity. But there are some who cannot do it, and the Republicans of this county have assurances that quite a number who voted "Democratic" in June will vote for Grant and Colfax.
S."Editorial Correspondence," Oregonian, Portland, August 8, 1868, page 2
Last revised August 8, 2016