The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jackson County 1899

Several Hundred Settlers, Principally Americans, Buy Homes.
    The general wave of prosperity which has swept over the country the past year has made its beneficent influence felt in the valleys and on the hillsides of Jackson County. Immigrants from less favored localities have not hesitated to avail themselves of the opportunity to secure homes where the mild winters send the roots of cereals deep into the soil, ready for an early vigorous spring growth, and where the summer sun ripens peaches, grapes, pears, and the big red apples for which the state is noted. The immigration has been largest from the Middle States. People who have become tired of the blizzards, cyclones, hailstones and thunder storms of Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas have rejoiced to find a place where nature spends her energies for the good of humanity.
    Several hundred newcomers, the majority of whom are thrifty, intelligent Americans, have purchased land in the valleys. Their coming has not displaced former occupants, but has resulted in division of the larger ranches, thus paving the way for more intensive tillage of the soil. An encouraging feature of the immigration last year was that the great bulk of real estate purchases were cash deals. Many families are now making a comfortable living on small holdings of from five to 30 acres by raising fruits and vegetables. Last year several small fruit growers have realized $300 per acre from their crops. One grower of vegetables, A. L. Hazelton, of Eagle Point, marketed 40,000 pounds of onions from one and a half acres, and sold them for $450.
Orchard Acreage Increased.
    The larger orchardists are so encouraged by the prices received for their products that the acreage has been materially increased during the past year. A hasty glance at a few of the large orchards will give some idea of the extent of the fruit industry in the valley. The crop of Weeks & Orr yielded 550 boxes of apples, 2000 boxes of pears, 2000 boxes of peaches, 40,000 pounds of prunes, and 10,000 pounds of dried apples. Captain G. Voorhies will dispose of 6000 boxes of apples, 9500 boxes of pears, and 65,000 pounds of prunes. P. W. Olwell has 160 acres set with 12,000 fruit trees, which are beginning to be profitable. He will sell 10,000 boxes of apples and 1500 boxes of pears. This is about one-third of a full yield. His apples bring him from 90 cents to $1 per box on cars at Central Point, and his pears $1.25. He had in November 20 hands packing apples, and has had 60 in the busy season. In the immediate vicinity of Ashland 75,000 boxes of peaches of a superior quality were handled at a large profit. The soil and altitude of this section are peculiarly adapted to peach growing. The 21,500 boxes of apples, 13,000 boxes of pears, and 105,000 pounds of prunes from three orchards referred to, and the 75,000 boxes of peaches from Ashland orchards, are but a part of the fruit crop of this vicinity. There will be from 500,000 to  1,000,000 pounds of prunes sent out of the Rogue River Valley. Apples are shipped from here to all parts of the country, and many carloads are sent direct to London and Berlin, where they bring fabulous prices.
    While Jackson County cannot be called an ideal dairy section, the output of butter is not only sufficient to supply home demands, but since the establishment of the Ashland creamery a large amount has been exported. Under the management of D. Perozzi, the past year 911,445 pounds of milk has been handled, which produced 41,803 pounds of butter, from which $10,000 was realized. Several thousand acres of alfalfa, yielding three crops of hay each season, besides much early and late pasturage, affords a sound basis on which to build a thriving dairy business.
    Stockmen have prospered, and are making preparations for enlarging their herds, which find good range in the hills and low mountain ranges, with plenty of hay acreage in the valleys for winter feeding. Many large herds are driven over the mountains into Eastern Oregon for summer feeding.
Gold Mines Receiving Attention
    Increased interest in gold mining has marked the past year. In the early history of this county millions of dollars worth of gold was taken from rich placer mines, but as these were gradually washed out, newer fields attracted the prospector. With improved machinery for working the ore, backed by skill and capital, some 10 of the many rich ledges are now beginning to give handsome returns. Free-milling ore, running from $5 to $25 per ton, is found in many places. Some ledges run much higher. Capital is now being invested to work it, part of one mine having been bought for $125,000. Probably $500,000 of gold was sent out of the county during the year. For the purpose of reaching new placer fields and to furnish power for stamp mills, a company has undertaken the construction of a canal 93 miles long, the water to be taken from the Upper Rogue River. The lower parts of this canal will be from 300 to 400 feet above the valley, thus affording immense water power. There is a large area of tillable land adjacent to this canal which will become highly productive under irrigation. The irrigation dItches of the county have been increased so that there are now not less than 150 miles in operation, while the ditches, flumes and pipe lines for mining approximate 100 miles more, 25 miles of which were built in 1895.
    Three evidences of unusual prosperity in the county are the number of mortgages paid off, the very small number of tax sales advertised, and the 300,000 bushels of wheat stored by farmers for better prices,
Demand for Good County Roads.
    The large amount of country produce handled has resulted in a demand for better roads, which has been met by a greater amount of permanent improvement than has been made during any previous year. Substantial turnpikes have been constructed at several important points, and graveled in such a way as to make good winter roads. An important road up Rogue River has been opened and improved, by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company, over which a powerful traction engine hauls from 20,000 to 30,000 feet of lumber each trip. A new bridge was built over the river to accommodate this business, but this, as well as the entire road, is open to the public, making an easy route to Fort Klamath and Klamath Falls, via Crater Lake. Thirteen thousand dollars was expended on the road and engine. Besides this lumber enterprise, several miles of small capacity were added during the year, so that the output of the county was over 2,000,000 feet.
Improvements in the Towns.
    The general prosperity in the rural districts has made a noticeable impression on the towns of the valley. This is especially true in Medford, Ashland and Gold Hill. Extensive street improvements and other public works have received attention in Ashland; Medford has increased the efficiency of her water works and introduced a sewer system; Gold Hill has just completed a fine water and power plant. The aggregate outlay for improvements, public and private, in the towns would not fall short of $200,000, yet there is a great demand for room, and rents have materially advanced.
G. A. GREGORY.               
    Medford, Or.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1900, page 3

Last revised February 14, 2013