Medford and Her Industries
Ira A. Phelps, who is connected with The Mail as reporter and printer, and who is also correspondent for the Portland Daily Oregonian, has written a very terse and interesting article for the Oregonian, which appeared therein under date of July 24 relative to the Rogue River Valley and Medford--a part of which we reproduce below. Mr. Phelps is a steadfast friend to Southern Oregon and Medford and is entitled to much credit for the kind--and true--words he has for this section:
"In topography, climate, water, and soil and products, the Rogue River Valley has its own peculiar character. There is a strange commingling of mountains and plains, hills and valleys, gardens and glades, which in their unusual and unexpected combination are ever ready to interest and instruct the intelligent observer. In its climate, the Rogue River Valley has the combined advantages of other sections, without the accompanying drawbacks. It enjoys the frosts of winter and the warmth of summer, without the extremes of either; has ample rainfall for all purposes, and escapes the continual rains so peculiar to other sections of the coast states. The average rainfall for a number of years past is about 25 inches.
"It was only a few short years ago that Medford was founded. At first it was but a small village, but soon its advantages were foreseen by enterprising businessmen, and it was but a short time until her appearance foretold that someday the spot where Medford then stood would be covered by a large and prosperous city. To some that realization has arrived, but still Medford pulses ahead. Her mills, ice factory, brewery and pork packing houses find a market for their products not only in the Rogue River Valley but far into Klamath, Josephine and Douglas counties, and as well into Northern California.
"Medford has now about 2600 inhabitants. Cyclones, floods, droughts and failure of crops are unknown. Like all new towns, Medford's early business houses were cheap frame buildings, but in almost every case these have given way to brick structures--strong, substantial, beautiful in architecture and convenient in arrangement.
"While a great number of buildings have not been erected in Medford, still those which have been added to the commercial list are of the latest and most important type. The building erected by Mr. S. Rosenthal, Medford's pioneer merchant, is one of the handsomest in Southern Oregon. The Hotel Medford [the Nash] has also undergone a complete reconstruction this spring, and in so doing distributed among the brick manufacturers and mechanics about $10,000. Besides these, there have been erected a number of residences which are architectural beauties, and modern throughout.
"All branches of trade industry and all professions have able representatives in Medford. One does not have to come to Medford to learn of her public schools. It is a well-known fact that her public institutions of learning are rarely excelled in cities many times her superior in size, population and wealth.
"Medford is known as the 'city of churches,' nearly all denominations having within her borders handsome imposing church edifices, and the membership of all is reasonably large.
"The financial standing of Medford is as good as any city in Oregon of its size. She owns her own water works, and although insufficient in capacity to supply the demand of a fast-growing city, cannot be excelled for perfect arrangement and working ability.
"Like the church denominations, the numerous secret organizations are ably represented in Medford. All in all one wishing to secure a home in some wide-awake city in the far West could not do better than locate in Medford."
IRA A. PHELPSMedford Mail, August 2, 1895, page 7
Located in the Center of the Rich Rogue River Valley.
MEDFORD is one of the newer towns of the Rogue River Valley. It dates its establishment from the time the announcement was made by the management of the Southern Pacific railroad [sic] that their through-San Francisco line would not pass through Jacksonville, the seat of Jackson County, and at that time one of the most important trade centers of Southern Oregon. The people of Jacksonville failed to raise the subsidy demanded by the railroad for running their line through the town [This is myth. Running the Oregon & California Railroad line through Jacksonville was never an option.], and the result was that an opportunity was afforded to build up a rival town on the main line of road at a point most convenient for the traffic which would naturally come to the road from Jacksonville and the country to the west.
It is now 12 years since the Southern Pacific line was completed to Medford. The town since that time has rapidly grown in population, until today about 2000 people make their homes here. During 1893 Medford made a greater growth than any town of western Oregon. During the past 12 months four brick buildings have been erected at Medford, and about 80 new residences. This is a phenomenal showing for a town during the dullest period ever experienced in Oregon. Several manufacturing plants have been put in at Medford recently, and the increase in the business of the town has kept pace with its rapidly increasing importance as the principal trade center of the Rogue River Valley.
Among the manufacturing industries of Medford today are two pork-packing establishments, a distillery, a sash, door and planing mill, a flour mill, a fruit dryer, a brewery and an ice plant. These factories are all conducted at a fair margin of profit to the owners, and their output finds a large sale in the surrounding country.
In the country immediately tributary to Medford, fruit growing is a leading occupation. Large orchards have been set out here, with every assurance of the most prosperous returns to investors. All kinds of fruits do well here, with perhaps the single exception of the citrus varieties. Even almonds, grapes and figs thrive well on the lands around Medford, and the possibilities of the future of fruit-growing on these lands are even today scarcely appreciated by the residents of this favored section.
A well-equipped motor line connects Medford with Jacksonville, five miles distant. A plan was proposed last year to extend this line to Klamath Falls, about 75 miles southeast. This extension would open up one of the finest belts of sugar pine timber in the world, and it would furnish an outlet for the rich stockraising and agricultural country of which Klamath Falls and Lakeview are the distributing centers. The line would be a paying one from the day that cars were first started over the road, and, as it would be an inexpensive road to build, the people of Medford have hopes that they will soon witness the inauguration of the work of construction over the proposed route.
The public improvements of Medford include good schools, several churches, an electric light plant, a water works system and a good opera house with a seating capacity of 500. The streets are wide and well kept, and the town possesses every evidence of prosperity which is noted in the most progressive of Oregon's centers of population.
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENTThe Hotel Medford has changed hands, and is now conducted by the popular landlords Messrs. Hamilton & Leggett. The senior member bears the suggestive sobriquet of "Shorty" among the traveling men, and it is the sentiment of the boys on the road that he has well earned the popularity he enjoys. The table service at the Hotel Medford is equal to that of any hotel in Southern Oregon, a sufficient guarantee of its excellence. Free sample rooms are provided by the management for the commercial men, and no pains are spared for their comfort, as is fully attested by the growing patronage with which this house is favored.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1895, page 11
Last revised December 30, 2012