Medford in 1903

MEDFORD. Population 2,500. Jackson County. Settled in 1884, incorporated as a city in [1885], in the Rogue River Valley, on Bear Creek and the Southern Pacific railway, 328 miles south of Portland, 443 north of San Francisco, and 5 east of Jacksonville, the county seat. Contains Christian, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Episcopal South, Presbyterian and Catholic churches, public school, opera house seating 600, water works, fire department, electric light plant, four newspapers--Enquirer (Democrat, weekly), Medford Mail (Republican, weekly), Medford Success (Republican, semi-weekly) and Southern Oregonian (Independent, semi-weekly), two banks, the Medford roller mill, capacity 100 bbls.; the Hotel Nash is a prominent institution; a distillery, brewery and two planing mills. The Iowa Lumber Co. have their mills and factories here, and give employment to a large number of men. Annual rainfall 20 to 30 inches, averaging about 25 inches. Among the leading placer mines in the vicinity is the Sterling mine, which yields from $60,000 to $100,000 annually. A water canal ten feet on the bottom and sixteen feet on top is now being constructed from Butte Creek and Fish Lake, which is about half completed and when finished will be about 45 miles long, to furnish power and water for Medford. The land is fertile, suited to grain and fruit. Shipments, flour, fruit and livestock. Quartz and placer mining is extensively carried on. Telegraph Pacific Post and Western Union. Express Wells Fargo & Co. Mail daily. George F. Merriman, postmaster.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1903-04,
page 253     Abbreviations spelled out to facilitate searching.

    MEDFORD, March 26.--(Special correspondence.)--When the Southern Pacific Railroad was built through this part of Southern Oregon, Medford came into existence, and that was about 20 years ago. There were but few settlers in the country and stock raising was the principal industry. From that small beginning the town of Medford has grown gradually, year by year, until now it has a population of about 2500.
    It is a very common practice in all parts of the country to doubt the correctness of the figures given by a census enumerator, but an actual count is much more reliable than mere guesswork or figures based on school or voting population. It does not make as much difference, however, what the exact population of a town may be when it comes to showing to the public its advantages. What every person wants to know who reads about a location is: "How can I make money if I go there?" We Americans have become such travelers that we do not mind going a few hundred miles either to the north, south, east or west to better our conditions. Bettering our condition may mean engaging in exactly the same business or it may mean investing the profits of our present business in something else, somewhat different. We are soon on the alert to learn of these opportunities, and when we hear of them will delve into the details with interest.
What They Want to Know.
    I have in mind two brothers who are living in Fairmount, Ind., and who are engaged in the glass-blowing business there, and have been for the past ten or 15 years. Their wages are fairly good, they have steady work, their families are growing up around them, and they have saved some money. These people will make good citizens anywhere, but what profit would it be to them to come to Oregon, which has no glass factories? If they were depending upon their trade they would starve. But nevertheless these same brothers have become interested in Oregon and want to come to the state and reside, and they are picking up every scrap of reliable information about the state. They quickly learn that they cannot expect to be engaged in a glass factory, so they look around to see what other opportunities there are for "making money." It all sums itself down to one proposition: "making money."
Taking Up Timber.
    People in the East are much excited just now over investing in timber lands, and hundreds of them make the trip to the Pacific Coast on purpose to go out into the mountains and locate and file on a timber claim. I am not particularly impressed with the benefits Oregon derives from this class of investors. They are non-residents and remain non-residents, and the Oregon timber lands are just as well to be owned by the government, and it may be better than to go into the hands of non-resident speculators. But there is "money in it," and so these buyers are coming and investing, then going away, and residents of this state get but little benefit unless it be the railroads and hotels.
There Is Profit in Fruit.
    Around Medford lie the level and fertile lands of what is known as the Rogue River Valley. The soil and climate are adapted to fruit culture and are natural conditions which exist. The Southern Pacific Railroad passes through Medford and affords a reliable method of transportation to markets of the world. This company uses excellent judgment in its treatment of the fruitgrower by giving very low freight rates to eastern markets. Last year there were 211 carloads or an aggregate of 5,340,000 pounds of the products of Rogue River Valley shipped from Medford alone. There were 37 carloads of apples, 18 carloads of prunes, 43 carloads of pears, 1 carload of cider, 1 carload of almonds, 38 carloads of hogs, 22 of cattle and horses, 10 of wheat and corn, 20 of flour and feed, 2 of lumber, 9 of hay and 4 of onions.
    It will be noted from the above items of export that this is a fruit and stock raising district. The total number of carloads of fruit shipped last year was 98, and the present new acreage of orchards will make the shipments in 1910, seven years from now, about 1000 carloads, as the total acreage of bearing orchards at that time will have increased nearly ten times what it is at present.
    There are orchard lands and farm lands at prices ranging from $5 to $100 an acre and producing orchards ranging from $100 to $300 an acre, and both are good investments. Mr. C. W. Palm, a resident here for the past 20 years and who has assisted many a newcomer to get located, says he has seen men make just as much of a success in buying a ten-acre tract of $100 land as to buy 100 acres of $10 land. I was informed of a tract of level land worth $5 an acre, enough for 250 families, along the bank of a stream that could be irrigated and would grow alfalfa hay, or apples, pears, prunes or peaches, but it is nearly 20 miles from Medford. I was told of 1500 acres of $10 land suitable for fruit or stock raising, but it is eight miles from Medford. The lands in the valley here which are held at $100 an acre are the very best soil, in close proximity to town, and are set to alfalfa, and yield from $30 to $50 a year income in the four to six crops of hay each year. These same lands are best adapted to the growing of apple orchards, and in that line yield an income from $100 to $150 an acre each year. It is not surprising, in view of this fact, that wheat raising in Rogue River Valley is almost a thing of the past, and is superseded by fruit raising, which is so much more profitable. One grower near here realized last year $7000 in cash from 20 acres over and above all expenses. All the farmers here with bearing orchards are now living on "easy street."
    The large profits on fruit cultivation are being taken advantage of by residents and non-residents alike, and there are more new orchards now being planted than ever before. The business is no longer an experiment, and mistakes of former years are avoided, such as unsuitable land and unsalable varieties of fruit.
    I have gathered a list of the growers of fruit in and around Medford, and the aggregate is about 3200 acres. I was not able in the limited time at my command to learn just how much of this total was in pears, how much in peaches, in apples, in prunes, or in almonds, nor how many of these acres were bearing orchards, or just lately planted. I know of some of this land which is now being planted this year.
Are Raising Fruits.
    The following list includes bearing orchards and those just set out:
Gordon Voorhies . . . 400 acres
C. H. Lewis . . . 250
J. H. Stewart . . . 160
Wm. Stewart . . . 100
Clay & Meader . . . 140
J. McPherson . . . 40
J. Hanson . . . 80
C. Kleinhammer . . . 50
J. D. Andrews . . . 40
C. Pheister . . . 10
D. Hargreave . . . 10
T. Kelso . . . 10
F. Beaver . . . 20
William Carroll . . . 40
E. J. De Hart . . . 65
Orchard Home . . . 100
G. A. Hoover . . . 50
J. Thomas . . . 20
R. W. Gray . . . 5
Paul Demmer . . . 5
L. Demmer . . . 5
Mrs. Bradley . . . 5
E. King . . . 15
S. L. Bennett . . . 5
Mark Pallett . . . 60
John Gore . . . 60
J. A. Lyons . . . 20
J. A. Philbrick . . . 40
L. Berger . . . 15
Phipps Bros. . . . 100
Wilbur Jones . . . 40
I. W. Thomas . . . 25
E. Hall . . . 40
James Taylor & Sons . . . 40
F. E. Payne . . . 40
J. A. Whitman . . . 125
Beck & Mitchell . . . 25
W. H. Barr . . . 40
Fawcett Peach Ranch . . . 12
W. A. Jones . . . 20
G. W. Bashford . . . 15
J. L. Demmer . . . 5
Mathias Demmer . . . 10
Paul Krutzler . . . 5
W. S. Speas . . . 5
C. R. Himroth . . . 40
T. Smith . . . 10
W. H. Bradshaw . . . 15
F. Hutchinson . . . 5
M. L. Hartley . . . 125
J. A. Perry . . . 20
Emil Walters . . . 5
Bates Brothers . . . 80
S. Van Dyke . . . 40
Mrs. J. Karewski . . . 20
Henry Pohlman . . . 20
A Granite Quarry.
    About six miles from Medford, and within two miles of the Southern Pacific Railroad, is a ledge of granite stone, hundreds of feet high, the quality being equal to the celebrate Barre granite of Vermont, and of a dark gray color. This rock can be delivered in Portland even now in competition with granite from other places, but it leaves little margin of profit. What is wanted is a capital of about $20,000, or perhaps less, to put labor-saving machinery on the ledge, a sidetrack from the Southern Pacific, and an agent in Portland. Then get contract rates from the railroad company and develop the business. This stone is being used locally here, has a fine grain, and polishes beautifully. The parties who own this quarry will take stock in such an enterprise in payment for the property.
A Business Town.
    Traveling men tell me Medford merchants buy during the year large quantities of goods, and one gentleman who travels out from Portland informed me his sales this year, up to date were 34 percent better than the same time last year, and his orders are large ones. I was told by a leading merchant that trade comes to Medford 150 miles from the East, out in Klamath and Lake counties; to the west for 40 miles; to the north, 15 miles, and south 10 miles. During the months of September and October the trade from long distances is very heavy, and it is estimated over $10,000 worth of goods goes outside the town during those two months. "By the way," said my information, "do you know that out near Eagle Point, 14 miles from Medford, is the greatest onion country in Oregon? Not only are the onions the largest and finest, but the yields are something immense. I purchased 75,000 pounds from one man this fall, which were raised off of one and two-thirds acres, and I paid him $900 in cash. I cannot supply the call made upon me for this particular quality of onion. I understand there are many more acres of this land not yet being used for onion culture, and it seems to me it appears an excellent opportunity for investment."
Irrigation and Power.
    High mountains surround the Rogue River Valley on all sides, and at this season of the year are covered with snow. During the summer months the valley below is in need of the stored-up waters of the mountains, and to supply in part this demand the Fish Lake Ditch Company was organized in 1890, and has expended about $100,000 in constructing a water ditch a distance of 16 miles, bringing water from Butte Creek to the valley here. There are about 14 miles more to complete the ditch to Medford, the ditch having now reached what is known as "The Drop," where the 10,000 inches of water makes a perpendicular fall of 100 feet and will develop 2500 horsepower, which will be used for manufacturing and power purposes. Farmers living along this line of ditch will be supplied with water this year for the first time. This same company has purchased about 3000 acres of desert land, about seven miles from Medford, and will next spring continue this ditch to the land which, with irrigation, can be reclaimed and made very productive. This tract aggregates 25,000 acres, all of which is farming land, when it has the water supply.
A Timber Belt.
    East of Medford about 30 miles is a belt of about 75,000 acres of sugar pine and fir timber, which is the largest and most valuable tract of the kind in this part of Oregon. There are nearly 3,000,000,000 feet of merchantable lumber and the outlet is either by water or rail. It is proposed to utilize Rogue River in floating the logs and boom them at Tolo, where a large power dam is being constructed, and sawmills will be located. If this project should not be successful, a railroad will be built to this body of timber from Medford and bring the lumber out by rail. In my opinion, it will be found necessary to use both water and rail. The isolation of this timber belt has kept it out of the market until quite recently, but now it is nearly all in the hands of private parties, although there are still some claims yet untaken. A logging railroad into this section will also bring a market for the products of a large area of agricultural country. Jackson County is rich in undeveloped natural resources, and a population of several times that at present will center in the Rogue River Valley, and Medford will be the trading center.
Municipal Ownership.
    Medford owns its own electric lights and water works, and Mayor Crowell is very enthusiastic over the success of municipal ownership. The management of these public utilities is in the hands of the City Council, and a successful management by a City Council is an exception rather than the rule. Medford is to be congratulated on having elected business men to manage the affairs of the city.
    There is no steam laundry at Medford, which seems somewhat strange, as Ashland, on the south, and Grants Pass and Roseburg, on the north, each have one.
E. C. P. [Ed. C. Phelps?]
Oregonian, March 30, 1903, page 4

Last revised November 25, 2010