Valley Orchard History
. . . the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys have entered into competition with California in two lines of fruit culture--peach and prune growing, more particularly the latter. Thousands of acres of land in these two valleys have been planted in prunes. Prune and peach orchards mottle the Rogue Valley all around Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass, and in the Umpqua Valley the same horticultural developments manifest themselves in the neighborhood of Roseburg, Riddle, Canyonville and other settlements therein.
What is of vital importance to the enterprising Southern Oregonians who have gone into the prune business is that it has proven so far thoroughly successful. The trees bear well, and prices have been good. The crop of two years ago brought 15 cents per pound. The great railroad strike and hard times cut down the prices last year to 7 cents, but that is said to have yielded fair profits, and it is said further that if anything above the latter price is realized from this year's crop many a mortgage which was created by fruit-tree planing will be lifted next fall in both valleys. The experiments in grape culture which have been made in Rogue Valley have been so far successful as to warrant the introduction of viticulture on a large scale, and the slopes of the foothills bordering on the valley are now regarded as better suited for vine-growing than anything else. The liability of the district to rain makes fruit-drying by artificial processes imperative, but fuel is abundant and cheap, and the fruit men here claim that there is less danger from infection by insect, through the use of artificial dryers, than by drying by solar heat.
These new lines of fruit-growing are threatening to relegate apple-growing, for which all Oregon has hitherto been famous, to a secondary place in the industries of Southern Oregon. They are certainly having an appreciable effect upon the values of land. Orchard land in the Rogue Valley is now quoted at anywhere from $50 to $100 per acre, and in the Umpqua choice land adjacent to the more important settlements runs as high as $50 per acre, although "a snap," as an old-timer puts it, may now and again be encountered at from $10 to $20 per acre. The "snap" in question usually consists of a foreclosure or the urgent necessities of the owner of the land for ready cash for immediate use. Hard times overtook Southern Oregon, like other parts of the country, and "snaps" are said to be just now not uncommon.
A Southern Oregon farm is ordinarily a thing of rural beauty. It is very different from a California ranch. The latter is a one-crop affair. The Oregonian believes in a diversity of crops. An average farm will have a field of corn, another of hay, still another of grain, a potato patch, an orchard, a tract devoted to root crops, a small vineyard for grapes and wine for home consumption, a stand of beehives, and a piece of wild land as a wood lot and pasture.
Taliesin Evans, "Through Southern Oregon," San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 1895, page 3
My father had a very large orchard, and every summer he would hire a number of farmers with their teams, and take sometimes as many as a dozen loads of apples at a time out to the gold mines in Southern Oregon and Northern California. These trips would be to points from two to three hundred miles distant from home. They loaded each wagon with as heavy a load of fruit as the teams could easily haul on a good road, and then when they came to the long hills in the mountains they would have to double up, and sometimes put on three teams to a single wagon. I shall never forget my first experience on one of these trips. The entire journey was a series of sights and adventures far more interesting and wonderful to me then than a trip to Rome and Venice was twenty-five years later. The scenes in the mines were very strange. It seemed so odd to see such a number of men camped about and at work, without seeing a woman or child. Into one of these large camps we were the first wagon train of fruit that year, and the miners were so tired of living on salt meat and flapjacks, without any vegetables or fruit, that when we opened our apples and pears they gathered about the wagons almost wild with excitement. They had been picked just as they began to ripen, and carefully packed in the soft meadow grass, and when the top covering was removed, the fragrance was delicious. The miners did not have any money, but they had plenty of gold dust. My father had a pair of gold scales, and a miner would bring a big handkerchief or a flour sack to hold his apples, and would hand over his little leather pouch of gold dust, and Father would weigh out the price in the scales. The prices seem fabulous nowadays, especially here in the East where so many apples sometimes go to waste for lack of a market. The load in my father's wagon was all of the Gloria Mundi apples. They were large and nice, and the entire wagonload went off like hotcakes at "two bits," or twenty-five cents, apiece, and I think he could have gotten twice as much for them for the asking. A load of Bartlett pears sold at a dollar a dozen. One evening, as we were coming back to camp, we met a man with a load of watermelons. He lived about fifty miles away, down in the Rogue River Valley, and had brought these melons from his own farm. Father traded him a dozen apples for two watermelons. We ate one of them, and sold the other one for two dollars and a half.
The miners were most of them a very rough sort of men, and drinking and gambling were on every side. Every night we heard the sound of pistol shots coming from some of the saloons, but they were very kind to me. It seemed strange to me then that these big, rough, bearded men should take so much interest in a little boy, but I was the only child in the camp, and it is pathetic as I look back at it, for I know now that those men were lonely and homesick and were thinking about little boys and girls in their far-away homes.
Louis Albert Banks [born 1855], An Oregon Boyhood, 1898, pages 93-95
The other day I went into a commission store on Front Street [in Portland], to find six or seven men engaged in boxing up pears for shipment to Dakota, Minnesota and other lands within the blizzard belt. The pears were wrapped in clean white papers and laid in boxes, about forty pounds to the box. The first lot I saw was marked for a house in Fargo, and consisted of sixty-odd boxes. I asked the proprietor a few questions:
"How do you find this traffic--does it pay you a fair profit?"
"Well, I suppose you think we have taken hold of this more for what is in the future than in the present and that we handle a good deal of stuff for a very small profit. You never were worse mistaken. Instead of being a slow and sure business, it is an up-and-down traffic, making a good deal one day and losing considerable the next."
"How do you account for such fluctuations as these?" I asked.
"It is the result of supply and demand," he answered, "and if you notice it, there are fluctuations in pork, flour and all the great staples which men must eat daily if they would live. How much more then are fruits liable to be affected by the caprice of the public."
"Do any southern Oregon fruits find their way into this market?" asked the reporter.
"Scarcely any," replied the merchant, "though all you newspaper men predicted that large shipments would follow close upon completion of the railroad into Rogue River Valley. The fact is, the people of that section want more for their fruit, right at Ashland and Jacksonville, than it would sell for here."
"They complain that the rate of freight by railroad is so high that they cannot compete with California fruit brought hither by the steamers. Is that true?" asked the reporter.
"Not exactly. The freight by steamer is six dollars and that by rail is eight; but the loss on ocean shipments is never less than 15 percent, even when the vessel makes schedule time. By rail there would be no loss at all, so that the southern Oregon grapes would be after all the cheaper to the consignee. The trouble is that those people out there have always had two big mining towns for a market--Jacksonville and Yreka--and they want mining prices for what they produce. They do not seem to look upon this market as a place which would enable them to work off their surplus stuff at a moderate profit."
"And when do you look for a change in the tide of affairs? Certainly two-fifths of a cent per pound is no exorbitant freight, and the railroad that hauls produce 298 miles at that rate cannot expect any profit on that sort of traffic." "No," said the merchant, "There is no profit in it, but it would help to pay a good deal of the road's expenses. Those people out there raise fine hogs and put up as good bacon as ever you ate in all your life. They have nicely improved farms, too, but they have been too long used to the high prices incidental to mining communities. They will eventually sell out to a more thrifty class, who will be able to ship produce to Portland at the O.&C.R.R. rates, and make money at that."
"Trespasses," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, October 12, 1884, page 1
On Thursday of this week the fruit growers of Southern Oregon propose holding a meeting at Gold Hill. The meeting is called to organize a society for mutual protection, and will be largely attended. The fruit interest of that section of the state is becoming more important yearly, and a discussion of the subject and the formation of a strong society will prove beneficial to all concerned.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 24, 1885, page 4
THE FRUIT BUSINESS.
With the small beginning in the fruit growing industry already made in Southern Oregon, the skepticism and discouragement inseparably connected with new enterprises has not been wanting. "What in the world can be done with the fruit from so many trees when they all come into bearing?" has been the problem that puzzled many of the doubtful and timid people here. The question is being answered for them now in California. The California fruit growers association, organized less than a year ago, has succeeded in demonstrating that the fruits of California can be profitably shipped to the states in the Mississippi Valley, where the large cities offer a practically unlimited market. By combination in shipping, the transportation rates were reduced from $600 to $300 per carload. California cherries, peaches and apricots sold in Chicago and St. Paul at from 20 to 70 cents per pound. At lower prices than the average returned, the California growers would realize a fair profit, and the availability of the eastern market is thus established beyond a question. The large shipments to the East relieved the home market, and instead of canners dictating the price, as has been the case in some years, the lucky growers were delighted to witness a lively competition in bidding between the canners, the retail dealers in San Francisco and other cities and the eastern shippers. The result of this is that the owners of peach orchards are paid from $60 to $80 per ton for the fruit on the trees, and have nothing to do but take the money and sit and watch the buyers pick and box the peaches. Oregon need have no fear of trouble in finding a market for her fruits if she only raise enough of the right kind. With the great fruitless belt stretching from Puget Sound to the Great Lakes as a purchaser and with the rapidly improving transportation facilities afforded, our state should not hesitate to increase her fruit production, and reduce the business to the basis of a scientific and carefully fostered industry.MORE GOOD FRUIT STORIES
Large Shipments of Fruit to Portland--The Real Estate Movement..
MEDFORD, Oct. 28.--To her other large shipments for the season, aggregating about 350 tons of fruit, Medford forwards today ten fully loaded cars of fall and winter apples. These cars are placarded "Southern Oregon fruit for H. E. Battin & Co., Portland, Oregon; from Medford." These cars carry about 110 tons of fruit. Another train, equally as large, will leave here the coming week. The broken freight shipments of fruit for the past week have footed up a couple of tons. The aggregate of fruit shipments from Medford so far this season, by Battin & Co., has been about 570 tons. Since August 25 Wells, Fargo & Co. have forwarded from Medford forty tons of grapes, peaches and mixed fruit.
All through this valley, houses designed to keep fruit for the winter and spring markets are going up. Mr. J. D. Whitman and J. H. Stewart, both of whom came here since '85, were the fist to build. Others are following. The fruit houses are built with double walls, filled with sawdust, and have about five feet space overhead filled with hay. The temperature inside these houses is many degrees cooler than that of the outside, and will, it is believed, preserve the fruit for winter use.
C. B. Carlisle, "Medford, Jackson County," Oregonian, Portland, November 3, 1887, page 6
The Favorite Fruit Region--Vineyards at Jacksonville.
Fruit-Growing at Ashland--Apples, Pears and Cherries--
Plenty of Good Fruit Land for Years to Come.
A recent journey to Southern Oregon and a week spent there gave the writer some idea of what is considered the best fruit region in the state of Oregon. All of western Oregon and Washington is adapted to the growing of fruit, though there are more favored conditions in some localities. Rogue River Valley lies 290 miles south of here, and its climate partakes of the best qualities pertaining to both Oregon and California. It produces some fruits in perfection that are not congenial to the Willamette, such as peaches and grapes. It also produces all the fruits that do well further north.
Rogue River and Umpqua valleys, in some respects, surpass the northern counties in ability to grow crops requiring a warm summer climate. These valleys have a decided advantage in the production of fruit, and from the railroad we see more show of corn fields than grain stubble, corn ripening here and making a good crop. These remarks are especially true of Jackson County. At the south the rainy season is less decided with more good winter weather. Storms suddenly clear away, while with us rains are continuous and are followed by cloudy and foggy weather, and danger form frost is greatly diminished. Where rains suddenly cease and clear weather follows, as in Northern California and Southern Oregon, frosts are frequent and do great harm. We seldom hear of any general damage from frosts, such as occurred May 11th and 12th last spring, causing injury to fruit along the coast for five hundred or more miles. Such frosts are more liable to the south of us for reasons just stated.
FOOTHILLS FOR FRUIT.
There is a belt of foothills in Southern Oregon, located above the frost line, averaging a mile or more, in winter, that is almost sure to be exempt from frost and safe to produce fruit crops. This is the favored portion of these valleys, though even these foothills are not universally certain, as isothermal lines exist, caused by air currents or unfavorable lay of the land. These will be located in time, but there is an extensive area in which vineyards and orchards can be safely planted, and there is every inducement to make fruit-growing a leading industry.
We hear much about the capacity of Southern Oregon to produce fruit, but one who passes through Rogue River Valley sees few indications of fruit growing, and the land in orchards forms hardly a perceptible portion of the country.
VINEYARDS NEAR JACKSONVILLE.Jacksonville is in the foothills, where a mining camp attracted prospectors at an early day. The town lies at the west of a large cove and on the north side of which the foothills that face the south have been planted to vineyards with success. In riding towards Medford we can see a few patches indicating vineyards, but not one acre in a thousand is so planted. It is claimed that Jackson County has fifteen vineyards aggregating one hundred acres, producing four tons of grapes to the acre. The largest is that of J. N. T. Miller, Esq., situated near Jacksonville and covering sixteen acres. Here, in the middle of November, we saw beautiful bunches of luscious fruit hang on the vines and wine making in full progress. They were making wine because our market could not use all their grapes. If Portland fruit dealers, with so large a country to supply, are not able to use the present product of Jackson County, it must be apparent that wine making, or the manufacture of raisins, will be the chief recourse when vineyards are extensive.
PEACH ORCHARD AT ASHLAND.At Ashland they are clearing off the higher points of the foothills to plant peaches, and when relieved of its growth of manzanita, chaparral, pine, laurel and mountain mahogany this land is held at high figures. The land produces a heavy growth of the woods named, but its appearance surprise a stranger. It is decomposed granite, showing little soil, or what is so considered. In passing through the peach orchard of Mr. Gailey, consisting of thirty acres, one sinks to the ankle in coarse, white granite sand, but his trees show good growth at two and three years old. These rugged points and the gentler foothills are quoted as selling at $100, $200, $250 and $300 an acre. No doubt they can pay a good interest on this investment.
BEAR RIVER VALLEY.Ashland is fifteen miles up Bear River, above the main valley of Rogue River. The valley of Bear Creek is narrow, and hills rise on each side to considerable height. On the Ashland side they rise and rise until they climb into the Siskiyou Mountains, but on the opposite, or east side, the hill range divides Bear Valley and Antelope Creek. On the south six streams enter Rogue River, and six more come in on the north, and all have valleys and foothills more or less adapted to fruit. The main valley is thirty by fifteen miles in extent, and with its tributaries must furnish an immense area of foothill or bench lands that invite fruit growing on an immense scale. Hills or knolls along the main valley afford excellent locations for orchards. Where they have a right exposure nearly all these uplands must be of value. Mr. McCall, at Ashland, pointed to a cleared space that has recently sold for $300 an acre, with the remark that five years ago he would not have given six bits an acre for it. Someone with self-reliance, good sense and courage set out an orchard, and then the boom set in.
VINE LAND AND FRUIT LAND.Crossing Bear Creek, opposite Ashland, we find a clear hillside as high as the hills rise; granite sand is mixed with clay and the land is somewhat sticky, though there is no reason apparent why it should not produce all sorts of fruit. We met a Mr. Morris, from California, who has bought 2000 acres on this side three miles below Ashland, who has full confidence in this soil and intends to plant 100 acres in peaches next spring. We see many peaches from Ashland in our Portland markets, but the planting of orchards there has only just begun and the few bearing orchards they have are very young.
At Jacksonville they have only planted vineyards, but the same land can produce peaches to the best advantage, judging from its location. Ashland has succeeded with peaches, but it is said a cold sweep of air up that narrow valley does not make the culture of the vine possible there. We learned that apricots grow well in Ashland gardens but are not planted extensively. One intelligent observer expressed the opinion that being more tender than peaches they could not be grown as successfully in that region. It is evident that peaches and grapes can be successfully grown on good locations, and a very extensive area of suitable land can be put to such use.
Josephine County has also much bench land on its rivers where fruit should grow to best advantage. Applegate and Williams creeks have large valleys, and there are other streams putting into Rogue River below its main valley that as yet are not known or understood. There is such a great area of good fruit land in that section of country that there is no good reason why excessive valuation should be placed on that already understood. It will be many years before it can be utilized, and it will be a public misfortune if it shall pass into the hands of speculators who will put a high figure upon it.
A Mr. Stewart, who came from Indiana, has located some distance south of Medford, which is the railway station for Jacksonville, about five miles distant. He is planting a large pear orchard in the rolling land or foothills, because that valley is so sure in producing good crops of very excellent pears. He is well up in pear culture and considers that region the best he ever knew for that purpose. Apples and cherries do well there and the good people thereabouts have a faith in themselves and their country that is pleasant to behold, but they probably err in supposing that no other part of Oregon can hold a candle to them or compete with them in these products.
ROGUE RIVER AND UMPQUA VALLEYS.The main Rogue River Valley is in part high prairie and good soil, and three-fourths is more or less gravelly. While fruit trees grow well enough on this low land, it is so much liable to danger from frost that it is not considered safe to plant orchards or vineyards there. Besides there is an old-time prejudice in favor of hill land for fruit, as giving a better flavor than the soil of the prairies. The future should see these southern counties devoted to the production of choice fruits, earning a great name and winning for the fortunate fruit growers fortunes to repay their enterprise. California will furnish a constant market for all their apples and pears. They are going out of the apple business there, their orchards proving short-lived and their apples miserably inferior in quality.
The two rivers, Umpqua and Rogue rivers, have large areas tributary to them composed in great part of rugged hills that will someday be appreciated and cultivated. The delightful climate will ensure the full settlement of the county, and the value of the great hill region will be tested to the utmost. It is claimed that though it has no area of open valley to equal Rogue River, the Umpqua itself is actually lower in its flow than Rogue River, and therefore cannot have a very different climate. Judge Stearns, of Oakland, says Umpqua Valley has cooler summers and warmer winters than Rogue River, by actual observation, and he claims that there should not be a serious difference in the ability of the Umpqua to produce fruits native to a warm clime. Certainly we receive our early fruits and vegetables from Douglas County a month almost before they ripen near home, and as soon or sooner than they reach us from Rogue River Valley.
THE PIONEER UMPQUA VINEYARD.Years ago Hon. Jesse Applegate set out a large vineyard on the side of Yoncalla Mountain, or what to us seemed a mountain to climb, that was--save for altitude--an easy walk from Snowden Springs. We visited him there and have often asked the fate of this pioneer vineyard, to learn that it made reasonable progress up to the time our old friend lost his beloved wife, when he quit the spot and his successor allowed sheep to devour the vines and destroy the vineyard. He assures us that it would have done well had it received the proper care and cultivation. We cannot learn that grapes or peaches have ever received a fair test in Umpqua, though it cannot be excelled as to prunes. These are grown with rare excellence, as also all other fruits grown in the Willamette.
Southern Oregon as herein described simply awaits development. The construction of the Oregon & California Railroad through its whole extent gives reasonable hope that we shall soon see settlement commence and continue there and the development of this choice portion of our state keep on until its merits are fully tested. This road is, we think, destined to do much towards filling Oregon valleys with homes and peopling our hillsides with fruit farms. The outflow from California may easily surpass the direct travel from the East to the whole Pacific Northwest. Tens of thousands are drawn to California who cannot remain there and must go elsewhere. They will be sure to return east by the northern route and many may actually come here to settle and make homes. We propose to make this whole region known to those who may soon come here.
The length of this paper prevents reference in detail to the present fruit production of the Southern Oregon counties, and such particulars as are obtainable on this subject will be given at an early day.
Oregonian, Portland, December 3, 1887, page 8
Results of Fruit Culture in Southern Oregon.
Mr. H. E. Battin, who does a large business in domestic and imported fruits, handled a great part of the orchard products of Rogue River Valley the past or rather present season, and spent most of the time for some months in that valley looking after the same. From him we gather some facts concerning the late fruit crop, and also as to his opinion of Southern Oregon in general as a producing region. He puts the apple crop of Rogue River Valley at fully 60,000 bushels, and the producers received an average of fifty cents a bushel for the same on the ground.
The firm of H. E. Battin & Company purchased one hundred carloads, or forty thousand bushels. Twenty carloads or eight thousand bushels were purchased on California account, of which part yet waits for the spending of transportation on the Oregon and California Railroad, now an accomplished fact, and six thousand bushels in all were handled by different parties; besides, there was more fruit of which no account can be made, so that the total aggregates 60,000 bushels, as above stated.
Pears were nearly gone before the buyers got in there, and a great many went to waste, or were eaten by swine. Five carloads were shipped away, and twice as many rotted on the ground or were fed to stock, a course that will hardly be pursued again. Pears are grown considerably, but not nearly so extensively as apples. Of grapes there were one hundred acres, and they bore nearly four tons to the acre. Wine making is carried on extensively, because the grapes are not generally good table fruit. Mission grapes are usually found in these vineyards, and they are not well calculated for shipment. Being very juicy, it does well in wine-making.
Peaches are grown somewhat, but the peach orchards of any extent are quite young and not bearing heavily. As an approximation toward correctness, we should put the total shipped away this season at 7000 boxes, of twenty pounds each. Of these, probably one-third were shipped from Medford, and 4000 boxes, or thereabouts, came from Ashland, or that vicinity. This gives some idea of the quantity of fruit that was shipped from that valley in 1887.
Concerning the kinds of peaches to plant, Mr. Battin very sensibly says people in Oregon mistake greatly when they plant early kinds for our market. The reason is that California raises these poor sorts in advance of us and sends them to us, and they are really inferior, only marketable because no other kinds can be had. So, if our fruit growers set out these early sorts they will only come in competition with Crawfords and other excellent peaches that California will be shipping here in great supply. If we plant Crawfords, they will come just after California Crawfords are gone, and be salable in California or Oregon because later than the same variety grown in that state. This is so plain a showing that we hope it will be remembered by all who plant peaches.
Mr. Battin says the apricot cannot be grown in Southern Oregon in perfection and to as good profit as the peach, and advises fruit growers not to waste time and money trying to grow them. He says Rogue River apples are smooth, of good color, and apparently healthy, and he considers them more perfect and better keepers usually than Willamette Valley fruit. They are good flavor, but smaller in size than Willamette apples, though not so small as to lose value. The pear does remarkably well there, and the apple and pear succeed on very rich black soil where peaches would be a failure. This bottom or rich bench land he considers remarkably good for these hardy fruits.
Mr. Battin went to Josephine County, and fully bears out the opinion heretofore expressed that the valleys and bench lands on streams there fully equal any on Rogue River. Applegate and Williams creeks have many good farms, and their orchards are as fine and trees as healthy as he has ever seen. Last spring they were touched by frost and the crop damaged, which has not occurred before in fifteen years or since their orchards have borne. Those valleys, combined with others in Jackson County, furnish an almost unlimited quantity of the best of fruit lands, and there is no reason why they should be held at very high price for years to come. As yet fruit planting is in its infancy, and must attain immense proportions in time.
The farmers of Jackson County can grow garden stuffs and melons in the greatest excellence and profusion. Their melons have been literally corded up in our grocery stores all the summer and fall, and they can meet any demand. Mr. Stewart, who was mentioned the other day as planting out many pears, has already 150 acres of orchard, and will this season plant out seventy acres more, intends next spring to plant about a quarter section of land in tomatoes, melons, sweet potatoes, etc., having made a success of such crops the past season. The soil is quick, the summers warm, and the valley possesses every facility for producing early fruits and vegetables in the greatest excellence as well as profusion.
Mr. Battin considers Douglas County even warmer than Jackson County, and that it surpasses Rogue River in its capacity to grow prunes. This fruit, he thinks, does not grow in perfection south of the Umpqua, and as this is true of California in general, it does not seem unreasonable that it should also apply to Rogue River Valley, that joins California. Douglas County, he thinks, possesses great possibilities, and when developed thoroughly will produce early fruit and vegetables in quality. Already we have learned to expect tomatoes, etc., from thence a week or two in advance of our Willamette market gardens. As to orchards, the products of Umpqua promise to become of great importance. Battin & Co. are now purchasing hay and other products in Douglas County, and this fall bought 4000 bushels of apples between Canyonville and Drain. The orchards there are not large, but the fruit is good, and the extent of land that is suited to orchards is large.
The orchards in Southern Oregon were planted in early days, when the placers of that region were turning out millions of gold dust, and when pack trains were bringing fruit from the Willamette to satisfy the miners' wants. The farmer soon followed the gold digger. He set out orchards thirty years ago, and has depended on the mines for a market. This market proved a good one until quite recent years, when the placer that seemed so fabulous became played out. They took good care of their trees so long as the demand lasted, and their orchards, not being as dilapidated as those of the Willamette, are again a source of pride.
It was mentioned above that the men who bought for the California market shipped part of their purchase via Yaquina to San Francisco, as they were offered good rates by that route. This was rather roundabout, but it shows the truth of the old proverb that says: "Competition is the life of trade." The Oregon & California is now running regular freight trains, and no doubt the apples and pears of Southern Oregon will hereafter find a good demand in California and be marketed there. A gentleman recently from that state declares that every available piece of land there has been cut up into town lots by land speculators, and the apple orchards are all dug up and platted for sale. His story combines a touch of sarcasm with a wonderful amount of truth, no doubt.--Oregonian.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1888, page 2
SOUTHERN OREGON FRUIT ORCHARDS
Statistics Showing Acreage of Principal Varieties.
ONLY LARGE SHIPPERS.
Incomplete List of Orchards with a Total of Not Less Than Ten Acres.
The fruit orchards of the Rogue River Valley have been multiplying for the past ten or fifteen years, until one is surprised at the immense acreage of fruit. Hardly a family in town or country but what has a neat little family orchard of choice fruits which supplies family consumption. Apples, pears, peaches, prunes, plums, apricots, almonds, nectarines and all the smaller fruits grow and produce abundantly in the valley and adjacent country. Even figs are grown here with some care and attention.
It was not until recently that any attempt has been made to obtain any data as to the number of orchards and the quantity and quality of fruits grown in the valley surrounding Medford. By special request of the Southern Pacific company, Messrs. J. D. Whitman, J. H. Stewart and other large fruit growers and acreage of orchards within their knowledge and last week the former gentleman took pains to tabulate some statistics in this line, which he furnished to agent Lippincott, of this city. Through the urbanity of Mr. Lippincott The Monitor-Miner has been furnished with a copy of the data obtained, and we take pleasure in publishing it for the information of our readers. Remember that this list is not full and only includes those orchards which total ten acres or more. There are hundreds of small orchards which produce [an] abundance of fruits for the markets, aside from the following, which comprise only the large shippers from Medford station:
J. H. Stewart--Apples, 90; pears, 70; prunes, 30; peaches, 2; total, 190.
Clint Stewart--Apples, 25; pears, 20; prunes, 85; peaches, 5; almonds, 30; total, 180.
M. Stewart--Apples, 8; pears, 10; peaches, 12; total, 35.
Wm. Stewart--Apples, 35; pears, 30; total, 65.
A. J. Weeks--Apples, 70; pears, 35; prunes, 35; peaches, 35; total, 140.
Weeks & Orr--Pears, 20; total, 20.
Terrill--Apples, 13; peaches, 6; apricots, 6; total, 25.
Gore & Son--Apples, 5; pears, 5; prunes, 5; peaches, 5; total, 20.
Kleinhammer--Apples, 20; pears, 5; total, 25.
Wm. A. Smith--Apples, 10; pears, 25; total, 35.
Judge Crowell--Apples, 20; almonds, 15; total, 35.
Hansen--Apples, 5; pears, 2; prunes, 3; total, 10.
J. A. Lyons--Apples, 10; total, 10.
J. A. Whitman--Apples, 20; total, 20.
Bennett--Apples, 10; total, 10.
I. W. Thomas--Apples, 5; pears, 5; prunes, 20; total, 30.
J. D. Whitman--Apples, 60; pears, 1; prunes, 1; total, 62.
W. H. Barr--Apples, 20; pears, 4; prunes, 10; total, 34.
Sykes--Apples, 8; pears, 3; prunes, 12; total, 23.
Anderson--Prunes, 15; total, 15.
Kellogg--Apples, 3; prunes, 15; peaches, 2; total, 20.
Orchard Home--Total, 200.
Whole number of acres of apples, 447; pears, 235; peaches, 67; prunes, 231, almonds, 45; apricots, 6; grand total, 999.
Medford Monitor-Miner, October 13, 1898, page 4
During the past season immense quantities of apples were sold on the ground to California companies, who sent experienced packers into the orchards, packed the fruit and labeled the boxes "Mountain fruit, grown in the foothills of California."
"The Rogue River Valley," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 18, 1889, page 1
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.
G. A. Gregory, "Jackson County," Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1900, page 3
A. H. Carson, of Grants Pass, fruit commissioner for the district of Southern Oregon, has been in Douglas County looking after the condition of orchards and the amount of marketable fruit produced during the current year, says the Roseburg Review. He found well-kept orchards, but in the main there is a great need of thorough spraying. He cites as examples of the practical benefits of proper spraying the apple orchards of Olwell Bros., of Central Point; Weeks & Orr, of Medford, and H. B. Miller, at Grants Pass. These have this season an output of 98 percent of sound fruit, while in unsprayed orchards in the immediate vicinity of these, from 60 to 70 percent of the fruit was infested. Although many fruitgrowers still consider spraying an expensive operation, and of doubtful or uncertain efficacy, yet it has been demonstrated that the cost will not exceed 3 to 5 percent of the increased output of first-class fruit. Mr. Carson estimates the apple crop of Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties this year at 225 carloads.
"Oregon Industries," Morning Oregonian, Portland, November 1, 1900, page 5
Fighting the Fruit Pests.
The member of the Oregon Horticultural Society for this district is inspecting the orchards of southern Oregon and ascertaining the quantity of marketable fruit produced during the current year. He finds some good and well-kept orchards, but a lack of thorough spraying. Orchardists through the country, and the people of the towns who have a few trees in their yards, must cooperate to exterminate the pests. The commissioner cites as examples of the practical benefits of proper spraying the apple orchards of Olwell Bros., Central Point; Weeks & Orr of Medford, and H. B. Miller, Grants Pass. These show by actual test this season an output of 98 percent of sound fruit, while in unsprayed orchards in the vicinity of these from 60 to 70 percent of sound fruit was infested. While many fruit growers still consider spraying an expensive operation, and of doubtful or uncertain efficiency, yet it has been demonstrated that the cost will not exceed 3 to 5 percent of the increased output of first-class fruit. Mr. Carson estimates the apple crop of Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties at 225 carloads and believes the fruit industry of this portion of Oregon is destined to vastly and rapidly increase, says the Roseburg Review.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 5, 1900, page 3
An entire trainload of apples! That is the record of a shipment just sent east by Olwell Bros., of Medford. The train consisted of 15 cars, all loaded with apples, the price of which was $1 per box, F.O.B., for the export trade. This is the largest single shipment that ever went from the Northwest.
Medford is becoming a famous exporting point for apples. There is strong competition among foreign buyers for the products of that favored district, the fame of which is due to the up-to-date, scientific methods of progressive growers. In the results of their careful work is furnished another practical object lesson in the value of intelligent farming along scientific lines.
Off of their 160 acres last year Olwell Bros. raised enough apples to net them $14,000. The sum, however, represented a corresponding amount of toil. The orchard is as carefully kept, nursed and tended as the business of any business firm in the city. As an example of this fact, it may be stated, the orchard was sprayed eight times this year. And each time the trees were thoroughly drenched with spray in such a manner that not a single leaf in the forest of trees covering 160 acres escaped. The spraying was accomplished by means of a gasoline engine upon a portable wagon to which were attached four hoses. As soon as the entire orchard was sprayed once, the workman began over again at the beginning. When it is known that 98 percent of the fruit this year is clear from any kind of pests or diseases, it will be seen that such careful work pays.
All the apples thus far sold from the Medford district netted the owners $1 per box. It is estimated that about 70 carloads have been shipped. Other prominent growers in the district are Stewart, who has 100 acres; Whitman, 100 acres; Voorhies, 140 acres. These men raise for the export trade, and always obtain top prices. Their product is never a drug upon the market. As stated, buyers are only too anxious to secure the product. The varieties of apples raised in that district are the Jonathans, Newtown Pippins, Winesap, Bluetown Pippins and Red Russians.--Roseburg Plaindealer.
Lincoln County Leader, Toledo, Oregon, November 30, 1900, page 1
OREGON APPLES BRING TOP PRICE.
Fruit from the Olwell Orchards Beats World's Prices in the London Market.
From the Portland Oregonian.
John Olwell has been in Corvallis attending the mid-winter meeting of the board of regents of the agricultural college. With his brothers, Mr. Olwell owns and manages an apple orchard that is one of the most noteworthy in the country. A feature of chief interest is the fact that apples from this orchard command the highest prices that the world pays for this fruit. They bring two shillings, or 48 cents, more per box in the London market than do the best California apples. Returns from a carload of Oregon Newtowns received ten days ago gave the Olwells $1.04 per box, free on board, at Central Point. Apples from the same orchard are selling in the New York market at the rate of $4.50 per barrel, while the best Eastern apples are quoted in the same market at $2.50 to $3 per barrel. Some time ago Spitzenburgs from the Central Point orchard were marketed in New York and netted the Olwells $1 per box, free on board, at the orchard. The freight to New York is 50 cents per box, making the Olwell apples in the latter city $1.50 per box. Eastern apples were selling at the time in the same market at 50 and 75 cents per box, or one-half to one-third the price of the Oregon product.
The Olwell orchard this season produced 58 cars of apples, 55 cars of which have already been shipped and sold. It was the orchard's 12th year of existence and third year of bearing. Up to the present time $40,000 has been invested in the enterprise. Of the apples shipped, four cars went to London and 24 cars to New York and other eastern cities. The other cars went in all directions--to San Francisco, to Montana, to Australia, to New Orleans and other localities. The contents of each loaded car was 600 boxes, or a total of nearly 35,000 boxes. The apples that went to London were Oregon Newtowns, accounted by Mr. Olwell to be best sellers produced. The New York sales were mostly Spitzenburgs, while to the other markets went Baldwins, Ben Davis, Winesaps and one or two other varieties.
The orchard comprises 160 acres, all in apples but 1500 trees of Winter Nelis pears. Every apple shipped from the Olwell orchard sold in London or important eastern markets comes out of the original box wrapped in paper. The box is sugar pine, marked in large letters "Oregon Apples," together with the additional private stamp of the orchardists. The bottom and sides are lined with paper. Between each layer is paper, blue in color and of cardboard variety. On top is a paper of the same kind, and the lid is sprung in place with a machine and nailed. The apples in the box are packed with such exactness that when the lid is finally nailed on there is no shifting of position by the fruit inside.
For packing purposes, the apples are classified into four-tier and five-tier grades, according to size. Four-tier apples are those in which four apples exactly make a row in a tier and in which four tiers fill a box. The five-tier size takes its name for similar reasons. No apple is packed that is not absolutely perfect. The color must be right, the shape proper, and there must be no flaw or blemish that the eye can see. In the picking, 50 men are employed. During the packing season 20 girls are kept constantly busied at their duties. The packing is done in huge fruit houses, fitted with convenient tables and appliances for systematic prosecution of the work. Packing of apples for a carload does not begin until the fruit has been contracted. A telegram is received in the morning while the apples are still in bulk. At evening time the car of newly packed apples stands on the siding, to be taken way by a train within an hour or two after the process is completed.
One of the most remarkable features of the Olwell orchard is the success attained in destruction of the codling moth. Conditions in the locality are highly favorable to the propagation and prevalence of the pest, even more so than in the Willamette Valley. Formerly the whole crop of orchards in the district was lost by the infection. In many instances 90 percent of the apples in the orchard were infected. In the Olwell orchard this season less than 5 percent was lost by reason of the presence of the worms. This unparalleled result has been attained through diligent and intelligent spraying. The spray used is Paris green and London purple, applied six times during the season. One of the chief points of precaution in the spraying is to be absolutely certain that the poison is pure, a fact made doubly necessary because so many bogus preparations of both poisons are in the market.
Medford Mail, January 18, 1901, page 2
There are many good arguments which can be put up in support of the growing of fruit as against that of wheat. These arguments are nearly all known to the people of the Rogue River Valley, and it would be useless to reiterate them here, but a comparison favorable to fruit is here found, and as it is founded upon facts and logical figuring there are no premises left for dispute: Forty acres of wheat on the Asa Fordyce place, which was purchased a few months since by Hon. J. H. Stewart, thrashed out this year forty-three bushels per acre, the wheat being raised by Mr. Fordyce. This forty acres will be planted to Yellow Newtown apples next spring by Mr. Stewart, and thereby hangs a tale, or rather a reflection. This forty-three bushels is worth about $20 and is a good yield for an acre of ground, but it took two years to get it, as it was a summer fallow crop and a heavy drain was made on the soil. When the Yellow Newtowns begin to bear a full crop the number of bushels per acre will in a single year equal ten such crops of wheat, or the yield for twenty years, and in dollars, twenty such yields or the gross returns for forty years. The loss of income while the orchard is maturing, measured by the wheat standard, will be covered twice over by a single good crop. To care for and harvest one good crop of fruit will for a single year necessitate the expenditure of $150 an acre, or $6,000 for the forty acres. Factory and mill will take part of this, but much the larger portion will go directly to labor here, and the community will derive as great incidental benefit from this forty acres of orchard as from a thousand acres of wheat. Soil must be carefully selected, and brain as well as brawn given to attain success in such a highly specialized industry as successful growing of fruit. Failure is certain if slovenly or careless methods are followed. Assuming thirty years as the life of an orchard on such land and in the hands of such workmen as Mr. Stewart and his son-in-law, Mr. D. R. Hill, then for thirty years labor will be largely employed, the community sustained and the owners will have something to show for a life of labor other than a very sluggish soil and a dynamic mortgage.
July 26, 1901 Medford Mail
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 16, 1901, page 7
W. M. Holmes, of Central Point, has written an article for the Oregonian, which appeared in that paper of date January 21st. The article bears upon the fruit industry of Jackson County. It is very interesting and contains much information that is of good value to people not acquainted with this great dollar-earning industry of ours. Mr. Holmes is very clever with his pen pictures upon any and all occasions and subjects, but in the article referred to he outdone many of his past best efforts--in that he has said a great deal in a few lines and said it in a manner easily comprehended. We quote below parts of his article which are particularly interesting. Speaking of apples, he says:LARGE INCREASE IN ORCHARD ACREAGE.
"It does not require a prophet nor the son of a prophet now to know what varieties to set nor how to set and cultivate them, but twenty years ago, practically all of our horticulturists were groping in the dark, and it was only by expensive experiments that it was demonstrated what to plant for the eastern and foreign markets, and how to pick, pack and place it upon the market in the most attractive and consequently the most profitable shape. It did not follow that because all Oregon red apples were good and handsome as well that our magnificent Ben Davis, Baldwin, Jonathan or Canadian Reds just filled the bill. One was too close akin to the pumpkin in flavor; one 'melted down' too quickly to bear transportation; another was too shy a bearer for profit. But one, the glorious Esopus Spitzenburg, proved just the thing for the eastern markets at holiday time, and filled a long-felt want in the children's stockings at Christmastide, when expense nor price cut any figure. Its superb coloring, fine quality and carrying character, tough rind, and the fact that it matures just at the right time to share honors with the navel orange on the holiday festal boards of the eastern cities, renders it preeminently the apple for commercial purposes in Southern Oregon counties. A close second to this great leader is found in the crisp, luscious, yellow Newtown Pippin, which Johnny Bull holds in such high esteem that with each recurring season a larger number of personal representatives of the great London houses cross the pond and the continent to beg for the product of our orchards, at prices that are well nigh fabulous. They raise these apples, such as they are, down about Lompoc and Watsonville, Calif., in carlots where we produce boxes, as your special New York correspondent states. But just now the California growers are but beginning to recover from the dynamic shock they experienced the day before Christmas last, when a carload of our foothill Newtowns, properly packed, with the glow of an Oregon mountain sunset on their cheeks, sold for 14s 6d per box, while the California product was everywhere bringing but 8s to 9s in that same city of London.
"And her fruit which has demonstrated itself a sure winner in this section is the Winter Nelis pear, which drops into a place in the eastern markets apparently made for it. * * * The Bartlett pear has not been neglected, and some striking successes have been scored in its culture at the old Stewart (now Voorhies) orchard, notably, which almost repaid the purchase price of the orchard in two crops to the present owner, largely through Bartletts. While superior to the California product, our Bartlett pears come on the market while yet glutted with California's surplus each season, and the variety is so perishable that it will not stand cold storage after transportation east, thus frequently 'netting a loss' to the shipper. The present season our local growers, who sold early or on contract, made a handsome thing out of Bartletts, but the dealers are said to have come to grief. As a solution of the difficulty, dealers and growers are talking up the proposition of local cold-storage plants, to lengthen the season. A better plan would appear to be that of Hon. J. H. Stewart, who has discovered a nook in the higher mountains, up Rogue River, remote from railroads at present, where the fruit matures some two weeks later than in the valley, where he is preparing the ground for setting sixty acres in pears next year, realizing that in the present state of development of this section transportation will not be lacking when the trees get into bearing. Mr. Stewart is deserving of the title of Father of the Fruit Raising Industry here, and his present enterprise at the age of 72 years should put to the blush those who state that life is too short for the man of average age to plant an orchard. Another variety of pear on which the attention of our leading growers is concentrated at present is the Du Comice, a yellow winter pear of fine flavor, which for the past few seasons has commanded a much higher price than the Winter Nelis which appears to have found a perfect home in Southern Oregon, and which is not open to the objection that it will need cross-fertilization. The owners of the few orchards of Du Comice pears now in bearing here are enthusiastic over their prospects of quick fortune, as the tree is very productive.
"A word as to what has been done up to date in fruit raising in this Rogue River valley. For three years past none of our local growers who had established a reputation for quality and pack has thought of accepting less than $1 a box, for four-tier stock apples, Spitzenburgs or Newtowns, and the present season the entire output could have been placed, had the fruit not been contracted too early; at $1.50 to $2.25 per box of fifty pounds. The representatives of Chicago and New York firms who secured the bulk of the output this year openly declare that for thirty years to come the market will continue to improve for strictly fancy stock. As the Southern Pacific people have made through rate to the Atlantic coast of about 50 cents per box, it would look as if the middlemen did fairly well themselves out of our fruit the present season, basing the estimate on reports of $4 to $5 per box to small dealers in New York for our Newtowns and Spitzenburgs.
"Many of our local farmers and business men, who have thus far only watched the possibilities of the industry, are now preparing to profit by the experience of others and making ready to set large orchards in favorable localities. Not less than 2000 acres will be set in apples alone the present winter in this valley, and the acreage would be much larger had not a favorable fall for seeding grain induced heavy wheat sowing. Many contracts are already being closed for realty to be set to fruit next season, by discriminating purchasers, who realize that the phenomenal profits of the fruitmen the present season can but result in enhanced valuation for realty in the near future. It would seem a reasonable expectation, for numbers of the growers realized returns to the extent of $500 per acre from apples the present year. It really seems absurd to rate the most desirable of orchard land at $80 to $100 per acre under such circumstances. Nobody desires anything resembling a boom in land here, but the eager inquiry on the part of outside purchasers who know how to figure appears to indicate a great reduction in the grain-raising acreage another year in Southern Oregon. Apple orchards ten years set have in favorable localities produced four good crops of fruit, including the monster yield of 1901, and the idea has been abandoned that it takes the better part of a lifetime to raise a fruit tree to the bearing stage."
Medford Mail, January 31, 1902, page 1
MORE FRUIT TALKMEDFORD, Or., Feb. 22.--(Staff Correspondence.)--"I think I may fairly boast," remarked Mr. DeHart to me this morning, as he piled another log on the blazing hearth, "of the most expensively stocked woodshed in the State of Oregon." Proceeding, he explained that the basis of his fuel pile was a prune orchard planted some eight or 10 years ago and recently dug up, just as it was coming into maturity, because it has been found that the prune is not a profit-winner in the Rogue River Valley, or at least not in the district of which Medford's the center. It seems that those who ventured early in the orchard business here, including Mr. J. H. Stewart, were to some extent infected with the prune craze which swept the country a few years back, and without carefully estimating all of the facts related to the production and marketing of prunes, made a very considerable planting of prune trees. This explains the presence about Medford of some small prune orchards which are not profitable but which there is some natural reluctance to destroy. The situation of the orchardist in possession of a thriving plantation of prune trees is precisely that of one having on his hands a half-worn suit of clothes which he is unwilling again to wear, but, nevertheless, lacks the moral courage to give to the poor. Mr. DeHart solved the dilemma by having his prune trees dug up and converted into firewood and by planting apples and pears in their place. Some others have followed the same course, but others still hold on to their prune trees, hoping against hope and waiting for the season of old-time prices, which will never come again.
How the Newtown Pippin Gained Its Fame.
ELIMINATION OF THE UNFIT
An Interesting Story Relative to the Origin of the Oregon Pioneer
Fruit Varieties--The Ashland Fruit District.
The variety planted here is the Petite, or French prune, which comes into direct competition with the California prune crop, to which it is inferior in the all-important point of size and with which, under the local conditions of climate, it is unable to compete as to price. Mr. Voorhies, who, as the owner of the old Stewart place, has a beautiful prune orchard, still holds fast to his trees and last season turned out a product of several carloads, but the sizes were small and the price, which has been reserved, must have been very little if anything above the cost of production. There can, I think, be no mistake in the calculation which adjudges the prune tree commercially worthless in the Rogue River Valley, and which has sentenced it to the axe and to the fuel heap.
----I was especially interested in this because in times past I have witnessed the very same evolutionary process in various parts of California. Some 15 or 20 years ago, when California went prune mad on the basis of the early and great success of the prune business in the Santa Clara Valley, prune orchards were set out with small regard for local conditions, and, among other places, in the region fronting the Coast south and west of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In time there grew up a great orchard area along the Coast. The trees were vigorous and healthy, as they are now in the Rogue River Valley. Their product of fruit was immense, exceeding, in many localities, the product of Santa Clara orchards. But, in spite of all, the Coast prune could never be made to yield a profit. At first the blame was laid upon the fogs which prevented the fruit from drying by the cheap and handy process of exposure to the sun; and to get over this difficulty a great drying plant was created by the Coast growers on the inland side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the fruit being hauled over to the drying grounds by an easy arrangement with the railroads.
But this plan did not work in practice, and the Coast growers fell back upon artificial drying, which consumed all the margin of the business and put them at a disadvantage as compared with the growers in the valley districts. At last the wiser among the Coast growers abandoned the prune business altogether and directed their attention toward other forms of production. Whole orchards of fine prune trees were cut down and burned, and the soil which they cumbered was given over to other and more profitable crops. I myself witnessed the destruction of one of the largest prune orchards in the Pajaro Valley (Watsonville), and am able to bear personal testimony to the disappointment and loss suffered in the effort to do in that locality what was being done and which continues to be done easily just across the range less than 20 miles away. The abandonment of prune growing, if not the beginning of the apple industry in the Watsonville district, was at least the beginning of its larger development. Apple trees were, to a very great extent, planted in the room vacated through elimination of prune orchards, and today they contribute in large measure to the welfare of one of the most prosperous sections of California.
----In horticulture, as in other things, each country has to find out its best adaptations. There is but one guide to this end, and that is experience, and experience usually comes high. Too often those who venture first are heavy losers, and too often they are looked upon as cranks even by those who gain most through the demonstrations into which they have cast their energies and their fortunes. Happily, this has not been the experience in the Rogue River Valley. The industrial Moses of that district, Mr. Stewart, made some mistakes, as he frankly confesses, but his early ventures, as well as his more recent ones, have been on the whole successful and profitable. He had what many a man lacks at the critical time--namely, the nerve to look his failures in the face and to discount their effect before they could impoverish him or seriously impair his fortunes.
----In the course of my long talk with Mr. Stewart, reported at length in my letter of yesterday, many interesting facts in connection with apple production were developed, but nothing that interested me more than the story of how the Newtown Pippin, which is so general a favorite on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, came into its very great reputation. There are, as the apple world knows, few places where the Newtown can be grown to perfection. Everywhere in the Mississippi Valley it is a failure, and it is only here and there in small spots an the Atlantic Coast that it is a pronounced success. One of these favored spots is in Albemarle County, Virginia, which has long enjoyed a specially favorable reputation in the Eastern apple markets. Some 30 or more years ago an Englishman of rank found his way into Albemarle County, and being greatly pleased with the quality of the apples which he found there, sent several barrels as gifts to friends and distinguished persons in England, among others to Queen Victoria. The Queen acknowledged the gift in a personal letter, which found its way to the Albemarle apple growers, who made it a point each year thereafter to send her a large consignment of their choicest production, specially polished and wrapped and packed in varnished barrels. Whoever came into hospitable contact with Queen Victoria for a long series of years was more than likely to be given opportunity to sample her American apples, and thus it came about that the Newtown Pippin--or the Albemarle Pippin, as it is commonly called in England--grew into a great and special fame, which lasts to this day and helps to make the fortune of the apple grower of Medford and other apple districts of Oregon. And this fame is not likely to suffer in the hands of our people. The Newtown Pippin of Albemarle County, fine fruit as it is, is no match for the Newtown Pippin grown at Medford or Hood River and at some other places in this state, and already, when compared with the Oregon product, it ranks as second class in the markets of the East and of Europe.
----Mr. Stewart believes that he has a very curious historical connection with the horticulture of pioneer Oregon, though he was wholly unconscious of it until after his first visit to the state in 1884. In the course of his examination of the early orchards in the Willamette Valley and of Southern Oregon in that year, he was surprised to find a range of varieties familiar to his youth, and which, so far as his knowledge goes, were never propagated excepting in his father's nursery at Quincy, Ill., in the early '40s. The history of these varieties is a peculiar one. The elder Stewart was a pioneer in the nursery business in Illinois, and found it difficult to keep up his stock in a country so far from the sources of supply. On one occasion he commissioned a neighbor who was going to Ohio, then a relatively new country, to bring him a new stock of scions, and as a result got a quantity of seedlings which had been developed in Ohio by settlers from New England. From this invoice he produced a stock of trees of a kind never, to his knowledge, propagated by any other nursery; and it was these varieties which Mr. Stewart encountered here in 1884, so greatly to his surprise.
Upon his return to Illinois he spoke of the matter to an old man who as a youth had been in his father's service, and got what may be an interesting historical fact. It appears that some time in the '40s a man from Missouri, whose name was long ago forgotten, came to the elder Stewart's nursery at Quincy and bought a general assortment of fruit trees, which he intended to take across the plains to Oregon. They were packed with great care for the journey in a wagon bed. Mr. Stewart has neither names nor dates in connection with this incident, but he is convinced that this wagonload of trees was none other than that which Seth Lewelling brought across the plains at a very early date, and which became the parent stock of most of the early orchards of Oregon. In no other way can Mr. Stewart account for the presence in all our old orchards of the varieties which were familiar to his boyhood, and which, as above stated, were the special product of his father's nursery.
The facts are certainly interesting and suggestive, and it would be worth the while of some enthusiastic historical student to run them down. No other incident in connection with the pioneer industry of the country is more interesting than the Lewelling enterprise, and any new fact in relation to it is worthy of record. I suggest that the point be taken up by the State Horticultural Association and fully investigated.
----Of course, all the horticultural energy of Southern Oregon is not centered in the Medford district, nor is it limited to the apple and the pear. The country about Ashland has long been famous for its peaches. Peach orchards, both old and new, abound in that region, and I know of nothing prettier than the many plantations which checker the mountainsides to the south and west of the city. Already the supply far exceeds the domestic demand; and from orchards already planted there is destined to come a product great enough to make a place for itself in such markets as it may be able to reach. There is, however, this serious fact in connection with peach growing in Southern Oregon, namely, that for all its excellence--on account, indeed, of its peculiar excellence--the Oregon peach is not a good shipping fruit. If it had the tough skin and the fibrous pulp of the Sacramento peach it would not be so luscious, so good to eat from the hand, but it would have better carrying quality, and therefore have higher commercial value than it is. There is probably a commercial future for the Southern Oregon peach, but it is one limited to such markets as may be reached by a brief carriage. In the cities of the Pacific Coast the Ashland product is not likely to find a serious rival, but its field is in these relatively local markets. The Southern Oregon small fruits are, like the peach, of unique quality. They grow with surprising vigor and in surprising quantity. Their flavor is unsurpassed. Comparison of the Ashland strawberry with the California strawberry, for example, puts the latter wholly in the shade; but the condition which establishes the quality of the Ashland fruit is as well the condition which limits its commercial value. It is too juicy, too rich, too intrinsically good to stand up under stress of time and change of temperature; therefore it will not bear long-distance transportation. Its market must be found near at hand--in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and elsewhere near home. A. H.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, February 23, 1902, page 9
Arrangements have been perfected whereby Medford becomes a distributing depot for refrigerator fruit cars to all points on this division, including Ashland and Grants Pass. Some fifty or more of these cars have already been ordered sent here for distribution--the greater number of them, however, will be loaded at this point. This first order is only for the Bartlett pear and peach shipments. A much greater number of cars will, of course, be needed later for the apple crop. This arrangement will be quite a convenience to the fruit growers of the valley, as the cars can be had upon short notice at other valley points and our growers here will always have a reserve to draw from. These cars will all be iced here as fast as orders are placed for them. From one to two tons of ice is required to ice one car.--Mail.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, August 7, 1902, page 1
IN EDEN VALLEY.
A Homestead Representative Tells About One of Our Orchards.
About three and a half miles south from Medford, Jackson County, is the Eden Valley Orchard owned by Capt. Gordon Voorhies, and J. Hugger is the manager. This is known as the old Ball place. Mr. Ball bought his fruit and vegetables and raised wheat. Five years ago the owner sold $22,000 worth of fruit from this place. The bearing orchard now consists of thirty acres of Petite prunes, 45 acres of apples--Newtown, Jonathan and Ben Davis varieties, 45 acres of pears of the Bartlett, Winter Nelis, Howell, De Anjou and Clargo varieties. The pear crop is immense, the prune fair, and the apple good, with the exception of the Ben Davis variety, which is light. There are 484 acres in the farm. This year 160 acres are in corn and set to young trees; ninety acres to Newtown pippin apples; forty to Bartletts, and thirty to Clargos. This coming fall they will set out 100 acres more to pears--50 to De Comice and 40 to Beurre Boss. This will be, when the 100 acres are set, the largest orchard in Southern Oregon.
There are, on an average, twenty men employed the year through; and sometimes as high as forty are employed at one time. This is exclusive of the pickers.
Last year there were shipped 200,000 boxes of pears and apples and about thirty-five tons of prunes.
They have sprayed five times this year, and will spray once more before picking time.
From Mr. Hugger we gained the following information concerning the orchards around Medford. C. H. Lewis of Portland, Or. purchased the Weeks & Orr orchard, consisting of 140 acres of apples, pears and prunes. Weeks & Orr have another orchard just coming into bearing. Mr. Anderson has an orchard of 30 acres, mostly prunes. Mr. Hartley set out 60 acres of pears and prunes this last spring. Mr. Pellett has 35 acres of Newtowns and 15 of Bartletts. Wm. Stewart has 120 acres of new orchard. Mr. DeHart has seventy acres, mostly apples. This was formerly owned by J. H. Stewart. Mr. Whitman has ninety acres in apples and Mr. McPherson 50 in Petite prunes, W. S. Clay 140 in almonds and prunes. Besides these there are a large number of from eight- to twenty-acre orchards and the 160-acre orchard at Central Point, owned by Olwell Bros.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 18, 1902, page 3
Small Fruit Farming Pays.
Nine years ago last spring Mr. C. A. Beaver dropped anchor in Medford with a good-sized family to look after and with quite limited means.
He was not positive as to just what line of business he would engage in, he then told the Mail publisher, but he had figured some on starting, in a small way, a chicken farm. With this object in view he bought a twelve-acre tract of land a couple of miles west of Medford and began laying plans to harbor egg-laying hens, but as time moved apace his chicken notions were sidetracked and a providential switch threw him onto the main line of industry--that of fruit raising.
He worked hard, and his family worked shoulder to shoulder with him. He was careful and painstaking in his work; he was economical in his methods of farming and honest in all business transactions--and all these redeeming traits have been, and are now being, rewarded. The twelve acres were not land enough for him to operate, and he now rents an eighteen-acre orchard of his neighbor, I. M. Thomas. Last year he had a big crop of all kinds of fruit; this year he has a bigger one. Today, instead of being in straitened circumstances, as he was at the outset, he is independent on money matters, rides to Medford in a carriage, and pays for his purchases about the city in checks upon our city banks--which checks are as good as government bonds. This year his prune crop alone will be more than 70,000 pounds, and besides he has 1000 boxes of apples, several hundred boxes of pears and other fruits in lesser quantities. The product of his orchard this year will reach very close onto $4000. This item, made up of actual facts, is here printed to dispel as much as possible the very erroneous idea that it is only the larger fruit growers who are making money.
Medford Mail, October 24, 1902, page 6
There is a remarkable bit of fruit history connected with the old Beeson donation claim, near Talent, which proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Rogue River Valley fruit trees are long lived. There are two trees on the place, a pear tree and a Spitzenburg apple tree, which were grown in 1854 on the Alford place and the next season set out on the Beeson place, and this year there were fifty boxes of choice fruit taken from these two trees. It must also be remembered, in this connection, that fruit trees in early days were not given the attention they are now, hence it can reasonably be presumed that the fruit tree of today, which is being given every attention possible and being handled scientifically, will live to produce fruit a much longer time than have these two above referred to. On this same Beeson place is a rose tree, or bush, which is still alive, and which blooms in season, that was the first rose bush brought to the valley, it have been brought here in '51 by a son of Jason Lee, the noted early-day missionary.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, November 21, 1902, page 6
The Rogue River Fruit Growers' Union held its regular meeting, which was an important one, at Medford Saturday afternoon, at the office of J. A. Perry.
The articles of incorporation heretofore adopted were signed in due form and the organization of the union as a corporation perfected. They have been filed with the Secretary of State. Capital stock has been placed at $1000, in shares of $5 each, nearly all of which has been subscribed.
The following board of directors were elected: S. L. Bennett, W. H. Norcross, J. A. Perry, L. F. Lozier, H. F. Meader, T. L. Taylor, J. Merley, J. McPherson and G. A. Hover. At the close of the stockholders' meeting the directors held a meeting and elected officers, who are to serve for the ensuing year, to wit: S. L. Bennett, pres.; H. F. Meader, vice-pres.; W. H. Norcross, sec.; L. F. Lozier, treas.
The next meeting of the board of directors will be held May 9th.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 29, 1903, page 1
Rogue River Fruitgrower's Union.
The Rogue River Fruitgrower's Union has now taken up the principal object for which it was organized, that of marketing fruit. The union has leased J. A. Perry's big warehouse and fitted it up for a packing and shipping room. A large number of expert packers are employed and shipping was commenced last week when a carload of apples and two carloads of pears were sent East. Several carloads will be sent away this week, and from this [time] on regular shipments will be made. The union is now the only buyer at Medford handling fruit from small growers, and is paying a better price than the commission men. The board of directors of the union has employed W. H. Norcross, the secretary of the union, to attend to the buying and shipping of the fruit, the packing and loading of the cars being under the supervision of J. A. Perry. A large percentage of the fruit of this section will be shipped this season by the union, and it is quite certain that within a year or two the bulk of the fruit of the Rogue River Valley will be handled by the union. The union fruit all having one standard of grading and being packed in the best manner possible, it will gain a reputation in the markets of the world that will enable the union to secure better prices than can be had by small shippers. The affairs of the union are handled on the strictest business methods, and fruit men will find that they have no occasion to find fault with their returns.
The Southern Pacific makes Medford its distributing point for refrigerator cars, and all fruit shippers from Ashland to Grants Pass have to place their orders for cars with the Medford depot officials.--Jacksonville Times.
The Daily Journal, Salem, September 1, 1903, page 3
Rogue River Valley has long been conceded to be one of the best grape districts in all Oregon and one of the best in the United States, for here can be successfully grown all the fine table and wine grapes that are known in America, as well as many of the best European varieties. The time is not far distant when Rogue River grapes and wine will be known in all the markets and command top prices. As to prolificness and early bearing the vines of this section are hard to beat. T. C. Norris has on exhibition at his store a four-inch section of a twig from a Tokay vine, two years old from the cutting, that contains two bunches of grapes that weigh above four pounds. These grapes are from a 15-acre vineyard near Jacksonville of assorted varieties, all of which are equally as fine. This vineyard together with 25 additional acres of land, containing good buildings, will be sold by Mr. Norris for $1000. The reason for this bargain is that the owner has business to look after and has put his vineyard and land at a price that will make it sell at once.
Jacksonville Sentinel, October 16, 1903, page 2
The growth of the fruit industry in the Rogue River Valley is one of the factors which will make a steady and growing demand for boxes. The climatic and soil conditions are extremely favorable for the growth of apples and pears. J. D. Olwell, of Central Point, of the well-known firm of Olwell Bros., fruit growers, gave The Timberman recently some interesting figures regarding the future of the fruit business in the Rogue River Valley, of which Medford is the center. "Seven to eight years ago, fruit growing was commenced in a commercial way. At the present time there are probably from seven to eight thousand acres in orchard. The increase in fruit acreage is about 1500 acres yearly, probably more than less. It takes the trees about seven years to come into bearing. At the end of this period the trees should produce five boxes per tree, and more with age. Sixty trees are planted to an acre, requiring 300 boxes to the acre. In the early orchards the trees were planted closer, which was found to be a mistake. In our old orchard we are cutting down every alternate row. The principal varieties of apples grown are the Newtown Pippin and Spitzenburg. Our apples find a ready market in the large eastern cities, and in England. The Oregon Newtown Pippin attains its highest perfection here on Rogue River, the elevation being about 1400 feet. In a small section near Watsonville, Cal., some Newtown Pippins are grown at an elevation about six feet above sea level. This fruit brings about 40 percent less than the Oregon product. There is also a small section in Virginia, where Pippins are grown, which comprises the available area for the production of this particular variety of the apple family. In pears the Bartlett, Comice and Basque are the leading varieties grown. There is in my judgment no danger of the fruit business being overdone on Rogue River, as the markets keep constantly increasing. The profits in the business are good, with intelligent management. It is safe to figure on 25 percent of net returns on the investment."
"Southern Oregon," The Columbia River and Oregon Timberman, April 1904, page 20
WHAT AN OREGON GROWER HAS DONE WITH COMICE.
Hon. J. W. Perkins, of Jackson County, Oregon, says the Oregon Agriculturist, last year grew and shipped a carload of Comice pears to New York City, where they were sold at auction for $3,429, which broke all known records for price on that quantity of pears. This year, however, that record was again broken by the sale of another car of Mr. Perkins' Comice pears for $3,450. On the former car the net amount received by Mr. Perkins was $2,700.70, and on the latter car, $2,707. Mr. Perkins has an orchard of 200 acres on the foothills about two miles from Medford. He was recently interviewed by the Telegram, and we quote what he said about these pears and their production as follows:
"The Comice with which I won the record for high price is a French pear, and is but little known. The grafts for my trees came from the original trees, being brought from France by the late A. Block, the 'pear king' of California. My trees are without question the original true variety of the Comice, being only once removed from the original French stock.
"This pear has a wonderful flavor and is spoken of as the 'concentrated triple extract of pear,' and everyone who has eaten his first Comice will admit that never before had he realized what a real pear was. Its texture is smooth, like banana or butter, so that it veritably melts in the mouth, and is very juicy.
"When the trees are properly cultivated and thinned the fruit attains a large size without losing any of its flavor or becoming coarse in texture. In other words, it maintains its quality as well as its size, which combination has been the means of our getting $5 a box for them.
"This year's crop packed out from 35 to 40 pears to the half box, of 70 to 80 to the full box of 50 pounds. Last year's carload was the first half-box packing ever shipped out of the state. These pears are packed in lithograph labels, lithograph top-mats and lace borders. The boxes are made of clear lumber. This is a very expensive way of packing fruit, but so successful that all the large fruit growers in the Rogue Rogue Valley have adopted the plan, so that the fanciest fruits that we ship are given the fanciest pack regardless of cost, and we have all found that the returns have justified it.
"Our section of country lies in the climatic belt between California and northern Oregon, having features of both, a longer rainy season than California and with it a longer dry or sunny season than northern Oregon, elements which make the conditions for fancy fruit-growing ideal. Our land is unirrigated, the soil being the grade commonly called 'sticky,' really a very rich grade of adobe. For pears we do not need irrigation, for we have been able to carry off all honors without it, but for apple growing we need more water if we are to compete with the market conditions as they now exist, where size and color are the two requirements for fancy prices."
Pacific Rural Press, December 1, 1906, page 340
Fruit Industry Gains in Importance.--Over 200,000 Trees in Thirteen Months.--
Facts for the Skeptic To Consider.--One Order for Thirty Thousand Trees.
L. E. Hoover, local representative of the firm of J. H. Settlemier & Son, proprietors of the Woodburn Nursery, called at our office Monday and gave us the pleasure of a lengthy conversation on the fruit industry of Rogue River Valley.
Mr. Hoover has been doing business for the above-named firm for a number of years, representing them in Northern California and Southern Oregon, but the fruit industry has so increased in this valley that he seldom goes outside of Jackson County. The Woodburn Nursery has been doing business for forty-four years and has 300 acres of ground for nursery purposes. Ninety percent of orchards in Rogue River Valley are planted in trees from this well-known nursery, and the question now is not one of selling trees, but of getting them to the orchardmen in time to save the reputation of the company.
During the year 1906 and the few months of the present year, Mr. Hoover has taken orders in the valley for about two hundred thousand trees. One shipment alone, made to the Western Oregon Orchard Co., amounted to thirty thousand trees. Besides this large order, there were several smaller ones, running into the thousands, the names of the purchasers being as follows: Col. R. C. Washburn, Dr. T. C. Page, Geo. A. Morris, I. C. Bradshaw, Fitzgerald Bros., R. M. Stockard, Geo. W. Taylor, Fish Lake Water Co., Phipps Bros., John R. Morgan, Geo. M. Anderson, Bates Bros. and Iseman Bros. of Grants Pass. The nursery firm has purchased a tract of land near Central Point and will set 60 acres in trees in the near future. One may understand the strides that are being made in horticulture when they have read these facts, and still better when they are informed that Mr. Hoover has two men at Ashland taking orders for him. This may sound like an advertisement for the nursery company, but it is a better advertisement for our valley, for it shows that our soil and climate are adapted to horticulture, else these large sales would not be made.
There are some who are skeptical of the fruit industry of Rogue River Valley, and this because they do not take the pains to read and otherwise inquire into the past and present of the orchards that stretch away on every hand and dot our fair valley from one end to the other. There are facts beyond number to confirm the statement that horticulture in the Valley of the Rogue is a permanent asset and one that will make known to the civilized world the exceptional richness of this section, if it has not done so already. The large shipments of apples and other fruits from this valley and the sale thereof at prices unexceeded by the products of other sections adapted to horticulture have worked marvels in attracting the attention of the world to our nature-favored section. When apples can be shipped from Medford to Chicago and sold for $1 a dozen, or to New York, where they have been sold for $3 a dozen, there is certainly something of quality in them of which we may be imbued with confidence for future success. There are men today in business in Medford who obtained their capital from the sale of Rogue River apples, and others who made their start in the orchards [but] quit it to engage in other pursuits, and are now back on the fruit ranch, finding it more remunerative and pleasurable and attended by less risk for the capital invested. Men who cut down their apple trees a few years ago have replanted, and men who sold their orchards have purchased others after noting their mistake. One man who thought there was no money in apples was made sorry that he sold his orchard of some twenty-five acres because the man to whom he sold paid for the land from the proceeds of the fruit on the trees at the time the orchard was sold.
These are not all the cases to which we could cite those who have no faith in the fruit-raising industry of Rogue River Valley; there are hundreds of others, and we shall mention some of them in the future, when the opportunity presents itself.
Medford Mail, March 1, 1907, page 1
Life of the Orchardist in the Rogue River ValleyH. B. Tronson, of Eagle Point, in the Rogue River Valley, is in the city for the holidays, and when questioned as to how he likes the simple life as known to the fruitgrower in the mountain valleys of Oregon, states that he fancies it far more than he ever dreamed possible.
Appeals to H. B. Tronson
Aside from the charm of the occupation itself, despite the hard work and close attention necessary to secure success, the fact of the security of investment in fruit lands, the feeling in times such as have made life troublous and stormy to bankers and merchants during the last few weeks, the feeling that whatever betides the rest of the world, the fruitgrower is on easy street if he but grows the right kind of fruit and puts it on the market in the right shape, makes life worth living in this business.
Then, too, having selected the most picturesque of their three orchards purchased in the Rogue River Valley as a place of residence, and having had a nice bungalow built after their own designs, Tronson and his partner, Mr. Guthrie, now feel as if they were established for life amid lovely surroundings and in a line of business which, the longer and more fully one comes in touch with it, appeals to the man of refinement as being worthy of his best energies.
Messrs. Tronson & Guthrie own the noted Daley orchard at Eagle Point, the Spitzenburgs from which stand second to none which go into the New York markets. They also own a young orchard of Newtown pippins and Spitzenburg apples on the shores of Bear Creek, opposite Central Point, in what is probably the most productive fruit section of Southern Oregon. A third orchard, situated on the slope of "Coker Butte," east of Medford, engrosses a portion of their time, being composed of apples and pears, a good portion of same being already in bearing.
To a man fond of fishing and hunting, the life amid the hills and streams of the Rogue River country is especially attractive, Mr. Tronson says, and he often spends the night on the banks of Rogue River, one of the finest fishing streams of the West, in company with congenial friends, and always returns home with a good string of trout, some of them being of immense size, by the way. This form of recreation, with a gunning trip in the hills at times, where quail, pheasants and grouse are abundant, with a genuine outing in the late summer, when Crater Lake and Huckleberry Mountain are the drawing cards, give zest to the life of the ranch and add to the healthfulness of the occupation.
Messrs. Tronson and Guthrie aver, that if their orchards come anywhere near yielding such crops as were garnered in many of the orchards in full bearing in this valley during the present season, they will consider themselves as being compensated in full for their labors of today when their orchards are just in course of development. In the Eagle Point orchard, profiting by the experience of the former owner, they set largely of the Spitzenburg apple in their planting of the present year, and met with unexpected success, losing but half a dozen trees of some 1500 set, and the way those trees shot heavenward was a caution, some of them making no less than seven feet of growth the first season.
Not the least encouraging feature of the business is the great advance in values which is the direct result of the immense yields of the last two seasons in this valley. But a short time ago the best the young orchards here could be bought for but little more than the cost of good raw land. Now, however, with the growers uniformly in touch with the world's markets, and with the fact of values being fixed by the producing capacity of the land, the best of the young orchards are valued at something like their actual value. It is hard to place a value on land which will bring in returns of $1000 per acre, as has been done in numerous instances in the Rogue River Valley this year, and it is still possible to buy orchards for $400 to $500 per acre, which all know will occasionally bring in fabulous returns when in full bearing. There is a disposition to be satisfied with smaller holdings than formerly among persons seeking fruit farms, owing to it having been demonstrated that the small orchard, properly handled, is undoubtedly more profitable than the large holdings, proportionately. So much depends on the quality of the fruit sent forward in determining prices, that the advantage is with the small grower, who personally superintends every detail. Everything connected with horticulture is an engrossing and fascinating study, and the man who gives it his undivided attention is sure to make it a success, is the opinion of Mr. Tronson.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, December 22, 1907, page C3
Many years ago the fruit industry as it existed in the East began slowly to extend to the Coast. It spread into new and undeveloped regions, and accordingly, about twenty-two years ago, the production of commercial fruits in Rogue River Valley began, though there were home orchards set as early as fifty years ago. Only one of these was of any appreciable size, this being a ten-acre tract owned by Mr. E. K. Anderson of Talent. Also James Vannoy, near Grants Pass, in Josephine County, had an orchard of about eight acres. There being no railroad, there was no market for the products of these orchards, hence they were given freely to the less fortunate neighbors.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMMERCIAL FRUIT GROWING IN JACKSON COUNTY.
It was in the year 1883-4 that the road now known as the Southern Pacific was completed, thus furnishing railway facilities to Portland and San Francisco. Notwithstanding the fact that fruit buyers came into the valley from California [the first fruit buyer known to operate in the Rogue Valley was F. H. Page, from Portland], and bought the fruit and shipped it East as California-grown fruit, these two men above mentioned made neat little fortunes from their orchards. Thus the Anderson and Vannoy orchards were the factors in the commencement of the apple and pear industry in Rogue River Valley.
At that time the so-called father of the fruit industry of Jackson County, Mr. J. H. Stewart, who came to Medford from an eastern fruit district, and understood the possibilities of that enterprise, foresaw a great future for the valley, and accordingly, in 1885, he planted quite a large acreage of apples and pears, the former being largely of the Ben Davis variety. He cared for the trees according to his own ideas, and that orchard stands today as an example of one having always been well cared for. His methods, especially those of pruning, were followed by all the men who set orchards during the few years immediately following, and soon extended to the various other portions of the state where commercial fruitgrowing was attracting attention, the railroad making such an advance possible. It was he who so strongly advocated the industry and who so freely explained the methods of carrying on the work. Thus it was this promoter who first gave the impetus resulting in the large planting in Jackson County.
THE GROWTH AND DECLINE OF PRUNE GROWING.--It was between fifteen and twenty years ago, when the interest taken in the growing of prunes in California extended to Oregon, that a large area was set in prunes along the Coast. At that time very good prices were realized for this product, making it a very profitable business. It being a fruit used almost entirely for cooking and canning purposes, the market was soon overcrowded and the price lowered until prunes came to be of very little value. No more plantings were made, and finally the trees already set were being taken out. Thus, after a few flourishing years, the prune industry began a decline. Now, although there are over 15,600 trees, principally Petite, being cared for, prune growing is at a standstill. Although the prune outlook is more favorable at the present time, and prices continue to rise, there is so much more to be realized from the production of apples and pears, it is probable that there will be very few prune plantings in Jackson County in the years of the near future.
RECENT DEVELOPMENT OF PEAR PRODUCTION IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--The commercial production of pears in Jackson County began at the same time as that of apples. They being a more perishable fruit, and transportation facilities not being as efficient as at present, there was not so great a demand for this kind of fruit as for apples. The market has developed wonderfully, however, the last few years, and since 1902 there have been about 109,500 pear trees set out in the county, that being about 77 percent of the total number of pear trees in the valley. Notwithstanding this enormous growth, higher prices were received for pears this year than ever before, a lot of Comice being sold in New York City for $9.20 per box. Rogue River Valley enjoys the distinction of being the greatest pear-producing district in the Pacific Northwest. Apples of as good quality as those of Jackson County may be produced elsewhere, but it is admitted that the flavor and keeping quality of the Rogue River pears have not been duplicated in any other fruit-producing country. There have been larger areas, respectively, of Comice, Bartlett, and Bosc, than of any of the other varieties. It is due to the fact that there is such a large demand for Comice that there has been the stride in the planting of this variety. The Comice is undoubtedly a very favorable pear, but the cause of the demand for Comice being so much greater than that for other varieties, as the Bartlett, is that it is a comparatively new commercial variety, is a shy bearer, and the supply on the market has been limited. But it is a question whether or not they are on the whole as profitable as some of the other leading varieties. In fact, the relative planting show that a plurality still favors the long-tried Bartlett, and it is safe to say that of the money-makers, that variety stands at the head of the list. Although the D'Anjou is only fifth in total acreage, that variety is rapidly gaining favor, and from a close observation of various orchards we would well recommend it as a very desirable pear for future planting.
C. I. Lewis, S. L. Bennett and C. C. Vincent, "Orchard Survey of Jackson County," Oregon Agricultural College Bulletin No. 101, October 1908, page 4
THE HISTORY OF OREGON FRUIT
The first apple trees planted in Oregon were from seed that had been planted at Fort Vancouver in 1825 by Dr. John McLoughlin. The seeds were brought from England.
The evergreen blackberry was brought to Oregon in the early '50s from Hawaii, its native home. This blackberry has found conditions so favorable to its growth in Oregon that it has practically become indigenous to the country, and now grows wild in patches of hundreds of acres in the burned-over districts in the Coast counties.
The first nursery was started at Milwaukie in 1848 by Seth Lewelling and Stephen Meek, who hauled the trees in wagons across the plains from Iowa.
The first orchard of grafted trees was planted at Milwaukie in 1848 by Henderson Lewelling, and was made of apples, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, cherries, grapes and berries that had been hauled in wagons across the plains by Mr. Lewelling from Iowa.
In 1850 three more nurseries were started in Oregon, at Butteville by Mr. Ladd, at Oregon City by George Settlemeier and at Salem.
The Black Republican, Lewelling and Bing cherries were originated by Seth Lewelling in his nursery at Milwaukie. As to the naming of these cherries Mr. Lewelling named one of them Black Republican to emphasize the fact that he was a strong Republican in politics and was called by his pro-slavery neighbors a black Republican. He named the Bing in honor of a faithful old Chinaman, who had worked for him for several years and had proved himself a skilled horticulturist in the work of propagating new varieties of fruit. The Lewelling was named by friends of Mr. Lewelling in recognition of his work in developing new and more valuable varieties of fruit.
The Golden prune was originated by J. H. Lambert, who had a small nursery and a fine orchard at Milwaukie.
In 1858 Seth Lewelling set the first large prune orchard, five acres, on his farm adjoining Milwaukie.
The Italian prune was introduced into Oregon in 1857 by Henry Miller, of Portland, who got from the East scions and grafted them on bearing plum trees.
To Dr. J. R. Cardwell, of Portland, is due the credit of planting the first large commercial prune orchard in Oregon. This orchard was planted between the years 1871 and 1881 and was located at Dr. Cardwell's country home at Hillsdale on the West Side railroad from Portland.
The pioneer fruit growers even excelled the Rogue River growers of today in the record prices that they got for their fruit. The first box of Newtown apples sold in Portland brought $75. They were grown by Henderson Lewelling in his orchard at Milwaukie. In 1856 three boxes of Winesap apples were sold in Portland for $102.
In 1853 Oregon apples sold in San Francisco for $2.50 a pound. In 1854 a shipment of 500 bushels of apples to San Francisco netted the shipper a profit of $1.50 to $2.00 per pound.
In 1855 there were shipped to San Francisco 6000 boxes of apples, selling for $20 to $30 per box. In 1856 the apple shipments to California amounted to 20,000 boxes. A box of Spitzenburg apples sold in San Francisco in 1856 so as to net the Oregon shipper $60.
From 1856 to 1869 during each fall and winter the apple shipments from Oregon to San Francisco averaged 9000 boxes per month. The shipping was all by steamer, as there was no railroad between Oregon and California.--The Rogue River Valley Fruit Grower.
Medford Mail, March 5, 1909, page 3 This article was printed in the January 1909 issue of the Rogue River Fruit Grower.
FIRST ORCHARDS IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY
Anderson Grove at Talent and Vannoy Grove at Grants Pass the Only Producers.
In the year 1883-4 the Oregon and California railway completed the building of its line south of Roseburg through the Rogue River Valley south to Redding, Cal., says Horticultural Commissioner A. H. Carson in his report just published. [The line was completed south to Ashland in 1884, but didn't cross the Siskiyous until 1887.] This gave the Rogue River Valley railway facilities north to Portland, Or. and south to San Francisco. Prior to the completion of this railroad, now known as a part of the Southern Pacific, the horticultural development of the Rogue River Valley was of a primitive character. Apples, pears, grapes and other fruits were grown by the pioneer settlers only for home use.
The only orchards of any size in the Rogue River Valley were the apple and pear orchards of E. K. Anderson of Talent, in Jackson County, of about ten acres, and the apple orchard of James Vannoy, four miles and a half west of Grants Pass, to Josephine County, containing about eight acres. There was no market for the apples and pears grown in these two orchards, and the surplus not required by the owners was freely given away to pioneer neighbors, who were without fruit.
When the railroad was completed, apple and pear buyers came into the Rogue River Valley from California and bought the surplus fruit from these two orchards, packing the apples and pears with their expert Chinese packers, and shipped the same south and east as California-grown fruits. Oregon, or the Rogue River Valley, at that time received no credit for her apples or pears in the eastern markets. Every box was shipped branded as California grown.
It is a fact well known here that the Anderson and Vannoy orchards, which were in their prime in 1883-4--the time of the building of the railroad--made both of these pioneers rich, as the demand created by transportation possibilities created high prices for the products of these two orchards.
It is correct to say that the Anderson and Vannoy orchards were the prime factors that started commercial apple and pear growing in the Rogue River Valley, which at the present time has reached an acreage that E. K. Anderson and James Vannoy never dreamed of when they planted their orchards in the early pioneer days of the fifties.
Medford Daily Tribune, May 1, 1909, page 2
ENORMOUS WEALTH OF ROGUE RIVER ORCHARDSIf Aladdin had rubbed the chimney of his magic lamp in modern times he could have caused no greater changes than those which have taken place in the Rogue River Valley during the past few years. From a partly desolate land of alternating meadows and mountains, marked here and there by a miner's cabin or Rogue River Indian village, the valley has become one of the garden spots of the world, sending its luscious fruit into all quarters of the globe. On every hand in place of the unkempt meadows and timbered uplands now stretch well-tended, clodless orchards, surrounding neatly painted homes, barns and packing-houses, all signs of the habitation of happy, prosperous, industrious men.
Rough Land That Has Been Made to Produce $1000 a Year; History of Pear and Apple Orchards, Costing Little Except Labor, Which Made Their Owners Rich; Record of Several Individual Enterprises in Horticulture
BY ARTHUR M. GEARY
* * *It was only in 1884 that the Oregon and California Railroad (now Southern Pacific) built its line down through this region, and the real growth of the country did not begin until long after transportation facilities materialized. True, during the boom which immediately followed the coming of the railroad, such men as J. H. Stewart, of Medford, and later the Carter Brothers of Ashland laid the foundation of the fruit industry. But the time was not yet ripe, the boom was short lived and the valley passed into nearly two decades of peaceful slumber.
It was only five years ago that the Rogue River pears and apples began to to be known in the world markets on account of their fine flavor and rare keeping qualities. Then the good prices for the fruit came, and the real throb of life was instilled into the valley. The old settlers found that they had a fortune in their bearing orchards and set out more trees. Capital and homeseekers were attracted to the locality and straightaway land prices began to double. The people could not realize the true value of their orchards, and many of the oldtimers sold out to eastern tenderfeet at what they considered fancy prices only to see the buyers pay for their orchards out of the first two or three crops and then sell at twice the former figure to other easterners who would repeat the performance. On account of orchard land being so cheap in proportion to the returns a vast number of fortunes have been quickly made, and a large proportion of the inhabitants of Southern Oregon now possess property worth from $50,000 to $300,000.
* * *The people who made fortunes out of the fruit industry may be divided into three classes: first, the early settler who by the sweat of his brow made his orchard in the meantime supporting himself by diversified farming; second, the tradesman who plying a business in the town developed an orchard from his net earnings, and third, the capitalist who more recently has been reaping rich returns from his investments in fruit lands.
A type of the successful orchardist who has made his way by being first on the ground and sticking to it through thick and thin is John G. Gore, the owner of the heaviest-bearing Bartlett pear orchard in the valley. His orchard, seven acres in extent, is situated on the heavy black loam of Bear Creek bottom and is irrigated by means of a gas engine pump from Bear Creek. The orchard is part of the donation claim taken up by Emerson E. Gore, the father of John Gore, in 1852, the trees being set out by the old gentleman in 1888. The father at the time of the building of the railroad in 1884 had a three-acre orchard which during the railroad boom brought him big dividends. This led him to plant his new orchard. It was remarkable the judgment with which the varieties for the new orchard were selected. The block of apples consisted of the Yellow Newtown, Spitzenburg and Baldwin, while seven acres was planted solid to Bartlett pears. Every one of these varieties has since then proven itself good, and the son is now reaping the benefit of his father's wise selection.
During the '80s the Gores' 3-acre tract of trees became infected with San Jose scale. As the old pioneer tells, "We did not know of sprays in those days, and when the San Jose scale infected my apple trees I dug them up, for I would not raise diseased fruit." Although with the knowledge of the spray such an action is no longer necessary, it was this spirit which made Rogue River Valley what it is, one of the cleanest fruit-growing sections of the world.
* * *The seven-acre Bartlett pear orchard now brings a princely income to its owner, the seven carloads shipped in 1907 bringing returns amounting to over a thousand dollars an acre. Last year the prices paid for pears were emphatically off color, but even then Mr. Gore's returns from his Bartletts amounted to $645 an acre. This year the prices are good and his harvest is enormous, filling ten cars.
Mr. Gore has worked hard and used much originality in the care of his orchard and well deserves his present success. It was he who introduced smudging in the Rogue River Valley, saving his crop from the heavy frosts in the spring of 1908. His system is to build wood fires between every four trees. This, of course, takes a great deal of labor, especially if the cold snap is at all prolonged.
Mr. Gore's methods in taking care of his orchard are original, many of them entirely at variance with scientific fruit growing. Instead of keeping the center of the tree open, he packs it full of pears. Thus by keeping his fruit-bearing limbs close to the tree instead of long and tapering, he is able to put more fruit upon them without fear of breaking the limbs. Mr. Gore does not thin to gain in size; his heavy black loam and plentiful water supply make this unnecessary. He thins just enough to keep his trees from breaking down. As stated his methods are not such as can be applied to the ordinary orchard, but the load that Mr. Gore packs into his trees is astonishing and is one of the sights that makes the eastern visitors gasp.
* * *Mr. Gore describes his method of irrigating thus: "I try to supply at each irrigation an amount of water equal to a good rain. I do not believe in drenching my orchard nor in applying water too frequently. I have noticed certain seasons in which the fruit throughout the valley was of good size, and from these good years I have learned the proper time to water. A rain in the early part of June spoils the hay, but makes the fruit. If this rain does not come I supply the necessary moisture by irrigation. Rains in the forepart of July and August also have always benefited the fruit, and at these times I again irrigate my orchard if the necessary moisture is not forthcoming from natural sources. I have been irrigating my trees for four years and find that double crops can be gained by the limited use of water."
The Bates brothers, William and James, for 15 years barbers in Medford, are fine representatives of the second class of fortune gainers. These men with their father, J. T. Bates, arrived in Medford entirely without means. But the sons had their trade and soon were earning good weekly wages. Different from most barbers, the Bates brothers were ambitious, saved their money, and instead of letting what they heard from the men they shaved pass in one ear and out the other, they retained and digested it. J. H. Stewart, the father of the fruit industry in Southern Oregon, was one of the men they came daily in contact with in the pursuance of their calling. He convinced them of the fortune to be made in the fruit industry. As luck would have it their father, J. T. Bates, was an experienced fruit man, having owned an orchard near Eldon, Ia., until the poor crop from the cold blizzards of that country broke him up in business. In 1900 the Bates boys were able to borrow enough money to buy a $2000 ranch, 115 acres in extent, three miles east of Medford. On the ranch they placed their father as superintendent and then with a vim entered into their eight-year campaign of development. The land was covered with chaparral and manzanita brush and scrub oak. This must be cleared, trees must be planted and the young orchard need be cultivated, pruned and sprayed. This farm formed a savings bank for the weekly earnings of the Bates brothers and kept them frugal and industrious in their habits. But the eight years' grind is over now, and although the sons keep on barbering it is from force of habit and not from need, as their orchard has come into bearing and with another year will bring an income worthy of the care that the father has expended upon it. Eight years ago the ranch, as stated, was bought for $2000; now, with a great deal of coaxing, the Bates orchard might be bought for $100,000.
* * *It is to the venturesome spirit of Dr. E. B. Pickel, a well-known physician of Southern Oregon, that the people of the Rogue River Valley owe the opening up to the planting of orchards of the large tract of land known as Big Sticky, however, better known among those familiar with the locality by several unmentionable aliases.
In winter the roads through this district are impassable to a wagon. Even in a light buggy a driver must get out every few rods and knock the mud off the wheels with a club. To work this land as an orchard needs to be worked was considered impossible, and there was little belief that the land would ever grow trees. In fact grave doubts were expressed as to Dr. Pickel's mental arrangement when he, in the season of 1905, set out 8,000 trees, covering 140 acres. But when he followed this up by planting 4,000 more trees the next year it was freely predicted that Dr. Pickel was heading for the wall. Little did anyone, even the doctor, think that three years after the first planting the orchard would be sold at a profit of nearly $100,000.
The story of Dr. Pickel's buy on Big Sticky reads like a fairy tale. It appears that the doctor and his wife had nearly completed plans for a trip abroad, but through the influence of Dr. Van Dyke, of Grants Pass, they became interested in orchard land and decided that if a suitable buy offered itself they would take it and postpone the trip abroad. One day Dr. Pickel was called on a case over into the Big Sticky district and his driver, who was familiar with the country, pointed out the Bush ranch of 161 acres which was about to be foreclosed by the state for the interest on money borrowed from the school land fund. Next to it was the Smith ranch of 240 acres which the driver said could be bought for $4000. Right then and there, Dr. Pickel forgot all his desires to see the cathedrals and art galleries of the old world. Instead he bought both farms, paying $6500 for the 401 acres.
The trees set out on the 401 Ranch, as the orchard was called, grew fine, despite the dismal predictions. The soil was even found workable if handled at the right time and in the right way. The second year Dr. Pickel bought 160 more acres, but the farm was still known as the 401 Ranch. Last spring, feeling that the undertaking was too great for a single man to handle, the doctor sold out to a stock company for $110,000. The land, the trees, the improvements and the labor expended cost Dr. Pickel $35,000, leaving the difference as a handsome profit on a three-years' investment. The doctor has since then bought another place which he is developing. Now, nearly the whole of Big Sticky is being set out or has been set out to orchard.
* * *Hunt Lewis, Walter F. Burrell and Captain Gordon Voorhies, all of Portland; Dr. Page, R. H. Parsons and C. E. Whisler, from the East, are representative of that class of moneyed men who, during the past several years, have gathered rich returns from investments in Rogue River fruit lands. Hunt Lewis, in 1902, bought the famous Bear Creek Orchard of 200 acres from Weeks & Orr, for $35,000. Strange to say, the people at that time thought Hunt Lewis had much the worse of the bargain. From the 85 acres of bearing orchard Mr. Lewis took off gigantic crops, averaging in receipts $1000 an acre, during the good years. In the summer of 1908 Hunt Lewis sold to a company composed of John D. Olwell, C. E. Whisler, Clarke & Meyers, for $160,000. These men now hold the property at $250,000, and judging from the returns expected from this year's crop, that figure is a reasonable one. Fifteen carloads have already been shipped from the 21 acres or Bartlett pears, and the picking is not yet completed.
* * *The Burrell Investment Company, which has 600 acres in trees and nearly 200 acres of the tract in bearing, is composed of Portland capitalists. Captain George Voorhies bought 152 acres from J. H. Stewart in 1900 for $22,000. This piece of land contained some of the oldest pear trees in the valley, which, in the banner fruit year of 1907, yielded $2000 worth of pears to the acre. After a few years Captain Voorhies turned his interests over to the Burrell Investment Company, which is now the largest single fruit grower in Southern Oregon.
One of the prettiest apple and pear orchards in the valley is the Hillcrest, four miles east of Medford, which was sold by Will Stewart in 1905 to J. W. Perkins for $22,000, by whom in July, 1908, it was resold for $75,000 to a stock company, in which the majority of shares was held by R. H. Parsons, of Seattle. This year the Hillcrest Company counts on a $35,000 crop, as its trees are loaded to the limit.
Medford, Or., September 1.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, September 5, 1909, page F2
WILL PLANT MILLION TREES
Larger Acreage Than Ever Before Will Be Set Out This Fall--
Sixty-Five Percent Are Pears.
Sales made by nurserymen and estimates by Horticultural Inspector Taylor show that over a million trees have already been contracted for planting in the Rogue River Valley this winter, that a larger acreage than ever before will be set out to choice varieties of fruit, and that the inability to obtain sufficient nursery stock of the right variety alone limits the new fruit area.
Of these million trees, approximately 65 percent are pears, with Bartlett in the lead, D'Anjou, Winter Nelis and Comice following in the order named. Thirty percent are apples, with Newtowns and Spitzenburg leading, with Jonathan, Winesaps and a scattering of other varieties, and 5 percent peaches. There will also be considerable acreage planted to grapes and some to cherries, apricots and plums.
Probably 10 percent of the new trees will be used in replanting, leaving the estimated new orchard 12,000 acres. As the planting season has just commenced, it is safe to figure that 15,000 acres of new orchard will be planted this season, bringing the orchard area of the Rogue River Valley to a total of 65,000 acres.
This is the first year that there has been an extensive planting of large tracts for subdivision into five- and ten-acre tracts for sale on the installment plan.
Among the larger orders already placed for this purpose are those of the Oregon Orchards Syndicate, who will set out 8000 trees in Crestbrook; the Glen Rogue Orchards, who will plant 7000 trees on their tract near Jacksonville; the Palmer Investment Co., who will plant 7000 trees on Modoc Orchard; Ray Bros., who will set out 10,000 trees on the Orchard Home tract, near Tolo.
"There will be the heaviest planting this year in the history of the valley," stated N. S. Bennett, the nurseryman, "and if sufficient stock could be secured, probably double the acreage of previous years would be set out. All nurserymen report increased sales, and I know mine have almost trebled."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 28, 1909, page 1
SOUTHERN OREGON APPLE GROWERS—It is a somewhat significant fact that the Rogue River Valley in Oregon, where the writer has resided for the past twenty-six years, owes its present position in the world's fruit trade largely to the good judgment and horticultural knowledge of a veteran in horticulture from the State of Illinois. There is no better illustration than his experience furnishes that methods of culture and selection of varieties must conform to local conditions. From the day when Hon. J. H. Stewart, now deceased, first saw upon the banquet tables of the Pioneer Association, assembled in annual reunion at Jacksonville, Oregon, a finer display of prime apples than he had ever seen at a state fair in the Mississippi Valley, he became a staunch advocate of commercial fruit culture in southern Oregon. Urging upon his neighbors in the [middle] eighties, before as yet the transportation was provided, the necessity of preparing to supply the Eastern demand for such choice fruit, he himself planted more than one hundred acres of apples and pears, fortunately including a good proportion of yellow Newtown pippins and Bartlett pears. Unfortunately, as usually happens when horticulture is in the experimental stage in a new district, many varieties were set which later proved not to be good commercial kinds, although yielding good crops. At that time there were many small family orchards scattered through the valley, affording a demonstration of what varieties were best adapted to the soil and conditions. A favorite among the early settlers, and found everywhere throughout the valley, was the Esopus Spitzenburg. Prior to the advent of the railroad, there were practically no fruit pests. The codling moth did not make its appearance until about 1890, closely followed by the San Jose scale. With the scale, those thrifty old family orchards became a matter of history. No effort was made to save them, and for a time even the commercial orchards seemed to be doomed. When the first salt-lime-and-sulphur formula was introduced, even applied with the crude man-power sprayers then on the market, it was apparent that science had triumphed over the pest. When gasoline power was used, and the first gasoline engine used for this purpose was equipped and used in a Rogue River apple orchard, very effective work was done in spraying, and each year has seen an advance in methods and a wonderful growth in acreage of orchards in the valley, until today there are no less than fifty thousand acres of apples and pears planted and approaching maturity in the valley.
"ROGUES" IN NAME ONLY.
By Wm. M. Holmes, Medford, Oregon.
Today the major portion of the apple trees planted each year in this district are of the yellow Newtown and Spitzenburg varieties. Since the first shipments were made directly from the grower to the distributing firms in London, the English trade has shown a decided preference for the Newtowns from this valley, and since the year 1900, when the grower first came in direct touch with the market here, the price has been uniformly good, car consignments frequently averaging three dollars per fifty-pound box, free on cars at shipping station. Until within three years there was the same effort made by the grower to excel in size of individual Newtown Pippins that still distinguishes the demands of the American red apple trade. It became evident, however, that the more conservative Englishman finds the four-tier, or 128 to the box, size more to his liking than the abnormally large apples, and that is the type most sought for at present. The tree is hardy, vigorous, and very productive in this section, and the smaller sizes being most in demand, the labor and expense of thinning the fruit of this variety is reduced to the minimum. The tree is allowed to bear to the limit, and in case of an unusually dry summer, if water is available, two moderate irrigatings are given the trees. Irrigation is not here considered essential, and yet all concede that it adds immensely to the yield of all apple trees, especially those over fifteen years of age. It will be resorted to much more in future than in the past, for as yet the bulk of the orchards in the valley are young.
Oregon prides herself especially upon her "red" apples. And yet the best of all the red apples, and the one best adapted to Oregon conditions, the Spitzenburg, has not proven nearly so profitable as the Newtown in the orchards of southern Oregon. Nor can it adapt itself so well to all soils, ranging from the volcanic ash to the black adobe, in all of which the Newtown thrives. When the conditions of soil are just right for the Spitzenburg, however, that blend of alluvium or sediment soil with the wash from the foothills, on which was produced the car lot of Spitzenburgs which in November last won the capital prize at the Spokane apple show, no other district on earth can surpass the Rogue River Valley in its production. The orchard which this year won for its owner the crown of an "Apple King" has produced car after car of just as fine apples in the past, but awaited the sagacity of the man who knows and the man who had the enterprise to enter the contest to win plaudits from ocean to ocean. Through the medium of the writer, the present owners purchased this orchard in 1906, men entirely without experience in horticulture, and it is sufficient to say that they have deserved all the success they have obtained in winning this world's prize, for they have applied good, hard business sense to the management of their orchard, and there is no better in the best district in the Northwest.
The close student of the markets knows that in the immediate future other varieties of apples will be planted largely in the Rogue River Valley, although today even the residents find it difficult to procure the Rome Beauties, the White Winter Pearmains, Yellow Bellefleurs, Jonathans and Ortley Pippins, which once filled their cellars for winter supply. Of these, the Rome Beauty and the Ortley will unquestionably be planted in a commercial way, on account of their uniformly high quality and productiveness. The Jonathan and the Stayman Winesap will also divide honors with the Spitzenburg for both are productive, very precocious in bearing, and much hardier than the Spitz. It is even predicted that in certain locations in a few years blocks of Ben Davis will be set, for that old standby is holding its own in productiveness, and with all its inferior quality, there are orchards in the Rogue River Valley of this fruit which are almost as good yielders in dollars as the choicer fruits.
In setting an apple orchard in this valley it is the uniform practice to use yearling nursery stock, and many prefer the medium sizes to the overgrown stock which was once in greatest demand. It is preferable to set on land which has been in cultivation for some years, and many of the most flourishing .young orchards are growing on land which had been "farmed to death" in the days of wheat production. While the apple itself is a shallow-rooted tree, it finds the elements it wants in the subsoil below the level robbed in grain culture through former years. Thorough preparation of the soil, often with subsoiling at least the tree row, is practiced and after setting the land between the rows of trees is either cultivated with spring-tooth harrows, extension tools and weed cutters, or planted to corn, potatoes or other hoed crops, and at times set to berries. Berries, however, require irrigation to be successfully handled, and our growers do not, as a rule, approve of irrigation for young trees, at least not until they have grown for some years with surface cultivation. The idea is that the roots of the young trees will extend further into the subsoil without irrigation, which may or may not be the case. Corn is the great "expense crop" grown between young trees in this valley. Other varieties come into bearing younger, but if an expense crop is produced on Newtown or Spitzenburg trees the sixth year in this valley, the grower is well satisfied. Many are now resorting to peach tree fillers, to expedite returns from the orchard, and this course is now considered good management, as conditions for peach culture are very good also in this valley. The markets, too, are accommodating, the northwest coast cities growing rapidly, and the product of the different varieties of peaches produced here coming to maturity after the California crop and in advance of the Columbia peach districts. It is customary to remove these peach tree fillers at about the tenth year. Some are setting them in the apple tree-row one way only; some in the center of the square. Of course, it adds greatly to the labor of cultivation.
While it is true that with the scale and the codling moth to combat, the southern Oregon orchardist can always keep busy, yet it is also true that, aside from these two foes, apple culture in this valley is beset with less trials than in almost any other district. Young trees are afflicted with green aphis, but the tobacco mixtures are found very efficacious, and fortunately there is but little trouble with the woolly aphis. Anthracnose at one time caused some solicitude, but Bordeaux applied before the leaves drop and again later in the season not only acts as a preventive, but effects a cure if the trouble is not of long standing. Apple scab is not a menace, the long dry summers protecting from this foe to the yellow apple. Some varieties of the apple are rather susceptible to the pear blight, but with ordinary caution it is handled successfully.
The class of men who are devoting their energies to apple culture in this section is perhaps the best guarantee we have of its continued success. There are probably two thirds of the men engaged in horticulture in the Rogue River Valley who have retired from active business or professional life, drawn back to the soil by that agrarian movement which bids fair to reverse the current from the farm to the city; and but very few orchards in this valley are in the hands of tenants. There are far too many large holdings in the valley, inviting labor troubles in the future. Thus far, the output of the orchards has been easily handled, but each year for several years to come should double the number of cars shipped, and it is foreseen now that the surest provision against labor scarcity will arise from the small land holder with surplus teams and help within his own family. Many of the large orchardists at this time are enabled to compass their field work in due season by offering especial inducements to neighboring men, with teams and equipment, and this phase of the business affords the man with a family of growing boys the opportunity to develop his own small orchard and obtain the wherewithal to live and improve his tract with surplus work for others, at very remunerative figures.
The regularity of crop production is here remarkable. Four times within the last ten years good apple crops have obtained high prices, owing to the short crops in the Eastern States. This has much to do with the immense returns obtained by our orchardists each year. Late spring frosts cause some damage, but with commendable system, and with the assistance of the government pathologist now stationed at Medford, during the last season telephone alarms were sounded on critical nights, and orchard heaters and small piles of light, dry wood, ignited with kerosene, saved the crop on low ground and demonstrated the possibility of thus saving the crop every year. This work was really without the province of the pathologist, but at the solicitation of our horticulturists, and with the consent of the weather bureau officials. Mr. O'Gara very accommodatingly placed his knowledge at the disposal of the growers.
The matter of standardizing the pack of the valley has received much attention during the past year, and through the different associations of growers, it is a certainty that within another year this valley will be distinguished by as uniform pack and thorough business marketing of our product as now characterize any other district. Each year it becomes more apparent that quality and uniformity alone will bring the largest returns. (Applause.)
Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Fruit-Growers' Convention of the State of California, Watsonville, December 7, 8, 9 and 10, 1909, State Printing Office, page 21
Alfalfa is still grown in the Rogue River Valley, but the meadows are being rapidly replaced by pear and apple orchards. Last year 15,000 acres were set out to orchards in the portion of the Rogue River Valley extending from Ashland south to where the valley pinches 12 miles below Medford before again widening out into the Grants Pass district.
In this 25-mile length of valley there are now 65,000 acres set in orchards, and from this area the fame of Rogue River fruit has been given by only 2500 acres of bearing trees. Next year will probably see more than 15,000 acres additional converted into orchard lands. In the season of 1909 this portion of the Rogue River Valley shipped 500 carloads of fruit, valued at $1000 a car. It is estimated that this year 1000 carloads will be shipped, next year 2000 carloads, and the following year 3000 carloads.
In the new orchards, pears are coming more and more into favor, for as a producer of fancy pears Rogue River prides itself that it never can be beat. In apple growing it has strong competitors in the Hood River, Wenatchee and other countries. Up to this year the percentage of new orchards set to pear trees was about 50. This year it is about 65 percent.
R. G. Callvert, "Orchards Replace Great Range Area," Oregonian, Portland, May 23, 1910, page 5
ROGUE FRUIT CROP HEAVYMEDFORD, Or., May 31.--(Special.)--According to the statistics of Professor O'Gara and the Southern Pacific railroad, the Rogue River Valley will have the largest fruit crop in its history in 1912.
Valley Promises Largest Yield in Its History.
The following comparison with 1911 has been compiled:
Carloads, 1912--Pears, 150; apples, 450; peaches, 33; small fruits, 65; total, 700.
Carloads, 1911--Pears, 117; apples, 81, peaches, 10, small fruits, 3; total 211.
The largest previous crop was in 1910 when 534 cars were shipped. But for the cold and rainy weather in April and May it is computed there would have been 800 carloads, the impoverished fertilization and consequent dropping having materially decreased the output.
This increase may be largely attributed of course to the increased acreage annually coming into bearing.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 1, 1910, page 5
MEDFORD COMING TO FORE
Rogue River Valley Products to Be Shown at Portland Club.Products of the Rogue River Valley through 10 counties will be furnished the Chamber of Commerce by the Medford, Or., Commercial Club. M. Mosessohn, assistant secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, returned yesterday from the Southern Oregon city and announced the success of his mission in signing Medford for an exhibit space.
"Medford is a wonderful little city," he said. "It is one of the most cosmopolitan towns I ever saw. They are building and boosting all the time. Recently $30,000 was raised for the Crater Lake road. They will come to Portland soon to secure our help in the matter of raising funds.
"The Rogue River Valley is becoming the world's greatest pear district. They have almost quit raising apples. The pears are already sold at $10.80 a box, which is more profitable than apple-raising. They will send a large exhibit to the Chicago dry farming exposition next month. Products from the ranches of Mrs. Potter Palmer and the Czar of Russia will be among those sent.
"Medford is now paving 11 miles of her streets and in other civic improvements is forging rapidly to the front."
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 3, 1910, page 16
FRUIT BETTER THAN EVER
Rogue River's 1000 Cards to Excel Previous Products.
MEDFORD, Or., July 8.--(Special.)--The Rogue River Valley will ship 1000 cars of fruit this year, of which 400 cars will be pears, and 600 cars will be apples. The present crop is pronounced the finest in the history of the valley.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, July 9, 1910, page 12
EARLY DAYS OF FRUIT SHIPPINGF. H. Page, of the firm of Page & Sons, Portland, was a visitor in Medford yesterday, after having spent several weeks' vacation on the fishing grounds of the Klamath country. Mr. Page has the distinction of being the first [fruit] shipper from the Rogue River Valley [H. E. Battin & Co. preceded Page & Sons.], and his reminiscences of old times are replete with interest. The first car of pears came from the old Stewart orchard, now the famous Burrell property. This was in 1889 or 1890, Mr. Page is not certain which. [It was probably 1891, but fruit was shipped by the carload from the Rogue Valley in 1884, the year the railroad arrived.] In order to make the pack worthy of the quality of the fruit, which was destined to astonish the New York and other markets and create a standard which has never been equaled by any other fruit section, Mr. Page brought a force of ten or twelve people from Portland to sort and pack the pears, wrap and box them in fancy style, and personally supervised the work. The result was so satisfactory that the banner price of 80 cents per box gross was paid to the grower.
FROM ROGUE RIVER VALLEY SECTION
Fred Page, Pioneer Shipper, Tells of Early Efforts To Market Products
Before Valley Had Name or Fame Throughout the World.
First Introduced the Fancy Pack, but Returns to Growers Were Small--
Fruit Shipped in Boxcars to Portland for Refrigeration.
In 1885 Mr. Page built a warehouse at Ashland for the purpose of drying peaches, as well as shipping them green, and maintained the establishment for nearly a quarter of a century. The apple and pear industry of the Rogue River Valley was in its infancy at the time, and for years secondary to the peach business. In 1886 and 1887 Newtowns and Spitzenburg apples were first shipped, and even with the fancy style of the pack did not realize to exceed 65 to 75 cents per box to the grower. This was the foundation of the fruit traffic in the valley, and the great reputation which was made by the pears and apples soon attracted attention from all commission men in the great markets of the East. Nothing but the very best fruit was packed, Mr. Page stating that thousands of boxes of pears and apples were annually thrown away, and yet worthy of being considered first-class stuff in the desire to confine strictly to fancy grades.
Twenty-five years ago there was no market for high-grade fruit outside of New York City. The coast cities got their supply from local sources, and even with the efforts which the Southern Pacific made to aid the industry in the Rogue River Valley the Portland market consumed practically nothing, and San Francisco and other California cities were glutted with apples from Santa Clara Valley.
One of the most interesting facts of these pioneer days was the manner in which transportation facilities were afforded. The first car of pears from Medford was loaded in an ordinary box car, hauled to Portland and transferred there into a refrigerator. This astonishing condition continued until 1901, and in that year 63 cars were handled in that crude way. The time from Medford to Chicago was from 16 to 20 days, and three to four weeks to New York City. Peaches were treated the same, as far as the shipment to Portland was concerned, and the fact that no damage resulted is the strongest endorsement of the superior quality of the fruit. It took several years to properly establish local brands in the East. It is probably well known in Medford today that the average net price which the valley growers received for their apples as late as 1903 was only $1.17 per box, and 90¢ for pears. Since that time prices have gone skyward, the whole country knows of the valley, and there is now scarcely any limit to the expansion which is so rapidly taking place.
Mr. Page was also instrumental in bringing some of the most prominent people into the valley. He negotiated the sale of the Stewart orchard to Captain Voorhies and of the Weeks & Orr orchard, now the Bear Creek tract, to Hunt Lewis. Mr. Page is an old-time friend of Mr. Malboeuf, who was in the pioneer days of the fruit industry here connected with the Southern Pacific Company, and the efforts made in those days to get freight rates, cars and other assistance from the railroad was reviewed by them with keen pleasure. To Mr. Malboeuf Mr. Page unhesitatingly pronounced the Rogue River Valley as having a wonderful future, its fruits of the very best quality produced in the world, and Medford a city which has not only built up far beyond his most ardent expectations, but with the certain probability of its having 25,000 people in a few years. He believes that what will keep the valley to the front is the present careful methods and application of the most modern rules of horticultural skill, a powerful fruit growers' union, and a continued and determined effort on the part of the Commercial Club to keep up its splendid work of the past. Mr. Page left for Portland Monday evening.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 27, 1910, page 4
A FEW YEARS AGO A RANCHER IN THEBought several hundred apple and pear trees and set out an orchard. His friends expostulated with him, showing him that it was a grain country, and a grain country alone, but he had lived in the valley for years, and the arguments were of no avail. Despite the facts that were presented to him why fruit could not be raised in the valley, only a few years later he sold enough fruit from this orchard to have bought all the alfalfa and wheat land that joined it.
ROGUE RIVER VALLEY
When this fruit was first received in the Eastern markets, the people did not know what or where the Rogue River Valley was, and were backward about buying fruit from an unknown locality. The salesmen could give them little information, for they had only the merest idea as to its location and knew nothing about the valley or its products. For this reason Mr. Stewart (for such was the orchard owner's name) saw that in order to receive a just price for his fruit it must be advertised. This he did in a small way and the people bought "Stewart's Rogue River Apples" and found them delicious, and became interested in the valley that produced such fruit.
They came, investigated, and found that the land in this orchard was not perceptibly different from any of the other 2,000,000 acres in the valley. They bought small tracts, set them out to fruit and enjoyed immensely the mild summers, without the electrical, hail or wind storms. Then followed the fall rains, but no snow, and during the months of December, January and February it continued to remain the never-changing days of warm rain, interspersed with days of warm sunshine. These days surely had the breath of springtime in them, the robins, blue jays and meadowlarks sang unceasingly, and by the latter part of February many of them had their nests well feathered.
These people became enthusiastic and wrote to their friends telling of the climatic conditions, the bountiful crops of grain and vegetables and the sturdy fruit trees that had made such growth during the few preceding months. Some of these friends came, and in turn they wrote to their friends, and----
That was twenty years ago, but the same condition still exists. There is the one peculiar thing about the city of Medford and the valley of the Rogue River: It is the only place that made a record-smashing growth in population without advertising and without mines or oil wells. The country advertised itself by being all and more than the inhabitants claimed it to be, and the newcomer has always been satisfied. But these things are ahead of the story. Mr. Stewart realized so much from his orchard that the other land owners of the valley began planting orchards, and in a few years the valley looked more like a young forest than a valley. The trees, mostly pears, apples, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries, were set by the thousands, but still the friends were writing their Eastern friends. The demand was made for smaller tracts of land, and immediately the larger tracts were either subdivided or sold and then divided, into five- and ten-acre tracts.
It was during this immigration some five years ago that someone who was very deeply impressed with the valley said, "If only the world knew of this valley and its possibilities." It was with shame that the people thought of the existing conditions they had left in the faraway East, and of the oppressive heat in the summers, the electrical storms that in one short second take away all that it has taken years of hard toil to accumulate, of the cold rains and sleet storms of the fall and the heavy snow storms of the winter months. They remembered now the people who still labored for a bare living under these conditions, and resolved if possible to be of some assistance to their downtrodden brothers. A commercial club was organized with twelve members, and a few three-line advertisements were carried in Eastern papers and magazines. The members "took turns" answering the few letters of inquiry that came at first, then it became too large, and a man was paid $25 per month for as much of his time as was necessary to answer the letters. This method was outgrown in six months, for no one could be procured for that salary to give all their time to the work, and it demanded it. A capable man was next employed at a good salary, but in less than a year's time he was "buried" with work; next two people were employed, and so forth. The membership of the club has grown from twelve to six hundred in five years. Why? Because every new person that arrives in the valley wants to tell their friends what they have found. The acreage planted to orchard has grown from 1,500 to 65,000 in five years. Why? Because some of the friends have listened, come and found it just the same as represented. The city has grown from 3,500 to 9,200 in three years. Why? Because the friends have arrived, gone into business, found that it paid, and written for their friends to come.
During the year of 1909, 90 percent of the pears and 50 percent of the apples shipped out of the state of Oregon were raised in the Rogue River Valley, and the friends are still telling their friends. The latest of these is
Louis W. Hill, president Great Northern Railway, who said: "We dropped over the mountains into the Rogue River Valley, and found the RICHEST VALLEY IN THE WORLD. I say this advisedly, and after traveling over 100 miles through its length and breadth. I have traveled extensively, and nowhere have I ever found a richer or more beautiful valley.It might not be amiss to say that the great Hill system is now building from Medford over the mountains east, and thereby tapping one of the largest belts of standing timber in the world today. This railroad will be built to an eastern connection with other branches of the Hill system, and Medford will be the only city in Oregon outside of Portland with two great transcontinental railroads.
THE MEDFORD COMMERCIAL CLUBHave recently edited the 1910 number of "Medford and the Rogue River Valley," and it is conceded by experts to be the most beautiful community booklet that has ever been published. This can be procured free if 6 cents is sent to pay the postage on same to your address, and it is easily worth 50 cents per copy.
Advertisement, Better Fruit, August 1910, page 18
HARVESTING ROGUE RIVER VALLEY'S PEAR CROPThe Rogue River pears are famous the world over for the excellent quality of the fruit and the scientific methods in handling them. All varieties do equally well here; in fact, this is the acknowledged home of the pear. There are, however, only about half a dozen varieties grown commercially--the Bartlett, Comice, Anjou, Bosc, Howell and Winter Nelis. Each of these varieties have their good qualities, and it is often a disputed question among growers as to which variety brings the best returns. While the writer has handled hundreds of cars of each of these varieties, he is not prepared to say just which variety has made the best record. All have made big money for the grower. We have seen the Comice sell in the markets for five dollars per half box. Again, we have seen the Anjou do equally as well. The Bartlett has made its record of four or five dollars per box, and when we take into consideration the wonderful productiveness of this pear we are constrained to say that they stand at the head of the class.
BY J. A. PERRY, MEDFORD, OREGON
While we believe that nowhere in the world do pears grow to such perfection as they do in the Rogue River Valley, yet we realize that the high prices and the splendid reputation our pears have attained is due to a certain extent to the scientific methods employed in growing, picking and packing the fruit.
The commercial pear orchard receives the very best care possible from the time the young trees are planted until they are producing their golden fruit, which is usually from five to six years. Anyone seeking a position as foreman on one of our pear orchards must, before he is allowed to take charge, convince the owner that he is experienced in orchard work. The trees are too valuable to permit of taking any chances, or making mistakes in pruning or caring for them in anything but a scientific manner.
The orchardist who grows pears has a decided advantage over the one who grows apples, the young pear trees being much easier cared for from the time they are planted. Insect pests do not attack them as much as they do apple trees. In fact, pear trees are very little trouble or expense to grow; they simply want pruning and reasonable cultivation. Anyone may grow a first-class pear orchard in the Rogue River Valley with what information he may get by attending our horticultural meetings and hearing the methods explained by scientific orchardists and by specialists stationed here to assist the growers.
Pears never require over two sprayings to keep out the worms. San Jose scale is much easier kept out of pear orchards than the apple orchard. Many people think that because the pear is a very delicate fruit that they are difficult to handle, but we wish to say that after ten years' experience in handling all varieties of fruit we much prefer handling pears to apples. Grading is easier. There are not nearly as large a percent of seconds or culls as there are in any apple crop, and where the grower is prepared to handle fruit in the proper manner, as they are in the Rogue River Valley, pears are handled with scarcely any loss from injury in handling.
All fruit must be handled carefully, and the grower that does not exercise great care in picking, packing and shipping his fruit cannot expect to be successful. Pears must be picked at the proper time. We may say there is no fixed rule to go by, but the orchardists of the valley are experts in this respect. They are able to determine the very day the fruit will do to come off the tree and yet mature into perfect fruit. This is a very important factor in marketing a pear crop. If picked from the tree too green the fruit will be lacking in sugar and will shrivel and decay without ever getting fit to eat. On the other hand, if allowed to stay on the tree too long, the shipping quality of the fruit is materially injured. The grower must have everything in readiness when the fruit is ready to come off, as there is no time to be lost.
First, he has all his orchard boxes gone over to see that they are in good condition. Then he gets his wagons that are to haul the fruit from the orchard to the packing house, and from the packing house to the car, in shape, providing each with a set of springs and cover to keep out the hot sun and dust. He then procures enough pickers and packers to pick at least one car of pears every day, and if the crop be large he may load two or more each day. We always like to load each day's pack in the iced car the same day it is packed, and get the fruit cooled out as soon as possible, thus stopping the ripening process. We hope in the near future to have a pre-cooling plant established in the valley. This will extend the marketing period of our pears over three or four weeks, which will mean much to the grower. Bartletts are usually ready to pick from the tenth to fifteenth of August, and the grower who has several varieties is able to keep his crew working from the time Bartletts ripen until the first of October, as the different varieties ripen one after the other, Bartletts first, then the Howell, the Anjou, the Bosc, Comice, and last of all the Winter Nelis, which ripen about the same time, or just before, we commence to pick winter apples. Where a grower has a good-sized orchard, it is very desirable to have several varieties, for this reason.
The methods of packing fruit have changed quite noticeably in the last few years. In former years we used printed boxes, having the grower's name and the district from which the fruit was grown printed on the end of the box. This has been discontinued, for various reasons, and we now use a plain box made from the best pine lumber, and place on the end of the box a nice lithographed label. The grower's name, the variety and number of pears is neatly stamped on the box, thus giving the buyer a chance to know just what the box contains.
Pears are packed at less expense than apples, for the reason that no lining or layer paper is used. Grading is not as expensive. Pears must be packed in a nice, neat manner to make a good appearance in the market, as nothing looks worse than a ragged, poorly packed box of pears. We use for most all pears eight by ten duplex wrapping paper, except some of the very largest sizes, which require a larger paper. The paper should always be full large for the pear, and serves to a certain extent to form a cushion for the fruit. The folds of the paper should always come underneath the pear, being perfectly smooth on top. Pears should have a larger swell in the box than apples, and should weigh at least fifty-two pounds.
In order that the box may look neat and have full weight, the swell must be built in the box as it is packed. Packing schools are conducted each year to give the new beginners a chance to learn the work before they are required to commence packing for shipment. The accompanying cut shows a class of twenty-five taking lessons in one of these schools. Several instructors are employed, as it is necessary to show the pupil, it being very hard to tell anyone how to put up a pack so that they will be able to do the work properly. With a good instructor to show them, it is possible for a new beginner to learn so that they may put up a very good pack in a few days if they really try to learn. We find many who never learn, for the reason that they do not take an interest in the work. The accompanying cut shows a very good commercial pack of pears. They are all four-tier, however. We are sorry that we haven't a cut of a five-tier pack, as that is used mostly and is the most desirable size. The cut shows very well the manner of placing the pears in the box, the diagonal pack being always used. Box No. 1 shows the three, two pack, four and five up the box, and contains ninety pears. A person that does not understand packing will think that the box contains ninety-two pears, but the tiers are not all the same. The first tier put in the box was two pears, put in calyx toward the packer and about equal distance from the sides of the box and from each other. In the next row we place three pears, stem toward the packer, in the three spaces on the sides and in the center. Next two, then three, and so on. You will find this tier has only twenty-two pears in it, while the next tier will have twenty-three, so that we have two tiers of twenty-two and two of twenty-three, or ninety pears. Box No. 2 is three-four pack, four-four up the box, and contains twenty-eight to the tier, or 112 pears. Box No. 3 is three-three pack, four-four up the box, and contains ninety-six pears. This box is packed exactly like the largest size five-tier, and should have been packed five-tier. If packed the same way five-tier it would contain 120 pears. The five-tier packs are three-three pack, four-four up the box, 120 pears; three-three pack, four-five up the box, 135 pears; three-three pack, five-five up the box, 150 pears. We seldom pack smaller than the latter size in the five-tier pack. Six-tier are sometimes packed in winter Nelis, or some of the small varieties, and may pack as many as 200 pears to the box. Some of our fancy pears are packed in the half box, such as the Comice, Anjous and other varieties when they are very large and fine. We believe it pays to put up pears in the half box if the fruit is really fancy. In this pack the work is done almost the same, except we use a fine lace paper to line the sides of the box; a beautiful lithograph top mat is placed over the top of the fruit after the box is packed, the lace lining being folded over so that the center of the mat shows, making a very attractive package. The half box contains from thirty to fifty pears.
Better Fruit, August 1910, pages 20-22
DETERMINATION PROVES A REMARKABLE SUCCESSAbout six years ago there came into the state of Oregon a young man from Chicago, looking for a suitable place to plant a large commercial orchard. That gentleman was J. A. Westerlund, president of the Western Oregon Orchard Company.
Someone informed him that the Rogue River Valley, in Southern Oregon, produced first-class apples and pears, and to see it before he decided on a location. The fellow who said this was a knocker on his own country, of course, but his knock proved to be a profitable one for Mr. Westerlund.
He came this way, he saw, and was soon convinced that the proper place to plant a large commercial orchard was in the Rogue River Valley.
An option on 400 acres was secured for forty days; then he returned to Chicago, told his brother and associates what the possibilities were, and they soon had their company organized and bought the land.
As soon as enough capital was secured they started to clear, plow and plant apples and pears and other fruits on the fertile slope of Mount Roxy Ann.
The Medford people watched this concern with eager eyes. All manner of predictions of failure were made. Even the publisher of the Mail was criticized and reprimanded because he would not expose these impostors. The land was condemned, not fit for anything else but jackrabbits, coyotes, scrub oak--to them nothing else would grow there, save wheat and hogs--and these not to a profit.
But the publisher thought differently, kept quiet, would not listen to this kind of philosophy. The enterprising men from the East asked no favors or franchises from the people of the Rogue River Valley. They simply worked, and worked hard, grubbing, plowing and planting trees, and said nothing. They didn't parade the streets with a brass band, saying what they intended to do. They simply did things, and did them right. Paid their bills and the men promptly who labored hard to get the old oak stumps off the ground.
The result is that the Rogue River Valley now can boast of the largest individual orchard on the Pacific Coast, which is known locally as the Westerlund orchards, consisting of 2,100 acres in one solid tract, 400 of which has but recently been added. Over 1,000 acres have been planted and 250 acres more are to be planted this winter.
What Wm. E. Curtis, in the Chicago Record-Herald says: "The largest orchard in the Rogue River Valley, and I am told that it is the largest in the Northwest, belongs to the Western Oregon Orchards Company, with offices at 59 Dearborn Street, Chicago, and it is situated four miles from Medford. The company owns 2,100 acres and has 1,040 acres planted in apple and pear trees, which are cultivated according to the highest scientific methods."
The orchard is so planted that it can be practically subdivided in the future, should the company so elect. We predict that in the near future some of the modest and most independent money-making small orchardists will be located in this orchard tract. So successfully has the company managed its affairs that not a dollar of encumbrance burdens the enterprise.
On the tract is an orchard of about an acre that was planted with two-year-old or three-year-old trees (Bartlett pears and Yellow Newtown apples) when the company purchased the property. Six Bartlett pear trees netted. the sum of twenty-four dollars, and the Newtown apple trees will yield three to five boxes per tree this year.
Mr. Westerlund took a few samples to the district fair at Ashland, mainly to show what his soil would do. To his great surprise the judges awarded him second prize on the Newtown apples against a dozen other competitors, old orchardists, in the valley.
At the National Apple Show in Spokane, samples from Mr. Westerlund's orchard will be on exhibition.
Why could not all our rich foothill lands be converted into fine orchards? They can, if local capital will combine. If it does and is as careful in financing and managing as the Western Oregon Orchard Company have been, success will surely be their reward.
The publisher of the Morning Mail has been all over this orchard, and he fully believes that not an acre is there in this vast Westerlund orchard which will bring less than $1,000 an acre when it is fully developed and the orchard in bearing.
New land is being made ready for the plow and the fruit tree every year, and because of this, more value is yearly added to the tract as a whole, and to each individual acre planted to trees is added a value which only time can compute.
Orchard land any place in this valley is an asset upon which it is difficult to set a value, but when any particular locality is proven of actual worth by the product it gives forth, as is the case with the Westerlund tract, then its value gets into the four-figure row.
The publisher of the Morning Mail will watch with considerable interest and pride the certain outcome of Mr. Westerlund's venture in this valley.--Medford Morning Mail, October 30, 1909.
Better Fruit, August 1910, page 31
SOUTHERN OREGONWhile the development of the Northwest in all lines has been rapid, it has been almost a regret to the districts of Oregon that the state did not keep pace with the development in other sections, but all this has changed within a comparatively short time. During the past two or three years no state west of the Mississippi River has developed more rapidly than Oregon. The resources of Oregon are manifold, and of all the different industries of the Northwest, no industry has grown more suddenly or more rapidly, or achieved more publicity and prominence than the fruit industry. Great waste tracts in Southern Idaho and Eastern Washington, covered with sagebrush all dormant for years, now are being rapidly developed for diversified farming and fruit growing. Southern Oregon, frequently called the Rogue River Valley, for many years was without proper railroad facilities. There was no railroad connection between Portland and San Francisco, and the editor of Better Fruit has made a large part of this trip by stage. Today, the Southern Pacific goes through the entire Rogue River Valley, running several through trains each way daily. Before there was adequate railroad transportation, Southern Oregon was largely devoted to general farming and stock raising, but some of the pioneer settlers discovered that Southern Oregon was an ideal fruit country. Mr. Stewart was one of the pioneers in the splendid fruit industry of this section, and much credit is due him.
Rogue River Valley extends from Ashland to Grants Pass, a distance of a little over fifty miles. On both sides of the railroad can be seen orchard after orchard. From Grants Pass north, along both sides of the railroad are small valleys that are splendid fruit-producing sections. Fruit is also grown extensively around Roseburg, and many orchards are being set in Sutherlin Valley.
This issue contains more or less descriptive matter and illustrations which we hope will give our readers valuable information about Southern Oregon. The July edition of Better Fruit featured the Willamette Valley from the fruit point of view, and in future numbers, from time to time, as far as space will permit, we will endeavor to feature other famous fruit districts, like Wenatchee, Yakima, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Montana, and British Columbia, but as this edition contains a great deal of interesting reading matter about Rogue River Valley, it seems fitting that a few words should be said editorially about this section.
Rogue River Valley is about halfway between San Francisco and Portland. It is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, and the scenery is magnificent. The famous Rogue River flows through the entire length of the valley and affords excellent sport for the man who loves angling. The resources of this valley are many. It is only a question of a comparatively short length of time when this entire valley and the sloping surrounding hillsides will be covered with orchards and vineyards. Southern Oregon has achieved fame for the quality of its apples, pears, peaches, grapes, cherries and other fruits too numerous to mention. All kinds of fruit seem to thrive and do well, but perhaps Southern Oregon has achieved more fame from its pears than any other one variety of fruit, and as far as we know, no country in the world is better adapted to producing pears than this section. It is certainly true that Southern Oregon has received the highest price for pears by the carload ever achieved in the history of the business, and many of them, like the Comice, bring $5,000 and over per carload. Among the pears that are grown most extensively in this district that may be mentioned are Bartlett, Anjou, Winter Nelis, and Comice. Many varieties of apples are grown successfully in this district, but probably a greater percent is devoted to Newtowns and Spitzenburgs than any other two varieties. The Spitzenburgs go to New York and the Newtowns to England. Net returns are reported from different growers varying generally from $300 to $1,000 per acre. In some instances, the latter figure has been considerably exceeded.
Fruit growing is attractive to men in all lines of work, because the business pays and because it is pleasant and independent. Southern Oregon is particularly attractive to the Easterner on account of the mild weather and healthy climate, never very cold in winter nor hot in summer. It might be classed as a climate halfway between Oregon and California. That means it is ideal.
Better Fruit, August 1910, page 62
THE FORMING OF THE ROGUE RIVER FRUIT ANDAfter a number of preliminary moves in forming the association, the committee on organization was named. It had on it fifteen representative men from all sections of the valley, from Ashland to Merlin, sixty-five miles. It called for a new conception of organized effort, and the result is something midway between a one-town association and the California Fruit Exchange. One small union was superseded and two associations were absorbed, making not an exchange, but one large association, with twelve shipping stations, five houses for storage and packing, one manager over all, all business going through a central office. The packers are being registered, organized and instructed, all material for the orchard and the packing house being purchased by one man, and all information is gathered at the central office. All inquiries for Rogue River fruit comes here; everything is billed from here, and all money comes here.
PRODUCE ASSOCIATION OF MEDFORD, OREGON
BY C. W. WILMEROTH, THE MANAGER
The value of cooperation to a large section is evident, especially where the fruit is nearly uniform. Besides the difference in supplies of every description, the organization of packers and help of all kinds, it makes the actual handling of the fruit easier and cheaper. In shipping, the expense to the shipper, large or small, is much reduced; and thus, if for no other reason than that expert help is provided. It is the case of the specialist being employed. With a definite standard of excellence in the pack to be reached, with schools in the instruction of packing of various kinds of fruit, with semi-supervision at the grower's packing house, and rigid inspection of all fruit before shipped, a pack is attainable that will at least be nearly uniform and will give some standing in any market, year after year.
Crowning this is to come something like a scientific distribution of the fruit, intelligent marketing. This means to sell the fruit to the people that really want it, and [this] only becomes possible where a large amount of fruit is at the command of the distributing organization. It is one thing to make soap; it is altogether a different thing to sell soap. It is one thing to raise fruit, and quite another thing to sell it. There is no necessary vital connection between the two things. One requires a certain scientific common sense and physical labor; the other requires a broad intelligence concerning the needs and wants of the population of many cities and towns, and the ability to gauge their wants as a whole, and to attempt with real salesmanship to supply these wants.
There is a suspicion in many minds that cooperative associations are pure philanthropy, with enough business in them to save them from the Sunday school class. This suspicion exists because of the inability to see the business end of the organization, the cooperative sentiment necessary for the formation of such an organization being some evidence that many do not see past it. But cooperative buying and selling is pure business, and if it is not financially successful does not obtain better prices, create better conditions, it is not a success, and no amount of sentiment will hold it together. Education in cooperation comes only through experience and demonstration. One successful association is worth years of talk.
The ground has not all been covered by any means; there are many ideas unworked, others not worked out. Every new association opens new possibilities in cooperation, suggests different solutions to its problems.
The year 1910 will probably see the largest crop of fruit that has ever been raised in this valley; it is estimated at a thousand cars, and the association will ship about 95 percent of it. To be able to bring this fruit to the rolling stage, to have a pack that is something near uniform, that is satisfactory on the whole to market and grower--good at both ends of the line--to satisfy the constituency that grows the fruit and the market that buys it, is no small undertaking in a territory as large as this. But, unless this is done more or less successfully the fruit business cannot maintain its high level here. Future investors will look twice at the finest land if they are not assured of intelligent marketing of their fruit, but where it reaches a more or less certain market, and is handled satisfactorily from the blossom to the table, and yields something--a fair return for the intelligence and labor expended--it can be said to be the finest of the producing occupations.
Someday we shall have our own pre-cooling plant; another day, when we are producing and selling 5,000 instead of 1,000 cars, we shall have our own marketing machinery and our own agents in all the markets where our fruit is consumed. In the meantime, we content ourselves with the machinery that already exists for marketing.
There will be this year no competition between Rogue River pears in any market, for our distributing agent is the Stewart Fruit Company, and they will handle them all.
The success of the association so far is due to the time and effort given willingly by a number of men, among them some of our large orchardists, and others who have gladly made whatever sacrifices that were necessary in order to make the association a real and working force. With such a beginning, all that is needed now is the cooperation of the fruit growers with their fruit to ship. All cooperative institutions are difficult of management because of certain kinks in human nature; but no situation is impossible. The cooperative marketing idea is growing and the time is not far distant when the Pacific Northwest fruit exchange will be here, taking in every section and its associations, and doing business to the satisfaction of all.
(Editor's Note--The manager, Mr. C. W. Wilmeroth, has been an apple man for many years, not only well known to the trade, but an acknowledged past master in all that pertains to apples and their distribution.)
Better Fruit, August 1910, pages 72-75
HOW JOHN D. OLWELL BLAZED A TRAILThe manner in which John D. Olwell of this city blazed the trail for western fruit across the Atlantic, establishing the superiority of American-grown apples and pears over the choicest specimens of European orchards, is told in an article appearing in this week's issue of the Saturday Evening Post under the caption "Short Cuts from Farm to Market," from the pen of Walter F. Woehlke, a recognized authority on marketing of fruit and farm products. Mr. Woehlke says:
FOR WESTERN-GROWN FRUIT ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
Overcame English Prejudice for European-Grown Fruit and Opened Up New Market.
Walter F. Woehlke, in the Saturday Evening Post, Tells Story of Olwell's Initial Step.
"Quantity, size, overpowering mass, the superlative expressed in seven figures, have been Europe's strongest impression of American activities and products. The bigness of things in the New World has ever been the wonder of the old. Somehow, though, this admiration of the size and quantity of things American was always mixed with a slight disdain; its open expression was usually qualified with a 'But----.' Europe did not believe that America would ever reach its standard of quality. That this European notion is not well founded, at least so far as American fruit is concerned, was proved by the enterprise of John D. Olwell, a fruit grower in the Rogue River Valley of Southern Oregon, whose energy not only blazed the trail for western fruit across the Atlantic, but who also established the superiority of American-grown apples and pears over the choicest specimens of European orchards by the fire test, in which the American fruit panned out the highest percentage of fine gold.
"Some seven or eight years ago Olwell heard a rumor concerning the reported sale of a shipment of Oregon Newtown Pippin apples in London. Though he could never confirm the rumor, his imagination was aroused, and he determined to see for himself whether a market for Oregon fruit could be established in England. Though he rode all over the valley hunting for a son of Albion who might put him in touch with a London commission house, he could not procure the information. Perhaps a London paper would help him out. He wrote; and in due time the name and address of a firm was sent him. That fall Olwell consigned two carloads of Newtown Pippins to the London house and waited.
"Six weeks later Olwell received a cablegram announcing the sale of his apples and stating the proceeds in pounds and shillings.
"'I guess I must be a little rusty on international exchange,' muttered Olwell after calculations lasting an hour and covering many a square yard of paper.
"'What's a pound and a shilling worth in real money?' he asked at the bank.
"'About five dollars to the pound and two bits for a shilling,' came the answer. 'What's up, John? Did a rich English uncle die?'
"'Much obliged. No, my old uncle over there is still alive. I just wanted to find out how much I had coming from him,' said Olwell; and once more he translated the English currency terms into dollars and cents. The result confirmed his suspicions. Somewhere along the line a mistake must have been made in transmitting the figures. Here he had been getting seventy to ninety cents a bushel box for years; this cablegram said the same apples had brought three dollars a box on the other side. Somebody must have gotten off wrong. Olwell said nothing and waited for the letter. It came, and the draft it carried called for the same incredible amount. Still afraid of waking up--of receiving a cablegram rectifying the mistake--Olwell carried the draft around for several days before he dared cash it. Once the three-dollar dream had become a concrete reality, he got busy. The next year no apples were left in the valley for ninety-cent buyers. Olwell took over the entire crop and shipped it to London as fast as the apples were picked, anxious to increase the gold imports.
"As the Newtown Pippin, a green-yellow apple, had captured London, so the Spitzenburg captured New York. Under the stimulus of high bids from the fruit centers of the world, many young quality orchards are rising everywhere in the sagebrush country and the clearings of the Far West."
Medford Mail Tribune, December 2, 1910, page 1
ORCHARD STUDY POPULAR
Rogue River Men Prepare to Take College Winter Course.
MEDFORD, Or., Dec. 23.--(Special.)--Several Medford orchardists are preparing to attend the short courses in agriculture to be given by the Oregon Agricultural College during January and February. Among them are many eastern college men, who have only recently taken up horticulture in the Rogue River Valley. Among them are Leonard Carpenter, Harvard '05, and Alfred S. V. Carpenter, Harvard '05, who are joint owners of the Hillcrest Orchard; G. R. Carpenter, Yale '03, who has recently bought a portion of the Walter Burrell orchard; W. Morrell and J. Reigel, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, and owners of the Atsbury ranch, and Slater Johnson, Yale '10, of Antelope.
Most of the eastern men who have recently bought orchards in the Rogue River Valley conduct their properties in a manner far different from that in vogue among the older residents. The Carpenter brothers have an elaborate map of their 30-acre orchard, showing every tree. This map enables them to keep an accurate account of each tree. If one becomes diseased it is marked for special attention. The Carpenter brothers, as do most of the up-to-date Rogue River Valley orchardists, keep books showing in detail how much labor and money are expended on each division of orchard work.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 24, 1910, page 6
Oregon Apples and Their Future
By Professor P. J. O'Gara
How the Rogue River Valley came to be developed into a great fruit district is not generally known. The first fruit trees planted in the Rogue River Valley, a few of which are still living and bearing prolificly, are now fully 58 years of age. These apple and pear trees were planted by the early pioneers, and, although they did not receive the intelligent care and attention given the Rogue River Valley orchards of today, they fruited well and pointed the way to the greatest industry in the valley at the present time. Not until 34 years after the first fruit trees were brought into the valley were the older commercial orchards planted. These numbered but four or five plantings of pears and apples, followed two or three years later by about as many more. At this time, for several reasons, there was a sudden lull in the orchard business, and no further plantings of any considerable size were made until nearly a decade afterward. Then suddenly, as if by magic, alfalfa and green fields were changed into orchards; wooded areas were cleared and, in turn, planted to profit-producing fruits. Here the question may be asked, Why this sudden change from apathy of a few years before to the marvelous and wide-awake interest in the fruit industry? The answer is easily given. A few of the eastern and foreign markets had tasted of the products from the first commercial orchards and naturally inquired whence they came. Answer to these inquiries resulted in the coming westward of the best citizens in the country, people who believed in the future of a valley capable of producing fruit of unequaled quality.
Among the pioneers of commercial orcharding in the Rogue River Valley were men who knew of eastern varieties and eastern conditions, and naturally followed the beaten trail. They knew little of the valley's soil conditions, and the adaptability of the various varieties of pears and apples to suit these conditions. However, they made fewer mistakes than have been charged to them. They were working in the dark, mostly with unknown quantities, but out of it all came the happy discoveries which rewarded them for their efforts and left to the future generations a heritage whose worth has become millions, and whose ultimate value lies beyond the limits of the most vivid imagination.
If there ever were any doubts as to the possibilities of the fruit growing industry, they have disappeared. Seeing is believing. While it can never be said that further improvement along any line of horticulture is impossible, it must be admitted that the Rogue River Valley has much less to learn than many horticulture districts that boast of years of practical experience. It is true that the horticulturists of the Rogue River Valley, as a body, are made up of men who have made a success in various occupations or professional men, manufacturers, salesmen, bankers and even mere pleasure seekers, but they have put into their new life's work the same intelligence and vim which characterized them in their former occupations. Science and scientific methods have stepped in and taken the place of haphazard guessing, so that anyone making a mistake as to proper soils for certain varieties, methods of cultivation and fertilization, irrigation and treatment of diseases, which, by the way, are very few, would have only himself to blame. Located in Medford is a branch office of the United States Department of Agriculture, fitted with a library laboratory, which is in charge of a pathologist whose duty it is to look after the horticultural interests of the Rogue River Valley. All questions referred to this office are given the same prompt attention which is characteristic of the main office of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, D.C. At no other place in the United States is there an office of this kind. To the man who has but one acre an equal opportunity is given in the matter of getting scientific and practical advice as to the man who owns hundreds of acres.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1911, page B4 The full article is transcribed here.
MANY ORCHARDS BEING NAMED
County Clerk Receives Many Registrations of Orchard and Farm names
From the Ranches Throughout County.
The law passed by the last legislature giving those owning farms and orchards the right to the exclusive use of names for their possessions if not previously applied for is being observed by many owners throughout the Rogue River Valley. The county clerk has issued certificates to the following, and there are other applications pending:History of Fruit Growing
No. 1.--"The Oaks Orchard," Table Rock, J. C. Pendleton & Son.
No. 2.--"Riverside Orchards," Rogue River, John F. Morrill.
No. 3.--"Fairview," Sterling, Belle Nickell.
No. 4.--"Table Rock Orchard," Table Rock, R. C. Washburn.
No. 5.--"Woodlawn Orchard," Central Point, A. Conro Fiero.
No. 6.--"Hilltop Orchard," Jacksonville, T. W. Hester.
No. 7.--"The Bear Creek Orchards," Medford, S. Rosenberg.
No. 8.--"Clayton Orchards," Ashland, Hegardi & Weaver.
No. 9.--"Arrowhead Orchard," Central Point, L. Harry Wilcox.
Anyone wishing to adopt a name can apply to the county clerk. The fee for issuing a certificate is only $1. This proposition is [a] rather novel one and is already proving popular throughout the state.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1911, page 5
ORCHARD SALES $427,000MEDFORD, Or., Jan. 19.--(Special.)--With the sale of 45 acres in the Morrill orchard by Captain Gordon Voorhies, of Portland, to Mrs. A. E. Bingham, of Santa Barbara, Cal. yesterday, and the sale of 230 acres of the Potter Barneburg place to Stephen Tobin, of Casper, Wyo., the orchard sales of the last six weeks in Medford total $427,000.
Activity in Lands Around Medford in Last Six Weeks Notable.
The tracts sold since December 7 are as follows: Suncrest orchard, 461 acres, $250,000; Whitney orchard, 55 acres, $30,000, Sisty orchard, 23 acres, $15,000; Worrell orchard, 20 acres, $12,000; Merrick orchards, 171 acres, $60,000; Barneburg tract, 230 acres, $30,000; Burrell tract, 45 acres, $30,000.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 20, 1912, page 1
MEDFORD ICE PLANT DOING PRE-COOLING
Government precooling experts are still conducting experiments with Rogue River fruit and expect to secure data invaluable to fruit growers regarding refrigerating and keeping fruit.
The precooling is being done at the plant of the Medford Ice and Storage Company, which is cooperating with the officials in every possible way. The plant has a large capacity and can handle a number of cars and if the demands justify will be enlarged to precool a large portion of the valley's pear crop.
Jonathan apples have been kept in cold storage at this plant for over a year in good condition, and as the Jonathan is a perishable apple, it shows what the possibilities are.
The Southern Pacific has purchased refrigerator cars for the experiment, and the various orchardists and the fruit exchange furnishing the fruit and the boxes.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 4, 1912, page 7
FRUIT STORAGE IS DESIREDMEDFORD, Or., Nov. 22.--(Special.)--Medford orchardists are bending every effort to secure cold storage facilities here and in the Middle West for the season of 1913.
Medford Orchardists Plan to Secure Good Prices Hereafter.
The past season has demonstrated conclusively that the secret of securing high prices is holding the fruit until the market is high. When the picking season starts on pears, for example, the markets are usually glutted with California fruit, and the prices are at the bottom.
This year, for example, the average price secured for pears during the regular season was $1.50 a box, but Wednesday of this week A. C. Allen, of the Hollywood Orchards, put a carload he had in cold storage since September, on the Des Moines, Ia., market and secured an average of $6 per box. This is the highest price ever received in this section for pears in carload lots.
Heretofore there has been considerable doubt as to the pear standing up under cold storage. The California pear will not, but the Rogue River Valley pear, according to local experts, is peculiarly adapted to storage, and recent experiments by the government in Medford are said to have sustained this view.
The local fruitgrowers are endeavoring to raise money not only for cold storage in Medford, but for space in storage houses nearer the center of population, where fruit can be delivered to the market at a few hours' notice.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, November 23, 1912, page 20
Sixty years ago a few hardy pioneers, braving the dangers and hardships of a transcontinental journey by slow wagon trains, brought into the Rogue River Valley seeds and scions of the fruits with which they were familiar in their eastern homes. They were not horticulturists, or fruitgrowers as the term is applied today; they grew apples, pears, peaches and other fruits more for the pleasure of growing them than for any profit that might have been made from them. They were too busy getting the absolute necessities of life to think of commercial fruitgrowing. For the most part the varieties of fruits which they grew were without name, that is to say, they were seedlings; and today many of the sturdy old trees that sprang from the seeds which these men planted in the fertile soils of the Rogue River Valley are without a horticultural name. Nevertheless, many of these old fruit trees have borne prolificly in all the years that have passed since they came into bearing. The pioneers who settled the valley not only had good fruit but plenty of it.
Among the pioneers of commercial orcharding in the Rogue River Valley were men who knew of eastern varieties and eastern conditions and naturally followed the beaten trail. They knew little of the valley's soil conditions, excepting that they were good, and the adaptability of the various varieties of fruits to suit these conditions. However, they made fewer mistakes than have been charged to them. They were in a new country, working in the dark, mostly with unknown quantities, but out of it all came the happy results which rewarded them for their efforts. They constructed for future generations the foundations of an industry that cannot be surpassed the world over.
While the real beginning of fruitgrowing dates back to the early '80s, the commercial side of the industry dates back only 25 years. However, let us say that while commercial fruitgrowing began a quarter of a century ago, it was only a beginning. About that time the Stewart, Gore, Olwell, Weeks and a few other well-known orchards were planted, and only a short time thereafter did such men as Stewart, Olwell and Weeks establish markets for our fruits, not only in the East but also in the markets of Europe. Those of us who are living in the valley today should have a profound respect for these men who staked their all in an enterprise which at that time was merely one of chance, but of wonderful importance as it has since proven. Even now, the valley is only beginning to come into its own. In a short time it will be producing tens of thousands of carloads of the various orchards' fruits, especially apples and pears. It already has planted an acreage large enough to produce an output of 30,000 cars per year; all that is required will be the proper attention necessary to the growing of the trees into bearing. The soil and climate are perfect, all that we need is time and well-directed labor.
There is probably no fruit district in the United States where so great attention is paid to the matter of the health of the orchards as in the Rogue River Valley. Not only are the orchards well cultivated, but every attention is given to the treatment of orchard fruit disease.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1913, page D5
After an exhaustive study of orchard conditions following an extended inspection tour, Professor O'Gara states that the probabilities are that the pear crop in the Medford district will equal the apple crop, as there will be probably 200 cars of pears more than first estimated. The drop in most orchards has been very light, and some orchards, like Bear Creek, have record crops. The prospects are that 600 or 700 cars of pears will be harvested by the valley.
"Pear Crop to Equal Apple in Medford Region," Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1913, page 1
THE PEAR VS. THE APPLE
WHICH IS THE MORE PROFITABLE FOR THE GROWER?
Reginald H. Parsons Answers in Favor of the Pear--
The Crop Is Much More Certain, He Says.
Portland, Ore., Aug. 22.--What is the best paying crop in the Pacific Northwest? Some say apples, while others strongly assert that the pear is the peer of all so far as profits per acre are concerned.
Reginald H. Parsons, owner of the famous Hillcrest Orchards near Medford, and by the way directing head of the Northwestern Fruit Exchange of this city, strongly asserts that pears are the thing--or in fact the profit. His orchard consists of 160 acres. His holdings of pears include 85 acres, the remaining area being planted to apples and other fruits.
While the Rogue River country has received the highest awards in the world for the excellent of its Yellow Newtowns and Spitzenburgs, still it is partial to the pear--in fact its greatest glory as a fruit center has been received by the latter crop. The entire Rogue River country is destined to become one huge pear orchard in the future, and it is already counting its profits.
Mr. Parsons has returned to Portland after an inspection of his orchard. "The crop of pears in the Rogue River country will this year show an increase of 25 to 50 percent over a year ago," he said.
"There is an increase of probably 30 percent in the bearing area of pears this season. We are going into pear raising in the Rogue River country for two reasons--the soil is particularly adapted to its growth, and there is a greater profit in it. We plant about 75 pear trees to the acre, and only about 60 apple trees, because the former does not grow so big. While it is true that the average apple tree will produce more fruit than a pear tree, the greater number of the latter planted to the acre more than makes up for this loss.
"Then the production of pears is much more certain than apples. While the apple tree sometimes produces a bigger crop than does the pear, still the average is far better in the latter. Then again the pear brings more money in the market, is easier gathered and is more free from disease than the apple.
"Rogue River is today the most favorable pear section in the country, and its merits will increase from year to year. We have had excellent growing weather recently--over 2½ inches of rain falling during July. The outlook is not only for a good crop of pears, but large sizes and good quality."
The Chicago Packer, August 23, 1913, page 16
LONG TRIP MADE BY OREGON PEARSAn agent of the Department of Agriculture, who was assigned to keep in touch with a carload shipment of Bartlett pears from Medford to Washington, D.C. and determine its condition, reported as follows:
Government Report on Shipment of Bartletts from Medford to Washington.
"We found the fruit in generally good condition, although two top tiers showed considerable ripe fruit. The car received 12 reicings and from the records made from readings of the electric thermometer we found that the temperature remained practically even from the point of shipment to Washington. In all 82,820 pounds of ice were used on this consignment.
The Rogue River Fruit Produce Association certainly has the right idea in regard to packing and loading cars. The fruit appears to have been well selected and sized, the boxes are made of good lumber and the label is a neat and attractive one. The fruit was loaded right for long carrying."
This car left Medford on August 21 and reached Washington September 2.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1913, page 15
Top Price for Oregon Pears.
The United States government has solved at Medford the problem of proper refrigerating of fruit so that growers can delay the marketing of their product for at least two weeks. A carload of Rogue River Bartlett pears shipped by the Rogue River Fruit & Produce Association was sold at New York at $3.15 a box, which means $2.30 a box f.o.b. Medford. The price is believed to be the record received by growers for Bartlett pears in the United States this season. The carload was the last of a lot of four that had been placed in the new $60,000 storage built at Medford.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, October 2, 1913, page 19
In 1913 the largest fruit crop and the best average fruit prices have been received in the history of the valley. In round numbers 1079 cars of fruit have been shipped out, divided as follows:
Apples Pears Peaches Mixed Total
Medford . . . . . . . . 391 355 1 9 756
Central Point . . . . 103 35 138
Ashland . . . . . . . . . 35 1 12 17 65
Gold Hill . . . . . . . . 30 30
Phoenix . . . . . . . . . 28 18 46
Talent . . . . . . . . . . . 41 41
Rogue River . . . . . 3 3
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . 631 409 13 26 1079
According to actual returns, deducting freight and commission charges, the fruit crop of 1913 brought $1,000,000 in cash into the valley.
"Jackson County," Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1914, page C4
SNOWY BUTTE ORCHARD.
I purchased the Snowy Butte Orchard at Central Point in November, 1904. I was warned after purchase by the former owners, Olwell and Sons, that pears were "not the thing," but that apples must be depended upon as the source of the orchard revenue. F. H. Page, of Page & Son, Portland, commission men, also told me that there was no market for Winter Nelis pears except in Chicago and Cincinnati. Mr. Day of Sgobel & Day advised me never to ship to New York as there was no sale for "gum crushers," as he styled them. I have less than 16 acres of Winter Nelis pears.
In 1905 the pear crop was caught by frost, only one car being marketed. These brought $2 a box.
In 1906 W. N. White, the New York fruit broker, contracted for five cars at $2 a box f.o.b. orchard. As he was not in the city when the draft arrived to pay for the cars, they were turned over on consignment to Rae & Hatfield, who realized me $1.90 a box at the orchard. The crop totaled 12 cars. The balance was sold in New York and London and averaged me about the same, $1.90 net.
In 1907 Rae & Hatfield purchased the entire crop, 7,300 boxes, at $2.50 net f.o.b. orchard.
In 1908 the crop was light on account of frost.
In 1909 I marketed 7,000 boxes at $2.25 a box net f.o.b. orchard.
In 1910 the crop of 6,000 boxes sold for $1.87½ f.o.b. orchard.
In 1911 I marketed 1,287 boxes at $2.12½ f.o.b. orchard.
In 1912 the crop of 7,487 boxes of pears netted $14,385, the Winter Nelis selling at $1.87½.
In 1913 I sold 7500 boxes of five- and six-tier Winter Nelis, the former at $2.25 a box f.o.b. orchard, and 500 boxes of second grade.
In addition to the pears I have annually turned off hogs, barley and other crops at a considerable value.
(signed) F. H. Hopkins
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1914, page D8
PREPAREDNESS MAKES SUCCESS IN FRUIT RAISING"I would buy Rogue River orchards today more cheerfully than ever if I had the money," said Dr. E. B. Pickel in the presence of a party of citizens who were discussing the present situation as enlivened by recent frost injury. "Just two things are required to make orcharding a fine success in this valley," continued the doctor, "and they are adequate preparation to protect the orchards from frost and from drought. The former can be done inexpensively, in proportion to the great benefit derived, and the latter, an absolute necessity, will practically double the value of the output. These things provided, and there will be no excuse for our not having the best fruit district in proportion to its area on the Pacific coast today.
"Had we been provided with irrigation during the last two seasons in which we suffered from drought on account of its absence, we would not now hear any local hard times talk. But we weren't prepared. Had we had ample frost protection this year, as we should have had the foresight to provide, we would not now be talking about our losses.
"About it all there is one good thing. That is the lesson there is in it. It ought to be worth two or three million dollars. Come to think of it, that's not so bad for one season. But the only way we can turn it to profit is by using the lesson in proper and adequate preparation against drought and frost next year. That is the only way we can come out ahead on last year and this."
Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1916, page 3
VALLEY HAS A PAYROLL IN ORCHARDS
Every good citizen of Medford or the Rogue River valley is keenly interested in its present and future prosperity. Every business project that promises a payroll, substantial or otherwise, and the expenditure of money in our midst, is welcomed and investigated and assisted, if worthy, by every legitimate means in our power.
Speaking of payrolls, how many of us realize the magnitude of the yearly payroll in this district that is connected solely with horticulture and its attributes? According to the statistics compiled by the county pathologist, there are approximately 23,000 acres in the Rogue River Valley planted to apples and pears. It is safe to assume that 20,000 of these acres are being intelligently cared for by their owners. According to the same statistics, 25 percent of the total average is at what may be called a fruit-bearing age. In other words, we have approximately 5000 acres in bearing fruit in the Rogue River Valley. It will cost the grower approximately $200 per acre per year to grow his fruit and place it on the cars. This includes all of the expenses of cultivation, spraying, pruning, thinning, harvesting, hauling, packing and car-loading. It is also safe to assume that of this $200 per acre, one-half of it represents labor and the other half materials.
Half Million in Payroll.On this assumption the labor item or yearly payroll at $100 per acre on 5000 acres of bearing orchards should equal the sum of one-half a million dollars. Of the remaining 15,000 acres not in bearing, a conservative estimate of cost of intelligent care would be one-quarter of the cost of similar care of bearing orchards. This would give you $25 per acre of bearing orchards. This would give you $25 per acre of labor per year on the non-bearing orchards, of which there are 15,000 acres, which would mean an additional payroll of $375,000, or a total horticultural payroll in this community of $875,000 per year, not including extraordinary expenses, which occur periodically, for instance in the fighting of blight. A statement then that the payroll of this valley connected with horticulture or horticultural products equals half a million dollars per annum would surely be conservative.
What other business enterprise here has ever reached in the past, or is likely to reach in the future, anywhere near this total? It must be remembered, too, that as the remaining 15,000 acres come into full bearing the payroll on every one of these acres will be increased four-fold.
Our Greatest Enterprise.Therefore, we say, keep on boosting for every legitimate enterprise that can be induced to come our way, but do not forget that the greatest enterprise we have, in which is invested by far the largest amount of money, and which produces by far the greatest payroll, is the growing of Rogue River pears and apples, and this enterprise deserves the constant support of every good citizen, whether orchardist or not, and no single one of us should omit any opportunity that may offer to help grow the fruit, or help harvest and market it.
Distribution as far as marketing is concerned is the greatest solution of the problem. Cooperation helps distribution. This association has sold pears and apples in half of the states of the Union, as well as in Canada and Europe. The great bulk of the fruit has not been placed in the large cities, but distributed in the smaller towns and in new markets, which have not heretofore known our product. This policy will be continued, and with the united support of the growers of this valley cannot help but result in better conditions for everyone.
Newtowns $1.87 a Box.Only this week we have received accountings from two cars of Blue Triangle Newtowns sold in a comparatively new European market. The largest apples in these two cars were 175 to the box, and yet each car averages a price of $1.87 a box f.o.b. Medford. This means that after taking out all selling charges, all cold storage charges and all packing and hauling and loading charges, the grower will receive absolutely net to him in the neighborhood of $1.25 a box. There are many markets like these if we hunt for them. We cannot afford to hunt for them unless we have a large tonnage among which to distribute the expense. It is distinctly up to the grower to see that we accomplish the right results. Up to date the growers have responded magnificently to our call for support. A large number of the growers are already with us. Only yesterday Bear Creek Orchards, with a possible tonnage of seventy-five cars this season, was added to the list. We should have many more. We believe our lineup this year is right and that a larger percentage of the growers than ever before agree with us as to our proposed policies and methods.
ROGUE RIVER FRUIT & PRODUCE ASSOCIATION,Medford Sun, May 31, 1916, page 3
S. V. Beckwith, Manager.
The Rogue River Valley, although now widely known as a pear section, is the second largest apple-producing region in Oregon. The valley is somewhat highly specialized, although its development has been slower than in most other apple districts in the Northwest. Land values at one time were very high, and a large number of easterners were attracted to the valley. A period of drought years, during which the annual rainfall dropped from the normal twenty-two inches to as low as twelve inches, caused great loss and emphasized the need of irrigation, which is now practiced in about a third of the orchards and is being extended to the others.
The fruit acreage lies almost wholly in Jackson County and plantings are centralized in Stewart Creek and Rogue River valleys, about the towns of Medford, Ashland, Talent and Phoenix. Of the approximate acreage of 23,000 acres of commercial fruit plantings, about 13,000 acres are in pears and 10,000 in apple trees. In the apple acreage, Yellow Newtowns, Esopus (Spitzenburg), Jonathan and Ben Davis are the predominating varieties. Probably 75 percent of the present production consists of Yellow Newtowns. As in other Northwest districts, the summer apple is an almost negligible factor. Approximately half of the apple acreage of this region was ten years of age or over in 1918.
The prevalence of spring frost injury led to a rather wide use of oil heaters, particularly in the orchards on the floor of the valley. Foothill orchards are less subject to frost and as a rule are not smudged. Despite the dry atmosphere, the apple scab is more or less prevalent and requires summer spraying. Fire blight, particularly among the pear trees and Esopus (Spitzenburg) apple trees, caused great loss in the years 1913-1915.
The droughts between 1914 and 1918 checked the normal increase in production. The largest crop of apples prior to 1919 was harvested in 1917 and consisted of about 700 cars. Practically all of the marketable apples are packed out in boxes.
J. C. Folger and S. M. Thomson, The Commercial Apple Industry of North America, 1921, page 72
I would like to call the attention of the growers of our community, through the columns of your paper, to the changing conditions which affect the marketing of our products, to what in my opinion is the best way to meet these changed conditions to our advantage and profit. A few years ago Ashland produced the most of the fruit and vegetables raised in the southern end of our county and found a ready market in northern California and the Klamath country for all we could produce.
There was at that time no Green Springs Highway, few trucks and peddlers, and little competition from other sections of the country so that the people of these districts were compelled to look for us for most of their fruit and vegetables.
Today conditions are entirely different, the competition is keen, and I want to mention some of the things which now and in the near future we will have to face to solve. First, the completion of the Natron Cutoff will open the districts I have mentioned to the products of the Willamette Valley, and while the consumption of fruit and vegetables in that part of the country will increase greatly, the growers of the Willamette Valley never have received the prices that we have for our products and will send their stuff out at prices far below what we have been accustomed to, and be well satisfied with the returns. Second, the Pacific Fruit Co., buying produce from every district at the lowest prices possible, have wagons visiting every town in northern California and the Klamath country daily, thus giving the dealers a chance to take just what they need for the day's needs. Then the Wood, Curtis Co. of Sacramento has a branch house in Klamath Falls, shipping in produce from the rich farming lands of the Sacramento River Delta and ripe fruits from the large fruit-producing districts of California, this stuff being sold at any price possible to move it, rather than have it spoil on the grower's hands. Then the district around Anderson, between Red Bluff and Redding, has come under irrigation, and we have had to compete with berries, apricots, peaches, cherries, apples and vegetables from this district, their produce coming on the market at the same time as our town. The greatest difficulty we are facing, however, is caused by the action of the growers of the Grants Pass district. This district has been largely settled, the past few years, by people new to the fruit game; a large acreage has been planted, and they apparently have no organization or idea of the cost of production, throwing their fruit on the market at less than cost of production for far less than the demand warrants and thus not only ruining their own prospects for the future, but causing other districts much needless loss and grief. Many times the past season they have thrown large quantities of berries on the Klamath and California market at 75¢ to $1.25 per crate, when our price was 50 percent higher and the demand good. Until someone with a vision of what can and should be done with the fruit of this district takes hold there, they will be a thorn in the flesh to other communities which are trying to put their growers in a position to get adequate returns for their produce.
As to the peddlers, which I mentioned at the beginning of this article, they are necessary to take care of stuff which is not good enough to go out under the community brand, or surplus of perishable goods which must be moved, but I feel that they should buy from the marketing agency of the community, rather than from the individual grower, and that every time a grower sells to a peddler at less than the market price, he is not only injuring his neighbor but himself also. Managers of their own association have, in the past, been blamed for small returns for produce, when the grower alone was responsible for the state of the market. If the grower would only remember that the manager, whoever he may be, is only human, that if he does anything at all, he is bound to make mistakes and that he is interested in getting all he can for the growers' produce, much needless criticism would be avoided and the entire community would be benefited.
Personally I have no complaint to make, for since I have been manager I have had the hearty cooperation of all the growers, for which I am very thankful, but I feel that there are so many problems to be worked out before our produce brings the price to which it is entitled by reason of its quality.
As to the best way to meet the situation as I have outlined it, it is summed up in a few words: the production of better stuff than the other fellow and care in gathering, packing and marketing. As I have talked with our customers, at their places of business and on the floor here, they have been unanimous in saying that the trade we have held and the new accounts we have secured are due to the fact that we try to get all produced to the consumer in the best possible shape, as soon after gathering as we can, and to the fact that we try to tell the buyer just what he may expect as to quality and condition with the thought in mind of building up a permanent connection, rather than unloading what we have today and letting the future take care of itself. Sharp practice never pays in any line of business, but the fruit and vegetable grower, especially, must please his customer a little better than anyone else if he is to succeed. May we count on you to help put the produce of the Ashland district on the market in the best possible manner and to work with us in establishing a reputation for our fruit and vegetables which will enable us, at all times, to find a profitable market? On our part we pledge our best efforts to attain this end.
S. D. TAYLOR, Manager,Ashland Daily Tidings, June 25, 1926, page 4
Ash. Fruit & Pro. Assn.
FIRST COMMERCIAL ORCHARD PLANTED IN THIS SECTION NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO
The history of commercial fruit growing in Rogue River Valley really dates back to the year 1882, when Arthur J. Weeks, the pioneer orchardist of the valley, arrived from the East at Portland. The late Col. I. P. Moores, land commissioner of the Oregon & California Railroad, advised Mr. Weeks to go to the Rogue River Valley and plant a large commercial orchard. Mr. Weeks still resides in the valley, and is still planting trees and in the fruit growing business. It was through the persistent effort in the 'eighties of Mr. Weeks, and the late J. H. Stewart, P. W. Olwell, and several others that have passed on, that the present fruit industry in Rogue River Valley is what it is at the present time.
Mr. Weeks planted 15,000 apple, peach and prune trees near Medford in 1883. In 1885 J. H. Stewart followed by planting 200 acres of orchard two miles south of Medford. He was followed by the Olwells, who planted about 200 acres between Medford and Central Point, and then planting of large tracts became more general.
In 1887 the driving of the last spike at the meeting of the Oregon & California and the Southern Pacific at the state line on the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains [The last spike was driven at Ashland] was hailed as an auspicious moment in the development of the Rogue River Valley. The people of the valley were called upon to adjust themselves to the new commercial conditions. The temporary stimulus of railroad building, springing up of new towns along the line of the railroad, and the rivalries engendered between contending places, permeated society in all its phases, until morally, politically and commercially a change had been wrought. Under these changes conditions and working out the new problems presented was the task of the pioneer and the newcomers in Rogue River Valley.
With the completion of the railroad the markets of the world were suddenly opened to the valley of the Rogue, and the millions and millions of golden nuggets that went out from the mines of the region began to flow back in exchange for fruits, grain and other foods they once had gone to buy. Medford and other towns sprang up along the railroad, and a ceaseless tide of immigration swept in to break the idyllic charm of pioneer life. To the newcomer the Italian landscape, the perfect equipoise of seasons, the charm of wondrous fruitage, the infinite variety of Nature's bounteous gifts, lured with resistless charm.
Prior to the advent of the railroad into Rogue River Valley, but little mention was given to the growing of fruit beyond supplying the local demand. With no fruit pests to defeat their efforts, the growing of the choicest fruit was a most easy task for all. On the coming of the railroad, the fruit that year after year rotted ungathered for lack of means of transportation now found a ready market, north and south, and this branch of husbandry through the discriminating judgment of its votaries has been carefully fostered and extended until today it is the leading industry of Rogue River Valley.
The long exemption from the fruit pests enjoyed before the advent of the railroad by the pioneer, enabling them to grow the finest of fruit with but little care except to harvest it, caused them to be very slow to arm and equip themselves for so severe a contest as the one that came upon them in fighting the pests of modern civilization, which was brought in by the shipment of infested nursery stock.
With the coming of the affording facilities for reaching the outside market came also the fruitgrower seeking soil favorable to the production of the choicest fruits, ranging all the way from the semi-tropical to the hardiest varieties. But when the men of faith commenced planting large orchards, the Rip Van Winkle element of the valley commenced croaking "insects--frosts--no markets," and seemingly very candidly advised us that we would soon be digging up our orchards to grow wheat in the place of fruit.
But, fortunately, among the fruitgrowers were the Weeks, Stewarts, Olwells and others of vast experience in fruit culture and of indomitable courage, to whom neither Rip Van Winkle, nor fruit pets, frosts and no markets could prevent pushing ahead with all possible industry, intelligence and energy, to final success.
Due to the excessive fruit rate charges by the railroad and the perishable character of peaches and other perishable fruit planted in the original plantings of the Weeks and other early orchards, they were dug up and replanted with pears. On the coming into bearing the Weeks orchard holds the banner price received for pears. In one of their early shipments to New York City a carload of Comice pears were sold on the market at $10.20 per box.
The late J. H. Stewart, who came to Rogue River Valley in 1884 from Quincy, Illinois, as an expert orchardist and nursery man, came west seeking a new home to follow his favorite vocation. His name is worthy to be mentioned in the annals of the history of the fruit industry in Rogue River Valley. He presents today a model fruit orchard of the state of Oregon, consisting of several hundred acres, largely the work of his own hand during his lifetime. In 1898, before his death, this orchard came into full bearing and was sold to Colonel Voorhies, who is still owner and operator of the property. It was the first sale of a commercial orchard in the Rogue River Valley which sent prices skyward and caused the great rush for valley fruit lands.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1928, page J2
ROSENBERG, David Hugh, horticulturist; b. Seattle, Washington August 22, 1889; to Oregon 1913; Cornell University 1913; m. Muriel Kinney June 18, 1921; children--David Hugh Jr., Gloria Nanette. Mason; B.P.O.E.; Rogue Valley Golf Club. Address: 41 Ross Court, Medford, Oregon.
Who's Who in Oregon 1929-1930, Oregon City Enterprise, page 188
THE PEAR PIONEERS OF MEDFORD
By JEUNESSE BUTLER
From "way down east" to "the far west" (Maine to New York, New York to Illinois, Illinois to Oregon) came the Stewarts, all nurserymen, unto the fourth generation. True pioneer souls they were, with the courage and vision, patience and persistence which characterized those whom all Oregon is remembering today during her Diamond Jubilee. The courage to leave the familiar for the unknown, the vision to sense what the future could bring, the patience and persistence to work for it.
"The Illinois State Agricultural Society award this diploma to Wm. Stewart and Sons, Hannibal Mo. for the best 25 varieties of fruit. October 4, 1856," reads a framed announcement hanging on the dining room wall of the Dillon Hill home on Kings Highway, where lives Wm. Stewart's granddaughter, Mrs. Hill. Opposite the diploma is a beautiful picture of a Rogue River Valley orchard in bloom, taken in 1914.
Joseph H. Stewart, son of William, planted the first commercial orchard in this valley, the Eden Valley [orchard], now known as the Voorhies orchard and owned by Col. Gordon Voorhies, experienced and prominent grower. Mr. Stewart bought the tract of 160 acres in the spring of '85 when it was known as the old Ball place, and planted 100 acres in fruit. In '87, he bought what was known as the Justus place, now the George Marshall, and two years later planted about 76 acres in apples and pears.
Spraying did not appear as necessary in those days, more moisture made less irrigating, and smudging had perhaps not been invented. Good corn could be and was raised without a drop of water, according to those who remember, and corn and watermelons were grown between trees in the orchards while they [i.e., the orchards] were growing. Blight was something of a problem, then as now, and the soil of the Eden Valley was a mixture of the sandy and "sticky."
Mrs. Hill likes to recall that her father sent out the first carload of Ben Davis apples that ever left the valley. Their destination was Germany, she says. Bartletts, 'Anjous and Howells were the principal varieties, with the Bartlett considered the best commercial pear.
The Dillon Hill home is a quaint and charming place, by the way. Marble-topped tables, capacious fireplaces, old-fashioned rocking chairs and a Steinway parlor grand piano, rosewood cased, combine to give an air of old-time repose and comfort. The house was built in 1905, a year before Joseph Stewart died. The lumber was hauled from a mill near Prospect by mule team. But all this does not concern orchards, nor growers.
It was in 1901 that 160 additional acres of fruit land were purchased from Asa Fordyce. Fred Page of Portland bought much of Mr. Stewart's fruit, states Mrs. Hill. They also shipped to Sgobel and Day of New York, Ray and Hatfield of New York and Dennis and Sons of London, England. By this time, residents of the valley and others were ready to believe Mr. Stewart's evaluation when he predicted the Rogue River country would be the "ideal pear spot of the West." Mrs. Hill also likes to dwell somewhat on the visits to her father of both Mr. Sgobel and Day, whose names are still familiar to this section. For the possible encouragement of those who today may need it, there is Mr. Stewart's advice given so many years ago, "It may be slim in spots, but just grit your teeth and hang on."
Mr. Stewart and his family took things as they came, from the time he took a crowbar and sounded the ground to find what he wanted until actual buying and selling took place. Sacks of flour were only 75 cents in those days, and a side of bacon cost about one dollar. "Father eventually sold enough fruit to make a good living," Mrs. Hill recalls, and "he was a good financier," she adds with pardonable pride.
A story such as this must necessarily be written somewhat sketchily, for the writer is dependent upon memories for most of the information, and the present writer believes it is much better to give the readers of the Pear-O-Scope all she has been able to gather even if not presented in ordered sequence.
For instance: The Eden Valley orchard boasted 50 varieties of pears and apples, the elder Stewart having brought his own nursery stock from Illinois. He came before there were any railroads. [This is incorrect.] His brothers came later and also bought fruit lands. The codling moth and the blight were early arrivals. Ninety acres were planted in melons. Although having been a commercial grower in New York and later in Illinois, Joseph Stewart encountered something "new and different" when he discovered "sticky."
That he was considered in those early days to be "crazy" doesn't seem so unusual, for he had new ideas about fruit production and marketing. "A true conception of values in properties and varieties," states his daughter. Ninety-six cars of his own fruit were shipped in 1896.
The price range was about the same as today, and the pack practically the same. Although it was thought the Newtown apple would last, the pear was even then considered the important product of the valley. The Clairgeau was once a moneymaker. The Nelis, the Bosc and Comice were first planted about 1890 by Will Stewart, a son, at what is now known as the Hillcrest orchards. Wagner Butte was planted by his brother, A. J. Stewart.
Sons and sons-in-law planted and owned the Marshall orchard, the Hillcrest, the Hollywood, the Burch property and the Weeks tracts on the river. Also the piece now owned by Mrs. Jessie Minear close to Jacksonville.
The Olwells were the next to join the growers in the Rogue Valley, then W. H. Norcross of Central Point and Mr. Whitman, grandfather of Olin Whitman. The Pellett orchard near Talent was one of the early tracts, also the Helms property near Ashland and the orchards of Chris Eismann and brothers at Grants Pass.
If the Stewarts have a coat of arms, many of their friends think, it should bear an insignia of pears, for Joseph Stewart was surely a pear pioneer. He was a member of the first horticultural society in the United States, the American Pomological Society, which originated in 1848. Howard Hill, his grandson, has a most interesting copy of the proceedings of the eighth session of the society held at Philadelphia in 1860. Interesting and informative data taken from this book and other sources will follow in additional articles which will appear in the Pear-O-Scope from time to time, at the request of our readers.
Rogue River Valley Pear-O-Scope, May 1934, page 3
Handling Perishable Fruit Traffic
From the Rogue River Valley
By A. S. Rosenbaum, District Freight and Passenger Agent, Southern Pacific Co.
When the discriminating housewife who lives in a Midwest or eastern city tells her grocer or market clerk that she wants a "dozen of those fine-looking pears," does she ask where the fruit is from and then voice surprise that it could be shipped that distance from Oregon and still be "fine looking"?
It's likely that she does not. Probably she takes it for granted, just as do millions of other persons throughout the nation, that her favorite fruit will be right there in the market when she wants it. Perhaps she little realizes how the perfection of a complicated phase of rail transportation has influenced her buying and eating habits.
Yet it has been only through the process of refrigeration in rail service that the nationwide distribution of perishable products has become possible, which in turn has helped to develop in Oregon and other Pacific coast states the orchards and vegetable acreage that serve the far corners of our country.
The present high standard of rail refrigeration service is comparatively recent in its creation and is under constant improvement. It was, however, nearly simultaneous with the planting of the first commercial pear orchard in the Rogue River Valley during 1885-86, that fruit was successfully shipped under refrigeration for the first time from the Pacific Coast to eastern markets.
These first "fruit cars" were little more than ordinary freight boxcars. Blocks of ice had to be piled in each end of the car before the fruit was loaded. There was no insulation of the car, nor was there any provision for re-icing the cars en route. Crude and impractical as this method now seems, these cars were the forerunners of the modern Pacific Fruit Express "reefer."
Unfortunately, we can find no record of just when the first carload of fruit was shipped from the Rogue River Valley. Most likely it was a shipment to Portland probably made in the early '90s [It was in 1884.] as soon as the first commercial orchards came into bearing. There were, of course, many earlier less-than-carload shipments. Some of the fruit was shipped by express to the eastern markets at that early date.
By the turn of the century the rail refrigerator cars had been developed sufficiently to ensure protection of the fruit on the long transcontinental trip, and the Rogue River Valley shipments gradually began to assume greater proportions in this traffic as the acreage and production increased from year to year.
During the past ten years, for which records are available, the peak in carload shipments was reached in 1930, when 4619 carloads of fruit were shipped from ten concentration points in the Rogue River Valley. Of this amount, 3723 carloads were shipped from Medford. Phoenix was second with 354 carloads. Of this total for the valley there were 3933 acres of pears, 617 cars of apples, 19 cars of other deciduous fruits and 50 cars of miscellaneous perishables.
The train schedules for handling perishable shipments from this valley are not available prior to 1920, when the government returned the railroads to private operation. In that year the schedules from the Rogue River Valley provided delivery at Chicago in time for the ninth-day market and 13th-day at New York. Since that time service has been constantly improved and schedules shortened until at the present time shipments arrive in Chicago for seventh-day auction and tenth-day at New York and other Atlantic Seaboard markets.
All rail shipments out of the valley are transported in Pacific Fruit Express equipment. That company was organized in 1906 by the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific companies. When the Pacific Fruit Express started operations in October 1907, it owned 6600 cars and during its first year handled 48,903 carloads of perishable traffic. Today it has more than 40,000 cars equipped for freight service, and in 1934 handled 322,523 carloads of perishable and semi-perishable commodities.
The Pacific Fruit Express company stands today as the largest operator of refrigerator cars in the world. At Roseville, California, where the majority of shipments from Pacific Coast points are re-iced and assembled into solid fruit trains for the transcontinental trip, the P.F.E. has constructed the world's largest ice manufacturing plant, with a daily production capacity of 1300 tons and storage space for 52,606 tons of ice.
Icing services of P.F.E. cars in the Rogue River valley are performed by commercial ice companies under contracts. At Medford, where most of the cars moving under refrigeration are iced, the work is done by the Medford Ice and Storage company, whose facilities consist of a plant with 110 tons daily manufacturing capacity, 19,350 tons storage, and platform that will accommodate 51 cars at a time. This platform was originally built to handle seven cars. In 1925 it was expanded to take care of 21 cars, and in 1929 built to its present size. The original ice storage capacity of 8,750 tons was also extended in 1929.
At Grants Pass such icing service as is required is done over a two-car single icing platform, from an ice plant of eight tons daily manufacturing capacity and 100 tons storage. Facilities at Ashland, consisting of an eight-car single icing platform, 18 tons daily capacity and 1,200 tons storage, have not been used to any extent in recent years, as it has been found more expeditious to perform the icing services at Medford.
Perishable commodities moving by rail to distant markets require diversion and reconsignment far more than any other kind of freight. Also it is essential that shippers and consignees be promptly and properly informed as to the location of their shipments in order that they may take full advantage of the best possible markets. Through its scores of agents in the United States and Canada, the P.F.E. performs this service most completely. It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of all cars of perishables from the Pacific Coast territory are changed in some manner between point of origin and final destinations. With the improvements in telegraph during recent years, particularly the perfection of the teletype, the P.F.E. has developed its diversion and passing advice service to a high point of efficiency.
Indicating the magnitude of this service, the P.F.E. offices during the past five years have handled more than four million diversions, an average of 800,000 a year. When the Rogue River Valley fruit is moving in volume, the rail company has stationed an experienced diversion clerk at Medford to ensure the most expedited handling of shippers' diversion orders.
Rogue River Valley Pear-O-Scope, January 1935, page 3; also reprinted in the March 29, 1935 issue of the Medford Mail Tribune, page 9
September 1935 Rogue River Valley Pear-O-Scope
Coming to Medford in 1907, Mr. Rosenbaum has watched the fruit industry in Medford district from its infancy to the present time, having been closely identified with the transportation of the fruit crops since the days when it amounted to but a few cars per year to the 1935 season when figures show a total of 1836 cars of pears and 128 of apples. In 1928, there were 75 cars a day for 30 days. The peak was reached in 1930 with 3810 of pears and 719 apples.
Mr. Rosenbaum remembers particularly the times when special train loads of smudge oil were necessary to preserve the crops, when special trains to Portland were imperative to make boat connections, and the very helpful part the Southern Pacific played that fateful year of 1926 during the spray residue situation, when a large amount was contributed to help the Fruit Growers League and the refund later refused.
To give proper credit to Mr. Rosenbaum and his associates for all they have done and tried to do during a long period of years would take a much longer article than this brief one which accompanies "Rosy's" picture, an article which will, however, appear in a later issue.
Rogue River Valley Pear-O-Scope, November 1935, page 8
OREGON APPLES OF EARLY DAYS WORTH $1 EACH
First Tree Planted in Southern Oregon--
Wild Cherry and Plum Sprouts from Rogue River Valley Used
PORTLAND, March, 16.--(AP)--The hectic history of agriculture in Oregon began with a total crop failure and zoomed to a bumper apple crop that sold for $1 per apple.
In fact, regardless of later ups and downs, apples might be called Oregon's number one crop on the strength of their introduction to the territory, as revealed in data gathered by the federal writers and historical records projects of the Oregon WPA.
The first white man's plow was applied to Oregon soil by Etienne Lucier in the winter of 1830-31 on Swan Island, a newspaper story of 1889 recorded. Thus Oregon farming took off from the site of Portland's airport nearly a century ahead of the transcontinental airliners. The crop, unnamed, was washed out by the June freshet.
Planted in 1844.Getting back to apples, the first tree was planted in southern Oregon, in the yard of the Rev. Gustavus Hines, in 1844. Ten years later his brother, Harvey K. Hines, early Oregon historian, picked 12 bushels of fruit, which sold for $9 a bushel. [The WPA history of Oregon located this tree in Oregon City.]
The Gold Beach Gazette of April 22, 1895, recorded the ultimate fate of the pioneer tree. It was made into canes, which were sold for the benefit of a church exchequer.
In 1847 an assortment of fruit trees and a sack of apple seeds were brought across the plains by Henderson Lewelling and William Meek. Roots from seedlings planted at French Prairie and Oregon City and wild cherry and plum sprouts from Rogue River Valley furnished the first grafting stock. One big red apple was produced the first year, and people flocked to the Lewelling home at Milwaukie to view the wonder.
Sold for $1 Each.The first box marketed at the Portland curb by Lewelling brought $75--a dollar an apple. Great crowds gathered around wagons peddling the fruit in the streets.
The first exported fruit went to San Francisco in 1853 and brought $2 a pound. The precious boxes were bound with iron bands to prevent theft. A box of Esopus apples brought a net profit of $60 in 1856 in California. The previous year 6000 bushels were marketed at from $20 to $30 a bushel.
Loss of a wagonload of apples in Indian depredations resulted in a $500 damage claim, the Gold Beach Gazette recorded in 1893.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, March 16, 1938, page 5
SOUTHERN OREGON SALES, Inc.
This is a group of pear-growers who organized in 1926 a cooperative for packing, cold storage sales and orchard supply, today own their own $500,000 plant and handle a $2,000,000 annual business today which includes 400,000 packed boxes alone.
The sixty-five grower-members producing and packing pears and apples in and around Medford maintains employees on an annual payroll in excess of $200,000.
Capacity of the cold storage plant is 320,000 annually. In addition to securing the advantages of the cooperative system for their business operations, these growers have gained the confidence of those with whom they deal in the firm's fair dealing, high credit rating and the excellency of their products.
Main offices are at P.O. Box 126, Stewart Avenue, Medford. Managing officers are: Leonard Carpenter, president; C. C. Clemens, vice president; E. R. Hull, treasurer; Mrs. Marion Reigel, secretary; S. V. Carpenter, F. C. Kenly, A. E. Brockway, Paul Culbertson and Bruce Fleming, directors; S. M. Tuttle, manager; J. J. Finegan, sales manager.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 46B
GREEN, GORDON ROOSEVELT
Gift Fruit Shipper, Co-Owner, Stage Coach Orchards.
b. St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 23, 1900; son of Walter Scott (pioneer lumberman Seattle and Hood Canal, Washington) and Mary E. (Hamilton) Green; educated public schools Seattle, Wash.; Wilson Business college, Seattle; son Gordon R. II; began, personnel manager, Western Electric Company during period of installation dial telephones 1920-25; manager Hood River operations, American Fruit Growers Association 1925-31; division manager, American Fruit Growers Association, Medford 1932 to date; founder fabulous Blue Goose Orchards, originator of "Fruit o' the Calendar Club," a million-dollar-a-year business devoted to shipping to every state in union gift baskets and boxes of world-famous Rogue River Valley fruit, basically a friendship business, 1934 to date; co-partner, Green Acres Orchards (formerly Charles Wing Orchards, Inc.) 1945-; co-owner Stage Coach Orchards, gift box fruit shippers; writer of many humor and general interest magazine articles; member International Apple Association; trustee, Oregon-Washington-California Pear Bureau; very active in Red Cross work; member Rogue River Traffic Association; chairman Siskiyou Service Council; member University Club, Medford; member Knife and Fork Club; Rogue River Valley Golf Club; Elk; Episcopalian; home 15 Corning Court; office Box 1226, Medford.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 227
HOLMES, DAVID HUGH
Horticulturist; Partner, Bear Creek Orchards.
b. Seattle, Aug. 22, 1889; son of Sam and Anna (Lapworth) Rosenberg; educated grade, high schools, Seattle; Cornell University B.S. 1913; children G. Nanette and David H. Jr.; began in ranching; co-partner (with brother) livestock ranch (sheep and cattle) five years near Medford; co-partner, Bear Creek Orchards, 1928 to date; established mail fruit business, Fruit of the Month Club; growers, packers and shippers of fruit baskets nationally; nearly one thousand acres of fruit orchards including pears, peaches and plums; owner packing house, cold storage plant and marketing agency, large publicity staff (700 employees); first president California, Oregon and Washington Pear Bureau; home 1327 Reddy Ave.; office Bear Creek Orchards, Medford.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 272
HOLMES, HARRY LAPWORTH
Horticulturist; Partner, Bear Creek Orchards.
b. Seattle, May 6, 1892; son of Sam and Anna (Lapworth) Rosenberg; educated public schools, Seattle; Cornell University B.S. 1914; m. Eleanor Hunter of Kankakee, Michigan, Dec. 28, 1939; son John Hunter; began in ranching with brother, sheep and cattle five years near Medford; co-owner Bear Creek Orchards 1928 to date; national shippers and packers, mail fruit business 1932-; Fruit of the Month Club, gift baskets; nearly one thousand acres fruit orchards; pears, peaches and plums; owner, packing house, cold storage plants and marketing agency; shippers fruit nationally with large European market; past president Rogue River Valley Traffic Association; member Fruit Growers League; served Field Artillery, World War I; member Chamber of Commerce (former director); University Club (Medford); Rogue River Valley Golf Club; Legionnaire; Elk; Mason; Republican; home Modoc Ave.; office Bear Creek Orchards, Medford.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 273
Last revised April 26, 2017