Medford

Theaters

Background

Demographics, Politics & Society

Medford Original Town 1883 – Medford Oregon: Historic Context

While the land had been traveled through and visited by Native Americans, such as the Upland Takelmas and Shasta peoples, and pioneers alike, after the railroads were completed in 1884, the city of Medford truly began to be settled and peopled. The area was quite a “hospitable place abundantly supplied with fish, game and edible vegetation” (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). Development of the city began with businesses being constructed, homes built, and in “the early 1880’s the first commercial orchards were established” (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). Shortly afterwards, Medford was incorporated as a city in Oregon in 1885. The city’s population barely reached a thousand by 1890, with a meager 967 citizens, but finally broke a thousand citizens in 1900 with 1,791 citizens. Between 1900 and 1910, “years often called the Orchard Boom”, Medford saw a population boom in which its population rose to well over eight thousand with its 8,840 citizens in 1910 (Oregon Encyclopedia). This 392% increase in its population made Medford “the third fastest growing city in the nation” at the time (Oregon Encyclopedia).Thanks to the creation of “Crater Lake National Park, in neighboring Klamath County” in 1902, tourism was encouraged throughout southern Oregon and helped the population of the city expand (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). Along with the growth from tourism, “by 1905 new settlers, former residents of the mid-west and eastern states, arrived and planted extensive apple, pear, and peach orchards around Medford” (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). After seeing such an increase, however, the census of 1920 reflected a marked decrease in population with only 5,756 citizens documented living in the city during this time (Population of Oregon Cities, Counties, and Metropolitan Areas).

Strife and Struggles of Medford

The city “struggled through both the 1920s and 1930s – decades marked with political and social turmoil” including the presence of the Ku Klux Klan, the shipment of soldiers for World War I and an influenza outbreak in 1918 with 81 cases diagnosed in Medford alone (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). By 1930, the city again saw an immense increase in its population with 11,007 citizens residing in Medford at the time (Population of Oregon Cities, Counties, and Metropolitan Areas). In the 1920s, like several areas of Oregon, the Ku Klux Klan was gaining its strength and growing its presence in Medford. Although rallies were held locally to raise awareness for their cause, “the Klan declined rapidly in strength after 1924” due to increasing opposition from citizens and locals. In particular the editor of the Medford Mail Tribune, Robert Ruhl, took great steps to keep “the local and state citizenry apprised of Klan activities” (Medford Oregon: Historic Context). Though the Klan’s presence and strength decreased after 1924, it “took the Rogue Valley years to heal public and personal bitterness” (Medford Oregon: Historic Context).

Sources

1. Medford . Planning Department, Issuing Body. Medford Oregon : Historic Context, 1846-1946. Medford, Oregon: Medford Planning Department, 1993.

2. Kramer, George. “Medford.” The Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/medford/#.Wv02hYgvyUk.

3. Population of Oregon Cities, Counties, and Metropolitan Area 1850-1957. Bureau of Municipal Research and Service, University of Oregon. Information Bulletin No. 106, April 1958.

Economics & Infrastructure

Owen-Oregon sawmill, Medford, Oregon American Lumberman, 1926

Medford was established in the Rogue Valley as a logging town in 1883, and quickly progressed to be one of the predominant providers of lumber in the Pacific Northwest by the early 20th century. In his book on the subject, Jeffrey M. LaLande states that “the period between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Great Depression was the golden age of railroad and logging in the Pacific Northwest” (36). The area’s leading company, the Owen-Oregon Lumber Company, which established its base of operations in Medford, prospered during this brief time in history.  All of the lumber milled by Owen-Oregon was distributed by Medford Logging Railroad, Owen-Oregon’s log carrier, and sent all throughout the western states. The town of Medford was dominated by the lumber mill until an increase in population caused the city to rapidly grow in size. Between 1900 and 1910 the population went from 1,791 to 8,840, and in 1930 the population reached 11,007. Medford spread out to accommodate the steady rise of people, and Interstate 5, Highway 99 and the Southern Pacific Railroad passed through the center of town.

Medford was not just a logging community and also had an agricultural economy. It was believed by timberland homesteaders that once they had cleared the land of trees farmers would follow and settle, which was a common occurrence. The countryside surrounding Medford was filled with farms, notably a large number of orchards. The fruit produced by these orchards included apples, pears, peaches, and cherries. A notable Medford orchard, Hillcrest Orchard, conducted business with a number of companies throughout the Pacific Northwest including Northwest Fruit Exchange and North Yakima Nursery Company.

 

LaLande, Jeffrey M. “Butte Falls.” The Oregon Encyclopedia, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/butte_falls/#.Wv5RlJch3IU.

LaLande, Jeffrey M. Medford Corporation: a History of an Oregon Logging and Lumber Company. Klocker Print. Co., 1979.

“Oregon Plant Nearing Completion.” American Lumberman, 4 Dec. 1926, p. 65, truwe.sohs.org/files/medco.html.

“Population.us.” Jackson County Population, population.us/or/medford/.

Arts & Culture

Connecting With Nature

            Prior to the 1920s, the horse-drawn wagon journey from Medford to Crater Lake would take at least three days. In the 1910s, the National Park Service decided to lobby for road improvement to increase visitors from the Southern Oregon region and beyond. Their persistence paid off and the number of visitors to Crater Lake jumped from fewer than 29,000 in 1921 to 170,000 in 1931 (Allen). The city of Medford capitalized on the newfound popularity of Crater Lake, dubbing itself the “Gateway to Crater Lake” and the “Midway metropolis” (Putnam). The development of the Pacific Highway through Medford positioned the city perfectly to develop a new way to connect with nature. A new culture of tourism brought tens of thousands of people through Medford on their way to Crater Lake.

Architectural Trends

            After graduating from college on the East Coast, a population of young people found themselves drawn to the simplicity of rural, yet suburban life found in the Rogue River Valley. The Eastern youth built large bungalows and Craftsmen-style ho

A new Country Club opening, advertised in the June 28, 1911 edition of the Medford Mail Tribune.

uses, which contrasted much of the existing Tudor-style architecture in Oregon at the Time. The popularity of the bungalow/Craftsmen style took off and the homes were sent as mail-order plans, celebrated in magazines and other ads, and built in large quantities by real estate developers between the 1910s and 1920s. This Eastern influence in architecture also influenced other areas of Medford culture. Country Clubs and other social organizations became prominent cultural practices throughout the Rogue River Valley, with particular concentration in Medford (Engeman).

 

Sources
1. Allen, Cain. “Medford, Gateway to Crater Lake.” Oregon Historical Society, 2003. The Oregon History Project.
2. Engeman, Richard H. “Revival Styles and Highway Alignment, 1890-1940: Country Life and Bungalows.” 2005. The Oregon History Project.
3. Putnam, George. “The Commercial Club Meet.” Medford Mail Tribune, January 26,1910, 266th ed.

Key Events

Medford, Oregon officially became recognized as a city in 1885. When railroads were established in and around the city everything began developing at an exponential rate. Schoolhouses, fire stations, and post offices cropped up in the city.

In the summer of 1904 The Condor Water and Power Company brought electricity to the city of Medford (1). Many homes adopted electricity, and many others quickly commercialized it. by 1907 there were advertisements found in the newspapers for electric cooking utensils (2).

Within the next few years the Carnegie Library (funded by Andrew Carnegie), the Sacred Heart Hospital, opened in Medford. The library faced many difficulties as it was built, it took years for them to finally decide on a location. Many in the city were against this library solely because of the fact that it was funded by Mr. Carnegie, whose labor policies they weren’t fond of.  It opened up February 8, 1912 (3). The Sacred Heart Hospital was dedicated in a grand ceremony just a few days later, on February 19, 1912 (4). This building was much more widely accepted.

The Medford Mail Tribune published many articles urging the male voters of Jackson County to vote against prohibition in their state. Many groups against it published articles with varying reasons for being against it. Opinion pieces were published claiming that these laws will result in a lack of right to privacy and the ability for the police to raid homes without warning (5). Ultimately, the state overwhelmingly voted in favor of remaining “wet” and prohibition free on November 9, 1910 (6).

The overt political influence the Klan held over southern Oregon began in 1921 when the first member was sworn in in Medford. It held significant political power in places like the state government by 1923. Then it disbanded in 1924 (7).

The county seat of Jackson County moves from Jacksonville to Medford by October 26, 1926 (8)

Works cited:

  1. “Power and Light for Medford.” Medford Mail , 22 July 1904, p. 1. Newspapers.com.
  2. Condor Water and Power Company. “Electric Chafing Dish.” Medford Mail Tribune, 19 July 1907, Newspapers.com.
  3. “Crowds Flock to See Library.” Medford Mail Tribune, 9 Feb. 1912, p. 2. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
  4. “New Hospital Is Dedicated.” Medford Mail Tribune, 19 Feb. 1912, p. 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
  5. “Men of Oregon!” Medford Mail Tribune, 21 Oct. 1910, p. 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
  6. “Oregon Remains Wet by 15,000 Estimated Lead.” Medford Mail Tribune, 9 Nov. 1910, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
  7. Turner, Kernan. “Ku Klux Klan Impacts Southern Oregon Politics in 1920’s.” Jefferson Public Radio, ijpr.org.
  8. “Statement on Removal of County Seat to Medford.” Medford Mail Tribune, 26 Oct. 1926, p. 5. Newspapers.com.

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Citations

Allen, Cain. “Medford, Gateway to Crater Lake.” Oregon Historical Society, 2003. The Oregon History Project.

Condor Water and Power Company. “Electric Chafing Dish.” Medford Mail Tribune, 19 July 1907, Newspapers.com.

“Crowds Flock to See Library.” Medford Mail Tribune, 9 Feb. 1912, p. 2. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

Engeman, Richard H. “Revival Styles and Highway Alignment, 1890-1940: Country Life and Bungalows.” 2005. The Oregon History Project.

Kramer, George. “Medford.” The Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/medford/#.Wv02hYgvyUk.

Medford . Planning Department, Issuing Body. Medford Oregon : Historic Context, 1846-1946. Medford, Oregon: Medford Planning Department, 1993.

“Men of Oregon!” Medford Mail Tribune, 21 Oct. 1910, p. 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

“New Hospital Is Dedicated.” Medford Mail Tribune, 19 Feb. 1912, p. 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

“Oregon Remains Wet by 15,000 Estimated Lead.” Medford Mail Tribune, 9 Nov. 1910, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

Population of Oregon Cities, Counties, and Metropolitan Area 1850-1957. Bureau of Municipal Research and Service, University of Oregon. Information Bulletin No. 106, April 1958.

“Power and Light for Medford.” Medford Mail , 22 July 1904, p. 1. Newspapers.com.

Putnam, George. “The Commercial Club Meet.” Medford Mail Tribune, January 26,1910, 266th ed.

“Statement on Removal of County Seat to Medford.” Medford Mail Tribune, 26 Oct. 1926, p. 5. Newspapers.com.

Turner, Kernan. “Ku Klux Klan Impacts Southern Oregon Politics in 1920’s.” Jefferson Public Radio, ijpr.org.

LaLande, Jeffrey M. “Butte Falls.” The Oregon Encyclopedia, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/butte_falls/#.Wv5RlJch3IU.

LaLande, Jeffrey M. Medford Corporation: a History of an Oregon Logging and Lumber Company. Klocker Print. Co., 1979.

“Oregon Plant Nearing Completion.” American Lumberman, 4 Dec. 1926, p. 65, truwe.sohs.org/files/medco.html.

“Population.us.” Jackson County Population, population.us/or/medford/.