Community Gems: A Collection of History

Downtown Medford, Early 20th Century

What began as muddy streets alongside a railroad depot slowly turned into the bustling city we know today: Medford. From the early development of successful orchards, to the post-world war lumber industry and onto the regional medical center, Medford has become successful at adapting, which is why it continues to expand, with a current population nearing 81,000. Through the gathered excerpts of newspaper clippings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a picture of a brand-new city in the midst of the beautiful Rogue Valley comes across as the Promised Land that settlers back East were still dreaming about.

 

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 3, 1883:

“The Grand Central railroad depot has been located at last and the company [has] decided on putting it on the land owned by C. W. Broback, C. Mingus, C. C. Beekman and I. J. Phipps.”

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 23, 1883:

“The name of our depot is still in doubt, some calling it East Jacksonville, while others persist in naming it Phippstown. ‘Grand Central’ seems to have dropped behind.”

Ashland Tidings, November 30, 1883:

“A name for the town has not yet been finally adopted, but ‘Medford’ or ‘Middleford’ has been suggested by the railroad people, we are told.”

Ashland Tidings, November 30, 1883:

“C. W. Broback, one of the proprietors of the new town down the valley…says ‘East Jacksonville’ is [a] no go.”

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 15, 1883:

“The central station in the valley is to be called Medford, and the one at Chavner’s bridge is named Bedford. With the passengers coming from the south it is all right, as they can commence undressing at Medford before reaching Bedford.

Wiser heads prevailed, and “Bedford” became Gold Hill.”

 

On December 20, 1883, Medford was marked on surveyors’ plats as… ‘Medford!’

 

Predictions (which came true) about the fruit industry. The West Shore, June 1889:

“Fruit shipments, which are destined to be a most important item…are certain to increase enormously in volume and value. Orchards and vineyards are just beginning to yield their luscious products and give a promise of what will be seen a few years hence…”

Praise for Medford found in the Medford Mail, November, 1908:

“There is not to be found in the whole West Country a more thrifty, progressive and prosperous city than growing Medford… Located in the very heart of this great fruit, agricultural and mineral country of the Rogue River, Medford is naturally the hub around which center the resources of boundless wealth of this vast empire…”

Commentary on Medford’s Economic Development in the Medford Mail, March, 1908:

“Expressions from different realty agents show it to be the belief that at present there are at least 150 residences…The town has got to the place now where it is going to grow without any hard pulling on the part of its citizens, but hard pulling will hasten its growth. So if you are thinking of moving you had better get busy.”

History of the city, found in the Medford Mail Tribune, October, 1948, page 3:

“With the years between World War I and II, Medford grew and thrived. Where once vacant lots stood, lumber mills and tourist courts were erected. Medford, like other American cities, had weathered the Depression and was striving to make up for lost time. Then came Pearl Harbor and, following in its footsteps, Camp White. During the war thousands of soldiers saw the valley and loved it. Through their letters, Medford became known to families from the coast of Maine to the plains of Texas. Many of these men became so infatuated with the valley that they have returned to make their permanent homes here.”

Time Magazine, February 1981, page 8:

“From the air, Medford at first looks fairly familiar, a blacktop and stucco fantasia of gas stations and fast-fooderies sprawling out along a meandering, not-too-clean creek. But the mountains that rim the valley are tipped with snow and trimmed with dark firs that wipe the skyline like distant eyelashes.”

Whether fifty years or nearly a hundred-and-fifty years ago, Medford has been in the minds of both its visitors and residents. With an international airport, multiple hospitals and schools, hundreds of successful businesses, and scenic surrounding landscapes, Medford continues to grow as a gem of Southern Oregon.

 

Additional Sources:

Southern Oregon History (2016). Medford Year by Year. Website: http://truwe.sohs.org/files/homeyearbyyear.html

Southern Oregon History (2013). The Middleford Myth. Website: http://truwe.sohs.org/files/middleford.html

City of Medford (2019). Medford Oregon History. Website: https://www.ci.medford.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=578

 

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