Josephine County History

Abstracted from The Oregonian's Handbook Of The Pacific Northwest - 1894 by The Oregonian Publishing Co.

Grant's Pass, Oregon. -- Grant's Pass, the judicial seat of Josephine county, has a population of about 2,000.  It is located in the heart of hte valley of the Rogue river which has its source in Jackson county, flows through Josephine and Curry counties and empties its waters into the Pacific ocean.  Grant's Pass is the largest town in the Rogue river valley.  It is supported by the rich mineral, timber and agricultural resources of the country adjacent.  It is located on the main line of the Southern Pacific, 296 miles south of Portland and 476 miles north of San Francisco.  The merchants here have the benefit afforded by the competition of the Portland and San Francisco wholesalers to sell goods in this field.  The town is the end of an important division of the Southern Pacific, and a round house and railroad repair shops are located at this point.  The principal industry of Grant's Pass is the manufacture of sash, doors, blinds, mouldings and boxes.  A company with a capital stock of $125,000 is engaged in this business here and about 100 men are employed in the factory.  Other smaller factories at Grant's Pass are a brick-making plant, planing mill and broom factory.  Several fine brick blocks have been erected on the main business street of the town and one bank looks after the financial affairs of the business community.  A large ten-room brick school building occupies a prominent site in the city and eight teachers are employed in the public schools here.  The number of scholars in attendance is about 350.  There are seven churches located here, four of which -- the Methodist, Presbyterian, South Methodist and Baptist -- own their own buildings.  A circulating library, free reading room and a new brick opera house, with a seating capacity of 1,000, are located at this point.

The Rogue River Courier and Oregon Observer, two weekly papers are published at Grant's Pass.  Grant's Pass annually ships a large amount of fruit, lumber and brick, and about $100,000 in gold annually reaches this point from the rich placer deposits of the valleys adjacent.

Josephine County, Oregon. --- Josephine county lies to the east of Curry, south of Douglas, west of Jackson and extends to the California line on the south.  Its area is about 1,800 square miles and its present population is about 8,000.  Until the completion of the Southern Pacific railroad through the southern part of the state comparatively little was known of this rich part of Oregon.  During the past ten years, however, wonderful strides have been made here, and this is now classed among the most prosperous portions of the Northwest.

The soil of the lands of Josephine county is of remarkable fertility and will produce almost anything grown in the temperate zone.  Cereals and fruits of all kinds grow in profusion here.  Snow seldom falls in the valleys of the county, but on the higher elevations, which are covered with valuable forests of fir, cedar, oak, pine and other timber, the snowfall is sometimes heavy.  The valleys of Josephine county are now practically one vast fruit garden.  Peaches grow here in size and flavor equal to the most luscious of the New Jersey peach crop, and the tons of melons raised here which are annually shipped to the Portland and other markets to the north are not excelled in quality by the melons raised in the most favored parts of the United States.  All varieties of fruit do well on these lands and the vineyards and orchards of Josephine county will some day rival those of the famous California fruit belt.

The entire area of Josephine county is well watered, numerous creeks of the clearest water flowing down the mountain sides and traversing the land in all directions.  These streams also furnish fine water power at convenient points.  The mountainous districts of the county contain rich deposits of gold quartz, silver, copper and other metals.  Widespread attention is just at the present time being attracted to the mineral wealth of this county and the mines here some day will rival those of Eastern Oregon or of the Coeur d'Alenes in Northern Idaho.

Transcribed by Linda Blum-Barton, Oct. 15, 2008

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