Saturday, February 28, 2009

Medford - Week #4.3

Thursday - February 26

Medford's Railroad Park

Today, my last here in Medford, I went out for a bike ride around town. I didn't have a destination in mind but just rode around aimlessly trying to see whatever sights I might have missed in the last month. Just by accident I ran across Medford's Railroad Park. I had read about the park but after learning that it was closed in the winter gave up on making a visit. The park displays historical railroad equipment and operates scale steam trains that the public can ride on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from April through October.

The park began in 1979 with an agreement between the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the City of Medford. The area occupied by the park was once the cities sewage treatment plant. Today the park is the home of the Morse Telegraph Club, the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club, the Oregon Live Steamers, and the Southwest Oregon Large Scale Train Club.

This picture shows the firebox and boiler of an old steam locomotive under reconstruction at the park.

You can read more about Railroad Park at:

Friday - February 27

I left Medford at about 10:30 this morning for the return trip to Seattle where I arrived back home at about 7pm. It's probably been many years since I've made the drive on I-5 from southern Oregon up to Portland because I had forgotten how mountainous it is until you get to Eugene. Then north of Eugene it's a fairly boring drive.

Ahhhh! Home sweet home...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Medford - Week #4.2

Tuesday - February 24

Today I took a trip back out to Upper Table Rock north of Medford. As you can see the weather on top was a bit stormy looking.

While I was on top I ran across the first wild flowers of the year. I'm not sure what these are-- let me know if you do.

At the trail head there was a description of an endangered wild flower species called the Dwarf Wooly Meadowfoam. Literally the only place on the planet that it's found is at Upper and Lower Tablerocks in the Rogue River Valley. I thought the flowers that I had seen might be the Dwarf Wooly Meadowfoam at first. Turns out they were definitely not meadowfoam.

Wednesday - February 25

I got out for a 20 mile bike ride on the Bear Creek Greenway today from Medford to the town of Talent about 10 miles south of Medford. Talent has a population of about 6000 and lies in the southern extension of the Rogue River Valley.

Talent's first settlers arrived in the early 1850's, took out Donation Land Claims, and started large orchards and farms-- many of which were abandoned after the discovery of gold in nearby Jacksonville in 1852.

You can read more about Talent's history at:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Medford - Week #4.1

Oregon Trivia

In Portland, Oregon it's illegal to whistle underwater.

Saturday - February 21

Roxy Ann Peak

I took another hike on Roxy Ann Peak today and as you can see in the pictures tomorrows clouds and wet weather look like they are starting to arrive.

Sunday - February 22

Jacksonville Museum

I biked out to Jacksonville west of Medford today and visited the Jacksonville Museum. As you can see the weather was great on the five mile ride out to Jacksonville-- unfortunately it poured down rain the whole way back to Medford. The museum occupies the old Jacksonville Courthouse from back in the days before the county seat moved from Jacksonville to Medford. I'm normally too much of a cheapskate to pay the $5 required to tour the museum but I've made a number of visits to Jacksonville on this trip and have found the place to be full of very interesting history.

The museum provides many displays about the early history of Jacksonville. You can find more about the museum at: . One of the early residents of Jacksonville, Peter Britt, came to Jacksonville from Switzerland with $5 in his pocket at the age of 33. He had a background as a portrait painter and was pushing a two wheeled cart full of photographic equipment. He lead an incredibly interesting life as an artist, gold miner, mule skinner, painter, investor, wine maker, bee keeper, meteorologist, and photographer. A large part of the Jacksonville Museum is devoted to Peter Britt's accomplishments and life in Jacksonville. You can read more about Peter Britt at:

Monday - February 23

Habitat for Humanity

I volunteered again today at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Most of my time today was spent taking in donations, assembling items for display on the showroom floor, and helping customers load up cabinet and furniture purchases. The picture to the right is of the store's director, Jack, and another volunteer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Medford - Week #3.2

Oregon Trivia

A reasearcher at Oregon State University developed the maraschino cherry.

Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations.

Beacon Rock, visible from Bonneville Dam 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon on the Columbia River, is second in size only to the Rock of Gibralter.

Tuesday - February 17

This is the nice spanking new Medford Branch of the Jackson County Public Library.

It seems a crime it's only open four days a week and is only open one evening a week-- Monday until 7pm.

Wednesday - February 18

(click on any picture for a larger view)

Today I was back to Jacksonville yet another time to hike Rich Gulch, the gold mining area just outside of town.

I missed this interpretive panel last time; it gives a general picture about the discovery of gold in Rich Gulch and the history of Jacksonville-- originally named Table Rock City.

...and another panel I missed last time. It tells more about placer gold mining in Rich Gulch.

From Panorama Point above Rich Gulch-- you can see Roxy Ann Peak, on the east side of Medford, and Mt McLoughlin in the distance.

Jacksonville's IOOF hall was built in 1860. The red iron shutters over the windows and doors could be locked from the inside to protect settlers on the inside during Indian attacks.

Table Rock Billiard Saloon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Medford - Week #3.1

Oregon Trivia
NBC's Ann Curry grew up in Ashland, Oregon ten miles south of Medford.

Oregon's state flag pictures a beaver on its reverse side. It is the only state flag to carry two separate designs.

Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state.

Saturday - February 14
Bear Creek Greenway
Today I took another ride on the Bear Creek Greenway but this time I rode south to Ashland instead of north. The round trip to Ashland was about 35 miles including getting lost for a couple of miles along the way due to some confusing signs at a construction detour.
Through central Medford a lot of the trail is under I-5 and runs through a couple of city parks-- Hawthorne Park and Bear Creek Park. The trail is a great place to ride but doesn't seem very well connected to the communities is passes through and today
there were very few others on the trail-- in fact there were more walkers than bikers. I still haven't gotten over the number of bicyclists I see here that aren't wearing helmets. In fact most people aren't wearing them. Standard bike riding gear is a flannel shirt and a baseball hat.

By the time I got to Ashland it was late enough that that all I had time to do was find a place in Lithia Park next to Ashland Creek to eat my lunch then head back to Medford. The trip back was a little faster since it was mostly down hill and this time I didn't have to get lost figuring out the bike rout.

Sunday - February 15
A day of rest recovering from yesterdays bike ride.

Monday - February 16

I spent the day working at the Medford Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The building that the store is in also houses the local Habitat for Humanity offices and the proceeds from the store sales go to support local HH projects. Jack, the store's director, said that because of the holiday it was kind of a slow day. Which it was in the morning but after lunch things picked up quite a bit.

I spend the morning repricing a couple of boxes of cabinet hand pulls that looked like they were overstock items donated by some home improvement business. Then in the afternoon I helped put a bunch of other donated items-- doors, shelves, kitchen cabinets, etc-- out on the showroom floor. I'm planning to go back for another day next Monday.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Medford - Week #2

Oregon Trivia

The 1987 film Inherit the Wind about the Scopes Monkey Trial was filmed in Jacksonville, Oregon five miles west of Medford.

The Oregon Shakespear Festival operates three theaters in Ashland, Oregon.

Friday - February 6

Ashland bus trip

The weather forecast for today was threatening some rain so I took the opportunity to test out the RVTD's (Rogue Valley Transit District) bus to Ashland. The buses were on time and the schedule for the whole system of six bus routs consisted of one 11x17 sheet of paper.

Ashland, with a population of nearly twenty-two thousand, is located about ten miles south of Medford and was originally named Ashland Mills; it officially became a town in 1855. Prior to that the area was inhabited by Shasta Indians. Today Ashland is the home of Southern Oregon University (student population of 5000 +/-), the Oregon Shakespeare Fes
tival, and a bunch of ex-hippies. I'm not sure what happened to the Shasta Indians but I didn't see any of them around.

Downtown Ashland is pushed right up against the hillside to the west with many houses extending up the hillside.

A couple of my favorite Ashland houses below:

This house had what I originally thought was a simple green house but upon a closer look seems to be a solar collector. (click on the picture for an enlarged view)

Saturday - February 8

The Bear Creek Greenway

Today I biked the Bear Creek Greenway north to Central Point a few miles north of downtown Medford. And from downtown Medford to the south it goes all the way to Ashland.

The original concept for the Greenway goes all the way back to the 1890's but it didn't get off to an actual start until the early 1970's. Old tax records show that in 1899 a $1.25 tax was levied on all bicycles-- about 400 bikes in all. But it's not clear exactly what happened to the money-- does that sound at all familiar?

The full length of the trail is expected to be open between Ashland and Central Point this summer.

Sunday - February 9
Jacksonville - Rich Gulch hike
Today I went back to Jacksonville, five miles west of Medford, and hiked Rich Gulch. Rich Gulch is a branch of Daisy Creek and runs through Jacksonville. Starting in 1851 Rich Gulch was the center of all of the placer gold mining activity that caused the town of Jacksonville to develop in the first place after gold was discovered.

A series of story boards along the course of the hike through Rich Gulch do a great job of explaining the history of Rich Gulch and the mining activity that took place there. You can click on the story board pictures below for a full explanation.

Figure 1

This story board tells about the Petard family who made their way with a combination of gold mining and grape growing.

In the 1870's hydraulic mining techniques came in to use that used a stream of high pressure water to sluice all of the soil away down to bedrock. The soil was then collected and run through a sluice which allowed the gold to settle to the bottom and then be retrieved. See Figures 3, 4, and 5 below for more explanation.
(click on the picture for a larger view)

Figure 2

This board explains the basics of placer mining and tells the story of William Earnshaw who came to Jacksonville in 1860 and tells about his search for gold.
(click on the picture for a larger view)

Figure 3
An explanations of hydraulic placer mining.
(click on the picture for a larger view)

Figure 4

A hydraulic mining operation in action.
(click on the picture for a larger view)

Figure 5
More about hydraulic placer mining techniques.
(click on the picture for a larger view)

Figure 6
The story of Chinese miners at Rich Gulch.
(click on the
picture for a larger view)

Monday - February 10

Upper Table Rock
Upper Table Rock Trailhead.

Upper Table Rock lunch spot-- looking over to Lower Table Rock in the distance.

South toward Medford from Upper Table Rock.

Tuesday - February 11
East Medford bike ride
As you can see from the picture to the left of Roxy Ann Peak, today was a bit of a marginal weather day-- with temperatures in the 30's and off-and-on snow and rain. But I did manage to get out for about a 15 mile bike tour. Mostly around the east side of Medford.

Wikipedia claims that the Medford economy is primarily driven by health care. And you can see it on Medford's east side by the number of hospitals, health clinics, and the type of homes that are there.

Wednesday - February 11
Ashland - Lithia Park Hike
The original plan for today was to bike the Bear Creek Greenway to Ashland but cold temps and possible rain changed my plans. So I got on the bus again for a ride to Ashland where I hiked the Ashland Creek trail in Lithia Park. The entrance to the park is the site of the original flour mill built when the Ashland was called Ashland Mills.
(click on any of the pictures below for a larger view)

Thurdsday - February 12, 2009
Today I went back to Prescott Park on the east side of Medford to take another hike up Roxy Ann Peak. The slopes of Roxy Ann are populated by mostly three kinds of trees: ponderosa pine, Oregon White Oak, and madrone[muh-droh-nuh]. Ponderosas and madrones of course are very popular in the Pacific Northwest but the White Oaks, or dwarf oaks, were new to me but I've seen them everywhere I've hiked in the Rogue Valley.
The White Oaks that grow here in the Rogue Valley are a small variety that grows to about 15 feet tall. The bushell basket sized clumps are actually mistletoe.
Oregon White Oaks on Roxy Ann Peak:

Madrone trees on Roxy Ann Peak.

Pondersosa Pine on Roxy Ann Peak:

This evening I went to a volunteer orientation meeting for Habitat for Humanity volunteers. The local chapter builds about four houses a year in the Medford area and they are currently building a house in Central Point north of Medford. They also operate the ReStore in Medford the sells reclaimed building materials. I'm planning to volunteer at the ReStore for a couple of days over the next two weeks that I'm here.
Friday - February 13
I called the Habitat for Humanity ReStore today and plan to work there on Monday.

Southwest Medford bike ride

Donut Country-- the best deal in Medford-- coffee and a donut for $1.60.