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.

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