March 1st……came in “Like a Lamb” and we were thankful the weather cooperated, as we enjoyed our walking tour of historic Medford, billed as Haunted Brothels and Opium Dens. The free tour, led by history researcher, Ben Truwe, took 15 of us from Southern Oregon Historical Society History Center on Central and 6th around to Front Street and Main. In that short hour and distance we learned of long ago Medford and how it got started. This is the part I found most interesting!
In the 1800’s Medford was only scrub brush and oaks, no town- no nothing. A private citizen who owned all the land offered it to the RR for free, if they’d build the RR there. The RR took advantage of the free offer of land for town site and free plots to sell. The area attracted settlers and Medford grew. The decision by railroad stockholders in 1886 to connect Jacksonville to Medford instead of Central Point determined the futures of all three towns as development channeled into Medford. A new depot in 1910, (Now Porter’s Restaurant) was built to accommodate the expected influx of people. Between 1905-1910 Medford’s population quadrupled to 8,000! Riverside Avenue was an Indian Trail then became the Applegate Trail. Gold was discovered in 1862 in Jacksonville and yes, brothels and opium dens followed.
Of course there is too much info to include, but the good news is if you want to hear more you can attend Ben Truwe’s free walking tour (tips appreciated) on any third Saturday of the month- rain or shine. His # is 541-773-8369 to set it up.