Posts Tagged ‘history’


January 19, 2012

Pulling together pieces of Oreon history has taken me in directions I didn’t expect nor did I have the right resources to do the research.  One of the most critical has been the right map for each job.

I did gather the road maps I thought I would need.  Highway 99 through Oregon, even after early realignments, was my starting point.  I didn’t realize I would need a map that showed how close the forests came to the road, or the elevations of the mountains.  Then there needed to be one that let me see where the ferries that were replaced by bridges crossed the streams or rivers.  A few stories from  people who lived up a particular creek when the map showed the path of the creek was south, or down, almost making a circle.  Did the creek flow uphill? 

Now I”m looking for a map that shows the plat of the origninal donation land claims.  Difficult in Oregon since some were filed and granted before the territory had been surveyed. 

Even a bigger problem, I’d need help to read many of those maps.  The letters, symbols and strange marks are not easy for a “word” person.  Some become more clear as I study them but I will probably end up trying to locate an interpreter. 

Another I badly need to find and haven’t yet is the map of the original north-south railroad planned by the Oregon and California Railroad.  It’s out there somewhere so my quest continues as my stack of maps grows.



August 7, 2011

U.S. Highway 99, which began its life as the Pacific Highway, was built to connect the three most western states to each other, California, Oregon and Washington.  It did more than that, it connected the settlements and little towns to each other.  Not near as efficient as the current Freeway but it gave us a way to travel between towns and areas and it allowed products to come into the towns from all over the country.

Businesses to meet the needs and desires of the local residents as well as passing travelers, were established and did well if the effort was expended. 

One of those, with it roots on Highway 99 was celebrated in our local newspaper this morning.  Jerry’s, our local Do-It-Yourself and home town lumber and hardware store is celebrating its fiftieth birthday.  Not only has it been in business 50 years, it has been 50 years on Hwy 99.     

Highway 99 through Eugene was moved from River Road and its flood problems in 1936.  The new route was north on 6th St. through the city to the west side where it rejoined southbound 7th St. to become just Hwy 99 again as it headed north to Junction City.

It was on this north end of town, past many businesses and developments that Jerry and Merle Orem founded Jerry’s Ace Hardware Store on Hwy 99. 

Ace Hardware was not a franchise but a centralized purchasing organization to supply members’ stores.   It was founded in 1924, in Chicago, Illinois and named for the Ace fighter pilots of World War I.  By 1949, the retail network had expanded to hundreds of dealers.  In fact, in a drive along Hwy 99 there was hardly a  town without an Ace Hardware  and they weren’t limited to just the towns on the Highway.   Now they are international although the structure of the company has changed.

During the 1980′ Jerry’s was facing major market changes.  With big box stores and national chains crowding out many family owned businesses, the Orem family  took the gamble, moved a few blocks down the road and built a new store that offers lower prices, more selection and a focus on do-it-yourselfers.  We have been shopping at Jerry’s since we moved to the Eugene area in the sixties and gladly followed them when they moved into the new store.  50 years in a family owned business is rare and worthy of a celebration.  ( They have also opened a second store-this one in neighboring Springfield.  Although I hope it is successful, it is not of the same interest for me because it’s not on Hwy 99, not as accessible to the people from south, north, and west who come to shop, almost in their own expanded neighborhood.)

Journey on Highway 99

May 23, 2011

On a picture taking expedition along Highway 99 in Southern Oregon, we drove the freeway to Grants Pass before we turned on to the old 99 (Sixth Street.)
A stop at the visitor center let us take a shot of the restored Caveman sculpture as well at of the Beacon Bar and Grill. At one time that buildig was a plush Richfield Gas Station, complete with tower and beacon, located on the city airfield. Leaving Grants Pass we moved onto the freeway again to drive to the Valley of the Rogue State Park, our home base for the trip. Most of the park was still closed for the season but we found a comfortable place and settled in.
The first two days were cloudy with scattered showers but still let us photograph the sights we were interested in.  A morning drive on the freeway as far as Phoenix let us turn off to head north again on Highway 99 (Pacific Highway.)  We stopped at the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Store ( used to be Walker The Weeper’s lot) so we could walk back and take the photo of the wonderful neon Royal Oaks Mobile Manor sign.  Continuing north we passed the Harry and David buildings and others involved in the fruit packing business.  The SOS sign and building drew our attention as we sat in the deserted parking lot of Kim” Chinese Restaurand and bar.  For more than thirty years, Kim’s was a mainstay of Medford life.  Birthday parties and family events happened there, late night dates and ordinary meals on the “exotic” side.  Sad to see it  closed and neglected. 

Past Kim’s, Hwy 99 northbecomes Riverside as it passes into down town.  A few of the old buildings are still there, a tavern and a bar.  The old Hubbard building is there but the Western Auto is being demolished.  Farther north, many of the old motels are still viable and maintained but others are used in different ways or gone.  The TIKI looked to be in good shape but the name, popular in the 1940s, seems strange now.   The newer mall on the right side of the road draws a lot of traffic.

Moving north of Medford, the highway may be the same but the businesses and connections have changed over the years as it approaches Central Point.  In Central Point,  Highway 99 becomes Front street.  Small businesses, motels, and some vacant buildings line the road.  The huge  building of the Grange Co Op  is the dominent symbol of the town.  Still headed north, the cheese factory that helped the dairy farmers during the depression and the armed services during World War II,  is open and a tourist draw with it’s prize winning blue cheese.  

 Driving on past small and larger farms, the highway becomes Blackwell Road that winds through low hills  past the Cross Creek Trading Company headquarters, scattered homes, undeveloped land and crosses the Rogue River to enter Gold Hill.   The road runs past the stores, taverns, the pharmacy, and  the school.  On the north end of town, just past the turn off to the Oregon Vortex, another river crossing on one of Oregon’s early concrete bridges, took us,  still on Hwy 99, (the scenic Rogue River Rd.) towrd Grants Pass. 

The down town and main part of Rogue River is basically bypassed by the highway but the road is lined with motels, RV resorts, river view homes, and an occasional large farm or small  business.  Close to Grants Pass, the historic WEASKU INN RESORT has been refurbished and now offers many of the features their movie star guests of the past would still love.  Crossing the beautiful bridge that once featured a free camp at it’s base, we’ve completed our circle for this trip but it will be one of several.

We had time to enjoy our temporary home  in the park.  We took a long walk along the bank of the Rogue River which was very high, full, and rushing toward the coast. 

Sitting in the sunshine gave us a peacful rest and the opportunity to savor our surroundings.  The Oak Trees scattered among the evergreens were just leafing out so the huge clumps of mistletoe on the branches almost  made the trees appear unnatural in structure.  Tiny, red headed Western Tanagers darted in and out of nearby shrubs and trees.