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Early Automobiles Conquer Table Rock Grade

An old trail up the east side of Lower Table Rock near Medford, Ore., had a grade that reached 38 percent.  Early automobile enthusiasts couldn’t resist the temptation.

A sturdy Essex car was the first to drive to the top in 1929 as a publicity stunt in front of movie cameras and an audience.  An Austin automobile made the second ascent the following year to advertise the car.

Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock are two prominent volcanic plateaus that rise about 800 feet above the Rogue Valley just north of Medford.

Central Point youths Donald Patterson and Orville Caster drove a Ford up the ancient lava flow in 1935, giving the car “all she had” to make the grade. They had to stop twice, once to move two trees and again to repair the car’s disconnected steering apparatus.  The boys rode on the running board to keep the car from tipping over. It rained all the way, but they made it.

A Medford News article said they drove around the top and descended without incident.

Source: "C.P. Youths Drive Ancient Ford to Top of Table Rock." Medford News 24 July 1935: 1. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.