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Rose Opp Turns a Mining Cabin into a Home

Growing up in a mining cabin could have been a grim experience lacking in educational or cultural opportunities, but Rose Opp was a determined mother. Even though her daughters, Gertrude and Julia, slept in a tent winter and summer and showered beneath buckets of cold water, Opp insisted on freshly ironed linens at every meal. Proper silverware and flowers graced her table.

Opp was a trained nurse who was determined to educate her daughters. She hired a teacher from Nebraska to live at the Opp Mine for a year.

Opp moved to Medford for a year and to Jacksonville for another year so her daughters could attend school.  Lillian Pierce Gentner, a botanist, lived at the Opp Mine for two summers and taught the girls about wild flowers.  While there, Gentner identified the rare red lily named Fritillaria gentneri in her honor. The girls even received ballet lessons.

Opp resumed nursing in Portland for five years while Gertrude and Julia attended Reed College. After they graduated, everyone returned to the Opp Mine.

Thanks to their mother and supportive father, the Opp daughters remembered a wonderful childhood.


Sources: Waldron, Sue. “Growing Up at the Opp Mine,” Table Rock Sentinel, March/April 1992, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 12-15, 21-26. (Article content based on SOHS oral histories 438 and 518, with Julia and Gertrude.)

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.