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Lions Club Tracks Down Location of Fort Wagner

In 1852, a bachelor from Ohio, Jacob Wagner, built the first cabin in Talent, Ore., and a year later raised Fort Wagner around the cabin and an acre of land.

The first large group of emigrants arrived the next year and sought protection in the fort from clashes between Indians and settlers.

A writer for the Talent News and Review, Jan Wright, wrote in 2012 that Wagner moved to Ashland to run its flour mill, “the logs from the fort were eventually torn down and used for other purposes … (and) … lands were plowed for farming.” Obscured by 1884, the site only consisted of a mound where the cabin’s hearth had been.

Nearly a century later, the Lions Club successfully tracked down the fort’s location, placed a bronze plaque and dedicated the site in 1995. 

Wright wrote, “It is not known why the plaque says 1854 when clearly the fort was built in 1853, but the fact that it is there is the important point and marks the spot where the City of Talent began.”

That approximate spot is at present-day 226 Talent Ave.


Source: Wright, Jan. "Fort Wagner, Talent, Oregon." [Originally published as "Fort Wagner." Talent News and Review, Mar. 2012.] Jackson County Oregon History and Notes, Wright Research and Archives, wrightarchives.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html. Accessed 26 Feb. 2017.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.