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As It Was

As It Was: Soldier Advocates Land Around Klamath Lake in 1867

The Oregonian newspaper reported on June 12, 1867, that Capt. Franklin Burnet Sprague of the 1st Oregon Infantry had announced that land was available in Southern Oregon and Northern California south and east of Klamath Lake.

The newspaper quoted a letter Sprague had sent to the Yreka Journal.

The letter began, in these words, “There are perhaps many (people) who have no permanent homes, and who are living upon rented ground or making a scant living by such employment as they may be able to get, who would like to secure a home where in … time they would become independent.”

The letter recommended such people consider land south and east of Klamath Lake.  It read, “The whole country from Klamath to Goose Lake … is unsettled, and … susceptible of cultivation, and for stock raising (it) cannot be excelled anywhere.”

After asserting anything, except corn and vines, would grow on the land, and in larger quantities than elsewhere, Capt. Sprague ended his letter with a warning.  He said, “Persons designing to settle out here should have one year’s supplies on hand, as nothing can be raised this year by those (already) coming in.”

Source: "HISTORY SNAPSHOT: Land Available in Klamath Area.” The Midge: Cultural Newsletter of the Klamath Basin 7 June 2017(originally published in The Oregonian. 12 June 1867 [Portland, Ore.].

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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.