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As It Was: Gold Hill Letter Writer Warns of Imminent Japanese Attack

On March 7, 1911, President Taft mobilized 20,000 troops on the Mexican border with orders to cross into Mexico if needed to protect 40,000 U.S. residents and American businesses during the Mexican Revolution.

Wild rumors circulated that in reality the troops were sent to protect the United States from Japanese aggression and the formation of an independent state in Baja California with close ties to Japan.

The Gold Hill News in Southern Oregon published a tirade from a Portland letter writer, who warned that the Japanese would soon “land in Portland, sweeping down the Willamette River and across an unprepared Oregon.”  The newspaper also reported that a local gold prospector, Waldo Dikeman, had bet $5 that the United States would declare war by March 19, and warned that Gold Hill would be captured immediately if it were not fortified, and the Japanese would take possession of the Southern Pacific Railroad from San Diego to Seattle.  Publisher Rex Lampman wrote, “Mr. Dikeman differs from most prophets, past and present, in that he actually has five dollars.”  

Years later, President Woodrow Wilson did order two military incursions into Mexico during the revolution.

Sources: Medford Mail Tribune, “EXTRA! EXTRA! Gold Hill Safe,” March 21, 1911, p. 6; Miller, Bill. "Snapshot." Mail Tribune, 18 Sept. 2011 [Medford, Ore.]; Southern Oregon Historical Society Vertical File folder, “Gold Hill – history;” "U.S. maneuvers near Mexico attempt to check Japanese." UPI, United Press International, 17 Sept. 1911, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1911/03/17/US-maneuvers-near-Mexico-attempt-to-check-Japanese/1130831847412/. Accessed 3 May 2018.

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.