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As It Was: Cars Boost Attendance at Ashland Celebration in 1916

A year before the United States entered World War I, cars were already making an impact on the country.  It was 1916 and the three-day Fourth of July celebration in Ashland drew 60,000 visitors.

Not everyone owned a car in those days, yet Ashland reserved a field big enough for 2,000 and there was a free auto campground.  Visitors arrived on paved roads and highways and by passenger train, 7,000 from Medford alone.

Ashland did not allow cars in the parade because they tended to overheat and stall, blocking the streets until being pushed aside.  When that happened, some jeers of “Get a horse!” were heard.

But on the highway coming to Ashland, it was more serious.  On that weekend, there were six accidents reported between Medford and Ashland alone.  One involved a car trying to pass a horse and buggy.  Another car that was carrying several nurses to the parade rolled over into a creek bed.  Other drivers simply lost control and ran their cars off the road.  Amazingly, no one was injured, and all made it to the parade.

Source: “The Greatest Fourth of All.” The Table Rock Sentinel, May 1987, pp. 13-24.

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.