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As It Was: Place Names Honor Solitary Applegate Prospector

Pictures of Steve Oster show him with gold pan, pick and axe, a solitary prospector who mined in the Applegate area in the 1860s and 1870s.  Little is known about Oster, but many landmarks bear his first name.

There is Steve Fork Creek, a tributary of Carberry Creek near Applegate Lake, which other miners used as a guide to mining areas in the Applegate.  And Steve Fork Road led to the mining era town of Steamboat.

The Steve Peak Lookout was located on 5,866-foot-high Steve Peak in the Rogue River National Forest in Josephine County, about 26 miles from Medford.  Present-day hikers are familiar with the mountain.

In 1918, a retired physician from Jacksonville, Dr. Barker, managed the lookout station.  One afternoon he spotted flames coming up the mountain.  He only had time to grab a few things and run for his life for a mile or more to safety before the fire burned down the lookout station, which was rebuilt later.

Steve Oster may have been a little-known, solitary miner, but place names have kept his moniker alive.


Sources:  LaPlante, Margaret. Jacksonville Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, 2010, p. 11; LaLande, Jeff. "Carberry Creek WAA." Rogue River National Forest, 18 Mar. 1996, soda.sou.edu/awdata/030128e1.pdf. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018; Foster, Harold, and Mail Tribune. "Steve Peak." Josephine County - Forest Lookouts, Josephine County, 1916, 1918, oregonlookouts.weebly.com/josephine-county.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2018; "Collins Mtn. (Applegate Valley)." Boots on the Trail, Vanmarmot, 17 Dec. 2016, vanmarmot.org/2016/12/17/collings-mountain-applegate-valley-17-dec-2016/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2018.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.