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.