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As It Was: Russian Czar Reportedly Covets Rogue Valley Fruit

Oregon’s Rogue Valley shipped apples and pears all over the world in the first decade of the 20th century.  The Russian czar reportedly took notice in 1909.

The Ashland Tidings newspaper said two distant relatives of the czar had arrived in Medford on a secret mission – Lord of the Outer Chamber of the royal household, Peter Peterhoff, and Lord of the Outer Chamber Anton Petroskielvitch. They were seeking quality property isolated enough to be protected and fertile enough to produce the finest fruit for the czar’s household.

The newspaper reporter said the Russian emissaries found what they wanted and were ready to buy an orchard in the Rogue Valley once the finance minister approved the deal.

They said their own private detectives, packers, sorters, and pickers would live at the orchard.  One lord would oversee the operation and personally accompany the fruit to Russia to avoid poisoning by an anarchist.  Unescorted outsiders would be allowed on the property only in rare circumstances.

The newspaper record stops there, for now anyway, without revealing whether the unusual orchard plan bore fruit.

Source: "Royal Orchards." Ashland Tidings, 29 Oct. 1909 [Ashland, Ore.].

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.