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As It Was: 1905: Medford Inaugurates Railroad Opening Access to Timberland

April 4, 1905, was a day of celebration in Medford, Ore., for the inauguration of the Medford and Crater Lake Railroad that opened access to the rich timberlands on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains.  Local citizens had raised $25,000 for the line.

Schools closed and businesses shut down from 1 to 3 p.m. for the groundbreaking, and 5,000 people jammed what is present-day Hawthorn Park to watch the beginning of construction.  The Medford Band entertained the crowd between speeches by company officers touting the foresight of Medford in supporting the railroad.  Northern county farmers cheered as the railroad also offered reliable shipping of crops to market versus the frequently mud-clogged roads of the region.

The wife of the railroad president, Mrs. A.A. Davis, broke a bottle of champagne, and a work crew began construction.

The Medford and Crater Lake Railroad Co. would go bankrupt, but the Pacific and Eastern completed the line to Butte Falls.  It became the Medford Corporation logging railroad, its route currently being followed by the under-construction Hwy 62 bypass.

Source: "Grade Sod Broken." Morning Oregonian, 5 Apr. 1905 [Portland Oregon] , p. 6.

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.