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As It Was: Recreation Area Named after Oregon Orchardist

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leased land for a park after constructing the Lost Creek Lake and Dam on the Rogue River in 1977.  The following year, the Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area opened as a campground with electric facilities and tent sites.

The recreation area was name for Joseph Stewart, a leader of the pear industry in Southern Oregon who moved to the Rogue Valley from Illinois in 1885.  He bought 160 acres of land close to Phoenix and planted pears, apples, prunes and almonds.  By 1890, he was the first to ship a railcar of Southern Oregon fruit across the country.

In 1898, Stewart built a house near Prospect along the upper Rogue River.  He and son-in law A.J. Weeks planted pears, apples and an English walnut grove.  Thirty acres of orchard surrounded the house, many of the trees present-day survivors.

His property is incorporated in the recreation area, which has 201 campsites, hiking and biking trails, and a day-use area with a marina, café, store, and boat facilities.


Sources: “Joseph H Stewart State Recreation Area History/FAQ." Oregon State Parks, Oregon State Parks, 2019, oregonstateparks.org ›; DeCoste, Stephen. "Joseph H Stewart Father of the Commercial Fruit Industry in the Rogue Valley." Southern Oregon Heritage Today, June 2003, p. 5, www.sohs.org › sites › default › files › magazines.

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.