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As It Was: Poor Roads Abound in Southern Oregon in 1800s

People who came from states much older than Oregon despised the roads in the Rogue Valley in the 1800s.  They knew what it was like to have good roads and grew impatient with the Oregon Legislature for its neglect.

It became obvious a road was badly needed between Central Point and the Agate Desert area which would open a passageway to a large piece of the county north and west of the Rogue River.

Stories circulated about the poor roads.

One described how a group of young people left Phoenix to attend a Thanksgiving Ball at Eagle Point on Thanksgiving night in 1893. They got lost on the way and wandered around for a long time before finding a place owned by Jack Montgomery, who supposedly “knew the desert like a book.” They hired him to help them find the party.  They hadn’t gone far before Jack discovered he was lost also.  They roamed the desert for nearly four hours before arriving at the party at midnight.

A better road from Central Point to Eagle Point did get built, but lacked gravel for winter travel.

Sources:  "Phoenix Flashes." Southern Oregon History, Revised, edited by Ben Truwe, Medford Mail, 13 Dec. 1893, truwe.sohs.org › files › roadwork; "Those Roads." Southern Oregon History, Revised, edited by Ben Truwe, Democratic Times, Mail Tribune, 1892-1893, truwe.sohs.org › files › roadwork.

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.