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As It Was: Proposed State of Siskiyou Precedes State of Jefferson

Before the proposed State of Jefferson ignited the passions of disenchanted residents of Southern Oregon and Northern California in 1941, a similar scheme for carving out a new state gained brief attention in the winter of 1910.

Calls for establishing the State of Siskiyou emerged in July 1909, with a Medford Daily Tribune editorial declaring “Hurrah” for the concept.  The town of Yreka sought to be the proposed state’s capital, and the Yreka Journal commissioned an artist to create a map of the proposed state, taking in seven California counties and seven from Oregon.

Not all regional newspapers were supportive.  The Rogue River Courier in Grants Pass declared loyalty to the State of Oregon’s “glorious traditions.”  By January 1910, the proposed new state had gained national attention.  The idea was short lived, if not forgotten entirely.

When the frivolous State of Jefferson uprising occurred in 1941, the Salem Capital Journal recalled the earlier State of Siskiyou initiative as a successful “publicity stunt” picked up by newspapers from coast to coast.

The editor opined, “The name of Siskiyou seemed to be a God-send to newspapers, paragraphers and rhymers throughout the country.”

Sources: "The New State of Siskiyou." Medford Daily Tribune, 24 July 1909, p. 4. newspapers.com; "Secession and Tradition." Medford Daily Tribune, 3 Aug. 1909, p. 4. newspapers.com; "Proposed New State of Siskiyou." Morning Register, 1 Dec. 1909 [Eugene, Ore.], p. 7. newspapers.com; "The State of Siskyou [sic]." The Capital Journal, 15 Nov. 1941 [Salem, Ore.], p. 4. newspapers.com.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.