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As It Was: Siskiyou Boulevard Results from Sulfur Springs Development

It’s hard to imagine the City of Ashland without Siskiyou Boulevard lined by shops, the public library, the university and stately homes. Until 1888, Ashland’s streets were narrow and crooked, and Siskiyou Boulevard did not exist.

An ambitious Ashland orchardist, A. C. Helm, and his California investor, R. A. Bowman, needed a road to develop Tolman Sulfur Springs four miles south of town. Their proposal for The Boulevard, as it was known for 50 years, gained City Council support and public cooperation, although some called it “this awful boulevard” and the “street to nowhere.”

One landowner, E. E. Miner, refused to give up his property for less than $1,200. When the courts awarded $200, Miner took his case to the Oregon Supreme Court, and when that failed, he tried unsuccessfully to replace City Council members in the 1888 elections. When Miner finally accepted the original $200 payment, work began on The Boulevard.

Perhaps in 1888 The Boulevard went too far out of town, and perhaps Tolman Springs did not warrant the effort, but now the straight, wide, and long boulevard serves Ashland well.

Source: Dews, Edmund, “Ballots and The Boulevard: The Centennial of Ashland's Showcase Street,” Table Rock Sentinel, May/June 1989, v. 9, no. 3, pp. 12-19.

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Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.