Jacksonville, Oregon & Collier State Park

This weekend’s jaunt is to check out historic Jacksonville near Medford, then through Klamath Falls and a stop at Collier State Park on Sunday.

Weather was gorgeous on Saturday, although a little nippy in the morning. We dawdled a bit getting going, 23 degrees is chilly, even with heated gear! By the time we got on the road around 9am, it had warmed up to the 30’s and was perfect with our heated gear.

We stopped at Shilo Inn in Medford to see if our room was ready yet, no go, so we stripped off our cold weather gear and headed the 4 miles into Jacksonville in balmy 70 degree weather.

Jacksonville was started in 1851 with the discovery of gold in Rich Gulch. The town’s brick buildings (installed as an answer to the many fires they experienced with the previous wood-frame structures) are very reminiscent of similar gold rush ghost towns on California’s hwy 49.

The town survived the fires and lack of any real gold money by becoming a well-known center of trade for the area. The advent of the railroad in Oregon was exciting for Jacksonville, until they realized the trains would bypass this hilly area, instead using the relative flat valleys through Medford. As Medford grew into a booming metropolis, Jacksonville struggled to keep some of its former glory, fighting hard to keep the county seat by building a bigger and more beautiful courthouse, only to have their best-laid plans go to naught. The county seat moved in 1927, and by the 1930’s the few residents still left were digging underneath the town to scrounge what little gold was left.

Fortunately, the advent of America’s historic preservation movement interceded in the slow decline, and by the mid 1960’s many groups (including US Bank) were helping keep the history of Jacksonville alive.

The town is currently suffering from the low end of another boom/bust era, with some newly minted commercial buildings sitting empty and forlorn at the edge of town, and a budget shortfall that has temporarily closed the museums. I’m sure things will turn around soon, and if this weekend’s traffic was any indication, the core of the town is still healthy.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce has a wonderful website http://www.jacksonvilleoregon.org/ that offers tons of information to peruse before you go. The neatest thing offered is the audio tours, which can easily be downloaded and added to your mp3 player. http://www.jacksonvilleoregon.org/audiosite/index.html

If you’ve never saved an mp3 file from the internet, here’s how to do it. Right click on the “download tour” and choose “save link as” then select a location (your documents folder, desktop, wherever you’ll remember it), and click ok. The file will be saved to your computer, then you can load it to your iPod or other mp3 player (put it in the player’s podcast folder so it’s easy to find). Also print off the maps for each of the tours while you’re there.

These tours are just like having a personal docent telling you about the town, its people, and its buildings. A great way to learn! I wish more places did this, it’s a super idea.

After spending hours in town, we headed up the hill to the cemetery. Mike’s not a big fan of hanging out with deceased folks, but this is the most amazing cemetery, and we enjoyed nearly two hours exploring the beautiful grounds and listening to the stories of the people.

You can’t help but be affected by the place. Life was so heartrendingly hard, but people persevered. Simple things we take for granted brought immeasurable hardship to settlers in the 1800’s, but instead of making them trudge through life, they created beauty and art. Tombstones lovingly created with hours of toil live today as a testament to how strong these people really were. I am such a soft, spineless, and whiny fool compared to even the weakest of these souls!

Saturday Pics:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

After a good night’s sleep at Shilo, we woke up to wet roads and a light rain. Not in the forecast, but still no big deal. I can’t tell you how much more relaxing it is to have heated gear and not worry about this stuff!

We got going by 8am, and pulled into Collier State Park a little before noon. One other car in the parking lot left just as we were eating some food and checking out the map, so we were all alone with the big trees and antique logging equipment. Halfway through our tour, the rain started to come down, but with our riding gear we stayed warm and dry. Hearing the rain fall and the absolute quiet of this place was so beautiful. The equipment is massive and truly impressive to see, definitely worth stopping!

This was also the inaugural trip for Mike’s new camera, an Optio W80, which is waterproof and cold resistant – perfect for hanging around his neck and snapping shots while riding. I’m happy with the photo quality, very similar to what we were getting from the Canon SD10 before it died (probably because it wasn’t waterproof and we got it pretty wet!).

Sunday Pics:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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