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By Samantha C | 02/02/2022 | Museums & History, National Park, Outdoor Adventure, Things to Do

15 FAST FACTS ABOUT MEDFORD OREGON

Even if you've lived in Medford your whole life, you might be surprised to learn some of these fast facts about our local Rogue Valley. Let's see how much Medford trivia you didn't know until now!

roxyann peak winter, snow, winter activities, mistletoe gathering

If you've been to Medford, you've most likely noticed one of our most notable natural monuments, Roxy Ann Peak. But did you know Roxy Ann is a 3,576-foot-tall 30-million-year-old dormant volcano right in the middle of Medford? 

So, you can summit a dormant volcano right in the middle of Medford, are you in? Humans have lived in the vicinity of Roxy Ann Peak for the past 8,000 to 10,000 years. The first inhabitants were semi-nomadic, most likely living off edible bulbs and large mammals such as mastodons and giant bison. Within the last millennium, the region became home to the Latgawa Native American tribe, who called the peak Al-wiya. The peak was named in August 1853 by emigrants arriving from Missouri via the Oregon Trail.  Roxy Ann Hutchinson Hughes Bowen was the (step)grandmother of the McKee-Bowen family. Her step-daughter Maryum Bowen and Maryum's husband John McKee settled on, and filed a Donation Land Claim for, 320 acres on the SW flank of the butte (today's Hillcrest Orchards and Roxy Ann Vineyards). In 1883, the city of Medford was established to and in 1937 the city created a 1,740-acre park named Prescott Park.  Prescott Park protects much of the upper slopes and summit of Roxy Ann Peak and is one of Medford’s best hiking areas. 

In 1926, beloved actress Ginger Rogers performed at the Craterian Theater in Downtown Medford. The Rogue Valley had clearly left an impression on her, as she bought a ranch near Shady Cove in 1940. In 1990, she sold her ranch and bought a house in Medford to spend her summers. Above you can see Ginger on the cover of Life Magazine at her ranch here in the Rogue Valley. After her passing in 1995, the Craterian Theater was posthumously renamed in her honor as the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in 1997. In 2012 the theater was again renamed The Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts, named after James Collier, a large benefactor in the Rogue Valley. You can view the list of performances at the Craterian Theater and plan your next theatrical experience. 

If you're a fan of Bigfoot, then you've come to the right place. It is rumored that Bigfoot has visited parts of Southern Oregon. In fact, the world's only known Bigfoot trap lies in our very own Rogue Valley. When Perry Lovell, an Applegate River miner, claimed to find 18-inch human-like tracks in his garden, he caught the attention of the North American Wildlife Research Team (NAWRT). In 1974 they built the Bigfoot trap, and kept it baited with carcasses for six years. It would seem that Bigfoot is too smart for their tricks, because bears were the only animals caught in the trap.


NWART later became defunct and the trap began to deteriorate. In 2006, the U.S. Forest Service began to repair the trap and it has become a popular tourist attraction over the last 30 years. Although researchers may not be monitoring the trap closely now, we can all still dream of catching a Bigfoot one day. 

Photo: Netflix

The Rogue River was a perfect backdrop for the 1994 movie, "The River Wild," starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon. We always knew the Rogue River was an incredibly gorgeous landscape, and apparently Hollywood agrees! The movie follows a Streep's character Gail as she embarks on a multi-day rafting trip with her husband and son. When they encounter two violent criminals, the entire trip becomes about surviving the wilderness in a more dire way than expected.

The natural landscape backdrop shared the spotlight between the Rogue River and the Flathead River in Montana. Streep did several of her own stunts, saving only the most major stunts her a professional river guide who acted as her stunt double. Meryl Streep received a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and Bacon was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, but neither actors won. 

Downtown Medford district, historic districts of downtown medford, craterian theater, cinema,

Medford was named in 1883 by David Loring, a civil engineer and right-of-way agent for the Oregon and California Railroad. He named it after Medford, Massachusetts, which was near his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. Loring and another engineer named S.L. Dolson led a group of surveyors tasked with finding the best route through the Rogue Valley for the Oregon and California Railroad. While citizens of neighboring Jacksonville were hopeful to have the railroad pass through their town to ensure prosperous growth, Dolson instead chose to stake the railroad closer to Bear Creek. In February of 1884, Medford opened it's first post office which led to it's official incorporation as a town by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. 

In 1911, a generous donation from Andrew Carnegie allowed a dedicated library to be built within the city. Construction of the Medford Carnegie Library was completed in 1912 and has undergone renovations over the years. You can see this slice of history at 413 W. Main Street, Medford, Oregon. In 2004, Medford's Library was moved to a new facility in Downtown Medford. Now if you visit the old library, you'll see it's now home to Kid Time Children's Museum, a nonprofit children’s discovery museum and early learning center that encourages kids as young as newborns and as old as 10 to learn and grow through creative play.

Crater Lake Stars , winter, night, galaxy, places to go,

The collapse of Mount Mazama volcano formed a caldera that now holds Oregon's only National Park: Crater Lake. This spectacular landmark has so much rich history and incredible views that change from season to season. Sun or snow, there is beauty and fun to be had an hour outside of Medford. Crater lake is one of the deepest lakes in America, at 1,943 feet. The water from the lake comes only from snow or rain because no other bodies of water connect to it, making it one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the world. During the summer, you can stop at over 30 different scenic pill outs as you drive around the rim of the lake and take in breathtaking views of the lake from every angle. During the winter, the road around the rim of the lake is often closed due to snow and unsafe driving conditions.

However, there are still plenty of winter activities to be enjoyed Crater Lake! You can embark on an unforgettable snow shoe adventure. If you prefer cross country skiing, try a route through the forest on the West Rim towards overlooks of the lake, or Vidae Falls on the East Rim. Whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed by this natural beauty.

Mcloughlin, lake, view, beautiful forest, hiking and biking

In the late spring and early summer, the snow on Mount McLoughlin melts into a formation called the "angel wings", which Native American tribes interpreted as an osprey, a sign of the beginning of the salmon run. Mount McLoughlin served as a Native American landmark for thousands of years and they used the area to hunt and gather. This dormant volcano was built over three eruptive phases, it's last known activity spanning around 20,000-30,000 years ago. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was by a group of men from Jacksonville in 1858. You too can hike Mount McLoughlin with a trail of 10.7 miles out and back, and a 3,923 elevation gain.

The I.O.O.F Eastwood Historic Cemetery was established in 1890, and sits on 20 acres north of Bear Creek Park. It includes the graves of many famous former Medford residents, including Harry & David.  Established by a fraternal organization called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), the cemetery is most closely associated with Medford's period of settlement and development. It was maintained by I.O.O.F until 1969 when maintenance was transferred to the city of Medford. The Parks and Recreation Department offers free tours of the cemetery, so you can view the resting grounds of Medford's past.

While I.O.O.F may no longer manage the historic cemetery,  the long-standing organization is still active today. The organization whose goal is to "improve and elevate the character of man" allows anyone over the age of 18 to apply. If you're asking yourself why the name "Odd Fellows," it was inspired by a quote from the 1700's: "it is odd that a person might help another and expect nothing in return." The closest active  Lodges to Medford are in Jacksonville and Central Point and both meet twice a month. 

In the 1944 movie “Double Indemnity”, the fictional character Mr. Jackson said, "I'm a Medford man – Medford, Oregon." Up in Medford, we take our time making up our minds." This Hollywood classic was nominated for seven academy awards and is set the standard for film noir of it's time. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked this film #38 on it's list of the Top 100 American Films.

At age seven, Lisa Rinna and her family moved to Medford, and her father was transferred to Harry & David as the Art Director and she spent the remainder of her childhood here. She graduated from Medford Senior High School in 1981. Rinna is most known for her roles on the popular 1990's show Melrose Place, and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa visits Medford 2-3 a year to see her parents and speaks of Medford frequently in interviews. 

In a recent article from the Oregonian, "I try to get to Oregon about two or three times a year," says Rinna, who was born in Newport Beach, Calif., but moved with her family to Medford when she was  7." My father was the art director for Harry & David," the fruit and gift company long associated with Medford. The family used to partake of the company's specialties. "I think my favorite to this day was the Fruit of the Month Club. We'd get a box of fruit every month, out-of-season fruit. That was such a big part of my childhood." Medford has changed since her childhood, Rinna says, "but it's still very much the same. It's all very calming to me." But don't expect Rinna to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in the kitchen. "We used to have dinner at our home, but that's now shifted to going out," she says. "It's really all about just getting to be with family." 

You may or may not know that Medford is home to the largest kid's museum in Oregon! Kid Time, soon to be named the Children's Museum of Southern Oregon, is a non-profit hands on children's museum and explorative center located in downtown Medford.

Serving nearly 100,000 visitors per year, the children’s museum is excited for all of its new programs and events it will be able to offer now that is has officially moved to the Carnegie Library building. This hands on museum is all about serving children and their families through educational play. 


Rogue valley U-pick farms, agriculture in the rogue valley, things to do in Medford, fall fun, support local farmers, support local buisinesses, u pick, farming, pears

Because of its location, soil and micro-climates, the Rogue Valley has always been premium farming land. And with its connections to national and world markets, the Rogue Valley has continued to attract ambitious people from across the country since an early time. Two of Medford’s most enterprising individuals — Harry & David — changed the area’s agricultural footprint forever. The brothers decided to specialize in Comice pears — a sweet and juicy variety originally from the south France — because the Rogue Valley had the ideal growing conditions to produce them on a large scale. Much to their pleasure, Rogue Valley pears were even more delicious than their French counterparts! Harry & David named their pears “Royal Riviera” and marketed them as luxury items to European buyers. You still experience this same luxury today when you order from Harry & David, as each box of pears contains one wrapped in gold foil.

In 1853, Peter Britt, an early settler, planted the first wine grapes in Oregon. Soon after, in 1873, he opened what would be the very first winery in Southern Oregon called Valley View Winery. By 1880, Britt was producing 1,003,000 gallons of wine per year and fulfilling order from states as far as Wyoming. Britt closed his winery in 1907, but little did he know he would be the first of many to prosper from Southern Oregon's unique climate for growing wine grapes. 

 Southern Oregon is now recognized for having one of the best climates for a thriving wine industry. With over 150 wineries in Southern Oregon, there is no shortage of varietals to try. Because of Medford's unique climate, the Rogue Valley is able to produce a wide range of wines and has cultivated a thriving industry. Let's cheers to that!

Rogue creamery, cheese, award winning cheese, worlds best cheese, blue cheese

Rogue Creamery started as a small cheesemaker in Southern Oregon, and they’re now the world champion of cheese. During the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy, judges named the Creamery’s Rogue River Blue Cheese the World’s Best Cheese! They won this prestigious title after judges tasted 3,800 different types of cheese from 42 countries. Rogue Creamery exports its cheeses to other countries, including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom, and they are the first American cheese-maker to export raw-milk cheeses to the European Union. Some may say they are the first American cheese-maker to be world-renowned. 

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