The Josephine County Historical Society's Passport To History program would not be complete without talking about GOLD!
Exploring Southern Oregon is really fun! Oregon's recorded history is quite short, and Southern Oregon's is even shorter.
It wasn't all that long ago that students in New York would be looking at a map of North America, and our area was "unexplored."
That's what makes it even more interesting, because our history is still being discovered in many areas.
As for instance, the year 1876
when General George Armstrong Custer and the famed 7th Calvary were defeated at the Little Big Horn; That same year,
James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was killed in Saloon Number 10 in Deadwood, South Dakota.
In 1876 in Southern Oregon, Kerby (the Josephine County seat) was listed by the Department of the Interior as "Kirbyville" with an "I." There was no Medford, it was "Fort Lane."
Gold Beach on the coast was still Ellensburg, "One Horse Town" was shown on the map as being as large as Grants Pass, and the government spelled the Rogue River "Rougue" on the state map.
The mining town of Waldo, that was once the seat of Josephine County was the center of a gold rush.
With all the history made in our part of the world, the mountains are still alive with gold seekers.
The exploring of Josephine County has been our number one project for the last few months, and having met Tom Kitchar, who is the President of the Waldo Mining District, we are excited about discovering gold for ourselves.
The Waldo Mining District was established in 1852 and made the laws before Oregon had its' statehood.
Tom is a full-time gold miner, and an exceptionally nice man. He quickly showed us how to pan gold.
Funny thing, I've had panning equipment stowed in a backpack for 30 years awaiting a chance to be used. Soon it will get its' chance!
Just a quick attempt really got us excited! There's nothing quite like the thrill of washing through a pan full of gravel, and finding "color" in the bottom!
A note on the boomtown of Waldo. Originally called "Sailors' Diggings", the town had a reputation of being a "wide open" town, and therefore was a natural draw for a "rougher crowd."
Eventually, Waldo followed so many mining towns, as better gold strikes caused the miners to migrate away, its' post office closed. Then, in the 1930's it was discovered that the town had been built on a "gold rich" gravel bar, and a mining company purchased and mined the entire townsite.
Only the cemetery remains. I guess it could be said that the cemetery residents were an exception to the "you can't take it with you" rule.
Below are the links to my earlierJosephine County Historical Society's Passport To History blogs