“Back to Nature” at Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon

Mortgage and Lending with Karen Cooper | Sr Mortgage Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | First Federal Bank of Florida, Ocala, FL NMLS 223305

Although Southern Oregon has a wealth of natural beauty to share with us, one of her special places is Lithia Park. This was one of the first places my family and I discovered upon moving here in June 2004, as we attended the City of Ashland's 4th of July Parade, enjoying the many different food, art and craft booths lining the entrance drive to the Park on this special day. We enjoy this park so much, every person who comes to visit us is brought here to experience the glory this National Historic Reserve has to offer, strolling through the many paths picking Mulberries and Blackberries, putting their feet in Ashland Creek, laying on the grass deciphering cloud formations, feeding the ducks, viewing the incredible landscape and wildlife that present themselves.

        Lithia Park Entrance

             Bridge over Ashland Creek, Lithia Park

In the heart of downtown sits Lithia Park, Ashland's crown jewel. Lithia Park started as an 8-acre gathering spot, growing to what is now a 93-acre gem that has gorgeous lawns good for picnics, tennis courts, a sand-pit volleyball court, fabulous landscaping and playground equipment including some of the best swings in Southern Oregon. The park follows Ashland Creek through undeveloped woodlands, and includes a Japanese garden, two duck ponds, a formal rose garden, groves of sycamore trees and a number of secluded spots great for enjoying a good book or a romantic snuggle.

Playground, Lithia Park      Screech Owl in Lithia Park

Duck Pond, Lithia Park       Blue Heron, Lithia Park

Lithia Park's History

Ashland started out in the 1800's with a water-powered sawmill and a flour mill which stood on the banks of Ashland Creek. This mill occupied what is now the entrance to Lithia Park. The plaza at the entrance was a popular gathering spot for early settlers. These early settlers had ties to Ashland County, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, hence the town's name, which became official in 1855 when the Ashland Mills Post Office opened.

From 1859 to 1900, the city grew from 50 to 3,000 people, growing faster than any town South of Portland, and was the largest in Jackson County. Hotels, schools, churches and mills sprang up throughout the 1870's and 1880's. Natural spring water, discovered a few miles east of Ashland, was being piped into town and bubbled out of the three new fountains in the park. This water has a high concentration of lithium and is said to have been used by the Native Americans to care for the sick and the elderly.

                                           Lithia WAter

The Chautauqua Association brought entertainment to Southern Oregon in 1892, building a domed building for their shows whose walls now surround the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Elizabethan Theater. Visitors came from miles around in the summers to participate in various attractions offered, camping in what has since become Lithia Park. In 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival began with a three-day summer festival of Shakespearean plays under founding director Angus Bowmer.

Today, 42 of Lithia Park's 93 acres are listed in the National Historic Register. Visitors approaching Lithia Park may first see the towering Tree of Heaven at the Plaza entrance, which according to legend was planted in the 19th century by Abel Helman's Chinese cook. In 1908 with the urging of the Women's Civic Improvement Club, the people of Ashland passed a measure to include park maintenance in the City Charter.

In 1909 the old flour mill was torn down, a park board was elected, and additional acres bordering Ashland Creek were acquired. By 1910 the lower duck pond and waterfall that feeds it were constructed, while Bert Greer, an ambitious newspaper editor conceived the idea of making Ashland a world-famous spa capitalizing on the Lithia Springs of the area. The development of today's park began in 1914 with the hiring of John McLaren as the landscape architect. John McLaren also designed San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Lithia Park embodies the distinctive characteristics of park design in the tradition of Frederick Law Olmsted. McLaren's landscape plan for Lithia Park was organic in layout, following the natural canyon of the water course. The plantings were naturalistic to the extent that native alders, oaks, conifers and madrones were incorporated, but other plants, such as willows, maples, sycamores, and numerous ornamental varieties were introduced and selected for hardiness, form and color.

Trails through Lithia Park         Trails through Lithia Park

Lithia Park is located at 59 Winburn Way and is open to the public. Trail guides and other booklets about the park can be obtained from the park office of Ashland Parks and Rec. Dept., open Monday-Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm, and free performances are frequently offered at the Butler Band Shell. For performance schedules and further information call 541-488-5340 or visit the Ashland City Band's website. The Ashland Chamber of Commerce offers nature walks Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:00am; call 541-482-3486 to confirm tours.

                                                   Lithia Park Office 

Posted by

Karen Cooper Southern Oregon|California Mortgage ConsultantKaren Cooper - Home Lending Advisor Nationwide

               NMLS #223305


Comments (10)

Chris Frantz
EDU Real Estate Group - Indianapolis, IN
Very beautiful park, it looks very relaxing.  thanks for sharing.
Jan 24, 2008 12:40 PM
Krista L. Walker
RE/MAX Platinum Medford - Medford, OR
Oregon- Homes & Real Estate for Sale
Wow, I live here and have seen this aprk, but you really got it in a different light.  If you need to know about houses that are available near this park, contact me!
Jan 25, 2008 04:53 AM
Jesse & Kathy Clifton
Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS® - Fairbanks, AK
Great job on the blog.. the park looks beautiful. 
Jan 25, 2008 07:27 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info
Interesting history of the park and springs.  Good luck in the contest.
Jan 26, 2008 09:11 PM
Christina Williams. REALTOR® TN property search & local insights
First Realty Company - Crossville, TN
Karen, Very good job on this!  Love the photos.
Jan 26, 2008 11:50 PM
Karen Cooper
Karen Cooper | Sr Mortgage Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | First Federal Bank of Florida, Ocala, FL - The Villages, FL
Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States

Chris - You are welcome. This is one of my favorite places to go to for a relaxing break at lunch time. Right in the middle of downtown Ashland, just 5 minutes from my office.

Krista - I love some of the homes on the street along the North border of Lithia Park. I'd love to live that close to this park!

Jesse & Kathy - Thank you...hard to give this park the justice it deserves!

Georgina - We had tasted Lithia Park's water before learning the history behind it. THAT was a surprise :->. Thanks.

Christina - Thank you. Love to share.


Thanks to you all for your comments.


Jan 28, 2008 01:58 PM
Rich Dansereau
Positive Real Estate Professionals - Knoxville, TN
What a nice place to spend the day. It looks so relaxing with the duck pond and waterfalls. I neglected to mention the ducks that live in the lakes at Piedmont Park in my blog but they are fun to watch and feed as I'm sure yours are too. Oregon looks like such a nice place to live!
Jan 29, 2008 03:18 AM
Karen Cooper
Karen Cooper | Sr Mortgage Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | First Federal Bank of Florida, Ocala, FL - The Villages, FL
Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States

 Rich - Although I tend to visit Lithia Park during more peaceful times, there are many events held here throughout the year that sure do liven the place up. I left off mentioning other wildlife, too - like deer...and the occasional bear who comes in to pick over the trash bins! Thanks for commenting.


Park looks a bit different today than the pictures I posted show, after the snow. :->

Jan 29, 2008 06:36 AM
Rich Dansereau
Positive Real Estate Professionals - Knoxville, TN
Very cool winter photos! Thanks for the link!
Jan 29, 2008 10:18 AM
Karen Cooper
Karen Cooper | Sr Mortgage Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | First Federal Bank of Florida, Ocala, FL - The Villages, FL
Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States
You are welcome, Rich.
Jan 29, 2008 03:14 PM