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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Jacksonville in Jackson County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

Jacksonville’s Rogue River Valley Railway 1891-1925

 
 
Jacksonville’s Rogue River Valley Railway 1891-1925 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, March 9, 2013
1. Jacksonville’s Rogue River Valley Railway 1891-1925 Marker
Inscription.  Imagine this site in the 1890’s. A small but serviceable locomotive, belching steam and smoke, rumbles up to the little depot on the corner. Commuters step from a single passenger car and quickly disperse. Further down the track, in the train yard where you now stand, a loaded freight car waits to be attached. Hours later, the passenger car refills. A young boy dressed in conductor's hat and coat collects tickets. The whistle bellows two long blasts, a gasp of steam escapes from the engine, and the little train once again chugs from the station.

The rails you see beside you, and across the street, are remnants from the original Rogue River Valley Railway, which once carried passengers, freight, and mail between Jacksonville and Medford. Local residents held high expectations for the five-mile long short-line when it began in 1891. Jacksonville, once a thriving trade center, lost its economic fortunes when it was bypassed by the mainline railroad in the 1880s. It was hoped that the pint-sized railroad would revive the the economy. Jacksonville was still the county seat, and the new railroad would provide easy access to the courthouse.
Former Railway image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, March 9, 2013
2. Former Railway
A remnant piece of railway preserved here.
The RRVRR would also link to Southern Pacific tracks in Medford, connecting Jacksonville to world markets.

As automobiles became more common, the modest train system could not maintain a profit. It failed to revive Jacksonville’s economy, and could not even save itself. In 1925, the line closed. Rolling stock was sold and rails were paved over or recycled into stop sign posts and bridge supports.

Jacksonville’s economy spiraled downward as the county seat moved to Medford in 1927, and the Great Depression hit in 1929. Designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1966, Jacksonville’s prosperity has returned. Today, tourists arrive on asphalt roads instead of metal rails, but the little depot, now an information center, still serves travelers visiting the town.

Although the Rogue River Valley Railway had a number of different owners, much of the time William Barnum operated it as a family business with his wife and sons. In 1893, a railroad magazine featured 13 year-old John Barnum as the nation’s youngest conductor.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars.
 
Location. 42° 18.928′ N, 122° 58.15′ W. Marker is in Jacksonville, Oregon, in Jackson County. Marker is on W C St west of North Oregon Street, on
Jacksonville’s Rogue River Valley Railway 1891-1925 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, March 9, 2013
3. Jacksonville’s Rogue River Valley Railway 1891-1925 Marker
Former railway depot is in the distance.
the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jacksonville OR 97530, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. History Right Here - Going for the Gold (within shouting distance of this marker); Undermining the Great Depression (within shouting distance of this marker); History Right Here - Furniture Fabrication (within shouting distance of this marker); Rogue River Valley Railroad Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); History Right Here - Horse Powers (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); History of Local Telephone Service (about 300 feet away); World War II Three Trees Memorial (about 300 feet away); China Quarter (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jacksonville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2018. It was originally submitted on January 27, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 86 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 27, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Jul. 14, 2020