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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Jacksonville in Jackson County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce

 
 
Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, August 30, 2018
1. Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker
Inscription. Peter Britt was an extraordinary man of vision and accomplishment. His curiosity, motivation and experimental nature, matched with a keen business sense, allowed him to merge broad-ranging interests into a wide assortment of successful endeavors.
Britt is best known as a pioneer photographer. For nearly half a century, from the early 1850s to 1900, he took remarkably expressive photographs of people, activities, and landscapes, in Southern Oregon. With his camera lens, he captured the diversity and detail of everyday life of Jacksonville. He left for future generations a rich pictorial history of a very real frontier community.
Arriving in Jacksonville in 1852 at the beginning of the Gold Rush, this 33 year-old Swiss immigrant tried his hand at prospecting and mule packing. In time, he branched into horticulture and wine making, beekeeping and meteorology. He became a rancher and orchardist, financier, and family man. When he died at age 86 in 1905, Britt was one of the wealthiest, best-known and most highly respected men in Southern Oregon.
It was November, 1852, when Britt arrived in Jacksonville pushing a two-wheeled cart filled with photographic equipment. According to local lore, he had $5 in his pocket. He selected this hillside, with its magnificent view, to build a small log cabin for shelter. By 1856 Britt
Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, August 30, 2018
2. Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker
had parlayed his $5 grubstake into a small fortune by hauling foodstuff and mining tools from California to Jacksonville. With his improved finances, Peter built a “cottage gothic” style two-story house on this very hillside. Britt's fine home unfortunately burned in 1960.
An avid gardener, Britt surrounded his home with ornamental shrubs and exotic trees. In 1862 Britt pnted (sic) a giant sequoia redwood to honor the birth of his son, Emil. The tree still survives and is thought to be the oldest giant sequoia in Oregon. To keep his garden watered, Britt installed an innovative irrigation system fed by a mile-long ditch drawing water from Jackson Creek. The old Britt Ditch is now the Sarah Zigler Interpretive Trail. In addition to the botanical gardens near his house, Britt encouraged the growth of a timber stand of Douglas fir. This forest can be enjoyed today by strolling the Jacksonville Woodland Trails that meander through Britt's former estate.
More than 150 years after a nearby broke Swiss immigrant arrived in a muddy mining camp, Peter's legacy lives through the pictures he took, the gardens he planted, and a vital agricultural heritage he helped foster.
 
Erected by Jacksonville-Applegate Rotary / Southern Oregon Historical Society / JV Woodlands Association.
 
Location.
Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, August 30, 2018
3. Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce Marker
View of marker below from a viewpoint along the path leading up the hillside to the Britt Festival.
42° 18.889′ N, 122° 58.249′ W. Marker is in Jacksonville, Oregon, in Jackson County. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jacksonville OR 97530, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Peter Britt: A Passion for His Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); The Britt House: Simple Frame to Cottage Gothic (within shouting distance of this marker); Britt Sequoia (within shouting distance of this marker); Undermining the Great Depression (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); History Right Here - Furniture Fabrication (about 400 feet away); World War II Three Trees Memorial (about 400 feet away); History Right Here - Going for the Gold (about 400 feet away); China Quarter (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jacksonville.
 
More about this marker. Marker is located along a paved path leading up the hillside to the Britt Festival grounds.
 
Categories. Horticulture & ForestryIndustry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers
 
Britt Sequoia image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, March 10, 2013
4. Britt Sequoia
Sequoiadendron giganteum

On March 22, 1862, the day of his son Emil's birth, Peter Britt planted this giant sequoia by his home. Britt was a pioneer photographer, skilled horticulturist, and leader in Southern Oregon's lucrative fruit industry. From its vantage point, this majestic tree has witnessed the unfolding of Jacksonville's rich history -- the gold rush prosperity of the mid 1800s, the decline at the turn of the century and the current restoration and revitalization.

Approx. height: 205′
Planted in: 1862
Circumference: 18′

Oregon Heritage Tree
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 128 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 3, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon.   3. submitted on September 2, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon.   4. submitted on September 4, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photo of the Sequoia. • Can you help?
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