Ashland is a small city located in Jackson County south of Medford, approximately 16 miles (25.7 km) north of the Oregon-California border. The community occupies the south end of the Bear Creek Valley, an arm of the much larger Rogue River Valley which is a major agricultural and recreational area in southern Oregon. The first residents of the area were the Shasta Indians who built communities along the banks of the Ashland Creek in the approximate area of the modern city. By the mid-nineteenth century, Euro-American settlers began to enter the valley en masse via the Applegate Trail, an overland corridor which connected Oregon to Idaho, Nevada and California. This influx, combined with U.S. federal legislation which allowed pioneers to seize land from the native people at will, resulted in many bloody conflicts. The discovery of gold in the 1850s only hastened the displacement of the Native Americans and the last of the so-called Rogue River Valley Wars resulted in their complete defeat by 1856. By the early twentieth century, Ashland had established itself as a vacation retreat and cultural center. Elaborate theatrical performances beginning in 1935 eventually culminated in the establishment of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of Ashland’s most famous institutions. The city is also home to the Southern Oregon University and the sprawling Lithia Park. It is a gateway to numerous hiking, skiing and rafting opportunities.
Category: General Article
If you lived in rural Oregon in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one of the few ways of expanding your knowledge of art, science, culture and nature was by attending a chautauqua. Learn how these roving festivals brought civilization to isolated communities on the Oregon coast and in the valleys beyond.
Category: Exploring Nature Item
Lithia Park offers a tranquil oasis in the middle of bustling Ashland, Oregon. Learn how these easy-to-hike trails can offer opportunities to spot wildlife and identify native plants without even leaving the city limits.