The History of Jacksonville Oregon


"Its Gold!" What began as a whispered discovery between two packers traveling through the Oregon Territory in 1851 soon became a cry heard throughout the West. Within months thousands of miners were lining the creeks of Rich Gulch seeking their fortune. The rush was on and the boomtown, which came to be known as Jacksonville, emerged.

By the winter of 1852 Jacksonville, then known as Table Rock City, had grown from a makeshift mining camp to a bustling town of over 2000 complete with saloons, gambling halls, shops businesses and a bank. Among those drawn to the area was Peter Britt. His search of gold eventually gave way to a passion to chronicle the times through his talents as a photographer. Fortunately for us, the lives, the landscapes and the legends of the day were captured through his lens.  His former estate is now home to the Britt Festival - a summer long concert series, including 3-weekend Classical Festival.

Another Jacksonville pioneer was Cornelius C. Beekman who also started his career in gold, eventually opening up Oregon's first bank.  You can hear more about his story on History Saturdays - the 2nd Saturdays May - September, when you can tour his home and bank.  Click here for additional Pioneer Profiles.

For decades Jacksonville, which had become the county seat, flourished as the commercial and cultural center of Southern Oregon. It wasn't until 1884, when the railroad was routed through the neighboring town of Medford, did the prestige of Jacksonville begin to wane. As residents and businesses moved away to those communities along the rail lines, Jacksonville settled into a new role-that of an agricultural center.

The combination of the County Seat being moved to Medford in 1927, the Great Depression and World War II had serious economic impact on Jacksonville. But never a community to give in, residents and business leaders sought to preserve the heritage of Southern Oregon's first town. Jacksonville although no longer a boomtown, discovered a new way to lure those with the pioneer spirit, capturing it's colorful past and inviting a new generation of explorers to experience it.

In 1966, Jacksonville was designated a National Historic Landmark. Over 100 buildings in Jacksonville are on the National Register of Historic Places.  

With a dynamic vision of the future that simultaneously incorporates its glorious past, Jacksonville is booming once again. Ask someone who's recently visited Jacksonville what they think, and you may hear a very familiar phrase....."It's Gold!"

Experience our history.

Source for Regional History Information:
   Historical Jacksonville, Inc.                 
   Friends of the Jacksonville Cemetery
   Southern Oregon Historical Society 
   Rogue Valley Genealogical Society