Jacksonville, Oregon may have a long history dating back to the Old West, but I wouldn’t describe it as a “ghost” town. Though the population of the small town is listed at slightly over 2,800 people, it is a very popular place to visit! We arrived on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and were surprised that there were already lots of people walking the sidewalks of Main Street.
It is truly amazing to see how many buildings that line Main Streets and the side streets connected to it are from the 1850s through the 1880s.
Of course, most of the old buildings now have new businesses currently occupying them. But each building does have a sign that shows what year the building was made and what business occupied it at the time.
I think my favorite of all the old buildings is the Odd Fellows Hall, also known as the McCully Building. It was the first two-story building in Jacksonville constructed by Dr. John McCully in 1856. The building was acquired by a fraternal order called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) and was dedicated as Jacksonville’s Odd Fellows Hall in 1867. It’s a beautiful red brick building at the corner of Main and Oregon Street.
In addition to the Old West charm and beautiful natural environment of woodsy southern Oregon, one of the things I really loved about Jacksonville was the people. By and large I found them to be very friendly and helpful. We were searching for the historic Jacksonville cemetery and one of the locals was nice enough to inform us that it would be quite a walk uphill and told us where we could park up there. But that’s a story for another blog entry!
Jacksonville has a community of residents who are committed to the preservation of their historic gold rush town. The town was named after Jackson County which was named after President Andrew Jackson.
Originally, the area which was known as Table Rock City was inhabited by the Upland Takelmas native people until gold was discovered at Rich Gulch in 1851. Sadly, the Native Americans were displaced by gold miners and Jacksonville was created. Jacksonville became a county seat and the largest city in Oregon till the railroad bypassed the town in 1884 and within the next 50 years, most of the residents would move to Medford where the railway stop was.
Jacksonville was also home to Oregon’s first Chinatown. The Chinese miners were brought there to mine gold and when the gold ran out, the Chinese people left and the area was left to decay until a fire in 1888 consumed whatever buildings were left.
During the 1960’s a plan to run an interstate right through the town failed when the residents began focusing on preservation efforts and were successful in making Jacksonville a National Historic Landmark. There are over 100 buildings included in the National Register of Historic Places.
I really enjoyed walking though this town with Lex and my sister. The residents were so friendly and helpful if you asked them a question or just said a hello. You could see how much pride and love they have for this wonderful place. Walking by historic buildings, bridges and creeks, visiting some of the shops on Main Street proved to me that Jacksonville, Oregon really is “One of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns” (by Frommers).