When Oregon was admitted to the Union in 1859, Jacksonville was the largest inland trade center in the new state, and Jacksonville and its residents played a dominant role in early Oregon history and statehood.
But when the railroad by-passed Jacksonville in the 1880s, the town slowly sank into oblivion. However, that oblivion also proved to be the town’s salvation, preserving the historic buildings, homes, and character that you see today—Jacksonville’s National Historic Landmark District.
Today, these landmarks live again through the efforts of the City of Jacksonville, volunteers, and private owners so that you can again experience Jacksonville in its heyday.
The historical town of Jacksonville is located about seven miles west of Medford and fifteen miles north of Ashland, Oregon. Jacksonville is one of the most historically significant communities in the western United States.
Filled with historical landmarks this town offers visitors experience of a bygone era. Jacksonville is filled with antique stores, galleries, book stores, boutiques, specialty shops, cozy inns, fine restaurants, and other historic attractions.
More than 100 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1966, the entire town of Jacksonville was designated a National Register of Historic landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Gold was discovered in the Oregon territory at Rich Gulch in 1851. Miners flocked to the Rogue Valley from everywhere to seek their fortune. Within months, thousands were scouring the hills hoping to stake a claim. A thriving mining camp emerged along the gold-lined creekbeds and before long, the bustling camp was transformed into a town named Jacksonville.
The gold rush fever soon brought prosperity to Jacksonville and by the winter of 1852, saloons and gambling halls were springing up to coax the gold from the hands of the eager prospectors.
Makeshift shops, supply stores, a bank, and an array of other enterprising businesses suddenly began to appear on the scene.
During these early “boom” years, Jacksonville became the hub of commerce in Southern Oregon and the county seat of government.
In 1884, when the railroad decided to bypass Jacksonville and selected the new town of Medford as its primary link between north and south, many residents and businesses moved away. A few wealthy merchants built grand mansions and the new County Court House was completed in 1884.
By the 1890s agriculture had replaced mining as the main industry in the Valley.
For the next 50 years, Jacksonville remained relatively unchanged as surrounding communities continued to grow. The county seat was finally moved to Medford in 1927. Depression years and World War II left a serious impact on the local community. But these turning points for Jacksonville had actually helped to preserve its historic legacy.
Throughout the year, Jacksonville offers a wide range of events and activities for all ages. Activities include the famous Peter Britt Music Festival, historic tours, trolley tours, arts and crafts show, Whole Town Yard Sale, annual Block Party, and Fritillaria Festival.
A handful of wineries make it easy to enjoy the bounty of Southern Oregon wine. There are three tasting rooms in town and two wineries within a mile of town comprising the Jacksonville Wineries Association. Each tasting rooms presents a different perspectives on wine.
With a choice of 18 wineries, the nearby Applegate Wine Trail offers many options in planning a wine tasting itinerary in the area.
Twenty miles of walking trails in town means you can spend the morning or nearly the entire day enjoying the trails and peering into the local history. Narrative signs scattered along the Jacksonville Woodland Trails highlight the areas gold mining days. There is also information on the local flora for those with a botanical bent.
Experience why Jacksonville has been called “One of America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns” by Frommers.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken