Josephine County is a small yet significant county situated in the state of Oregon, known for a variety of fascinating historical elements. Here are seven interesting facts about Josephine County's past.
1. Gold Rush Era
Josephine County was the epicenter of the Oregon Gold Rush in 1851. Gold was discovered in the rivers in the area, leading to a massive influx of miners to the region. Many of the first settlers in Josephine County were gold miners.
2. Origins of the Name
The county was named after Josephine Rollins Ort, the first white woman to settle in southern Oregon. Ort lived in the area with her husband, Joe, and their family.
3. The Search for Jessie Applegate
Jessie Applegate was an American pioneer who helped establish a route to Oregon in the mid-1800s. In 1859, Applegate set out on a search for his missing brother, Charles, and was never seen again. Applegate Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River in Josephine County, is named after him.
Josephine County has seen its fair share of wildfires throughout history. The 1932 and 1951 wildfires were particularly severe, burning thousands of acres of forest and destroying many homes in the area.
5. The 1969 Flood
In late January 1969, heavy rain triggered one of Oregon's worst floods on record. Josephine County was one of the hardest-hit areas, with the Rogue River reaching a record high of 32 feet. Over 100 homes were destroyed, and 15 people lost their lives.
6. Historic Buildings
There are several historic buildings in Josephine County, including the Jerome Prairie Store, built-in 1856, and the Wolf Creek Inn, built-in 1883. Both buildings are still standing and open to visitors today.
7. Famous Residents
Several notable people have called Josephine County home, including author Ken Kesey, who lived in the area during the 1960s and '70s. Kesey wrote several of his most famous works, such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," while living in Josephine County. Legendary NFL quarterback Dan Fouts also grew up in the area.
Josephine County has a rich history full of fascinating stories and characters. From gold rushes and wildfires to floods and famous residents, this small county has had its fair share of excitement throughout the years.
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