Medford, Oregon facts for kids

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Medford, Oregon
City
City of Medford
Clockwise, from top: aerial image of Medford, City Hall, the Medford Carnegie Library, Vogel Plaza, and Bear Creek Park.
Clockwise, from top: aerial image of Medford, City Hall, the Medford Carnegie Library, Vogel Plaza, and Bear Creek Park.
Official seal of Medford, Oregon
Seal
Motto: Great Performances Daily
Location of Medford in Jackson County and in the state of Oregon
Location of Medford in Jackson County and in the state of Oregon
Country United States
State Oregon
Counties Jackson
Incorporated February 24, 1885
Area
 • City 25.74 sq mi (66.67 km2)
 • Land 25.73 sq mi (66.64 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation 1,382 ft (421 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 74,907
 • Estimate (2013) 77,677
 • Rank US: 425th
 • Density 2,911.3/sq mi (1,124.1/km2)
 • Urban 154,081 (US: 213th)
 • Metro 208,545 (US: 209th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 97501, 97504
FIPS code 541, 458
Website City of Medford

Medford is a city in Jackson County, Oregon, United States. As of July 1, 2014, the city had a total population of 78,557 and a metropolitan area population of 208,545, making the Medford MSA the fourth largest metro area in Oregon. The city was named in 1883 by David Loring, civil engineer and right-of-way agent for the Oregon and California Railroad, suggested by Medford, Massachusetts, near his home town of Concord, Massachusetts, and in recognition of its supposed position near the middle ford of Bear Creek.

Medford is the county seat of Jackson County.

History

In 1883, a group of railroad surveyors headed by S. L. Dolson and David Loring arrived in Rock Point, near present-day Gold Hill. They were charged with finding the best route through the Rogue Valley for the Oregon and California Railroad. Citizens of neighboring Jacksonville hoped that it would pass between their town and Hanley Butte, near the present day Claire Hanley Arboretum. Such a move would have all but guaranteed prosperous growth for Jacksonville, but Dolson decided instead to stake the railroad closer to Bear Creek. The response from Jacksonville was mixed, but the decision was final. By November 1883, a depot site had been chosen and a surveying team led by Charles J. Howard was hard at work platting the new town. They completed their work in early December 1883, laying out 82 blocks for development.

James Sullivan Howard, a merchant and surveyor, claimed to have built the town's first building in January 1884, though blacksmith Emil Piel was advertising for business at the "central depot" in the middle of December 1883. Others point out the farms of town founders Iradell Judson Phipps and Charles Wesley Broback, which were present before the town was platted. Regardless, on February 6, 1884 (less than a month after it was built), J. S. Howard's store became Medford's first post office, with Howard serving as postmaster. The establishment of the post office led to the incorporation of Medford as a town by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on February 24, 1885, and again as a city in 1905. Howard held the position of postmaster for Medford's first ten years, and again held the post upon his death on November 13, 1919.

The beginning of the 20th century was a transitional period. Medford built a new steel bridge over Bear Creek to replace an earlier one which washed away three years before. Without a bridge, those wanting to cross had to ford the stream, typically using a horse-drawn wagon; the first automobile did not arrive in Medford until 1903. Pharmacist George H. Haskins had opened a drugstore just after the town was platted, and in 1903 he allowed the Medford Library Association to open a small library in that store. Five years later the library moved to Medford's new city hall, in another four years, Andrew Carnegie's donation allowed a dedicated library to be built. Construction on the Medford Carnegie Library was completed in 1912.

In 1927, Medford took the title of county seat of Jackson County away from nearby Jacksonville.

In 1967, Interstate 5 was completed immediately adjacent to downtown Medford to replace the Oregon Pacific Highway. It has been blamed for the decline of small businesses in downtown Medford since its completion, but nevertheless remains an important route for commuters wishing to travel across the city. In fact, a study completed in 1999 found that 45% of vehicles entering I-5 from north Medford heading south exited in south Medford, just three miles (5 km) away.

The high volume of traffic on Interstate 5 led to the completion of a new north Medford interchange in 2006. The project, which cost about $36 million, improved traffic flow between I-5 and Crater Lake Highway. Further traffic problems identified in south Medford prompted the construction of another new interchange, costing $72 million. The project began in 2006 and was completed in 2010.

Since the 1990s, Medford has dedicated an appreciable amount of resources to urban renewal in an attempt to revitalize the downtown area. Several old buildings have been restored, including the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater and the Prohibition era Cooley-Neff Warehouse, now operating as Pallet Wine Company, an urban winery. Streets have been realigned, new sidewalks, traffic signals, and bicycle lanes were installed, and two new parking garages have been built. Downtown Medford also received a new library building to replace the historic Medford Carnegie Library and now boasts satellite campuses for both Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University.

Economic problems in 2008 and 2009 put a hold on The Commons project, a collaboration between the city of Medford and Lithia Motors. The project, one of the largest undertaken in downtown in recent years, aims to provide more parking, recreation, and commerce to the area. Before the work stopped, the Greyhound Bus depot was moved and $850,000 was spent replacing water lines. The Commons is anchored by the new corporate headquarters of Lithia Motors, Inc. (NYSE: LAD). Included in The Commons are two public park blocks slated to be informal public gathering areas as well as an area for special events such as the farmer's market. Ground breaking for the project was April 22, 2011, with a Phase 1 completion date of 2012.

Geography

Medford Oregon
An aerial image of Medford

Medford is located approximately 27 miles (43 km) north of the northern California border at 42.3°N. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.74 square miles (66.67 km2), of which, 25.73 square miles (66.64 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water. The Pacific Ocean is about 75 miles (121 km) west of the city, and is the nearest coast. The nearest river is the Rogue River (8 mi or 13 km), and the nearest lake is Agate Lake (13 mi or 21 km).

Nearby cities include Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Ashland, Roseburg, Redding (California), and Crescent City (California). Medford is 229 miles (369 km) from Salem, the capital of Oregon.

The nearest interstate highway is I-5, which runs northwest-southeast through the center of the city. The nearest junctions with other interstate highways are with I-84 in Portland (273 mi or 439 km) and I-80 in Sacramento (309 mi or 497 km). Medford also serves as a junction for Oregon Routes 99, 238, 62, and nearby 140 (6 mi or 9.7 km).

Medford is also situated in the remains of ancient volcanic flow areas as demonstrated by the Upper and Lower Table Rock lava formations and nearby Mount McLoughlin and Crater Lake, which is the remains of Mount Mazama. In the late spring/early summer the snow on the slopes of Mount McLoughlin melt away into a formation called the "angel wings," which Native American tribes interpreted as an osprey, an indicator of the beginning of salmon run.

Climate

Medford sits in a rain shadow between the Cascade Range and Siskiyou Mountains called the Rogue Valley. As such, most of the rain associated with the Pacific Northwest and Oregon in particular skips Medford, making it drier and sunnier than the Willamette Valley. Medford’s climate is considerably warmer, both in summer and winter, than its latitude would suggest, with a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa). Summers are akin to Eastern Oregon, and winters resemble the coast. Here, summer sees an average of 57 afternoons over 90 °F or 32.2 °C and eleven afternoons over 100 °F or 37.8 °C. In August 1981, the high temperature reached over 110 °F or 43.3 °C for four consecutive days, with two days reaching 114 °F or 45.6 °C. Freezing temperatures occur on 69 mornings during an average year, and in some years there may be a day or two where the high stays at or below freezing; the average window for freezing temperatures is October 23 through April 23. The city is located in USDA hardiness zone 8. Medford also experiences temperature inversions in the winter which during its lumber mill days produced fog so thick that visibility could be reduced to less than five feet. These inversions can last for weeks; some suggest this is because the metropolitan area has one of the lowest average wind speeds of all American metropolitan areas. The heavy fog returns nearly every winter with the inversions lowering air quality for several months without relief.

Medford residents do experience snowfall during the winter months; however, due to the weather shadow effect it only averages 3.6 inches or 0.09 metres and melts fairly quickly. In the past, the city has seen seasonal snowfall totals reach 31 inches or 0.79 metres in 1955–1956. That season was also the wettest “rain year” with a total of 33.41 inches (848.6 mm); this immediately followed the driest “rain year” since records started in 1911 from July 1954 to June 1955 when only 9.28 inches (235.7 mm) was recorded. By far the wettest month has been December 1964 with 12.72 inches (323.1 mm); no other month has had more than 10 inches or 254 millimetres. The wettest day on record has been December 2, 1962 with 3.30 inches (83.8 mm).

The lowest recorded temperature in Medford was −10 °F (−23.3 °C) on December 13, 1919, and the highest recorded temperature was 115 °F (46 °C) on July 20, 1946.

Climate data for Medford, Oregon (Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
(21.7)
79
(26.1)
86
(30)
96
(35.6)
103
(39.4)
111
(43.9)
115
(46.1)
114
(45.6)
110
(43.3)
99
(37.2)
80
(26.7)
72
(22.2)
115
(-17.8)
Average high °F (°C) 47.8
(8.78)
54.3
(12.39)
59.5
(15.28)
64.9
(18.28)
73.3
(22.94)
81.6
(27.56)
90.7
(32.61)
90.7
(32.61)
83.5
(28.61)
69.9
(21.06)
53.0
(11.67)
45.9
(7.72)
67.9
(19.94)
Daily mean °F (°C) 40.3
(4.61)
44.2
(6.78)
48.3
(9.06)
52.8
(11.56)
59.8
(15.44)
66.8
(19.33)
74.1
(23.39)
73.7
(23.17)
66.8
(19.33)
56.0
(13.33)
44.7
(7.06)
39.3
(4.06)
55.6
(13.11)
Average low °F (°C) 32.8
(0.44)
34.1
(1.17)
37.1
(2.83)
40.8
(4.89)
46.2
(7.89)
52.0
(11.11)
57.4
(14.11)
56.8
(13.78)
50.0
(10)
42.0
(5.56)
36.4
(2.44)
32.7
(0.39)
43.2
(6.22)
Record low °F (°C) −3
(-19.4)
6
(-14.4)
14
(-10)
21
(-6.1)
28
(-2.2)
31
(-0.6)
38
(3.3)
39
(3.9)
29
(-1.7)
18
(-7.8)
10
(-12.2)
−10
(-23.3)
−10
(-23.3)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.42
(61.5)
2.01
(51.1)
1.71
(43.4)
1.38
(35.1)
1.30
(33)
0.62
(15.7)
0.28
(7.1)
0.40
(10.2)
0.57
(14.5)
1.13
(28.7)
3.01
(76.5)
3.49
(88.6)
18.31
(465.1)
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.3
(3.3)
0.6
(1.5)
0.4
(1)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.2
(0.5)
1.1
(2.8)
3.6
(9.1)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.1 11.4 12.0 10.6 8.4 4.2 2.1 1.9 3.4 7.1 14.0 14.4 102.6
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 1.3 0.9 0.5 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 1.4 4.6
Source #1: NOAA (extremes 1911–present)
Source #2: The Weather Channel

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 967
1900 1,791 85.2%
1910 8,840 393.6%
1920 5,756 −34.9%
1930 11,007 91.2%
1940 11,281 2.5%
1950 17,305 53.4%
1960 24,425 41.1%
1970 28,973 18.6%
1980 39,746 37.2%
1990 46,951 18.1%
2000 63,154 34.5%
2010 74,907 18.6%
Est. 2015 79,805 6.5%
Sources:

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 74,907 people, 30,079 households, and 19,072 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,911.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,124.1/km2). There were 32,430 housing units at an average density of 1,260.4 per square mile (486.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.0% White, 0.9% African American, 1.2% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 6.0% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.8% of the population.

There were 30,079 households of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.6% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.98.

The median age in the city was 37.9 years. 24.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.4% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 16.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

Points of interest

Alba Park

Location: 42°19′26″N 122°52′34″W / 42.3238°N 122.876°W / 42.3238; -122.876 (Alba Park)

The oldest park in Medford, Alba Park is located at the intersection of Holly and Main in downtown Medford was deeded to the city by the railroad company in 1888. Known as Library Park after the 1911 construction of the Medford Carnegie Library, it was later renamed for Medford's sister city, Alba, Italy. The park contains a gazebo, a statue of a boy with two dogs surrounded by a fountain pool, and a Japanese gun from World War II.

The annual Pear Blossom Run starts across the street from Alba Park at the Medford city hall, with an all-day fair conducted in the park itself.

Bear Creek Corporation/Harry & David

Medford is the birthplace of Bear Creek Corporation, known around the world for its fruit-laden gift baskets, especially locally-grown pears. Tours of the plant are open to the public.

Bear Creek Park

Bear Creek Park (Oregon) 1
Bear Creek Park

At nearly 100 acres (0.40 km2), this south Medford park is the second largest in the city (Prescott Park is the largest at 1,740 acres). Bear Creek Park is bordered on the west by Bear Creek and the Bear Creek Greenway. On the park grounds are four tennis courts, a skatepark, a dog park, an amphitheater, a large playground, a BMX track, and a community garden.

Since 1925, the property hosting Bear Creek Park has been used for several purposes. The first section was purchased from a resident of Medford named Mollie Keene. The town used it for incinerating garbage until 1939. After that, it spent 20 years as a girl scout day camp before seeing private ownership again for a few years. Concerns about pollution in the Bear Creek received media attention in 1963 and the city purchased more property. In 1988, a playground designed by Robert Leathers of New York was built.

The Commons

The Commons is a public park built in the city's historic downtown district adjacent to the Lithia Motors headquarters building. It has been used as a venue for community activities. It was completed in 2012.

I.O.O.F. Eastwood Historic Cemetery

The cemetery, established in 1890, lies on 20 acres (8.1 ha) just north of Bear Creek Park. It includes the grave of J. S. Howard and other former residents of Medford. The Parks and Recreation Department offers free tours of the cemetery.

Claire Hanley Arboretum

The Claire Hanley Arboretum was first planted in 1962 by Claire and Mary Hanley, two sisters raised on the historic Michael Hanley Farmstead along present-day Oregon Route 238. It is part of a larger agriculture research center belonging to the Oregon State University. Located on the grounds are species of the dogwood cornus mas, the dove tree, and the Sorrel tree.

Medford Carnegie Library

Medford Carnegie Library - Medford Oregon
Medford Carnegie Library

The Medford Carnegie Library is a two-story library building located in downtown Medford. It was erected in 1911 thanks to a gift from Andrew Carnegie, but was vacated in 2004 after a new library building was constructed near the Rogue Community College extension campus, also in downtown Medford. Currently, there are plans to use the building for class reunions, public meetings, and for annexing some city offices from the neighboring City Hall building.

Roxy Ann Peak and Prescott Park

Roxy Ann Mountain
Roxy Ann Peak overlooks Medford from the east

One of Medford's most prominent landmarks, Roxy Ann Peak is a 30-million-year-old mountain located on the east side of the city. Its summit is 3,576 feet (1,090 m) above sea level. It was named for Roxy Ann Bowen, an early settler who lived in its foothills.

A significant area of Roxy Ann Peak (including the summit) is enclosed in Medford's largest park, a 1,740-acre (2.72 sq mi; 7.0 km2) protected area called Prescott Park. The land was set aside in the 1930s and named in honor of George J. Prescott, a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1933.

The most commonly used trail on Roxy Ann Peak, part of Prescott Park, climbs about 950 feet (290 m) from the beginning of the footpath at the second gate to a height of about 3,547 feet (1,081 m). The trail is about 3.4 miles (5.5 km) one-way, and provides a panoramic view of the Rogue Valley.

Vogel Plaza

Vogel Plaza Art in Bloom 2007
Art in Bloom 2007
Location: 42°19′35″N 122°52′19″W / 42.3264°N 122.8719°W / 42.3264; -122.8719 (Vogel Plaza)

Finished in 1997 at the intersection of E. Main St and Central Ave in downtown Medford, Vogel Plaza has quickly become a center of activity for many local events. One such event is the annual Art in Bloom festival, which is held around Mother's Day each year. During the two-day festival, over 10,000 people attend and more than 75 artists showcase their work while surrounded by live entertainment, workshops, food, and children's activities.

Transportation

The city of Medford is responsible for over 322 kilometers (200 mi) of roads within its boundaries.

Major highways

Medford Viaduct
The I-5 viaduct in downtown Medford
  • I-5 (big).svg Interstate 5 runs directly through the center of the city. The section of freeway includes a 3,229-foot (984 m) viaduct that elevates traffic above Bear Creek and the city's downtown. There are two freeway exits in Medford, one at each side of the city.
  • OR 99.svg Highway 99 runs through the city's center.
  • OR 62.svg Highway 62 runs through the northern portion of the town.
  • OR 238.svg Highway 238 runs through the northwestern portion of Medford.

Air

Medford is home to Oregon's 3rd busiest airport, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (airport code MFR). 757,971 people used this regional airport in 2015, which has served over 11 million passengers between 1978 and 2008. Medford airport has two asphalt runways which handle about sixty daily flights from five airlines. Medford's Airlines are Alaska Airlines (operated by Horizon Air), United Express, Delta Connection And Allegiant Airlines.

With expansion of the airport terminal underway, the facilities are quickly being upgraded.

Bus

The greater Medford metro area has been served by Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) since 1975. The bus system operates eight routes from Monday to Saturday, four of which travel to nearby cities Central Point, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, and White City. All routes connect at the Front Street Transfer Station, which since October 2008 has contained Medford's Greyhound Bus depot.

Rail

There are no passenger trains that route through Medford. Amtrak trains serve nearby Klamath Falls. People in Medford can board the Southwest POINT Klamath Shuttle Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach (an intercity bus route) at the RVTD Front Street Transfer Station for a two and a half hour ride and guaranteed connection with Amtrak's Coast Starlight train at the Klamath Falls Amtrak Passenger Rail Station.

Maritime

The nearest maritime port is the Port of Coos Bay, which is 167 miles (269 km) away.

The nearby Rogue River is monitored for flooding at the Gold Ray Dam, a decommissioned hydroelectric dam built in 1906 near Gold Hill. The National Weather Service identifies 3.6 meters (12 feet) as the flood level. At this depth, navigability between the Pacific Ocean and the Rogue Valley is limited. Even a small "handysize" freighter is unable to make the trip, and any ship hauling cargo to Medford would have to have a much smaller draw. Therefore, Medford does not have a nearby maritime port.

Medford in popular culture

Medford is the hometown of the fictional character Mr. Jackson, played by Porter Hall, in the classic noir film Double Indemnity. When pressed to recall the events that led to the supposed death of Dietrichson, Mr. Jackson proclaims, "Mr. Keyes, I'm a Medford man – Medford, Oregon. Up in Medford, we take our time making up our minds."

And featured in the game The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.

Sister city

Italy Shortly after the sister city program was established in 1960, Medford was paired up with Alba, Italy. The cities are 9,175 kilometers (5,701 mi) apart and were paired based on 1960 similarities in population, geography, and climate.

Every other year, both Alba and Medford take turns exchanging students. During March and April of one year, students from Medford's high schools will visit Alba and stay with host families. Likewise, Alba students will visit Medford every other year. Sixty-seven Medford students applied for the 2007 trip to Italy, but only 24 were selected.

It was former mayor of Medford John W. Snider who selected Alba during his 1957–1962 term, making a satellite phone call to Alba's former mayor Osvaldo Cagnasso.

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