The town of Medford was born on a cold day in January 1884, when the Oregon & California Railroad ran a track across the middle ford of Bear Creek. Named by railroad engineer David Loring after his hometown in Massachusetts, Medford was incorporated in February 1885. The valley's fertile soil was perfect for growing fruit and pear orchards were the first major business in the area. Gourmet food company Harry and David's still gift-packs its delicious pears in Medford. After World War II, housing was in huge demand and timber became an influential industry.
Medford has grown over the years from a small town with unpaved roads into the largest city in southern Oregon. Education is a high priority and Medford School District 549C serves more than 12,000 students from Medford, Jacksonville, Ruch and the greater Jackson County area. Post-secondary educational options include Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College, both with Medford campuses.
Medford's residential population continues to grow at a faster rate than the county, which in turn is growing at a faster rate than the state. One of the area's most attractive features is its abundance of recreational and cultural opportunities. Many scenic lakes surround Medford, including the Lake of the Woods, Howard Prairie Lake Resort and Crater and Hyatt Lakes. These bodies of water offer excellent boating and fishing opportunities. The Mt. Ashland ski area features both downhill and cross-country skiing. A fascinating historical attraction is the Butte Creek Mill, the last fully functioning, water-powered gristmill in the West.
Fans of the performing arts will enjoy an evening at the Medford Civic Ballet, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, the Rogue Music Theater, Rogue Opera Association or the Rogue Valley Symphony. Downtown Medford also hosts numerous annual community events, such as the Pear Blossom 10K Run, the Medford Cruise car show, the Jazz Jubilee and the tree-lighting ceremony at Vogel Plaza.
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