Gold was discovered in Oregon’s Jackson Creek in 1851 but it brought neither fame nor fortune to the prospector, a lone miner remembered today only as “Mr. Sykes.” Gold fever ignited soon enough and within two years there were thousands of men tediously pulling flakes and nuggets from area creek beds.
Jacksonville’s first brick buildings were in place by 1853 as the town thrived. It
even became the county seat but when the Oregon & California Railroad headed for
nearby Medford in 1887 and by-passed Jacksonville the good times ground to
Jacksonville residents built their own railroad four years later but the
struggling line was dismantled and sold in 1925. During the Depression struggling
residents dug deeper into the hills around town to extract a few dollars of gold to
survive. Not much happened in town after that. So little changed, in fact, that the
entire downtown was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
In 1989, Jacksonville residents formed the Jacksonville Woodlands Association
to preserve and protect the quiet forests on the slopes surrounding the town. Most
explorations of the dog-friendly Jacksonville Woodlands will start in town along
the Zigler Trail, a flat one-mile journey to hike with your dog along the Jackson
Creek where gold was discovered in 1851.
A detailed brochure tells the fascinating story and makes for a prolonged walk
with your dog. Strollers will want to turn around at the footbridge and retrace your
pawprints but adventurous canine hikers will turn left and climb the ridges and
canyons above the town. The three-mile Rich Gulch Trail leads to a panoramic view
of the town and countryside.
On the east end of town, behind the country Gothic house built by apprentice
carpenter-turned-pioneer banker Cornelius Beekman in 1873, you will find the
Beekman Canyon Loop. The trail begins and ends in a small arboretum that displays
eight distinct bio-habitats found in the region. The trail climbs somewhat steeply
through light woods before descending back into the Beekman Garden.
After hiking through the peaceful Jacksonville Woodlands, be sure to take your
dog on a walk through town. More than 80 original brick and wooden buildings
from the 1800s are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can
continue just outside of town into the Jacksonville Cemetery that has been in use
for over 150 years. Dogs are as welcome in Jacksonville today as they were in the
mining camps of yesteryear – there is a water bowl placed for dogs outside the
Visitor Information kiosk.
Jacksonville is located on Route 238 off of I-5 out of Grants Pass to the north
or Medford from the south.