Jacksonville Oregon didn't exist when gold was discovered in California. It wasn't until 1851 that two packers discovered the yellow metal in Rich Gulch and by 1852 the area was a bustling community--a gold rush boom town.
The first wooden buildings built along Main Street burned down and new brick buildings were erected along California Street and Oregon Street. At first it was the gold miners that businesses catered to--mining supplies, food stores, saloons, and a bank. Then as more families arrived there were mercantile stores, hardware, a hotel, and other shops. The railroad arrived. Houses were built. It was a thriving community and the seat of Jackson County.
As the gold petered out it became more of an agricultural area. The moving of the railroad to the middle of the Rogue Valley and the moving of the county seat to Medford caused Jacksonville to cease growing and indeed many businesses moved away. The town kind of froze and stayed as it was for years--a kind of forced preservation.
Jacksonville Oregon today is an historic jewel and that is why it is a National Historic Landmark. The National Register of Historic Places lists over 80 of the town's buildings.
Many of these buildings are open for viewing.
If it isn't actually open you can peek in the windows. It looks pretty much like it did the day it closed in 1915. You can see the gold scales on the counter, pony express signs, and other stuff related to the business. Millions of dollars in gold dust passed through this bank. The Beekman bank is on the corner of California Street and Third Street.
A beautiful old home located on the east end of California Street. This was the home of the bank's owner, Cornelius C. Beekman. Stop by the Jacksonville Visitor's Center to find out opening hours. I have heard that it is now only open by special arrangement.
This is now the Jacksonville Museum. You will see many old artifacts from the early days of the town. Exhibits include an extensive collection of items once owned by Peter Britt, an early pioneer, photographer, wine maker, and businessman. You will get a glimpse of what pioneer life was like when the hardy people
traveled the Oregon Trail and made a new life and a new community out of the wilderness. The museum is located at 206 N. Fifth Street. It is open Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Update: The building no longer houses the museum. Last I heard there was a debate going on about the best use of the building. It may be used for the City of Jacksonville offices.
This is next door to the Jacksonville Museum and is housed in a building that used to be the Jackson County Jail. There are interactive exhibits for children to discover and experience the history of past times. It is open Wednesday through Saturday 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Here is a great overview of the town showing sites and things to do.
There are many shops, boutiques, art galleries, and antique stores occupying the old buildings of Jacksonville Oregon both on the main street (California Street) and off on the side streets. (See the video below.)
The town has several bed and breakfast establishments in some of the grander old homes. There is a nice variety of places to eat in the downtown area.
One of the most interesting places to visit is the Jacksonville Cemetery. It is located on a hill overlooking Oregon Street or Old Stage Road as they seem to be calling it now. When I was growing up there Old Stage Road didn't really begin until farther out of town.
I used to visit the cemetery several times a years. It is only a 10-minute walk from where we lived and I have family buried there.
The cemetery is a good place to just wander around. You will see headstones from the early 1850's onward. If you pay attention you will see where families are buried together that they may have lost three or more children before they were 12 years old. Some died from drowning, others from diseases that we are vaccinated for today, and others from unfortunate accidents. Some people buried there were killed by indians during indian hostilities.
From May through October there is a Saturday Market adjacent to the Jacksonville Museum. Hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The Britt Music Festival is held during the summer months on the grounds of the Peter Britt Estate. World class artists present concerts of classical, jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, country, pop, dance, and new age music. Performances for the 2015 season have just been announced and you can get your tickets here.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year, watch a Dragon Parade and learn about the history of the Chinese in Jacksonville's development.
A Victorian Christmas with a tree lighting, Santa Claus, carolers, a town crier, and roasting chestnuts await you during the month of December.
Panning for gold is a fun activity and something the whole family can enjoy. If you would like to pan for gold and I mean really doing it, not messing about in one of those troughs like you do in some California theme parks, take a look at Oregon Gold Prospecting.
Some of Jacksonville's finest old homes are now bed and breakfast establishments. Read about them here.
Double Click on the map to make it larger.