Southern Oregon Family Vacation Day No. 4: A Trolley Ride Through the Past


Jacksonville: A view into the past
Just off I-5, a half-hour drive from Ashland, you’ll find Jacksonville, Ore., the second-best preserved Gold Rush town after California’s Columbia.  

The best way to see Jacksonville is on the Trolley Tour, a 45-minute ride through town with a knowledgeable guide who offers the lowdown on the town’s wild and crazy history filled with Gold fever, wagon trains, Indian uprisings, epidemics and fires. (adults $5, kids $3)

Here’s a one-minute video of our tour to give you a taste of what it’s like:

Jacksonville was founded in 1851 with the discovery of gold at Daisy Creek. This little Southern Oregon hamlet experienced Oregon’s largest Gold Rush and the he population grew from 50 to 3,000 in only a few months. The downtown was home to 13 saloons in its heyday.

Today, cafes, shops and candy stores have replaced the saloons. Our guide, Bob, pointed out his favorite place for fudge: Farmhouse Treasures. You’ll also find a toy store and a kitchen shop.

After rolling down main street, Bob took us into the neighborhoods showing us gorgeous old homes dating back to the 1800s. He pointed out one where the original Bozo the Clown grew up.

We passed by the Britt Festival amphitheater. This annual music festival started out as a showcase for classical music but today it hosts everything from rock to folk stars and runs June to September.

Our guide was full of good stories. For example, when George and Laura Bush came to Jacksonville, the city was the site of a major national protest.

Applegate Valley: Oregon’s rugged wine country
For lunch, we drove 15 miles north of Jacksonville down a country road that took us into the heart of the Applegate Valley.

We stopped at the Applegate Store for ice teas and BLTs served with piles of lettuce grown at the neighboring farm on the side. Our waitress brought some homemade blue cheese dressing in a squirt bottle to our table. Best salad I’ve ever had.

After lunch we drove through the countryside, a sea of grapevines with puffy clouds floating in the blue sky overhead.

The Applegate Valley is home to 18 wineries. The area only became an official wine region in 2001, splitting off from the nearby Roge Valley region. Troon was one of the first wineries, and we decided to stop to taste some of their vintages.  The grounds are beautiful, with an outdoor patio set up with tables and umbrellas for those who want to sip while looking out over the wines.
At 2 p.m., our time was up. We needed to drive to the Medford Airport, only 45 minutes away. Our fun weekend was coming to a close but we were feeling refreshed and relaxed and excited about our many adventures. We’d done everything from raft down a wild and scenic river to walk through snow overlooking an ancient volcano caldera filled with pristine waters. We were ready to go home but already thinking about when we’d get back to Southern Oregon to explore more of its great outdoors.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.