Alice Mullaly

As It Was Contributor

Alice Mullaly was raised in the same Central Point home where she lives today with her husband, Larry. A graduate of Crater High School, Oregon State, and Stanford universities, she taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York.; Mill Valley, California, and at Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. She retired from Southern Oregon University where she trained new mathematics teachers. Mullaly’s husband was also a teacher as are her two daughters. Her husband is a Southern Pacific Railroad historian, and both of them enjoy hunting for “the story” in primary sources. Alice’s mother was an early member of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and Alice has been an SOHS volunteer for nearly 30 years. She enjoys the puzzles people bring to the Research Library, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.


Only a horse trail connected Diamond Lake and Crater Lake National Park in 1921.  That was before the superintendent of the park, Alex Sparrow, invited the vice president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, E.O. McCormick, to ride the trail.  Their ride convinced them it was time to build a motor car road between the lakes.


It’s certainly true that gold attracted thousands of European-rooted settlers to Southern Oregon who took a lot of ore from the streams and rivers. But can it really be true that gold was used as street paving and railroad ballast?

The Ship Ashore Resort on U.S. Route 101 just three miles south of the Oregon border got its name from the 158-foot yacht, the S.S. Castle Rock, displayed on dry land a quarter mile from the ocean.

Fifteen-year-old David Klemczak set a Guinness World Record by twirling a hubcap on one finger for 22 hours in the KOBI television studios in Medford, Ore., on Nov. 2, 1980.

Medford and Ashland, Ore., had electricity before 1900 because they had enough water power to run generators, but Jacksonville residents and businesses still used kerosene.

In 1902, George Priddy of Medford, Ore., tried to prove his mother’s tombstone in the Central Point Cemetery was worth a million dollars.

Priddy and his siblings had been told by their parents that they owned a part of their maternal grandfather’s farm in Jackson County, Mo. Supposedly, his mother was still a minor in 1853 when she sold her one-ninth interest in the property to get money to go to the gold fields of California.

In 1898, two unrelated Rogue Valley men named Taylor went to The Philippines during the Spanish-

American War as volunteers, perhaps welcoming a chance to see more of the world.

Jay Taylor was with Company B of the Oregon Volunteers from Ashland, Ore. He became ill in training, but after 30 days returned to his company and sailed for The Philippines where he fell ill again. Recovering from surgery, he went to the front lines, sickened and died in a Manila hospital on March 25, 1899.


Wild horses in Eastern Oregon have been seen as a problem for more than 100 years. Today the Bureau of Land Management pastures, but does not slaughter, more wild horses than remain in the wild.

By 1901, demand for horsemeat in Europe had tapered off and Oregon’s only slaughterhouse in the Portland suburb of Linnton had closed. But the Boer War in South Africa created a sudden demand for horsemeat, and the slaughterhouse reopened in 1902. That year more than 10,000 wild mustangs were rounded up and sent to Linnton.


When Oregon became a state in 1859, Ashland Mills – today’s Ashland, Ore. – had a lumber mill and a flour mill and only a scattering of homes on donated land claims.

There was no church, but the town was a settled place, and people felt Christmas should reflect it by avoiding the kind of drunken fights anticipated in the mining town of Jacksonville.

An Oregon evangelist with a powerful voice, French E. Oliver, converted thousands of people to local Christian churches during month-long preaching campaigns in 1910. His method backfired in at least two cities.


Tom Wyllie’s idea was to build an entire motel from a single tree. 

Wyllie fell a curly-grained redwood in 1952 near the Klamath River. Eighteen feet in diameter at the base, the tree yielded 57,000 board feet of lumber.  The huge tree was cut into five logs so big they had to be quartered to haul them to mills, yielding enough lumber, with plenty left over for future additions, to build the 36-room Curly Redwood Lodge in Crescent City, Calif.

Ruby and Lyle Downing watched a hot air balloon burst on July 4, sometime before 1909, in Jacksonville, Ore.  Sixty years later Lyle described the incident in writing.

“We were on hand to see all the preparations,” he wrote. “A long trench, about 15 feet long and at least two feet wide had been dug. A fire was started in this covered trench-like pit. Something in the way of fuel was added that sent up a black smoke. The balloon had been placed over one end of this covered pit. This was how the balloon was filled with hot air. The balloon filled and started to rise…


When travelers glanced back as they left Adams Station in Del Norte County, Calif., they were likely to see Mary Adams waving goodbye.

As early as the 1880s, Adams was catering to the needs of stage travelers on the old Grants Pass to Crescent City wagon road. She had first homesteaded 20 acres along the Smith River near

Gasquet, then paid for another 100 acres. She and neighbor Peter Peacock married and ran Adams Station for more than 50 years.


It’s Halloween and ghost-story time. Here’s one from the Sept. 2, 1911, edition of the Medford (Ore.) Sun newspaper.  It starts like this:

“Ghosts!  The residents of the east side near the bridge have been seeing one. The ghost is the regulation kind being white and having the faculty of doing unexplainable things.”


After marrying and having two children, Grace Russell Fountain took up painting.

She had grown up in Southern Oregon, attending school in the 1860's and 70's in Ashland, Ore.  She was the second of 11 children of Ann and James Russell, who carved decorative tombstones in the Rogue Valley.

In 1878, Grace married James Fountain, a merchant, miner and teacher. She studied painting in Klamath Falls with a famous landscape artist of the time, William S. Parrott. He taught by having students watch him paint and then go home to try to do the same.


Rockhounds abound in Southern Oregon and Northern California, and there’s a story behind each rock, fossil or mineral they collect.

One ardent collector warned, “Rockhounds are like ants. If you give them enough time they will move a mountain.”

When the 1964 flood receded, it left behind an exposed, cabin-sized boulder of jade near Happy Camp, Calif. Within six weeks it was gone! People from around the country had chipped off pieces until there was nothing left.

Music teachers and Rogue Valley Symphony members joined in 1988 in creating the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, a place to learn and to play orchestral literature.  Its first concert was in Ashland.

 Faced with finding jobs for the unemployed in the heart of the depression in 1933 in mineral rich Josephine County, Ore., the state found an answer.  It created a state-sponsored vocational mining school in Grants Pass, where graduates would get a $50 grubstake from the state. Miners, in return, reported their findings to the state’s new Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.  The information helped create detailed mineral maps of Josephine County.

  The first line of an article in the Medford, Ore., paper of March 15, 1936 reads, “Appearing as a soloist…with the Medford (Oregon) Junior Symphony is Marcia Van Dyke, 13 year-old Grants Pass Violinist.”

 Like other recently arrived pioneers, Martha and Garrett Maupin looked to Oregon as the Promised Land. But in the 1850s paradise had flaws.  Oregon may have seemed far from the troubles brewing Back East, but as the Civil War neared, feelings raged even in the Far West, and especially in Lane County, a hotbed of North-South rivalry.  A Southern sympathizer, Garrett Maupin armed himself with a gun and a whip for disarming antagonists.  Alcohol-fueled fights erupted on the streets of Eugene City until troops arrived from Vancouver and placed a cannon at the courthouse.