One day State Railroad Commissioner Oswald West came to Medford, Ore., to continue a survey of Southern Pacific train service, and requested a tour of the local railroad. Mayor J.F. Reddy took West to visit Barnum’s yards. Barnum told him he planned to build a new depot across the railroad tracks, a project that would conflict with the city’s recently passed fire ordinance. When the mayor pointed this out, Barnum angrily began berating him in the presence of Commissioner West. Incensed when Mayor Reddy seemed unfazed by the insults, Barnum’s son, J.C. Barnum, tried to strike the mayor. Barnum, the father, picked up a nearby axe and charged the mayor, who fled outside to the street. Barnum threw the axe at the mayor and narrowly missed hitting him. Barnum was restrained and charged by the district attorney with assault with a deadly weapon. The railroad commissioner got more than he bargained for from his tour of Southern Oregon.