The name "Oregon" comes from a mistake. The name was first used by French Canadian explorers who mispronounced the word "Ouragan" which means "hurricane" in French. They used it to describe the powerful Columbia River, and the name stuck.
Josephine County, located in southwestern Oregon, has a rich and diverse history that spans centuries. The area was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Takelma and the Shasta people. European explorers, such as Jedediah Smith and Peter Skene Ogden, began arriving in the early 19th century, seeking fur trading opportunities.

In the mid-19th century, gold was discovered in the area, leading to a gold rush that brought many settlers to Josephine County. The region quickly developed into a bustling mining community, with towns like Waldo and Sailor Diggings springing up almost overnight. Numerous Chinese immigrants also arrived to work in the mines.

As mining activities declined towards the end of the 19th century, Josephine County experienced an agricultural boom. The fertile soil and mild climate made it ideal for various crops, including fruit orchards and vineyards. Lumber quickly became another major industry, as vast forests covered the area. Sawmills were established to meet the growing demand for timber.

Josephine County faced significant challenges in the 20th century, including economic downturns and natural disasters. The Great Depression hit the region hard, leading to high unemployment rates and poverty. Additionally, devastating floods in the 1960s caused extensive damage, leading to significant infrastructural changes in the county.

Despite the ups and downs, Josephine County has persevered and adapted. Today, the area is known for its natural beauty, with attractions like the Rogue River, the Oregon Caves National Monument, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. The county also serves as a gateway to the scenic and popular tourist destination of Crater Lake National Park.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Josephine County, Oregon.

  • 1856: Josephine County is established by the Oregon Territorial Legislature.
  • 1859: The first public school is established in the town of Kerby.
  • 1860: Gold mining becomes a major industry in the county, attracting thousands of prospectors.
  • 1870: Grants Pass becomes the county seat, replacing Kerby.
  • 1880: The completion of the Oregon and California Railroad connects Josephine County to the coast, boosting trade and development.
  • 1901: The town of Cave Junction is founded.
  • 1920s: Josephine County experiences a period of economic growth due to the expanding logging industry.
  • 1966: The construction of Interstate 5 improves transportation and opens up new opportunities for the county.
  • 1994: The county faces economic decline, prompting efforts to diversify its economy and attract new industries.