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Medford is a city in Jackson Countymarker, Oregonmarker, United States. As of 2008, the city had a total population of 76,850 and a metropolitan area population of 202,310. The city was named in 1883 by David Loring, civil engineer and right-of-way agent for the Oregon and California Railroad for his home town of Medford, Massachusettsmarker and in recognition of its supposed position on the middle ford of Bear Creek.

Medford is the county seat of Jackson Countymarker.


Statue of Liberty, dedicated in 1951
In 1883, a group of railroad surveyors headed by S. L. Dolson and David Loring arrived in Rock Point, near present day Gold Hillmarker. They were charged with finding the best route through the Rogue Valley for the Oregon and California Railroad. Citizens of neighboring Jacksonvillemarker hoped that it would pass between their town and Hanley Butte, near the present day Claire Hanley Arboretum. Such a move would have all but guaranteed prosperous growth for Jacksonville, but Dolson decided instead to stake the railroad closer to Bear Creek.

The response from Jacksonville was mixed, but the decision was final. By November 1883, a depot site had been chosen and a surveying team led by Charles J. Howard was hard at work platting the new town. They completed their work in early December 1883, laying out 82 blocks for development.

James Sullivan Howard, a New Hampshiremarker Freemason, claimed to have built the town's first building in January 1884, though blacksmith Emil Piel was advertising for business at the "central depot" in the middle of December.Others point out the farms of town founders Iradell Judson Phipps and Charles Wesley Broback, which were present before the town was platted. Regardless, on February 6, 1884 (less than a month after it was built), J. S. Howard's store became Medford's first post office, with Howard serving as postmaster. The establishment of the post office led to the incorporation of the Medford as a town by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on February 24, 1885, and again as a city in 1905. Howard held the position of postmaster for Medford's first ten years, and again held the post upon his death on November 13, 1919.

The beginning of the 20th century was a transitional period. Medford built a new steel bridge over Bear Creek to replace an earlier one which washed away three years before. Without a bridge, those wanting to cross had to ford the stream, typically using a horse-drawn wagon; the first automobile did not arrive in Medford until 1903. Pharmacist George H. Haskins had opened a drugstore just after the town was platted, and in 1903 he allowed the Medford Library Association to open a small library in that store. Five years later the library moved to Medford's new city hall, in another four years, Andrew Carnegie's donation allowed a dedicated library to be built. Construction on the Medford Carnegie Librarymarker was completed in 1912.

In 1927, Medford took the title of county seat of Jackson Countymarker away from nearby Jacksonville.

In 1967, Interstate 5 was completed immediately adjacent to downtown Medford to replace the Oregon Pacific Highway. It has been blamed for the decline of small businesses in downtown Medford since its completion, but nevertheless remains an important route for commuters wishing to travel across the city. In fact, a study completed in 1999 found that 45% of vehicles entering I-5 from north Medford heading south exited in south Medford, just three miles (5 km) away.

The high volume of traffic on Interstate 5 led to the completion of a new north Medford interchange in 2006. The project, which cost about $36 million, improved traffic flow between I-5 and Crater Lake Highway. Further traffic problems identified in south Medford prompted the construction of another new interchange, estimated at costing $70 million. The project began in 2006 and should be completed by 2010.

Since the 1990s, Medford has dedicated an appreciable amount of resources to urban renewal in an attempt to revitalize the downtown area. Several old buildings have been restored, including the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatermarker. Streets have been realigned, new sidewalks, traffic signals, and bicycle lanes were installed, and two new parking garages have been built. Downtown Medford also received a new library building to replace the historic Medford Carnegie Library and now boasts satellite campuses for both Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon Universitymarker.

Economic problems in 2008 and 2009 put a hold on The Commons project, a collaboration between the city of Medford and Lithia Motors. The project, one of the largest undertaken in recent years, aims to provide more parking, recreation, and commerce to the area. Before the work stopped, the Greyhound Bus depot was moved and $850,000 was spent replacing water lines. Originally, The Commons was scheduled to be completed by 2017, but remains on indefinite hold until the economic situation improves.

Government and leadership

Medford has a council-manager style of government. The governing body of Medford consists of an elected mayor and eight city council members, two from each of four wards. The council hires a professional city manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city including the hiring of city staff.

The mayor and council members are not paid, but are reimbursed for expenses.


The current mayor of Medford is Gary Hale Wheeler. He was first elected mayor in November 2004 with 16,653 of 28,195 votes (59%), and then was reelected in 2008 with 21,651 of 22,211 votes (97.5%).His current term expires in December 2012.

Wheeler is an optometrist with an office in Medford. Prior to his election, he spent thirteen years on the Medford Urban Renewal Agency Board and served in the US Army where he also practiced optometry.

Previous mayors

  • Gary Wheeler 2004 – present; Dr. Wheeler is an optometrist in the Medford area
  • Lindsay Berryman, 1998 – 2004; first female mayor of Medford
  • Jerry Lausmann, 1986 – 1998, the longest-serving mayor in Medford history
  • Gerald "Lou" Hannum, 1983 – 1986
  • Al Densmore (Rep), 1977 – 1983, president of the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation
  • Sebastiano "Benny" Fagone, 1974 – 1977, founded the North Medford High Schoolmarker Black Tornado sports program in 1980
  • Lorin Jacobs, 1973 - 1974
  • John W. Snider Sr., 1957 – 1962, established Medford's sister city relationship with Alba, Italymarker in 1960
  • Diamond "Dime" Flynn, 1949 - 1954
  • Clarence A. Meeker, 1942-1948
  • Halbert S. "Hob" Deuel (Rep), 1940 – 1942, former Jackson Countymarker congressman, died in 1971
  • Charles C. Furnas, 1937 – 1940
  • Earl Gaddis, 1925?
  • Vernon Emerick, 1914? – 1918?, lit the city's first official Christmas tree in 1915
  • William W. Eifert, ? – 1913, moved from Ohio, died of a heart attack during term on September 1, 1913, buried at the Eastwood Cemetery in Medford
  • Edward P. Geary, 1888 – 1888,
  • James S. Howard, 1887 – 1888, Medford's first mayor

City council

City Ward Map
Medford municipal code divides the city into four wards, each represented by two city council members. Every biennium, one member from each ward is elected to serve a four-year term, creating an overlap where half of the eight-member council remains in office while the other half must campaign for reelection.

Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3 Ward 4
2007–2010 Al Densmore

(elected 2006)
Ben Truwe

(elected 2006)
Jill Stout

(elected 2006)
Bob Strosser

(elected 1998)
2009-2012 Dick Gordon

(elected 2008)
James F Kuntz

(elected 2004)
Chris Corcoran

(elected 2008)
Greg Jones

(elected 2004)

City manager

The city manager of Medford is Michael Dyal. He replaced Andy Anderson in June 1998 by vote of the city council. Dyal, a U.S. Army veteran, previously served as city manager for Orem, Utahmarker, and North Las Vegas, Nevadamarker.


Medford is located approximately 27 miles (43 km) north of the northern California border at 42.3°N. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.7 square miles (56.2 km²), all of it land. The Pacific Ocean is about 75 miles (121 km) west of the city, and is the nearest coast. The nearest river is the Rogue River (8 mi, 13 km), and the nearest lake is Agate Lake (13 mi, 21 km).

Nearby cities include Grants Passmarker, Klamath Fallsmarker, Ashlandmarker, Roseburgmarker, Reddingmarker (Californiamarker), and Crescent Citymarker (California). Medford is 229 miles (369 km) from Salemmarker, the capital of Oregon.

The nearest interstate highway is I-5, which runs northwest-southeast through the center of the city. The nearest junctions with other interstate highways are with I-84 in Portlandmarker (273 mi, 439 km) and I-80 in Sacramentomarker (309 mi, 497 km). Medford also serves as a junction for Oregon Routes 99, 238, 62, and nearby 140 (6 mi/10 km).

Medford is also situated in the remains of ancient volcanic flow areas as demonstrated by the Upper and Lower Table Rockmarker lava formations and nearby Mount McLoughlinmarker and Crater Lakemarker, which is the remains of Mount Mazamamarker. In the late spring/early summer the snow on the slopes of Mount McLoughlin melt away into a formation called the "angel wings," which Native American tribes interpreted as an osprey, an indicator of the beginning of salmon run.


Medford sits in a weather shadow between the Cascade Range and Siskiyou Mountainsmarker called the Rogue Valley. As such, most of the rain associated with the Pacific Northwest and Oregon in particular skips Medford, making it drier and sunnier than the Willamette Valley. Medford's climate is considerably warmer, both in summer and winter, than its latitude would suggest. Summers are reminiscent of Eastern Oregon, and winters resemble the coast. In Medford, summer often includes as many as ninety days over 90°F (32°C), with temperatures over 100°F (38°C) common in July and August. In August 1980, the temperature stayed over 110°F (43°C) for over a week, with two days reaching 115°F (46°C). Medford also experiences temperature inversion in the winter which during its lumber mill days produced fog so thick that visibility could be reduced to less than five feet. These inversions could last four to six weeks; some suggest this is because the metropolitan area has one of the lowest average wind speeds of all American metropolitan areas.

Medford residents experience snowfall (not necessarily accumulation) during winter months, though it usually only amounts to a few inches (5-7 centimeters). In the past, Medford has seen snowfall measurements reach 31 inches/78 centimeters (1955-1956), and in 2007, 9 inches/23 centimeters of snowfall were recorded.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 71 79 86 93 103 111 115 114 110 98 77 72
Norm High °F 47.3 53.8 58.3 64.3 72.2 81.2 90.2 90.1 83.5 70 52.8 45.2
Norm Low °F 30.9 33.1 35.9 39 44 50.1 55.2 54.9 48.3 40.2 35 31
Rec Low °F -3 6 16 21 28 31 38 39 29 18 10 -6
Precip (in) 2.47 2.1 1.85 1.31 1.21 0.68 0.31 0.52 0.78 1.31 2.93 2.9
Snowfall (in) 3.2 1.2 0.7 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.5


Medford's economy is driven primarily by the health care industry.

Medford is the economic and shopping center for over 460,000 people located in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The Projected 2008 retail sales in the Greater Medford Area are $7.5 billion dollars. The average is more than the expanded Portland and Eugene markets.

In the past, Medford's economy was fueled by agriculture (pears, peaches, viticulture grapes) and timber products. The largest direct marketer of fruits and food gifts in the United States, Harry and David Operations Corp., is based in Medford. It is the largest employer in Southern Oregon, with 1,700 year round and about 6,700 seasonal employees in the Medford area. Harry and David was founded in 1910 to market the harvest from the orchards of the Rogue Valley.

Musician's Friend, America's largest direct response retailer of musical instruments and related gear, is headquartered in Medford. Tom's Bronco Parts, the nationwide leader of replacement parts for the early Ford Bronco (model years 1966-1977) is located in Medford as well. Benchmark Maps, founded in Medford in 1995, produces detailed atlases and maps in 10 western states. Falcon Northwest, a personal computer manufacturing company, has been operating in Medford since 2002. There is even a film production company, called Pacific International Enterprises, which has been distributing films from Medford since at least the 1970s.

RVMC Patient Tower
Lithia Motors, the Nation's 8th largest auto retailer, has called Medford home for nearly 40 years. Publicly trade on the NYSE as LAD, Lithia operates nearly 100 dealerships west of the Mississippi River.

As there are no towns of equal or larger size within several hours' drive, Medford is a regional hub for medical services. The two major medical centers in the city, Rogue Valley Medical Centermarker and Providence Medford Medical Center, employ over 2,000 people. As Medford is also a retirement destination, assisted living and senior services have become an important part of the economy.

Medford and the surrounding area is home to the expanding Oregon wine industry that includes a large variety of Bordelaise, Rhone, and Burgundian varietals including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel, pinot noir, gewürztraminer, riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot blanc, early muscat, and Gamay Noir. Unlike the rest of Oregon, the region has also enjoyed success with two lesser-known varietals: Tempranillo, the red grape known best as the foundation of Spanish Rioja, and Viognier, a white grape previously found only in isolated parts of the Rhone region.


As of the census of 2000, there were 63,154 people, 25,093 households, and 16,511 families residing in the city. In 2005 the population was estimated at 71,000 people. The population density was 2,910.5 people per square mile (1,123.7/km²). There were 26,297 housing units at an average density of 1,211.9/sq mi (467.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.99% White, 0.50% African American, 1.07% Native American, 1.14% Asian, 0.26% Pacific Islander, 3.87% from other races, and 3.17% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.25% of the population.

There were 25,093 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,481, and the median income for a family was $43,972. Males had a median income of $34,533 versus $23,714 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,170. About 10.3% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.8% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

Alba Park

Statue in Alba Park
The oldest park in Medford, Alba Park is located at the intersection of Holly and Main in downtown Medford. Originally called Library Park due to its proximity to the Medford Carnegie Librarymarker, it was later renamed for Medford's sister city, Alba, Italymarker. The park contains a gazebo, a statue of a boy with two dogs surrounded by a fountain pool, and a Japanese cannon from World War II.

The annual Pear Blossom Run starts across the street from Alba Park at the Medford city hall, with an all-day fair conducted in the park itself.

Bear Creek Corporation/Harry & David

Medford is the birthplace of Bear Creek Corporation, known around the world for its fruit-laden gift baskets, especially locally-grown pears. Tours of the plant are open to the public.

Bear Creek Park

Bear Creek Park
At nearly , this south Medford park is the second largest in the city (Prescott Parkmarker is the largest at 1,740 acres). Bear Creek Park is bordered on the west by Bear Creek and the Bear Creek Greenway. On the park grounds are four tennis courts, a skatepark, a dog park, an amphitheater, a large playground, a BMX track, and a community garden.

Since 1925, the property hosting Bear Creek Park has been used for several purposes. The first section was purchased from a resident of Medford named Mollie Keene. The town used it for incinerating garbage until 1939. After that, it spent 20 years as a girl scout day camp before seeing private ownership again for a few years. Concerns about pollution in the Bear Creek received media attention in 1963 and the city purchased more property. In 1988, a playground designed by Bob Leathers of New Yorkmarker was built.

Claire Hanley Arboretum

The Claire Hanley Arboretum was first planted in 1962 by Claire and Mary Hanley, two sisters raised on the historic Michael Hanley Farmstead along present day Oregon Route 238. It is part of a larger agriculture research center belonging to the Oregon State Universitymarker. Located on the grounds are species of the dogwood cornus mas, the dove tree, and the Sorrel tree.

Medford Carnegie Library

Medford Carnegie Library

The Medford Carnegie Library is a two-story library building located in downtown Medford. It was erected in 1911 thanks to a gift from Andrew Carnegie, but was vacated in 2004 after a new library building was constructed near the Rogue Community College extension campus, also in downtown Medford. Currently, there are plans to use the building for class reunions, public meetings, and for annexing some city offices from the neighboring City Hall building.

Roxy Ann Peak and Prescott Park

One of Medford's most prominent landmarks, Roxy Ann Peak is a 30 million year old dormant volcano located on the east side of the city. At 1,089 meters (3,573 ft), the mountain rises almost 610 meters (2000 ft) above the valley floor. It was named for Roxy Ann Bowen, an early settler who lived in its foothills.

A significant area of Roxy Ann Peak (including the summit) is enclosed in Medford's largest park, a 7.04 square kilometer (2.72 mi², 1,740 acres) protected area called Prescott Park. The land was set aside in the 1930s and named in honor of George J. Prescott, a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1933.

Vogel Plaza

Art in Bloom 2007
Finished in 1997 at the intersection of E. Main St and Central Ave in downtown Medford, Vogel Plaza has quickly become a center of activity for many local events. One such event is the annual Art in Bloom festival, which is held around Mother's Day each year. During the two-day festival, over 10,000 people attend and more than 75 artists showcase their work while surrounded by live entertainment, workshops, food, and children's activities.


Medford is served by Medford School District 549c and has two main high schools: South Medford High Schoolmarker and North Medford High Schoolmarker. In addition to the two public high schools, Medford has several private high schools. Two of the largest are St. Mary's Schoolmarker and Cascade Christian High Schoolmarker. In addition, there are 14 public elementary schools and two public middle schools, (Hedrick and McLoughlin). Medford 549C has over 12,500 students enrolled.

Crossroads School is a private, alternative high school operating in Medford along with three others operated or affiliated with a church; Cascade Christian High Schoolmarker, St. Mary's High Schoolmarker, and Rogue Valley Adventist Schoolmarker. Grace Christian and Sacred Heart School are private elementary and middle schools in Medford.

In 1997, Grants Passmarker-based Rogue Community College (RCC) completed construction on a seven-building campus spanning five blocks in downtown Medford. Nearby Ashlandmarker-based Southern Oregon Universitymarker collaborated with Rogue in 2007 on the construction of an eighth building which will offer third- and fourth-year courses to students.

Crime and law enforcement

Violent Crime Property Crime
Murder Rape Robbery Assault Total Burglary Theft Car Theft Total
2007 0 30 44 191 265 412 2,662 196 3,270
2006 1 22 36 193 252 456 2,748 177 3,381
2005 1 28 53 243 325 556 3,455 279 4,290
2004 0 21 38 229 288 551 3,272 257 4,080

The Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker publication "Crime in the United States" provides unranked statistical data from law enforcement agencies across the United States. The table to the right are statistics reported for the city of Medford for the years 2004 through 2007.

As with any city that experiences rapid growth, Medford has seen a recent surge in gang activity and organized crime in the past decade.Methamphetamine use is a problem in Medford and southern Oregon and is believed to play a role in numerous property crimes, including identity theft.

Police department

The Medford Police Department has 103 sworn police officers supported by a staff of 77 civilian employees.

Notable residents




  • KAKT-FM 105.1 New Country
  • KBOY-FM 95.7 Classic Rock
  • KCNA 102.7 Classic Hits
  • KRVCmarker 98.9 Hot 98.9 Top 40 & Urban
  • KCMX 880 Talk
  • KCMX-FM 101.9 Soft Adult Contemporary
  • KDOV-FM 91.7 Christian Top 40
  • KEZX-AM 730 Talk Radio
  • KHRI-FMmarker 91.1 Christian Rock
  • KIFS-FM 107.5 Kiss Top 40
  • KLDZmarker-FM 103.5 Oldies
  • KLDR-FM 98.7 Top 40
  • KMED-AM 1440 Talk
  • KROG-FM 96.9 New Rock
  • KRRM-FM 94.7 Classic Country
  • KRTA-AM 610 Hispanic
  • KRWQ-FM 100.3 New & Classic Country
  • KSJK-AM 1230 JPR/SOU Public Radio
  • KSMF FM 89.1 JPR/SOU Classical / Jazz
  • KGAYmarker 580 Latin Music
  • KTMT-FM 93.7 Plays Anything
  • KZZE-FM 106.3 New Hard Rock


The official newspaper of Medford and Jackson County is the Mail Tribune, which is owned by Ottaway Community Newspapers. It began circulation in 1909 after a merger between the Medford-based Mail and the Ashlandmarker-based Tribune. As of 2004, an average of 37,000 copies of the Mail Tribune are in circulation each day.

Professional sports

In addition to having several athletes who were famous natives or residents of the city, Medford played host to several professional sports teams since 1948. It was the home city for several professional baseball teams, most notably the Medford A's, later known as the Southern Oregon Timberjacks, of the Northwest League. They were a short-season single-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Oakland Athletics who played at historic Miles Field from 1979 to 1999 before relocating to Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker. There is currently talk about bringing an expansion franchise from the Golden Baseball League to Medford, but there is no suitable stadium to host such a team at the moment.

Medford also hosted a professional indoor football team from the National Indoor Football League known as the Southern Oregon Heat in 2001. It played in the Compton Arena at the Jackson County Expo Park.

Medford's Lava Lanes bowling alley previously hosted the PBA's Medford Open every January, which aired on ESPN, the last Open took place in 2009.


The city of Medford is responsible for over 322 kilometers (200 miles) of roads within its boundaries.

Major highways

  • Interstate 5 runs directly through the center of the city. The section of freeway includes a 3,229 foot (984 m) viaduct that elevates traffic above Bear Creek and the city's downtown. There are two freeway exits in Medford, one at each side of the city.
  • Highway 99 runs through the city's center.
  • Highway 62 runs through the northern portion of the town.
  • Highway 238 runs through the northwestern portion of Medford.


Medford is home to Oregon's 3rd busiest airport, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (airport code MFR). 647,471 people used this regional airport in 2007, which has served over 11 million passengers between 1978 and 2008. Medford airport has two asphalt runways which handle about sixty daily flights from five airlines.

With expansion of the airport terminal underway, the facilities are quickly being upgraded.


The greater Medford metro area has been served by Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) since 1975. The bus system operates 6 routes, 4 of which travel to nearby cities Central Pointmarker, Jacksonvillemarker, Phoenixmarker, Talentmarker, Ashlandmarker, and White Citymarker. All routes connect at the Front Street Transfer Station, which since October 2008 has contained Medford's Greyhound Bus depot.


There are no passenger trains that route through Medford. Amtrak trains serve nearby Klamath Fallsmarker. People in Medford can board a chartered bus at the RVTD Front Street Transfer Station that will deliver them to the train station in less than two hours. Amtrak California also offers service to Medford via Amtrak coach. The Medford/Ashland stops are Amtrak California's only Oregon services.


The nearest maritime port is the Port of Coos Baymarker, which is 167 miles (269 km) away.

The nearby Rogue River is monitored for flooding at the Gold Ray Dam, a decommissioned hydroelectric dam built in 1906 near Gold Hillmarker. The National Weather Service identifies 3.6 meters (12 ft) as the flood level. At this depth, navigability between the Pacific Ocean and the Rogue Valley is limited. Even a small "handysize" freighter is unable to make the trip, and any ship hauling cargo to Medford would have to have a much smaller draw. Therefore, Medford does not have a nearby maritime port.

Medford in popular culture

Medford is the hometown of the fictional character Mr. Jackson, played by Porter Hall, in the classic noir film Double Indemnity. When pressed to recall the events that led to the supposed death of Dietrichson, Mr. Jackson proclaims, "Mr. Keyes, I'm a Medford man - Medford, Oregon. Up in Medford, we take our time making up our minds."

Sister city

 Shortly after the sister city program was established in 1960, Medford was paired up with Alba, Italymarker. The cities are 9,175 kilometers (5,700 miles) apart and were paired based on 1960 similarities in population, geography, and climate.

Each year, both Alba and Medford take turns exchanging students. During March and April of one year, students from Medford's high schools will visit Alba and stay with host families. Likewise, Alba students will visit Medford every other year. 67 Medford students applied for the 2007 trip to Italy, but only 24 were selected.

It was former mayor of Medford John W. Snider who selected Alba during his 1957-1962 term, making a satellite phone call to Alba's former mayor Osvaldo Cagnasso.


  1. Making ends meet
  3. Sales & Marketing Magazine 2003
  5. Roxy Ann shows her true colors in the spring
  6. City of Medford Oregon - Bear Creek Amphitheater, Dog Park, Skate Park
  7. 8Nonpublics.pmd
  10. The summer draft of typical handysize cargo ships can easily reach 10 meters (33 ft).

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