On Oct.1, 1907, two front-page stories in the Medford Daily Tribune heralded great things for the Southern Oregon pear industry.
A railcar of Comice pears from Bear Creek Orchard sold at a world record price. The headline screamed that Medford pears went for $8 a box in New York City — the highest price ever seen.
The newspaper declared that these prices proved that “no section on earth equals the Rogue river valley for pears.”
The second newsworthy event was the arrival in Medford of Mrs. Potter Palmer, the wealthy Chicago society leader who was hailed as “the foremost of living American women.” Staying at Medford’s luxurious Nash Hotel, Mrs. Palmer, her two sons, and a daughter-in-law spent a few days motoring around the valley, enjoying the climate and admiring the fruit orchards.
Mrs. Palmer was so charmed by the area that her eldest son bought a hundred acres of fruit orchard, intending to erect a mansion there so that his mother could make annual visits.
Once back in Chicago, Mrs. Palmer continued to rave about the beauty of the Rogue River valley, and many credit her for influencing other rich Easterners to invest in the Southern Oregon fruit industry.
Sources: Atwood, Kay, Blossoms & Branches: A Gathering of Rogue Valley Orchard Memories, Medford, Oregon: Gandee Printing Center, 1980, pp. 39, 53; Medford Daily Tribune, Oct. 1, 1907; Oct. 2, 1907; Oct. 3, 1907; Oct. 5, 1907.
— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.