hnalogo.jpg (103481 bytes)


Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society

Agricultural Lands
Forest Lands
Historical Context
Settlement Settings
Federal Land Transfers: 1850s-1930s
Railroad: 1883-2007
Emigrant PVC: 1880s-2007
Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site: 1880s-1929
Highways: 1913 - 2007
Applegate Trail Integrity
Land Use
Research and Field Work




IV.F. Historical Context

1. Introduction

The significance of a historic site can be judged and explained when it is evaluated within its historic context. Historic contexts are those patterns or trends in history by which a specific occurrence, property, or site is understood and its meaning (and ultimately its significance) within history is made clear. The concept of historic context is not a new one; it has been fundamental to the study of history since the 18th century and, arguably, earlier than that. Its core premise is that resources, properties, or happenings in history do not occur in a vacuum, but rather are part of larger trends or patterns.

The 88-acre M37 Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision is part of JASec 3, the section of the Applegate Trail (Map 19) from the Josephine County Sportsman Park to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (PVC).

2. Historic Context: California (Applegate) National Historic Trail, 1846-1883

What is the Applegate Trail’s historic context? Determining what is to be studied is an important first step in understanding historic context. Historic context means information about the period, the place, and the events that created, influenced, or formed the backdrop to the historic resources. Stated in another way, a limiting framework helps to keep the study focused. Three parameters are used to describe the boundaries of a historic context.1

• Theme
• Place
• Time

The three elements are often strung together to create a title or definition, as in Early Cattle Ranching in Grant County, Oregon, 1873 - 1900. Each parameter sets a limit. In this case, early mining activity, ranching in neighboring Wheeler County, or ranching after 1900, would not be considered, because they are not within the context. It is not uncommon for one of the defining elements to receive more emphasis than the others in a historic context study. A community based study, Gresham, Oregon, 1884 to 1984, would be focused primarily on a place, while Logging in Douglas County, 1860 to 1988, would concentrate on a theme. Although less common, it is also possible for time to be the prime factor in a definition, as in The Middle Career Architectural Designs of Richard Sundeleaf, 1945 to 1955.

Establishing the theme of the context study, names the "what" to be studied. The place or spatial boundary of a context study describes its geographic limits. The time boundary of a historic context establishes bracketing dates for the period under study.

The discussion of historic context describes the history of the community where the property is located as it relates to the history of the property. The following significance statement and historic context statement was provided by Oregon’s Historic Trails Fund2 for the California (Applegate) National Historic Trail, 1846-1883.

The purpose of the Oregon Historic Trails Fund is to develop interpretive, educational, and economic projects to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources of Oregon’s historic trails. Although the fund derived much of its revenue from the sale of Oregon Trail license plates, a long-term goal is to build a large and stable resource to support local citizen efforts that promote public awareness of and enjoyment of the historic trails. In 1998, the financial assets of the Oregon Trails Coordinating Council were transferred to The Oregon Community Foundation to establish the Oregon Historic Trails Fund, dedicated to projects related to Oregon’s 16 historic trails as recognized by the state legislature in ORS 358.057 (includes Applegate Trail).

a) Significance2

"The Applegate Trail is an alternate southern route of the Oregon Trail and was blazed from west to east, intersecting the California Trail at the Humboldt River. It is historically linked to the Oregon Trail in that it was developed as an alternative route into Oregon that avoided the obstacles of the Burnt River Canyon, the Blue Mountains, and the Columbia River. After its opening, Oregonians used part of the Applegate Trail to travel back and forth to California's gold fields. As designated by Congress under the National Trails System Act, the Applegate Trail is a branch of the California National Historic Trail."

b) Historical Context2

"In 1843, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, members of the first wave of Oregon Trail emigrants, watched helplessly as their ten-year-old sons drowned in the Columbia River when a boat overturned in rapids near The Dalles. The Applegates, like so many overland emigrants who lost loved ones on the Trail, continued sadly toward the Willamette Valley."

"The Applegate brothers vowed to find a better route into the Willamette Valley -- one that bypassed the Columbia River altogether. The Provisional Government of Oregon also hoped an alternate route would be opened because the Hudson's Bay Company essentially controlled the Columbia River corridor, and so controlled a significant segment of the only overland route connecting the American settlements with the United States. By 1846, after settling on Salt Creek (near present-day Dallas), the Applegate brothers felt the time was right to follow through on their commitment to search for a new route."

"In mid-June, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate met with other trailblazers at La Creole Creek (today called Rickreall Creek) to prepare for the trip. Eleven of the party had scouted the route earlier in the year as far south as Calapooya Creek in the Umpqua River valley. Jesse Applegate was elected leader of the group which included Lindsay Applegate, Henry Boygus, Benjamin Burch, David Goff, Samuel Goodhue, Moses "Black" Harris, John Jones, Bennett Osborn, John Owens, William Parker, John Scott, Levi Scott, Robert Smith, and William Sportsman."

"The fifteen men, each with their own saddle horse, packhorse and supplies, followed the Hudson's Bay Company trappers' routes, working their way south from the central Willamette Valley to the Bear Creek Valley in southern Oregon. From there, the group knew they would be blazing an entirely new trail. Turning east, their plan was to intersect the Oregon Trail near Soda Springs (in present day Idaho). Instead they intersected the California Trail on the Humboldt River and continued eastward to meet emigrant parties and guide them onto the new route."

"The trailblazers crossed the Cascade Mountains approximately where Oregon State Route 66 crosses today and then headed south around lower Klamath Lake. Local Indians led them to a natural crossing of Lost River where the water flowed over a shelf of solid rock, making a substantial natural underwater bridge that wagons could traverse safely. This bridge was the critical key to establishing a wagon road through the Lakes Country. After crossing Lost River, the party rounded the north end of Tule Lake and headed east again, eventually crossing the Black Rock Desert to reach the Humboldt River."

"There, the trailblazers decided some of the party should stay behind to rest their stock while others continued on to Fort Hall to replenish supplies and tell Oregon-bound travelers of the new route. Jesse Applegate led the advance group to Fort Hall and persuaded more than 200 men, women, and children -- some historians report nearly 100 wagons -- to travel over the southern road."

"The trailblazers who stayed behind could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the number of people, wagons, and cattle coming down the trail to meet them. There had been no attempt while the supply party was at Fort Hall to clear a road for wagons. The emigrants of the new wagon train would have to do that themselves."

"Levi Scott and David Goff agreed to stay behind to guide the wagon train. Meanwhile, equipped with pack horses and a few tools, the trailblazers had about sixty days before winter storms set in to open more than 500 miles of road and to blaze the trail for the wagons. To make matters worse, the winter of 1846-47 was a year of record snowfall, with heavy storms starting early. (These storms were the same ones that trapped the Donner Party heading over the Sierras not far south of where Scott was crossing the mountains with his wagon train.)"

"The wagon train did not move as fast as Scott would have liked. By the time the wagons reached the Rogue Valley, the winter rains had set in and from then on it rained or snowed most of the way. Supplies were running out and game was scarce. The trail had become harder to clear with brush and trees everywhere. The weather was cold and everything was slippery and muddy. Trying to start a fire to get warm was almost impossible. The emigrants were strung out for miles and Scott tried to persuade those who were stopped to keep moving because things could get worse. When word reached the Willamette settlements, relief parties headed down the trail to rescue those in need."

"Although the trailblazers always referred to this route as the "Southern Road," critics such as J. Quinn Thornton chose to belittle the Applegates' name by referring to it as the "Applegate Trail." Thornton blamed Jesse Applegate for hardships members of the first wagon train endured and felt that Applegate should suffer for what the emigrants endured. Thornton began a war of words through the newspaper that nearly led to a duel between him and an Applegate supporter, James Nesmith. Although people such as Levi Scott and David Goff supported the Applegates, remnants of those hard feelings survive to the present day among some of the descendants of survivors of the '46 wagon train."

"Despite its detractors, the Applegates' alternate route through Oregon contributed substantially to the development of the Northwest. At the urging of the provisional government, Levi Scott agreed to return over the Southern Road to Fort Hall in 1847 to lead additional emigrants back over the new route. In doing this, Scott made noticeable improvements to the route. In 1848 with the discovery of gold in California, Peter Hardeman Burnett led 150 pioneers with fifty heavily laden wagons from Oregon City over the Applegate Trail going south to the gold fields. They were followed a few days later by a smaller group of men and wagons from north of the Columbia River. Intersecting Peter Lassen's wagon tracks south of Tule Lake, Burnett's cavalcade helped Lassen blaze a new trail to his rancho in the Sacramento Valley, establishing the first route for wheeled vehicles between the valleys of California and Oregon. This remained a major wagon route for more than a decade. In 1852, a group blazed a trail off the Applegate route south of lower Klamath Lake to the Yreka area; this trail was used for many years to help populate that part of northern California."

3. Theme of Historic Context For The Applegate Trail: Settlement

A historic context can be described as a particular theme that is further delineated by a time period, and a geographic area. In this way an individual property associated with a given historic context can be compared with other properties related to that context to reach decisions about the relative significance of related properties.

In regard to historic contexts for the Applegate Trail, the theme component of the context revolves around aspects of regional settlement (settlement history).1 In addition to trail use, research done to develop the identified theme considered exploration, settlement, memorials, and transportation as components of a more general overview of a community’s development and culture.

• Theme 1. Settlement

The historic context of the Applegate Trail’s use in northern Josephine County (1846 - 1913) is its connection with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history such as settlement of the West. This theme is about use of the Applegate Trail in northern Josephine County.

In the Hugo region it was about local pioneers trying to make a living from the land, mostly from the earth growing food and/or mining gold. As they pursued these endeavors they had to deal with the realities of life: how to travel, secure land, and bury their dead.

In northern Josephine County the Applegate Trail was part of a settlement process that included six major sub-themes as part of the community’s development and culture.

. Applegate Trail: 1846 - 1913
. Settlement Era: 1850s - 1937
. Railroad: 1883 - 2007
. Emigrant Pleasant Valley Cemetery (PVC): 1880s - 2007
. Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site: 1880s - 1929
. Highways: 1913 - 2007

Historic contexts allow for confident evaluations of the Applegate Trail’s significance. The imprint of the Applegate Trail is almost gone. However, the historic context for the Use of the Applegate Trail in Northern Josephine County - Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section: 1856 - 1913 is clearly visible as it relates to the pioneer culture surrounding it and the history of the community as a whole.

Use of the Applegate Trail in Northern Josephine County - Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section: 1856 - 1913

4. Time Frame of Historic Context For The Applegate Trail: 1856 - 1913

The Applegate Trail’s first year of use was 1846. In defining an appropriate time frame for a historic context, the design was to span the period from the time the Applegate Trail had settled into being a year-around two-directional road: ca., 1856 to the point of its abandonment or decline which in northern Josephine County was ca., 1913 the year which the Oregon Legislature established the Oregon Highway Department with the slogan, "Get Oregon Out of the Mud"(see Section IV.F.7.f)). The year 1856 established the 10-year evolution of the location of the Applegate Trail with the United States’ local General Land Office Survey (GLO) (Appendix F).

The eventual death blow of the Applegate Trail was due to the advent of a new vehicular transportation system in the "super highway" of the 1920's: the 1921 paved double lane, north-south, Pacific Highway. However, the trail was fading in the early 1910s except for areas where new roads coincided with the old trail. There is certainly the strong correlation between the demise of the Applegate Trail and the State of Oregon establishing a formal highway system and the construction of its first new paved road across the state and through Josephine County to the world.

The time frame from 1856 - 1913 does not match the possible suggestions for a chronological period by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.1

1543 - 1811 "Exploration"
1812 - 1846 "Fur Trade And Mission To The Indians"
1847 - 1865 "Settlement, Statehood, and Steampower"
1866 - 1883 "Railroads And Industrial Growth"
1884 - 1913 "Progressive Era"
1914 - 1940 "The Motor Age"
1941 - 1967 "War And The Post-War Era"
1968 - Present "Contemporary Era"

However, the time frame does reflect the governing principle behind choosing dates for the context study which is the reflection of historic reality in northern Josephine County.

5. Geographic Component of Historic Context For The Applegate Trail: Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section

There are five basic types of historic resources: buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts.3

The most common historic structures are bridges and linear features, such as canals, railroad grades, trails, and roads. Linear structures are a challenging type of resource both to document and preserve. There are still no detailed guidelines at the national level for documenting and evaluating resources that stretch for miles, include a minimum of distinguishable historic features, and are under almost constant repair, resurfacing, or upgrading.

The following summarizes the Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee’s organization of the Applegate Trail of interest in its area into manageable research, educational, and outreach sections.4 For purposes of this assessment paper, the geographic sections of interest are JASec 2 from the East I-5 Manzanita Rest Stop to the Josephine County Sportsman Park and JASec 3 the section from the Josephine County Sportsman Park to the PVC. This section includes the Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site5 and hence the name for this section of the Applegate Trail’s Section of interest.

Applegate Trail: Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section

Hugo’s two 1856 GLO Applegate Trail emigrant routes are approximately 17-18 miles long and located from Louse Creek in the south to Grave Creek in the north.

JACKSONVILLE ROAD - JA. Road from Willamette Valley to Jacksonville (route of the Applegate Trail)

ILLINOIS VALLEY ROAD - IV. Road to Illinois Valley via Van Noys Ferry (route of the Applegate Trail from Widow Niday’s place to ferry location on Rogue River)

There are 31 identified GLO points of interest on Hugo’s two Applegate Trail emigrant routes. The symbol " " in text or on a map represents the words, "Point of Interest." The Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee’s effort to organize the two routes and 31 points of interest is to identify manageable research, educational, and outreach sections (i.e., geographic segments reflecting more information than the points of interest, but less than the total routes). The symbol " " represents the word, "Section." This organization into segments reflects the Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee’s developing understanding of the Applegate Trail’s topography and drainage patterns, diaries, journals, reminiscences, GLO field survey notes, historical federal land transfers to private property, historical land ownership patterns, current private and public land ownership patterns, historical emigrant roads, present transportation systems, current neighborhoods, and potential stakeholders and partners.

JA Section 2. Mary Harris Complex/Donation Land Claim JASec 2

The geographic section of interest is JASec 2 from the East I-5 Manzanita Rest Stop to the Josephine County Sportsman Park (Map 5; Map 6; Map 21; Aerial Photo 1).

Length: approximate JA-4 through JA-H-2B. This trail section includes only county administered lands (Josephine County Sportsman Park) and Oregon Department of Transportation (DOT) administered lands (East I-5 Manzanita Rest Area lands), including the GLO 1856 identified prairies and fields.

Stakeholders: Josephine County Sportsmans Association, Oregon Department of Transportation, Josephine County, and Walker Mountain Longrifles Association

Points of Interest: JA-4, JA-5, JA-6, JA-7, house JA-H-2A, house JA-H-2B, 320-acre G. W. Harris Donation Land Claim Patent No. 70 (1865) (GLO map identified house JA-H-2A in1856), GLO1856 prairie & Harris field, Harris Creek crossing(s), John Davis Military Patent 41877 (1861 - GLO map identified house JA-H-2AB in 1856), 40-acre cash entry patent 141 (1864), 80-acre patent D143 (1896)

JA Section 3. Pleasant Valley Cemetery (Emigrant Cemetery) JASec 3

The geographic section of interest is JASec 3 from the Josephine County Sportsman Park to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (Map 5; Map 6; Map 19; Aerial Photo 1; Aerial Photo 2).

Length: approximate point of house JA-H-2B through approximate point of interest JA-9. Except for small JA-H-2B area this section excludes publicly administered lands, includes private property south of Pleasant Valley Cemetery, includes Pleasant Valley Cemetery, and excludes private property north of cemetery, excluding the GLO 1856 identified prairie.

JASec 3 includes parts of sections 11, 13, and 14, T.35S., R.6W., Willamette Meridian

Stakeholders: neighborhoods, Pleasant Valley Cemetery Association, Historic Sites Committee of the Josephine County Historical Society, Josephine County Sportsman Association, Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee

Present landowners: Map 18

Points of Interest: 1856 GLO house JA-H-2B; Applegate Trail point of interest JA-8, first bridge crossing of School House Creek; 160-acre Sol Abraham Cash Entry Patent 662 (1865), 40-acre railroad patent 38 (1896); Pleasant Valley Cemetery (part or all of O & C Railroad grant 38); homestead patent 997346 (1927); 1861 military warrant patent 41877 (John Davis?); William A. Cox homestead patent 3982 (1897); William M. Cox homestead patent 4550 (1899) and location of Quarry Site

6. Use of the Applegate Trail in Northern Josephine County - Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section: 1856 - 1913

The Hugo Tombstone Quarry Section of the Applegate Trail is from the East I-5 Rest Stop in the south to the emigrant Pleasant Valley Cemetery in the north. It includes both Applegate Trail JASec 2 and Applegate Trail JASec 3. This approximate 1.5 miles of the Applegate Trail (Map 21) is anchored in the south with the known Mary Harris features:

Applegate Trail JASec 2

• 1850s Harris donation land claim
• 1856 GLO Harris historic cabin and barn site (could have archaeological features)
• 1855 Rogue Indian War Artifacts
• two cairns (cairns are archaeological features and stacked rock features are archaeological sites) at Harris historic cabin site
• swale (archaeological feature) at Harris donation land claim (southern end near cairns)

The GLO surveys of the 1800s included surveyed information on the outer boundaries of a section (survey maps and notes are earliest record of systematic survey across each land section). If a historic trail was relatively straight from north to south or east to west this meant that trail information was recorded every one mile. This approximate 1.5 miles of the Applegate Trail has an intensity of 1856 GLO survey points in its southern section (6 points within less than one mile instead of 2 points over a mile).

Applegate Trail JASec 2

• four 1856 survey points for the Jacksonville Road of the Applegate Trail
• two 1856 survey points for historic cabins (Harris and Davis)
• 1895 County Map (Map 7; Map 8) records Applegate Trail JASec 2 in same location as 1856 GLO Survey (Map 5)

It is anchored in the north with the 1880s emigrant PVC , in the middle west with the rare Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site: 1880s - 1929, and the relatively untouched area of the Applegate Trail at the Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision. The quarry site used the Applegate Trail to transport tombstones to the PVC and the wetlands of the Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision had so far saved this lowland section of the Applegate Trail from development.

Applegate Trail JASec 3

• 1880s Emigrant PVC
• 1895 County Map (Map 7; Map 8) records Applegate Trail JASec 3 in same location as 1856 GLO Survey (Map 5)
• Old Schoolhouse Creek bridge location on 1895 Map corresponds to ground location with supporting physical evidence
• Topography and slope downstream of old Schoolhouse Creek bridge location on 1895 Map supports probable wagon ford of Schoolhouse Creek
• Merlin "Y" Junction is physically intact on ground (east to Merlin, north to Hugo and Willamette Valley, south to Grants Pass and Jacksonville) (Map 8)
• In 2007 the 1895 road to Merlin from Merlin "Y" Junction is an abandoned macadam road
• In 2007 the 1895 road to Hugo and the Willamette Valley from Merlin "Y" Junction is an abandoned macadam road to old Schoolhouse Creek bridge location where it becomes a dirt road for a short distance prior to junction with today’s paved Monument Drive
• In 2007 the 1895 road to Grants Pass and Jacksonville from Merlin "Y" Junction is near lost in undergrowth
• 1880s - 1929 Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site
• There is a Tombstone Quarry Site road connected to the Applegate Trail
• The evolution of the Applegate Trail in the Proposed Pioneer Meadows Subdivision is bounded by an old metal field fence in the north and the bottom toe of the slope in the south.

The historic Applegate Trail also includes likely archeologic artifacts and features important to the history of the settlement of the area. For example, an ox yoke chain artifact was found six inches deep in the Applegate Trail approximately one mile north of the PVC (Appendix J.). Archeologic sites may be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion D without integrity of setting if they have important information potential that may shed light on local, State, and national history.

1. Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. 1997. Handbook For Historic Preservation Planning. Salem, OR.

2. Oregon’s Historic Trails Fund. May 2007. California (Applegate) National Historic Trail, 1846-1883., downloaded May 19, 2007.

Historic Trails Fund
c/o The Oregon Community
1221 SW Yamhill Suite 100
Portland OR 97205

3. Oregon State Historic Preservation Officer. 2001. Oregon Historic Preservation Plan. Salem, OR.

4. Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society. May 2005. MAPPING ACTION PLAN For Applegate Trail Program, Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee. Hugo, OR.

. Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee. September 7, 2006. Applegate Trail Budget Proposal: 2006 - 2007. Hugo, OR.
. Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee. September 7, 2006. Hugo’s Routes, Sections, and Points of Interest of the Applegate Trail. Appendix A to Applegate Trail Budget Proposal: 2006 - 2007. Hugo, OR.
. Hugo Emigrant Trails Committee. September 7, 2006. USGS Quad - 17 Letter & Number Surname Map Code. Appendix B to Applegate Trail Budget Proposal: 2006 - 2007. Hugo, OR.

5. Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society, Josephine County Historical Society, Goal One Coalition,

Rogue Advocates, Oregon-California Trail Association, and Pleasant Valley Cemetery Association. 2007. Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site: Preliminary Resource Assessment. Hugo, OR.


Scholarly documents

. Ackerman, Richard W. "Blazing the Applegate Trail." On to Oregon over the Oregon and Applegate Trails. Medford: Southern Oregon Historical Society, 1993.
. Applegate, Lindsay. "Notes and Reminiscences of Laying Out and Establishing the Old Emigrant Road into Southern Oregon in the Year 1846." Overland Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1 (1993).
. Applegate, Shannon. Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore. New York: Beech Tree Books, 1988.
. Beckham, Stephen Dow. "Applegate Trail: Experiences of Emigrants and Other Travelers," a report prepared for the Applegate Trail Coalition, Southern Oregon Historical Society, 1995.
. Davis, Charles George. Scott-Applegate Trail. North Plains, OR: Soap Creek Enterprises, 1995.
. Helfrich, Devere and Helen. "The Applegate Trail." The Journal of the Shaw Historical Library, Vol. 10 (1996).
. Meacham, Walter. "Applegate Trail." Brochure booklet published by the State of Oregon, 1947.
. Tompkins, James (editor). "Reminiscence of Abraham Henry Garrison: Over the Oregon Trail in 1846." Overland Journal, Vol. 11 No. 2 (1993).

Government and management documents

. Applegate National Historic Trail: High Potential Sites and Segments Inventory, a report prepared for the USDI National Park Service Denver Regional Service Center by Jim Renner, Oregon Trails Coordinating Council, 1997.
. California and Pony Express National Historic Trails: Comprehensive Management and Use Plan Environmental Impact Statement, USDI National Park Service, 1998.
. California and Pony Express Trails: Eligibility/Feasibility Study Environmental Assessment for National Historic Trail Authorization, USDI National Park Service, 1987.

Back to Top  

2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society