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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


RAILROAD: 1883 - 2007


IV.F.7.c) Railroad: 1883 - 2007

Historically and presently the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision is located close upstream from the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (PVC) which started out as a railroad cemetery.

In accordance with a national policy to encourage and subsidize the settlement of the west after the Civil War, Congress enacted legislation in 1866 authorizing a grant of public domain lands to be conveyed to a railroad company to help finance construction of a railroad from Portland to the California border. A separate grant was authorized for construction of the rest of the line from the border to Sacramento. 1 In these two grants were the seeds of the Oregon and California Railroad Company.

The first rail out of Portland was laid in 1869 and by December 1872 it was completed to Roseburg. Construction stopped there and no further work was done for more than eight years.2

Some of the most difficult construction work was encountered as the railroad right-of-way entered north of and through Josephine County. Tunnels and towering wooden trestles were required in the mountains and canyons as the rails stretched to Grants Pass from the north. Construction of the O & C Railroad was resumed from Roseburg in 1881. The first official train arrived in Grants Pass December 2, 1883, the same year the Grave Creek Tunnel, better known in later years as Tunnel No. 9, was completed July 4th.2 The tunnel measured 2,112 feet in length through the Grave Creek Hills north of Hugo.

After the railroad came and prior to Hugo’s first post office, the community was known as "Gravel Pit Station" Gravel Pit Station at mile post 487.0 was developed by the Southern Pacific Railroad ca., mid-1880s after the railroad was constructed through the area in 1883. It is speculated that the station was named after a railroad granite pit north of Hugo. Railroad mile post numbers are from San Francisco which started with the number one. Therefore, Gravel Pit Station was 487 railroad miles from San Francisco. The station was directly across from the Lucky Queen School (today the Hugo Ladies Club’s building) on a silica ledge. At the time the Lucky Queen School was the center of the local community. It is assumed that Gravel Pit Station was a very basic depot, perhaps like the later Three Pines mail depot.

Southern Pacific Railroad acquired control in 1884 and the "last spike" or final ceremony in that railroad was driven at Ashland, Oregon in December 17, 1887 connecting Oregon and California.2 Sixty-eight (68) years later the market had changed again and passenger trains were gone. On August 7, 1955 the "Rogue River trains 329 - 330 between Portland and Ashland discontinued for good ending all passenger service over the original Siskiyou Line for the first time since 1887." 3

In 1896 the federal government opened a post office in Hugo. It was named after a prominent homesteader, Hugo Garbers. The railroad, local school, and community soon followed the naming of the post office and the community’s name became Hugo.

Under the 1866 railroad grant legislation almost two dozen parcels of land in the Hugo area were granted to the O & C Railroad for construction of the railroad from Portland to the California border. The railroad grant parcels ranged from 40 to 160 acres as described in railroad grant patents: Patent No. 13 (1895), Patent No. 42 (1896), Patent No. 38 (1896), and Patent No.100 (1898). In the Hugo area Railroad Grant Patent No. 38 was for nine parcels: six 40-acre parcels, two 80-acre parcels, and one 160-acre parcel. One of the 40-acre parcels (Section 11, T.35S. R.6 W., WM) eventually became the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (Map 9).

The Oregon and California Railroad Company and the Union Trust Company of New York formally deeded 40-acres to the PVC July 5, 1899. Records of the PVC Association identify that the land had been paid for as early as May 1896. One record from the PVC Association files documented it was operating informally as early as May 30, 1892.

In the 1980s while Larry McLane was researching his book, First There Was Twogood, he came across some tombstone information for the PVC. It seems that a couple of old-timers (passed away now) informed him that they remembered that in the past the lower, flat, western part of the PVC had some tombstones and many wooden stakes.4 Larry did not have any information on the rumor that in the 1880s the Oregon and California Railroad had first used the PVC cemetery as an interim interment site for railroad workers, especially Chinese.

At some point the PVC Association sold the southern 20 acres of the 40 acres originally deeded to the PVC Association.

1. Bureau of Governmental Research & Service, University of Oregon. 1968. The Significance Of The O & C Forest Resource In Western Oregon. OR.
2. Southern Pacific Company. April 18, 1969. History Of Southern Pacific In Oregon. Letter to Josephine County Historical Society.
3. Webber, Bert & Margie. Railroading in Southern Oregon and the Founding of Medford.
4. Telephone interview Friday, 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m, March 23, 2007 when Larry McLane shared with Mike Walker some information on the Pleasant Valley Cemetery.

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society