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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


1880s - 1929


IV.F.7.e) Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site: 1880s - 1929

The Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site is being researched to determine its historical significance. The Josephine County Forestry Program administers the 40-acre parcel where the tombstone quarry site is located. The legal for the parcel is Tax Lot 600, Section 14, T.35 S., R.6W., Willamette Meridian which is adjacent to the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision (Map 19).

Research suggests that the historic Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site, which was operational from the 1880s through 1929, has a high probability of eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. Extensive networking with other agencies and interested groups over the last six months had found zero knowledge of the quarry’s existence. It is historically significant for the following reasons.

1. The property classifies as a site for inclusion in the National Register. The quarry site was part of a distinct pioneer system (i.e., district) meeting the needs of local homesteaders by providing tombstones to a local railroad cemetery along the historic Applegate Trail for the purpose of memorializing their ancestors.

2. The site possesses significance in American history, archeology, engineering, and culture when evaluated within the historic context of Josephine County’s history.

Regionally it is a relatively rare site as there were, and are, no other known granitic tombstone quarries in Josephine County. Historically there were two other granitic quarries that provided tombstones in Jackson County.

The 1846 Applegate Trail as the main north-south route through Josephine County remained stable for over 60 years in the location of the Hugo Granite Tombstone Quarry Site. The Applegate Trail is approximately 1,200 feet to the north of the quarry and was used to transport granitic tombstones to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (PVC) between the 1880s and 1929 when the quarry closed. In 1992 Congress established the California National Historic Trail of which the Applegate Trail is a branch. The State of Oregon recognizes the value and significance of its historic trails, including the Applegate Trail - ORS 358.057(3).

Construction of the Oregon & California Railroad (O & C) enabled the first official train to arrive in Grants Pass December 2, 1883 (Appendix D). Southern Pacific Railroad acquired control in 1884 and the "last spike" or final ceremony in that railroad was driven at Ashland, Oregon in 1887 connecting Oregon and California. The railroad received grants of land to finance the construction of the railroad of which one parcel eventually became the PVC. It is believed that the PVC was used early on for interment of deceased railroad workers, and also by the general public before the railroad arrived as evidenced by the Trimble cemetery plot.

During the 1850s through the 1870s the Hugo region and Josephine County saw the first set of immigrants that were not passing through the area on their way to someplace else (e.g., Applegate Trail immigrants on their way to the Willamette Valley, etc.). They were coming to stay either to farm lands under the donation land claim and homestead laws and/or to seek gold in the new southern Oregon discoveries. Untimely deaths in the Hugo and Merlin areas during this time period used family lands for burial grounds or placed their loved ones in other cemeteries out of the Hugo-Merlin area. Physical evidence that the cemetery was probably being used as a public cemetery prior to the arrival of the railroad in 1883 is the Trimble cemetery plot. Robert Trimble’s tombstone records that he was born July 9, 1819 and died March 29, 1870. The 40-acre parcel the tombstone quarry site is located on is approximately 3/4 miles from the PVC and linked to/affiliated with the cemetery because it was a source of cemetery tombstones. The PVC probably started out as a railroad cemetery. The O & C Railroad formally deeded 40-acres to the PVC July 5, 1899.

The land in the Hugo region was transferred from federal administration to private ownership through several mechanisms: military warrants, cash entries, homesteads, donation land claims, and railroad grants. Homesteaders were a large emigrant population in Hugo and Josephine County. The Tombstone Quarry site is part of the original William M. Cox 160-acre homestead. The Cox family resided on, and proved up, the property for some time prior to the homestead certificate being issued in 1899. The May 31, 1899 Homestead Certificate No. 4550 issued to William M. Cox for 160 acres was subject to certain reservations, including an acknowledgment of the quarry site: ". . . and also subject to the right of the proprietor to a vein of dike to extract and secure his ore, therefore, should the same to found to penetrate or intersect the premises hereby granted, . . ." The census records that William M. Cox was also a teamster who had knowledge about how to move heavy objects.

Over three dozen tombstones in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (PVC) have been evaluated as having an extremely high probability of coming from the tombstone quarry as identical-looking stones, including rubble, drill marked, squared, and flat finished stones. All these stone types are found at the quarry and the PVC. This includes the obelisk tombstone of William M. Cox’s father, William A. Cox, who died in 1893. The size, complexity, and workmanship of the William A. Cox tombstone feels like a monument to the father and an advertisement of the quarry tombstone business.

3. The site retains its integrity in relation to the aspects of location, design, setting, workmanship, materials, and association to several historic contexts. The site is a time capsule of old quarrying and tombstone shaping techniques without the use of modern transportation and stone cutting technology. The historic operators walked away from the site in the 1920s and never came back. It has had no other developments, except for two very minor timber sales. These two sales did not disturb the quarry site.

It is an undisturbed site not buried under, or impacted by, some other development. For example, it is not the evolution of an original road, or a new building constructed on the site of a historically significant old building that was replaced. It is something out of the past where everything is the same as when the quarry operation ceased. As an analogy, we have our own Easter Island demonstrating a historic labor-intensive stone manufacturing process.

Of significance is the integrity of the physical remains of the manufacturing process of blasting stones from the quarry, producing rubble and material that was transformed into squared stones, and finally the squared stones that were eventually finished into tombstones. This final stage is well represented at the bottom of the quarry site by five squared stones with finished trim of which an identical type is found in the PVC.

1. Discovery Stone 34" x 28" x 15"
2. Base Stone 41" x 20" x 15"
3. Pedestal Stone No. 1 12" x 11" x 9"
4. Inclusion Stone 46" x 24" x 15"
5. Pedestal Stone No. 2 14" x 12" x 9"

The site has been entered into the Oregon State Historic Preservation Officer inventory system with a "Cultural Resource Site Record" identified with a primary datum number of 1175 by a professional archaelogist.

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society