Author: Olga Karavaeva
One of the Top 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in the World according to Wine Enthusiast 2016, one of America’s Best Small Towns according to Fodor’s Travel, No. 1 Perfect Summer Getaway for Couples according to datingadvice.com, No. 2 in the Best Small Art Towns of America, the People's Republic of Ashland…
This is all Ashland, a city in Jackson County, in the State of Oregon.
Ashland lies in a picturesque area surrounded by mountains, rivers, rolling foothills, beautiful scenery and historic gold rush towns, with the majestic Mt. Ashland rising to 7,500 feet above the city to the south and the Cascade Range to the north and east. Located in the Rogue Valley, slightly north of the Californian border, along Interstate 5, the city has four district seasons and gets much less rain than the rest of Oregon due to its location relatively far away from the coast and in the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains.
A Brief History of Ashland
Before the arrival of settlers in the 19th century, the area was home to the Shasta people. The enactment of the Donation Land Act in 1850 designating land free of charge brought white settlers into the area, resulting in frequent conflicts and violent clashes with the native people.
Created around the Ashland Flouring Mills, the community was initially known as Ashland Mills, but dropped “Mills” in 1871. The city kept on growing, establishing schools, churches and businesses, as well as opening Ashland Academy, which would become Southern Oregon University in 1926, the town’s largest employer as of today.
The city began thriving on rail trade in 1887 after Portland, OR, and San Francisco, CA, were joint by rail going through Ashland. The railroad was in active use until 1926, when the rail service started using a different route to avoid steep Siskiyou Mountains.
Ashland’s employment and population dropped, and the Great Depression which followed did not improve the city’s economic situation. After World War II, however, the city accomplished a dramatic shift to a tourism-dominated economy, becoming a high-end tourist destination and a popular retirement location.
As of July 1, 2013, the city's population was estimated around 20,700 people. Historically, the city has always been somewhat of a political outlier compared to the rest of Southwest Oregon. The city voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, while its neighbors preferred pro-slavery candidates. More recently, the city supported taxes and environmental regulations contrary to the voters in the nearby counties. The city is often called the People's Republic of Ashland due to its political stand.
Living up to the reputation of South Oregon’s cultural center, Ashland hosts festivals all year long – from the Christmas celebrations and the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival in winter, to a film festival, classical music festival, and wine tasting celebrations in spring, summer and autumn, respectively.
The city also preserved and restored quite a few historic buildings. The city has 48 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as two historic districts -- the Ashland Railroad Addition District and the Downtown District.