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Medford History

From “Mudville” to Urban Center

     Incorporated in 1885, Medford, Oregon began as a muddy railroad town in 1883. Early in the 20th century, population and financial growth spurred by real estate speculation known as the “Orchard Boom” established Medford as a regional urban center. By the mid-1920s, the city
had also become an aviation leader, claiming the first public airport and only airmail stop in Oregon, and in 1927 Medford became the county seat. Later in the century, the establishment of Camp White during World War II, the post-war lumber industry boom, and the expansion of regional medical services further shaped Medford’s growth and character.

Postcard image looking east at Front and Main streets ca. 1908, courtesy of Vicki Bryden
. Click to enlarge.

Learn more about Medford’s colorful past by following the links below:


  • The History of Medford, A brief account of Medford’s History  from founding to present
  • Early Days in Medford, Pioneers Reminisce [external website]
  • Medford Year by Year, 1883-1969: descriptions of Medford written by pioneers, visitors, boosters, and by critics rebutting the boosters’ claims [external website]
  • In print: Images of America, Medford, by Kevin Keating. A pictorial history of Medford published by Arcadia Publishing with support from the City of Medford in celebration of the   city’s 125th anniversary. Available at the Southern Oregon Historical Society and local bookstores.
  • Historic Context: Medford Oregon: Historic Context, 1946-1946 prepared for the City of Medford by Kay Atwood under the direction of the Planning Department in 1993. This Historic Context document covers the historical and architectural development of Medford, Oregon.


  • Looking Forward: The History of Medford, Oregon, a video produced by the City of Medford as part of its 125th Anniversary Celebration. Hosted by local historian George Kramer (25:49 minutes).
  • This Spot on Earth, a series of slide shows highlighting the progression of change over time at particular areas of the city.

Discover other engaging ways to explore Medford’s past 

  • Mapping Medford: See city maps charting Medford’s historic resources plus a link to an interactive Google map showing photos of what was once there.
  • Historical Surveys: Learn more about historic surveys of local buildings including the results of the 2013 Summit-Fairmount Neighborhood Survey and the 1982 inventory of architect Frank Clark buildings.
  • Aerial Photographs: View a series of aerial photos of the Medford area taken over time.
  • ”You know you’re from Medford, Oregon when”: Reminisce with others about the good old days on this Facebook page. [external website]