Hillman's Ice Folly
Monday August 15, 2005
By Craig Stillwell
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Ice-cold beverages are always welcome on a hot summer day. The hard-working miners in the early days of Jacksonville heartily agreed. Thinking up a way to capitalize on this fact, one enterprising man decided to hike to the top of Wagner Butte and carry back a load of snow to the saloons of the booming mining camp. On the morning of July 3rd, 1853, John Hillman and a companion set out along Wagner Creek with a pack animal.
The previous winter had been unusually severe. A deep blanket of snow had covered the valley floor. Snow was still visible at the butte's summit as Hillman and his friend trekked up Wagner Creek, past Jacob Wagner's homestead, and into the forest. Climbing higher, they soon stumbled upon a vacated sawmill and log cabin. But by now Hillman was too worn out to continue on, and so he returned to Jacksonville empty-handed. The parched miners would have to go a while longer without the luxury of ice-cold drinks.
Today's roads and trails allow hikers to routinely climb the seventy-one-hundred-and-forty foot high Wagner Butte in a few hours. Snow or no snow, the summit provides a spectacular view of the Interstate 5 corridor from Medford to Ashland.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Craig Stillwell, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Beeson, Welborn. "A Fourth-of-July Reminiscence," Talent News, July 15, 1892; Sullivan, William L. 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon. Eugene, Oregon: Navillus Press, 1999. Pp. 134-135.