The Town Of Copper
Monday January 23, 2006
By Margaret LaPlante
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
As one gazes upon the Applegate Dam, located in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, it is hard to imagine that before the dam existed there was actually a town called Copper in that very spot.
Copper got its start in the 1890s when a group of miners discovered copper deposits. Soon, families began moving into the area and a one-room log schoolhouse was built. Copper became a modest trade and social center.
In 1906 the little town became a hub of activity when it was thought that the largest deposit of copper ever discovered in the West was about to be extracted. As it turned out, there was a good vein of low and medium grades, but not the volume or quality initially expected. Yet, the town of Copper managed to thrive mainly due to farming and ranching.
There was talk of a dam being built as far back as the 1940s, but the residents fought the idea. By the 1970s, Copper consisted of a store, a service station, five ranches, and twelve homes, which were later purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Finally in 1980, the Applegate Dam became a reality and Copper became a distant memory buried under 100 feet of water.
Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Margaret LaPlante[LUH-plant], 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
Wyatt, Steve: “A Sign Of The Times: The Settlement Of Copper.” Southern Oregon Heritage Today. Vol. 6 No 4 (Autumn 2004): p.15.