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 distinct 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.
There are numerous hot and mineral springs in the Ashland and its vicinity. By the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the city had a plan to develop Ashland into a mineral springs resort like Carlsbad or Baden-Baden.
From the Southern Pacific Railroad flyer of 1915,
"Ashland is noted for three things - beautiful environment, matchless climate, and wonderful mineral springs. There are over forty known mineral springs in and about the city. They are classed as Lithia, Soda and Sulphur Springs. The Lithia and Soda waters are heavily charged with natural carbonic acid gas... ".
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.
Things to Do & See
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.
Take a tour around the charming Ashland's downtown, along Main Street and the Historic Plaza, shop in one of the bookstores or art galleries, take a cup of coffee at one of the cafes, and then walk to gorgeous Lithia Park.
The largest park with colorful landscape near the Ashland downtown, Lithia Park is popular among residents and visitors for its beauty, tranquility, and quiet moments in a natural setting. The park was named after natural mineral Lithium found in local streams.
Southern Oregon University
A public liberal arts college, the Southern Oregon University was founded in 1926. The university consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Education, offering programs in business, economics, criminology, natural sciences, and theater arts programs.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
In 1935, the Southern Oregon University under the management of drama Professor Angus Bowmer established the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Today this is the largest in the United States classic repertory theaters, offering 11 classic and contemporary plays annually from March to October in three theaters: 600-seat Angus Bowmer Theatre, 1190-set outdoor Elizabethan Theatre, and 300-seat Thomas Theatre. Total annual audience exceeds 400,000.
Schneider Museum of Art
Schneider Museum of Art at the Southern Oregon University features showcase of contemporary art by nationally and internationally-recognized artists.
Address: 555 Indiana Street, Ashland, OR 97520
ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum
An interactive kid-friendly center, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum offers more than 100 art and science exhibits to explore energy, chemistry, motion, perception, and anatomy encouraging visitors to discover and learn science principles through live demonstrations, lectures, and fun hands-on activities.
Address: 1500 E. Main St, Ashland, OR 97520