When we first retired back home to Ashland in 2008, we stopped at the SOHS Research Library to ask for directions to a seemingly mythical unfinished railroad tunnel in the Greensprings Mountains that we had heard about while growing up in Ashland. SOHS had information about the tunnel but no directions to it. It took us several years of asking around and tromping down trails to find the tunnel. When we finally did find both ends, there was a very permanent, very well-maintained, and very clear marker at each end that read “SOHS 1979”!!! They are made of railroad rails firmly cemented in the ground. The vertical rail is about 3 feet high. Another rail is welded horizontally across the top with a metal plaque bolted in the middle. Their yellow paint is faded but the inscription on the plaque about the tunnel is like new.
Several years later, at one of our favorite birding spots near Emigrant Lake, we noticed another of these mysterious yellow markers made of railroad rails – this one with an inscription about the Applegate Trail Route. It said it had been placed by the Southern Oregon Historical Society in 1976. By now, we were volunteering at the SOHS Research Library on Friday afternoons, so we began trying to find more information about this marker, with no luck.
It wasn’t until 2015, on a historical field trip with Jeff LaLande when we saw another yellow marker – this one for the Siskiyou Toll Road -- and Jeff mentioned the name Mark Lawrence, that we began to have some luck. We found a short pamphlet written by Mark listing markers placed in Jackson County with a brief description and directions for finding them, but of course no GPS coordinates!
This was a start, but with vegetation growing up, roads changing names, parks being added and homeowners disguising the markers it took us several months of roaming around Jackson County and knocking on doors to locate all 22 markers on Mark’s list. Are the markers Mark lists on this pamphlet the ONLY ones like this erected in Jackson County? We may never know for sure, but keep your eyes open and let us know if you find one! It would be great to discover who decided what spots to mark and where the markers were made.
Enjoy the Windows in Time talk given by the Kreismans on August 5, 2020.