Library talk delves into Lithia Park history

Marjorie O'Harra will present "Lithia Park: The Power Struggle that Determined the Fate of Ashland Creek Canyon" as the next brown-bag lecture talk Wednesday at the Ashland Public Library.

The "Land Of The Empire Builders" series is designed to celebrate Oregon's 150th birthday. The free talks are offered at noon on the first Wednesday of each month at the Medford Library and the second Wednesday of each month at the Ashland Library. Her talk will focus on Lithia water, and the role it played in shaping the community of Ashland.

In the 1900s, the natural spring water with the strong taste was ballyhooed as a treatment for stomach and kidney problems. Some said, quite seriously, that it could cure everything from bunions to labor pains. The issue it created was whether the Ashland Creek Canyon should be developed as a commercial health spa or city park?

As some put it, "Would Ashland become the Saratoga of the West, or remain a city of old croakers?"

The controversy that erupted was one of the most divisive in Ashland's history.

O'Harra has written three books on local history: "Ashland: The First 130 Years," "Ashland In Transition" and "Southern Oregon: Short Trips Into History." She is a retired journalist, freelance writer, former editor at the Mail Tribune and former Jackson County Commissioner.

"As a lifelong resident of the Ashland area, I knew good stories were out there," she said. "All I had to do was find them."

The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Southern Oregon Historical Society and the Jackson County Library System. For more information, contact Stephanie Butler at SOHS: 899-8123, ext. 229.

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