Ashland had gone without a notable Fourth of July celebration for several years when the small town pulled out all the stops in 1916.
The day began with the Queen Lithia pageant. This huge parade included four bands, scores of floats, marching groups from the military and civic organizations, riding clubs and cowboys. The Medford Riding Club participants received high honors for their pioneer uniforms.
It was estimated that 20,000 people attended the parade from all parts of the Valley. They arrived on special Southern Pacific Railroad trains and in more than 200 automobiles. Traffic was so heavy on the road between Medford and Ashland that there were eight accidents and Phoenix policemen could hardly write down speeders’ license numbers fast enough.
The afternoon rodeo drew record attendance, with more than 15,000 tickets sold. Not only was every seat taken, but spectators also overflowed the standing-room area. Men and women competed in racing and roping events, and there were popular bulldogging and bucking contests.
It must have been a tired group of people who went home after such a busy, crowded Fourth of July 1916.
Source: Medford Mail Tribune, July 5, 1916. As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.