1003818549 SOHS 02695_JoaquinMillerOliverApplegateKlamath.jpg
Southern Oregon Historical Society photo, image No. 2695Joaquin Miller says goodby to Captain Oliver Applegate in 1903 at the Klamath Agency.

As It Was: Joaquin Miller viewed Oregon pioneers harshly

Joaquin Miller, the pen name of author Cincinnatus Heine Miller, nicknamed the “Poet of the Sierras,” spent much of his youth in Oregon and Northern California.

He worked a dozen jobs, lived with Native Americans, married and abandoned his family. He was more acclaimed in England during a visit in 1870 than he was in America. Returning in April 1872, he wrote a piece titled “A Ride Through Oregon.”

He describes crossing the Siskiyou Mountains and seeing a large sign over the toll road spelled “T-o-l-e road.” The stage driver explained, “That means we are in Oregon.”

Miller describes Oregon pioneers as being from “Pike or Posey County Here you pass a house ... in a little pen, mossy with age ... A man stands in the door with his hands in his pockets, patches on his knees, and with three or four blue-haired children clinging to his legs. He wears a broad, slouch hat, long hair, and looks as though he had just got out of bed ... The next house you pass will be a model of architecture and rural ornamentation, with people polite and progressive. And so it goes, Oregon is wonderfully mixed. The best and the worst of men ....”

Sources: “Joaquin Miller.” Viewed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaquin_Miller; Miller. Joaquin. “A Ride Through Oregon.” Viewed at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moajrnl/ahj1472.1-08.004/299:2?rgn=full+text;view=image.

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.

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