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Eden Valley Orchards - BirthPlace to the Pear Industry
|Eden Valley Orchards Packing House|
A Living Monument
Lying not far from railroad tracks and fruit packing plants that are emblematic of the shared bounty of the Rogue River Valley is Eden Valley Orchards. In many ways the surrounding scenery has not changed much since the first shipment of pears was made from this area of south Medford in the late 1800s. The picturesque hillsides, dotted with pear orchards and vineyards, still offer some of the most beautiful, bucolic scenery in the state—or in the nation, many would say.
Deeply imprinted on the area is the legacy of Joseph H. Stewart, Eden Valley’s founder who became the patriarch of Southern Oregon’s fruit industry. A prominent contemporary of Stewart’s remarked, “Every fruit tree in Rogue River Valley will be a monument to his memory.” Indeed, two dozen of the pioneer’s original trees are still growing at Eden Valley Orchards, in a newly designated Joseph H. Stewart Heritage Orchard, and budwood from his original orchard started trees on large orchards throughout the Valley.
Stewart’s orchard, established between 1885 and 1898, was expanded between 1899 and 1932 by Colonel Gordon Voorhies—it grew to over 700 acres. That half-century period of orchard history encompassed the planting of the first Rogue River Valley commercial pear orchard on this land, the expansion of the orchard industry, and the industry’s decline with the onset of the Great Depression. Members of the Voorhies family, who owned the property for most of the twentieth century, saw many other significant changes in the industry and their community.
At Eden Valley Orchards, another of Stewart’s legacies remains. In continuous use by orchardists and their families since its completion in 1898 is a grand home that Stewart built. Named for the family who bought the property a year later and owned it for the next 87 years, the Voorhies Mansion has been the literal and figurative heart of Eden Valley Orchards for over a century. Contributions to the community and gracious hospitality are hallmarks of the Voorhies era. They are traditions that continue.
Preceding Stewart and Voorhies families was the Ball family, whose homestead remains on the Eden Valley property, until a consuming fire, December 2005.
Let’s begin at the beginning and briefly explore—and celebrate—the history of Eden Valley Orchards, which began almost 150 years ago.
"Plant apples for your children and
pears for your grandchildren."
—Old Folk Saying
History booklet 2.09.pdf
||The Eden Valley Orchards is rich with influential people who made a difference for our Rogue Valley region beginning in 1850. Born of a Oregon Donation Land Claim the history bridges three centuries, the people and their contributions across a nation.
Formatted for printing double-sided.|
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