Friday, February 5, 2010

History of Rock Point

As the Rock Point bridge renovation project is underway, I thought it would be fitting to share a little bit of history on Del Rio's historic location.

Del Rio History 101

Del Rio began its existence as the small community of Rock Point, founded by J.B. White in the early 1850's. John fought in the Rogue Indian Wars from 1855-1856, serving under Captain William A. Wilkinson. In exchange for his services, he received land. He was appointed as a judge in the Dardanelles precinct in 1857 and two years later established the post office in Rock Point.

J.B. White developed a homestead on the north side of the stage road after the flood of 1861-1862 destroyed the bridge over the Rogue River and his home on the south side of the river. In

1863, John decided to open a store and sold his homestead to L.J. White. The cost of the property and improvements was $2,000. Soon after, L.J. decided to establish his own hotel at the edge of his property. He immediately began work on a new bridge, and in 1864 construction began on the Rock Point Hotel. On February 8, 1865, the hotel opened to the public with a grand ball. L.J. simultaneously established one of the first telegraph stations in the area when the hotel opened.

During the rest of the decade the small community of Rock Point began to flourish. Joining the hotel, and the post office, were homes, Abram Schuly's blacksmith shop, Hoymond and White's store, a saloon and a school. The record books from the Stage Company verify the regular use of the Rock Point Hotel as a stage stop. But with the passage of time, things changed. The Railroad prepared a right of way through the property. Lytte White died on October 28, 1878, and his sons and wife continued to run the stage stop at Rock Point. His son Henry bought out his mother and brothers and renovated the old hotel in 1887. But, by the turn of the century, the hotel had closed and Henry had returned to farming.

The future seemed bleak for the Rock Point Hotel. But, in 1907, it began a new period in its life. F.K. Deuel and others purchased the hotel and surrounding land. The property grew from a one-acre family orchard to an eight hundred acre valley orchard yielding leading varieties of pears, apples, cherries, peaches, apricots, walnuts and filberts. Del Rio Orchards were planted during a rapid period of growth in the Rogue Valley known as the "pear boom". During the 1920's the Rogue Valley Orchards flourished but struggled to stay afloat during the Great Depression. The Orchards revived at the end of World War II.

The Orchard and hotel remained in the Deuel family until 1997 when Lee and Margaret Traynham of California purchased the land. With the change of ownership, thus began a period of resurrection for the property. The Traynhams, realizing the historical significance of the structures, began restoration. This included the Rock Point Hotel, which is one of the oldest structures in Southern Oregon. They also began the transformation of a third generation pear orchard into one of Southern Oregon's premium wine grape vineyards.

Here are a few more fun pictures to look at:

The barn was originally the home of the fruit packing plant. Today is is home to the winery.

Here you can see both the old wooden covered bridge being replaced by the new bridge being built in 1919.

For more information on the bridge renovations please visit the ODOT website.

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