Answers for Immigrants

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(From a 1908 Rand McNally map of Oregon)

Public Lands--Their Character, Where Located, and How They May Be Acquired

Among the many questions propounded by eastern inquirers to the various commercial and promotion organizations of Portland, as well as the passenger departments of transportation companies and resident friends of restless residents of the East, are some that it is extremely difficult to answer. Perhaps a majority of the unanswerable questions relate to the character and location of public lands open to settlement. To meet the demand for information of this kind, it would be necessary to keep in daily touch with the records of the six United States land districts in the State and make copious extracts  from the field notes of the Government surveys. Even then the information in all cases would not be reliable, as the description of many sections is imperfect, and the covering of much of the land has changed since the surveys were made. The available Government land is scattered over every county in the State. Much of it is worthless, being mountainous, and considerable of it is unsuitable for agricultural purposes. The only way for an intending settler to satisfy himself as to the worth or desirability of a tract of public land is to consult the records of the land office in the district in which the land is situated, and then make a personal examination of the land. Even then, the cream of the desirable Government land having been appropriated long ago, the intending settler in nine cases out of ten will probably find it cheaper to buy a farm already improved or partially improved, than to avail himself of the generosity of the United States Government. Still there are good tracts left. These must be expected in localities remote from the centers of population and from transportation.
  The six United States Land Offices in the State of Oregon, where all information relative to Government lands may be had, are located at Portland, Multnomah County; Roseburg, Douglas County; Lakeview, Lake County; The Dalles, Wasco County; La Grande, Union County, and Burns, Harney County.  There is a Register and Receiver in each office, and the records are open to the inspection of the public.
  While there are nearly 20,000,000 acres of Government land available for settlement in the State, these figures convey no information as to the worth of this land or the acreage suitable for the making of homes. The greater portion of the Government land not yet taken, is, however, not adapted to agricultural purposes.


  The Dalles land district embraces Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, and parts of Crook, Morrow, Grant, and Clackamas counties.

  The La Grande district embraces in whole or in part the following counties: Baker, Grant, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa.
  The Burns district embraces in whole or in part the following counties: Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Wheeler.  For the proposed "Blue Mountain Reserve," 1,889,556 acres have been withdrawn from entry.
  The Roseburg district embraces in whole or in part the following counties: Coos, Curry, Josephine, Lane, Benton, Crook, Klamath, Linn, and Lincoln. There is included in the Cascade Forest Reserve, set apart by Department order September 28, 1903, 3,227,559 acres.
  The Portland district embraces Clackamas, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington, Yamhill, the greater portion of Benton, Linn, and Lincoln, and a small part of Wasco and Crook.  The entire reserves in the district foot up 1,191,666 acres--64,586 in the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in Yamhill and Polk counties, and 1,124,846 acres in the Bull Run and Cascade Forest reserves in the eastern part of the district.
  The Lakeview land district embraces Klamath and Lake counties, and parts of Crook and Harney counties.

  Only recently two more forest reserves have been created--one in Southern Oregon, and the other in South Central Oregon. The new Southern Oregon reserve, known as the Siskiyou Reserve, contains about thirty-one townships, or 700,000 acres, and comprises about half of Josephine County and a portion of Douglas County.  This reserve includes some 30,000 acres of unsold state school lands, and considerable railroad land in the Oregon & California (now Southern Pacific) land grant.
  The other reserve, comprising portions of 72 townships, takes in portions of Crook and Klamath counties.  It is known as the Fremont Forest Reserve.


  The Government lands are classified as agricultural, timber, desert, and mineral lands, according to the manner in which they may be obtained.  The state lands include all these classes, but are obtained by purchase, regardless of the character of the land. 

Government land is obtained through the land offices at The Dalles, La Grande, Roseburg, Portland, Burns, and Lakeview, while state land is obtained through the State Land Board at Salem. The settler or purchaser must be a citizen of the United States, or must have declared his intention to become such. To secure Government land he must be 21; to obtain state land, 18.
Agricultural Lands--Agricultural land may be secured from the Government under the Homestead Act, which gives to every settler 160 acres, requiring no payment, except $22 in fees. For a period of five years actual residence upon the land is necessary, during which time certain improvements must be made and cultivation carried on, the purpose being to require the homesteader to show that he is in good faith.
Timber Lands--Timber lands can be secured from the Government under the Timber and Stone Act, each purchaser not being allowed over 160 acres. The land must be chiefly valuable for its timber, and must have no valuable mineral deposits. These facts must be set forth in an affidavit, and must be published for a period of sixty days, at the end of which time, if no adverse claim is made, upon payment of $2.50 an acre, the Government will issue a patent for the land. Land chiefly valuable for the stone upon it may be secured in the same manner.
Desert Lands--Desert land may be secured under the Desert Land Act, not more than 320 acres being allowed to any one person, the applicant making an affidavit that, without irrigation, the land would not produce remunerative crops, and that he has provided a water supply sufficient to make the land productive. The affidavit must be accompanied by that of a witness setting forth the same facts, and, upon being approved, a fee of 25 cents per acre must be paid, when the purchaser can proceed with reclamation. Annual reports must be made for three years, showing that he has made improvements to the cost of $1 per acre each year. When the $3 per acre has been expended, and one-eighth of the land has been reclaimed and under cultivation, by paying an additional $1 per acre he may secure a patent from the Government. If the land is within the limit of  a railroad grant, the price is $2.50 per acre.
Arid land in larger tracts may be taken up by corporations or individuals under the Carey Act.
Mineral Lands--Mineral lands are secured under the general mining laws by locating a claim, recording it, and making certain improvements each year until $500 has been expended for this purpose, when a patent can be secured from the Government.  

State School Lands--There are probably 140,000 acres of state school lands in Oregon, situated in the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections in each township, commonly called school sections. These, lands are sold at minimum price of $2.50 per acre. no residence or cultivation being required, and, if desired, the purchase price can be paid in five annual installments, the deferred payments drawing 8, 7, and 6 per cent interest, respectively. At the time of making the first payment the purchaser receives a certificate of sale, assignable by writing the transfer, duly acknowledged, upon the back of the instrument. Any assignee of the certificate may secure a deed by returning the certificate and paying what is due.

What proportion of Oregon crops are grown without irrigation?

There are to-day perhaps 450,000 acres of land under irrigation in Oregon. The total area of the State is 61,459,200 acres. The cultivated or crop-producing area is about one-sixth of the total area, or 10,243,200 acres. It is thus seen that less than one-twentieth of Oregon's crops are grown under irrigation, the percentage being about 4.4.   What are the leading valleys of Oregon, their areas, and where located?
Willamette Valley--This is the principal valley in Oregon, and one of the garden spots of the Pacific Slope. The Willamette Valley is situated in Western Oregon, between the Cascade and Coast Ranges of mountains, is watered by the Willamette River and its tributaries, and produces to perfection all the farm, orchard, and garden crops known to the temperate zone. It is about 150 miles in length north and south, with an average width of sixty miles. Portland is at the north end, and Cottage Grove, on the line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which passes through it, at the south end. The total area of nearly nine of the most productive counties in the State are embraced in this valley, which has a total acreage of 5.125,971 acres. Exclusive of the foothills, the Willamette Valley has about 4,000,000 acres of productive, cultivable soil, which, allowing 50 acres to a family, means that it can support about 80,000 families, or three or four times its present population.
Umpqua Valley--South of the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon is the Umpqua Valley, noted for the excellence of its fruits.  This valley is situated in Douglas County, which is credited with an area of 93,360 acres of tillable soil and 1,457,971 acres of untillable soil.  For a small valley the Umpqua is one of the most productive in the State.

Rogue River Valley--The southernmost valley of Western Oregon, and one that is equally as productive as the Willamette and Umpqua, is the Rogue River Valley, lying in Jackson and Josephine counties, and drained by the water of the Rogue River and its tributaries. This valley is noted for its choice peaches, pears, apples, grapes, plums, and watermelons. An idea of the productive capacity of this valley may be obtained from the tillable areas of the two counties in which it lies. Jackson County has a tillable area of 87,007 acres, and Josephine's tillable area is 18,745. The nontillable area of the former county is 888,414 acres, and of the latter 316,881 acres.
Hood River Valley--Going east from Portland, the first valley met along the Columbia River is the far-famed Hood River Valley, which, though small, has made a name for itself in, almost every fruit market of the world, through the excellence of its apples and strawberries. Hood River strawberries are pronounced by connoiseurs the finest berries grown, a reputation which is confirmed by the fact that the first pickings bring as high as 75 cents per box wholesale in the markets of the East. Hood River apples are unexcelled in flavor and keeping qualities, and always command fancy prices in the markets of the East and even London. By reason of the high reputation enjoyed by its production, Hood River Valley lands,in bearing bring all the way from $200 to $800 an acre. Hood River Valley is 23 miles long, with an average width of five miles, and only about one-sixth of the area is in cultivation. Irrigation has been a potent factor in the production of this beautiful valley. The apple crop of this valley annually reaches about 60,000 boxes, which bring all the way from $1.50 to $3 a box, in the markets of the East and London. The strawberry crop of this valley averages perhaps 90,000 crates of 24 pounds each, which adds to the, wealth of this valley $150,000 annually.
Grand Ronde Valley--One of the largest and most productive valleys in the eastern part of the State is the Grand Ronde Valley in Union County. This is about 35 x 18 miles, with an area of nearly 300,000 acres, of which over 140,000 acres are tillable. The Grand Ronde Valley is the home of the only sugarbeet factory in the State, the production of sugar from the beets grown in this valley reaching nearly 3,000,000 pounds annually. This valley is also noted for its fine fruit, large grain and hay crops, and choice live stock.
Harney Valley--The largest valley in the eastern part of the State in area is Harney Valley, in Harney County. This valley is about 75 miles long, with an average width of 35 miles. Though there is some fine fruit grown in Harney Valley, in consequence of its distance from rail transportation, it is in the main given over to the stock industry. The irrigation of this large valley has been found to be entirely feasible, and when once water is taken to the land it will probably rank next to the Willamette Valley in production.
Deschutes Valleys--Along the Deschutes River and its tributaries there are three large valleys that promise soon to blossom as the rose in consequence of irrigation. In this section of the State--Central Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains--there are several large irrigation projects under way, with prospects of their early completion. The Deschutes River heads in Klamath County, passes north through Crook and a portion of Wasco, and then forms the boundary line between Sherman and Wasco on its way to the Columbia. The upper valley of the Deschutes is about 30 x 10 miles, the central valley 30 x 40 miles, and the Agency Plains section 25 x 7 miles.
Crooked River Valley--The Crooked River Valley, in Crook County, containing about 75 square miles, 12 miles long by six or seven wide, offers another inviting field for irrigation. This is in the arid district, and as yet produces little beyond the needs of live stock.

John Day Valley--Along the John Day River, that drains portions of Sherman, Gilliam, Wasco, Wheeler, and Grant counties, emptying into the Columbia on the boundary line between Sherman and' Gilliam counties, there are many beautiful stock farms, while considerable grain is also raised in portions of this shoestring valley. The John Day Valley proper may be said to be about 100 miles long, and from a quarter to two and three miles wide.
Umatilla County--In Umatilla County there are about 100,000 acres under the Umatilla River's water that in time will be made productive. A portion of this is under irrigation already. Some of Umatilla County's table-land can also be irrigated from the Columbia River.
Columbia River--There are a number of small depressions that might be dignified by the appellation of valleys along the Columbia River bottom in Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, and Umatilla counties.  Irrigation has given birth to many small fruit farms along this river.  At Irrigon one of the most successful irrigation projects in the State is under way.
Malheur County--In Malheur County, the Malheur Basin, which will be the scene of the first Government irrigation work in this State, comprises about 100,000 acres.  This county also contains a portion of the famous Snake River Valley.

Baker County Valleys--Baker County has a number of small valleys, in which fruits, vegetables, and forage crops are grown to perfection. Chief among these are the Powder River, Pine, Sumpter, Eagle, and Pleasant valleys.
Wallowa County--Wallowa County has the great Wallowa Valley, once the paradise of Chief Joseph and his tribe of aborigines. This valley produces some fruit and grain, but for the most part is given up to the stock industry.
Lake County--Lake County has perhaps 100,000 acres in its various valleys, chief of which is the basin of Silver Lake and the land tributary to the Chewaucan River.
Klamath County--Klamath County probably also has 100,000 acres of valley land tributary to Klamath Lake and other smaller lakes and the Sprague River.
What is the average price of farm land in Oregon that produces the same crops that are grown in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana? The answer to this question would perhaps involve the value of lands adapted to diversified farming. The average sale price of cultivated lands is about as follows:

Clackamas County, $49 per acre.
Columbia County, small farms, $41.40 per acre.
Washington County, small farms, $53.82 per
acre; large farms; $38.62 per acre.
Yamhill County, small farms (embracing considerable areas of orchards and hops), $119.66 per acre; large farms, $21.50 per acre.
Marion County, small farms, $46.11 per acre; large farms, $35.76 per acre.
Polk County, large farms, $22.70 per acre.
Linn County, small farms, $52.15 per acre; large farms, $23.28 per acre.
Benton County, small farms, $32.10 per acre; large farms, $21 per acre.

Lane County, small farms, $32.88 per acre; large farms, $26.44 per acre.
In Baker County unirrigated farms averaging 375 acres in area, with 52 1/2 per cent of the land under cultivation, the average price per acre is found to be $30.50, and farms with a good portion of the land under irrigation, averaging 485 acres in area, with 58 1/2 per cent under cultivation, average $33.40 per acre.
Unimproved lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be bought in Oregon at from $10 to $15 an acre.
What percentage of the land contained in Oregon farms is cultivated?
In farms of 160 acres or less, the percentage of land under cultivation in eight of the Western
Oregon counties is found to be as follows:
Clackamas County, 44 per cent.
Columbia County, 75 per cent.
Washington County, 41 per cent.

Yamhill County, 77 1/2 per cent.
Marion County, 45 1/2 per cent.
Benton County, 53 1/2 per cent;
Linn County, 74 1/2 per cent.
Lane County, 65 1/2 per cent.
Averages for eight counties, 59 1/2 per cent.
In farms of 160 acres or over, the percentage of cultivated land of the total farm area is found to be
as follows:
Clackamas County, 44 1/2 per cent.

Washington County, 44 1/2 per cent.
Yamhill County, 43 1/2 per cent.
Marion County, 46 1/2 per cent.
Polk County, 44 1/2 per cent.
Linn County, 43 pet cent.
Benton County, 30 1/2 per cent.
Lane County, 53 3/4 per cent.
Average for eight counties, 43.7 per cent.

These figures go to show that Oregon farmers only utilize about half of the cultivatable area of their farms, while in the Eastern States farmers cultivate their farms up to 95 and even 100 per cent of their area.
  What are the average prices of all classes of lands In Oregon?
To obtain an average on the price of lands of different classes is a difficult matter, prices varying with productive capacity of the soil, degree of cultivation, area of similar land adjoining, nearness of transportation, and proximity to markets. In consequence of the great diversity of conditions, there is of necessity a wide range in values. The following figures are given for what they, are worth: Fruit land, wild, from $30 to $75 per acre. Fruit land, in cultivation, from $200 to $800 per acre. Wheat land, wild, from $10 to $20 per acre. Wheat land, in cultivation, from $30 to $60 per acre. Grazing land, from $8 to $15 per acre. Dairy ranches, from $50 to $75 per acre. Desert land, without water, worthless. Desert land, under irrigation system, with water prospects, $10 to $15 per acre. Desert land, under irrigation, from $60 to $300 per acre. Timber land, from $10 to $100 per acre.


Williamette Valley-Prunes, apples, pears, cherries, and all small fruits.
Rogue River Valley-Apples, prunes, peaches, grapes, pears, and all the small fruits.
Umpqua Valley-Same as Rogue River Valley.
Hood River Valley-Apples, strawberries, cherries, peaches, prunes, grapes, and all the small fruits.

Grand Ronde Valley-Apples, prunes, and all the small fruits.

These are the principal fruit sections of the State with the fruits raised in the order of their importance. It must not be forgotten, however, that excellent fruits are also raised in the foot-hills throughout the State, and in many of the valleys in Eastern Oregon, partially under irrigation, where the production has not yet reached commercial proportions, notably, Pine, Eagle, and Pleasant valleys, in Baker County, the Harney Valley, in Harney County, and the Snake River Valley, in Malheur County. Fruit is beginning to be raised for market in many sections that have heretofore produced only sufficient for home consumption.
Are there any places in the State where colonies could be located to advantage?
To say that Oregon, with her mil1ions of acres of the choicest soil upon God's footstool, is without opportunities for the location of colonies would be a libel upon the fair name of this State, and it would not be the truth. And yet, Oregon, with all her wealth of acreage, does not offer so many openings for the settlement of colonies of any considerable size. While there is room for thousands of more families in the Williamette Valley and other settled sections of the State, the satisfactory location of colonies in these localities is an entirely different question.

Colonization means the placing of a large number of people on lands that may be obtained at a comparatively low figure. Colonization is possible in developed agricultural communities, but the cost of land would probably preclude the advantageous consummation of such enterprises. Colonization would be possible on Broadway, in New York City, but not practicable. Colonization is possible in the
Willamette Valley, but as the prices of land are rather high, the productive capacity of the soil justifying even higher prices, truth would compel one to say that this, and similarly situated productive areas in the State, do not offer the most attractive field for the planting of colonies.

There are a number of places in Oregon, however; that do offer exceptional opportunities, for the placing of large colonies. These places are in the irrigable areas of the State, where water is either already available or soon will be. The price of land in these localities is exceptionally low, considering the productive capacity and earning powers of the land, and no one can have any hesitancy in recommending land under irrigation systems to the thoughtful consideration of homeseekers or the promoters of colonization enterprises.

Within a very few years, or possibly even one year, there will be a number of sections under irrigation that will ofter exceptional opportunities to colonies. Just now there are but a few. Chief among these is the land of the Deschutes Irrigation & Power Company, which is opening up much of the cream of the land in the great Deschutes Basin. This corporation has a great deal of land under water already, being the largest reclamation corporation in the State, and by the first, of the year will have at least 75,000 acres available. While the land of this company will cost the homeseeker or colonist but $15 per acre, this being the price fixed by the State Land Board, the value of the land with water is not a cent less than $75 per acre. Here is one of the opportunities where the homeseeker or bona fide settler profits by the labors of the irrigation promoter and gets his land at a fraction of the value of its real worth. No land under irrigation in Oregon produces less than $75 to $300 per acre, and the production of some runs up to as high as $800 per acre.

At Irrigon, on the Columbia, where 6,000 acres are already under water, where a good-sized town has sprung up in less than two years, and where the practical fruits of irrigation are already in evidence there are opportunities for colonies perhaps second to none in the State. Here about 40,000 acres are included in the irrigable belt, with the chance of getting water on about half of this area at least within a year.-From the Chamber of Commerce Bulletin.