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Roxy Ann Peak

Roxy Ann Peak overlooks Medford from the east.
Elevation 3,576 feet (1,090 m) NAVD 88[1]
Prominence 753 feet (230 m) [2]
Location
Location Jackson County, Oregon, USA
Range Cascade Range[3]
Coordinates 42°21′18.0″N 122°47′07.0″W / 42.355°N 122.78528°W / 42.355; -122.78528Coordinates: 42°21′18.0″N 122°47′07.0″W / 42.355°N 122.78528°W / 42.355; -122.78528[1]
Topo map USGS Medford East 42122C7

Roxy Ann Peak is a mountain in the western Cascade Range which may be of volcanic origin. It is located at the eastern edge of Medford, Oregon. The peak is approximately 30 million years old. It rises 3,573 feet (1,089 m) above sea level, and over 2,000 feet (610 m) above the surrounding Rogue Valley.[4] It was named after Roxy Ann Bowen, an early settler of the mountain. Now protected as a city park, the peak is home to several nature trails. A 180-foot (55 m) radio tower is currently being built on the summit of the peak; the new tower will replace three of four existing towers (the tallest being only 80 feet (24 m) tall).[5]

Contents

Geology

The geologic origin of Roxy Ann Peak is unclear. Some references state that it is a 30 million-year-old volcano,[6][7] others that it consists of volcanic rocks erupted from heavily eroded volcanoes,[8] while others point to recent evidence suggesting that it may not be volcanic at all.[9] The bedrock in the area is composed mostly of granite and basalt.[10] Over time, earthquakes and landslides have eroded away most of the top and much of the base area, leaving the familiar cone shape seen today.[6] Situated in the western Cascade Range, the unique rounded top and height of the peak create a landmark distinguishable from as far as Ashland, Oregon, 11.5 miles (18.5 km) to the south, and the Siskiyou Summit, 23.5 miles (37.8 km) south.[11]

Much of the soil found on the slopes of Roxy Ann is dense, sticky clay; this composition often causes problems during building construction.[12]

History

The mountain that is now called Roxy Ann Peak was known to the Takelma Indians for thousands of years as Al-wiya.[13] The most probable usage for the peak was as a lookout, as landmarks as far as Mount Shasta, approximately 100 miles (160 km) to the south, can be seen clearly.[14] The mountain was also a good place for hunting black-tailed deer and small birds, animals which are still abundant in the area today.[13][15] More recently, residents of the Rogue Valley have claimed that Roxy Ann Peak was once known as Skinner Butte (alternately Skinner's Butte).[11][15] The name is likely attributed to an Ohio attorney named Alonzo A. Skinner (1814–1877), who worked as an Indian agent in the 1850s.[16]

The current name of the mountain originates from the early settlers of Jackson County. By 1853, almost the entire peak had been claimed by two couples, Stephan and Mary A Taylor, and John and Roxy Ann Bowen. The Bowens owned the land for nearly 70 years, and in time the mountain came to be known as Roxy Ann Peak.[16] Residents of Medford have taken pride in the mountain, first by declaring the town's incorporation on its peak in 1884,[15] and later by protecting the area as a city park.

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Prescott Park

Memorial plaque in Prescott Park

In 1929, the Lions Club purchased two sizable portions of land on the peak, and in the following year deeded 200 acres (0.8 km2) to Medford to be used as a park.[17] In 1931, the city bought another 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) under the Federal Lands for Parks Act and added it to the park.[4] The park was named in 1937 after Constable George J. Prescott, a police officer killed in the line of duty on March 16, 1933.[18][19]

In the late 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the first road to the park. Other work included clearing trails, building picnic areas, and digging drainage ditches.[14][20][21]

During the latter part of the 1990s, the area experienced a surge in vandalism, littering, and wildfires. Medford Police officers began to devote much of their time to patrol the mountain, which created even more of a strain on the department due to the park's location and accessibility. In 2000, the city installed a gate in an effort to limit vehicle traffic after certain hours.[22]

Now, at 2.72 square miles (7.04 km2), Prescott Park is Medford's largest park, covering much of the upper slopes and summit of Roxy Ann.[23]

Modern development

Roxy Ann Road in Prescott Park

The foothills of Roxy Ann Peak are home to the Roxy Ann Winery, a Rogue Valley AVA winery which was founded in 2002 and is located on the southwest slopes.[24] On the opposite side of the mountain is the first bioreactor landfill in Southern Oregon, the Dry Creek Landfill, which began a program in 2006 to generate power from collected methane.[25]

Residential and commercial development of the area has been on the rise for several years, and already a portion of Prescott Park is slated to be improved with more houses.[26][27] Construction costs have continued to rise as well, in part because of a controversial bill passed in 2003. House Bill 3375 required that new construction on slopes of 20% or greater with unstable soil undergo increased regulation and an extended approval process. The bill raised the cost of new foundations almost 200% to $30,000, with the cost of retrofitting an existing structure approaching $100,000.[12]

In 2006, Jackson County commissioners announced a plan to unprotect almost 2.19 square miles (5.67 km2) of the southeast slopes of the mountain for development of a resort, a move which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife opposes.[26]

Deer Ridge Fire

Helicopter fighting the Deer Ridge Fire

On September 21, 2009 at around 14:30 PDT,[28] a wildfire broke out near the southern foothills of Roxy Ann Peak. About thirty minutes later, the fire shut down a transmission line leading to seven Electrical substations, leaving 25,000 residents without electricity.[29] By 17:15 PDT, over 100 homes had been evacuated near the blaze, which had consumed approximately 633 acres (2.56 km2).[30][31] Over 300 firefighters who were responding to an earlier wildfire in nearby Ashland were able to assist.[31][32] Most of the residents that were evacuated were able to return to their homes by 21:00 PDT.[30]

Flora and fauna

A large madrone tree in Prescott Park

Grasses, shrubs, black oak and madrone trees are the most common vegetation in the oak savanna on the lower slopes.[33] Poison oak also grows in these areas.[34] Towards the summit there are more conifer and hardwood trees, such as douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and incense cedar.[3][35][36]

The peak is home to many species of birds, including woodpeckers, quail, and orioles. Eagles, hawks, falcons, and turkeys have also been spotted. In winter, kinglets, warblers, and sparrows also inhabit the mountain.[3][36] Deer, bears, cougars, bobcats, and rattlesnakes live on the peak all year long.[18]

Trails

Access to Roxy Ann Peak is via Roxy Ann Road, which climbs about halfway up the mountain and then splits into a loop just inside Prescott Park. There are two park gates on the road, a lower one near the residential area on the lower slopes, and an upper one part-way to the summit.[37] The 2.4-mile (3.9 km) loop goes all the way around the peak, and is closed to unauthorized motor vehicles. There are six designated trails located off of Roxy Ann Road, ranging in difficulty from moderate to steep. There are also two overlooks with views of the Rogue Valley, Mount McLoughlin, Mount Thielsen, and Crater Lake.[14]

A panorama of Medford, Oregon photographed from the peak

See also

References

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