10 Weirdly Wonderful Things About Jacksonville, OR.

Posted on
Aug 17, 2012

Have you ever fallen in love with a place that you’ve visited, but you can’t really figure out why? There’s just something inexplicable about it that makes you happy to be there?

And the more you try to describe your rationale for loving it, the crazier you sound? To the point where you might be clutching someone’s hand, trying to convince them of the magic of this place? And because you’re so damn passionate about it, you fail to realize that the person you’re talking to is somewhat scared for their life? And that you’re now frothing at the mouth and screaming about homemade fudge and free parking on weekends and you look positively mental? This doesn’t just happen to me, right? RIGHT?

Well, that’s kind of how I feel about Jacksonville, Oregon.

It’s a small, dusty little town not far from Ashland. It was founded during the Gold Rush, and despite falling on hard times in the early 1900s, it still managed to survive. Sometime in the 1960s, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

That’s right: the whole town is a historic landmark. I kind of love that. I want to run around the town trying to enforce its historical landmarky-ness on people there.

“Don’t cut that grass! It’s historical!”

“Don’t sit on that bench – President Taft once stuck a piece of gum on the underside!”

“Buy me a pound of homemade fudge, in the name of HISTORY!” (What? It might work.)

Rand and I make a point of stopping in Jacksonville every time we’re in Southern Oregon. And on each visit, I tried dissecting why I like the town so much. This trip was no exception. But I wasn’t quite successful. Even as I came up with reasons, they didn’t really capture Jacksonville’s awesomeness.

Here are some of them. But believe me when I say: they don’t do the town justice.


Reason #1: Nightcrawlers!

We saw this sign for nightcrawlers, and Rand, excitedly, asked me if we could get some.

“Um, you realize nightcrawlers are huge worms that are used for fishing, right?”

“No. No, I did not. Nevermind.”

To this day, I still have no idea what he thought nightcrawlers were, but he was rather disappointed. It was adorable.

And this homemade sign is nothing short of fantastic:


Reason #2: Empty Phonebooths!

We encountered this empty phone booth downtown. For some reason, it reminds me of Woodsy the Owl, but is far more adorable (to be honest, Woodsy kind of scared me, with his self-righteousness and his giant, dead eyes).


Reason #3: Metal Deer!

I found this piece of outdoor art particularly funny, because Jacksonville is chock-full of real deer.

I can just imagine the city planning meeting that led to this being put up:

“Jacksonville needs more deer!”

“But … but we have lots of deer.”

“Yes, but they’re alive!”

“So … Jacksonville needs more dead deer?”

“Not dead … FAKE. We need more fake deer.”

OF COURSE THEY DO. And frankly, doesn’t everyone?


Reason #4: Real Deer!

Which really, are almost as cool as fake deer.


Please excuse me while I momentarily freak out over the cuteness: LOOK AT ITS ITTY BITTY LITTLE WHITE SPOTS.

(By now you are probably thinking, “Nightcrawlers, empty phone booths, and deer (both real and fake)? I should move here immediately. Hell, I should run for mayor.” And I would agree with you wholeheartedly, except that I WANT THAT JOB and I will run a smear campaign that will destroy you. You hear me? Now on to more reasons why Jacksonville is adorable.)


Reason #5: Old-timey buildings

Over 100 buildings in Jacksonville are on the National Historic Register. It actually makes you feel kind of bad for the buildings that aren’t on it. I bet they get teased on the building playground for being new and lame.


(Edit: apparently there is no such thing as a “building playground” … YET.)


Reason #6: The Touvelle House Bed and Breakfast. The rooms are nice, the food is excellent, and the whole place smells like cinnamon.


Reason #7: Shockingly good restaurants

We usually head to MacLevin’s whenever we’re in town. They describe themselves as an “unconventional Jewish deli.” Yeah. A Jewish deli IN SOUTHERN OREGON. A place that I kind of thought was devoid of Jews (except for, you know, the one that I bring with me whenever I’m down there). The food is excellent (their chopped chicken livers in particular are quite tasty).

This time we decided to try some new restaurants, and were equally pleased with the results.

We went to the Mustard Seed Cafe for lunch. No pictures of that, because I scarfed down my meal too quickly. They brought us free homemade cookies along with our bill, and Rand had to tackle me before I offered to pick up everyone else’s check in a desperate plea to get more cookies (they were toffee chocolate chip, people. TOFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP).

And then we went to the Deja Vu Bistro for dinner. We ate outside. It was downright splendid.

I got scallops …

Rand got the duck breast …

And we “split” this trio of desserts (by “split”, I mean that Rand let me eat 15/16th of it, and he snuck in a nibble of ice cream when I was looking the other way):


Reason #8: The amazingly creepy and wonderful Jacksonville Cemetery

Zombie-free since … wait, what day is it?


Reason #9: The sky in summertime is so blue, it looks fake.

This is NOT ‘shopped. Oh, shut up. You CANNOT see the pixels, so don’t even start.


Reason #10: The Britt Festival, Jacksonville Mercantile, the shopping, all the friendly locals, that little shop that sells homemade fudge, the trolley tour that circles around town, the Jacksonville Garage Sale

I know, I KNOW. That’s more than 10 reasons. But I’ve never been particularly good at math. Besides, if I sit here trying to enumerate everything that I like about Jacksonville, I will see my youth slip away from me even faster than it already is.

Let’s just say that I really love the place. And I can’t exactly tell you why. There’s just something about Jacksonville’s adorable weirdness that makes me smile. It seems to be a common theme in my life, actually:

And I don’t really need to analyze it more than that.

Leave a Comment

  • well … now I want to go.

  • I’d like to hear more about this homemade fudge.

    • Everywhereist

      It’s sold at a little jewelry shop. Since I still had steroid tummy, and was destined to eat all of whatever we purchased, we steered clear of it this time. But it is amazing- just follow the signs that say “FRESH FUDGE.” Which, I promise, is not a euphemism (like it might be in bigger towns).

  • Have you ever been to Jackson Hole, Wy? I get all nostalgic when I go there as well. Another place I love that I just recently visited was Wall, SD that is the town of Wall Drug. Way better than I expected!

  • Rick

    Moving to Seattle in a couple months. Love Seattle. But Stevenson, WA is my Jacksonville. Just don’t know how I would earn a living there. Sigh…

    • Everywhereist

      The good news is that Stevenson is just a drive away. 🙂

  • TheOtherLisa

    The more you travel, the hungrier I get.

  • Christa

    Thanks for the funny write-up 🙂

    I love my town too!

    I guess you haven’t seen the “elephant” sign on the hiking trails behind Britt? Heheh.

  • Sarah b

    LOVE Jacksonville. My in laws live close by (grants pass) so we go to jacksonville whenever we visit them. There really is “something” about that town! I have also fallen in love with it and we are actually looking into moving there!

  • I love Jacksonville, too. I go to that part of Oregon once or twice a year. (I think I may have a relative or two in that cemetery.) I haven’t been to some of those restaurants, and the one with the dessert tray, (which I would share the way you did), is definitely on the list for my next trip.

  • Jennifer

    I grew up in Jacksonville and LOVED it! I live on the east coast now and I miss it so. I can’t wait to bring my husband back there to show the town really IS that AWESOME and I’m not crazy for talking about it all the time!

  • Speaking of towns that are National Historic Landmarks, if you ever go to Deadwood, SD let me know and I’ll hook you up. 🙂

  • Loyal Severson

    I lived in Jacksonville 1948 and many of my relatives lived there, they used the town a few years ago to film the great north field raid , took down power poles and put dirt on the street.in 1952 it snowed so much that the center of the street was where they put the snow about 4 feet high.My cousin Larry Smith is the town crier and is known as Mr. Jacksonville.

  • When my kids were young and still being held hostage in Southern CA, we visited their happily transplanted grandparents in Southern OR, went to Jacksonville, and discovered the wonderful trolley. Fast forward twenty years, we still find many occasions when one of us calls out “Trolley Rules: ‘Smile and Wave.'” Suitable for oh so many of Life’s Situations . . .

    Also, did you know that one of the things about being in a town where the whole place is an Historic Landmark is that all new building has to be approved to be built “in the style of?” Fun.

  • Jenn

    If you really love adorable little deer, I highly recommend going to Nara, outside of Kyoto, Japan. By outside, I mean about a 45 minute train ride away. Once you get to the park where all the deer live, you will be shocked and amazed (I was). They are extremely used to people and do not run away at all. People were petting them (not me) and some people were even feeding them their deer cookies with their mouths (again, NOT ME). If you and Rand find yourselves in Japan (at least in and around Kyoto, or Tokyo with time to go to Kyoto) on one of his many work-related trips, GO TO NARA. Your blog makes me smile…and want to do more travelling….and makes me super happy I also live in the greater Seattle area.

  • Nancy

    We visited and fell in love. Now moving there! Can’t wait. And guess what? If you need an international airport or the big city life Medford is just a half hour away.

  • Jennifer

    We visited four years and fell in love with Jacksonville for many of the same reasons you describe. We’re in the process of moving there now. Can’t wait.

    P.S. I was hoping to be mayor! We may have to fight over it.

    • Everywhereist

      The election cycle will be brutal, and require us to eat a lot of ice cream, I bet.

      • Jennifer

        Will said ice cream include that of the chocolate variety? Game on!

  • DRAngel

    I moved from New York to Hawaii, Hawaii to Portland and now I am looking to move to Jacksonville at the end of the month. I was actually look at Ashland but I like Jacksonville understated charm. I cannot wait to call this town my home

  • Sharon Jarka

    We have decided to go to Jacksonville for our 52nd anniversary!! Just the kind of place we love. Thank you for telling us about it!! Your blog was so “adorable” that we signed up to receive your posts.

  • Sharon Jeffers

    Going to visit a friend, ( who is fortunate enough to live in Jacksonville), for a few days in mid-September. After looking at the pictures, reading the blog, etc., I’m really getting excited! My friend sent me pictures of a fawn and it’s mama casually strolling by her house. REAL ONES!

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