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[graphic] Ashland Railroad Addition Historic District
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Current view of A Street in the Railroad Addition Historic District
Photograph by Terry Skibby

When the railroad arrived from the north in early 1884, to be followed three years later by the completion of the through line into California, Ashland became a major port of entry into Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The anticipated arrival of the railroad instigated a major wave of building and the platting of this section of Ashland when it was sold to the Oregon and California Railroad Company in 1873. The subsection that grew around the new Southern Pacific Railroad Depot doubled Ashland's size and quickly developed into a distinct region within the city largely governed by "train time." Ashland's Railroad District provided housing and traveler-based commercial services that were almost entirely related to the railroad. Lots were created in random patterns and, beginning in 1884, residences and commercial buildings were constructed. The Ashland Depot Hotel was built in 1888 and by 1890, lodging houses, saloons, restaurants, stores and warehouses formed a separate commercial district on A Street where residents could conveniently purchase goods and services.

[rotating photos] Historic views of the Railroad Addition from the 1890s to the 1910s
From the National Register collection

By 1893, the national depression slowed building in the district, but when railroad business increased in 1898, the second major period of growth began. As railroad workers and tradespeople moved into the area after 1900, one or one-and-one-half story vernacular frame houses were being constructed that provided affordable housing for the brakemen, firemen, and conductors, as well as carpenters, barbers, plumbers and painters. Ashland's population nearly doubled from 1900 to 1910, rising above 5,000. The growth of this section of Ashland was affected by the Southern Pacific Railroad's Natron Cut-off, a new route that created a direct route between California and Portland.

After 1927, when Southern Pacific shifted its main route to the east, the Ashland Railroad Addition Historic District became a quiet backwater within the larger city, removed from the downtown area's automobile-related development. During and after World War II, the old Railroad Addition became the site of affordable residential and modest industrial uses, while still retaining its historic character in large part because of the city's local historic district designation. Today it still retains a strong visual connection to its early days while having added a number of art galleries and other cultural attractions. Many of Ashland's historic buildings, sites, and homes lie within this historic district, including the John McCall House, the Ashland Cemetery, the John and Charlotte Pelton House, the Ashland National Guard Armory, the Peerless Rooms Building, and the South Wing of the Ashland Depot Hotel, among others.

The Ashland Railroad Addition Historic District is roughly bounded by Lithia Way/East Main, Oak, A and 8th sts in Ashland.

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