What really divides east and west Medford?

There's east Medford and there's west Medford, but where exactly does it switch from one to the other? Some say it's the interstate, some say it's the railroad tracks, and some don't say.

Claudette Moore, former city councilwoman and real estate agent, says the freeway splits the town.

"I think (it's) the interstate," she said. "It's such a natural divider." She considers the Beatty/Manzanita neighborhood to be west Medford. She said other agents use the same landmark.

"When we do our east Medford/west Medford delineations we use the freeway," she said. "I think most agents would."

Moore said to add to the confusion, the City Council ward maps use Jackson Street and Crater Lake Avenue as the dividing lines.

Therefore, even though she represented Ward 3, the northwest ward, she represented what is technically a portion of east Medford, she said.

She doesn't go by the ward maps when talking about sections of town.

A spokesperson for the Medford Post Office said the dividing line for the city's two zip codes is the interstate, with 97501 west of the interstate and 97504 east of the interstate.

City planners steer clear of the topic.

Rob Scott, Planning Director, said there is no official dividing line that city planners use to demarcate west and east Medford. He said they prefer to name neighborhoods without directional terms, even though they have used such a term for the 1,000-acre Southeast Plan at North Phoenix Road and Barnett Road.

A local historian disputes the real estate agents' landmark.

"I think the railroad is historically the dividing line," said George Kramer, local historic preservation consultant and chairman of the Oregon Heritage Commission. "I think the name change of the street is an indication of that." East Main Street switches to West Main Street at the railroad, as do the numbered streets, such as Sixth and Eighth streets.

Carol Harbison Samuelson, former Southern Oregon Historical Society research library manager, is of a similar mind.

"It's those railroad tracks in the beginning," she said. She said in the original plat map of Medford from the late 19th century the railroad depot is basically in the middle of town. SOHS records show C. C. Beekman, Charles W. Broback, Conrad Mingus and Iradell J. Phipps donated 260 acres of land to the Oregon & California Railroad Co. in 1883, and building of the railroad began.

Twenty acres were for rail yards and a depot. Merchants quickly constructed buildings near the railroad, and the name of Medford was adopted. The railroad depot was located where the Bella Vita development is planned, at Main and Fir streets, beside the tracks.

"From those railroad tracks East Main begins," said Samuelson, "just beyond the depot grounds is the west," she said, adding that Main Street is the dividing line for north and south Medford. With the railroad as the center line, the Beatty/Manzanita neighborhood is in east Medford.

"Everything was built around that depot," she said.

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