Glenn Jackson King of the Roads

Known as Mr. Medford and later as Mr. Oregon, Glenn L. Jackson started out selling appliances and became one of the most influential public figures in Oregon history — rising to chief executive officer of Pacific Power, chairman of the Oregon State Highway Commission and chairman of the state Economic Development Commission.

Jackson, the son of pioneers in Albany, became sales manager in 1921 of California-Oregon Power Co., in Medford, where he lived for almost 60 years. He graduated from Oregon State University, rose to the rank of colonel in the Army Air Corps in World War II and helped develop the Rogue Valley Country Club.

He led a group that acquired the former Camp White and shaped it into the industrial complex of White City. As chairman of the Highway Commission, he oversaw construction of the Astoria, Fremont and Marquan bridges — and the Interstate 205 bridge over the Columbia is named after him.

"I met him when I was a small boy. He sold my mother an electric stove," said former Sen. Lynn Newbry of Talent. "I knew him well. Like a lot of movers and shakers, he didn't appear partisan. He appeared to be on everyone's side. He really built the Oregon park system, more than anyone else. When he acquired land for a highway, he would always make a park with it, if he could."

Jackson was the prime mover in creation of Highway 140 from Medford to Klamath Falls and beyond, as well as the road and electric service that allowed Mount Ashland Ski Area to develop, said Newbry. He kept a 12,000 acre cattle ranch on Highway 140 for many decades.

"Some people complained about Glenn," Newbry said. "Some argued that he wanted 140 because it ran by his ranch, but he never abused his power, not that I know of." Jackson and his family owned a chain of newspapers that included the Albany Democrat-Herald and the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Jackson, who died at 78 in 1980, was an officer with dozens of important organizations, including the Rogue Valley Manor, U.S. National Bank, Fred Meyer Inc., Standard Insurance and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — and was five-term president of the Medford Chamber of Commerce.

— John Darling

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