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Jacksonville features a quaint downtown

December 8, 2005

A quaint nearby outing

Photos and story by Jennifer Margulis

The green sign that welcomes drivers to Jacksonville reads: population 2,190. It&

s hard to believe that a city as quaint and beautiful as Jacksonville could have so few inhabitants.

Stop anyone on the street and ask them their favorite thing about Jacksonville and they&

ll tell you it&

s the people.

&

There&

s actually 2,500 people here,&

laughs Linda Graham, owner of Scheffel&

s Toys located on the main drag (180 W. California Street) in Jacksonville. &

But we never got the signs changed.&

Graham, who grew up in Jacksonville and attended the old Jacksonville elementary school (where Cascade Christian High School stands now), says that Jacksonville is a great place to shop, meet people, and spend time. &

There&

s a feeling of family, home, a quaintness,&

she says. &

It&

s a feeling of comfort, like when you&

re sitting on a blanket cuddled up by the fire.&

You won&

t find Wal-Mart in Jacksonville. Instead, you&

ll find quality stores and reasonable prices, beautiful Victorian houses and storefronts, historic buildings, a museum of Southern Oregon history, restaurants with high quality food, a kind wait staff, and a down home feeling of friendliness.

&

The town has ambiance,&

says Graham. &

My favorite thing to do is come for lunch or tea and go shopping, make a day of it. We have the friendliest people here in the Valley. ... We treat everyone like our best customer.&

Walk over to the information center at the chamber of commerce to pick up brochures and find out about upcoming events. Sandi Torrey, who works at the chamber and moved to Jacksonville from Marin Country four years ago, was attracted to the city because the people are so friendly and outgoing. &

I feel really safe here,&

Torrey says, &

I grew up in Mill Valley. Jacksonville reminds me of Mill Valley in the &

50s and &

60s.&

Torrey suggests trying the eight miles of hiking trails that are accessible right from downtown. At the far end of the library parking lot is a set of stone stairs. If you take them up past the skateboarding teenagers and cross the street, you come to wooded hiking trails that crisscross behind the Britt amphitheater. The Sara Zigler trail below the amphitheater parallels Highway 238 and goes along the creek. It&

s a flat trail and perfect for children.

— — Mike and Sue Dehaas from Medford wait for their — table in the lobby of their favorite restaurant, Bella Union.

There are other great places in town for outings with children. The hands-on Children&

s Museum depicts life as it was in the 19th century and includes an old-fashioned child&

s room, a Native American lodge and a 1920s kitchen, as well as a jail house, a miniature train set, and a barber shop. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesday afternoons admission is free. Another is the Jacksonville Cemetery, where children can enjoy making gravestone rubbings. The 32 acres include some of the oldest tombstones in Southern Oregon and some of the graves sites, like John Bilger&

s (1831-1877) have showy Victorian monuments honoring the dead.

Hungry from all that walking and cemetery visiting? Phyllis Zerr, a clerk at the well lit, well organized, and cozy library who lives in Applegate, recommends the shrimp with peanut sauce as the Thai House just west from the corner of California and Oregon Streets. She also likes everything she&

s tried at La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant at 150 S. Oregon St.

Mike and Sue Dehaas drive to Jacksonville from Medford to eat at Bella Union (170 W. California St). They&

ve been together 17 years and they are out celebrating their anniversary. &

The only time we come to Jacksonville is to eat and drink,&

Mike says. Bella Union&

s hostess and server Cassie Tolman recommends the fresh halibut topped with baby shrimp and cucumber beurre blanc, served with pasta and sautéed vegetables on the side, but Mike Dehaas&

s favorite food is the oysters every Thursday.

&

Jacksonville&

s a gem that should be discovered!&

insists a tourist from Portland who would not give his name. As you drive out of town something feels different &

a little of the city&

s coziness and charm may well have rubbed off.