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There's Gold in that Hill, but which one?

I've always wondered about the origins of Gold Hill's name. I would assume that there must be a hill that had gold in it, but which one? Is it the hill that rises up on the north side of town?

— Lynn, by email

Lynn, you're not the first one to ask that question, but like the others, you're going to get a less-than-certain answer.

According to "Oregon Geographical Names," which is essentially the bible of how things in Oregon got their names, the town was indeed the scene of a nearby gold strike. But just where that strike occurred is a bit of a mystery.

According to the book, written by the father-son team of Lewis A. and Lewis L. McArthur, there was "some controversy" over the location of the gold strike. But, the story goes on, "it is quite certain that the original Gold Hill was on the south bank of Rogue River, on the opposite side of the present community of Gold Hill."

Noting that the hill on the north side of the river "is somewhat more imposing," the writers speculate that "this may be the reason that some local residents tried to move the name."

The McArthurs are not alone in their assessment. The city of Gold Hill's website endorses the south side of the river location, noting, " ... In 1860, the first steam quartz stamp mill in Southern Oregon was brought in to replace the mule-driven arrastras.  The mill operated day and night to crush ore from the rich “Gold Hill” pocket mine discovered earlier that year in the hills on the south side of the river by a farmhand of local land baron, Thomas Chavner."

In its early days, the primary settlement in the area was the property of W.G. T'Vault at Dardanelles, on the south side of the river. Gold Hill's post office was established in 1884, about the same time that the railroad came through the area.

The city of Gold Hill was incorporated on Feb. 12, 1895.

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.