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Historical marker stolen

A historical plaque highlighting Old Stage as Jackson County's oldest road was reported stolen Thursday.

The plaque's disappearance from its granite marker was noticed by Joanne Wilcox, who regularly clears litter from the Old Stage Road scenic viewpoint near her home. She discovered the theft during one of her regular rounds Thursday.

The plaque was installed in 1939 by the Crater Lake Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to honor pioneers who developed Old Stage Road's route between Gold Hill and Jacksonville before it became Jackson County's first county road in 1853. The plaque was initially placed in a more obscure location before being moved and rededicated to the viewpoint in 2003.

"Part of the road was on the Applegate Trail," Wilcox said. "This is a great piece of history."

Wilcox reported the theft to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and said she hopes spreading the word about the loss of the plaque brings about its return. Pam Olson, regent of the Crater Lake DAR chapter, is less optimistic because a DAR plaque in the 11000 block of Table Rock Road reported stolen in February never was found. 

Olson learned about the Old Stage Road marker theft when the Mail Tribune reached her for comment Friday.

"I thought that one was secure," Olson said. She remembered the rededication ceremony in 2003 and recalled the plaque was cemented to the granite marker.

DAR chaplain Callie Marek has said the organization has a total of seven plaques installed throughout the county. The plaque installed in the 11000 block of Table Rock Road was pried off of its mount, according to a Jackson County sheriff's deputy. Law enforcement at the time believed the plaque likely was sold or melted down for scrap. It commemorated an 1853 peace treaty between the Rogue River American Indians and Gen. Joseph Lane.

"They are so expensive to replace," Olson said.

Olson said the Crater Lake DAR chapter is still trying to replace the first stolen plaque. Beyond raising $700 to $900 to manufacture a replacement, the local chapter has to get approval from DAR headquarters in Washington, D.C., as part of an application process that takes about six months. The national organization needs submissions from two local historians validating that the historical claim on the plaque is still valid, among other concerns, such as whether the organization still has permission from the property owner to install the plaque.  

"It's not something we can just go out and do," Olson said.

She said it was because of resources and assistance from the Jackson County Genealogy Library that her organization was able to reapply.

"We just barely sent it in because we had trouble finding historians," Olson said.

Anyone with information about the missing marker is asked to call the sheriff's department at 541-774-6800 and reference case number 26-22825.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.