Wily Agents Lie in Wait for Buyers Looking for Forest Land

Date: 

Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

Author: 

Alice Mullaly

Episode: 

3 369

There was a land rush in Oregon in 1902 by people seeking homesteads on timber lands.  They poured off the trains in places like Ashland, where self-declared land agents were waiting with buggy and farm wagon to lure them to alleged timber lands 60 to 150 miles to the east.

The trip to the land could take two or three uncomfortable weeks, including lodging in farm cabins without bleached sheets on the beds that guests sometimes had to share with strangers.  Every meal consisted of warm bread and bacon.

The unscrupulous agents took people to heavily timbered areas.  But the contract offered stipulated the agent could substitute another plot if the first one was already taken.  Many homesteaders discovered the second choice was 160 acres of barren desert without a tree in sight. 

A Portland grand jury in 1903 indicted 100 people involved in the fraudulent schemes.  Their trials dragged on for years.  In 1905, Congress amended the Homestead Act by transferring timber lands from the land offices to the newly formed National Forests.

 

Sources: Tatom, Oliver. "Oregon Land Fraud Trials (1904-1910)." Oregon Encyclopedia. Accessed 16 Jan. 2018.https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/oregon_land_fraud_trials_1904_19...

Andrus, R. L. "Letter from Oregon." Bolivar Breeze, Jan. 1, 1903 [Bolivar, New York], p. 2.

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