Place Names Honor Solitary Applegate Prospector


Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018


Luana (Loffer) Corbin


3 533

Pictures of Steve Oster show him with gold pan, pick and axe, a solitary prospector who mined in the Applegate area in the 1860s and 1870s.  Little is known about Oster, but many landmarks bear his first name.

There is Steve Fork Creek, a tributary of Carberry Creek near Applegate Lake, which other miners used as a guide to mining areas in the Applegate.  And Steve Fork Road led to the mining era town of Steamboat.

The Steve Peak Lookout was located on 5,866-foot-high Steve Peak in the Rogue River National Forest in Josephine County, about 26 miles from Medford.  Present-day hikers are familiar with the mountain.

In 1918, a retired physician from Jacksonville, Dr. Barker, managed the lookout station.  One afternoon he spotted flames coming up the mountain.  He only had time to grab a few things and run for his life for a mile or more to safety before the fire burned down the lookout station, which was rebuilt later.

Steve Oster may have been a little-known, solitary miner, but place names have kept his moniker alive.

Sources:  LaPlante, Margaret. Jacksonville Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, 2010, p. 11; LaLande, Jeff. "Carberry Creek WAA." Rogue River National Forest, 18 Mar. 1996, Accessed 10 Aug. 2018; Foster, Harold, and Mail Tribune. "Steve Peak." Josephine County - Forest Lookouts, Josephine County, 1916, 1918, Accessed 13 Aug. 2018; "Collins Mtn. (Applegate Valley)." Boots on the Trail, Vanmarmot, 17 Dec. 2016, Accessed 15 Aug. 2018.


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