Area History

History of the Illinois Valley

Our valley has a rich historic past which ranges from the
Native Americans to miners and loggers to the pioneers, all of whom helped make our valley a great place to live today.

Native Americans:
About 10,000 years ago, the first Native Americans arrived in the valley and were called
Takelma, or Dagelmas, which in their language means “they who live alongside the river.”

The Takelmas lived off the land and built wooden plank or “pit” houses which consisted of a
central fire pit.  They gathered native plants, fished the local streams and hunted the game.
Acorns from the local oak trees provided an important food source. Before the acorns could
be used, they had to first be soaked in water to leach out the chemical called tannin. This
tannin was later used in the tanning of hides.

Prior to the discovery of gold in the valley in the early 1850s, the Takelmas lived a peaceful
life. As more non-native people moved into the area in search of gold, conflicts broke out
between miners and the Native Americans.  Between 1855 and 1856, several pitched battles
occurred which became known as the Rogue Indian Wars.  Today, there are several historic
markers in the valley that recall this conflict.

Geologic History of the Valley:
The valley’s rich geologic history goes back almost 200 million years when most of today’s
land area started out as an ancient ocean bottom. Over time, this ocean bottom was pushed
up and transformed into part of the Siskiyou Mountains. Today, the Siskiyou Mountains are
only one of two mountain ranges that run west to east in the entire United States.

Another indication of the geologic age of our valley is the Oregon Caves National Monument.
About 180 million years ago, the caves started out as an ancient ocean reef.  Over time this
reef was pushed up (uplifted in geologic terms) and as it underwent immense pressure, the
limestone was heated and changed into marble. Today, you can go on ranger-guided tours
of the “Marble Halls of Oregon” and see a variety of limestone and marble formations.

Gold, copper and other mining activities continued into the early part of the 1900s and today
there are many active small mining claims which speak of the valley’s rich geologic heritage.