May 5, 2020

Gold Rush Jacksonville purportedly had as many as 36 saloons opened by “entrepreneurs” following the “eruption of miners” who rushed to the Rogue Valley upon the discovery of gold. Initial saloons were simply tents or rough log structures with a liberal supply of whiskey. But by the summer of 1852, the notorious El Dorado was in business, also offering gambling, courtesans, and other enticements. Across the street were the Palmetto Bowling Saloon and the original Eagle Brewery. By 1856 Veit Schutz had erected a huge brewery that also featured a bar and elaborate dance hall. A second Eagle Brewery and Saloon was also in operation along with the New State Billiard and Drinking Saloon. In 1860 Von Helms and Wintjen constructed their brick Table Rock Billiard Saloon, and from 1864 to 1871 the Bella Union Saloon was in operation not to mention all the smaller saloons and the bars in every hotel. So why the proliferation? A perusal of the minutes of the early Jacksonville Board of Trustees revealed that much of their business involved the approval of liquor licenses. It seems that residents were averse to approving any property taxes and that liquor licenses were the sole source of funds for the town into the late 1870s!