The railroad was coming. The Great Northern route up the Columbia River was complete and the railroads owner, Thomas Hill, had visions of a spur route into Central Oregon, the Deschutes River Valley, and points south. A route east to Vale was surveyed by the Oregon Eastern Railroad in 1907. Along with the promise of new rail routes, record rainfalls were reported in south central Oregon in 1908 and local boosters touted the availability of thousands of acres of virgin homestead land awaiting the farmer's plow.
This August 20, 1909 report from the Silver Lake Leader is typical of the type of boosterism that led to a short lived agricultural boom in south central Oregon - a boom that brought several thousand homesteading immigrants to the Oregon desert for a few short years before rainfall returned to average low levels and most moved on.
Christmas Lake Valley
On last Friday afternoon,...,we had the pleasure of taking a trip through what is known as the Christmas Lake Valley. Our object in making this trip was for the purpose of getting samples of the productions of the valley for exhibition at the fair to be held at Lakeview next month...
On Friday evening, after passing along many farms, whose crops looked splendid, taking into consideration the newness of the ground, much of which was just cleared of sage brush this spring and put into grain, we came to the hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Phelps where we put up for the night. Next morning we left for the sink of St. Peters Creek, and here we found as we did all along where we traveled good fields of grain waving to and fro in the billow'y breezes. Leaving the sink we traveled many miles across country which as far as the eye could reach, land, good level land awaiting the incoming of the sturdy home seeker...
In the Christmas Valley there are thousands of acre of as good land as that taken up awaiting the settlers coming.
While we believe, as we always have, and that belief is more confirmed since our recent trip, that all this vast country will be the greatest wheat producing belt in Oregon; yet do not misunderstand us and for one minute think that this will be accomplished without hardships similar to those gone through in other new countries.
To intending settlers we will say, do not expect when you come in that you can pick up twenty dollar gold pieces off from the sage brush or dig diamonds from the hill sides. Do not for one moment think that you can lie down at night as if you were on a bed of roses whose sweet perfume will waft you into dreamland. Nor do not conjure up in your minds that you will find land well tilled, well fenced with a good house and barn upon it, with a pure and crystal spring piped into the house, all provided for your special benefit by Uncle Sam, for if you do you will find that your uncle is not in that kind of business... On the other hand, disabuse your minds of all these fancies and stop rainbow chasing, and realize that when you come and take up land, of which there is enough for a thousand more families, that you have to get down and work; yes, work hard. You will have hardships and privations to undergo. You will have hardships and privations to undergo. You will have your dark days and blue hours... But through cultivation of the wild soil that has laid in this condition for centuries, you will be rewarded many fold... Settlers who are not afraid to work, or ashamed of soiled hands. Settlers who count the costs as well as the hardships they will undergo and the inconveniences they will be put to, and meet all obstacles with a smiling face. We have the country, we have the soil, and they are both awaiting settlers who are willing to take up the work of reclaiming the land, and by their efforts made to produce results. Others are not wanted.
William Holder, editor, "Christmas Lake Valley," The Weekly Silver Lake Leader, V 11 N1 p 4.