The History of Pacifica
Pacifica Garden is located in the heart of the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon. The Applegate Valley spans much land inhabited by the Athabaskan, Shasta, and Takelma peoples. Pacifica is specifically situated on tribal lands traditionally inhabited and stewarded by the Dakubetede tribe, whose descendants are today members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and Grand Ronde. We acknowledge with respect and gratitude the land itself, and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations.
The land has been inhabited by many people in its long history, from Native American tribes to homesteaders, from ranchers to rock stars. The timeline below offers a glimpse into life on the land of ‘Pacifica’ during different times throughout history, and how the property was transformed in their care.
Although Native Americans inhabited parts of Oregon over 15,000 years ago, it appears that the Dakubetede (dah-koo-bee-te-deh) Tribe migrated into the Rogue Valley as recently as 1000 years ago. They lived in what is now the Applegate area, and were closely allied to the Latgawa and Takelma Indians. The Dakubetede built round semi-submerged houses and subsisted primarily on acorns, camas and other bulbs, berries, salmon, and hunting. We have been told that the Williams Valley was considered to be a special place, surrounded by sacred Grayback, Sugarloaf and Medicine Mountains.
The land at ‘Pacifica’ is forested with douglas-fir on the hills, and pine, oak and cedar trees in the valleys. Although Native Americans inhabited parts of Oregon over 15,000 years ago, it appears that the Dakubetede (dah-koo-bee-te-deh) Tribe migrated into the Rogue Valley as recently as 1000 years ago. They lived in what is now the Applegate and Williams area, and were closely allied to the Latgawa and Takelma Indians. The Dakubetede built round semi-submerged houses and subsisted primarily on acorns, camas and other bulbs, berries, salmon, and hunting. We have been told that the Williams Valley was considered to be a special place, surrounded by sacred Grayback, Sugarloaf and Medicine Mountains.
This era saw waves of settlers arriving in the area - spurred by the descriptions of trappers and explorers, and the hopes of finding gold in the wake of the (now dwindling) California Gold Rush. ‘Pacifica’ was home to Simon Messinger, a Pennsylvanian of German descent. Messinger built the first mill on the lower Applegate to supply lumber for mines and buildings. He married Martha Lindsay, then age 16, and supported his family by ranching, lumber-milling, and working his mining claim, the Gold Standard Mine. Well-educated, Messinger was also considered a helpful neighbor whose early community functions included teaching at the school when needed, and crafting coffins.
Williams was a small, closely-knit farming and logging community. Farm wives made the vast majority of their own food from the animals and gardens they raised themselves. In 1927 the Williams School was founded upon the combination of three one-room schoolhouses in the area, serving all 12 grades until 1937. The ‘Pacifica’ property was owned by a number of notable people throughout these years, all of whom added their own unique imprint to the land - its residents established structures and reservoirs (many of which still exist today), worked the land to raise cattle, and in some cases subdividing the property into smaller lots for sale, eventually leaving only the 420 acres of land that would become Pacifica.
The 420 remaining acres of the site were acquired by musician Steve Miller in 1976. Steve built a large, world-class music studio and adjoining accommodations (today known as the Cedar Center, which now serves as a beautiful event space). His "roadies" lived in the apartment next to the studio and played basketball in the great room, and the office area was used as a garage for Steve's car collection. Miller eventually left the area in 1985, and the property was sold to new owners.
The property remained quiet until the late nineties, when it was in danger of being subdivided once again. To prevent the dismantling of this amazing property, it was purchased in 1998 by the newly founded Pacifica: A Garden in the Siskiyous. At this time Pacifica saw its start as an official 501(c)(3) non-profit and unique 420-acre natural reserve - an organization which is dedicated to education and the celebration of environment, plants, the arts, and community: past, present and future.
Timeline: The History of Pacifica
Pacifica supports its mission through hands-on educational programs serving K-6 students across the region, the conservation of 200 acres of land (including 4 native habitats and hundreds of native plant, animal, and bird species) as substantially unaltered habitat, and serving the community as a free recreational space, botanic gardens, natural education center, and gathering place for events and celebrations of all kinds. We hope that you will take advantage of all that Pacifica has to offer and continue to make us a vital member of the southern Oregon community!
Looking To The Future
Pacifica is working to continue opening avenues for education and community involvement, including developing a Nature Center, an Art Center, and a Children’s Farm. We are always working on a variety of projects and can always put to good use any donations or enthusiastic volunteers. Any contributions, whether monetary or of your invaluable time, receive our heartfelt appreciation.
In the heart of the beautiful Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, where the grandeur of the Siskiyou Mountains combines with one of America’s most pleasing climates, lies the Lippert Ranch, a blending of the color and exhilaration of the old West, with luxury living, convenience and charm.
ADVERTISING COPY FOR THE SALE OF THE LIPPERT RANCH IN THE EARLY 1960S. THE RANCH’S PROPERTY WOULD LATER BECOME PACIFICA GARDEN.