The SOHS Library is OPEN to the public at 106 N. Central Avenue in Medford, with FREE access to the SOHS Archives, from 12:00 - 4:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Appointments are not necessary. Please contact, or call 541-622-2025 ex 200 to ask questions or request research.


Gold Miner, Mule Packer, Painter

It was early November 1852 when Britt arrived in Jacksonville pushing a two-wheeled cart full of photographic equipment. According to local lore, he had $5 in his pocket. He selected a site on a hill with a magnificent view, now the site of the Britt Festivals, where he built a small log cabin for shelter. Presumably, he "made some pictures" early on, although the oldest known image of Jacksonville wasn't taken until 1854. Like almost everyone else, Britt was stricken with gold fever and took his turn in the diggings, but soon recognized that mule skinning was more of a sure thing and potentially quite profitable. Britt purchased a string of pack mules and for several years made the rigorous ten-day trek hauling foodstuff and mining tools from the California seaport of Crescent City. By 1856 Britt had made a sizeable grubstake and gave up this arduous occupation. He bought a new, state-of-the-art camera in San Francisco and turned his energy back to his photographic trade. Peter Britt also found time to paint landscapes and portraits. The Southern Oregon Historical Society maintains a collection of his paintings, which belong to the University of Oregon System.