What is kwn as Ashland today was historically less of a destination than a crossroads. Native Americans had passed through the valley for centuries, often establishing small villages. Farmers in search of new lands followed the Applegate Trail, bringing their wagons through the area on their way rth to the fertile Willamette Valley. Gold seekers, coming and going to California, or on their way to the nearby tent town called Table Rock City (Jacksonville), came through as well. A handful of men, though, some fresh from the California goldfields, sought a more stable way of making a living and decided that outfitting those afflicted with gold fever might prove more profitable. Over time, mills, a Chautauqua, a lithia water experiment, a railroad terminal, a college, and finally an award-winning Shakespeare festival with an eight-and-a-half-month season, coupled with numerous best places to retire articles, have culminated in Ashland becoming a destination in itself.