History

In 1920, the City of Medford established an airfield, known as Newell Barber Field, located at the southern edge of Medford. It was not only the first airfield in the area, it was the first in Oregon.  Initially, the airfield was used by the U.S. Army Air Service and the U.S. Forest Service to operate forest fire patrols in Southern Oregon and Northern California. With the growing popularity of general aviation, air mail, and commercial air transport, the City of Medford realized that a new airport location was necessary. Expansion of Newell Barber Field was limited by Bear Creek on one side and Highway 99 on the other.

The City of Medford needed a location for an airport that would allow for future expansion. The patch of land where the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport is today was selected.

In 1929, Medford submitted to the voters a bond proposal to pay for a new airport. The measure won 2248 votes in favor to 182 votes against. Shortly thereafter, construction of the Medford Municipal Airport began. Construction included a new administration building with attached hangar and a 3,600-foot gravel runway. During the depression, the Civil Works Administration hired local men in need of employment to work on airport construction.

After 20 years, the old administration building had become insufficient for the needs of the airport, and in 1953 a new facility was constructed. Signaling a change in air travel and scientific advancements, the new Medford Municipal Airport included a terminal for commercial travel, a waiting room, ticket counters for commercial airlines, a state-of-the-art control tower, and a U.S. Weather Bureau facility.

In January 1971, voters approved the transfer of ownership of the airport and all real property to Jackson County, and the airport became known as the Medford-Jackson County Airport.

In 1995, the Medford-Jackson County Airport was elevated to international status, and a “Name the Airport” contest was held. The winning entry was the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport.

After over 50 years of operating out of a 33,000 square foot terminal built in the 1950s, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport began construction on the current terminal. The project included the construction of a new 110,000 square foot terminal building, new aircraft parking aprons, pedestrian walkways and roads. The new terminal opened for airline operation on January 11, 2009.

Since 2009, the Airport has seen an expansion in air service, giving travelers easy access to destinations near and far.

The numerous people who have worked at the airport over the years have been dedicated members of the community and deserve to have their history and accomplishments remembered.

To view the book "Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport History Part II 1996-2017" by Susan J. Mathistad, click on the link below.  Included in the book is the original "The History of the Rogue Valley International - Medford " by Hattie B. Becker, which covers the airport history from the 1920's through 1995.

Airport History Part II