Sunny Valley is located 14 miles north of Grants Pass,
Oregon. This beautiful little community is straight out
of a story book. Surrounded by mountains, the sun always
shines on the meadows and creeks, thus the name Sunny
Valley. On one side of the Freeway is Placer Road and
the other side is Leland Road, the two main areas of
The "Grave Creek Covered Bridge", pictured on
right, is one
of the few covered bridges that remain in southern
Oregon. From Vancouver B.C. to the Mexican border, it is
the only one visible from the I-5 freeway. Be sure to
visit the Applegate Trail Interpretive Center while in
Sunny Valley. It provides a first hand look into the
local area, history, fabulous displays, theatre & more.
In the fall of 1846, the first emigrant train from Fort
Hall, Idaho, to travel the southern route to the
Willamette Valley camped on the north side of this
creek, then Woodpile Creek. Martha Leland Crowley, 16
years old died of typhoid fever during this encampment
and was buried 150 feet north of the creek on the east
side or a white oak tree that was later removed for the
present roadway, thus the name "Grave Creek".
When James H. Twogood laid out his land claim in the
fall of 1851 and filed it on May 1st 1852, he named it
the Grave Creek Ranch in memory of that unfortunate
McDonough Harkness, his partner, was the first
postmaster of Josephine County in the newly named town
of Leland on March 28,1855. Harkness was killed by the
Indians in April 1856 while riding dispatch for the Army
during the second Indian War of southern Oregon which
started in October of 1855.
A stockade was built around a log wayside and the hotel
building at Leland. The small town was the gateway to
the lower Rogue country where Indians retreated so it
became the gathering point of a large force of regular
army and volunteers and was known as Fort Leland.
A major encounter of the war took place some 8 miles
west of the Fort known as the Battle of Hungry Hill.
This ill-fated engagement produced some 37 dead, wounded
and missing. Some of these soldiers were buried north of
the Fort at the corner of the present Leland road and
old Pacific highway.
last remnants of old Leland are the three large maple
trees to the north on the east side of the road and the
Ft. Leland rock-lined well on the west side of the road
both on private property. In 1860 the Grave Creek Ranch
became an overland stage stop for the California Oregon
Stage Line. A new hotel known as the Grave Creek House
#2 was built and operated until it burned down in
December of 1875. A nearby farmhouse was enlarged enough
to accommodate the stage company and was known as the
Grave Creek House #3 or Harkness Inn. President Hayes,
his wife and entourage spent the night here on September
We are not exactly sure about which building the photo
on the right pertains to....
Throughout the years the Grave Creek watershed was home
to hundreds of gold miners. Many millions of dollars
worth of gold came out of this area.
So when you are driving by stop and visit this
historical area. See:
Applegate Trail Interpretive Center