The Rough and Ready Sawmill was an institution in southern Oregon for 91 years. Its lumber helped fuel the post-World War II building boom and settle the rural West. Now, it sits empty, the last of 22 mills in Josephine County to shut down for good, signaling the end of an era.
For Ivan Cross, it’s the end of the only job he’s ever had.
“I haven’t drawn an unemployment check in 43-and-a-half years,” said Cross. “Now, that’s what I do for a living.”
While Rough and Ready sits in the middle of America’s richest timber country, the federal government owns 80 percent of the land. Many in these decimated small towns blame The Endangered Species Act, which paved the way for a flood of lawsuits blocking federal timber sales, because of an endangered species in the region.