When the nation entered World War II, Medford transformed into a military town. Construction of Camp White, a nearby Army training post, began about six weeks after the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The Army also took over the city airport, and Medford buzzed with wartime activity.
As construction began on Camp White, around 10,000 workers, followed by nearly 40,000 soldiers, flooded the area, bringing prosperity back to the city.
Increased demand for lumber during and after the war sparked a boom for Medford's timber industry. With railroad access and several expanding mills, the city became the regional focus for wood products processing and shipping. From the 1940s until the mid-'70s, timber production drove Medford's economy and became a way of life for many residents. Following earlier patterns of boom and bust, economic and environmental issues in the 1970s and '80s eventually ended Medford's timber reign.
As the lumber industry lagged, the health industry grew. The construction of two major hospitals, Rogue valley Memorial in 1958 and Providence in 1966, set Medford well on its way to becoming the major regional medical center that it is today.
New neighborhoods built to meet the growing demand for post-war housing expanded Medford's boundaries. Over the next several
decades, shopping malls and suburban living pulled day-to-day activity away from the city center.
Support from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, in cooperation with businesses and property owners, is rejuvenating the downtown historic district, now on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration projects, infrastructure improvements, and community events are helping to build a future Medford grounded in its forward-looking and diverse past.