Emily Blakely

As It Was Contributor

Emily Blakely writes from her rural farm nestled below Sutherlin’s Mt. Scott, a setting rich in natural beauty and inspiration. She has published poetry and prose, and frequently displayed framed works at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center as well as restaurants and libraries in the area. Her interest in writing for JPR’s "As It Was" program came from hearing Kernan Turner speak at her writer’s group meeting, and she has found it to be beneficial in developing her writing skill. Researching local history has become one of her favorite pastimes.

 

Early pioneers demonstrated their value of education by building the first schoolhouse in the English Settlement area of Oakland, Ore., in the 1850s.  A one-room schoolhouse that replaced it in 1910 is part of today’s Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park on Elkhead Road. The federal government’s Registry of Historic Places listed the second school building in 2007.

In the early 1970s, a roving herd of Angora goats grazed along the slopes of 1,200-foot Mount Nebo, in Roseburg, Ore., blissfully unaware they had become four-footed weather forecasters.

What some call “Oregon’s Secret Garden” features more than 300 species of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. It’s an early-1900s-style woodland garden from the O. Howard Hinsdale Estate near the Dead Creek elk viewing area along Hwy 38 east of Reedsport. Largely unnoticed for years, it is better known as Spruce Reach Island.

 

Excited by reports reaching Boston in 1850 of gold and new settlements in the West, a merchant named Gardiner outfitted a ship for trading along the Oregon Coast. A Capt. Coffin commanded the vessel, named the Bostonian, and Gardiner’s nephew, George Snelling, took charge of the expedition.

 

Small-mouth bass are not native to the Umpqua River that flows through Douglas County, Ore. The unusual story of how they were introduced begins with the Christmas flood of 1964.

After a freeze followed a heavy snow, temperatures suddenly increased by 30 to 40 degrees, melting the snow and leaving the soil frozen and impermeable. A storm moved in and dropped 38 inches of rain where the average rainfall in December is 12 inches. These weather extremes all happened around Christmas time.

 

The co-founder of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Eugene “Debbs” Potts, also built the Historic Pottsville Museum north of Merlin, Ore.  He started work on the museum in 1959 in conjunction with the Oregon Centennial celebrations.

 

The World War II draft called thousands of Oregonians into the armed forces, many of them with backgrounds similar to Dick Rone of the Nonpareil neighborhood east of Sutherlin.

Born on Dec. 23, 1908, Rone attended school in Nonpareil and worked at the Bonanza and Nonpareil mercury mines, where he earned about $4 a day with a half hour for lunch, time enough, he said, to eat two or three sandwiches and an apple.

 Douglas County, Ore, once had 171 school districts stretching across more than 5,000 square miles, compared to 13 school districts serving 47 schools today.

  Central Park in Sutherlin, Ore., displays one of 59 surviving steam locomotives in Oregon. It has a wheel arrangement called a “prairie” with two leading wheels, six coupled driving wheels and two trailing wheels.

 Close to the woods of Douglas County, Ore., Sutherlin proclaimed itself the “Timber Town” and initiated Timber Days celebrations in 1948 during the Fourth of July holidays.  

 The first female bugler in the U.S. military, Donna-Mae Smith of Sutherlin, Ore., was inducted into the Bugler’s Hall of Fame in 2009.  Smith began her service in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. Eventually rising to the rank of sergeant, Smith played for reveille and kept the Army on schedule with bugle calls at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.