Jim Long

As It Was Contributor

Jim Long met As It Was editor Kernan Turner when Kernan spoke to the Roseburg writers’ club about contributing to JPR's As Is Was series.  Kernan inspired Jim to look for historically-important stories in the northern part of the State of Jefferson. As a retired professor, Jim feels compelled to listen out for stories that relate to his interests in the natural and social sciences. His contributions to As It Was range from Father Wilbur of the Wilbur Academy in the mid-1800s, to the recovery of the whitetail deer at the old Dunning Ranch, to the story of Nick Botner’s private orchard near Yoncalla created to preserve over 3,000 heritage apple varieties. What a way for Jim, a relative newcomer, to be introduced  to the Land of the Umpqua.

Farms in Douglas County, Ore., have grown melons commercially since the early 1880’s. A photograph from 1886 shows horse-drawn wagons full of melons near Grants Pass waiting for shipment by rail. Even earlier, in August 1859, an itinerate preacher traveling by train from near present-day Dixonville to Ashland, Ore., noted in his journal, “The conductor gave me a watermelon.”

The first American ship to round Cape Horn and touch shore in Oregon near today’s Tillamook was the Lady Washington, named for President Washington’s wife, Martha.  Capt. Robert Gray sailed the 90-ton sloop from Boston to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1700’s to trade for otter pelts.

Nearly forgotten, lifelong writings by Oregon pioneer Lucinda Ann Woodward-Horning passed in a sugar sack from one family to another. They were nearly forgotten when they found a home recently with great granddaughter Jan Barba Horn of Myrtle Creek, Ore.

The beautiful but invasive and noxious Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) probably arrived in Oregon in the mid-1800’s from European shippers who had packed cases of whiskey bound for California with fresh-cut bundles of the plant. Oregon engineers planted the yellow-blooming shrub in sand dunes and along roads to prevent soil erosion, bakers used Scotch broom to clean cooking surfaces of brick ovens, and plant nurseries sold Scotch broom as an ornamental in California starting in the 1860’s.

A film produced in the 1940's, titled “Redwood Saga,” tells the story of how loggers chopped down California coastal redwood trees in the 1940's.  The producer, Guy Haselton, filmed the 10-minute, black-and-white movie in 1946.  It demonstrates how the redwoods, “now the object of awe and protection, were then regarded simply as commercial assets.”  Home builders around the world sought the redwood lumber because of its beauty and resistance to termites and disease.

 

The late Quentin Breen invested in cell towers and spent his earnings to preserve the history of railroading.   In 1987, Breen established the Train Mountain Railroad Club between Klamath Falls and Crater Lake in the town of Chiloquin, Ore.

Douglas County residents have expressed interest in flying ever since the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, N. C., in 1903.

The Bybee Springs and Health Resort, built in 1892 near Wimer, Ore., offered its guests reputed health benefits of the water.

In 1995, the Oregon legislature authorized formation of community watershed councils to enhance the quality of water in their catchments or drainage areas.

 

In December 2014, Roseburg, Ore.’s Stewart Park celebrated the 100th birthday of Steam Engine No. 1229  with a party.  One 9-year-old at the party described the 67-ton, oil-burning steam engine as “a beautiful piece of history.”

 

A fire lookout in the 1950s, Lois Christiansen Eagleton of Umpqua, Ore., vividly remembers the four summers when she earned about $250 a month for college.

The first two summers she looked out over the Three Sisters Mountains in Central Oregon. The next two summers, near Fossil, Ore., in Eastern Oregon, she had a panoramic view of what she called a “string of pearls,” snow-capped peaks stretching from Mount Shasta in California to Mount Rainier in Washington.

 

Lumberman Don R. Johnson and his wife, JoAnne Johnson, settled in Riddle, Ore., in 1951, where they built a sawmill that still stands. Soon they built a plant that produced glue-laminated beams up to five feet deep and 96 feet long.

Further expansion in Oregon included the Umpqua Lumber Co., Prairie Wood Products in Prairie City and Grant Western Lumber Co. in John Day. The Johnsons also operated cattle ranches for 40 years in Eastern Oregon. 

 

The Wolf Creek Job Corps will be 50 years old this year.  The center along Little River near Glide, Ore., was constructed in the mid-1960s and is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Forest Service.

It is one of 125 centers in the country and one of six in Oregon.  The coeducational center houses 231 students between the ages of 16 to 24, teaching them personal, interpersonal, and career skills

Oregon’s environmentally minded Gov. Tom McCall championed bipartisan passage of Oregon’s pioneering land-use legislation in 1973. He called it “the brightest jewel in the Oregon diadem of innovations.”  The next year McCall and other prominent Oregonians founded a private, non-profit association called the 1000 Friends of Oregon to watch over the new program. One of its founders was the editor of the Medford Mail Tribune, Eric Allen Jr.  The vice president of the citizen council was Allen Bateman of Klamath Falls.

The Rough Popcorn flower loves the Umpqua Valley, the only place in the world where it grows. Discovered near Sutherlin, Ore., in 1887, the small, yellow-centered white flower that resembles buttery popcorn is fighting for survival today.

 “Focus on Hope” is the slogan of the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg, Ore., that was created by a few residents in the mid-1970s.  

 The core group discovered key supporters who pledged donations to a “leadership fund.” Soon the organizers created a foundation and a campaign committee of hundreds to approach other residents for matching support.

The Umpqua Community College, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, got its start when members of an Association of University Women sought opportunities for higher education in Douglas County, Ore.  

 In 1854, James and Emily Watson from Missouri settled on land along Little River near Glide, Ore. Today, the 160-year-old ranch is operated by a fifth generation descendent, Mark Talcott, and his wife, Glenda.  They have raised three children on the ranch, where they produce beef, chickens, hogs, vegetables and tree fruits. They sell feeder cattle in the spring and occasionally sell custom-grown beef. They manage a forest and each year sell five or six truckloads of timber.

Restoration has begun at the Douglas County Museum in Roseburg, Ore., on an ornate railcar built for passengers and baggage.  It is one of three remaining cars of the 14 constructed in 1883 by the Harlan and Hollingsworth Company of Delaware.

On five acres along Elk Creek near Tiller, Ore., a sharp eye can spot more than 50 varieties of camellias, a plant native to Japan, Korea, and China that became popular in the U.S. South in the late 1700s.  French botanist Andre Michaux presented the first imported camellia to South Carolina Gov. Henry Middleton in 1786. That parent plant is still used to propagate others. As the new plant made its way across the United States, Alabama chose the camellia as its state flower. 

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