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.


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. 

 Was a young man, Milt Herbert saw an opportunity during the post-World War II housing boom to go into the lumber business by starting a sawmill in 1945 in Eugene, Ore.  Herbert and some partners operated the portable sawmill for a few years, and in 1948 he headed to Northern California to search for cheaper timber.  

 The Gerretsen Building Supply in Roseburg, Ore. celebrated 90 years in business in 2013.

 The Pitchford Boys Ranch opened in 1963 near Roseburg as the first public residential treatmentprogram for delinquent boys in Oregon.  It was named after Agnes Pitchford, Douglas County’s first Juvenile Department director.  The ranch was located at what is now Amacher  Park along the North Umpqua River before moving with state support in 1965 to Twin Forks Park.

  Newspaper advertisements throughout the West Coast trumpeted this year, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”  It was Umpqua Bank’s way of celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Salmon and steelhead are finding it easier to reach habitat above the Soda Springs Dam in the North Umpqua River following federal approval of the dam’s operating license.

In the mid-1800s, brothers Jesse and Charles Applegate and their families settled land claims near “Yoncalla,” an area named after an Indian tribe north of Roseburg, Ore. Today, a seven-acre parcel of their property is dedicated to conserving more than 3,000 varieties of apples.