Kernan Turner

As It Was Editor & Coordinator

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP.  His assignments included the World Desk in New York City and 27 years as a foreign correspondent and bureau chief, living and working in Mexico and Central America, South America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula. His final assignment was as chief of Iberian Services in Madrid, Spain. He retired in Ashland, his birthplace,  in 2002, with his wife, Betzabé “Mina” Turner, an Oregon certified court interpreter.  He and his wife are active boosters of Ashland’s Sister City connection with Guanajuato, Mexico.

Dead Indian Memorial Road that leads over the mountains east of Ashland, Ore., got its start as a wagon road in the late 1850s that later connected with roads leading to the Fort Klamath military outpost. Today, it’s a well maintained, paved county route that avoids the long drive to White City for motorists headed from Ashland to the Lake of the Woods or Klamath Falls.

Southeast Oregon’s Fossil Lake has attracted amateur fossil collectors and paleontologists since the l880s, but a recent discovery astounded University of Oregon scientists.

A meeting of genealogical researchers in 1964 in Gold Hill, Ore., led to the birth of the Progenitors Forum of Southern Oregon, precursor of the present-day Rogue Valley Genealogical Society.

The U.S. Army rushed to build an airport in Lakeview, Ore., in 1942, completing two 5,200-foot-long runways in 18 months.

Gardeners facing problems of deer eating their roses might consider how one enterprising farmer in Curry County, Ore., persuaded the munchers to stay out of his oat field 100 years ago.

James Ivory saw his first movie when he was five at a theater in Klamath Falls, Ore.  Eighty-four years later, he has become the oldest person ever to receive an Oscar at the Academy Awards.

In 1970, emigrant trail enthusiasts founded non-profit Trail West, Inc. to research, locate and mark the pioneer trails to California and Oregon.  Since then, it has placed 700 markers on 2,000 miles of trails across Southern Idaho, Utah and Nevada, and into California and Oregon.

The rancher and co-author of the book titled The Oregon Desert, Reub Long, contributed some folksy humor about the lack of water on Southeastern Oregon’s high desert.

Here’s a tall tale from Curry County recounted by Bill Wallace for the Curry Historical Society.  It goes like this:

Crater Lake National Park features a deep blue lake inside the volcanic caldera of Mount Mazama, which blew its top about 7,700 years ago.  The mountain was 12,140 feet high, its summit a mile higher than the surface of the lake today.

The first Europeans to explore the Klamath Basin on foot and horseback in the early 1820s were amazed at how the Indigenous people near present-day Klamath Falls, Ore., depended more on canoes than
horses.  When the army, gold miners and settlers arrived by mid-century, they too relied on water travel.

Alarm spread through Medford, Ore., one morning in 1917 when residents found small cards on front porches or slipped under their doors with the message, “You Will DIE This Christmas,” with DIE in capital letters.

Crater Lake National Patrol Ranger Alice Siebecker was pursuing a speeding car on the park’s south entrance road in 1982 when the car exploded, ran off the road, and flew 500 feet through the air into an embankment.

Right after World War II, the government offered returning veterans homesteads in the Tule Lake Basin near the California border with Oregon.

The Klamath Falls Evening Herald reported 100 years ago how a doctor saved a woman bitten by a rabid coyote by treating her with blood from intentionally rabies-infected rabbits.

Descendants of the Modoc Indians, who were torn from their ancestral lands at the end of the 1872-73 Modoc War and shipped to Oklahoma, want to return to the Tulelake region of Northern California.

Present-day Merlin, Ore., has been called the “Gateway to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River” for its proximity to fishing and rafting.  The unincorporated town is next to U.S. Interstate 5 about six miles northwest of Grants Pass.

When the Houston Opera House in Klamath Falls began showing “moving pictures” in 1909, it advertised, “Ten cents to everybody, ten cents for any seat in the house.  Go when you like and stay as long as you like.”  It featured a “new moving picture machine” called the Edison Projecting Kinetoscope.

By 1905, when the book titled “An Illustrated History of Central Oregon” was written, the town of Merganser was dead, lingering only in the memories of the earliest pioneers. 

The present-day Tolman Creek Road connects two major traffic arterials in Ashland, Oregon Route 66, also known as Ashland Street, and Oregon Route 99, also known as Siskiyou Boulevard.  At its southern extreme, the road parallels Tolman Creek.

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