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.

A century-old picture postcard shows ice skaters standing nearly motionless on Lake Ewauna at Klamath Falls, Ore.  The postcard is part of the Klamath County Museum collection.  Some skaters apparently froze in place so they wouldn’t be blurred in the photograph.

Sixty-nine years ago Dennis Bambauer learned he was an ethnic Japanese when he was whisked by armed military police from his Los Angeles orphanage to the Manzanar Japanese Internment camp in Southern California. It was the spring of 1942, a few months after Pearl Harbor, and the government forced all West Coast Japanese and Japanese-Americans into detention camps to avoid espionage or other collaboration with the enemy.

The Medford Mail Tribune reflected the town’s excitement in describing the dedication of the first municipally owned airfield in Oregon on Sept. 6, 1920.  The newspaper article’s first sentence said, “Beautiful in its sentiment, spectacular in its thrill-features and record-breaking locally in its immense assemblage of humanity and autos, the dedication of Medford's army aviation field and the christening of it as Newell Barber Field yesterday afternoon was successful beyond the most sanguine expectations.”

It’s been more than a century and a half since the miners of 1849 headed from Shasta to Whiskeytown, Calif., to celebrate the holidays. 

It’s not known exactly how many people died in the Labor Day weekend fire that swept through the 50-room Houston Hotel in Klamath Falls, Ore., early in the morning of Sept, 6, 1920.  Officials buried at least 14 bodies, making it the deadliest in Klamath Falls history.  The exact number of dead is unknown because some remains were too damaged to be positively identified as human.

An Ashland historian is collecting stories about the early history of Girl Scout Camp Low Echo, opened at the end of World War II on the shore of Southern Oregon’s Lake of the Woods.

The Rogue Valley International Airport in Medford, Ore., has been international in name only since 2003.

A 1916 article in the Klamath Falls Evening Herald described how tears flowed as people watched the sheriff smash with an axe 168 bottles of “good Wieland’s beer and four kegs of dago red and gin” that drained into Lake Ewauna.

When a horse fatally kicked Breckenridge Wooldridge in the head in 1864, he was buried on William Miller’s property. That marked the first internment in the Missouri Flat pioneer cemetery that today occupies some three acres off North Applegate Road.

Invasive bait fish called the tui chub have returned to Diamond Lake again, most likely brought there by rainbow trout fishermen using live bait fish.

No one has seen a Franklin’s Bumble Bee since 2006.

Vehicle parking has always been a problem in small towns.  Some motorists in Ashland, Ore., sport bumper stickers lamenting the lack of parking places. The city recently doubled overtime parking fines from $11 to $22.

Ashland and Guanajuato, Mexico, have developed cultural and people-to-people ties since becoming sister cities 47 years ago.  For thousands of years before that, migratory birds from the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion have connected the two cities by spending their winters in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental.

From its founding in 1915 until it was closed in 2010, the Butte Falls Hatchery raised millions of young salmon and steelhead.  If the Butte Falls School District gets its way, the property will be converted into an outdoor nature lab for its students.

The Bidwell Mansion State Park covers nearly 20 percent of the city of Chico.  The park brochure says the three-story, 26-room mansion “embodies a great love story—of a man for his land and for his wife, and of the couple’s mutual love for … California.”

The federal government’s Works Progress Administration put millions of the Great Depression’s jobless to work on public projects.  Most were unskilled men, but the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project employed historians, teachers, writers, librarians and other white-collar workers.

The front page headline in the five-cent Klamath Falls Evening Herald on Aug. 5, 1916, declares, “HUCKLEBERRIES ARE PLENTIFUL". The body of the story continues:

The Ku Klux Klan swore in its first Oregon klansmen in Medford in 1921.  Within two years, the Klan claimed 35,000 members and more than 60 chapters in Oregon, as well as organizations for women, teenagers and foreign-born Protestants.

A U.S. Forest Service lookout, J.S. McClemmons, was on a hand-crank telephone call one August afternoon in 1920 when lightning struck atop Mount Eddy in Northern California.

The publisher of the Oregon Sentinel newspaper in Jacksonville, B.F. Dowell, called the hanging there of a 7-year-old Indian boy in 1853 “one of the saddest and most inhuman acts” of the Rogue Indian War.