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.

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.

In 1913, the Klamath Development Company recruited Russian immigrants to purchase farm land in the Henley-Mount Laki district of Klamath County.  Only about 20 actually settled there. 

There was a great demand for horses during the First World War, including many from the Western United States.

Nearly 24 years ago, on Sept. 1, 1992, Jefferson Public Radio broadcast its first episode of As It Was, bringing alive the rich history of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Sheepherders spending lonely summers in Southern Oregon turned to a special medium to express themselves.  They affixed their identity to aspen trees by carving everything from their names and hometowns to their yearnings to get away from the sheep and return to their native lands. 

Botanist Lilla Leach literally left her name in the Oregon woods through the discovery of more than 12 new Oregon plant species and two new genera.  She also achieved protection of Oregon myrtle trees near the South Coast town of Brookings.

About the time when the first Anglo-American settlers and miners were struggling to survive in the wilderness of Southern Oregon and Northern California, Portland was dealing with more urbane issues.

History writer Lee Juillerat describes the man behind the creation of Northern California’s Lava Beds National Monument as an eccentric genius and near hermit.

The Ashland Parks Foundation considers an Italian marble fountain purchased at the 1915 Pan American Exposition in San Francisco the “jewel” of the city’s park system.

Seventy-five-year-old Dennis Bambauer has been delivering pastries on Election Day to the Shasta County clerk’s office for nearly half a century.

There was a time when motorists driving dirt roads to Klamath Falls, Ore., could go trout fishing and shake the dust by a swim in Lake Ewauna.

The land around Drewsey, Ore., was once a popular camping spot for the Paiute Indians.  They fished for salmon in the North Fork of the Malheur River, hunted deer, and dug edible roots and onions.

The flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919 stands as the deadliest in modern history.  It infected some 500 million people, about one-third of the world population, killing an estimated 20 million to 50 million of them.