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.

The thousands of people who each year try ascending Mount Shasta might want to consider an early climber’s hair-raising encounter with one of the mountain’s frequent rockfalls.

The 400-pound, 117-year-old bell didn’t look very stable in its wood-frame belfry, so Rector Anthony Hutchinson of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland, Ore., sent it by train to Indiana for repair.

A motorist obeying all speed zones can drive nonstop from Portland to Sacramento in 9 hours and 30 minutes.  Coffee, rest area, and lunch breaks might add another hour to the trip.  Compare that with 1860, when the first stage line opened between the two cities, offering a trip of six days and seven hours to cover the 710-mile route.

The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion established several “firsts” during World War II.

In 1917, a justice of the peace in Medford, Ore., had second thoughts after sentencing Bert
Rippey of Tolo, Ore., to 25 days in jail or a fine of $100 for selling salmon without a license.

An article in the Medford Mail Tribune 100 years ago said a group of 19 climbers known as the “Grizzlies” attempted to name a Siskiyou mountain “Steel” in honor of William Gladstone Steel of Medford, Ore.

A showman from the Rogue Valley, Don Haynes, twice attracted public attention more than 60 years ago, and then disappeared from public view.

In 1965, a 22-year-old student, Diane Newell Meyer, joined an anti-war rally at the University of Oregon.  She had written a slogan on an envelope and attached it to her sweater.

The Oregonian newspaper reported on June 12, 1867, that Capt. Franklin Burnet Sprague of the 1st Oregon Infantry had announced that land was available in Southern Oregon and Northern California south and east of Klamath Lake.

One of Ashland’s early pioneers, Capt. John McCall, settled in Oregon in 1852 on a mining claim along Jackson Creek in Jackson County.  By 1860 he had purchased an interest in the Ashland Flour Mill, and two years later joined the First Regiment of the Oregon Volunteer Cavalry.

In condescending, racially tinged language typical of the times, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1897 how the federal agent in charge of the Klamath Indian Reservation, Maj. C.E. Worden, was encouraging Indians to establish homes, raise cattle and grow crops.

In the First World War, Americans eagerly volunteered to support the troops who had been sent abroad.  People gathered scrap metal for war material, children sold bonds and stamps, and women filled vacant jobs in factories and shipyards.

Federal troops were so busy with the Civil War in 1863 that they enlisted the voluntary First Oregon Cavalry to build Fort Klamath.  Its mission was to contain Indian resistance to the loss of their homeland to settlers arriving by the thousands on the Applegate Trail.

The only Jackson County sheriff ever killed in the line of duty, August Singler, died in 1913 in an exchange of gunfire with 19-year-old fugitive Lester Jones.

All that remains of many early Southern Oregon and Northern California boom towns are charcoal, rotting timbers or dust.  One of them was Ayers, also known as Ayers Spur or Mistletoe, home during the early 20th century to the Ashland Box & Lumber Manufacturing Co.

In the summer of 1878, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey sent Benjamin Colonna to place precision instruments on the 14,179-foot summit of Northern California’s Mount Shasta.  He spent nine days and nights there, subsisting on cold food, except coffee and some toasted cheese.  He lost 15 pounds and yearned for hot soup.

Riding home by train in the early 1900’s, Sierra Club founder John Muir described to a companion a “little hike” he took around Mount Shasta.

Before the arrival in 1903 of the first automobile in Medford, Ore., pedestrians crossing the city’s dirt, and sometimes muddy, streets, had to dodge riders on horseback and horse-drawn wagons.  Runaways were frequent.

Three Southern Oregon landmarks straddle state borders.

The issue of what to do with transients is nothing new.  Thousands of unemployed, hungry men passed through the Rogue Valley during the Great Depression.