As It Was

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Colorful vignettes dedicated to the regional history of Southern Oregon and Northern California. As It Was is an all volunteer effort -- produced by Raymond Scully and narrated by Shirley Patton in partnership with writers from the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

If you have a writing background and would like to submit an As It Was essay for consideration, email your written piece to

A collection of As It Was essays is available in a high-quality paperback book at the JPR Online Store.  Each episode is also available below.

Similar to recent trends, Siskiyou County in Northern California experienced less rain and warmer winters in the 1920's.

Mount Shasta’s snow pack nearly melted away, and its glaciers began to melt, sending water cascading down the sandy, rocky slopes.  Historian Gerald Wetzel says that during the hot summer of 1924, a “damaging flow of water and mud from Konwakaton Glacier and Clear Creek” rumbled down Mud Creek canyon.

The official date for Thanksgiving Day has moved around over the years, but currently falls on the fourth Thursday of November, which is Nov. 26 this year.

Volunteers have been busy since 2013 sprucing up the 156-year-old pioneer Lane Cemetery in the Southern Oregon community of Winchester, once Douglas County’s government seat before it moved to  nearby Roseburg.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps, known by its initials as the CCC, built the Glide Ranger Station to house the staff of the northern district of the Umpqua National Forest.

A picket line went up in front of the Holly Theater in Medford, Ore., on a Saturday afternoon in late March 1946.

Ashland once had its own curious and spooky tourist attraction.  It was called Satan’s Sulphur Grotto, a small cave-like space dug into the bank on the east side of Ashland Creek approximately across from the upper duck pond.

One morning in August 2000, retired Air Force Officer Howard Hamer started out from Nevada City, Calif., for a quick flight to Mount Hood, Ore.  Hamer had built his own Lancair 235 aircraft from a kit 10 years earlier.

Quebec-born Peter Skene Ogden, who explored and gathered beaver pelts in Oregon between 1826 and 1827, was more than a fur trader.  The Hudson’s Bay Company sent him as chief trader on several expeditions between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific.  His mission was not only to gather furs, but also to explore and record the rivers and mountains he encountered.  Historian Jeff LaLande calls his contribution to geographic knowledge of “major importance to Oregon history.”

Quebec-born fur trader Peter Skene Ogden led six Hudson’s Bay Company trapping parties from the Rockies to the Pacific.

After establishing his practice in Phoenix, Ore., in 1909, Dr.Theodore Malmgren became over the next 20 years the epitome of a country doctor endearing himself to a wide circle of friends and patients.  But the doctor is remembered more today for the buildings constructed.

The Oregon State Parks Division purchased nearly 2,000 acres from the Joseph N. Hughes Estate in 1971 and turned it into the Cape Blanco State Park.  The park offers tours of the lighthouse and the historic Patrick Hughes house from April through October.  The lighthouse is Oregon’s southernmost, and Cape Blanco, named by a Spanish explorer in 1603, is the state’s most westernmost point.

According to Wintu Indian tradition, the first people ate their food raw for lack of fire until Coyote helped out.  He led the Wintu north until they came to a house where two women cooked over a fire.

Under an engraving of a four-engine airplane and a cross, a polished granite memorial at Mountain View Cemetery in Ashland, Ore., reads, “In Memory of the Ashcraft Brothers.”  They are identified as Navy Lt. Dean Bruner Ashcraft, Navy Lt. Kent Norman Ashcraft and Army Staff Sgt. Leland James Ashcraft.  All three were killed in World War II.

Woman-Power Advocate Recruits War Volunteers

Nov 10, 2015

During World War I, women's clubs in Oregon went from planning parade floats and clean-up days to recruiting women to register for war work.

A proposed Shasta County courthouse will be built where the Adolph Dobrowsky house sits at 1720 Yuba St. in Redding, Calif.  The historic Craftsman style home was built in 1927.

There are many kinds of poets, but few the likes of high-rolling gambler Robert Shelley, also known as Diamond Spike.  Shelley wrote a narrative poem in 1941 titled “Playing the Field: autobiography of an all American racketeer” that relates his adventures in the company of gamblers, prostitutes, and gangsters.

At the turn of the 19th century, Southern Oregon newspapers covered a lot of mayhem caused by a character called John Barleycorn.  The mythical deviant first appeared in a gruesome Old English ballad describing barley's painful conversion to whiskey, and was popularized by Jack London's 1913 alcoholic memoir titled “John Barleycorn.”  Described as an "arrogant, dictatorial, uncompromising advance agent of evil," John Barleycorn was the personification of liquor and substituted in polite company for the word “booze.”

Marriage celebrations can be noisy, fun affairs, but one in particular got out of hand on West 14th Street in Medford, Ore., one night in October 1913.

A Klamath Falls woman became a famous pilot during World War II after pictures of her and other pilots of her gender appeared in glamour magazines and war-time advertisements.

There are fish stories, and then there are fish stories!  It’s hard to beat this whopper published with tongue-in-cheek by the New York Times on March 8, 1885.  The story goes like this: