As It Was

Classics & News: Mon-Fri • 9:30am & 1pm | News & Information: Mon-Fri • 9:57am

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 the Southern Oregon Historical Society at

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.


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has closed the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site for repairs while it searches for a new concessionaire.  The state originally closed the inn in October to install fire suppression sprinklers, but dropped plans to reopen this spring when it lost its concessionaire.


Only 16 years old in 1910, Tex Rankin joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.  After discharge, he moved to Washington where he learned to fly.  He moved to Portland and started the Rankin Flying Service, and in 1927 opened the Rankin School of Flight.


Wolves are reversing history in Southern Oregon and Northern California.  Intentionally eradicated from the two states by the 1940’s, more than half a century later the grey wolf has returned to the mythical State of Jefferson.


Adventurer Jack Meissner set out on Feb. 13, 1948, to cross-country ski from Mount Hood to Crater Lake, a feat that had never been done by anyone.  He was 28 years old.


The Oregon Encyclopedia calls George Putnam, who purchased the Medford Tribune in 1907, the “epitome of the fighting editor.” He took on Jackson County’s corrupt political machine, and later the Ku Klux Klan’s unsuccessful attempt to control Oregon politics.


Foots Creek, Ore., was an important mining district in 1884 when Silas Draper applied for a post office there. A miner and rancher for many years on Foots Creek, Robert Cook, learned the business, and in 1886 was appointed postmaster at the age of 62.


A mailman for a day, Frank Colvin described how in the early 1900’s  he delivered mail by horseback 22 miles from Gold Beach, Ore., to the post office in Irma.

The beautiful but invasive and noxious Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) probably arrived in Oregon in the mid-1800’s from European shippers who had packed cases of whiskey bound for California with fresh-cut bundles of the plant. Oregon engineers planted the yellow-blooming shrub in sand dunes and along roads to prevent soil erosion, bakers used Scotch broom to clean cooking surfaces of brick ovens, and plant nurseries sold Scotch broom as an ornamental in California starting in the 1860’s.

Across from the Ranch Hotel in Callahan, Calif., sits The Callahan Emporium.  Recently reopened in 2011, it was originally a lodging house called the Baker Hotel run by Mrs. Ella Paxton Baker from the late 1800’s until 1912.


Archaeologists have recently discovered preliminary evidence of human existence more than 15,800 years ago in Southeast Oregon’s Harney County.

In the 1850’ s, Hamburg Bar on the Klamath River provided good diggings for gold miners who found nuggets weighing up to 16 ounces upriver from Hamburg at Scott Bar, Calif.  Miners swarmed to the area that had been the site of large gatherings of Karuk Indians.

In a cave 12 miles south of the Northern California town of Yreka, a group of men gathered, awash in the full moon’s glow that spread across the barren cave floor.  This was an early meeting of the Knights of Pythias, a secret fraternal organization founded on the principles of friendship, charity, and benevolence.

Get ready, Klamath Falls, Ore.  It’s time for the little green bugs!


Patriotism and boosterism were terms applied to the life of J. F. Reddy of Medford, Ore. A Spokane pioneer, he came to Medford in 1903 to sell the Blue Ledge Mine, and stayed.

Among the first ranchers to drive cattle into Scott Valley, Calif., in the early 1850's, Hurd and Lytle, were accompanied by teenagers Albert and Edgar Denny, who met up with the ranchers on the California Trail near the Humboldt River in Nevada.  They promised to help get the animals to California safely and joined the herdsmen to Scott Valley.

It was May 20, 1915, when more than 150 Klamath Falls business and professional men donned old clothes to improve 105 miles of highway in a single day. The Evening Herald newspaper called it, “The greatest and most successful co-operative civic movement in the history of Klamath Falls” up to that time.

Rogue River Pilot Navigates Catamaran to Fame

Jul 7, 2015

A Rogue River boat pilot became famous in the early 1900's ferrying goods down the risky waterway from Grants Pass to the Oregon Coast.

One old man was the champion drinker of Cinnabar Springs water in 1907 when Drew Clarin’s family came from Portland to spend two months at the resort, located just two miles from the Oregon-California border above Beaver Creek.  He could drink a quart-size tomato can of spring water in one touch to the lips.

Ashland’s Fourth of July was pretty typical in 1972, with at least half the town lining the streets watching the fly-over and parade until a 1920s antique fire engine jerked and jumped down the boulevard with the Fire House Dixieland Five aboard.

J. D. Nunnally was a traveling man.  In July 1877, his travels had taken him to Roseburg, Ore. From there, he wrote back to his San Francisco newspaper, the Pacific Rural Press: