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

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.

Vernon Bookwalter began flying in 1919 with flight certificate No. 82 signed by Orville Wright.

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.

Northwest forests once attracted government scientists investigating tree-damaging insect infestations.  

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.

Women’s Movement Makes Lithia Park Possible

Sep 22, 2016

In 1908, women could not vote in Oregon. But the women of Ashland, Ore., wanted a park – so they organized.

B. F. Miller wrote that one day in the spring of 1855 when he was with 100 or 200 other men at the Sterling Mine, eight miles from Jacksonville , they learned the Indians were holding a “skookum wa wa,” or meeting, and the miners should keep quiet during the night.

One of Oregon’s most prolific and imaginative architects of his time, William C. Knighton, designed the National Guard Armory in Roseburg, Ore., that became a prominent site in the city’s downtown district in 1913.

There once was a town named Manila five miles west of Gazelle, Calif., in Siskiyou County.

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.

An early U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report concluded that it was impossible to make the Rogue River navigable for steamers.

Living in rural Josephine County in the 1920’s meant not having electricity, refrigerators or ice in the summer.  So the Walters family developed a Fourth of July tradition of ordering a 100-pound block of ice and bottled sodas from the ice plant in Grants Pass.

The first person to say he had seen sea serpent tracks in Lake County’s alkaline Lake

The physical history of Northern California’s coastal redwood region is linked to the human populations that have interacted with it, from pre-contact times to the present.

Rogue River People living in isolation in the 1800’s along the Rogue River relied on each other instead of doctors. 

An early Methodist preacher in the Rogue Valley, Thomas Fletcher Royal, faced danger bravely.

Sawmills in the early days of north-central Siskiyou County numbered in the dozens. Some operated for only months and others for many years.  Today there are few traces left.

An 1872 graduate of Hahnemann School of Homeopathy in San Francisco, Dr. James Spence, and his wife settled in 1874 in Josephine County’s Bridgeview, Ore.  His practice included caring for the miners and farmers at Althouse Creek, Brownstone, Kerbyville and Sailor’s Diggings.

For nearly 70 years, hamburger enthusiasts in Medford, Ore., frequented the little stand on the corner of Sixth and Riverside streets known as Dell’s Hamburgers. 

Susannah Mask, believed to be the third child of Dudley Mask of North Carolina and his slave, Nellie, became an Oregon pioneer in 1852.

When the Rogue River Indian War erupted in 1855, the U.S. military had 350 men assigned to the vast Oregon and Washington territories.  A militia called the Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers formed and played a major role in the war.  Its success depended on the smooth delivery of supplies to the troops.