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.


Soon after its founding in 1883, the Medford community needed a school for its children.  The first school was a one-room building on South Central in Medford, a subscription school that cost $5 to attend. William A. Williamson was the first teacher.


Dame Shirley was the pen name of Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe, who wrote 23 letters about her experiences in the Rich Bar goldmine camps on California’s Feather River.  The rough life of the 1851 miners fascinated Clappe, an Amherst-educated doctor’s wife.

A rare plant discovered in 1876 by an Episcopal priest, Edward Lee Greene, grows only in four known places in Siskiyou County, including near Jackson Street in Yreka.

Mary Morris was a Shasta Indian who lived around the dawn of the 20th century along Moffett Creek not far from the Forest House Ranch and Yreka, Calif.  She was married for a time to a white soldier from the Modoc War.

As settlers and miners rushed into Southern Oregon and Northern California in the early 1850s, violent clashes with Native Americans also increased.


Robert Oglesby, driver of the Paisley-Lakeview stage tore into town late on the night of Dec. 20, 1901, to report the stage had been robbed. The sheriff returned with Oglesby to the Lakeview, Ore., cemetery  just outside of town and found the empty mailbags just inside the fence.  One hundred dollars in gold and currency was missing.

Fisherman Lands 12-Pound Trout in Lake Siskiyou

May 22, 2015

Siskiyou County fisherman Dick Bliss wasn’t sure whether he had landed a salmon or a trout while fishing on Lake Siskiyou on Jan. 19, 1978. The 31-inch fish weighed 12 pounds.

In the middle of the Applegate Valley at the intersection of highways 238 and Williams is a red clapboard building trimmed in white. It is the home of The Provolt Store – thought to be the oldest continuously operated establishment in Southern Oregon.

Applegate Rancher Rupert Maddox recalled for an oral history project how versatile his 1914 Model T Ford was, especially when water flooded the carburetor while fording a swollen creek.


Beached marine mammals were less likely to survive before 1984 in the California counties of Humboldt and Del Norte and Oregon’s Curry County.


Brothers Joe and Lile Edson saw an opportunity to expand the business when they purchased the old Beswick Hotel in 1887.


Excitement was high in Klamath Falls in May 1965 at the opening of an expanded auto race track at the old Klamath Speedway.  A new grandstand offered seating to 5,000 spectators.


The Poet of the Sierras, Joaquin Miller, once proposed creation of what he called “a sort of Indian Republic” with Mount Shasta at the center.


Fred C. Burton was born in 1879 on the family’s Scott Valley, Calif., homestead, one of 12 children of  Stephen and Sarah Burton. His mother died when he was nine years old.


Fort Birdseye sat on the site of a Donation Land Claim filed in 1853 by David Birdseye on the south bank of the Rogue River at the mouth of Birdseye Creek between Rogue River and Gold Hill. Settlers built it for defense against Rogue River Indian attacks in 1855.


Observers visiting the rivers and seasonal tributaries of Southern Oregon and Northern California can see the legacy of the 1964 winter flood.  The warm southern branch of the polar jet stream called the  “pineapple express” brought December rain for 23 days, melting deep snow and causing widespread flooding that uprooted trees and floated homes downstream.

Austie Barron’s grandfather, Major Barron, arrived in the Rogue Valley in 1851 and took out a donation land claim a few miles south of Ashland, Ore.  He built a hotel and stage stop and developed a large cattle and sheep operation.

Woodruff  Meadow is a rare flat spot in a mountainous area of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, about 10 miles southwest of Prospect, Ore.  The meadow took its name from a family that settled there before 1900.


When Crater Lake National Park enthusiast William Steel stocked the fishless lake with trout in the late 1880s, he unknowingly upset the food chain and endangered the lake’s unique sub-species of salamander called the Mazama Newt.


The late Quentin Breen invested in cell towers and spent his earnings to preserve the history of railroading.   In 1987, Breen established the Train Mountain Railroad Club between Klamath Falls and Crater Lake in the town of Chiloquin, Ore.