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.

Medford, Ore., had so many people coming to see the wonders of the Rogue Valley that in 1909 hotel rooms filled early every day, and the Southern Pacific Railroad was allowing people to camp on the station grounds.

In 1934, Shenie and Hattie Hogue and their two boys moved to Brushy Bar above Agness, Ore., reachable only by foot, boat or horseback.  Shenie worked for the U.S. Forest Service, building a guard station and patrolling for fires.

It's no secret that whiskey was about as essential to the early miners as beans and coffee.  They could buy whiskey wherever any supplies were sold, and some locations kept nothing else but whiskey shipped by the barrel on the back of a mule.

In 1895 Jacksonville, Ore., Sadie Trefren’s parents had just buried their 17-year-old daughter, Mary, who had died of typhoid fever during the town’s epidemic.  So when Sadie fell in love with Albert Perry, they were saddened she would leave the family home, but happy she had made a good match.

Trains don’t fly, but one regularly received a green light from the airport control tower in the early 1950’s in Medford, Ore. It happened like this:

While plans lay dormant to build a railroad from Grants Pass to Crescent City, a fatal stage coach accident on Hayes Hill emphasized the need for a safer means of travel to the Coast.

The Yreka Journal ran this announcement on July 16, 1887: “The new town of Mott, near the town of Sisson in the Mt. Shasta neighborhood, was named after Mr. Mott, the energetic and popular roadmaster of the Railroad Company, who supervises the wagon road building for accommodation of the railroad’s construction of its track, and repairs or replaces roads where the track damages or follows established roads. The North Star is the new newspaper being published in this town, the paper having been started recently by Goldsten and Kernan.”

Southern Oregon’s Rogue River has had several names.

Brass Feet Lead to Medford Shoe Store since 1901

Sep 17, 2015

Three brass feet measuring nearly 20 inches each are positioned in the cement sidewalk in front of Norris Shoes at 221 East Main in downtown Medford, Ore.  Generations of kids and adults have delighted in jumping on the feet since 1901 when the brass feet first welcomed shoppers.

Douglas County volunteers formed an organization named Sane Orderly Development and registered it with the Oregon Secretary of State as a non-profit corporation in 1987.  Known by its acronym, SOD, its purpose is to compare proposed local land-use changes and decisions with Oregon’s state land-use goals.  It makes its findings known to residents and public officials.

Early pioneers had a great fear of Indian attack.  One settler named Price, assisted by Sam Hadley and a few other neighbors, took matters into their own hands by constructing a small, fort-like stone structure at the head of Northern California’s Shasta Valley.

The town of Placer, Ore., served as a mining center for the Tom East and Upper Grave Creek mines in Southern Oregon.

Audio Pending...

Riders lampooned the Rogue River Valley Railroad, a 6-mile line joining Medford and Jacksonville Oregon, and its owner Bill Barnum.  What follows is a song from 1909, written to the tune of “It’s Just the Same Old Moon.”



Beginning in 1857, being an Oregon lighthouse keeper was more than maintaining the warning beacon for ships at sea.  It also meant carrying a pail of lard oil from storage up more than 100 steps each night; repairing, cleaning and polishing the lenses; and keeping a daily journal of all activities, including receiving visitors.

Medford began paving 45 miles of city streets in 1910-1911, hiring the Clarke-Henery Company to do the work.  However, as more houses were constructed, property owners along Geneva Street realized that their street would be one of the last paved and possibly not completed before winter rains made it a mud hole. Sewer and water lines were already finished so residents decided to hire the Bise and Foss Company to pave their street, using the “Brickolithic” method that consisted of molded concrete resembling bricks.

A 17-year-old Japanese-American boy in Hood River, Ore., wrote a poem shortly before committing suicide on Feb. 27, 1931.  The youth, Kay Yasui, son of Japanese immigrants Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, had faced racial harassment at a time Asian discrimination was especially high in the United States.  Much of his family would later spend World War II in Northern California’s Tule Lake Japanese confinement camp.

During the heyday of the gold rush, the towns of Northern California teemed with men seeking relief from their day’s labor.  Bartenders in the numerous saloons lining the streets needed a hook to bring in business as they competed for the coin of the pleasure seekers.  Hence, the hurdy-gurdy girl was born.

On the Klamath Indian Reservation in the 1900’s, fourth grade was the highest level available to Indians.  Nevertheless, Dibbon Cook got a broad education, learning to hunt, find wild vegetables, and fish for salmon.  He repeated fourth grade four times, just to learn everything he could.

Gold Beach derived its name from a short-lived coastal gold rush between the town and Coos Bay, but it was coal that became a significant mining industry on the Southern Oregon Coast.

In 1926, sixteen-year-old Dorothy Hester of Milwaukie, Ore., had never seen an airplane up close.  One time a hot-air balloon passed over her house and she yelled, “Gimme a ride!"  Learning paid rides were available at the nearby Portland airport, she saved her money and took a flight.  Loving it, she determined to become a pilot.