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.

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:

The owner of a Medford drive-in cleaning business in the 1950’s and 60’s was a community activist, but his lasting legacy may be a musical television commercial.

Oregon pioneer Orville Dodge compiled the first history of the Oregon South Coast in 1898.  Titled the “Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties,” its 468 pages open with a florid description of what an imagined “first emigrant” found upon arrival “at the extreme (Pacific) border of a great land.”

Jefferson C. Davis Riddle was the son of Frank and Toby Riddle, also known as Winema, who played prominent roles as interpreters during the Modoc War.  Born in Yreka in 1863, Riddle  was named Charka, Modoc for “the handsome boy.”

The shipbuilding industry flourished for a time alongside sawmills on the Southern Oregon Coast in the days when lumber and coal depended on water transportation. A railroad didn’t reach Coos Bay until 1916.

It’s hard to imagine the City of Ashland without Siskiyou Boulevard lined by shops, the public library, the university and stately homes. Until 1888, Ashland’s streets were narrow and crooked, and Siskiyou Boulevard did not exist.

A film produced in the 1940's, titled “Redwood Saga,” tells the story of how loggers chopped down California coastal redwood trees in the 1940's.  The producer, Guy Haselton, filmed the 10-minute, black-and-white movie in 1946.  It demonstrates how the redwoods, “now the object of awe and protection, were then regarded simply as commercial assets.”  Home builders around the world sought the redwood lumber because of its beauty and resistance to termites and disease.


In 1861, Sarah Slagle York and her husband moved to a home on Southern Oregon’s Applegate River where they raised 12 children. Years later Sarah wrote down her memories of that time.  Here is one of her stories.


West Coast states struggled to ready their roads for anticipated heavy tourist traffic when motorists around the country would flock to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

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. 


A settlement known as Indian Town was located near Happy Camp, Calif, on the banks of Indian Creek, halfway between the Swearingen Homestead and the Classic Hill Mine.  It was a gold boomtown and outnumbered Happy Camp’s population for years.  It had saloons, hotels, stores, butcher shops, bakeries and even a bowling alley.

In the fall of 1853, the Empire City Hotel was part of the only white settlement in what would become Coos County.  It was a round, log house with just one room that contained the entire hotel, including its kitchen, parlor, dining room, and sleeping quarters.  But for a group of travelers led by Daniel Giles, the hotel was an oasis on the Oregon Coast.


Josephine County libraries closed down in 2007 for lack of government funding. Almost immediately the Grants Pass Courier challenged the community to respond, and within two years, a private, nonprofit corporation had reopened all four county libraries.


In 1895, when Frances Pearson was a 10-year-old girl living in Prospect, Ore., her favorite time of year was August, when huckleberries ripened on Huckleberry Mountain, near the old Crater Lake Wagon Road.  Every year, her family camped on the mountain and picked gallons of huckleberries each day.


In June 1974, the little Callahan School closed its doors forever, spelling an end to the 100-year-old school district in Callahan, Calif.  Constructed in 1911, it was actually the third schoolhouse built in the mining town.

A headstone engraving in the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery in Klamath Falls reads:

Dedicated to the unidentified victims

Houston Hotel Fire

Sept. 6, 1920.


Having two teachers with doctorates teaching at a one-room school is unusual, but it happened in 1910 at the West Side School located between Central Point and Jacksonville, Ore.

A natural bridge in the Hayfork Valley of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is part of the Northern California region’s history.  The bridge is a geologic formation created over time by water forcing a passageway through the soft limestone.