As It Was

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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 mrkrt@ashlandhome.net.

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 of the first settlers in Klamath, Calif., M.G. Tucker, constructed a building in the village center on high ground just 100 yards from the Klamath River. The Tucker House served several purposes, as a store, restaurant, and hotel, but also as the post office, a dance hall on Saturday nights, and the freight depot for cargo deposited on a large, nearby rock formation.

Two invaders crept into Oregon in the mid-1800s, playing never-ending havoc with the landscape.

In the early 20th century, the North Umpqua River drew anglers to Douglas County, Ore.  They fished for Chinook and Coho salmon, as well as sea-run cutthroat trout.  Summer fishing camps were established, leading to a storied angling history.

The Civil War had been over for a year when inebriated supporters of opposing sides in the conflict clashed on Christmas Day in Roseburg, Ore.  The brawl left two dead and several injured in what became known statewide as the “Champagne Riot of 1866.”

Ethel Porter moved when she was seven in 1896 with her family to the Altoon Quicksilver Mine in Northern California. Her father’s job was hauling wood to the mine using teams of six and eight horses.

In 1919, the social event of the season in Gold Beach, Ore., was the Christmas Eve Masquerade Ball held at Gauntlett’s Hall.

Eighty-three-year-old Mrs. A.J. Russell recalled the Christmas of 1865 when she was 27, married and living on Ashland’s North Main Street.  The town had 16 business and professional men at the time.

In 1894, a terrible fire burned down the Silver Lake general store in South Central Oregon, where 200 people had gathered on the second-floor ballroom for a community dance.  An exit door that opened in, instead of out, and a collapsed stairway contributed to the death of 40 people and injuries for another 50, many severely burned.

The small town of Klamath Junction, or what was left of it, was reborn briefly during the drought of 2014 when the mud-caked foundations of old structures emerged from the waters of Emigrant Lake.

There was little in the background of Kenn Knackstedt to suggest his future contribution to Southern Oregon history.

George Riddle was only 11 in 1851 when his family emigrated West in a covered wagon. They settled south of Roseburg, Ore., in an area known as Cow Creek.  During his life, George and his family witnessed the turmoil and change of the growing state.

Miwaleta, chief of the Cow Creek band of Umpqua Indians, befriended the Riddle family when they settled in Southern Oregon in 1851. Young George Riddle later wrote about his family’s relations with the band.

Southern Oregon mine produced more than valuable minerals. They also inspired some clever scammers, including James H. McNicholas of Portland.

Elevators were a big deal in large cities after the turn of the century, but Southern Oregon buildings tended to sprawl rather than stack.

In the 1880s, eleven Eastern Star chapters were established in Oregon, many of them in Southern Oregon.

By 1905, when the book titled “An Illustrated History of Central Oregon” was written, the town of Merganser was dead, lingering only in the memories of the earliest pioneers. 

Charles Crump had no forewarning of what would come of his contacting the Nevada Thermal Power Co. that was looking for geothermal sources for power plants.

Tales of gold and adventure lured 26-year-old cabinet maker Abel Helman to California, leaving his wife and family behind in Ashland County, Ohio. 

In the Victorian era, few women owned their own businesses, let alone became photographers, even amateur ones.  In Ashland, Ore., sisters Anna and Ida Hargrove did both.

During the early 1850s, five gold mining settlements sprang up in Northern California’s Trinity County, including Minersville, Ridgeville, Sebastopol, Diggerville, and the Bates and Van Matre Ranch.

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