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.

Until the late 1800’s, Medford, Ore., did not have a hospital, forcing the sick and injured to receive treatment at home or in a doctor’s office.  Only very ill patients received nursing care until 1895 when Olivia Dyre Osbourne moved to town.  Osbourne was an 1892 graduate of the Illinois Nurses Training School and had worked at hospitals in Chicago.

Cornelius Gordon and his wife, Emily, crossed the plains in 1879 to settle on 144 acres located six miles up the Klamath River from Happy Camp, Calif.  An enterprising man, Gordon opened the Pennsylvania Mine and built his home from lumber milled at his own sawmill.  As a cobbler, he made shoes for his wife and six children, and as a homeopathic practitioner, he tended to the sick and wounded.  It was said he healed Gypsy John, a local Karuk Indian who’d been shot through a lung.

Raised in rural Arkansas, World War II Army veteran Pete Williams went to work in 1943 for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Klamath County, Ore.

Blackberries are to Southern Oregon as the suffocating kudzu is to America’s South.  Introduced as a crop in the late 1800’s, the invasive plant spread out and took over native habitat.  Whereas Kudzu doesn’t have much use other than animal feed, blackberries have been part of Oregon’s lucrative fruit production since the late 19th century.

Hampshire Field in Grants Pass keeps memories alive of a hometown Army Air Corps pilot shot down over China during World War II.

As Ashland, Ore., became a railroad center after 1890, women seized on an unusual opportunity to prosper. Inexpensive vacant lots between the town and the railroad offered widows, divorcees and other single women a chance to buy property and rent out homes to itinerant railroad workers and their families.

The 1890’s brought fascination with a new vehicle—the bicycle.  Enthusiasts could buy a Golden Eagle bike for $30 and a Phoenix Wheel bike for $40.

Nearly forgotten, lifelong writings by Oregon pioneer Lucinda Ann Woodward-Horning passed in a sugar sack from one family to another. They were nearly forgotten when they found a home recently with great granddaughter Jan Barba Horn of Myrtle Creek, Ore.


A residence near Williams, Ore., owned for a time by rock musician Steve Miller, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2015.

A steam engine once shattered the rear car of a stationary train in Alturas, Calif., then like an angry bull, backed up and plowed into it again.  The year was 1949 and the engine was the 4104 East returning alone to Alturas when the engineer realized the train ahead wasn't moving.  In those days trainmen had little warning of surprise hazards due to misaligned switches, broken rails or preceding trains.


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has closed the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site for repairs while it searches for a new concessionaire.  The state originally closed the inn in October to install fire suppression sprinklers, but dropped plans to reopen this spring when it lost its concessionaire.


Only 16 years old in 1910, Tex Rankin joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.  After discharge, he moved to Washington where he learned to fly.  He moved to Portland and started the Rankin Flying Service, and in 1927 opened the Rankin School of Flight.


Wolves are reversing history in Southern Oregon and Northern California.  Intentionally eradicated from the two states by the 1940’s, more than half a century later the grey wolf has returned to the mythical State of Jefferson.


Adventurer Jack Meissner set out on Feb. 13, 1948, to cross-country ski from Mount Hood to Crater Lake, a feat that had never been done by anyone.  He was 28 years old.


The Oregon Encyclopedia calls George Putnam, who purchased the Medford Tribune in 1907, the “epitome of the fighting editor.” He took on Jackson County’s corrupt political machine, and later the Ku Klux Klan’s unsuccessful attempt to control Oregon politics.


Foots Creek, Ore., was an important mining district in 1884 when Silas Draper applied for a post office there. A miner and rancher for many years on Foots Creek, Robert Cook, learned the business, and in 1886 was appointed postmaster at the age of 62.


A mailman for a day, Frank Colvin described how in the early 1900’s  he delivered mail by horseback 22 miles from Gold Beach, Ore., to the post office in Irma.

The beautiful but invasive and noxious Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) probably arrived in Oregon in the mid-1800’s from European shippers who had packed cases of whiskey bound for California with fresh-cut bundles of the plant. Oregon engineers planted the yellow-blooming shrub in sand dunes and along roads to prevent soil erosion, bakers used Scotch broom to clean cooking surfaces of brick ovens, and plant nurseries sold Scotch broom as an ornamental in California starting in the 1860’s.

Across from the Ranch Hotel in Callahan, Calif., sits The Callahan Emporium.  Recently reopened in 2011, it was originally a lodging house called the Baker Hotel run by Mrs. Ella Paxton Baker from the late 1800’s until 1912.


Archaeologists have recently discovered preliminary evidence of human existence more than 15,800 years ago in Southeast Oregon’s Harney County.