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.


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

In the 1850’ s, Hamburg Bar on the Klamath River provided good diggings for gold miners who found nuggets weighing up to 16 ounces upriver from Hamburg at Scott Bar, Calif.  Miners swarmed to the area that had been the site of large gatherings of Karuk Indians.

In a cave 12 miles south of the Northern California town of Yreka, a group of men gathered, awash in the full moon’s glow that spread across the barren cave floor.  This was an early meeting of the Knights of Pythias, a secret fraternal organization founded on the principles of friendship, charity, and benevolence.

Get ready, Klamath Falls, Ore.  It’s time for the little green bugs!


Patriotism and boosterism were terms applied to the life of J. F. Reddy of Medford, Ore. A Spokane pioneer, he came to Medford in 1903 to sell the Blue Ledge Mine, and stayed.

Among the first ranchers to drive cattle into Scott Valley, Calif., in the early 1850's, Hurd and Lytle, were accompanied by teenagers Albert and Edgar Denny, who met up with the ranchers on the California Trail near the Humboldt River in Nevada.  They promised to help get the animals to California safely and joined the herdsmen to Scott Valley.

It was May 20, 1915, when more than 150 Klamath Falls business and professional men donned old clothes to improve 105 miles of highway in a single day. The Evening Herald newspaper called it, “The greatest and most successful co-operative civic movement in the history of Klamath Falls” up to that time.

Rogue River Pilot Navigates Catamaran to Fame

Jul 7, 2015

A Rogue River boat pilot became famous in the early 1900's ferrying goods down the risky waterway from Grants Pass to the Oregon Coast.

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.