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.

Quebec-born fur trader Peter Skene Ogden led six Hudson’s Bay Company trapping parties from the Rockies to the Pacific.

After establishing his practice in Phoenix, Ore., in 1909, Dr.Theodore Malmgren became over the next 20 years the epitome of a country doctor endearing himself to a wide circle of friends and patients.  But the doctor is remembered more today for the buildings constructed.

The Oregon State Parks Division purchased nearly 2,000 acres from the Joseph N. Hughes Estate in 1971 and turned it into the Cape Blanco State Park.  The park offers tours of the lighthouse and the historic Patrick Hughes house from April through October.  The lighthouse is Oregon’s southernmost, and Cape Blanco, named by a Spanish explorer in 1603, is the state’s most westernmost point.

According to Wintu Indian tradition, the first people ate their food raw for lack of fire until Coyote helped out.  He led the Wintu north until they came to a house where two women cooked over a fire.

Under an engraving of a four-engine airplane and a cross, a polished granite memorial at Mountain View Cemetery in Ashland, Ore., reads, “In Memory of the Ashcraft Brothers.”  They are identified as Navy Lt. Dean Bruner Ashcraft, Navy Lt. Kent Norman Ashcraft and Army Staff Sgt. Leland James Ashcraft.  All three were killed in World War II.

During World War I, women's clubs in Oregon went from planning parade floats and clean-up days to recruiting women to register for war work.

A proposed Shasta County courthouse will be built where the Adolph Dobrowsky house sits at 1720 Yuba St. in Redding, Calif.  The historic Craftsman style home was built in 1927.

There are many kinds of poets, but few the likes of high-rolling gambler Robert Shelley, also known as Diamond Spike.  Shelley wrote a narrative poem in 1941 titled “Playing the Field: autobiography of an all American racketeer” that relates his adventures in the company of gamblers, prostitutes, and gangsters.

At the turn of the 19th century, Southern Oregon newspapers covered a lot of mayhem caused by a character called John Barleycorn.  The mythical deviant first appeared in a gruesome Old English ballad describing barley's painful conversion to whiskey, and was popularized by Jack London's 1913 alcoholic memoir titled “John Barleycorn.”  Described as an "arrogant, dictatorial, uncompromising advance agent of evil," John Barleycorn was the personification of liquor and substituted in polite company for the word “booze.”

Marriage celebrations can be noisy, fun affairs, but one in particular got out of hand on West 14th Street in Medford, Ore., one night in October 1913.

A Klamath Falls woman became a famous pilot during World War II after pictures of her and other pilots of her gender appeared in glamour magazines and war-time advertisements.

There are fish stories, and then there are fish stories!  It’s hard to beat this whopper published with tongue-in-cheek by the New York Times on March 8, 1885.  The story goes like this:

A contract mail carrier for 39 years beginning in 1898, Hathaway Jones, dreamed up some really tall tales as he traveled alone through Southern Oregon’s rugged Rogue River Canyon.

Working from a studio in room 401 of her father’s hotel in Klamath Falls, Ore., Maud Baldwin processed thousands of glass-plate photographs that today are a historical treasure.

The curses of lumbermen, ranchers, and Crater Lake tourists inconvenienced by limited railroad track space in Kirk, Ore., may still linger at the once-busy rail crossroad north of Klamath Falls.

Many critics of the flamboyant Western dress and extravagant poetry of Joaquin Miller have also recognized his enthusiasm and contribution to Western literature.

A sealed lead tube containing a document wrapped in oiled silk is buried on Crater Lake’s Wizard Island, lying there undisturbed for 100 years. The Knights of Pythias planted it there when scores of Knights from all over the Northwest and Northern California met on Aug. 18, 1915, to initiate 26 new members. The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization that holds members to lofty ideals.

Southeastern Oregon rancher, story teller and author Reub [cq] Long was known as the Sage of Fort Rock in Lake County where he lived most of his life. Since his death in 1974 at age 76, his cowboy philosophy has become legendary.

Sheep provided essential wool clothing for early Oregon pioneers, but only the Hudson’s Bay Company had any sheep.  In 1842 Jacob Leese broke the company’s monopoly by driving a flock of 900 sheep from San Francisco to the Willamette Valley. It was quite a trip.

It was June 1911 when a gang of outlaws learned that robbing trains wasn’t a piece of cake. The desperados halted the California Express near Glendale, Ore., by jumping on board in the middle of the night and threatening to shoot everyone.