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

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.

A forest fire threatened the city of Ashland, Ore., and its historic Lithia Park on Aug. 8, 1959.  Steve Hess, son of Ashland’s Postmaster Parker Hess, was a 17-year-old junior at Ashland High.

Surprisingly, Al Simpson did not play football when he was in high school in Eureka, Calif. 

As summer progressed in the Rogue Valley in 1903, the pear crop ripened for harvest and orchardists sought packers to ensure safe shipment to customers.  Local women provided most of the seasonal workforce, many working year after year from late summer to late fall alongside other family members and neighbors to assure top quality fruit. 

Mount Elijah, a peak formerly known as Sand Mountain, overlooks the Oregon Caves in the mountainous terrain of the Illinois Valley in Oregon’s southwest corner.

The Ashland Parks Foundation considers an Italian marble fountain purchased at the 1915 Pan American Exposition in San Francisco the “jewel” of the city’s park system.

Seventy-five-year-old Dennis Bambauer has been delivering pastries on Election Day to the Shasta County clerk’s office for nearly half a century.

Each year, Yreka’s Siskiyou Golden Fair celebrates summer, promoting the county’s agricultural, industrial, commercial, mineral and cultural resources and achievements.

The Rev. Robert Read asked his Bishop for the hardest assignment in the Episcopal Diocese of Sacramento.  In 1947 that was St. Paul’s in Crescent City, Calif., where Sunday school was held in a pony barn. He and the congregation transferred a chapel from Camp White, Ore., to Crescent City.

Fishermen on the Rogue River in the 1940’s were wary of an old hermit living at Hewett Bar. It turned out they had a reason to be.

Among those honored by the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is Allen Owen, known by his fellow parachute firefighters as Mouse.

There was a time when motorists driving dirt roads to Klamath Falls, Ore., could go trout fishing and shake the dust by a swim in Lake Ewauna.

A couple of cigarette butts helped solve a 1917 murder at the Spaulding Mill in Selma, Ore.

Born in Quartz Valley in 1883, James M. Allen served Siskiyou County most of his life.

Sugarman’s Corner is the name of a new pocket park established on Main Street in Klamath Falls earlier this year.  It honors a Jewish clothing merchant, Kiva Sugarman, who came to Klamath Falls in 1906 when horses and wagons outnumbered automobiles in the downtown district.

In 1942, the U.S. Army constructed Camp White Station Hospital as part of its World War II training facilities.  The two-story brick building was one of the largest and best equipped military hospitals in the state.  Compared with the number of military men, the female military nurse’s unit seemed small, but its importance far exceeded its numbers.

Before the Rogue Valley Indian Wars began in 1855, tension between natives and settlers foreshadowed trouble.  The local tribes knew they were poorly equipped for battle, so when the Oregon Territorial Legislature prohibited the sale of guns and ammunition to Indians in1854, they quietly gathered an arsenal through theft, trade and, according to historian A.G. Walling, by bartering their women.

The land around Drewsey, Ore., was once a popular camping spot for the Paiute Indians.  They fished for salmon in the North Fork of the Malheur River, hunted deer, and dug edible roots and onions.

Hawkinsville, Calif., is just north of Yreka, but its history includes cultural customs born in Portugal’s Azores Islands in the 14th century.

Known as the “artesian well” in the early 1900’s, a free-flowing spring ran through an orchard off Colver Road between Phoenix and Talent, Ore.

Dishes rattled and windows shattered in Grants Pass just after the New Year in 1910, but it wasn’t an earthquake.