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.

The first automobile to make the trip from Portland to Klamath Falls, Ore., faced three days of rough and muddy roads more suited for horse-drawn stage coaches.  The Klamath Falls Evening Herald reported on April 22, 1916, that Harry Telford was the driver of the Michigan-built Saxon motorcar.

Bridges can last 80 years or more, but an uncovered bridge can deteriorate in about nine years from weathering of the huge truss timbers.

Medford, Ore., commemorated the 100th anniversary of its federal courthouse in May.  Historian Ben Truwe’s keynote speech said that the three-story brick building had been used to house not only the court, but also mail, coal and chicken eggs.

Before he was arrested in 1896 and jailed for counterfeiting money in Missouri, Michael Angelo McGinnis had found a way to make his mark on Medford, Ore.

An 1857 Oregon law taxed each Chinese miner $2 a month for the privilege of mining in the state.  Some counties even made it illegal for Chinese to hold or work a claim.  The tax was extended a year later to everyone of Chinese descent, not only for mining, but also for trading, selling or buying goods.

The name Warner dominates the terrain in the desert and mountains east of Lakeview, Ore., including the Warner Mountains, Warner Valley, Warner Lakes, Warner Canyon, Warner Rim, and Warner Peak, the highest point on Hart Mountain at 8,017 feet.

On April 18, 1906, Grants Pass, Ore., purchased rights of way and rails and unloaded a trainload of equipment for building a railroad to Crescent City.  Plans were shelved the next day by the San Francisco Great Earthquake.

Ben Franklin is remembered for many things, including common sense and the value of a penny saved,  but the World Sweeping Association credits him with creating the first street-cleaning program, thus becoming the Father of Street-Sweeping.

Every spring, rockhounds and gemstone collectors head for the Rabbit Basin of southeastern Lake County’s Warner Valley, about 25 miles north of Plush, Ore. They’re searching for sunstones, known locally as Plush diamonds, which are large crystals of feldspar found in basaltic lava flows.

As a youngster, Emma Bolt, the daughter of Applegate, Ore., merchant and miner John Bolt, once invited a hungry and sick stranger to supper.  Her Mother obliged and nursed the man back to health.  He was given shoes at Emma’s request and slept in the girls’ playhouse.  He told Emma “You are kind ma petit and the good God will bless you.”

On July 9, 1953, two dozen exhausted firefighters, including 14 volunteer missionaries, were resting after helping control the Rattlesnake Fire in the Grindstone Canyon of the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California.  Suddenly the wind changed, blowing sparks over a firebreak line, and sending flames roaring down the canyon in their direction.  Hunkered in a gully, they didn’t see what was happening.

Growing up in a mining cabin could have been a grim experience lacking in educational or cultural opportunities, but Rose Opp was a determined mother. Even though her daughters, Gertrude and Julia, slept in a tent winter and summer and showered beneath buckets of cold water, Opp insisted on freshly ironed linens at every meal. Proper silverware and flowers graced her table.

E.R. Jackson and Reub Long co-authored a book a half century ago about the Oregon desert titled, appropriately, The Oregon Desert.  Long had lived all his life in the state’s central and southeastern desert.  The book is filled with information about desert life, human and animal, and a lot of homespun humor and philosophy.

Roads became desperately needed in Southern Oregon in the mid-1800’s as the growth of mining and agriculture required more access to markets.

More than 100 people armed with clubs joined a rabbit drive in April 1916 near the Oregon-California state line south of Klamath Falls, Ore.  The Evening Herald newspaper reported the next day that 286 “bunnies” were slain.

A newlywed's devotion to her groom in the face of danger 107 years ago so impressed the Rogue River Courier that it speculated her tragedy would become part of Josephine County's history.  The woman, Victorine Ellis, had stayed in the depths of the Oregon Caves with her gunshot-wounded husband while her companions fled in panic.

When he decided to travel to Oregon from Ohio in 1845, Alonzo A. Skinner was already a member of the bar, and a prosecuting attorney. He became the first judge in the Pacific Northwest.

Firemen thought they had about extinguished a basement fire in the White Pelican Hotel in Klamath Falls, Ore., before flames got into the air vents and spread through the hotel and to the rooftop.

Ranchers in the Wood River Valley of Klamath County, Ore., learned in the early 1900’s that it didn’t pay to keep cattle there through snow-bound winters, although Fort Klamath’s nearby grasslands were prized for summer fattening.

During the Modoc War of 1872-73 that pitted Captain Jack’s small Modoc band against some 1,000 Army troops and artillery at the lava beds stronghold near Northern California’s Tule Lake, a Modoc woman fled with two babies.  Unable to make her escape carrying both children, she abandoned one on the battlefield.