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 Great Depression brought many settlers to Siskiyou County from the towns, cities, and flatlands of California.  Historian James McNeill has written that people built shelters wherever they could along the streams and rivers, including tar paper-covered bark shanties.

Good roads lead from Grants Pass to the Oregon Caves National Monument, but it wasn’t always that way.  A visitor to the caves in 1919, Howard Rose, described his difficulties getting there for the Ashland Weekly Tidings.

As a child, Myron “Buz” Buswell kept busy making solid-wood model airplanes.  As a teenager in 1938, he obtained his pilot’s license, built his first aircraft and made a solo flight.  During the Second World War, Buswell left Oregon to pilot a B-24J Liberator in the Army Air Corps.

A freight train suddenly separated as it was entering a siding at the Grants Pass Station to make way for a speeding southbound passenger train.  Half the freight cars remained on the main track with a load of dynamite.

John Daggett is best known for establishing the Black Bear Mine along the Salmon River in Siskiyou County.  However, Daggett was more than a miner.

In August 1915, Klamath Falls Mayor J.B. Mason warned motorists to slow down or be arrested and fined.

Imagine a picture of the Jacksonville post office in 1903, with varnished and polished woodwork, oil paintings, engravings, deer antlers on the walls, and spotless linoleum floors.  Envision many hanging flower pots containing “heavy foliaged plants and trailing vines.” Add pots lining the entry way and plants on the clerk’s desk.

Winchester Dam and its ripple-free reservoir offer northbound motorists on Interstate 5 a glimpse of bucolic tranquility as they zip across a bridge and glance down at trees and homes on the reservoir banks.

The strong hands of John Hoerster were tanned and rough with scarred fingers, but those hands were made for fine violins.

Jefferson Public Radio’s As It Was volunteers are deeply saddened to report that their esteemed colleague, Dr. James S. Long, died on Jan. 7, in Roseburg, Ore.  He regularly contributed As It Was stories for years, even writing three of this month’s episodes while battling cancer.

On July 10, 1949, the “Shasta Daylight” set out on its inaugural 713-mile trip from Oakland, Calif., to Portland, Ore.  It was the first diesel-powered train owned by Southern Pacific, the company’s third “Daylight” streamliner, and its only long-distance one. It made the trip in 16 hours, averaging about 45 mph.

When a small warplane rose from a Japanese submarine and dropped incendiary bombs near Brookings, Ore., during World War II, it failed to ignite any forest fires as intended.  However, the bombing, and similar threats on the U.S. west and east coasts, did prompt enhanced U.S. Coast Guard vigilance.

By his own reckoning, John Richard Newton Bell survived 32 Civil War battles as a teen-age private in the Confederate Army before ending up in a Union prisoner-of-war camp.

Churches played an important role in establishing schools in the West.  One of Southern Oregon’s earliest church affiliated schools was the Wilbur Academy, founded in 1854 by Methodist minister James Wilbur.  It prepared students to attend Willamette University in Salem.

Linsy Sisemore remembered plowing his wheat fields in Sams Valley, Ore., during the 1880's.

One hundred years ago The Evening Herald newspaper reported, “All’s quiet in Klamath criminal circles.”  The article’s quaintly worded headline on Nov. 5, 1915, read, “Few Criminals Work in Klamath; City Bastille Almost Empty of Malfactors.”

Soapbox speakers in Grants Pass could usually gather a crowd, but if listeners disliked the speech, the orator could expect more than just an argument.

Moses Williams established the first Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville in 1857.  Prior to becoming known as “Father Williams” to Presbyterians and many others, Williams lived in Pennsylvania and San Francisco and established a Christian school in Valparaiso, Chile.

Hester Ann Harland was the wife of Francis “Frank” Harland, the manager during the late 1800's of the Black Bear Mine located in the Liberty Mining District and the Salmon River country of Siskiyou County, Calif.

Harry and David’s first retail store in Medford, Ore., opened on May 5, 1928, as a “five-and-dime” store that also sold fruit.