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 Medford Commercial Club teamed up in 1908 with Sunset Magazine to produce an attractive, 64-page booklet about Medford, Ore., and the surrounding Rogue River Valley. The book reports on the climate, the orchards, land prices, building booms, the scenic wonders, lumbering, and mining for everything from coal and gold to copper and mercury. It was a heaven on earth.  Anyone in Medford would tell you so.

Outstanding music teachers have been coming to Ashland, Ore., for 28 years for the American Band College summer directors training.  Each year they form a band that offers a public concert at the Ashland High School stadium that accompanies the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show.

Capt. Bradford Ripley Alden was the third commander to take charge of remote Fort Jones in Northern California’s Scott Valley.  He marched Company E, 4th Infantry from Fort Vancouver to Yreka in 37 days, better time than he had anticipated.  He later wrote, “Yreka turned out its enterprising population…to see the Captain from Vancouver and his company march through town.”

From the time Robert Ruhl and his wife Mabel arrived in 1911, they were distinguished members of Medford society.  Robert was a journalist who became editor of the Medford Tribune in 1919 and continued through 1958.  Although Mabel said she did not influence Robert, others disagreed.  Mabel claimed Robert was more liberal, she was more conservative.

California’s 14,162-foot Mount Shasta has always inspired stories of the supernatural, ranging from talking bears, fairies and flying saucers to a hidden city occupied by beings from the lost continent of Lemuria.

A Medford businessman, Wally Watkins, had planned to go fishing with his son on April 23, 1960, the first day of fishing season, but the Pear Blossom Parade interfered.

It all started when a partner in the Golden Rule Stores in Colorado and Wyoming started his own store in Kemmerer, Wyo., in 1902.  His name was James Cash Penney.

One of the last strongholds of pronghorn antelope is the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon’s high desert some 30 miles east of Lakeview.  This is “a home where the deer and the antelope play.”

The Salmon River in Siskiyou County, Calif., earned a reputation during the California Gold Rush as “the richest little river in America.” Mining continued in the Salmon and other Northern California rivers after much of the Sierra Mother Lode had played out.

It was nearly sundown when Frank Mathers left his neighbor’s house to walk the half-mile home in the early 1850’s just east of Phoenix, Ore. He assured the neighbor he did not need a gun as mountain lions only came out at night. Frank’s son Marion tells the story, as follows:

Marion Raymond “Ray” Laird was born in 1894 at Laird’s Landing in Siskiyou County.  His grandfather and family emigrated west in 1862 in covered wagons.  Laird’s father, Charles, was only four and rode the entire way bareback. Family lore has it that a band of Indians wanted to trade for the boy, thinking he would make a fine warrior.

George W. Riddle came to Oregon by covered wagon in April of 1851, settling with his family south of Roseburg.  He was 11 years old.

Southern Oregon didn't have as much gold as California, but it did have timber, a more reliable resource for striking it rich.

It’s usually called the Applegate Trail, but no one was more involved in its creation and improvement than Capt. Levi Scott.

A shop built in Medford, Ore., in 1927 still stands on North Riverside Avenue and Fourth Street.

Historically, Fort Crook refers to two early forts, both named in honor of Civil War Gen. George Crook.

The town of Drewsey, Ore., wasn’t always Drewsey.  When Abner Robbins opened a store there in the summer of 1883, he called the place Gouge Eye. That raised some eyebrows, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Mrs. P. J. Ryan died in 1913 in an asylum in Salem, Ore., where she had been placed one year after she was widowed because her dementia “had developed a violent form.”

The government promised in the Treaty of 1864 that established the Klamath Indian Reservation to supply a lumber mill and maintain its operation for 20 years.

Located along the deep canyon of the Upper Sacramento River, Dunsmuir, Calif., was an important railroad depot, first for the Central Pacific, and later the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Dunsmuir winters can be heavy and hard, with snows that compromise the railroads.