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.

A small parcel of land facing California Street in Jacksonville, Ore., has played a major role in the town’s history.

Actress Edna Skinner and her friend Jean Fish retired in the 1970’s in Coos Bay, Ore, where Skinner built a 6,000-square-foot, boat-shaped house designed by Fish.  The Coos Bay newspaper, The World, has described the house as “one of the South Coast’s architectural marvels.”

For 11 years, skiers participated in the Crater Lake Wilderness Race.  Twenty-four competed in the first, 42.6-mile course in 1927 that followed the Crater Lake highway from Fort Klamath to Crater Lake Lodge and back with a 2,200-foot elevation change.

Professor Launches Rogue Valley Symphony in 1967

Jan 26, 2017

On Nov. 16, 1967, the Medford Mid High School auditorium rang with the music of Schubert, Bach, Bizet and Tchaikovsky, performed by the brand-new Rogue Valley Symphony.

Lake of the Woods Attracts Vacationers since 1920’s

Jan 25, 2017

Lake of the Woods in Klamath County, Ore., has been a popular vacation spot since the U.S. Forest Service opened a campground there in 1920.

Diaries, journals, and letters provide a glimpse into the realities of life among the early miners and settlers.  Hiram G. Ferris came West at age 24 in 1846 and settled in Yreka, Calif.  His letter home on Dec. 29, 1850, read like this:

Meadow Mice Invade Klamath Basin in 1957-58

Jan 23, 2017

It was called everything from irruption and infestation to invasion and overpopulation.  Whatever the word, the Klamath and Tule Lake basins had as many as 3,000 to 4,000 meadow mice per acre in 1957-1958.  The cause of the rodent outbreak remains unknown.

Siskiyou County and many other areas in northern California and Southern Oregon suffered severely in the winter of 1861-62.  Every river swelled over its banks, taking out bridges and wiping out homesteads. And still the rains continued.

No one knew the exact age of Sargent Sambo, but the aged Indian was coherent when interviewed in 1961 by Northern California newspapers.  He said “Sambo” was his father’s name and “Sargent” came from a soldier, but his Indian name was Ah Kee Ah Humpy.

An unusual increase in voter registration before the 1907 elections in Grants Pass, Ore., alerted the city recorder to possible fraud.

Some soldiers at Fort Klamath in the winter of 1867 relieved their boredom by producing a humble, hand-written newspaper they called The Growler.  One of its stories made national news.

Jefferson Public Radio broadcast an As It Was story last month about ballet dancer Janet Reed Erskine, who was born in Tolo, Ore.  The story’s sources identified her as Odette the swan queen in the first full-length American production of Swan Lake.

When the musical titled “Dr. Doolittle” came out in 1967, few people realized how exceptional it was to include 1,200 trained animals in a single movie.  All the animals were supplied by Roy G. Kabat, whose Animal Actors Co. worked with exotic and domestic animals for movies and television and had a small traveling circus.

The Quinn Martin film company approached Siskiyou County rancher Gary Gragnani in 1977 about filming scenes for the TV movie titled “Standing Tall” on Gragnani’s Shasta Spring Ranch in Edgewood, Calif.

In the 1890’s, Charlie Gilmore and a partner had mined out a pocket of gold on Green Creek.  Gilbert used his earnings to build a hotel, store, and livery stable at what became known as Tigertown, Ore.

Mining along Greenhorn Creek south of Yreka, Calif., was very rich from the 1850’s into the early 1900’s.  It has been estimated that a five-mile stretch produced $11 million worth of gold during that time.

The University of Oregon Extension Division held a contest in 1925 for school children to write history essays about their communities for the monthly journal, The Extension Monitor.

Getting to Modoc County from Scotland in the early 1900’s was more by chance than desire.

A Snow Carnival at the south boundary of Crater Lake attracted thousands in the 1920’s and 30’s.  The Crater Lake Ski Club, Pelican Club and other Klamath community organizations helped sponsor the event.  Activities included snowballing, snow races, toboggan and sleigh rides, barefoot races, sled dog races, ski jumping and a homing pigeon race.

Believed to be the first Anglo-American settler in the future Josephine County, Ore., a man named Bates opened the region’s first rustic tavern in 1851 for the occasional traveler at Graves Creek.