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 the Southern Oregon Historical Society at

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.

 Here’s a tall tale from Curry County recounted by Bill Wallace for the Curry Historical Society.  It goes like this:

Camp White spread across 77 square miles in the Agate Desert north of Medford, Ore., during the Second World War. Torn down after the war, most of the buildings were sold and hauled away, except for those that became the White City Department of Veterans Affairs Domiciliary.

  Pity the Oregon spotted frog.  Non-native fishes and big bullfrogs are eating them, cattle stomp on their meadows and invasive grasses and other plants cover their former range.  Now they’re becoming the center of controversy as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moves to list them under the Endangered Species Act.

 Music teachers and Rogue Valley Symphony members joined in 1988 in creating the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, a place to learn and to play orchestral literature.  Its first concert was in Ashland.

  Twenty-two years ago, the Southern Oregon Historical Society began producing a series of historical stories for the Jefferson Public Radio series titled “As It Was, Tales from the Mythical State of Jefferson.”  Today the program airs its 2,500th episode since the series resumed in 2004. 

 Faced with finding jobs for the unemployed in the heart of the depression in 1933 in mineral rich Josephine County, Ore., the state found an answer.  It created a state-sponsored vocational mining school in Grants Pass, where graduates would get a $50 grubstake from the state. Miners, in return, reported their findings to the state’s new Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.  The information helped create detailed mineral maps of Josephine County.

  Forty-three years after the first post office opened in Klamath Falls, Ore., postmen in 1914 still weren’t making free home mail deliveries.  A Klamath Falls Evening Herald story of Aug. 15, 1914, indicated the lack of free home delivery was due more to the condition of the town than any reluctance of the post office.  The newspaper story says:  “While the receipts of the Klamath Falls postoffice [sic] are more than enough to justify the free delivery of mail, there is not much chance of this service being inaugurated here by Uncle Sam until the sidewalks are connected up and made more thorough throughout the city, according to D.E. Wood, postoffice inspector.  “Wood also claims that all of the houses are not numbered, and says that until this is attended to, the getting of free delivery will be greatly hampered.  He will make his report to the Postoffice Department.  “According to Wood, if the downtown section of town fully complies with the requirements of the department, it is possible that free delivery will be started there, and the outskirts will be provided with mail as they grow and put in the necessary sidewalks, lights and numbers.” .

  Source: "Says We Need Sidewalks." Klamath Falls Evening Herald 15 Aug. 1914: 1. Web. 15 Aug. 2014.

A box inside the archives of the Southern Oregon Historical Society contains hundreds of black bordered funeral notices families sent to friends and relatives in Jacksonville, Ore., from 1862 through the early 1900s.

  Hayfork, Calif., is off the beaten path, but with a population of only 2,400 it ranks as the second largest town in Northern California’s Trinity County. Settled in 1851 during the California Gold Rush, it was first known as Kingsbury or Kingsberrys, then South Fork, followed by Hay Town.  It became Hayfork in 1854, its name derived from the hay and food grains produced along the North Fork of the South Fork of the Trinity River.

 Eight Dollar Mountain has towered over humans for as long as they have lived in Southern Oregon. Only recently known by its name, the Eight Dollar Mountain is an important landmark for the residents of the Josephine County town of Kerby. 

  The first line of an article in the Medford, Ore., paper of March 15, 1936 reads, “Appearing as a soloist…with the Medford (Oregon) Junior Symphony is Marcia Van Dyke, 13 year-old Grants Pass Violinist.”

 Oregon’s environmentally minded Gov. Tom McCall championed bipartisan passage of Oregon’s pioneering land-use legislation in 1973. He called it “the brightest jewel in the Oregon diadem of innovations.”  The next year McCall and other prominent Oregonians founded a private, non-profit association called the 1000 Friends of Oregon to watch over the new program. One of its founders was the editor of the Medford Mail Tribune, Eric Allen Jr.  The vice president of the citizen council was Allen Bateman of Klamath Falls.

  Today’s shoppers wheel carts through stores and head for the cash register.  It wasn’t always that way in Southern Oregon.


The man who heads the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensic Laboratory in Ashland, Ore, wears two hats. 

 Dutchman Peak, west of Mount Ashland, was named for a German immigrant who died on the mountain in about 1870.  A ranger in the Applegate District, Lee Port, recorded his oral history in 1945 of the story.

 Southern Oregonians bothered by pesky deer grazing on their rose and tomato blossoms, not to mention other young plants, might consider getting a guard cow.  Or maybe three or four cows.

 Douglas County, Ore, once had 171 school districts stretching across more than 5,000 square miles, compared to 13 school districts serving 47 schools today.

Families Camp at Remote Cinnabar Mineral Springs

Sep 3, 2014

  In 1900, Cinnabar Springs was a successful California resort accessible only by horseback over a narrow trail, either from the Applegate area on the Oregon side or from the Klamath River on the California side.

In the early 1960s two men decided that Oregon was in need of an outdoor music festival. 

Audio Pending...
 Traveling sewing machine salesman, H. W. Fountain, must have rued the day he met a girl in Gold Beach, Ore., in 1896. Another admirer, Grant Baxter, threatened to shoot Fountain if he visited her again.