Kirsten Shockey

As It Was Contributor

Kirsten Shockey lives on a 40-acre hillside homestead in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, where before on-line streaming, JPR Classics and News was the only radio station she and her family could capture. It played from atop the refrigerator all day, and she heard Carol Barrett and Hank Henry’s As It Was each morning. Shockey has been a long-time JPR contributor and enjoys supporting the Southern Oregon Historical Society and JPR by digging up regional stories. Her days are a chaotic combination of parenting,  day job, and dealing with whatever the climate and a homestead in the forest flings her way. Every day is different. Kirsten can be found with her husband Christopher  watering, mucking stalls, preserving harvests, making cheese, cleaning, dancing on the porch, planting trees, chopping firewood, hiking, reading, or writing.  At the end of the day they go to bed exhausted and knowing life is good.


The fastest flying bird on earth, the Peregrine Falcon, includes the Siskiyou Crest Region and its craggy cliffs as home, as well as living and breeding on every continent of the world except Antarctica. Nesting pairs have been seen in the Whiskey Peak and Collings-Kinney Roadless areas of the Crest Region.

In the middle of the Applegate Valley at the intersection of highways 238 and Williams is a red clapboard building trimmed in white. It is the home of The Provolt Store – thought to be the oldest continuously operated establishment in Southern Oregon.


Observers visiting the rivers and seasonal tributaries of Southern Oregon and Northern California can see the legacy of the 1964 winter flood.  The warm southern branch of the polar jet stream called the  “pineapple express” brought December rain for 23 days, melting deep snow and causing widespread flooding that uprooted trees and floated homes downstream.


Pushing south, the Hudson’s Bay Co. established a trading post in 1832 near the confluence of Calapooya Creek and the Umpqua River, and two years later moved it downriver to the confluence of Elk Creek, where Elkton, Ore., is located today.


When a redwood tree 11 feet in diameter fell in 1917 on the Eel River of Humboldt County, the Pacific Lumber Company donated it to vaudeville performer Charles “Birdman” Kellogg.  He built a motor home out of the hollowed tree and traveled the East Coast awaking public sentiment against the depletion of Northern California’s giant redwoods.


Born with a unique larynx, Charles “Birdman” Kellogg could sing like a bird, his voice ranging over 12 octaves.  His extraordinary singing and ability to mimic birds and insects made him an international vaudeville star. 


A drive along Carberry Creek in Oregon’s Applegate Valley leads past what was the mining town of Steamboat.  All that remains is a tumble-down fence amid some pines that marks the town’s cemetery.

In 1860 the rugged, remote corner of the Siskiyous was the site of what may have been Oregon’s first arrastra, a primitive ore-crushing mill.

 Alice Teddy began life in the Applegate Valley in 1907 as any other young cinnamon colored bear cub.  Everything changed when at four months old she lost her mother to a hunter’s gun.

 It was mid-afternoon, July 28, 1945, when Rob Armstrong took off in his Stinson airplane from Red Butte, Calif. His three passengers were Sylvan Gosliner, a San Francisco businessman, his wife, Ruby, and her sister, Alma Pratt.

Southern Oregon and Northern California Indians wove tawny colored baskets out of bear grass, a member of the lily family still used by weavers today.  It resembles grass, but has a thick underground stem with shoots and roots that were eaten by various tribes and black bears that wallow in the dense clumps.

 Southern Oregon and Northern California’s botanical diversity includes the Canyon Live Oak, one of the earliest known oak species to evolve in North America.  Fossil records suggest the resilient and adaptable tree migrated to the region from Mexico. 

 In January 1900, Friedrich Weyerhauser founded the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in Longview, Wash., with 900,000 acres of Washington timberland. From there the company purchased large tracks of railroad lands for sale by the government and became the world’s largest private timberland owner.

  Today’s debate over how much timber to harvest on land formerly held by the Oregon and California Railroad dates back to 1937 when the federal government reclaimed 2.6 million acres of forest land it had given railroads 71 years earlier.