As It Was

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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 town of Upton is among the many that no longer exist in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Just a year after establishment of the mining camp of Sailors' Diggings in a remote forested area of Southwestern Oregon near the California border, the usual mayhem of such places exploded with a mass shooting.

On June 16, 1883, the Del Norte Record newspaper published a column titled “News of the Week.” It offers a glimpse into early-day life on the Southern Oregon Coast.

When the twin-propeller steamer Mazama made the first trip up the crooked Wood River 110 years ago, the feat was hailed as an easy route to Crater Lake.

In 1877, three businessmen put up $1,500 each to start a new business in Redding, Calif.  The investors were Dr. Louis Wellendorf, James McCormick and Ruldoph Saeltzer.  A year later, Dr. Wellendorf sold his interest to Williamson Lyncoya Smith.

As Western gold miners moved inland, expanding their reach from coastal ports, it became necessary to build supply trails.

In 1945, Gloria attended her friend’s wedding in the Bronx, New York, and met her best man, Glenn Ray.

Trained as a lawyer and teacher, Iowa-born Fred DeKor preferred stunt flying, especially looping the loop, flying upside down, spiral diving and other thrills.  Born in Iowa in 1878, DeKor had passed the Wisconsin Law School bar exam in 1910, but became better known as a daring “birdman” whose aerial acrobatics thrilled crowds across the country.

Esther “Etta” Soulé was born in a log house in the Little Shasta Valley in Siskiyou County, Calif.  She and several other Soulé children grew up in the area and were educated at a rough-board, box-shaped schoolhouse built in 1860.

In 1963, lightning struck the house of Charles and Ruth Capello in the small logging town of Butte Falls, Ore., burning it to the ground.  The community’s old fire truck had a dead battery and the Forest Service was not prepared to fight a house fire.

Born in 1894, Alfred F. Ross, Jr. was the third generation of his family to call Shasta County, Calif., home.  He was the son of Albert and Lizzie Greer Ross.

For a girl on the Oregon Coast in 1895, Francis Hofsess, her most prized possession was a plaster of Paris effigy of a lovely woman’s head and bust.

The Klamath County Museum’s latest e-mail newsletter contains a 130-year-old clipping from the Daily Astorian newspaper about a man who treed a buck deer.  The story goes like this:

Adella V. Weaver spent her childhood in Yreka, Calif., where her father mined.  In a memoir, she shared some interesting episodes, noting that she and other children had the freedom to roam at will.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “Let Hercules himself do what he may. The cat will mew and the dog will have his day.” One of those days was in April, 1981, when the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland needed a dog for the play “Two Gentleman of Verona.”

In 1879, famed science-fiction writer Jules Verne wrote a book about a utopian city called Ville-France, run by a French doctor, and a German city run by an evil scientist.  The book was called “The Begum’s Fortune,” after an East Indian widow who bequeathed her riches to the two men.

Since 1993, the Klamath County Museum in Klamath Falls, Ore., has displayed a 7,700-year-old relic of the Mount Mazama volcanic explosion that created the Crater Lake caldera.  The ancient object is known as the Mazama Tree.

The winter of 1889-90 was hard on man and beast in Trinity County, Calif.  The snow was 17 feet deep at Denny.  Deer perished by the hundreds and a local butcher, Jim Mullane, lost his entire beef herd.

Not far from Ashland, Ore., there are two deep, dead-end holes in a Siskiyou mountain.

In 1883, Ottilie Parker and her sister received an invitation to attend a spring wedding at Gold Beach, Ore., 70 miles from their home on the Coquille River.