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 mrkrt@ashlandhome.net.

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.

Maude Walker was born in 1881 into a not-so-ordinary childhood at an isolated homestead overlooking Pistol River, on Oregon’s South Coast.

A year before the United States entered World War I, cars were already making an impact on the country.  It was 1916 and the three-day Fourth of July celebration in Ashland drew 60,000 visitors.

For settlers along the upper Coquille River in the 1800s, mail delivery was tenuous.  The closest post office was in Empire City, a present-day district of Coos Bay, Ore.  The round trip took about four days, and generally depended upon the generosity of local farmers who sporadically sailed downstream to sell their produce.

In the 1880s, Sterlingville, Ore., was a busy town of several hundred people working in the mines, farming and running businesses.  The town had a post office, school, shops, several saloons, and the largest hydraulic mine in Oregon.

Travel writer James Mason Hutchings, known as the “Father of Yosemite,” complained about Southern Oregon roads when he visited in 1855.

Serving as either Medford mayor or Jackson County judge between 1948 and the 1970s, Earl M. Miller believed a healthy community must have good schools, good roads, and good water.

On Sept. 7, 1951, the Siskiyou County Historical Society celebrated the 95th birthday of Yreka stone worker James B. “Dad” Russell.

James Mason Hutchings, born in Towcester, England, in 1820, was a son of a carpenter and expected to become one, too.  But at age 23, George Catlin’s paintings of North American Indians excited Hutchings and he left for New York.

Baseball drew people together on Oregon’s South Coast in 1916, as people from all over took advantage of a rare opportunity to gather and become acquainted.  A game between Gold Beach and Brookings drew a big crowd in August.

The orchard boom in Southern Oregon at the turn of the last century extended into the mountain valleys around Wolf Creek, where in 1907 a former Presbyterian minister, W.G. Smith, was selling land tracts.

Dead Indian Memorial Road that leads over the mountains east of Ashland, Ore., got its start as a wagon road in the late 1850s that later connected with roads leading to the Fort Klamath military outpost. Today, it’s a well maintained, paved county route that avoids the long drive to White City for motorists headed from Ashland to the Lake of the Woods or Klamath Falls.

In 1854, James Sterling and a partner dipped a sluicing pan into Sterling Creek near Jacksonville, Ore., and captured some gold nuggets.  The two men agreed to keep their discovery secret until they could stake their claims.

The construction of the Shasta Dam in the 1930s and ‘40s at the north end of the Sacramento Valley was intended to provide long-term water storage in Shasta Lake, flood control, hydroelectricity and protection against the intrusion of saline water.  It is the eighth tallest dam in the United States and has the largest reservoir in California.

Making remarks antagonizing to the government landed Klamath County rancher F.W. Bold in jail in 1919.

The finest boatman of his time on the lower Rogue River, Reuel Hawkins, could thread the water like no one else; some even wondered if the river talked to him.

Southeast Oregon’s Fossil Lake has attracted amateur fossil collectors and paleontologists since the l880s, but a recent discovery astounded University of Oregon scientists.

In 1916, a Klamath Falls woman roped a legendary wild stallion that had avoided capture by men for years.

Southern Oregon’s early Fourth of July celebrations were exuberant, all-day events, often livened by a group calling themselves the “Callithumpians.” 

Northern California historian Jim Denny has called Whiskey Gulch above Old Etna, Calif., “One of the nicest little whiskey stills that ever turned out illegal whiskey. It was only out of business when whiskey could be produced legally.”

During World War II, the National Youth Administration recruited high school graduates to train as forest guards at the Mount Shasta Vocational Forestry School.  The school was established so that qualified students could earn a living while studying for a forestry career and for defense.

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