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.

Whitewater guide Glen Wooldridge had no equal on the Rogue River, where his witty stories charmed his guests for more than 60 years.  His favorite passengers were women.

George Vaughan grew up in North Bend, Ore., in the roaring 1920s.  From the stories he would tell his kids, he was a man who knew how to have a good time, but sometimes took it a little too far.

In 1906, stage driver Frank Reid was moving in a downpour toward Lakeview, Ore.  Just as he headed downhill into a narrow canyon between steep hills on each side, the Moss Reservoir broke, releasing a torrent of water.

In 1874, Raleigh Scott and his wife, Nettie, came to live on the Southern Oregon Coast, carrying all their possessions on two ponies.  They purchased land in a small valley on the south-facing slope of Rocky Prairie Peak.

In 1908, the Medford Daily Tribune came up with a popularity contest to boost its dwindling circulation, and that of the bi-weekly Southern Oregonian.

The year 1912 was an auspicious one for the residents of Woodville, Ore.  The town’s original name had been Tailholt, but that changed to Woodville, in honor of pioneer postmaster John Wood, when the railroad came in the early 1880s.

One of Siskiyou County’s early scoundrels, Sailor Jim, whose real name was Danforth Hartson, reportedly shot Indians and was believed to have been involved in a murder for which he was never tried. Townspeople looked upon him with suspicion and disdain.

His diary records that Martin Peterson preached, worked hard and suffered painful losses during his life.  The Southern Oregon Historical Society has recently added the diary to its research library.

When the Douglas Memorial Bridge was built to span the Klamath River in Klamath, Calif., in 1926, it drew immediate controversy because its piers, anchored in the channel, obstructed the river’s natural course.

Josef Slowikowski was born in Poland and grew up in a small village near Warsaw.  At age 17 he worked in the Nazi forced labor camps until the liberation.  In 1950, Slowikowski boarded the Queen Elizabeth in England and sailed to New York City.

The Holly Theater opened as both a stage and movie theater in Medford, Ore., on Aug. 29, 1930.  The first performance was a local production that played to a sold-out audience of 1,200 at $1 a ticket.

The orchard boom of the 1900s stimulated rapid population growth in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley.  Among the new arrivals were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Madden of Chicago.  They bought acreage on Old Stage Road in the Central Point area, built a house and planted Fairview Orchards.

In 1970, emigrant trail enthusiasts founded non-profit Trail West, Inc. to research, locate and mark the pioneer trails to California and Oregon.  Since then, it has placed 700 markers on 2,000 miles of trails across Southern Idaho, Utah and Nevada, and into California and Oregon.

The Jackson County Courthouse, newly renovated in 2016 with modern heating and air conditioning, has transitioned into the Jacksonville, Ore., City Hall.

Jacksonville, the original county seat of Jackson County, didn’t have a proper courthouse until 1884.  For years, court had been convened in a crudely built, two-story building shared with the Masonic Temple. The Democratic Times derided the dilapidated structure as “a disgrace to the county,” and the Sentinel asked, “Is it not time that the county had a courthouse that would not be mistaken for a barn?”

Bill Sweet grew up raising cows on his family’s Elk River ranch, near Langlois, Ore., so he jumped at the chance when offered a job in 1937 as tester for the Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

The need for more water in the Central Valley of California has generated countless headlines over the years, and officials there have frequently looked as far as Southeastern Oregon for possible sources of water supplies.

John Creed Conn died in Southeastern Oregon in 1904 during a fight over grazing lands between cattlemen and sheep herders.  The question is whether it was suicide or murder?  Conn owned a store in Silver Lake that sold ammunition to cattlemen who had been raiding large herds of sheep in Christmas Valley.

Jackson County, Ore., had more than 100 school districts in the 1920s, most consisting of a single one-room school for grade one through eight.  One of them was in Climax, an isolated community with just a few families living behind Roxy Ann Peak.

In 1853, Rachel Taylor left Illinois with her family, traveling to the Rogue Valley in what became known as the “Preacher Train” because five Southern Oregon preachers came on that same wagon train.