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.

 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.

Residents in the Rogue Valley had a rare opportunity to view the Zeppelin airship Eureka in August of 2010 when it was on a five-city tour of the Pacific Northwest. Its first touchdown in Oregon was at the Rogue Valley International Airport.

  Northern California’s Shasta Tribe has shared many early tales of the region.  One relates how a little girl accidentally scattered stars across the sky.

 Ten years ago the Umatilla Indian Tribe of Eastern Oregon declared July 29 “Dr. Theodore Stern Day” in honor of the leading scholar on the linguistics and anthropology of the Klamath and Nez Perce people.  

 Since 1959, the Grants Pass Active Club has held its annual, five-day Boatnik festival along the Rogue River on Memorial Day weekend. 

 Highway planners had settled before 1914 on regional routes for the Pacific Highway, later known as U.S. Highway 99, from Portland to Eugene, Ore., and north from the California border through Jackson County. But Douglas County officials had refused to allocate the $15,000 it would take to survey the best route through their county.

 It was a long, lonely drive from Medford, Ore., to the Grand Central Air Terminal in Los Angeles in the early 1930s, but Dorothy Carless didn’t mind. She was going to take flying lessons there!  She told an interviewer, “I think I was born wanting to fly. … I had my first flight as a passenger at the old Medford airfield. I just kept on thinking and thinking about flying.”

 The year 1884 was a big one for the new town of Medford, Ore.  Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard moved there after a New Year’s Day fire destroyed their home in Jacksonville.  Howard opened Medford’s first store, and became its first postmaster. Medford’s first recorded party was held in the Howard store, with a fiddler from Big Sticky and a midnight snack of canned sardines and crackers.

 This summer marks the tenth anniversary of the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Calif. The celebration will culminate on July 4th, the actual anniversary of the stunning architectural superstructure.

 Close to the woods of Douglas County, Ore., Sutherlin proclaimed itself the “Timber Town” and initiated Timber Days celebrations in 1948 during the Fourth of July holidays.  

Built 100 years ago, the Dollarhide Bridge on the Old Siskiyou Highway was one of the first two bridges constructed in 1914 by the new Oregon Department of Transportation. The bridge is named after the Dollarhide family that moved to the Rogue Valley in 1869.  

 Motorists headed from the Rogue Valley to Northern California and beyond owe a debt of gratitude to Sam Hill, who joined around 1910 with Canadian A.E. Todd to form the Pacific Highway Association.  The association advocated for a 1,600-mile, hard-surfaced highway from British Columbia to the Mexican border.

  An oil derrick builder, Jaston Hartman, left Ohio and moved to Jacksonville in 1900, where he used his skills to build Oregon barns.  He soon became Jackson County’s bridge superintendent.

 On the wall of the 1912 Sunset Schoolhouse in Fort Rock, Ore., is an Oregon map from the 1920s.  It shows the major towns of Ashland and Medford along the Oregon and California Railroad line through the Rogue Valley, and smaller communities that no longer exist.  

 The first landing strip at Montague, Calif., was an open field south of Little Shasta Road. It had a large board with a white-canvass cross that guided pilots to safe landings. 

 One of Southern Oregon’s most respected historians, Kay Atwood, who died recently at her home in Ashland, left a legacy of many published books and stories.  Among them are titles such as Mill Creek Journal: Ashland, Oregon 1850-1860 and Chaining Oregon--Surveying the Public Lands of the Pacific Northwest, 1851-1855.

 Zane Grey made the Rogue River famous for its fishing in the 1920s and 30s, but he couldn’t have done it without the river guide and boat builder Glenn Wooldridge.

 Described as “arguably the most powerful nonelected citizen in Oregon history,” Glenn Jackson left his mark on Southern Oregon.

During World War II, the editor of the Southern Oregon Fruit Growers League magazine called the Pear-O-Scope, Jeunesse Butler, observed a fruit auction and how fruit was handled on the piers in New York City.

 Early orchardist Joseph H. Stewart paid pioneer photographer-horticulturalist Peter Britt $5,400 in 1885 for a house and acreage in southwest Medford, Ore. It was a tidy sum at the time.