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.

Oregon, the Valentine state, is 161 years old today.  It became the 33rd state on Feb. 14, 1859, when President James Buchanan signed the bill passed by Congress.  A month later, the news reached the Pacific Northwest when the steamer Brother Jonathan docked in Portland.

George Geil had time in 1910 to carry on a flourishing courtship while paving Ashland’s streets and plaza.

An early barber in Jacksonville, Ore., George Schumpf, cut hair for 24 years from the time he opened his shop in a wooden building on California Street in 1873 until his death in 1897.

Two cowboys in Modoc County, Calif., hit hard when cattle prices plummeted during The Great Depression, found another way to make a living.

In February 1935, the first Civilian Conservation Corps ‘rolleo’ in the United States came to Gold Beach, Ore.  A rolleo is a log-rolling contest, where two competitors stand on a spinning log floating in a pond and try to dislodge each other.

Dave Evans bought a herd of big steers in 1862 at Port Orford.  He got them at a bargain price, but faced a difficult challenge of herding them along the Oregon Coast.

In 1853, early European settlers built several stockades for protection from American Indians, the original inhabitants of the land.  One was on the Emerson Gore Donation Land Claim near present-day Phoenix Ore.  At any sign of danger, farmers and miners rushed to the fort.

Life was never easy for African Americans in early Oregon, and George Fletcher’s life had its ups and downs.

In February 1921, Mr. and Mrs. John Coy of Bandon, Ore., ran afoul of national Prohibition by possessing intoxicating liquor.

Thousands of cattle perished in the Klamath Basin during what was long remembered as the “hard winter of 1889-90.”  The parched region was still recovering from a damaging summer drought and Klamath Falls had just gone through a major fire that destroyed most of the town’s business district on Sept. 6, 1889.

When the Southern Pacific Railroad train rolled into Klamath Falls in early 1909, it was heralded as the first train to reach the city.  But a small, unnamed logging railroad was the first one in Klamath County.

The development of radio and television in Southern Oregon was largely due to the efforts of William Smullin, who in the 1930s launched successful radio stations in Eureka and Grants Pass.

Scientists have yet to name a rare mushroom discovered in the spring of 2018 in the Southern Oregon Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Crescent City was an isolated community in 1854, with dense forest all around and its rocky ocean entrance often fogged in.

The railroad contributed greatly to the growth of Montague, Calif., where cattle were driven to loading zones for rail shipment to Sacramento and San Francisco.

The life of Oscar “Shorty” Minnick serves as an example of what makes a person important to a community.

Growing up in Grants Pass, Ore., Jerry Allen loved sports, but only weighed 125 pounds in high school.  After school, he worked at a record store and radio station KAGI, gaining first-hand broadcast experience doing the weather report.  Within a few weeks he became the youngest DJ in Southern Oregon.

In 1907, a Young People’s Christian Temperance Union meeting in Grants Pass featured speaker Dennis Stovall, who said he had solved the problem of the first sin in the Garden of Eden.

Before the proposed State of Jefferson ignited the passions of disenchanted residents of Southern Oregon and Northern California in 1941, a similar scheme for carving out a new state gained brief attention in the winter of 1910.

In 1873, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Alfred Meacham was nearly killed and scalped during peace talks seeking to end the war with the Modoc Indians near Alturas, Calif.