History

Train robberyBy Finn J.D. John

It was early summer, 1914, and an Oregon & Washington Railway Navigation Co. passenger train was just passing over the summit of the Blue Mountains, between LaGrande and Pendleton.
The crewmen were running the train slow, checking the brakes for the long downhill run ahead. Meanwhile, three men at the back of the train were checking their guns.
A train robbery was about to go down — one of the very last Old West-style train robberies ever. And before it was over with, it would turn into one of the very last Old West-style six-shooter gunfights, too.

 

Political armyBy Finn J.D. John

Many people today think of the 1890s as a prosperous, carefree era — the term “gay ‘90s” (or even “naughty ‘90s) jumps to mind. But what most people don’t realize is that much of that decade was spent mired in a massive economic depression. In many ways, the “Panic of 1893” was worse than the Great Depression.

Thomson footbridgeBy Ruth West

A wealth of memories clings around the name, “Thomson’s Lodge,” and in spite of the fact that the lodge has now passed out of the hands of the Thomson family who founded it in 1860, the name and the famous hospitality of the place will continue.

Railroad campBy Finn J.D. John

The U.S. Post Office inspector was puzzled. He’d just arrived at the tiny logging-company town of Shevlin, deep in the ponderosa pine woods south of Bend — and found it gone.
Shade trees still towered over manicured home sites. A stray whiff drifted in the wind from an open pit where an outhouse once had stood. And on the spot where he’d expected to find the Shevlin Post Office, there was nothing but the bare outline of a building.

Better than hearing it on the grapevine!

by Rick and Kristi Steber

Reynolds murder trialBy Finn J.D. John

On June 20, 1907, a retired military man named Charles Reynolds was hurrying home as fast as he could — with a .38-caliber revolver in his pocket.
Charles was an old U.S. Cavalry man in his 50s who had moved to Portland with his wife, Lulu, and his two grown children from a previous marriage.

Lou SouthworthBy Finn J.D. John

In middle-school history classes, most Oregonians learned that Oregon was a “free” state in the runup to the civil war.
The familiar map of slave states and free states was a source of some pride, since everyone today sees the ludicrous injustice of the slavery system.
But the map was wrong.
The new state of Oregon was, in fact, unique in the country. Black people in Oregon in 1859 were neither slaves nor free; they were simply illegal.

Woman with cane flaskBy Finn J.D. John

Late in 1912, for the sixth and final time, the topic of voting rights for women was on Oregonians’ ballot. And when the votes were counted, it was a win: A fifty-two percent majority had voted for women’s suffrage.
Among those who’d voted against it, there were many motivations — some far sillier than others, but all of them pretty goofy in the light of history.
But there was a certain cadre of anti-suffrage men who, if you got them to speak frankly and off the record, would tell you, straight out, the real reason they didn’t want to give women the right to vote: Prohibition.

playing pinballBy Finn J.D. John

If you were a fan of the classic ABC television sitcom “Happy Days,” you know The Fonz had a special relationship with two particular machines: His trusty ’49 Triumph motorcycle, and the pinball machine in Al’s diner.
But it may surprise you to know that when Fonzie was playing that pinball machine, in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisc., he was breaking the law — and so was Al.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.