Offbeat Oregon History

Animal House posterBy Finn J.D. John

In this third and final part of a 3-part series on iconic Hollywood films shot in Oregon, we’ll talk about six films rather than five. Our survey ends, rather arbitrarily, with the end of the 1980s, at the dawning of the Gus Van Sant era of filmmaking in Oregon (and particularly in the Portland area).

Sometimes a Great NotionBy Finn J.D. John

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on iconic Hollywood movies shot in Oregon. Last week, we looked at the era from the dawn of filmmaking through the 1950s. Today, we’ll talk about movies made between 1960 and 1975.
Of course, this is not an article about popular cinema as a mirror of popular culture. But it’s hard to miss the social changes these pictures showcase.

Rachel and the strangerBy Finn J.D. John

In the past 25 years or so, Oregon has come into its own as a place to make movies.
The iconic projects have come thick and fast, especially in the last 25 years or so. The last 15 years of the century saw The Goonies, Stand By Me, Drugstore Cowboy, Point Break, Free Willy (twice), Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Postman, Ricochet River and Men of Honor filmed here — along with dozens of others.

Oregon BootBy Finn J.D. John

In 1866, Oregon State Penitentiary Warden J.C. Gardner had a problem. The state prison had just moved to its present home, in Salem. Its old home had been in Portland, but the city didn’t really want it there — especially after an incident in the early 1860s when the state tried to save some money by subcontracting the facility out to a private operator. This solved the overcrowding problem in fine style: every single prisoner escaped.

Klamath FallsBy Finn J.D. John
At around 2 p.m. on a sunny Monday afternoon in August 1911, Klamath Falls resident John Hunsaker was driving past the Oak Avenue Canal when he saw something in it — something that looked like a man.

 

Hank Vaughn at 35By Finn J.D. John

By the mid-1880s, the wild, unpredictable and dangerous Oregon almost-outlaw Hank Vaughan had started showing distinct signs of settling down. He had married a part-Umatilla woman named Martha Robie in 1883; Martha, a widow, had inherited a comfortable sum from her late husband, and also was entitled to claim 640 acres of reservation land.
Hank, as Martha’s husband, now turned his considerable managerial talents away from livestock rustling and toward wheat-farm management.

Hank VaughnBy Finn J.D. John

Crime, they say, does not pay.
Yet it’s pretty easy to look back through history and find examples of a certain kind of criminal for whom it did, handsomely, and for decades. With charisma, moxie and a seemingly endless supply of good luck, these characters sometimes even manage to cheat karma and die a natural death.

Opium denBy Finn J.D. John

Most people think of opium today with a certain kind of mild romantic  nostalgia. We know it was bad, and people got hurt, but opium and the  demi-monde that developed around it had a certain dark allure with its  fragrant, smoky fumes and its elegant, exotic smoking rituals.

Black BartBy Finn J.D. John

Charles Bolton was a man with many friends. A charming, gentlemanly member of the social elite in the brand-new frontier town of San Francisco, he always had plenty of money. And if you asked him, he’d tell you he was the owner and manager of some mining concerns in the Sierra Nevadas, up near the Oregon border.

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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.