Offbeat Oregon History

John Mitchell of OregonBy Finn J.D. John

When you’re watching a melodrama, you know right away who the villain is. That’s him over there, twirling a sinister handlebar moustache beneath a sleek silk hat and telling the pretty widow and her nine orphan children to kiss their beloved homestead goodbye.
But that’s melodrama, right?

 

Lewis & Clark Expo pamphletBy Finn J.D. John

A little over 100 years ago, when Portland was getting ready to host the world in a massive coming-of-age party, everyone in the fledgling city knew exactly where to stage it.

By Finn J.D. John

SkeletonIn a few weeks, the streets of Oregon will be thick with trick-or-treaters again. And although the hot costumes this year include zombies, pirates and Batman, there will probably be one or two kids out there dressed as skeletons.

When deadly weather comes, it usually catches Oregon by surprise

Boats at AstoriaBy Finn J.D. John
With the 50-year anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm this month, big bad weather is on many people’s minds.

Hydro miningBy Finn J.D. John
A few dozen miles southwest of Baker City, if you know right where to look, you just might stumble across a few weatherbeaten gravestones — all that’s left of an old cemetery.

By Finn J. D. John

Tusko & AlUnder the light of a single bulb, in a big storage room at the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, are the bones of a famous onetime Oregonian named Ned.
Ned had other names.

Popular Science cover imageBy Finn J.D. John

On the morning of April 23, 1936, the city of Portland was proudly preparing to launch its new harbor patrol boat, the Jack Luihn.
It was going to be a big deal. Mayor LaGuardia of New York City was in town, and had been invited to come to the event. And the boat itself was truly revolutionary.

Lotus Island BulldogBy Finn J.D. John

For a small group of Portland-area businessmen in 1929, opportunity was knocking - or so they thought.
Jantzen Beach, the legendary swim-and-play amusement park on Hayden Island in the Columbia River, had opened in 1928 to vast sell-out crowds, and was doing very well there.

Reub and Eleanor LongFort Rock’s legendary Reub Long could spin a wild yarn
There was a time, and it was not too long ago, that the state of Oregon had something of a reputation as a place for great liars.
Now, by “great liars,” I mean tellers of the GOOD kind of lies, not the kind of lies various politicians are throwing around right now.

Photo of shipwreck of Peter IredaleA few weeks ago, a big section of a Japanese harbor dock that had drifted across the Pacific Ocean was removed at considerable expense from the beach near Newport.
The state government had gotten itself into something of a lather over the dock - as it also did several years ago with the wreckage of the freighter New Carissa.

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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.