Offbeat Oregon History

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.

Lava on the moon in McKenzie River ReflectionsWhen the moon is full and hanging low in the sky over Central Oregon, take a good close look at it. In one of its craters, surrounded by tire tracks and boot prints and the abandoned “moon buggy,” a tiny chunk of Oregon lies on its surface.
Here’s how it got there:

A 'modern' Oregon dairy farm

By Finn J.D. John

In the late summer of 1909, a dairy farmer near Portland started getting worried. His barn cats kept dying, and after a few days he’d figured out what was killing them: The milk from his cows.

This whole time, of course, he’d been shipping gallons of the same milk off to Portland to be fed to babies and young children.

So he went to the state dairy and food commissioner and asked what he should do.

The commissioner’s advice, in essence, was, “It’s just tuberculosis; don’t worry about it.”

Dancers at Cottonwoods Ballroom

By Finn J.D. John

Halfway between Albany and Lebanon on Highway 20, not far from the bottomlands of the South Santiam River, there’s a little store called the Cottonwoods Market.

If you should find yourself driving by with a few minutes to spare, you may be tempted to stop for a snack. If you do, pause for a moment on the porch of that market and look across the street at the dusty, overgrown vacant lot on the other side.

That’s the former site of the Cottonwoods Ballroom.

 

Photo of ferr-cement lifeboatIn February of last year, Mike Malone of Zigzag put his boat into the Columbia River at St. Helens and headed upstream.

On his way past Sauvie Island, Mike decided to put ashore and investigate a curious derelict tri-hull boat that he’d noticed there many times before, while he was trolling for spring Chinook salmon along that part of the river. It was lodged high on the bank by Collins Beach, apparently washed there by the flood of 1996.

 

Oregon State Prison postcard

By Finn J.D. John

  Escapes from Oregon’s state prisons are very rare events today, and have been for years. But there was a time, not that long ago, when an average of one prisoner every month made a break for freedom, and one or two of them actually succeeded in staying gone for a good long time.

From safecracker to war hero

The criminal population in Oregon’s prisons has changed in several ways in the past 100 years, and one of the most noticeable ways is the type of criminal housed there. In 1912, there were a lot more of a particular sort of criminal professional who specialized in breaking into vaults — safecrackers, or in the terminology of the time, “yeggs.” Possibly because they made a living solving puzzles of this sort, yeggs seemed to make up a disproportionately high percentage of escapees.

Photo of Oregon State Prison

It was a few minutes after midnight on May 17, 1974, and the Oregon State Penitentiary employee sitting in his car outside the Salem Motel 6 was starting to get nervous.
He was there to supervise a conjugal visit between a convicted cop killer named Carl Cletus Bowles and his fiance, Joan Coberly, and the convict was supposed to have returned to the parking lot by midnight.
He walked up to room 30, knocked on the door. No response. He used the lobby telephone to call the room. No answer.

The World's largest log cabin; Lost in a 1964 fire

Oregon lost the world’s biggest log cabin in spectacular 1964 fire

When the sun came up on the morning of August 17, 1964, Oregon was home of the world’s largest log cabin.

Pages

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.