Offbeat Oregon History

Pioneer SquareBy Finn J.D. John
In January of 1969, the owners of Meier and Frank Department Stores in Portland had a problem.

NASA astronautBy Finn J.D. John
Sometime in the late 1990s, Scott Leavengood of Oregon State University’s Forestry Extension Service got a strange phone call from Michael Simons of Phoenix, Arizona.
“I heard there was a moon tree planted at the College of Forestry,” Simons said.
“Is it still there? Can I get cuttings from it?”
Leavengood had no idea what he was talking about. Moon tree? What was that?

Japanese shipBy Finn J.D. John

On November 3, 1832, the 50-foot Japanese cargo vessel Hojun Maru left Ise Bay bound for Edo — the city now known as Tokyo. Its hold was full of rice and porcelain dishes from the south end of the Japanese archipelago, to be traded for salt fish from the north.
One of the youngest members of the Hojun Maru’s 14-man crew was a 14-year-old boy named Otokichi, a cook’s apprentice Otokichi and his shipmates couldn’t know it, but when they stepped aboard at Ise Bay, they were leaving their homeland forever.

SchoonerBy Finn J.D. John
It was early afternoon on a sunny October day in 1883, and a group of Astorians were standing on the shore watching a small, trim schooner sailing toward them.
They’d been watching it all day, and by now they were a little worried.

 

Burnside drugstoreBy Finn J.D. John

On December 7, 1934, Ben Votruba left his room at the Bridge Hotel, a run-down flophouse on the corner of Union and Burnside, and made his way across the Burnside Bridge to the Pioneer Drugstore on the other side of the river.
Ben was, essentially, a washed-up alcoholic.

Cayuse horsemenBy Finn J.D. John
Joe Crabb was a gambling man - that much, at least, we know. And in 1871, he’d put his money down on an absolute ironclad sure thing.
It was a horse race, and Crabb was a horseman. He was matching his own best animal, a magnificent thoroughbred, against a smallish spotted pony belonging to Howlish Wampoo, the chief of the Cayuse Indian tribe.

BPA towersBy Finn J.D. John

On a sunny late afternoon, in a remote woodsy area near the base of Mount Hood, five fiery explosions rattled windowpanes in a few farmhouses along Highway 26 near the community of Brightwood.
It was immediately clear what the coordinated blasts had been: an attempt to take down the power grid.

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.

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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.