Offbeat Oregon History

Harry LaneBy Finn J.D. John

Many historians, when asked to cite the single biggest and most far-reaching government misstep in American history, will immediately start talking about the First World War.  By getting involved with that conflict — subtly at first, by lending money to the Allies, and later directly with American boots on French soil — we made it possible for one side to crush the other and impose its will,

Cornucpoia, OregonBy Finn J.D. John

Imagine yourself as a television network executive at NBC in 1973. The bright, happy Western classic “Bonanza” is about to be canceled. In a last-ditch effort to save it from the ax, you’ve been asked to put a fresh, “western-noir” spin on the show so that it can compete with the darker TV fare that’s now in fashion — like “All in the Family” and “M*A*S*H.”

Col. ThompsonBy Finn J.D. John
The “Oregon Style” of newspaper journalism was already a thing in 1871, when upstart newspaper publisher William “Bud” Thompson got in his famous gunfight in downtown  Roseburg.
But until that day, the vicious personal attacks that characterized the “Oregon Style” had mostly involved the spilling of ink — not blood.
On that late Monday morning on a corner in downtown Roseburg, that changed.

D.B. Cooper drop zoneBy Finn J.D. John

Thanksgiving Day of 1971 was a very unusual one for F.B.I. agent Ralph Himmelsbach. He spent it flying a grid pattern over southwest Washington in his Taylorcraft, staring at the ground.
Himmelsbach was hoping to spot a parachute canopy down there — a parachute that would mark the landing spot of the man who’d hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 the previous evening.
It was the beginning of the hunt for D.B. Cooper — a hunt that still continues to this day.

Aft stairs on a 727By Finn J.D. John

It was sometime after 6 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving, 1971, and the man who had just hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 was not happy.
The man — who was calling himself Dan Cooper, although he’s mostly known today as D.B. Cooper — had been pretty happy a minute or two before, when stewardess Tina Mucklow brought him all the stuff he’d demanded: four parachutes and $200,000.

DB Cooper highjackingBy Finn J.D. John

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, 1971. A slender, bland-looking man in a business suit several years out of style strolls up to the ticket counter at Northwest Orient Airlines in Portland and buys a single one-way ticket on Flight 305, bound for Seattle, paying for it with a $20 bill. The agent asks for his name.
“Dan Cooper,” he says. “That’s a 727, isn’t it?”
Yes, he’s told; that’s right, it is.

Illustrated bank robberyBy Finn J.D. John

When the First National Bank of Joseph, Oregon, picked David Tucker as vice-president in 1928, it didn’t look like a particularly unusual thing to do.
Tucker was a widely respected part of the community in Joseph. A successful stockman, he had, over the previous 20 years, forged a reputation for himself as an honest, trustworthy man — and kind and generous to boot. He was especially effective at taking hotheaded young lads under his wing, helping them out of bad situations and inspiring them to turn their lives around.

Sword ceremonyBy J.D. Finn John

The year was 1961. Nearly 20 years had come and gone since a tiny seaplane, 6,000 miles from home, buzzed over Brookings, Oregon, to bomb the American homeland for the first time in history. The event was still relatively recent, but it was well on its way to being forgotten.

Launch from submarineBy Finn J.D. John

It was a little after 6 a.m. on September 9, 1942. A tiny seaplane with red balls painted on its wings was making its way through the skies over Brookings, Oregon. At the controls was a young man named Nobuo Fujita; behind him, in the observer’s seat, looking intensely at the ground, was another, named Shoji Okuda. The two of them were looking for a good place to initiate the first air strike ever to be made on the continental United States.

By Finn J.D. John

Peyton/Layton crime sceneAs urban legends, go, it’s one of the oldest and scariest: A teenage couple drives to a secluded spot late at night and parks, planning to do some of the usual canoodling. But before they do, a news bulletin interrupts the music on the radio. A psychotic killer has escaped from the asylum, the DJ reports breathlessly. He’s missing his left hand, and wears a steel hook on the stump of his arm as a prosthetic.

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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.