Offbeat Oregon History

Chemawa Indian SchoolBy Finn J.D. John

On the northernmost outskirts of Salem, tucked quietly away on a 275-acre campus between the Interstate 5 freeway and Highway 99, is the oldest continuously operating Native American boarding school in the country.
This is Chemawa Indian School: a place built specifically to suppress Indian culture, which instead became instrumental in preserving it.

Oro fino hallBy Finn J.D. John

Joseph E. Swards was 16 years old when he left his native Philadelphia as a brand-new apprentice seaman on the barque Geo. F. Manson, bound for Astoria and Portland.

Citizens Protective Union outside saloonBy Finn J.D. John
In the last few months of 1882, a group of prominent Prineville-area stockmen were leading a double life: Ranchers by day, and masked outlaw riders by night. They called themselves The Vigilantes.

The Vigilantes, as you’ll likely recall from last week’s article, had formed out of a posse that was assembled to arrest a murderer. They brought him in, but the next morning, the posse members broke into the deputy sheriff’s room, gunned down the murderer, and lynched his hired hand.

By Finn J.D. John

Pulp western magazine cover

It was the Ides of March — March 15, 1882. A.H. Crooks and Stephen Jory were blazing the boundary lines of some land — cutting big marks in trees to mark what they claimed was the property line — near the ranch of a man named Lucius Langdon.
The two of them broke for lunch, and when they returned, Langdon was waiting for them — with a shotgun.

 

By Finn J.D. John

Entrance to Oregon State HospitalSeventy years ago this week, on a quiet November evening, 467 psychiatric patients at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem were about to tuck into a scrambled-egg supper.
Before the end of the evening, forty-seven of them would be dead, and the rest would be in mortal agony — their teeth aching, their faces numb, their legs no longer supporting their weight as they writhed on the floor, clinging to life.

Thomas Lawson checking investmentsBy Finn J.D. John

Things looked grim for the Prineville Nine that summer day in 1910. The little high-desert town’s baseball team was getting its clock cleaned by the Silver Lake ball club. The score was nine-zip, and the game was only half played. It was shaping up to be a bloodbath.

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.

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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.