History

Gilbert GableBy Finn J.D. John
Most Oregonians know about the State of Jefferson — in general concept, at least: a small group of Southern Oregon people got together in 1941 to proclaim a new state, made up of southwest Oregon and northwest California, called Jefferson; just as they got started, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and the idea just never got off the ground.
All of which is true enough. But it barely touches the real story of Jefferson — and it’s not even the most interesting part. The fact is, the 1941 move for statehood was mostly a publicity stunt.
It was crafted over drinks by two guys who seem right out of central casting for a Hollywood movie — a high-rolling, back-slapping business promoter and a hard-drinking, wildly imaginative newspaper man.

Ranald MacDonaldBy Finn J.D. John
Ranald MacDonald was overcome with emotion as he watched the whaling ship disappear over the sea, leaving him behind in his small open boat. No doubt he had at least a moment of doubt. His plan was audacious almost to the point of recklessness: He intended to deliberately land on the closed and forbidden island of Japan, present himself as a shipwreck victim, and hope for the best.

Ranald’s situation was made the more intriguing because of who he was.

Ranald McDonaldBy Finn J.D. John
The two Scottish gentlemen must have cut very strange figures on the gritty streets of the New York City waterfront in 1843, poking their carefully groomed heads into every darksome Bowery flophouse and shanghai joint in the Big Apple’s notorious maritime underworld.
But Duncan Finlayson and Archibald McDonald were desperate. They were looking for McDonald’s son, Ranald. The future of the Oregon territory depended on it. Unless they could find the young man, Oregon would almost certainly be lost to the British crown.

Bannock IndiansBy Finn J.D. John
Nearly every Oregonian knows a story or two about Bigfoot - the legendary and elusive ape-creature that supposedly lives deep in the wilderness and serves as an inspiration to crypto-zoologists and bad reality TV producers nationwide. More than a few Oregonians have claimed to have seen the elusive fellow - or, at least, to know somebody who has.

Miller on a unicycleBy Finn J.D. John

Many people today still think of bicycles as toys for children or for highly specialized hobbyists and exercise buffs — like fencing foils. Others think of them as indispensable but unexciting tools for modern life. But for most of us, it’s hard to imagine the bicycle as a cutting-edge modern wonder.
But in the early 1870s, that’s just what bicycles were: fast, exciting, dangerous things that could make an ordinary human fly like the wind.

AeroplaneBy Finn J.D. John
On June 8, 1912, the streets and parapets of downtown Portland were thronged with about 50,000 people, craning their necks at the roof of the Multnomah Hotel. Atop the roof of the 10-story building, arranged at the end of a tiny 150-foot-long strip of overlapping 20-foot planks, stood one of the spindly box-kite-like contraptions that were still the state of the art in aircraft design.
They were there to watch something that had never been done before, anywhere, and it was about to happen right before their eyes

S.S. Great RepublicBy Finn J.D. John
If you had been an expatriated American in the South American nation of Costa Rica in the early 1880s, you might have run across a fellow American named Thomas Doig. Perhaps you might have met him at a saloon, or maybe at a dinner party someplace.
You’d soon learn your new friend was a bit of a V.I.P. In fact, he was the top admiral of the Costa Rican navy ... but he’d probably hasten to add that that was not as big a deal as it sounded. In fact, the Costa Rican navy had just one ship, a converted commercial vessel formerly known as the Pelican.

General PatchBy Finn J.D. John
On the crisp autumn day of Sept. 29, 1943, behind their makeshift breastworks and beside their three-inch field pieces, the soldiers of the 94th Infantry “Deadeye” Division knew the end was coming soon.
They were outnumbered two-to-one, dug in near a little grocery store-post office on the high desert. Arrayed against them was a force of soldiers with a large force of tanks. Overhead roared a squadron of heavy bombers, softening them up for the final assault. It would all be over soon.
And the soldiers of the 94th couldn’t wait.

Busloads of tree plantersBy Finn J.D. John

The fleet of buses glided through the ghost of a forest — a forest of silver snags, like millions of weatherbeaten masts of old sailing ships sticking up out of the earth. It was 1949, just ten years after the second Tillamook Burn had ravaged the land anew, and it was showing few signs of recovery on its own.

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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.