Articles written by Finn J.d. John

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All-metal steam-powered Zeppelin: Could it work?

Ironically enough, it was on the first day of winter — the winter after the 1929 stock-market crash that kicked off the Great Depression — that Oregon inventor Thomas B. Slate’s dream of a...

 

Haystack Rock was once a tempting target for daredevil climbers

One could think of late June and early July of 1968 in Cannon Beach as the Summer of the Dead Baby Birds. On June 28, at the height of the nesting season, a 23-year-old man from Portland had...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

In the small hours of the morning of Aug. 16, 1906, a powerful explosion jolted residents awake near the little town of Willamette, which today is a neighborhood of West Linn. It came from the...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Continued From Last Week Big League Chew (1977) Baseball players, back in the day, were somewhat famous for chewing tobacco on the field. Fans would see them pull a pouch of Red Man or Beech-Nut out o...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Continued From Last Week The Tater Tot (1953) As we turn our attention to what food historian Heather Arndt Anderson calls “Oregon’s prodigal spud,” we are straying into distinctly...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Continued From Last Week At one point, Oregon Trunk Railroad president John Stevens (Hill’s top lieutenant on the job) learned the Twohy Brothers had built a wagon road across a 230-acre parcel of...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Sometime in the late spring of 1909, at the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company’s ticket booth in Portland, a 19-year-old man named Jim Morrell laid down his last $2 for a ticket on the Bailey...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

On the evening of Sept. 28, 1995, Woney and Laurie Peters, of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, were driving back to their home behind the local elementary school when they noticed something wasn’t right....

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Sometime in 1943, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, a group of more than 40 officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy strolled into Club Tsubaki, an exclusive gentlemen’s club in the...

 

When "The Rolls-Royce Guru" came to Oregon

After the election, the new formerly homeless residents of Rajneeshpuram were the most pressing problem for Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers. They cost a lot of money to feed and house, and...

 

When "The Rolls-Royce Guru" came to Oregon

In the courtyard at the Antelope Post Office today, there stands a large bronze plaque attached to the base of a flagpole. It reads, “Dedicated to those of this community who throughout the...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Part Two: Arrival On June 1, 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh boarded a Boeing 747 for a flight from Mumbai to New York City. Officially the trip was for medical treatment, and authorities were told he...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

It was getting toward the end of the summer of 1902, and West Linn resident Ellis Hughes was getting worried. His neighbor, William Dale, had traveled back to Eastern Oregon to sell some land he...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

Continued From Last Week So right away, Baldwin was hearing the stories. Most likely there were some terrible ones; they obviously touched her heart. Over the next several decades she would dedicate...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

By the time Walt Disney Productions released “The Rescuers” in 1977, the idea of a “Rescue Aid Society” dedicated to the eradication of kidnapping felt quaint, old-fashioned, and fun. But not...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

If you ask most Oregonians who the first woman governor in state history was, they’ll have an immediate answer … but they’ll be wrong. Conventional wisdom holds that the first woman to take the...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

If you ask most Oregonians who the first woman governor in state history was, they’ll have an immediate answer … but they’ll be wrong. Conventional wisdom holds that the first woman to take the...

 

Riot at bar led to charges … but not against rioters

IT WAS APRIL FOOLS' DAY of 1874 when saloonkeeper Walter Moffett, proprietor of the Webfoot Saloon and sworn antagonist of the ladies of the Women’s Temperance Prayer League, escalated the conflict...

 

Body-snatchers planned to ransom ex-mayor's corpse

“It is very clear that the purpose of the robbers is to conceal the remains, in the hopes that a reward will ultimately be offered for them,” the Portland Morning Oregonian’s reporter wrote, in...

 

Offbeat Oregon History

The nineteenth century was a kind of golden age of body snatching. Digging up the freshly dead to cash the corpses in at the back door of a nearby medical school was — well, not common exactly, but...

 

Oregon residents had the jump on California Gold Rush

If you’d been lucky enough to live in Portland in July of 1848, you would have been able to say, literally, that your ship had come in. The ship in question was the sailing ship Honolulu. And,...

 

Frontier land-fraud swindlers plundered Oregon thoroughly

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1904, Stephen A.D. Puter had just arrived at the office of U.S. Marshal Jack Matthews. He was expecting some friends to come by … and bail him out of jail. Puter had just b...

 

World's clumsiest drug smugglers - also its most audacious

As you will have gathered, it didn't exactly take brilliant detective work to figure out what was going on over at Dunbar Produce and Grocery. By November of 1893, word of what they were up to had...

 

World's clumsiest drug smugglers were also its most audacious

It's not clear when William Dunbar and Nat Blum, owners of the Merchant Steamship Co. in Portland, started smuggling opium on their steamships, the Wilmington and the Haytian Republic. They may have...

 

World's clumsiest drug smugglers - also its most audacious

NOTE: In last month's Offbeat Oregon column, we explored the unlikely origins and career of Yosuke Matsuoka, the foreign minister of Imperial Japan who was responsible for Japan's military alliance wi...

 

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