McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

Articles written by Finn J.d. John

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Early anti-prostitution crusade was an embarrassing fizzle

One November evening in 1885, Portland residents walking past a row of tiny houses at Third and Yamhill heard screams coming from one of them. Bursting in, they found the mutilated and lifeless...

 

"Shoe-string railroad" beat Southern Pacific

Very few people outside Coos County, and probably not that many inside it, know what a big deal Coos Bay is. It's the biggest deepwater har-bor on the Northwest coast -- that is, between San...

 

Rabies epidemic was like a war in Eastern Oregon

To Dr. W.H. Lytle, Oregon's state veterinarian, the entire idea was preposterous. A rabies outbreak in northeast Oregon? Bah. Rabies was barely known west of the Rockies. "However," he added - no...

 

"March on Washington" involved train hijackings

Many people today think of the 1890s as a prosperous, carefree era - the term "gay '90s" (or even "naughty '90s) jumps to mind. But what most people don't realize is that much of that decade was...

 

Shipwreck miracle was an inconvenient one

It was January 3, 1852 - the middle of the night and the middle of winter, just off the middle of the Oregon Coast. The U.S. Army's schooner Captain Lincoln, carrying a detachment of U.S. Army...

 

Lost Soldier's Mine: A ledge of rocks worth $8 a pound?

Early in the summer of 1853, deep in the Coquille Mountains of what's now Douglas County, six U.S. soldiers were trudging dispiritedly through a trackless wilderness. The wilderness wasn't totally...

 

Mill owner's fight with city sparked infamous anti-Japanese riot

In the summer of 1925, an event took place in the Coast Range town of Toledo that would spark widespread outrage and an international incident. The event was, for all practical purposes, a race riot:...

 

Radical Wobblies found support among Oregon loggers

In early 1917, shortly after the U.S. declared war on Germany, the first detachment of U.S. soldiers was dispatched ... to the forest of western Oregon. It turned out the wildest, boldest and (if you...

 

In the First World War, Allies flew planes made of Oregon spruce

The last year of the First World War saw an explosion in Allied aircraft. The forces of Imperial Germany put up the best fight they could, and fielded probably the best aircraft of the war - the...

 

America's first "shock jock"

The first radio broadcaster ever to do be sent to prison for cursing on the air was a hard-charging early shock jock known as "The Oregon Wildcat," who kept the city of Portland and surrounding region...

 

Legend of Portuguese buried treasure farfetched, but possible

Stories about buried treasure are very seldom completely untrue. Even the wildest flight of golden fantasy started out, hundreds or thousands of augmented and embellished retellings ago, as true...

 

Larry Sullivan's shanghaiing syndicate

In the mid-1890s, ship captains and sailors' boardinghouse owners were like partners in crime - both busily and happily swindling sailors out of what little money they had and were owed. But in the...

 

Prizefighter, politician, con artist, shanghai man

Sometime around 1897, complaints suddenly started pouring into the headquarters of shipping companies in Liverpool and Hamburg from the captains in charge of their ships. It seemed something new was...

 

Created to stifle Indian culture, boarding school has done the opposite

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...

 

Astoria rich in legends of hidden treasure

The city and environs of Astoria strike most visitors as the kind of place where pirate loot might be stashed away. Certainly it seems to have struck Steven Spielberg that way, back in the early...

 

Jim Turk was Portland's millionaire shanghaiing thug

The "shanghai artists" of old Portland and Astoria were all a fairly secretive lot. But none of them were more mysterious, in quite so many ways, as the man who started the whole shanghaiing scene in...

 

Young adventurer's visit to Portland ended with life sentence in prison

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. He would turn 17 at sea, in July...

 

Citizens of Prineville finally challenged, defeated Vigilantes without a shot

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...

 

Lynching of innocent man kicked off Vigilante rule in Crook County

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 -...

 

OSU's world-record-breaking chicken sparked a fowl feud with newspaper

October of 1913 was a triumphant time for Professor James Dryden, the poultry specialist at Oregon State University (or Oregon Agricultural College, as it was then called). His name was in newspapers...

 

Palatial Hotel Portland once stood in Courthouse Square

Next time you're in the neighborhood of Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, take a minute to look at the wrought-iron fence and archway at its south end. Looks a little out of place, doesn't it?...

 

Well-timed generosity turned the tables in Prineville baseball game

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...

 

Sordid slasher murder still baffling 100 years later - continued

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK The trial started on July 27 with the state presenting its evidence. It looked pretty damning, at least at first. The physician who was called to help the dying Harry Agee...

 

Sordid Portland slasher murder still baffling 100 years later

It was a little after 10 p.m. on a Friday evening in the summer of 1921. In their little house on Druid Street in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Robert Green and his family were getting ready...

 

Oregon's own Snidely Whiplash

When you're watching a melo-drama, 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...

 

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