Articles written by Finn J.d. John

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Auburn: A long-gone gold town's short but colorful past

A few dozen miles southwest of Baker City, if you know right where to look, you just might stumble across a few weatherbeaten gravestones - all that's left of an old cemetery. And that old cemetery...

 

Stewart Holbrook preserved the spirit of mid-century Oregon

Ninety-eight years ago, in a logging camp deep in the forests of British Columbia, a logger in a funny hat walked up to a big stump, an ax in his hand. Taking off the hat - it was a battered bowler,...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    July 8, 2021

Buck Rogers-style police boat didn't work out for Portland

On the morning of April 23, 1936, the city of Portland was proudly preparing to launch its new harbor patrol boat, the Jack Luihn. It was going to be a big deal. Mayor LaGuardia of New York City was i...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    July 1, 2021

Oregon's most famous elephant led a colorful and tragic life

Under the light of a single bulb, in a big storage room at the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, are the bones of a famous onetime Oregonian named Ned. Ned had...

 

Prisoner escaped by back door during conjugal visit

It was a few minutes after midnight on May 17, 1974, and the Oregon State Penitentiary employee sitting in his car outside the Salem Motel 6 was starting to get nervous. He was there to supervise a...

 

Treasure piqued FBI's interest too late

Dawn was just breaking, and Tom McAdams had just barely crawled into bed, when he got the alarm. A 50-foot sailboat was washing ashore near Waldport. McAdams had been up all night escorting a leaking...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    June 3, 2021

Lotus Isle, Oregon's most surreal amusement park

For a small group of Portland-area businessmen in 1929, opportunity was knocking - or so they thought. Jantzen Beach, the legendary swim-and-play amusement park on Hayden Island in the Columbia...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 27, 2021

Fort Rock's legendary Reub Long could spin a wild yarn

There was a time, and it was not too long ago, that the state of Oregon had something of a reputation as a place for great liars. Now, by "great liars," I mean tellers of the GOOD kind of lies, not...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 20, 2021

Apollo 15 astronaut left a piece of Oregon on the moon

When the moon is full and hanging low in the sky over Central Oregon, take a good close look at it. In one of its craters, surrounded by tire tracks and boot prints and the abandoned "moon buggy," a...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 13, 2021

Citizens hired world-champ boxer to humiliate town bully

All through the summer of 1973, there was one song on the radio everywhere that you just couldn't get away from: Jim Croce's smash hit, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Come to think of it, it's been very...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 6, 2021

The mysterious destruction of the S.S. South Coast

On a calm day in mid-September of 1930, a small steam schooner put out of Crescent City, Calif., bound for Coos Bay with a crew of 18 men and a 250-ton load of logs. It was never seen again. The ship...

 

Pioneering "lady lawyer" deserved a better legacy

It was around 1878 that newly-single Mary Leonard moved to Portland and set herself up as the proprietress of a boardinghouse in the North End waterfront district - the seediest, roughest neighborhood...

 

Oregon's first female lawyer had drama, scandal in her background

Most Oregon professional women can point to a truly amazing pioneer who opened her profession up to women. Physicans (physiciennes?) can look to Bethenia Owens-Adair, who, despite her...

 

Oregon's own "Roaring Twenties" murder mystery

The sun had just gone down on a warm early-summer night, and the twilight was in the final stages of fading away when Union Pacific Railroad special agents Buck Phillips and H.G. Schneider stepped int...

 

Not all hiding in Oregon were running from the law

Sometime in 1915, a 40-year-old Black woman named Frankie Baker stepped off the train at Portland's Union Station. She had come to stay; Oregon would be her home for the rest of her life. At that time...

 

Giant skeleton recalled legend of pirate treasure

By On February 20, 1931, a former Lincoln County commissioner named Elmer Calkins looked behind his tractor at the plow he was pulling and saw human bones strewn out along the furrow behind it....

 

Oregonians played prominent role in most horrific murder

Oregon divorcee Agnes Anne “Annie” LeRoi arrived in Phoenix in the first few months of 1931 with her best friend and roommate, schoolteacher Hedvig “Sammy” Samuelson. They...

 

Mariner survived shipwreck by being trapped inside

It was the dark early-morning hours of Feb. 13, 1911, and off the north coast of Oregon the gasoline-powered motor schooner Oshkosh was in serious trouble. The Oshkosh was a coastwise cargo ship, but it wasn’t much bigger than a large yacht. It...

 

Astronaut left a piece of Oregon lava on the moon

When the moon is full and hanging low in the sky over Central Oregon, take a good close look at it. In one of its craters, surrounded by tire tracks and boot prints and the abandoned "moon buggy," a...

 

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