History

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 By Finn J.D. John    History    June 24, 2021 

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...

 

Police solve Oregon’s own “Roaring Twenties” murder mystery

                  By Finn J.D. John 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...

 

Oregon’s wildest lost-cabin gold mine story may be true … or not

                  By Finn J.D. John Continued From Last Week The curtain went up on Act Two about 15 years later, in downtown Portland. As with Act One, our sole source for the tale is an article...

 

Incompetent Portland opium-smuggling gang had friends in high places

            By Finn J.D. John As the new day dawned on the first day of 1893, Customs Collector Jim Lotan would have told you, had you asked, that life was good. The previous year had been good to him. After years of...

 

Worst Columbia disaster started as routine rescue

              By Finn J.D. John It was the worst disaster in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard in Oregon. Three rescue boats, including two of the legendary “unsinkable” motor lifeboats, went out to re...

 

2019 McKenzie Traveler's Guide

Click images to enlarge   Cover (4.25"w X 8.5"h)                       Page 2 (8.5"w X 8.5"h)                    ...

 

Chasing a golden rumor, prospectors turned their backs on a fortune — twice

  By Finn J.D. John It was the spring of 1862, and prospector William C. Aldred had been in the gold fields of California since the Gold Rush first broke out — about a dozen years. And he’d hit just enough gold to keep him fed,...

 

Skunk’s “beautiful pelt” best admired from afar

            By Finn J.D. John One of the most appealing things about life in rural Western Oregon, around the middle of the last century, was the wildlife. Loggers and mill workers in places like Valsetz and Wendling...

 

Letter gave family a view to shanghaiing

            By Finn J.D. John Sometime around 1885 or 1886, a handsome-but-diffident-looking young man named Carroll Beebe got on a westbound train in southern Minnesota, on his way to new adventures in the young...

 

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