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Offbeat Oregon History podcast

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Offbeat Oregon History podcast

www.offbeatoregon.com (finn @ offbeatoregon.com)

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A daily (5-day-a-week) podcast feed of true Oregon stories -- of heroes and rascals, of shipwrecks and lost gold. Stories of shanghaied sailors and Skid Road bordellos and pirates and robbers and unsolved mysteries. An exploding whale, a couple shockingly scary cults, a 19th-century serial killer, several very naughty ladies, a handful of solid-brass con artists and some of the dumbest bad guys in the history of the universe. From the archives of the Offbeat Oregon History syndicated newspap ...
 
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No one in Tillamook County even suspected the “Lee Film Company” was a front for government Prohibition enforcement until the trap was sprung ... but it has to have been the most expensive law enforcement operation in the county's history. (Tillamook, Tillamook County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1907d.lobster-trap-f…
 
The shoddily built Portland suburb existed for six years. In that time, it spawned Portland State University and helped bring ethnic diversity to the state. Few people realize how important the place really was. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1101d-floating-houses-helped-many-survive-vanpor…
 
The basic idea: Mix a few dramatic ingredients like whiskey, red pepper and opium; stick a label on it; hawk it on streetcorners as a universal medicine; and leave town before the suckers can get wise. (1870s, 1880s, 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1604d.swindlers-medicine-shows-388.html)…
 
In a race with Portland neophile Henry Wemme to be the first owner of an airplane in Oregon, Cornell-educated John Burkhart was two weeks too late; but unlike Wemme, he designed, built and flew his own machine. (Albany, Linn County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1410d.310.burkhart-aviation-pioneer.html)…
 
Before he made it back, Art Lacey had survived a plane crash, bribed a fire department with illegal whiskey, kited a big check and made bitter enemies in Portland City Hall. But hey, all's well that ends well, right? (Milwaukie, Clackamas County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1601d.bomber-gas-station-375.html)…
 
The geographical evidence isn't there; but every nearby Indian community has legends about the river tunneling underground for miles, and roughly similar accounts of the tunnel's collapse. What are the odds? (Near The Dalles, Wasco County; 1400s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1907c.bridge-of-the-gods-legend-and-truth.html)…
 
On the bright side, though, the owner of the Desdemona did get to go down in history — or, rather, geography — after the deadly sandbar that took his ship was dubbed Desdemona Sands. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1850s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1410c.309.desdemona-shipwreck.html)…
 
It's probably just as well that no actual dinosaur bones were found here; the spiteful, unprofessional “cowboy paleontology” practiced by O.C. Marsh and E.D. Cope left Oregon's pioneer scientists profoundly unimpressed as it was. (John Day Fossil Beds, Wheeler and Grant County; 1870s ) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1601c.bone…
 
Sidewheel steamer’s sinking was a major maritime disaster for Oregon; treasure hunters found the gold-laden wreck in 1993, touching off a big, undignified catfight with the state of California over salvage rights. (Offshore, Curry County; 1860s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1101b-shipwreck-of-brother-jonathan-ground-zero-in…
 
Not many people know it, but Oregon had U.S. history's first female governor (in 1909), first female sworn police officer (in 1908) and first female stagecoach driver (in the 1860s). (1860s, 1870s, 1880s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1604b.great-women-part2-386.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
Other pioneering Oregonians worthy of having bridges and mountains named after them include attorney Mary G. Leonard, historian Frances Fuller Victor and physician Bethenia Owens-Adair. (1870s, 1880s, 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1604a.great-women-part1.385.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
Regular motorists would swing by streetcar stops and offer to take passengers faster and in greater comfort for the same nickel. But the competition enraged the powerful plutocrats who owned the streetcar company. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1601b.jitneys-vs-streetcars.273.html)…
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Sources.' Each Primary Source Day we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from …
 
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 nationwide, in glowing tribute after glowing tribute to his success. One of his experiment-station hens had just shattered the world record for egg pr…
 
Lost in Illinois, the affable collie crossed the Rocky Mountains on foot in the dead of winter, making friends along the way and causing a sensation on his arrival. (Silverton, Marion County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1101a-bobbie-the-wonder-dog-put-silverton-on-map.html)…
 
“Patriotic Jeffersonians intend to secede each Thursday until further notice,” the rebels said, and played their parts in the grand production to a nationwide audience as newsreel cameras rolled and reporters scribbled in notepads. (Port Orford, Curry County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1410b.308.state-o-jefferson-pa…
 
Boisterous and colorful man P.R. man Gilbert Gable, mayor of Port Orford, drew on the frustrations of the West Coast's remotest counties in an effort to get the state to invest in decent highways. (Port Orford, Curry County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1410a.307.state-o-jefferson-part1.html)…
 
If it's true, the 11-ton space rock is still out there — and worth over $300 million. But the guy who says he found it was in financial trouble, and many geologists today suspect he made the whole thing up. (Curry County; 1850s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1112b-port-orford-meteorite-hoax-or-is-it-real.html)…
 
The mild-mannered drywall contractor turned out to be a notorious gangster after an article in the Morning Oregonian published his mugshots; he was wanted for the murder of three family members. (Beaverton, Washington County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1505e.holden-fbi-most-wanted-caught-341.html)…
 
Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, shipped to the Beaver State for training, learned combat lessons that would save their lives and help them win the Second World War during the huge campaign simulation known as the Oregon Maneuver. (Central Oregon counties; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1408d.oregon-maneuver-ww2.html…
 
The rising waters of lakes and reservoirs have submerged many budding Oregon metropolises over the years, from tiny one-horse towns to an entire Native American homeland. (Klamath, Baker, Lake, Wasco County) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1406e.lost-cities-oregon-atlantis.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
The darksomely sinister story of the old console game, with its attendant Men In Black and swarms of zombie children, is a fun story to look back on; but its odds of being true are up there with tales of Bigfoot. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1980s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1701e.polybius-legendary-sinister-videogame-428.…
 
On that tense late-August weekend, tens of thousands of young people enjoyed themselves at McIver Park, while the much-dreaded riots failed to materialize. Was there a connection? Many voters thought so. (McIver Park, Clackamas County; 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1406c.291.vortex-the-event.html)…
 
When McCall green-lighted the plan to distract potential street rioters with a week-long music festival, he fully expected to lose his job for it — whether it worked or not. (Salem, Marion County; 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1406b.290.vortex-part2-the-family.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
To Governor Tom McCall, it looked like Portland was about to explode, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it ... until two long-haired young people came to his chief of staff with a very unusual plan. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1406a.vortex-part1-psu-riot.html)…
 
Astronaut Stuart Roosa had a special relationship with the U.S. Forest Service, and when it was his turn to go to the moon, he proposed a science experiment. You can see the results towering over Peavy Hall at Oregon State University today. (Cape Canaveral, Florida; 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1405b.moon-trees-of-ore…
 
“Amsterdam Jack” Murray claimed it was all a misunderstanding, but the jury obviously suspected he'd intended to murder his wife's brother all along; then the appeals court learned he was a bigamist to boot. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1709d.john-murray-murders-brother-in-law-462.html)…
 
For decades after the Tillamook Burn, classes of schoolchildren were bused out to help replant. Today, thousands of Oregonians, on trips to the beach, can point to a thriving patch of forest and say, “We planted those trees.” (Tillamook, Yamhill, Washington county; 1950s, 1960s, 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1408b.scho…
 
A hard-pressed crew tried to snake just a few more logs out before quitting for the day, hoping nothing would go wrong in the tinder-dry forest. Unfortunately, something did. (Near Forest Grove, Washington County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1407d.tillamook-burn-1933-outbreak.html)…
 
Settlers in John Day in the late 1800s learned the healer of Kam Wah Chung could cure diseases others couldn't; all his patients survived the fatal Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919. (John Day, Grant County; 1880s-1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1406d.doc-hay-lung-on.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
The case of John Ottoson (ne Otokichi) in 1832 illustrates what can happen: Blown off to sea by a gale, he and his comrades rode the Kuroshio Current to what's now Washington State — much to the astonishment of Dr. John McLoughlin. (Vancouver, W.T.; 1830s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1404d.japanese-junks-blown-across-to-ore…
 
Ashamed to show his face in Astoria after causing the loss of the biggest passenger liner on the West Coast, Thomas Doig slunk away to South America and remade himself as a military man. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1870s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1408c.300.great-republic-wreck.html)…
 
Prolific Portland inventor Victor Strode designed a boat that was half airplane and all art-deco-age futurism, and early tests with a smaller model were very promising. But the larger model he built for the city was a disappointment. (Portland and Coos Bay, Multnomah and Coos County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1209d…
 
“This is an age of do-it-first,” said Silas Christofferson, and proceeded to launch his spindly kite-like “aeroplane” from the roof of a downtown hotel — making aviation history in the heart of Oregon's biggest town. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1408e.302.silas-christofferson-portland-hero…
 
Calling himself “J. Hawker,” David Heesh dynamited several high-voltage powerline towers, then threatened to keep it up unless ransom was delivered; the FBI busted him using a CB radio trick. (Beavercreek, Clackamas County; 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1404b.beavercreek-bomber-targeted-BPA.html)…
 
The alcoholic derelicts of on Burnside Street knew they could count on denatured alcohol for a cheap-but-nasty buzz; it might make them sick, but it wouldn't kill them. But then, one day, it did. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1404c.poison-dehorn-killed-28-hobos.html)…
 
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 for bed when they heard the screams. Rushing to the front porch, they found their neighbor, Ann Louise Agee, in her nightclothes, wild-eyed and dishe…
 
During its glory days, the Gertrude was the fastest blockade runner in the Confederate fleet. But just 17 years later, it was just another dumpy old steamer on a lowly coastwise run, wrecked in what was probably an insurance-fraud scheme. (Coos Bay, Coos County; 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1310a-gussie-telfair-shipwr…
 
Mayor Frank Ivancie, Pioneer Courthouse Square’s most intransigent opponent, gleefully declared the project “dead” in a 1982 speech. In doing so, he accidentally galvanized the citizen group that would prove him wrong. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1960s, 1970s, 1980s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1405c.pioneer-courthouse-squ…
 
Neighbors wondered if the eight-foot-tall corpse found by developer at what today is YWCA Camp Westwind was evidence that an old Native American legend of a pirate ship is true; if so, there might actually be booty buried there, some say. (Lincoln City, Lincoln County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1204e-giant-skeleton…
 
Legendary “Cayuse pony” breed gave Indians far more endurance and speed than settlers' mounts, a fact that cost gambler and horseman Joe Crabb most of his ready cash on “The Day Pendleton Went Bankrupt” (Pendleton, Umatilla County; 1870s, 1880s, 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1404a.cayuse-tribes-legendary-ponies.html)…
 
75 years ago, without realizing who he was, Wallowa County included Bruce “Blue” Evans — leader of the gang that massacred dozens of innocent Chinese miners back in 1887 — on a plaque commemorating its earliest white settlers. (Enterprise, Wallowa County; 1880s, 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1204b-monument-mass-murdere…
 
Discovered (sort of) by Oregon's first governor, the dry lakebed in south-central Oregon's Lake County is a gold mine of Ice Age fossils, from tiny rodents to wooly mammoths, saber-tooth cats and dire wolves. (Silver Lake, Lake County; 1870s, 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/H1010c-fossil-lake-oregons-answer-to-labrea-tar…
 
Pilot boat sailed back and forth on the Columbia River Bar all day and all night before finally crashing onto the beach; when onlookers ran to rescue the sailors, they found the boat empty and deserted. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1405a.pilot-boat-jc-cousins-crew-disappears.html)…
 
Caught by a railroad “bull,” the thief shot his way out and ran for it. But an accurate shot by the dying guard and some persistent police work brought the bad guy to justice in a pistol-waving scene in a seedy Albina hotel room. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1205a-roaring-20s-railroad-murd…
 
The oysters belonged to the Siletz Indians and their employees, but Richard Hillyer was determined to take them anyway. We don't know much about the final battle, but we do know the outcome, and it must have been a doozie. (Newport, Lincoln County; 1860s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1405d.yaquina-oyster-pirate-wars.html)…
 
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