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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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Oregon's only national park is a surprisingly dangerous place, and a number of people have died there. Several of these left only bones behind to help us understand what caused their death. (Crater Lake, Klamath County; 1940s, 1970s, 1980s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1309e-skeletons-of-crater-lake.html)…
 
The police wouldn't return her call, and she knew the thieves would be gone by morning. So Mrs. Whitlock picked up the phone and woke up the District Attorney. And it turned out theft wasn't the only crime Jack Wade and William Dalton were guilty of ... (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1804c.d…
 
Taken to Ocean Park after being nearly killed in the wreck of the Glenmorag, William Begg was nursed back to health by Maude Taylor - who turned out to be the love of his life. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1804b.william-begg-lucky-shipwreck-glenmorag-490.html)…
 
R. Thomas Dickerson, after gunning down the chief witness in his wife's upcoming suit for divorce, clearly expected the jury to buy his claim that the man was a “home-wrecker” and deserved what he got. He miscalculated. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1510a.dickerson-UnLaw.html)…
 
On the evening of March 23, 1964, Seaside resident Margaret Gammon hadn’t been asleep more than an hour or two when she was awakened by howling.It was the community fire siren, blaring at full blast without stopping. She looked at the clock. It was 11:30 p.m.“I lay in bed thinking to myself, ‘Why doesn’t that fellow at the fire station get his big …
 
One of America's first known serial killers, Earle Leonard Nelson preyed on landladies, killing them while they were showing him real estate. By the time he was hanged, he'd slain at least 21 women — including four in Portland. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1309d-dark-strangler-earle-nelson…
 
“Professor” Ray V.B. Jackson just happened to be on hand, playing the role of helpful witness, at almost every high-profile murder scene in Lake and Harney counties. What were the odds? (Silver Lake, Lake County; 1890s, 1900s, 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1109b-ray-jackson-central-oregons-angel-of-death.html)…
 
It's hard to believe, but in 1902 the school district put a convicted felon, fresh from serving hard time at the state pen, in charge of its grade-school kids. But the forgery and robbery he was convicted of may have been the least of his crimes. (Silver Lake, Lake County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1109a-silver-la…
 
A Linn County case with a strong element of self-defense, and a Malheur County child-abuse travesty that ended with a shotgun blast, were called Unwritten Law triumphs in the newspapers — but there were differences. (Linn and Malheur County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1509d.powell-n-brown-UnLaw.html)…
 
Despite the best efforts of an overzealous federal marshal, the whole episode ended in nothing more than a stern lecture from the bench for 424 unemployed members of “Coxey's Army,” who tried to “borrow” an eastbound train. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1309b-coxeys-armys-march-on-washingto…
 
The “good guy” was a petty swindler. The “wronged woman” was a prostitute and bigamist. And the “innocent victim” was a serial philanderer. By the time the “bad guy” was caught, Portland just wanted to forget the whole thing. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1509c.bradley-gittings-part2-UnLaw-…
 
What started out looking like a clean-cut morality play, with a hero, a villain, an innocent victim and a bereaved widow, quickly turned into a tale of remarkable sordidness as the truth slowly emerged. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1509b.bradley-gittings-part1-UnLaw-356.html)…
 
Dead in the water and drifting toward Peacock Spit in a gale, passengers and crew of the steam schooner Washington thought they were goners. But then out of the mist and spray came Buck Bailey's tugboat ... (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1510c.tatoosh-rescues-steam-schooner.361.html)…
 
Fourth-grader Dorothy Anne Hobson decided her tiny timber town needed a newspaper, so she launched the Valsetz Star. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Shirley Temple were among her subscribers. (Valsetz, Polk County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1309a-valsetz-star-and-dorothy-hobson.html)…
 
Portlanders tolerated three years of strident calls for revolution and regime change, but when The Firebrand started saying mean things about marriage, the gloves were off. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1803c.firebrand-newspaper-shut-down-for-smut-487.html)…
 
After injuries to her knee, ankle and heart, she needed to get away from show business and from an ex-boyfriend. So she retreated to the high desert near Brothers, and became a homesteader ... and, of course, looked fabulous doing it. (Brothers, Deschutes County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1108b-vaudeville-legend-k…
 
John Bowlsby stalked his wife's paramour from North Bend to Portland, a heavy .44 revolver in his pocket. He caught up with him on a steamboat in Astoria, stealthily shot him from the shadows, and a few months later walked free. (Astoria, Clatsop County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1509a.bowlsby-jennings-UnLaw-355.ht…
 
Imagine you're a gold prospector from the Willamette Valley, on your way to the California gold fields in the first year of the 1848 gold rush. You’re a little late to the party, and you’ve chosen to try to reach the gold fields in a somewhat unusual way: By going over the Coast Range to the beach, and traveling south along the coast.As you make yo…
 
These three desperados couldn't seem to catch a break. First they robbed the wrong train; then it turned out to contain a dangerously competent lawman behind a big six-shooter; and finally, someone stole their getaway car. (Meacham, Umatilla County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1309c-meadors-gang-train-robbery.html)…
 
Ask anyone to name a mythical Oregon creature, and you’ll get a very predictable answer: Bigfoot, a.k.a. Sasquatch.The stories and legends of Bigfoot, the Pacific Northwest’s reigning “hide-and-seek champion,” are vast and growing every year. Just a list of them, from 1945 to present, would be longer than this article. But Bigfoot is neither the on…
 
The engines that went into these old-school boats were slow, heavy, primitive, and built in one of several factories in San Francisco. In fact, until the mid-1930s San Francisco Bay was the Detroit of the marine-engine industry; the Union Gas Engine Company, est. 1885, was one of the very first manufacturers of gasoline engines of any kind in the U…
 
Convinced his only neighbor was out to get him, solitary trapper and paranoid former prospector “Crazy Hugo” ambushed him with a rifle; the state prison became his retirement home. (Near Agness, Josephine County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1105b-crazy-hugo-hermit-of-craggies.html)…
 
They found the grizzled prospector’s body slumped over a sample of ore on the floor of the rude log cabin he’d been staying in, deep in the wilderness of southern Oregon, late in the spring of 1897. He’d apparently dropped dead one evening while assaying out the samples he’d gathered that day – probably poisoned by some of the chemicals he was usin…
 
The little logging-company town, owned by the Shevlin-Hixon Company of Bend, was fully portable. When the timber was all gone from an area, the company simply loaded the houses on railroad flatcars and moved on. (Shevlin, Deschutes and Lake county; 1920s, 1930s, 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1308d-shevlin-oregons-wande…
 
A startup newspaper in Albany was determined to see Mattie Allison hanged, one way or another; and the townspeople were mostly convinced. But when her court case got started, the real story came out ... (Albany, Linn County; 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1803b.campbell-the-stalker-murdered-in-albany.486.html)…
 
Orlando Murray's trial had something for everyone: Sex, revenge, vigilante action, a Fallen Woman, drunkenness, hysteria, the insane asylum, and even lawyers getting in fistfights. (Unwritten Law Files, Case #1) (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1508e.orlando-murray-UnLaw-354.html)…
 
Claude Branton and Courtland Green had left Condon with a wealthy rancher and murdered him on the way. Only then did they realize how bad it would look to show up at their destination without him ... (McKenzie Valley, Deschutes and Lane County) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1804a.branton-green-murder-john-linn-489.html)…
 
Lulu Reynolds was having a torrid affair with her music teacher. Her husband was an ex-Cavalry scout who carried a .38 in his jacket pocket. It wasn't the kind of thing that usually ends well. And, well, it didn't. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1308c-reynolds-love-triangle-kissing-the-corps…
 
Charles Fiester lay there on his cot, eyes open, staring at nothing, pretending to be catatonic, for 515 days ... knowing that when his ruse was discovered, he'd be hanged. (Kerby, Josephine County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1803a.fiester-murderer-faked-insanity-515-days-485.html)…
 
Few people know a small whaling venture was launched in Astoria in 1961 — seeking whale oil for the space program and whale meat to feed to hungry minks. (Hammond, Clatsop County; 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1108a2-astoria-whaling-operation-was-helping-with-space-program.html)…
 
For a couple decades around the turn of the last century, if a murderer could convince a jury that his victim had been a “home-wrecker,” he could expect to be not only acquitted, but lionized as a brave and noble domestic hero. (Statewide; 1890s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1508d.unwritten-law-353.html)…
 
The four-masted schooner North Bend, the last sailing ship ever built in Oregon, was stranded on Peacock Spit; it worked its way through and, a little over a year later, launched itself in Baker Bay on the other side. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1108d-last-sailing-ship-crossed-a-…
 
Native Americans told Coronado there was a fabulous gold-and-turquoise city called Quivira just to the east -- or was it the north? All he found were Indian villages. But, was there a real city behind the legend? More specifically, was that city near Port Orford? (Near Floras Lake, Curry County; 1500s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoreg…
 
Legendary governor, a staunch prohibitionist, had to buy a round for the house when he dropped by the town marshal's saloon in the now-ghost town of Harney; a few years later, he pardoned the marshal, who'd been busted for gunfighting. (Harney City, Harney County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1107e-drinks-on-prohibit…
 
When a sailing ship found itself in trouble in the legendary “graveyard of ships,” often there was nothing left to do but count the bodies. But every now and then, a vessel would slip out of the icy grip of the bar to sail on. Here are a few such stories. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1870s, 1880s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://o…
 
Every youth orchestra in America can trace its ancestry back to the tiny, dusty town of Burns in Eastern Oregon, and to one gifted, visionary violin teacher named Mary Dodge, founder of the Sagebrush Symphony. (Burns, Harney County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1108c-sagebrush-symphony-first-youth-orchestra-in-us.htm…
 
Oregon went 'dry' in 1914, so by the time the Volstead Act passed in 1919, Beaver State bootleggers were already seasoned professionals. So when the rest of the West Coast needed them, Oregon's 'midnight entrepreneurs' were ready to roll. (Statewide; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1308a-rumrunners-moonshiners-and-speake…
 
It was obvious to nearly everyone that Chee Gong was innocent. But one of his tong brothers had murdered Lee Yik and disappeared, and blood had to answer for blood. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1802c.tong-war-in-portland-averted-with-hanging-483.html)…
 
Jean-Baptiste “Pomp” Charbonneau, the baby born to Sacagawea during the Lewis and Clark expedition, is one of the most important figures in Oregon history — but we know almost nothing of his life. (Clatsop and Harney County; 1800s, 1860s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/o1107d-life-of-sacagaweas-mountain-man-son-charbonneau-tan…
 
Many people today don't realize that in the 1950s, pinball had a bad reputation as a gambler's game and was as illegal as one-armed bandits. In Portland, shady underworld characters supplied Oregonians with plenty of both. (Multnomah and Clackamas county; 1940s, 1950s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1307d-pinball-wars-elkins-v…
 
During the go-go years of the uranium-mining rush of the early 1950s, the character of the uranium prospector became iconic. He was basically the gold-seeking “miner 49er” updated for the atomic age: in lieu of a mule, he rode an Army-surplus Jeep; in place of pick and gold pan, he carried a Geiger counter and ultraviolet flashlight. So it’s ironic…
 
As the Cold War spun up, federal government guarantees sent thousands of Geiger Counter-packing prospectors in Army surplus Jeeps scrambling across Oregon's Outback, hoping to make their fortunes mining “A-metal.” (Eastern Oregon; 1950s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1507c.uranium-mining-gold-rush-348.html)…
 
When the Oregon National Guard was called up, Oregonians felt vulnerable to Japanese invasion. So they loaded their rifles and possed up ready to give 'em hell! (Tillamook County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1802b.tillamook-guerillas-ready-to-fight-off-invasion-482.html)…
 
The captain's desperate haste to get out to sea, combined with a terrible decision to cross the bar on the ebb, resulted in disaster — and the ship's stranded armaments resulted in a name for the town of Cannon Beach. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1840s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1508a.shark-shipwreck-part2.html)…
 
As sailors melted away to take advantage of the opportunities in the new Oregon country, their captain sweated bullets; they could not be replaced. But his haste to get back out to sea while he still could set the stage for disaster. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1840s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1507d.shark-shipwre…
 
Troutdale Airfield is just 10 miles from Portland International — and built to serve Cessnas, not 747s. But one dark night in 1962, a DC-8 pilot got a little confused .... (Troutdale, Multnomah County; 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1802a.massive-jet-lands-at-tiny-country-airport-by-mistake-481.html)…
 
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