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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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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…
 
Sauvie Island is a popular place, and it’s no surprise why: The sprawling Columbia River island is home to hiking trails, beaches, berry farms and more – the recipe for a perfect summer day. On this week’s episode of Peak Northwest, we dig into the best trails to hike, the best beaches to lounge on, and a few of the best farms to stop at while you …
 
“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…
 
Music lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike have a wealth of options when it comes to hearing music live and outdoors. Portland concertgoers can make a four-and-a-half hour drive to dance to sweet tunes as the sun sets behind a gorge. There’s also the option 30 minutes away to sit out on a lawn with friends as big artists rock out. Either way, makin…
 
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)…
 
You don’t need to drive out into the Columbia River Gorge or up the slopes of Mount Hood to get into nature – there are plenty of places to get outside in Portland’s suburbs. From Hillsboro to Troutdale, Oregon City to Battle Ground, there are forested trails, mountain hikes, riverside walks and wildlife refuges to explore. Better yet, they’re ofte…
 
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)…
 
Getting outside with your kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences. If not just for your little one to see nature’s great splendor, then for you, the adult, to leave home too, and take a nice breath of fresh air in the forest. There are plenty of family friendly adventures worth seeking out in the Portland-metro area. On this week’s episod…
 
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…
 
People tend to travel to Eugene for the University of Oregon or its many outdoor recreation opportunities – or for the upcoming World Athletics Championships – but the Willamette Valley town also boasts one of Oregon’s best food scenes. On this week’s episode of Peak Northwest, we talk to Michael Russell, restaurant reporter and critic for The Oreg…
 
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…
 
When you think about classical music, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a performance in a beautiful concert hall with perfect acoustics and a large stage. Hunter Noack, creator and pianist of In A Landscape, had other plans. Originally from Newport, the Oregon-raised musician has brought his classical performances to mountains, lakes,…
 
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-…
 
It may be one of the farthest-flung tourist towns in Oregon, but Joseph is well worth the long drive to get there. Peak Northwest podcast hosts Jamie Hale and Vickie Connor spent a busy few days in town and left feeling like they'd barely scratched the surface of things to do there. Here are some highlights from this week’s show: The Jennings Hotel…
 
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…
 
A trip to the south-central Oregon coast for a work trip stole the heart of podcast co-host Vickie Connor, as she explored this part of the state for the first time on a four day work trip. Filled with natural wonder from anemones to sea lions and phenomenal rock formations on the beach, this section of the Oregon coast is guaranteed to leave you w…
 
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)…
 
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