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The Cape Kiwanda dory fleet of Pacific City

If you get up early enough in the summertime in Pacific City, you might get to watch the Cape Kiwanda dory fleet launching for a day of fishing - launching right off the beach, into the teeth of the s...

 

Haystack Rock was once a tempting target for daredevil climbers

One could think of late June and early July of 1968 in Cannon Beach as the Summer of the Dead Baby Birds. On June 28, at the height of the nesting season, a 23-year-old man from Portland had scrambled...

 

Eugene's first university died when college president started a gunfight

The University of Oregon, as most alumni can tell you, was founded in 1876 as the flagship of Oregon's university system. But the channels the university project flowed through, with the enthusiastic...

 

Oregon's "Miner 29ers" beat the Great Depression with a gold pan

It was, most historians agree, the nadir of the Great Depression. The entire country had gone from singing "Happy Days are Here Again" to "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" in a few short months at the...

 

Mining law answered plan to seize gold mines with military force

In the years that followed the American Civil War, the American federal government was gasping for cash. The war had been largely financed by borrowing huge sums of money from abroad, mostly from...

 

Offbeat Oregon History - Was the Bridge of the Gods a real thing? Almost certainly, yes

The opening scene of The Warlord of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs' third "John Carter of Mars" book, has the hero paddling up the great River Iss as it flows out of a long, dark underground passage, in...

 

Offbeat Oregon History - How a humble banana peel changed the course of Oregon history

On your next visit to the beach, you might want to bring along a banana. One of these humble fruits played a small but important part in the historical chain of events that led to the state's beaches...

 

Offbeat Oregon History - Surge of Confederate refugees made big changes in Oregon politics

The urban-rural divide in Oregon is something that's gotten quite a bit of press recently, after a group of Republicans left the state to deny a quorum for a bill they opposed. But it's a problem that...

 

Offbeat Oregon: The 'Hold-Up Session' of 1896-97 featured a giant house party

At the time of this writing, the Oregon Legislature is stuck, unable to do anything; a group of lawmakers has gone off to Idaho for the express purpose of denying the legislature's leaders a quorum....

 

Bungling attempt by old crimps marked the end of the shanghaiing era

The election of 1904 didn't end the practice of shanghaiing in Portland, but it did put a huge and (eventually) fatal dent in it. Larry Sullivan, the socially poised and politically connected prince o...

 

Offbeat Oregon History - Monopoly legislation throws crimp in waterfront boarding business

Things were looking a bit grim for former welterweight champion of the world William "Mysterious Billy" Smith and his partners in almost-crime, brothers Harry and Jim White. They had learned the...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    June 6, 2019

Offbeat Oregon History - World champion boxer by day, kidnapper by night

In 1903, Larry Sullivan was at the height of his power in Portland. Hard-fisted and belligerent, yet socially polished and with what passed in old Portland society for refined manners, he was able to...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 30, 2019

Offbeat Oregon - Portland's 'shanghai Tunnels' are mostly myth, but not entirely

One of the most popular tourist attractions for visitors to Portland is a tour of the "Shanghai Tunnels" that run beneath Old Town's streets. Historians of old Portland tend to scoff at the whole...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 23, 2019

Offbeat Oregon History - Hillboro's 'Diamond Bill' Barrett: 'The Heiress Whisperer'

Every now and then, one runs across a man who can sweet-talk absolutely anyone into anything. Such a man was William "Diamond Bill" Barrett Jr., the black sheep of a solid, respectable family of...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 16, 2019

Offbeat Oregon History: Ship captain doubled down on ill-considered wager ... and lost

One gray October day in 1898, three British ship captains were sitting in the parlor of the Seamen's Rest, a sort of YMCA for sailors located in the bustling port of Tacoma. They were in a betting...

 
 By Finn J.D. John    History    May 2, 2019

Offbeat History: Lava Lake murders are still officially unsolved, but...

BY THE TIME THE ICE over Lava Lake melted in the spring of 1924, no one had any illusions about what they would find underneath it. Trappers Edward Nickols, Dewey Morris and Roy Wilson had...

 

Offbeat Oregon History: Old-time loggers and millworkers were tough, stoic characters

Nearly everyone whose family has been in Western Oregon for more than one or two generations has an older male relative who’s missing some parts — one or more fingers perhaps, or part of a foot...

 

Offbeat Oregon History: Skunk's 'beautiful pelt' would have been best admired from afar

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 might not hav...

 

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