Heroes and rascals, shipwrecks and lost gold: Strange but true stories and secrets of Oregon's wild past | Offbeat Oregon History While doing some cleaning-up around the Odd Fellows Hall in Scio, a local girl found a tiny coffin with this partial skeleton inside. Whose? We'll probably never know ... (Story No. 204, Oct. 14, 2012) The ever-elusive D.B. Cooper peeks into the page from behind his signature shades. The story of his skyjacking exploit starts with episode 237, from June 2, 2013. Meet Kitty Kat, the wealthiest feline in the state of Oregon and landlord to the City of Tangent. Kitty Kat, until he died at a ripe old age in 1995, owned City Hall. (Story No. 163, Jan. 8, 2012) This crazy-looking speedboat was the invention of Portland wizard Victor Strode. The city commissioned a harbor patrol boat based on his design, but it didn't work out. (Story No. 201, Sept. 23, 2012) The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho -- yes, THAT Osho) as he appeared when he lived in Wasco County with his followers. That's also him in the white Rolls-Royce surrounded by followers, in a scene from Rajneeshpuram. (Four-part story starts with Column No. 73, May 9, 2010 This is the roof of the Franz Bread Rest Hut at Pixieland, the Oregon Coast's ill-starred answer to Disneyland, which opened in 1969 and went out of biz in 1974. The Rest Hut consisted of a giant fiberglass loaf of bread sticking out of the top of this giant fiberglass hollow log, the whole thing towering over a log-flume roller coaster ride. It's probably the most campily awesome example of the proud display of crass commercialism that was Pixieland. (Column No. 52 - Dec. 6, 2009)
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Heroes and rascals, shipwrecks and lost gold

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Place & time


Feb. 9, 2014

Legendary hell-raising rustler Hank Vaughan: The early years

Quick to make both friends and enemies, Oregon's most famous frontier cowboy and almost-outlaw was a gifted horseman and rustler. But his hard-drinking, quick-shooting ways nearly got him lynched as a teen.
Howard A. Black, the curator of the Grant County Museum in Canyon City, shows the skull of murderer Berry Way, hanged for murder near Canyon City in 1864 – the same year hot-tempered 15-year-old Hank Vaughan shot two people in Canyon City. Had Hank’s aim been better, this would likely have been his fate as well. (Image: Ben Maxwell/ Salem Public Library)

•Canyon City, Brownsville


Feb. 2, 2014

Opium culture a long-forgotten part of the urban underworld

A century ago, the drug had a dark, smoky allure for the "fast" young men and women of Oregon cities, and smuggling routes through Portland were supplying the entire West Coast with the exotic, deadly stuff.
An illustration of a group of smugglers bringing opium and illegal Chinese immigrants into Oregon, from a 1889 issue of Portland-based magazine The West Shore. (Image: UO Libraries)

•Portland and other cities
•1870s to 1920s


Jan. 26, 2014

Charming gentleman by day, highway robber by night

Charles "Black Bart" Bolton's neighbors in San Francisco thought his money came from ownership in gold mines. It turned out it came from furtive excursions northward to rob stagecoaches in Oregon and northern California.
A poster advertising a 1948 “B Movie” titled “Black Bart.” Although the movie’s title character shares Black Bart’s real name (Charles Boles), the movie’s plot bears no resemblance to the real Black Bart story.

•Siskiyou Mountains


Jan. 19, 2014

Portland is home of world's only working PT boat from WWII

Twenty years ago, PT-658 was a weatherbeaten hulk, rotting away at a pier in San Francisco Bay. Today, it's a priceless piece of American history that you'll occasionally see on the waters of Portland Harbor.
The fully restored PT-658 as seen from the sidewalk on the Hawthorne Bridge during the 2011 Rose Festival. On this occasion, the PT-658 inadvertently intruded into the dragonboat races, which were then in progress, and quickly retreated back downriver – but not before giving the dragonboat-racing spectators on the bridge a spectacular view of its deck armaments. (Image: F.J.D. John)

•Portland harbor


Jan. 12, 2014

Portland's Vaudeville mayor made city famous (and infamous)

Adorably boisterous and hearty, Mayor George Baker was the life of every party. But if you were a supporter of organized labor or an anti-war activist, he and his "Mayor's Secret Police" goons were not your friends.
Mayor George Baker of Portland as he looked shortly after his swearing-in in 1917. (Image: Oregon Historical Society)



Jan. 5, 2014

The Oregonian once burgled a mayoral candidate's home

Will Daly had earned the sworn enmity of the newspaper's publisher, Henry Pittock, by exposing his plan to steal city water for his lush West Hills estate. But Pittock evened the score with a midnight visit to Daly's residence.
Will Daly as he appeared around the time of his campaign for mayor of Portland, in 1917. (Image: Portland Morning Oregonian)


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Offbeat Oregon History

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