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

Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. This is our hub page. From here, you can directly access ...

Enjoy! And if you have any comments on stories, suggestions for column topics or other feedback — or if you're coming by the OSU campus and have time for a cup of coffee with a fellow history dork — drop me a note at finn@offbeatoregon.com any time!

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No.

Date:

Headline

Thumbnail

Place & time

286

May 11, 2014

NASA's “Moon Trees” have roots in an Oregon forest fire

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 OSU today.
#

•The Moon
•1971

285

May 4, 2014

The mysterious disappearance of a schooner's entire crew

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.
#

•Astoria
•1883

284

April 27, 2014

Japanese shipwrecks on Oregon coast likely predate Columbus

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 Washington State — much to the astonishment of Dr. John McLoughlin.
#

•Oregon Coast

283

April 20, 2014

Bad batch of “dehorn” alcohol killed 28 hobos on Skid Road

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
•1934

282

April 13, 2014

Beavercreek Bomber: Give me $1 million or the lights go out

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.
#

•Clackamas County
•1974

281

April 6, 2014

Cayuse tribe's world-beating ponies are now very rare

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"
Cayuse Tribe members ride the track at the Pendleton Round-Up, probably sometime in the 1920s. (Image: Lee Drake/ UO Archives)

•Pendleton, Umatilla Indian country
•1800s

280

March 30, 2014

Iconic movies filmed in Oregon, Part Three: 1975-1989

As a filming location, Oregon really started to come into its own in the 1980s, and many locals can point to key cultural touchstones that played out right in their home towns.
This instantly recognizable image of downtown Brownsville as seen from the end of the Calapooia River bridge appears early in Stand By Me. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

•Astoria; Mt. Hood; Lane and Deschutes counties; Portland

279

March 23, 2014

Iconic movies filmed in Oregon, Part Two: 1965-1975

By the early 1960s, word started getting out in Hollywood about Oregon's virtues as a place to shoot on location. Productions made here during these eventful years follow changes in popular culture in an almost spooky way.
The meadow in which the town of “No Name City” was constructed for Paint Your Wagon, in the Wallowa Mountains. (Image: Roger Medlin/oregonicons.com)

•Salem; Deschutes, Lincoln, Lane and Baker counties

278

March 16, 2014

Iconic movies shot in Oregon, Part One: 1908 to 1952

As a place to go shoot pictures on location, Oregon has become pretty popular in the last few dozen years. But the Beaver State's contribution to early cinema, though more sparse, was surprisingly influential.
A vintage movie poster for Buster Keaton’s “The General,” a 1926  silent movie shot, in part, near Cottage Grove. (Image: United Artists)

•Astoria; Lane and Deschutes counties; Columbia Gorge

277

March 9, 2014

Brutal “Oregon Boot” made our state prison famous

Named after the warden who invented it, the “Gardner Shackle” eventually caused serious musculoskeletal damage; many former inmates limped for the rest of their lives as a result of habitually wearing one.
This small article ran in the August 1922 issue of Popular Science Magazine, demonstrating that the “Oregon Boot” was still in regular use in the early 1920s. The caption claims it weighs 50 pounds, but that figure is almost certainly a typo or a mistake; the heaviest one used at the Oregon State Penitentiary was 28 pounds. (Image: Popular Science)

•Salem
•1800s

276

March 2, 2014

After logger's murder, bordello madam mysteriously vanished

Shortly after Charles Lyons' body was found, the owner of the bordello in which he'd been partying skipped town and was never heard from again. Could she have been his murderer? Or was she an unknown killer's second victim?
A hand-tinted postcard image of downtown Klamath Falls as it  appeared around 1911, when the murder of Charles Lyons took place. (Image: OSU Archives)

•Klamath Falls
•1911

275

Feb. 23, 2014

Hank Vaughan in middle age: The outlaw as elder statesman

In 1883, Eastern Oregon's wildest horse-rustling gunfighter gave up his stock-thieving ways (mostly) and became a wheat farmer. But to say he'd settled down wouldn't quite be accurate.
Hank Vaughan as he appeared around the age of 35, in 1885, when he was beginning to settle down in the Athena-Pendleton area.

•Pendleton-Umatilla area
•1880s

274

Feb. 16, 2014

Hank Vaughan: Becoming the West's most successful rustler

The Oregon frontier's most colorful almost-outlaw spent a dozen years dodging posses and slipping in and out of the Indian reservation with stolen horses and cattle. Some of his exploits are still being talked about today.
The painting on the cover of this July 1950 issue of Exciting Western shows the scene that most of us think of when we hear “rustler” — two desperados caught in the act of stealthily changing the brand on a stolen cow. While Hank Vaughan did this sort of thing, his method was to drive the stolen cattle deep into the wilderness first, and he’d never do just one cow at a time.

•Pendleton-Umatilla area
•1880s

273

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
•1870s

272

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

271

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
•1875-1883

270

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
•1992

269

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)

•Portland
•1917

268

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)

•Portland
•1917

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Offbeat Oregon History


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