Listeners This link takes you back to my personal hub page at finnjohn.com. It opens in a new browser window. Weekly  RSS feed (text/images) info Thrice-weekly RSS audio edition (podcast) and iTunes feed Listen to the Offbeat Oregon History show on Stitcher Internet Radio. Offbeat Oregon History page on Facebook. New historic photographs are frequently posted. Offbeat Oregon on Twitter. This is where you'll find most of the "pop history" community. Offbeat Oregon on Pinterest Calendar of live history shows for the next month or two

Heroes and rascals...
shipwrecks and lost gold ...

Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

  • A weekly newspaper column published in about a dozen Oregon community newspapers;
  • An archive of columns we've published since 2008, with pictures (see table on this page; they're arranged by date of first publication);
  • A thrice-weekly podcast (7 to 12 minutes long) optimized for mobile-device listening via iTunes, Stitcher, or the podcatcher of your choice;
  • A weekly RSS feed optimized for smartphone newsreader apps like Pulse or Feedly;
  • An active Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest boards.

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!

Other years' columns, etc.:

Governor Charles Martin's goons were dirty fighters, but incompetent (#372, Jan. 3, 2016)

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One-term governor had a team of secret agents working for him, trying to subvert labor unions and ferret out communists; but most of their efforts seemed to end up scoring points for the “other team.”
To play podcast version:

Portland's “Jitney Wars” pitted entrepreneurs against monopoly (#373, Jan. 10, 2016)

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Regular motorists would swing by streetcar stops and offer to take passengers faster and in greater comfort for the same nickel. But the competition enraged the powerful plutocrats who owned the streetcar company.
To play podcast version:

Bizarre scientific “bone wars” touched Oregon, but barely (#374, Jan. 17, 2016)

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It's probably just as well that no actual dinosaur bones were found here; the spiteful, unprofessional “cowboy paleontology” practiced by O.C. Marsh and E.D. Cope would have left Oregon's pioneer scientists profoundly unimpressed.
To play podcast version:

For Milwaukie gas station owner, buying bomber was a wild adventure (#375, Jan. 24, 2016)

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Before he made it back, Art Lacey had survived a plane crash, bribed a fire department with illegal whiskey, kited a big check and made bitter enemies in Portland City Hall. But hey, all's well that ends well, right?
To play podcast version:

Captain's refusal to leave shipwreck angered his rescuers (#376, Jan. 31, 2016)

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At great personal risk, Coast Guardsmen had to rescue the skipper twice, because he insisted on staying aboard the stranded steamship to defend its cargo from marauding salvagers..
To play podcast version:

Doomed schooner's crew was locked in race against fiery death (#377, Feb. 7, 2016)

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Below decks, a chemical fire burned freely through the hold of the Challenger; above deck, her crew worked desperately in a hurricane windstorm to find a port they could put into before the fire broke through the deck.
To play podcast version:

Benton County lad became the “Nicola Tesla of Oregon” (#378, Feb. 14, 2016)

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Thomas B. Slate first invented the commercial production process for making dry ice, then took his new-made fortune and used it to re-imagine airship travel in an almost unbelievably “steampunk” way.
To play podcast version:

Would inventor's silver steam-powered airship have worked? (#379, Feb. 21, 2016)

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If so, the Linn County lad might have revolutionized air travel. But a launch-day disaster ruined his prototype, the Great Depression scared off all his investors, and the Hindenburg disaster ended the era of airship travel.
To play podcast version:

Oregon lad became a founding father of Russian communism (#380, Feb. 28, 2016)

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Portland native Jack Reed was the only American buried in the Kremlin wall; his enthusiasm for the Bolsheviks was cooling toward the end, but after he died they gave him a state funeral and declared him a martyr to the revolution.
To play podcast version:

The Reverend Wells’ Wild Ride (Circuit Preacher Chronicles, Part I) (#381, March 6, 2016)

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Eagerly, the Reverend leaped into the waiting bathtub, positioned at the top of the stairs in the chilly foyer of the frontier hotel. And then, to his horror, he realized it was sliding toward the top of the staircase on a sheet of ice ....
To play podcast version:

Shanghaiing up a flock for the Lord (Circuit Preacher Chronicles, Part II) (#382, March 13, 2016)

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When trying to minister to the spiritual needs of a crowd of hard-sinning miners and sailors, it was sometimes necessary to resort to unorthodox tactics — tactics not often seen among men of the cloth in more civilized times.
To play podcast version:

A Longshoreman's Funeral (Circuit Preacher Chronicles, Part III) (#383, March 20, 2016)

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The Reverend preached the funeral service to an empty church, while the deceased's friends and colleagues fought in the parking lot over who got to ride in the taxicabs. But the hostilities were forgotten when they arrived at a roadhouse.
To play podcast version:

Vaudeville Susie's Riot; or, How Seriously Frontier Oregon Took its Entertainment (#384, March 27, 2016)

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The Rebel sympathizers resented the Union soldiers taking all the seats when Vaudeville star Susie Robinson of Corvallis took the stage. The soldiers wouldn't back down. Then somebody pulled a pistol ... and the battle was on.
To play podcast version:

Abigail Scott Duniway isn't the only great woman in Oregon's history (#385, April 3, 2016)

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Other pioneering Oregonians worthy of having bridges and mountains named after them include attorney Mary G. Leonard, historian Frances Fuller Victor and physician Bethenia Owens-Adair.
To play podcast version:

Oregon women served as nation's first female governor, cop, and voter (#386, April 10, 2016)

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Not many people know it, but Oregon had the first female governor (in 1909), first female sworn police officer (in 1908) and first female stagecoach driver (in the 1860s).
To play podcast version:

Oregon Trail Medicine; or, How Not to Die of Dysentery (#387, April 17, 2016)

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In the first half of the 1800s, mainstream medical doctors were not very trusted; travelers on the Oregon Trail relied more on herbal remedies or cold water.
To play podcast version:

Frontier Oregon swindlers: The traveling medicine shows (#388, April 24, 2016)

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The basic idea: Mix a few dramatic ingredients like whiskey, red pepper and laudanum, stick a label on it; hawk it on streetcorners as a universal medicine; and leave town before the suckers can get wise.
To play podcast version:

Edward F. Lee was Oregon’s first fake-viagra  scammer (#389, May 1, 2016)

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Local swindler's anti-impotence scam brought him and his company to national attention; but it wasn't until he added a quack birth-control remedy to his line that he was busted and jailed for his fraud.
To play podcast version:

“Jackson County Rebellion” grew out of newspapers’ fight (#390, May 8, 2016)

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An autocratic populist from southern California, arriving in Medford in a flashy Cadillac, managed to position himself as a leader of the poor and disenfranchised. The results would rock the county, and the state, to the core.
To play podcast version:

The Jackson County Rebellion: Llewellyn Banks comes to power (#391, May 15, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

Southern Oregon populist leader had plans for a guerilla uprising (#392, May 22, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

Albany’s “Queen of Fakirs” belongs in swindlers’ hall of fame (#393, May 29, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

“Heaven's Gate” UFO cult lured away 20 Oregonians, caused statewide panic (#394, June 5, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

For captain and crew, catastrophic shipwreck was luckiest break of their lives (#395, June 12, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

The ship that suddenly broke in half while moored at the dock (#396, June 19, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

Did brutal wartime railroad murder end in cynical “railroad job”? (#397, June 26, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

In trial, prime suspect became star witness against likely innocent man (#398, July 3, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

Who had the motive to frame an innocent man? Everyone did (#399, July 10, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

Supreme Court once declared slavery legal for sailors (#400, July 17, 2016)

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This article is still under its 60-day embargo. Click here to find it on the Web site of a member newspaper or other publication.

All August 2016 articles will appear in this column:

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All September 2016 articles will appear in this column:

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All October 2016 articles will appear in this column:

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All November 2016 articles will appear in this column:

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All December 2016 articles will appear in this column:

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Previous years: