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 (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 fj-@-offbeatoregon-dot-com any time!

Other years' columns, etc.:

Last “great” train robbery was a brutal, incompetent fiasco (#424, January 1, 2017)

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After several other attempts to get into the crime business didn't work out for them, the DeAutremont brothers came up with a plan to rob a train at the summit of the Siskiyous. It did not go well — for anyone involved.
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Bungled train robbery-murder solved with “CSI: Southern Oregon” (#425, January 8, 2017)

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College professor's forensic investigation fingered the DeAutremont Brothers in the brutal robbery; after a years-long manhunt, and more than 2 million “wanted” posters, they were caught. But we still don't know the full story.
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Oregon’s biggest mud puddles are once-and-future inland seas (#426, January 15, 2017)

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Summer Lake, Abert Lake and Goose Lake were once all part of a vast network of seas surrounded by lush vegetation. In dry years they can evaporate completely — which led to some confusion on the Applegate Trail one year.
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Quest for “Blue Bucket Mine” led “suckers” to actual riches (#427, January 22, 2017)

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As a historical account, the Lost Blue Bucket Mine story is, to put it mildly, questionable. But there can be no denying the impact it has had as a legend, repeated and believed by generations of Oregonians.
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Story of sinister “Polybius” videogame almost certainly a myth (#428, January 29, 2017)

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The darksome story of the old console game, with its attendant Men In Black and swarms of zombie children, is a fun story to look back on; but its odds of being true are up there with tales of Bigfoot.
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California Gold Rush was sparked by a failed Oregon farmer (#429, February 5, 2017)

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Had James Marshall stayed in Oregon for one more month, he likely never would have left; instead, he headed south and found gold. And the discovery led more or less straight to his ruin.
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Tiny, lonely Newberg orphan grew up to be President (#430, February 12, 2017)

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He arrived in Oregon at age 9, and people called him “Poor Little Bertie.” He left Oregon for good to go to college at Stanford when he was 17. But Herbert Clark Hoover remained a member of the Salem Quaker church until his death.
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Former Oregonian saved whole nations from starving to death (#431, February 19, 2017)

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When World War I broke out, Herbert Hoover was the world's most successful mining engineer. He abandoned all that to build an organization to feed the starving, first in Belgium and then throughout war-torn Europe.
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How A.C. Gilbert, the “anti-Grinch” from Oregon, saved Christmas (#432, February 26, 2017)

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When Salem native Alfred Carlton Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set, learned that government officials were going to cancel Christmas with their “Buy Bonds, Not Toys” campaign, he went to Washington to change their minds. He did.
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Pirate, jailbird, swindler, tycoon: “Colonel” T.E. Hogg and his railroad (#433, March 5, 2017)

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Desperate for some ready cash after his steamer wrecked on the beach, the would-be magnate hastily built a “railroad to nowhere” over Santiam Pass in an attempt to swindle the federal government. It probably would have worked, but ...
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Did Sir Francis Drake actually visit Oregon in 1579? (#434, March 12, 2017)

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Let's face it: No one actually knows where the famous English privateer and explorer spent the summer, and his notes, upon his return, were deliberately opaque. But it's possible that his “Nova Albion” was on the Oregon Coast.
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“The Bucket of Blood” saloon: A souvenir of the age of shanghaiing (#435, March 19, 2017)

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East Portland's White Eagle Saloon has a colorful past. Over the years, it's been local headquarters for the Polish Resistance, a rough watering hole for sailors and dock workers, and Portland's hottest blues and rock-and-roll hot spot.
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Even as a boy, Erector Set inventor seemed larger than life (#436, March 26, 2017)

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A.C. Gilbert was a practicing magician good enough to astonish Hermann the Great at age 7, a world-record-holding athlete at age 17, and a born salesman — in the best “win-win” sense of the word.
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Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival kayoed boxing event in Round One (#437, April 2, 2017)

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The city business leaders hoped the Shakespeare Festival would do OK, but just in case it tanked, they insisted that it share the stage with a series of prizefights. The boxing matches bombed badly; luckily, the Shakespeare plays did not.
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Lighthouse was built 18 days too late to save sailing ship’s crew (#438, April 9, 2017)

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The construction crew had knocked off work for the night, and outside the building the blustery January weather raged. Then, over the roar of wind and surf, the crew heard a terrified voice from below shouting, “Hard aport!”
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When old Portland flooded, people just raised the sidewalks (#439, April 16, 2017)

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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.

“Bonus Army” populist uprising started in Portland, ended Hoover's hopes (#440, April 23, 2017)

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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.

Cottage Grove’s revenge for failure of “Nesmith County” plan was savage (#441, April 30, 2017)

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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.

Aircraft Warning Service saw few enemies, but saved many friends (#442, May 7, 2017)

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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.

Mount Hood, Oregon’s mild-mannered mountain, is still an active volcano (#443, May 14, 2017)

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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.

One cold snap taught a town to ice-skate; another sank a steamship (#444, May 21, 2017)

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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.

Oregon was scene of Soapy Smith’s first documented soap swindle (#445, May 28, 2017)

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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.

Oregon Governor Geer is state’s “patron saint of bike commuters” (#442, May 7, 2017)

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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.

How Cape Foulweather Lighthouse got built on the wrong headland (#442, May 7, 2017)

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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.

How a Corvallis man learned that cows make lousy boat engines (#442, May 7, 2017)

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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 July 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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All August 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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All September 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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All October 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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All November 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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All December 2017 articles will appear in this column:

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Previous years: