Heroes and rascals, shipwrecks and lost gold: Strange but true stories and secrets of Oregon's wild past | Offbeat Oregon History 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 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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Actor Justus Barnes takes a shot straight into the camera at the end of a 10-minute silent Edison Films production called 'The Great Train Robbery,' the filming of which started in November 1903 – two months after Bill Miner’s gang tried to rob the train just outside Portland. It’s hard to miss the similarity between Barnes’ character and Bill Miner.

How Bill Miner learned to rob trains ... he learned the hard way.

But his botched Portland job appears to have inspired an iconic 1903 movie called 'The Great Train Robbery' a month or two later. Maybe he even watched it later ... in prison.

A scene from the Disney movie "Saludos Amigos" (1943), a sort of cartoon-character tour of South America. This scene is from the Argentina part, with Goofy dressed as a gaucho. In this cartoon and most others, Goofy was voiced by Pinto Colvig.

Goofy was from Oregon. Also Bluto, Grumpy, Sleepy, Bozo, dozens more.

Vance "Pinto" Colvig, from Jacksonville, was a pioneer in animated cartoons and a gifted show-biz man.

Earle Leonard Nelson, a.k.a. The Dark Strangler, as he looked a week or two before his execution in Canada. Nelson's hanging ended a cross-country and international murdering spree in which he murdered dozens of women.

When the 'Dark Strangler' preyed on Portland landladies

His M.O. was simple: While a woman was showing him a room or house for rent, he'd strangle her, take her jewelry and flee.

A breathless headline that appeared in the Portland Morning Oregonian after Lulu Reynolds revealed her clandestine lover's guilt in a particularly dramatic and creepy way.

The tawdriest love triangle in the history of the universe.

Lulu Reynolds was having a torrid affair with her music teacher. Her husband carried a .38 in his jacket pocket. It wasn't the kind of thing that ends well. It didn't.

A screen capture from an episode of ABC's legendary 1970s show "Happy Days." Because the show is set in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisc., "The Fonz" is actually breaking the law in this scene; pinball was outlawed in Milwaukee at the time.

Graft, corruption, racketeering, and ... uh, pinball?

Until just a few dozen years ago, pinball was illegal, and the mobbed-up characters who supplied the games played for keeps.

The front cover of the May 1946 issue of 44 Western Magazine shows a scene vaguely reminiscent of the downtown gunfight between feuding newspaper editors in 1871 Roseburg.

The Roseburg "newspaper war" that was settled with a gunfight

The owners of rival papers escalated their war of words when they went for pistols on a downtown street one morning in 1871.

An artist's sketch of what D.B. Cooper may have looked like, from an FBI bulletin sent out shortly after the skyjacking.

The legend of cool-cat skyjacker
D.B. Cooper:
What happened?

The man calling himself Dan Cooper parachuted into legend, and 40 years later the case remains unsolved ... but there are plenty of theories.

The front cover art of "For Men Only" Magazine showed a scene that bore some resemblance to the scene on the day Dave Tucker robbed the bank of which  he would, 32 years later, be named Vice-President.

The bank robber who became vice-president of the bank he robbed

After he got out of prison, Dave Tucker spent 30 years rebuilding his reputation in his hometown of Joseph, and it seems he succeeded.

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The Rise and Fall of the House of Klux in Oregon

A slick marketing campaign and a taste for political power marked the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, which spread through Oregon like a racist virus — and then collapsed.

This cover illustration from "Masked Rider Western," published in 1950, bears an uncanny resemblance to the events that kicked off Vigilante rule in Crook County.

When prineville was ruled by masked vigilante riders

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Senator John H. Mitchell: Oregon's own real-life Snidely Whiplash

He abandoned his family, changed his name, moved to Oregon, bilked widows and orphans in two big real-estate swindles ... and was promptly elected to Congress.

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Mysterious skeletons of Oregon: If these bones could talk ...

A long-dead dry-land homesteader ... a medical specimen in an Odd Fellows lodge ... what are their stories? We'll never know.

Oregon inventor Victor Strode’s revolutionary boat, the 'aerohydrocraft,' made the front cover of the March 1931 issue of Popular Science. The design didn't prove a useful one for the City of Portland, though, and the larger model the city commissioned to function as a harbor police boat didn't work out.

Buck Rogers-style police boat didn't work out for city of Portland

A local inventor developed the "aerohydrocraft" design in the early 1930s. But when the city built one as an ambulance boat, it flopped.

The remains of the barque Peter Iredale as they appear today, jutting out of the beach sands on Clatsop Spit at Warrenton as they have since 1906. In 1960, the wreck nearly was lost to a man who claimed he owned it.

How the Oregon Coast almost lost the Peter Iredale to a scrap-metal shark

An Oregon City man claimed he'd inherited the rights from his father, and demanded to be allowed to cut it up and haul it away. He almost got away with this little swindle.

Commander Dave Scott salutes the U.S. flag, which has just been planted on the surface of the moon. A small piece of Oregon lava rock, carried to the moon by Scott's fellow astronaut Jim Irwin, lies within this photo, next to one of the many bootprints. (Image: NASA)

There's a piece of lava from central oregon in this photo, on the moon.

It was left there by astronaut Jim Irwin at the request of a friend from Bend — who gave him a sliver of Oregon lava to leave on the moon's surface. And so he did.

The Motel 6 on Mission Street in Salem as it appeared in the mid-1970s, when Carl Cletus Bowles made his run from its back door. Don't laugh, at least not too loudly ... two innocent people would die before Bowles was back in prison.

During a conjugal visit at a cheap motel, the prisoner escaped

It had to be the most awkward prison-break scenario in the history of the universe. But it really did happen. Here's the story.

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James Lappeus came to Portland to open a saloon and "theater." Despite his checkered past — or maybe because of it — he was named city marshal and, later, Chief of Police. Here's the story.

This postcard picture of Cannon Beach was created in 1966, which means just off to the left of the frame is a beach with a fence around it and "no trespassing" signs.


A Portland real-estate guy found a loophole in the law and claimed a patch of beach for his own, and his friends in the state Legislature tried to keep it that way. Here's the story.

A color lithograph of George and Kate Ann Williams’s Victorian  mansion, located at 18th and Couch streets downtown.

This spooky-looking Portland mansion was home of a 'starvation cult'

A prominent Portland socialite led a sect called "Truth," with the motto "Pray and Be Cured," that required 40-day fasts. It vanished after its leader starved herself to death during a 110-day fast. Here's the story.

The archway monument leading up to the Wallowa County Courthouse,  built in 1936. The bronze plaque on the inside left of the arch includes  the name of murderer and horse thief Bruce “Blue” Evans.

A monument in honor of a horse thief and mass murderer?

Bruce "Blue" Evans led the gang that slaughtered over 30 innocent Chinese miners in 1887. So why is his name celebrated on a monument to Wallowa County Pioneers? . Here's the story.

Title screen from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Mel Blanc, the legendary Looney Toons voice man, grew up in Portland.

The voice of Bugs Bunny went to high school in Portland

Legendary Hollywood voice man Mel Blanc's teachers weren't too impressed with his voice talents, but Oregon radio listeners and cartoon fans sure were. Here's the story.

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Ame came over the Oregon Trail from Missouri. But when the North won the Civil War, her status as a slave didn't change. Here's what happened.

Ray V.B. Jackson in a booking photo from the Oregon State Pen, in 1896. Four years after this photo was taken, he was teaching grade school in Silver Lake.

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Offbeat Oregon History: Album cover art

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)

Late on the evening of June 2, 1917,  the Portland Morning Oregonian sprang a trap – a cunning and dirty trap.

The always-formidable daily newspaper, owned and edited by Henry Pittock following the death of the legendary Harvey Scott, had thrown its weight behind a big, boisterous City Council member named George Baker in the race for Portland city mayor. But in a fierce race with Union man and small-business owner Will Daly, Baker was clearly on track to lose.

For Pittock, that was simply not acceptable. Daly, a former Oregonian employee who had gone on to become Portland’s utility commissioner, had earned Pittock’s lifelong hatred several years before, when he’d uncovered a secret contract between the city and Pittock – under the terms of which, in exchange for favorable press in the Oregonian, the city would install (at considerable expense to the taxpayers) a half-mile-long pipeline bringing unlimited quantities of complimentary Bull Run water out to Pittock’s West Hills estate, which was outside city limits.

When Daly publicly exposed this larcenous little scheme, Pittock’s personal reputation was considerably sullied, and Daly instantly became his ex-boss’s bête noir. No, Pittock would not sit idly by while his number-one enemy took over the city government. But then, he wouldn’t have to. He’d already taken the necessary steps to make sure that didn’t happen.

A cartoon by the Oregonian’s famous Tige Reynolds illustrates the
newspaper’s attitude toward Will Daly. The “Single Tax” is a reference to a
scheme, never endorsed by Daly, to tax real estate owners 100 percent on
appreciation of their property while abolishing all other taxes.

Some time before this, Pittock had sent some of his more morally flexible staff members on what you might call an undercover investigation. You might also call it, as Watergate plotter E. Howard Hunt surely would, a “black bag job.” Simply put, they’d broken into Daly’s house and rifled through his papers, looking for something they could use.

They’d hit the jackpot.

What they had found was a partially-filled-out application for membership in the Socialist Party, dated 1910.

It isn’t clear, even today, whether Daly ever actually joined the Socialist Party. Some sources say he did, briefly, before renouncing it and registering as a Republican; others say he never sent the paperwork in. But such niceties didn’t matter to Pittock. What he cared about was not fairness or journalistic integrity, but simply denying Daly the mayorship. And now, two months after U.S. entry into the First World War, the anti-war Socialist Party was extremely unpopular. A credible claim that Daly was a registered Socialist would be some serious medicine – maybe even an election swinger if he handled it right.

Show-business man and three-term Portland Mayor George Baker
as he appeared during his campaign against Will Daly, in 1917.
(Image: Oregon Historical Society)

And Pittock intended to handle it right. He sat on the document until the very last minute. Then, on the evening of June 2, he loaded the next day’s Oregonian up like a cannon with the fruits of his felony and pulled the trigger. The shot hit the front porches of most homes in Portland the very next morning, the day before Election Day.

“SECURITY OF CITY HANGS ON ELECTION!” it shrieked, in heavy headline type on Page One. “Baker and Growth or Daly and Strife (is the) Issue. QUESTION IS UP TO VOTERS. Daly’s Election First Number on Radical Programme. AGITATORS ALL BACK HIM!”

Such was the Oregonian’s reputation as a voice of establishment cronyism that even this massive editorial broadside, delivered as it was the day before election (guaranteeing that Daly would have no chance to respond in any meaningful way), didn’t move the election results much. But it changed enough minds to hand Baker the election, by a slim 1-percent margin.

And just like that, Daly was finished.

                *             *             *

The June 3, 1917, issue of the Portland Morning Oregonian.

Will Daly was born in Missouri and was one of those newspaper pressmen with ink in their blood. He started work at the Springfield Leader-Democrat at age 10 and by the time he was 31, he’d worked his way to the top – he was the press foreman there.

When his mother died, Daly and his wife Daisy moved to Oregon, and Will ended up taking a job working on the press at the Morning Oregonian a few months after arriving; a few years later, he moved on to the Portland Linotype Company. He also opened his own small printing business on the side, the Portland Monotype Company.

Meanwhile, Daly was also rising through the ranks at the Oregon State Federation of Labor. By 1908 he was the union president. As an articulate, intelligent fellow who was both a blue-collar worker and a small-business owner, he turned out to be remarkably effective at helping Union workers and small-scale entrepreneurs see eye to eye. That was especially true after he was elected to the City Council in 1911.

This, of course, made him somewhat dangerous to the large-scale former entrepreneurs who formed Portland’s power elite, including the fairly scurrilous one for whom Daly had once worked – that is, Pittock.  So it was probably inevitable that Daly and his ex-boss would stop seeing eye-to-eye pretty quickly.

Things got bad in 1914 when Daly went to bat for the drivers of “jitneys” – which were like the progenitors of taxicabs. Jitneys were privately owned automobiles that entrepreneurs would buy and then drive around town, looking for fares. This was annoying the executives of the Portland Railway, Light and Power Company, the monopoly outfit that controlled Portland streetcars, which wanted the jitneys outlawed. Pittock, who probably regularly enjoyed brandy and cigars with the PRL&P bigwigs, vigorously agreed and never lost a chance to make the case that letting these small-time businessmen continue providing service threatened to destroy the city’s massive electricity-and-transportation monopoly. Daly just as vigorously disagreed.

Then came that incident with Pittock’s attempted theft of city water, and after that the relationship between the two men settled into a state of something like perpetual open war.

                *             *             *

After losing the election, Daly retired from public life and focused on his printing business. In 1920 he accepted an appointment as Oregon’s federal food price commissioner, but when he learned how much red tape and scrutiny of his business was involved, he resigned. And when Mayor Baker stood for re-election that same year, Daly actually endorsed his onetime rival.

He died, mostly forgotten, in 1924, just 54 years old.

(SOURCES: Johnson, Robert D. “The Myth of the Harmonious City,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, fall 1998; Daley, Shawn. “Will Daly (1869-1924),” Oregon Encyclopedia, oregonencyclopedia.org; Portland Morning Oregonian, June 3, 1917)

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