Finn J.D. John

"Offbeat Oregon:" Unusual stories of historic Oregon ... suggestions welcomed.

Image: Wikimedia##Naturalist John K. Townsend in his mid-30s.

Offbeat Oregon: Thirsty colleague ruined naturalist’s specimens

The history of 1800s Oregon is full of the influence of good old Demon Rum — and from the “Blue Ruin” that inspired America’s first prohibition law in 1844, to the “Temperance ...

Image: Rebecca Maxwell/ HMDb.org##This historical marker near Fort Boise commemorates the winter Marie Dorion spent in the Idaho wilderness en route back to Astoria in the winter of early 1814.

Offbeat Oregon: How Marie Dorion earned the distinction of ‘Oregon’s Revenant’

How Marie Dorion earned her story as “Oregon’s Revenant”   Marie Dorion’s contribution to whatever success the Astorian party enjoyed on its disastrous trip to Oregon was ...

Image: W.H. Vermilye##An engraving from an 1838 edition of Edmund Fanning’s book, Voyages to the South Seas, Indian and Pacific Oceans, China Sea, North-West Coast, purports to show the attack on the Tonquin in a bay on Vancouver Island.

Offbeat Oregon: Following river was near-fatal decision

When Marie and Pierre Dorion set out from St. Louis with the Astor Party in the spring of 1811, Marie was probably the only member in a position to really know how awful things could get. Offbeat Oregon Finn ...

Image: Rebecca Maxwell/Historic Marker Database, HMdb.org##A statue of Marie Dorion with one of her children, erected by the Idaho State Historical Society near Fort Boise, where she survived a winter alone in the wilderness with her two boys.

Offbeat Oregon: For Marie Aioe Dorion, a fateful decision

The history of Oregon sometimes resembles an old manuscript from which every other page has been ripped out. Throughout the 1800s and much of the 1900s, most people only deemed stories worth preserving ...

Image: findagrave.com##Mona Bell and Edgar Hill pose for a photograph at the beach shortly after their “marriage.”

Offbeat Oregon: Mona Bell: Annie Oakley with an edge

In the summer of 1936, when Edith Mona Bell Hill moved into her cozy hunting cabin on the shore of Dunbar Lake in north-central Minnesota, the neighbors didn’t really know what to make of her. In ...

Postcard image##Yaquina Head Lighthouse — the tallest on the Oregon Coast — as it appeared around 1920.

Offbeat Oregon: Cape Foulweather Lighthouse was built on the wrong headland

Sometime in the late 1860s, a sailing ship hove to just off the Oregon coast, near the mouth of Yaquina Bay. This ship was full of building materials. Its mission was to land those materials on Cape Foulweather ...

Offbeat Oregon: Oregon Gov. Geer is state’s “patron saint of bike commuters”

In recent years, bicycle commuting has had something of a resurgence in Oregon, especially true in urban areas, where you’ll see these hard-bodied, Lycra-clad road warriors in all kinds of crazy ...

Image: findagrave.com##“Soapy” Smith at the bar in his saloon, “Jeff. Smiths Parlor,” in Skagway in 1898. Note the light bulbs; electric light was a luxury in the 1890s, especially in Alaska.

Offbeat Oregon: Famous swindler got soapy start in Oregon

Aug. 1, 1882. On a sunny streetcorner in the middle of the rough-hewn, stump-strewn frontier town of Portland, a fresh-faced, wholesome-looking 22-year-old fellow named Jefferson Smith, nattily attired, ...

Image: Library of Congress##An 1898 Photochrom print of Mount Hood.

Offbeat Oregon: A quietly active volcano

Climbing Mount Hood is a big achievement. It’s no Everest, but at 11,244 feet, Oregon’s highest is not an insignificant mountain either. But modern climbers making the final assault on the ...

Image: Library of Congress##Forest Service fire lookout stations like this one were used by Aircraft Warning Service volunteers during the war. This one is on Suntop Mountain in Pierce County, Washington.

Offbeat Oregon: Eyes on the sky

One day, if you’re lucky, you might stumble across an interesting little item in the toy section while browsing through a thrift shop: a small hard-rubber toy airplane. This airplane will have no ...

## A postcard image showing a bird’s-eye view of Cottage Grove in 1903.

Offbeat Oregon: Cottage Grove's revenge

Anyone who’s spent any time in the town of Cottage Grove, at the southernmost tip of the Willamette Valley, knows the town has a somewhat checkered relationship with the city of Eugene. Everything ...

Image: Library of Congress##Members of the Bonus Expeditionary Force protest at the Capitol Building in 1932.

Offbeat Oregon: 'Bonus Army' populist uprising started in Portland

The state of Oregon had a remarkably outsized impact on the life and career of President Herbert Hoover. It gave him his start, from age 9 until he went away to college at Stanford; and, 40 years later, ...

Image: Portland City Archives##Nattily dressed Portland businessmen carry on during the 1894 flood, using a makeshift bridge to cross flooded Third Street at the intersection with Washington Street.

Offbeat Oregon: High-stepping in Portland

For most modern Oregonians, the most intriguing part of the old stories of the 1894 Portland and Willamette Valley flood is how undaunted people were by it. Today, most Willamette Valley residents expect ...

Image: Library of Congress##A drawing of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse from the Annual Report of the U.S. Lighthouse Board in 1881, just after the structure had been built.

Offbeat Oregon: Lighthouse finished 18 days too late

The third of January, 1881, was a typical winter day for the construction crew working on the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. That is to say, it was awful. A terrific gale was blowing out of the southwest, ...

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