Finn J.D. John

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

Image: Salem Public Library##The aftermath of a train wreck on the Oregon Pacific Railroad line during the 1880s, when T. Edgenton Hogg was running the line.

Offbeat Oregon: Pirate, jailbird, swindler, tycoon

Next time you’re heading over Santiam Pass from the Willamette Valley, you might take a second to glance over at the side of the big potato-shaped promontory around which the highway bends ...

Image: St. Nicholas Advertisements##A 1915 advertisement for the Erector Set, featuring a portrait of A.C. Gilbert.

Offbeat Oregon: 'Anti-Grinch' saved Christmas

It was late in the afternoon, on a late autumn day in 1918, when Oregon native Alfred Carlton Gilbert, president and CEO of the toy company Mysto Manufacturing Company, was shown in for his scheduled ...

News-Register file photo##The Hoover-Minthorn House Museum in Newberg.

Offbeat Oregon: Lonely Newberg orphan grew up to be president

One wintry November day in 1885, a passenger train pulled into the depot in Newberg, and a lone little plain-dressed Quaker boy stepped onto the platform. He was 10 years old, this boy, with a serious, ...

Image: F. Gleason/Wikimedia##An 1840s hand-tinted engraving of Sutter’s Fort as it appeared in its heyday.

Offbeat Oregon: California Gold Rush sparked by a failed Oregon farmer

Most residents of Western Oregon complain about the rain — especially this time of year. But arguably nobody has ever had more cause to complain about the soggy Willamette Valley climate than James ...

Image: FOX Network##A screenshot of Bart Simpson with a Polybius video game cabinet in an episode of The Simpsons that aired in September 2006.

Offbeat Oregon: Did video game control kids' minds?

It’s a scenario that would have chilled the blood of any parent of a teenager in the early 1980s: One day when the Beaverton Mall opens for business, there’s a new coin-op videogame cabinet ...

Image: Lostwagonman/Wikimedia##At the spot in the Deschutes River where this bridge is today, members of Stephen Meek’s wagon train built a pulley system to get people and wagons across the river.

Offbeat Oregon: Quest for mine led 'suckers' to riches

Oregon, like other states, has an official state bird (Western Meadowlark), animal (beaver), tree (Douglas Fir), gemstone (Sunstone) and so forth. But if the state were going to designate an official ...

Image: F.J.D. John##The eastern shore of Abert Lake, one of the remnants of the inland sea called Lake Chewaucan, as seen from Highway 395. Abert Lake, the waters of which are very salty, is home to a dense colony of brine shrimp on which migrating waterfowl rely for food.

Offbeat Oregon: Small, salty lakes hint at network of inland seas

Westward bound on the old Applegate Trail in the early 1850s, the party of settlers halted in confusion at the shore of a vast, placid lake. Its waters stretched nearly all the way to the horizon, with ...

Image: Smithsonian Institution##One of the millions of “wanted” posters printed and distributed across the country during the four years in which the DeAutremont Brothers were on the lam.

Offbeat Oregon: Bungled train robbery-murder solved, CSI-style

University of California Professor Edward O. Heinrich had helped the Southern Pacific out with a few minor robbery investigations before. Now, in late autumn of 1923, SP had a big one on its hands. ...

Image: Smithsonian Institute##Unidentified officials pose with the wreckage of the mail car blown up by the DeAutremont Brothers in a bungled attempt to rob it on Oct. 11, 1923.

Offbeat Oregon: Last 'great' train robbery was a brutal fiasco

Few people realize it, but modern forensic detective work — the kind showcased on the “CSI” series on television — was born in southern Oregon, back in October 1923. Before ...

Offbeat Oregon: ‘Oregon System’ showed the nation how to fight corruption

As the year 1896 drew to a close, something like a revolution was brewing in the state of Oregon. It was becoming increasingly clear that out-of-state interests were wielding a lot of power in the Beaver ...

Image: Oregon Historical Society##A massive crowd of onlookers gathers on Sept. 27, 1941, to watch as the Star of Oregon, the first Liberty ship, is launched into the Columbia at Henry Kaiser’s Oregon Shipbuilding Company.

Offbeat Oregon: How Portland helped save England and Canada

At the beginning of 1941, the United Kingdom was standing alone against the Nazi empire in Europe, and not much of the smart money was on it holding out for more than another eight or 10 months. But it ...

##A postcard image shows the Oregon Electric railway train leaving Salem, heading north to Portland, circa 1910.

Offbeat Oregon: The rise and fall of the Oregon Electric Railroad

American tourists visiting Italy and other Old World destinations, if they get off the beaten tourist-track a bit, often remark on the number of derelict buildings they see along the roads there. Hulking, ...

Image: UO Libraries##This illustration accompanied a 1915 article about the beeswax shipwreck in the Portland Sunday Oregonian.

Offbeat Oregon: Is beeswax just the beginning?

Buried somewhere in the sands off Nehalem Spit is Oregon’s oldest known shipwreck — and it’s a wreck that may be a genuine treasure ship. The wreck has become known as the “Beeswax ...

Image: F.J.D. John##Ward’s Butte as seen from the main intersection in Plainview, looking southward on Manning Road. Dave West’s farm was near the foot of the butte.

Offbeat Oregon: Prohibition liquor raid went horribly wrong

On a broad flat stretch of the Willamette Valley floor, just across the freeway from the town of Shedd, lies a little cluster of buildings and a Mennonite church — all that remains of the little ...

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS