Finn J.D. John

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

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, ...

A circa 1910 postcard shows the Ashland Chautauqua building when it was new, with the great wooden dome over it. After the dome was removed, this building became the first home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Offbeat Oregon: Bowmer set the stage for Shakespeare

In 1931, at the height of the Great Depression, a young, charismatic drama teacher named Angus Bowmer got a job at Southern Oregon Normal School in Ashland. Bowmer, a fresh graduate of Washington State ...

##This advertisement for an Erector Set appeared in the December 1929 issue of Popular Science Magazine.

Offbeat Oregon: Even as a boy, toy inventor seemed larger than life

From about 1913 on, every small boy in America knew who A.C. Gilbert was. Somewhere on an advertising page in practically every youth-oriented magazine, his cheerful, immaculately dressed image could ...

F.J.D. John photo##White Eagle Saloon and Hotel building as it appears today, with vintage advertising painted on the side.

Offbeat Oregon: Saloon a souvenir of the age of shanghaiing

Low on the east bank of the river, in the shadow of the Fremont Bridge, stands a narrow brick building that looks like it’s right out of the 19th century. It’s not — almost, but not ...

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 ...

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