Finn J.D. John

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

Image: Offbeat Oregon##The entrance to Whale Cove, as seen from the headland at its southern end. This photo was taken at high tide, so the rocky reef — Bootlegger Rock — is mostly covered.

Offbeat Oregon: Liquor smugglers’ luck ran dry in Whale Cove

In the pitchy darkness after midnight on a blustery February morning just off the Oregon Coast, the 36-foot powerboat Sea Island was in big trouble. The Sea Island was a Canadian rumrunner out ...

Omark Industries##A timber faller watches from a safe distance as the fir tree he was working on goes down.

Offbeat Oregon: Watching bugs led to invention of the modern chainsaw

Sometime shortly after the end of the Second World War, a logger named Joseph Buford Cox was out in the woods — probably doing some informal timber cruising on a patch of salvage timber, one of the ...

Image: Washington Historical Society##The five-foot Wolf Electric Chainsaw is demonstrated on a small Douglas Fir tree in what is obviously a publicity photo. The generator powering the electric motor is somewhere out of sight and the photographer seems to have taken some pains to hide the cable.

Offbeat Oregon: Early portable chainsaws didn't cut it with loggers

For most people not intimately familiar with the logging industry, it’s easy to forget how new an invention the chainsaw is. Offbeat Oregon Finn J.D. John, an instructor at OSU, writes ...

Image: American Medical Association##A political cartoon published by the American Medical Liberty League, Lora Little’s organization, sometime in the late 1910s or early 1920s.

Offbeat Oregon: Determined activist stopped state plan for forced sterilizations

In 1913, the Oregon state legislature passed a eugenic-sterilization law that had been written for it by one of the state’s most prominent citizens. The law’s author was Bethenia Owens-Adair, ...

Image: Superior Publishing##This photograph from shortly after the ship was built shows the Caoba — then named the Coastal — underway. When the Caoba came to grief, the low area amidships was piled high with a deck load of lumber and there were, fortunately, far fewer passengers on board.

Offbeat Oregon: Despite rescue, rumrunners went to prison

Capt. Robert Pamphlet and his crew were sailing south in a heavy sea when they heard the distress calls. The 579-ton steam schooner Caoba, slugging it out with the gale off the mouth of the Columbia, had ...

Image: F.J.D. John/Offbeat Oregon##The historic Soap Creek Schoolhouse, in the Coast Range west of Adair Village, is architecturally very similar to the one-room Josephine County schoolhouse in which Caroline Briggs and her son David assaulted and killed the schoolteacher in front of a full classroom of students in June 1874.

Offbeat Oregon: ‘Temporary insanity’ didn’t save bereaved woman from murder rap

In the late 1800s, the standard courtroom defense of murderers who wanted to claim the protection of the “unwritten law” was “temporary insanity.” The idea was, one tried to convince ...

Image: Ben Maxwell/Salem Public Library##An unidentified man poses with a chunk of beeswax he found on the beach in 1955.

Offbeat Oregon: Scientists, historians solve mystery of 17th century ‘Beeswax Wreck’

Since the beginning of European settlement along the Oregon Coast, people have wondered about the source of the mysterious chunks of beeswax that were continually turning up there. It seemed there was ...

Image: Debunker.com##One of two images taken by Paul Trent, showing what appears to be a flying saucer near his farm, located between McMinnville and Sheridan. The area around the UFO has been darkened to enhance its clarity.

Offbeat Oregon: Fierce debate over McMinnville UFO sighting continues today

Evelyn and Paul Trent lived on a farm between Sheridan and McMinnville in the years just after the Second World War. They were, by all accounts, just-plain-folks — good neighbors, solid citizens ...

Image: flickr.com/
hollywoodplace##This image from an advertisement for America’s Independent Electric Light and Power Companies in the April 1957 issue of Newsweek Magazine shows how flying-saucer stories were being incorporated into people’s visions of the future.

Offbeat Oregon: Flying saucer stories got start in Pendleton

If you were getting ready to take a UFO-themed road trip around the western U.S., there are several places that would naturally be at the top of the list. There’s Roswell, New Mexico, of course. ...

Image: Wikimedia Commons##An illustration from “Robur the Conqueror” (also know as “The Clipper of the Clouds”), a Jules Verne sci-fi novel from 1886. This shows the climactic scene, in which Robur’s airship, the Albatross, outperforms its lighter-than-air rival, the Go-Ahead. The Go-Ahead’s crew members are throwing ballast overboard to gain altitude.

Offbeat Oregon: Oregon called out California papers' UFO stories in 1890s

“Fake News” — meaning the kind that’s simply made up by a creative thinker sitting at a keyboard and pondering what will drive the most clicks — is having a moment just now. Offbeat ...

Image: Marion County Historical Society##Sen. John F. Kennedy greets Mary M. Barr at the Salem airport on Sept. 7, 1960.

Offbeat Oregon: Oregon was JFK's make-or-break state in '60 primary

As the 1960 Democratic presidential primary neared, Sen. John F. Kennedy was looking at Oregon with increasing apprehension. At that time, Oregon was the first Western state to hold a mandatory primary ...

Image: Horner/Gazette-Times##Abigail Scott Duniway as she appeared in the late 1800s.

Offbeat Oregon: Abigail Scott Duniway thought she'd be remembered for novels

Abigail Scott Duniway is a name that’s very familiar to most Oregon history buffs. She was a pioneer, a journalist, a newspaper editor, and a tireless advocate for women’s suffrage. All of ...

Ben Maxwell/ Salem Public Library##Howard A. Black, curator at Grant County Museum in Canyon City, Oregon, holds the skull of Berry Way and a “California collar,” or noose, of the type Way was hanged with, in this 1963 photograph.

Offbeat Oregon: “Paint your Wagon” meets “Perry Mason,” but playing for keeps

Exactly 155 years ago today, Deputy Frank McDaniels returned home in Canyon City after a long and grueling manhunt. McDaniels was exhausted. But he’d gotten his man. He had murder suspect Berry ...

Image: UO Libraries: A political cartoon by the legendary Tige Reynolds, on the front page of the April 13 edition of the Portland Morning Oregonian, illustrated the response to assistant librarian M. Louise Hunt’s refusal to invest in war bonds.

Offbeat Oregon: Librarian’s crime: Failure to lend money to government

On April 12, 1918, Oregonians opened their newspapers to learn that there was a traitor in their midst. “PORTLAND LIBRARIAN RADICAL IN DECLARING LOYALTY TO KAISER!” shrieked the Salem ...

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