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Gun-toting “Oregon Wildcat” was America’s first “shock jock”

Gun-toting “Oregon Wildcat” was America’s first “shock jock”

By Finn J.D. John The first radio broadcaster ever to do be sent to prison for cursing on the air was a hard-charging early shock jock known as “The Oregon Wildcat,” who kept the city of Portland and surrounding regions glued to their radio sets every evening for most of the first half of 1930. […]

Rival Roseburg newspapers settled their differences with a big gunfight, right downtown

By Finn J.D. John The “Oregon Style” of newspaper journalism was already a thing in 1871, when upstart newspaper publisher William “Bud” Thompson got in his famous gunfight in downtown  Roseburg.   But until that day, the vicious personal attacks that characterized the “Oregon Style” had mostly involved the spilling of ink — not blood. […]

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Steamboat explosions on the upper Willamette

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Steamboat explosions on the upper Willamette

By Finn J.D. John It was a peaceful, happy spring morning in the little river town of Canemah, situated just above Willamette Falls — or, rather, it started out that way.   It was April 8, 1854 —  the very dawn of the steamboat era on the upper Willamette. Steamboats had been working the lower […]

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Train robbery turned into on-board gunfight with the law

By Finn J.D. John September 15, 2013   It was early summer, 1914, and an Oregon & Washington Railway Navigation Co. passenger train was just passing over the summit of the Blue Mountains, between LaGrande and Pendleton.   The crewmen were running the train slow, checking the brakes for the long downhill run ahead. Meanwhile, […]

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Oregon town’s special friendship with a former enemy

By Finn J.D. John The year was 1961. Nearly 20 years had come and gone since a tiny seaplane, 6,000 miles from home, buzzed over Brookings, Oregon, to bomb the American homeland for the first time in history. The event was still relatively recent, but it was well on its way to being forgotten.   […]

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The Samurai pilot who bombed Oregon

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The Samurai pilot who bombed Oregon

By Finn J.D. John It was a little after 6 a.m. on September 9, 1942. A tiny seaplane with red balls painted on its wings was making its way through the skies over Brookings, Oregon. At the controls was a young man named Nobuo Fujita; behind him, in the observer’s seat, looking intensely at the […]

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Corruption, hypocrisy brought down Ku Klux Klan in 1920s

By Finn J.D. John After the 1922 midterm elections, the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon was riding high. It had won almost every election it had deigned to compete for. It looked to them like they’d been handed a solid mandate to remake Oregon in the image of their ethnocentric social agenda, and they lost […]

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KKK: Coming to Oregon for Dough

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KKK: Coming to Oregon for Dough

By Finn J.D. John In early 1921, an outgoing Louisiana salesman named Luther Powell crossed the border from California to Oregon, with business on his mind.   Powell was a “Kleagle.” His job was to recruit new members for the newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan, collecting the $10 membership fee from each.   His commission […]

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An Inconvenient Miracle on the Coast

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An Inconvenient Miracle on the Coast

By Finn J.D. John It was January 3, 1852 — the middle of the night and the middle of winter, just off the middle of the Oregon Coast. The U.S. Army’s schooner Captain Lincoln, carrying a detachment of U.S. Army dragoons and supplies to reinforce a garrison near Port Orford, was getting badly abused by […]

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Lynching Kicks Off Vigilante Rule in Prineville

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Lynching Kicks Off Vigilante Rule in Prineville

By Finn J.D. John It was the Ides of March — March 15, 1882. A.H. Crooks and Stephen Jory were blazing the boundary lines of some land — cutting big marks in trees to mark what they claimed was the property line — near the ranch of a man named Lucius Langdon. The two of […]

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