show episodes
 
A daily (5-day-a-week) podcast feed of true Oregon stories -- of heroes and rascals, of shipwrecks and lost gold. Stories of shanghaied sailors and Skid Road bordellos and pirates and robbers and unsolved mysteries. An exploding whale, a couple shockingly scary cults, a 19th-century serial killer, several very naughty ladies, a handful of solid-brass con artists and some of the dumbest bad guys in the history of the universe. From the archives of the Offbeat Oregon History syndicated newspap ...
 
Loading …
show series
 
Is there any truth to the stories of shanghaiings of the cigar-store Indian and of the dozens of dead guys found in the basement of the funeral parlor next door to the “Snug Harbor Saloon”? Well ... maybe. But then again ... yeah, no. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1407c.bunco-kelley-part2-t…
 
He was Portland's most notorious bad guy, with his fingers in everything from shanghaiing sailors to smuggling opium. But ironically, when he was finally sent to prison, it was for a murder he clearly didn't commit. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1880s, 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1407b.bunco-kelley-part1-the-facts.htm…
 
After a beachfront landowner discovered a loophole in the law and fenced off “his” beach, other oceanfront property owners were eager to follow suit. Governor Tom McCall was determined to stop them, and this is how he did it. (Cannon Beach, Clatsop County; 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1206a-how-tom-mccall-saved-public…
 
Ancient electrical wiring ignited Portland's legendary Forestry Building, a structure made of massive, flawless old-growth logs that had been built for the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1900s, 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1206c-forestry-building-biggest-log-cabin-burned.html)…
 
Pulp writer and religious figure L. Ron Hubbard figures prominently in the most spectacular story of action against “Japanese submarines” in Oregon waters. It's called, with tongue firmly in cheek, the “Battle of Cape Lookout. (Offshore, Tillamook County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1407a.sunken-submarine-rumors.html…
 
NINETY-EIGHT YEARS ago, in a logging camp deep in the forests of British Columbia, a logger in a funny hat walked up to a big stump, an ax in his hand.Taking off the hat — it was a battered bowler, an old-fashioned dandy’s hat even in 1923 — he laid it on the stump, set a nail in it, and drove it in.Then he turned and walked away. Probably he walke…
 
Oregon was once known as a place full of “great liars” — tellers of tales so tall they'd cause every pair of pants in the room to spontaneously burst into flame. Central Oregon storyteller Reub Long could hold his own with the best of them. (Fort Rock, Lake County; 1950s, 1960s, 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1209a-reub…
 
Jerry and Lu Parks envisioned a “fairy-tale history of Oregon” in the form of an amusement park. What they created was a rich cultural artifact, and a treasured childhood memory for a generation of Oregonians. (Otis and Lincoln City, Lincoln County; 1960s, 1970s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1709c.pixieland-old-oregon-cultur…
 
At the pay the city of Sandy was offering, Otto Austin Loel was the only man willing to take the job. He didn't turn out to be much of a bargain ... but it wouldn't be until years later that the town learned how much worse he could have been. (Sandy, Clackamas County; 1940s, 1950s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1506a.sandy-po…
 
Fishermen working in heavy 24-foot boats at the mouth of the Columbia kept getting sucked out onto the bar and drowning in its massive breakers. Their odds of not surviving a season were as high as 1 in 15. (Astoria, Clatsop County; 1880s, 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1206d-most-dangerous-catch-salmon-on-columbia-rive…
 
The motto of Kate Ann Williams' cult was “Pray and be Cured,” and adherents went on rigorous 40-day fasts that occasionally killed them. The cult disappeared after its leader starved herself to death. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1204d-kate-williams-starvation-cult.html)…
 
Senate committee went from a solid consensus to confirm George H. Williams, to a firm determination not to, in just one week. The cause? Most believed it was because of the arrogant attitude of Mrs. Williams toward the senators' wives. (Washington D.C.; 1870s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1204c-williams-scotus-confirmation-s…
 
“World's Greatest Trick Rider” sold more than 50,000 bicycles in an age when bikes were the cutting edge of transportation technology; Oregon women loved them — until they started getting mistaken for hookers on the prowl ... (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1409a.303.fred-merrill-bicycle-king…
 
Historic steam schooner vanished on a calm night in 1930, leaving lifeboats and debris floating in the water — but no bodies, alive or dead. Was it a violent micro-storm? A “seaquake”? A boiler explosion? We'll never really know. (South Coast; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1206b-mysterious-disappearance-of-steamer-sout…
 
State treasurer Straub was a regular visitor to the state park through which the highway department wished to route the main Oregon Coast arterial. He took one look at the department's plans — and declared war. (Pacific City, Tillamook County; 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1708b.bob-straub-saves-nestucca-spit-456.html)…
 
Though home to some productive mines, the Blue Mountain boomtown made much of its money working the suckers back east; then its head honcho disappeared into the night with the money, hours ahead of the law. (Bourne, Baker County; 1890s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/H1011a-gold-mining-swindle-left-bourne-a-ghost-town.h…
 
Two motor lifeboat crews went out on the bar to save three surviving sailors. Both boats went to the bottom of the sea — but not a man was lost on either crew, and all the survivors were rescued. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1506d.CursedShips-RosecransRescue.html)…
 
The big oil tanker had weathered two major catastrophes in the previous year — a stranding and a colossal fire. But for 33 doomed crew members, the third time would be the charm — or, rather, the hex. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1506c.cursed-ships-rosecrans-344.html)…
 
George May was in an impossible situation, trapped in the upside-down hull of his ship, waiting for death. But then the ship washed ashore, the tide receded, and he lived to tell the story of the wreck of the M/V Oshkosh. (Columbia River Bar, Clatsop County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1204a-mariner-survives-shipwrec…
 
Clackamas County man claimed his father had bought the salvage rights in 1908, setting off a huge dust-up among residents, beachgoers and politicians, who scrambled to protect the landmark wreck. He almost got away with it, too. (Warrenton, Clatsop County; 1900s, 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1208d-schemer-sought-to-se…
 
The former logger tried to cash in on his knack for boat design and total lack of normal fear by paddling over waterfalls: Willamette Falls, Celilo Falls, South Silver Falls. But although he got famous, he never managed to get rich. (Silver Falls State Park, Marion County; 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1708c.al-fausset…
 
Gorse reminded Irishman Lord George Bennett of home, so he planted it when he founded the Oregon seaside town of Bandon; years later, the gorse destroyed the city in a fiery cataclysm. (Bandon, Coos County; 1870s, 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/H1011d-bandon-founder-favorite-plant-destroyed-his-town.html)…
 
Named after the warden who invented it, the “Gardner Shackle” eventually caused serious musculoskeletal damage; many former inmates limped for the rest of their lives as a result of habitually wearing one. (Salem, Marion County; 1860s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1403b.oregon-boot-cruel-unusual-punishment.html)…
 
DAWN WAS JUST breaking, and Tom McAdams had just barely crawled into bed, when he got the alarm. A 50-foot sailboat was washing ashore near Waldport. McAdams had been up all night escorting a leaking fishing boat into port after it got caught in a bad storm 20 miles offshore. Now it was the morning of Dec. 13, 1973, and it was his wife Joanne’s bir…
 
Adorably boisterous and hearty, Mayor George Baker was the life of every party. But if you were a supporter of organized labor or an anti-war activist, he and his “Mayor's Secret Police” goons were not your friends. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1910s, 1920s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1401b.george-baker-portlands-vaudevill…
 
Will Daly had earned the sworn enmity of the newspaper's publisher, Henry Pittock, by exposing his plan to steal city water for his lush West Hills estate. But Pittock evened the score with a midnight visit to Daly's residence. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1401a.will-daly-black-bag-job.htm…
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one …
 
Shortly after Charles Lyons' body was found, the owner of the "bawdy house" in which he'd been partying skipped town and was never heard from again. Could she have been his murderer? Or was she an unknown killer's second victim? (Klamath Falls, Klamath County; 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1403a.charles-lyons-murder-my…
 
The real Mary Leonard was probably someone who had given up “the good life” after realizing, during her time in jail, that the powerless women of her time were getting a raw deal — and determ ined to do something about it. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s, 1900s, 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1205d-mary-leonard-legal…
 
Had Mary Leonard died in 1890, she'd be remembered as she really was — a brilliant orator and an inspiration to future Oregon women and attorneys. But fate let her live another 20 years, during which she devolved into a total nut case. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1880s, 1890s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1205b-mary-…
 
Many historians, eager to see in her the caricature of the nagging, garrulous fishwife and gold-digging black widow, have missed the real story of Mary Leonard — and done both her, and the historical record, a disservice. (The Dalles, Wasco County; 1870s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1205b-mary-leonard-murder-trial-part1.htm…
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one …
 
Because of how it's chartered, the ghost town of Greenhorn remained an incorporated city even when its population was zero — but it couldn't defend its city hoosegow from the midnight raiders of Canyon City one summer night. (Greenhorn City, Baker County; 1960s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1505d.greenhorn-smallest-city-jail…
 
Largest elephant in captivity went from “Tusko the Magnificent,” star of Lotus Isle, to “Tusko the Unwanted,” abandoned at the Oregon State Fair, with several destructive rampages along the way. But who could blame him? (Portland, Multnomah County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1209c-tusko-the-terrible-led-a-colorful-t…
 
The short-lived attraction on Tomahawk Island was launched in an attempt to shake down the owners of nearby Jantzen Beach; their bluff called, the backers were forced to go forward with it. (Tomahawk Island (Portland), Clackamas County; 1920s, 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1209b-lotus-isle-amusement-park-a-swindle-gone…
 
Water seems to run uphill, and people's height appears to change from one end of a plank to another. Is it a fantastic optical illusion, or a mysterious force? Opinions vary (Near Gold Hill, Jackson County; 1930s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/H1002d_OregonVortex.html)By Finn J.D. John
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one …
 
A century ago, the drug had a dark, smoky allure for the "fast" young men and women of Oregon cities, and smuggling routes through Portland were supplying the entire West Coast with the exotic, deadly stuff. (Portland, Multnomah County; 1890s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1402a.opium-culture-portland-urban-underworld.html)…
 
When first reported, it looked like a simple murder-suicide. But it quickly became clear that it was something far more sinister — and the motives of the killer were uglier and more sordid than anyone had thought possible. (Brownsville, Linn County; 1860s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1708d.sidney-barbara-smith-murders-458.h…
 
What looked like a rotting-away hunk of scrap steel was a rare artifact of Portland's World War II shipbuilding industry — but the discovery was made just a few days too late. (Sauvie Island, Columbia and Multnomah County; 1940s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1207e-rusty-lifeboat-turned-out-to-be-relic-of-second-world-war.htm…
 
By far the most embarrassing jailbreak in state history happened when a murderer simply walked out the back door of a Motel 6 during an unsupervised “date” with a woman officials thought was his fiancee. (Salem, Marion County; 1974) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1207c-carl-cletus-bowles-jailbreak-during-conjugal-visit.html)…
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one …
 
Jovial and gregarious, Adelhelm Odermatt locked his sights on a vision of a hilltop monastery — and then deployed himself like a jovial, glad-handing, never-sleeping bombshell to make it happen. It was a near thing, but he pulled it off. (Mt. Angel, Marion County; 1880s, 1890s, 1900s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1505c.adelh…
 
All through the summer of 1973, there was one song on the radio everywhere that you just couldn’t get away from: Jim Croce’s smash hit, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”Come to think of it, it’s been very difficult to get away from that song ever since Croce wrote it. You probably are humming it to yourself right now: “Bad, bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in th…
 
Of all the prisoners who tried to escape from Oregon's state prison, the "yeggs" were most successful — if “successful” is the right word. Their schemes for leaving the jailhouse behind included a tunneling scheme right out of “Shawshank.” (Salem, Marion County; 1890s, 1900s, 1910s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1207d-safecra…
 
Searching for a fabulous source of gold formerly belonging to a friend who'd mysteriously disappeared, miners stumbled across Crater Lake. They never found the gold, though; could it be that it's still out there somewhere? (Crater Lake, Klamath County; 1850s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1207b-crater-lake-discovered-by-legen…
 
This is an episode in our weekly series titled 'Primary Source Tuesday.' Each Tuesday we have a reading from a particularly interesting historical item. Sometimes it's a historical tidbit that wasn't quite beefy enough to make a full column out of; other times, an especially interesting old newspaper article; frequently it's a short story from one …
 
Charles “Black Bart” Bolton's neighbors in San Francisco thought his money came from ownership in gold mines. It turned out it came from furtive excursions northward to rob stagecoaches in Oregon and northern California. (Siskiyou Pass, Jackson County; 1870s, 1880s) (For text and pictures, see http://offbeatoregon.com/1401d.black-bart-gentleman-sta…
 
Loading …

Quick Reference Guide

Copyright 2021 | Sitemap | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Google login Twitter login Classic login