2012 articles About Offbeat Oregon 2012 articles 2011 articles 2010 articles 2008-2009 articles About me Store (the Finn J.D. John Centre for Crass Commercialism and Filthy Lucre)
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Whale explodes: Details at 11.

The highway department guy didn't know how much dynamite to use, and said so on camera. But he still thinks the operation was a success. Check out the story of Florence's famous exploding whale ...


Far-out guru "enlightens" Central Oregon.

What happens when a colony of acolytes of an East Indian guru move in, then try to take over Wasco County? Check out the four-part story of the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram ...


this oregon youth went on to save half a billion lives...guess who?

A local Willamette Valley teen-ager named Bert Hoover, an orphan sent from Iowa to live with his uncle, went on to save millions of lives and become a singularly ill-starred U.S. president.


oregon's most spectacular shipwreck ever.

The steam schooner J. Marhoffer was almost brand-new when, burning fiercely from stem to stern, it piled onto the rocks near Depoe Bay. It's the remains of this fiery shipwreck that gave Boiler Bay its name ...


the gallant rescue of portland's floating brothel.

Maritime madam Nancy Boggs kept her bordello on a barge floating in the river, until a police raid cut it loose. But the captain and crew of a sternwheeler came to save the day. Here's the story.


take off to the province of oregon, eh?

Few people know how close Oregon came to officially becoming a British possession under the treaty that ended the War of 1812. Only the presence of a handful of scattered, starving survivors from Astor's fur enterprise prevented it. Here's how.


timberline lodge could have been a glass skyscraper

Calling the plan a "profit-making eyesore," a Forest Service manager nixed 1920s plan for a modern steel-and-glass structure with an aerial tramway. You can read about it right here.


pixieland: an edgy, vanished amusement park

Built in the late 1960s as a "fairy-tale history of Oregon," the amusement park lasted just a few years before slipping into receivership. Today, all that's left of this odd and uniquely Oregonian story is a dilapidated guardshack.



What's funny, what's touching, and what's just plain weird

Thanks for finding your way to my page. My name is Finn John, and Offbeat Oregon History is a weekly column I have written since 2008 and have self-syndicated for the benefit of Oregon's community newspapers and local history buffs -- and to give myself an assignment to learn about the weedier and less well-traveled pathways of my state's history. Because, to me, those are the most interesting.

Oregon is a funny state. It's not far removed from the old pioneer days, and until a couple dozen years ago, revenue from timber cutting kept the state government almost independently wealthy. Its history as part of the U.S. is short -- a little over 150 years, is all -- but it's packed with interesting events.

Bet you've never heard about ...

The articles I showcase on this Web site are dedicated to the funny, odd and little-known aspects of state history. These are the sorts of stories that you can, if you're a good storyteller, use to hold court at family gatherings and parties.

These articles are short -- the length of a newspaper column -- so they don't take long to read. Do take a look (click the "table of contents" link in the menu bar above, or click here) and let me know if you enjoy them.

Also -- I'm always looking for new ideas -- if you have a suggestion for an article, drop me a line, even if you think I might already have done something on it. (I also really enjoy drinking coffee with fellow history buffs, so let me know if you're going to be in the Albany-Corvallis area any time soon.)

Have fun! Keep in touch!



p.s. For more information about the Offbeat Oregon History project, click the "about this project" link above, or click here.