Heroes and rascals, shipwrecks and lost gold: Strange but true stories and secrets of Oregon's wild past | Offbeat Oregon History The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho -- yes, THAT Osho) as he appeared when he lived in Wasco County with his followers. That's also him in the white Rolls-Royce surrounded by followers, in a scene from Rajneeshpuram. (Four-part story starts with Column No. 73, May 9, 2010 While doing some cleaning-up around the Odd Fellows Hall in Scio, a local girl found a tiny coffin with this partial skeleton inside. Whose? We'll probably never know ... (Story No. 204, Oct. 14, 2012) The ever-elusive D.B. Cooper peeks into the page from behind his signature shades. The story of his skyjacking exploit starts with episode 237, from June 2, 2013. Meet Kitty Kat, the wealthiest feline in the state of Oregon and landlord to the City of Tangent. Kitty Kat, until he died at a ripe old age in 1995, owned City Hall. (Story No. 163, Jan. 8, 2012) This crazy-looking speedboat was the invention of Portland wizard Victor Strode. The city commissioned a harbor patrol boat based on his design, but it didn't work out. (Story No. 201, Sept. 23, 2012) The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho -- yes, THAT Osho) as he appeared when he lived in Wasco County with his followers. That's also him in the white Rolls-Royce surrounded by followers, in a scene from Rajneeshpuram. (Four-part story starts with Column No. 73, May 9, 2010 This is the roof of the Franz Bread Rest Hut at Pixieland, the Oregon Coast's ill-starred answer to Disneyland, which opened in 1969 and went out of biz in 1974. The Rest Hut consisted of a giant fiberglass loaf of bread sticking out of the top of this giant fiberglass hollow log, the whole thing towering over a log-flume roller coaster ride. It's probably the most campily awesome example of the proud display of crass commercialism that was Pixieland. (Column No. 52 - Dec. 6, 2009)
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Whale explodes: Details at 11.

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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.



About the Offbeat Oregon History project:

My name is Finn J.D. John, and if you want to know more about me personally, here's some biographical info.

As for Offbeat Oregon History — well, I created this site and the column service for several reasons:

First off, everybody needs a hobby, and if you happen to be an old newspaper guy, you also need a deadline every now and then to keep you sharp ... or, at any rate, I sure do. (This is why I don't charge for anything. Once you start making money off something, much of the fun goes out of it.)

Secondly, I find this stuff fascinating. I've been writing these columns since September of 2008, cranking out one every week, and I figure I'm still at least two years away from running out of material.

Since I took my current position on the teaching faculty of the New Media Communications department at Oregon State University, it's developed much more of an educational angle. I'm now using it as a live demonstration/exploration project for New Media franchise development as well as a public-history project — a source of educational materials for interested Oregonians.

But the primary purpose of Offbeat Oregon History is still as a service to community newspapers. I started this project to solve a problem that I found myself faced with from time to time when I was editor of a small community newspaper. Specifically, writers or story subjects would flake out, holes would appear in the paper and if the publisher was skating right up to the ad-edit ratio required by the post office or the ABC folks, a last-minute house ad was not an option.

The smoking hole would end up being filled with who-cared-what, which I always hated. Readers didn't seem too crazy about it either. And it made me look bad to my boss (the publisher or general manager).

If you ever find yourself in a similar position, I hope that I can help.

Articles free to publish:

On the first day of each month, a fresh article is released to my e-mail list of Oregon community newspapers. These articles are exclusively for the use of the newspapers they're sent to, and are not released in any other form until 60 days after I send them out. Articles are not posted on this Web site (or anywhere else) until at least 60 days after they've hit your "in box."

Of course, if you're in a pickle, any article on this site can be used free of charge in any newspaper or other publication — print, broadcast or on-line — or anything else, really. Once posted on this archive site, they come under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (details are here).

If you're not on the e-mail list for some crazy reason, but would like to be, please let me know so I can start sending you the fresh stuff!

Subscribing to the list:

If your publication qualifies, I'll gladly add you to my weekly e-mail subscribers list. There's no charge and no obligation of any kind. Here's how it works:

1. On the first day of each month, a fresh copy of the column shows up in your in-box.

2. You publish it or don't, as your news needs dictate.

3. There is no charge, but you do have to agree not to "sublet" the column to another publication. For instance, if your company owns a small weekly and a nearby big daily, you can't transfer the column rights to the big daily. This is because ...

4. The e-mail service for this column is intended for newspapers without access to a wire service.

Why is this? Basically, because non-AP papers are the ones that sometimes need something like this. And because if you're the owner of a newspaper in, say, Veneta, you're not going to be very happy to see an article you counted on for next week's paper appearing in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Exceptions to this "non-AP-only" clause are made on a case-by-case basis, usually for AP members who do not serve markets covered by non-AP publications. (There are also a couple cases of accidental inclusions, newspapers that were added to the list early in the process, which I can't "uninvite.")

5. After 60 days have passed, the column will be published on this Web site and made available to all publishers, AP members or not, and on this Web site.

Online-only news services:

The same deal applies. This won't be a surprise if you're familiar with what I teach, but I don't recognize any important difference between on-line and newsprint delivery systems. Also, if you have a blog or podcast that provides news services, this means you too. Really, we all have to come to grips with the fact that the value of what we do is in the news service, not in the printing or broadcasting. And speaking of broadcasting:

Radio and TV stations:

If you have a small community radio station or video-news service, I'll gladly add you to the list. I am a huge believer in small community broadcasting. Also, you're welcome to edit the content in any way you need to to make it more broadcast-friendly.

To get more info:

Contact me by e-mail at [finn_j *at* offbeatoregon *dot* com ].