History

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Haunted Oregon

Spirits of the past are present everywhere. They dwell in our lands, haunt our historic buildings and cemeteries, and inhabit our songs, literature, films and holy texts. From ancient Egypt to today’s pop culture, stories of ghosts, apparitions and spirits— whatever you call them—are found in nearly every society and every religion.

Portland Flood of 1894

As devastating as the more recent disasters were, the waters of the Willamette River have never risen higher than they did in June 1894. Turn-of-the-century Portland sprung up as a vital economic hub due to its position at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, a location that could be precarious when torrential rains fell. Severe spring snow melt and summer downpours combined that year to push the river deep into downtown, setting a record 33-foot high watermark that still stands today.

Mount Angel’s First Oktoberfest

One of the reasons we look so forward to fall is the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. This beautiful Bavarian-style town in Oregon certainly knows how to throw a party. With the 52nd annual celebration coming up this weekend we decided to take look back at how it all got started.

The Legacy of the Sawdust Circuit

If you squint hard enough, you can almost force the asphalt to fade away and replace it with a battered territorial road. Picture a sawmill off in the grassy distance. Follow the gentle billows of smoke as they rise and vanish into gray sky.

Pendleton Round Up: First Color Photos 1948

This photo archive was prepared for 1859 magazine by one of our readers, Mitchell Kaba. They are most likely the first color photographs of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people at the Pendleton Round Up in 1948.

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Mushroom Clouds & Dollar Signs

Learn the hidden history of the uranium mining in Oregon. When atomic metals were discovered in Klamath Falls, the uranium rush was on.

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Exploring the Oregon Trail

For many, the words “Oregon Trail” conjure happy childhood memories of hopping on old-school computers to transform oneself into a fearless wagon leader. Hours swiftly passed as we guided settlers from Independence, Missouri to Oregon’s Willamette Valley along the 2,170-mile emigrant wagon trail. On a good day in this wildly popular fantasy-land set in the 1850s, you’d hunt enough game for a hearty bison dinner for you and your team; on a really bad day, you’d die of cholera or a pesky snakebite.

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Oregon City—Then & Now

In 2018, the Oregon Trail celebrates its 175th anniversary. Traders laid the 2,170-plus-mile wagon route from about 1811 to 1840. Between the boom years of 1840 and 1860, more than 400,000-plus pioneers traveled its path. Connecting the Missouri River to Oregon’s lush valleys, the east-west trail was only passable on foot or by horseback, and those who braved it faced challenges like wagon accidents, disease outbreaks and rushing river crossings.

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Hippie Oregon

Deep within the Coast Range fourteen miles east of Florence, Oregon, a dozen or so members and residents of Alpha Farm have their days scheduled on a hand-drawn chart hung on a kitchen wall.

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The Vanished Cities

Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state, largely a result of early booming mining and lumber industries that have since faded from prominence in the modern world.