Posted by: Brad Nixon | May 12, 2017

Overlooked Scenes from Oregon: From the Archives

Most links in this article point to previous posts about the portions of Oregon referenced here.

It’s time for some Spring cleaning. I’ve been engaged in a large-scale reorganization of the several thousand photo and text files in the Under Western Skies archive.

As part of my housecleaning, I found a folder labeled “Oregon Odds and Ends” that didn’t make the cut for articles I posted here about a couple of trips to the Beaver State.

I wrote about the small city of Roseburg, where we stopped for one night before the trip east to Crater Lake. Like many American towns, Roseburg’s downtown is still graced with innumerable late 19th- and early 20th-Century buildings of some distinctive character, but not all occupied by thriving businesses. Much of the town’s commerce has moved into shopping malls and big-box stores on the city’s periphery.

Downtown bears investigation, and we found a couple of good places to eat, too. I enjoyed seeing The Majestic, almost certainly once a movie theater, now home to the International Order of Odd Fellows and their auxiliary, the Rebekahs.

Roseburg Majestic Brad Nixon 1614 (640x480)

There was a bookstore, its sign hailing from another era:

sign Roseburg Brad Nixon 1630 (640x480)

And the display in the window was … daring!

Banned books Brad Nixon 2420 (480x640)

The next day we drove through rain to Crater Lake, one of the world’s most remarkable sites. Intent on seeing as much of it as possible, we didn’t stop to eat until well into the afternoon, on our drive southwest toward Ashland. Fortunately, we found one of those places: Beckie’s, tucked into the woods along Union Creek on the Crater Lake Highway:

Beckies Union Creek Brad Nixon 1721 (640x404)

interior Beckies Brad Nixon 1723 (640x460)

Try the pie! Even if that’s all you have (but get there early, or your favorite will be gone).

We visited lifelong friends in Ashland, Oregon, a college town deservedly famous for its Ashland Shakespeare Festival. The entire core of the town is a historic district full of Victorian houses.

Just north of Ashland is little Jacksonville, a picturesque old western town. In a residential section of town is this attractive mansion.

Nunan House Brad Nixon 1764 (640x471)

That’s the Nunan house, 1892, known locally as the “catalog house.” Some locals may tell you the name stems from the fact that it was assembled entirely from components ordered from the Sears & Roebuck Catalog. The flaw in that story is that the Sears Catalog wasn’t published until 1908. The house was built from plans ordered from an architect’s catalog, not that unusual an occurrence throughout much of the 19th and 20th Centuries, at least in the U.S. Read about the Nunan House here. If someone tells you differently, just smile, nod, take a photo, and go have lunch at the Back Porch Bar & Grill.

Up the Coast

The Oregon coast merits books’ worth of coverage. There are stunning beaches, sand dunes, forests, bustling port towns and more than a few places packed with tourist attractions from carnival rides to antique shops. Highway 101 crosses numerous historical bridges built by the WPA in the 1930s, like this one across the Rogue River at Gold Beach:

Rogue R bridge Gold Beach Brad Nixon 1798 (640x351)

Port Without a Harbor

Port Orford has only about 1,100 residents, but is the nearest town to wild and picturesque Cape Blanco with its windswept beaches, lighthouse and spectacular views from the bluffs.

Cape Blanco Brad Nixon IMG_1853 (640x480)

The “port” itself is of interest because the town lacks a sheltered harbor. It’s one of the few places in the world in which the boats of the fishing fleet are lowered into the ocean each day and lifted back out again by crane, because of the lack of secure moorings.

Port Orford Brad Nixon 1842 (640x430)

Roadside America

You travel along the Oregon coast on U.S. Route 101, which in places sports remnants of a bygone era of motor courts, wacky shop architecture to attract tourists and, in Florence, a surviving, honest-to-goodness A&W Root Beer stand, once a fixture on American byways.

Brad Nixon 1945 A&W Florence (640x429)

What’s best is that they still offer curb service (that means you order from your car, and carhops bring your food out to you and set it on a tray that hooks over the car window).

A&W Brad Nixon 1943 (640x480)


I’ll finish this lightning north-to-south-and-back tour in Oregon’s largest city, Portland. Like most cities of any significant size, Portland doesn’t have a uniform character. There are quiet residential zones, large expanses of commerce and malls, funky neighborhoods, an interesting riverfront, and there’s plenty of evidence to support the thesis that Portlandians are doing all they can to “Keep Portland Weird.”

This restaurant sign, on 82nd Avenue, is always eye-catching:

Hung Far Low Marcy Vincent 0002 (640x498)

Portland has what’s pretty much North America’s best-known bookstore, Powell’s City of Books, a thriving downtown, wonderful parks and great food, some of it served from Portland’s well-known food trucks that are scattered throughout the city:

Portland food trucks Brad Nixon 1599 (640x444)

In the midst of downtown, above the entrance to the Portland Building on 5th Street, crouches an impressive bronze statue of a woman in classical Greek garb, holding a trident.

Brad Nixon 2203 (640x480)

That’s Portlandia, a bronze sculpture created by artist Raymond Kaskey to suggest the classical female figure depicted on the official seal of the City of Portland. The statue is almost 35 feet tall, but if she were standing, she’d be about 50 feet tall.

What interests me is that Mr. Kaskey secured an agreement with the city to restrict the use of the image for any commercial purpose. If you want to label something with that image of Portlandia, you’ll have to reach an agreement with Mr. Kaskey. I say more power to him. I’m not selling anything here, Mr. K., just passing through.

Ah, I’ve seen so little of Oregon. I think I’ll go back.

What’s your must-see in Oregon, whether you’ve been there to tell us about it, or simply have it on your wish list? I welcome your comments.

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from Under Western Skies are available on CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2017. “Portlandia” is the property of Raymond Kaskey and may not be applied for any commercial purpose. Hung Far Low photograph © Marcy Vincent 2017, used by kind permission.


  1. I’ve seen so many wonderful photos of Oregon, I really must get to see it for myself one day!


  2. Hello-

    I lived in Roseburg, OR, for a year in 2002-2003 (my parents moved there from Ukiah, CA, in 1984 when my dad retired). I was directed to your page while searching for info on the old Majestic theatre. I was quite pleased to see the photo of Roseburg Book & Stationery. I worked there during most of my stay in Roseburg. The store has been in continuous operation since 1910 and is now mostly an office supply store (anything you can get at Staples you can get at Roseburg Book). The most remarkable thing about the place was that one of the employees at the time had been working there for 70 years! She stayed on several more years and
    died in 2010. The inside of the building was just as vintage as that sign. It featured very high ceilings, low door frames and narrow wooden staircases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Duffy. Thanks for your additional information. That’s most welcome. I’ll make a few notes in the blog post and credit you. Thanks for commenting.


    • And, I’d be pleased to learn a bit about the Majestic, if you have the time. All I know is the sign! Thank you.


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