The Brandos in Kalama

The Brandos

While few can likely relate to the turbulent ups and downs of the famous Brando family, every one of us understands the desire for a friendly place where we can escape from real life, even if just for a short while. Incredibly, for legendary actor Marlon Brando and eldest son Christian Brando, that place was…

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An Extraordinary Existence

George Putnam Riley

George Putnam Riley was a brilliant activist, orator and lifetime barber lived an extraordinary existence during a pivotal time in American history, during the second half of the nineteenth century. His formative years were shaped by his East Coast upbringing, but his true character came from his life experiences on the Pacific Coast. The African-American…

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Modern Dance Pioneer Bonnie Bird

Bonnie Bird

She was many things: an accomplished performer, revered instructor, passionate political activist and loving wife and mother. Bonnie Bird also was a Bothell, Washington, resident into the 1930s, while the rest of her family continued to live there into the ’50s. Bonnie was born in Portland in 1914 and spent most of her childhood in…

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Fallen Women, a Dashing Aviator, a Monkey, & Massage

The Cedars In 1917, a detention home for “fallen women” called The Cedars was built to the north of Edgefield, under the stewardship of Lola Baldwin, Portland’s first policewoman and namesake of our Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom. Press clippings trumpeted The Cedars as a “refuge for diseased women.” Yet the concern wasn’t actually…

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A New Painting by Kolieha Bush

Kolieha Bush

Art and write-up by McMenamins artist Kolieha Bush My trip to the White Bird Clinic was an inspiring and eye-opening experience. I’ve known of White Bird since the late 1970s as the medical and first aid booth at the Oregon Country Fair each year. I also saw them providing their services during the Further Festival…

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The Story of Dorothy Mason Brown

Dorothy Mason Brown

“She was religious, very active, very community oriented, always wanted to work to make the community better. She was a do-er, a helper, a supporter. I think at an early age, she had made up her mind that she was going to make a difference. And that’s what she did.” – Dr. Betty Cobbs, daughter…

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Lumberman Willard Case of Kalama

Willard Case

As 1908 came to a close, veteran lumberman Willard Case ushered in the first railroad logging operation at Kalama. Case had been in the lumber business for nearly two decades by this point, but was relatively new to this area. He hailed from the Old Northwest Territory – born in Ohio and raised in Missouri…

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The Story of Torchy


Hello from the History Department – She just wanted to finish her drink! Read this great story by The Oregonian’s Douglas Perry about Phyllis “Torchy” Jessing, the redhead on the left in McMenamins artist Lyle Hehn’s mural that hangs in Zeus Café. This true-crime tale has everything: a drunken stabbing, a bloody weapon, a lovesick…

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Who Was John Kalama?

John Kalama

Hello from the History Department – For more than a century, speculation has run rampant regarding how the town of Kalama got its name. Was it based on the Chinook word “Kala amat,” which is how local natives referred to themselves? Or did the name come from the nearby river, which had been named for…

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The Burbee Family of Kalama

Jonathan Burbee

Hello from the History Department – For most of the pioneer wagon trains making their slow and often treacherous way across the Oregon Trail, the trip ended in or around Oregon City. But for a select few, the journey veered north, up into what would one day be the Washington Territory. Read the story of…

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