Friday April 15, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
For nearly a century, Hollywood moviemakers have been filming stories in the unique and varied settings of Southern Oregon. The historic town of Jacksonville, with its 19th century buildings, has been as especially popular site.
Every so often a movie company shows up in Jacksonville for a few days and draws attention. But perhaps no production caused more of a stir in the little village than the 1970 filming of The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid.
For about a month, Universal Pictures took over the community and "dressed" it to look like the 1876 Midwest town where Jesse James and his gang bungled their famous bank robbery. Power poles were removed, paved streets were covered with dirt, wooden planks disguised concrete sidewalks, and a wooden facade was built to hide a vacant lot.
Although only two hundred extras were needed, nearly 5,000 local residents, many dressed in their own costumes, showed up for a casting call.
Over the years, quite a number of motion pictures and made-for-TV movies have been filmed in Jacksonville, including the 1948 western Last of the Wild Horses and a 1987 TV version of Inherit the Wind. But none seem to be remembered more fondly than when the "James Gang" came to town.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Curler, Dawna. "Cinema Magic Casts Spell Close to Home, Filmmaking in Southern Oregon," Southern Oregon Heritage Today, Winter 2005, Vol., No. 1, pp. 8-10.