Klamath County Historical Society brings
back Echoes No.12
Helfrich photo, Klamath Echoes No. 12 Bill Duffy rides
Specs in the saddle bronc competition on July 3, 1955,
at the Beatty Rodeo. The photo is one of many in the
recently reprinted Klamath Echoes No. 12.
September 5, 2005
Klamath Falls Herald and News
By TODD KEPPLE
Lenora Johnson, a 23-year-old blond-haired
school teacher, held a gun in each hand as she confronted two drunken
men who invaded her schoolhouse near Beatty.
When the men entered her living quarters at the school and refused to
leave, she fired into the floor beneath the men's feet.
When they still refused to leave the school.
Johnson fired both guns, striking one man in the leg, sending him to
the hospital. The other man fled.
Johnson became known as the "two-gun school ma'am."
The incident happened in November 1932 at a school for Klamath Indian
children eight miles outside of Beatty. It is recounted in a newly
reprinted issue of Klamath Echoes, a series of historical journals
published by the Klamath County Historical Society.
Issue No. 12, originally published by the historical society in 1974,
relates the early settlement and development of the Sprague River
Valley. It includes several articles and many photos of the area
including the towns of Beatty, Sprague River and Bly.
Ten issues of the 16-volume Klamath Echoes series were out of print
for several years. The Klamath County Historical Society, which
published the series in the 1960s and '70s, has reprinted most of the
Issue No. 12, available for $10 per copy, includes several pages on
Yainax, a sub-agency established in 1869 to serve the Klamath Indian
Tribe. A boarding school was established at the sub-agency, serving as
many as 110 children.
The Indian boarding school at Yainax closed in
1907, according to the Echoes journal. Indian students continued to
attend "day schools" for several years afterward.
White settlement in the Bly area began in the early 1870s. Among
the early settlers was William H. Gearhart, a Missouri native who
drove cattle into what would become Klamath County in the 1870s. The
entire area was part of Jackson County at the time.
By 1888, there was a store and hotel at Bly, but the town saw little
growth until the Strahorn Railroad reached the area in 1928. A sawmill
was built in Bly in 1931, ensuring a spot on the map for the town.
The sawmill in Bly underwent several ownership changes, eventually
being acquired in 1970 by Weyerhaeuser Co.
The Echoes journal indicates telephone service
reached Bly in 1904, followed by electricity in 1929.
The first car to be seen in Bly arrived in October 1907. The state of
Oregon in 1923 selected the road through Bly as the best route for a
No. 12 Students and teachers stand in front of the
girls dormitory at the Yainax Indian Sub-Agency, which
operated a boarding school for Klamath Indians for
nearly 40 years.
The first Beatty store was built in 1915, and
a hotel opened at Beatty in 1938, making the townsite a popular
stopping place on the Klamath Falls-Lakeview highway, according to
The town of Sprague River sprang up in 1923 beside a large new sawmill
in the valley. By 1938, a school at Sprague River had 58 students
enrolled. But with the mill's demise in 1943, the town dwindled, and
the school was closed sometime after 1964.
Echoes No. 12 includes several pages of
history on the Strahorn Railroad, more commonly known as the Oregon,
California and Eastern, or OC&E Railroad. Construction began in
May 1917, reaching as far as Olene by the end of the year.
The OC&E reached Hildebrand in 1922, Sprague River in 1923 and Bly
in 1928. During the 1960s, two trains per day ran over the OC&E,
hauling logs to Klamath Falls. Plans to continue the line to Lakeview
were never realized.
Several photos in the Echoes No. 12 show views
of the communities of Yainax and Bly, as well as travel through the
area before the era of paved highways.
Copies of the Echoes series are available for purchase at the Klamath
County Museum gift shop, 1451 Main St. The museum is open from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.