“Log Rolling, Ax Throwing, and the Owl” ~ David Benac’s visit as Resident Scholar

Thanks to Angela Barker for this post on David Benac’s time as Resident Scholar!

David Benac, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Western Michigan University, recently completed a term as Resident Scholar in the Oregon State University Libraries. While here, Benac used the Gerald W. Williams Collection and conducted a series of oral history interviews to further his research on timber company towns of Oregon.

In his Resident Scholar presentation, “Log Rolling, Ax Throwing, and the Owl,” Benac spoke of three types of company-owned saw mill towns: those that are gone and forgotten; those that are gone but not forgotten; and those that continue to carry on. In doing so, he revealed fascinating details about a way of life that has largely disappeared.

In establishing a framework for his talk, Benac suggested that the dual notions of heritage (defined by Benac as “the historical legacies that individuals or communities select and use to understand contemporary society”) and nostalgia (“an enchantment with distance that cannot be bridged”) have played a large part in how these towns were remembered by residents after they moved on, and how the towns are viewed today.

He also pointed out that company-owned saw mill towns were either intentionally built by timber companies or grew up organically around mills. Towns that were planned and built by timber companies were usually carefully designed to be aesthetically pleasing and often included outdoor recreation, swimming, camping, and social organizations for the benefit of residents and employees. It was believed that these positive social outlets would make employees happier and therefore better workers.

Benac’s research reveals intriguing insight into communities like Gilchrist, Westfir, and Powers – three Oregon mill towns that have carried on, in one form or another. Gilchrist, a model company town built in the 1930s, was paternalistic in design, and sought to control many of the activities of its residents. In 1997 the town was sold into new private ownership. The mill in Westfir shut down in 1984 and its office was eventually converted into a bed and breakfast. Today the community is known for including Oregon’s largest existing covered bridge, and is a hiking and biking destination. Powers was built to log cedar and provided very few opportunities for the women who lived there. Of the women who were employed at Powers, most worked in the cookhouse, lacking many other options. Dining was an important social function in mill towns like Powers – workers went home, cleaned up, and dressed nicely for dinner at the cookhouse.

Gone and largely forgotten are the towns of Pondosa and Wauna, whereas the communities of Kinzua, Wendling and Bridal Veil might be more aptly described as gone but not forgotten. The latter three towns have not been forgotten because, Benac argues, there is still a strong sense of attachment to them by former residents. Benac found mixed opinions in his research on remembrances of Kinzua, some hated it while others loved it. Wendling, on the other hand, is fondly remembered for having the best food. In 1988 a community picnic was organized for former residents and, that same year, the Wendling Conveyor newsletter (and subsequent social media presence) was founded to publish the memories of the people who once lived in the mill town.

Another community, Valsetz, was described by Benac as having been seen as a “surrogate” for the lumber industry in the minds of many people. In 1984, the town was demolished by the Boise Cascade Company, an event that was extensively covered in the news. Press coverage of the town’s elimination tended to frame the story as a visual metaphor for the decline of timber in Oregon.

The community of Vernonia followed a different path. In 1956 the town’s mill shut down, and in response the town founded an annual logging show as a means to keep its community alive. The show still exists, with amateur local loggers competing in a variety of events to this day. Over time, the logging show became an increasingly important way for townspeople to connect with what they had lost. However, attendance gradually declined and today the goal of the show is primarily to bring in tourism dollars. Benac found that there is now less community involvement in the event from the people who have a connection to the town’s past, because the shows do not represent the town that they had once known.

Benac’s research was sponsored by the OSU Libraries Resident Scholar Program. Now in its eighth year, the program awards stipends of up to $2,500 per month to researchers interested in traveling to Corvallis and conducting work in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center.  For more information on the program, please see http://scarc.library.oregonstate.ed/residentscholar.html


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New finding aids for October!

Wondering what we were doing last month? In addition to programming activities for Archives Month there were four new finding aids for SCARC collections completed or updated during October 2015.

Brewmaster and two assistants from the Blitz Weinhard brewery, Portland, are shown hop breeding work under way on the OSC experiment station by G.R. Hoerner, extension hop specialist.

As of October 31, 2015 the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center had 829 finding aids in Archives West (formerly known as NWDA). Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the preparation and review of these new guides – this work is definitely a group endeavor!

Godfrey R. Hoerner, 1895-1959 (MSS Hoerner)

The Hoerner Papers consist of photographs, news clippings, and publications from Hoerner’s student years at Oregon Agricultural College and the University of Minnesota, as Oregon State College’s Extension Specialist for Hop Production, and during his four-year tenure working at the Kasetsart University in Thailand.  Godfrey R. Hoerner earned his degree from Oregon Agricultural College in 1916 and was a faculty member at Oregon State College from 1931 to 1959. The collection includes 500 photographs. A detailed list of the collection contents is part of this guide, which can be found at http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv44711.

Frank E. Hall Collection, 1886-1909 (MSS Hall)

Image from the O.A.C. Cadets 1908-1909 photo book. First Lieutenant Frank Edward Hall is pictured back row, third from left.

This collection includes photographs and memorabilia assembled by Hall while he was a student at Oregon Agricultural College.  Frank Edward Hall attended Oregon Agricultural College from 1906 to 1909, graduating in 1909 with a degree in agriculture. This guide can be found at http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv98846.

Arthur S. King Papers, 1931-1972 (MSS King)

Art King monitoring experiments in a corn field near the Halsey paper mill in Linn County, Oregon, July 1972. From the Robert W. Henderson Photographic Collection (P 098)

The King Papers consist of materials created and assembled by King in this role as Soils Extension Specialist at Oregon State University. The materials address irrigation, soils and soil testing, water use and conservation, and fertilizer application. King earned his BS (1928) and MS (1930) degrees from Oregon State Agricultural College. In 1930, he was appointed as the first full time Soils Extension Specialist at Oregon State, a position he held until his retirement in 1972. Find the guide at http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv56778.

M. Ellwood Smith, ca 1930.

M. Ellwood Smith Papers, 1913-1961 (MSS SmithME)

These papers consist of publications and reports written by Smith, a list of his publications, and a small quantity of correspondence.

Smith was an English Professor, Dean of Basic Arts and Sciences, and Dean of the Lower Division for Oregon Agricultural College from 1919 until his retirement in 1949.

Find the collection guide online at http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv29762

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Film Fest 2015!

October brings us fiery colors, pumpkins, and fun films about OSU!

This year, we’re highlighting footage of student performances and activities from the 1980s and 1990s that were transferred to SCARC by KBVR-TV and the Memorial Union.

Join us for excerpts from these flashy films:

  • 1987 Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show
  • Indonesia Night, 1994
  • Ms. OSU Pageant, 1992

And did we mention Benny skiing?

Where and when?

  • Wednesday, October 21
  • Willamette Room East
  • Noon to 1:00pm

Snacks and soda will be available.

And stay tuned for more details about the recipe showcase on the 30th!

Hope to see you there!

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Weatherford Hall tour: Archives Month Activity #1!

Our first Archives Month event of this year, last Wednesday’s tour of Weatherford Hall, went swimmingly with excellent guidance from Weatherford Resident Director Jesus Ramirez and Austin Entrepreneur Program (AEP) Project Manager Dale McCauley.

There were 13 on the tour and we explored rooms, lounges, and office areas on the ground floor, first floor, and one of upper levels in the “tower” area. Not surprisingly, the tower offered most of the scenic highlights as we enjoyed a birds-eye view of autumnal campus from the balconies on both sides of the building facing northwest and southeast.

Inside the tower, we toured a meeting room where documents from the Weatherford’s “in-house” archives were displayed on an ancient table. These items included meeting minutes, reports, photos, and newsletters which were apparently kept in a locked glass display case. This room and the piano lounge downstairs both seemed to exude an old dorm feel, steeped in the dark brown wood and the white plaster walls.

Weatherford’s modern look was exemplified by the well-equipped maker lab for AEP students on the first floor. This spot was jam packed with printers not just designed to generate 3d objects but also to handle sheets of vinyl and cloth. For first year AEP students assigned to come up with their own small business, this space has been essential in creating customized decals and socks (which both sell very well).

The famous decorated doors are scattered throughout the building and we were able to see at least three of the 12 that are said to survive.

Some photos that I took during the tour are now posted on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/osuarchives/

It was a fun way to start off Archives Month 2015!

~Karl McCreary, SCARC Collections Archivist and Archives Month Bandleader.

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Get Cooking – 10th annual Taste of the ‘Chives

You’ll like this practical and handy cooking club calendar” ~ we promise.


Sample flavors inspired by the past in this annual showcase of recipes discovered in the holdings of the OSU Special Collections and Archives.

This year, we’re highlighting recipes featured in a wall calendar that reflects the culinary creativity of a nation facing wartime food rationing and shortages. There are so many wonderful recipes to choose from, and if you come by the cooking event you’ll have a chance to taste some and have a look at this original 1945 calendar from the First Federal Savings in Portland.

If you are feeling the chill of fall, I recommend the Short Ribs with Beans, so popular in cool weather!


    Truth be told, it is December’s treats that are calling to me, with date cake and self-iced chocolate cake ready for making and sharing.


    If you want to read more, we’ve scanned the entire calendar and put it in a Flickr set. But what we really would love is for you to join us for the festivities! Sample some of these prepared recipes and feel free to make them yourself to share with us at the event. Other recipes can be found in historic publications available online at the Scholars Archive website.

    WHEN: Friday October 30, noon-1:00

    WHERE: Willamette Room East-3rd Floor Valley Library

    WHO: Contact Karl McCreary at karl.mccreary@oregonstate.edu


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    Archives Month is here ~ get your dancing shoes on!

    Weatherford Building Tour
    Wednesday October 7, 2:00-3:00 P.M.
    Bing’s Café (ground level of Weatherford Hall)
    Get the inside view of the most majestic building on campus!
    Join us for a tour of Weatherford Hall, a former men’s dormitory that has
    served as one of OSU’s architectural icons since its construction in 1928.
    See colorful examples of Weatherford’s past (as reflected in the painted
    doors) and learn about the program that saved the structure from the
    wrecking ball a little more than a decade ago. Want a teaser?

    Oregon State University Queer Archives Film Screening and Reception
    Wednesday October 7,  4:00-6:00 P.M.
    Special Collections Reading Room-5th Floor Valley Library
    Come and learn more about LBGTQ history at OSU and the new project
    to document it through OSQA (Oregon State University Queer Archives).
    There will be a screening of a documentary film by alumna Kiah McConnell (’15)
    about the LGBTQ+ Community at OSU followed by a reception.

    Student Culture and Activities on Film-Views from the Past
    Wednesday October 21, noon-1:00 P.M.
    Willamette Room East-3rd Floor Valley Library
    Join us for dance, music, big hair, and catwalks from OSU in the 1980s and 1990s!
    To celebrate amazing footage that we archived from KBVR-TV this year, there will be a showing of excerpts from historic student performances captured on film, including the Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show, Indonesia Cultural Night, and the Ms. OSU Pageant. For added  flair, we will also show Benny the Beaver on the slopes for the Chips Invitational Mascot Ski Race.

    Taste of the ‘Chives Recipe Showcase
    Friday October 30, noon-1:00
    Willamette Room East-3rd Floor Valley Library
    Sample flavors inspired by the past in this annual showcase of recipes discovered in the holdings of the OSU Special Collections and Archives. This year, we’re highlighting recipes featured in a 1945 wall calendar that reflects the culinary creativity of a nation facing wartime food rationing and shortages. You can view these recipes online here. Join us to sample some of these prepared recipes and please feel free to make them yourself to share at the event. Other recipes can be found in historic publications available online on the Scholars Archive website here.


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    A School for the People: A Photographic History of OSU

    Larry landis has been digging into OSU history for a long time, but five years ago he dug in even deeper with a big project to create a pictorial history of the university.

    How many pictures did he have to choose from? Oh 3/4 of a million or so.

    How many did he have to choose? 500 or so.

    In the fall of 2005 then-OSU Press director Karen Orford approached him to gauge his interest because she’d worked on one at the University of Georgia and thought a similar project at OSU would be quite successful. There were some preliminary discussions, but the project was shelved until the summer of 2010 when Landis picked it up again. He worked with a student to start identifying images, but a merger of the University Archives and Special Collections departments put the project on hold again.

    Fall 2012 the project was reinvigorated with a new conversation and new prioritization by the university as it prepared for the 150 anniversary of its establishment; he wanted this book to be a celebration of the school and focused on its land grant mission, as well as how the school has changed over time. But it was a tough job because there so many great photos to choose from? The reproductions of the images was really high, even in the scope of the history of photography, and there has been a deep history of quality photography by students and faculty since the 1890s.

    He began to work in earnest to identify images for an official publication proposal in early 2013. The majority of the research happened in the summer 2013, with chapter narratives written the following fall. First draft submissions happened in early July of 2014, reviewers gave feedback in November 2014 and he learned he had to cut over 100 of the 600 images he’d chosen. Spring 2015, with 500 images total, he submitted the final draft.


    I’m always curious about how you make these choices, so I asked.

    He wanted to include pictures that people hadn’t seen, offering a balance between iconic and unfamiliar. Sometimes there were pictures that were terrific, and iconic in their own right, but were essentially inaccessible because of format. For example, many from P25 were actually glass negatives. I did have to ask if there were some that he had to leave out that he was attached to but that didn’t fit. He said he wished he could included more early building photos, including one of the early Vet Med building, but the one that didn’t make it that he really regrets is one of Helen Gilkey (early OSU botanist) because we are seeing a surge in focus on women in the STEM fields.

    Dr. Helen Gilkey with students. Helen Margaret Gilkey received her Master's degree in Botany from Oregon Agricultural College in 1911. She served as the Curator of the Herbarium for 33 years, introducing about 50,000 new plant specimen.

    Fortunately, there will be a digital supplement with 100 of the images he had to cut. They will be tagged as “not included,” but will also allow for him to provide more explanation for those pictures that could have fit into more than one chapter – an obvious benefit over a print book!

    Another piece I was curious about was how he kept track of his research, and the follow up curiosity would be how he kept track of his choices. He had a solid sense of what was in each collection, so he certainly was far from scratch as a starting point, but he intentionally selected collections he wasn’t familiar with when he was looking. He didn’t touch every collection, but estimates he did look through 75% of them. Once he found good candidates he had them scanned if they weren’t already also in digital format, and then made a paper print out of each, did a rough sort into the categories he’d delineated in the proposal, and put pictures in file folders. Archivists, we love our file folders.

    Concurrent to Landis’ project emeritus OSU professor Bill Robbins was working on a narrative history of the university, so he knew he didn’t need to focus on both a deep narrative and deep pictorial history. For him, it was the pictures that would offer the narrative, though he found that captions could still be quite long as he tried to give background context for what people were seeing! Bill’s book will go into much more detail and Larry sees them as bookends of a sort. There will likely be differences in interpretation because they are historians of different generations, but the books are complimentary and Bill wrote the foreword. Only a few colleges or universities have both narrative and pictorial history, so this will be even more unique for OSU.

    Look for the book to arrive in late October, with public launch events in Portland (11/12, Architectural Heritage Center), Philomath (11/14, Benton County Historical Society), and Corvallis (11/21). You’ll likely find the book at the OSU Beaver Store and local bookstores, as well as directly through the OSU Press.

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    2015 ~ The year the Oregon Stater turns 100!

    In October of the year 1915 a 16 page magazine, little bigger than a small pamphlet, was published and sent out by the Oregon State Alumni Association.

    The Alumni Association was still relatively young and the cost of the membership due was only a dollar, but despite the low cost of membership very few alumni contributed much money to the organization and early issues of the magazine made clear that they were on fairly poor financial footing. OSU alumnus E.B. Lemon wanted to change that…

    Seeking to gain greater financial stability, the magazine issue urged members to pay their dues and even talked about the creation of a special club within the Alumni Association for those who gave five dollars. One of the ultimate benefits of the increased funding was to be a designated alumni center on the Oregon State Campus. The magazine was created in part to demonstrate the neat features that the Association could put out regularly with more funding.

    The Oregon Stater would become a hit with Alumni who wrote in letters to show their support for the publication, with one saying that “[w]ithout the assistance of an alumni publication there is little opportunity for graduates to keep in touch with their Alma Mater and to watch its progress.”

    Over time the magazine grew in size and the content focus began to shift as well. Early issues of the Oregon Stater featured many statistics on OSU as an institution and how it compared in attendance and other factors to various Agricultural colleges around the nation. Sports topics were popular then as they are now and the early publications focused on things like the Beaver’s athletics teams, new coaches, transfers, and season outlooks. Early issues also featured several small poems, written about the Alumni Association itself or just the struggles of a freshman trying to pass chemistry. A large component of these magazines was also the focus on the comings and goings of Oregon State Alumni, whether it be jobs, marriages, the birth of children, the death of former graduates and even just reminiscing about former classmates that few people saw anymore. By 1920 this section had become “Who’s Who?” and the magazine had gotten a makeover in appearance and size.

    Later articles in the Oregon Stater followed the increasing growth of the College as it added on buildings, departments, faculty and new services for students. During World War One the Oregon Stater began publishing letters from the front, sent by Oregon State graduates seeking to connect with former classmates and find out what everyone was up to even as the soldiers toiled in Europe.

    The scope and size of the Oregon Stater has changed greatly over the years and its past issues offer a unique view of the growth and development of Oregon State. By looking at the growth of the University whether in buildings, students or new research the Oregon Stater is helping to keep alumni up to date with their Alma Mater and ensure that even after graduation anyone can still be a member of the Beaver family if they wish.




    Important details:

    • The Oregon Stater is published by the OSU Alumni Association three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring) and distributed to all alumni households, and non-alumni members of the association.
    • The archives of the Oregon Stater are available on the OSU Alumni Association site from April 2000 to the present; however, they include only excerpts of each magazine until the April 2006 issue and after are full PDF versions of the magazine as published.
    • Looking for something in particular? The Oregon Stater index is available online at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/oregon-stater-index.pdf.

    This post was written by Christopher Russell, a History student who will join the alumni ranks in June 2015. Research and quotations were taken from past issues of the Oregon Stater, accessed through the Oregon State Special Collections & Archives Research Center.

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    Finding aids for April!

    Masthead from the September 3, 1959 issue of “Old Yeller,” the Oregon Vocational Agriculture Teacher’s Newsletter. Oregon Vocational Agriculture Teacher’s Association Newsletters (MSS OVATA)

    Following is a list of 7 finding aids for SCARC collections that were completed during April 2015. All are available through the NWDA finding aids database, the SCARC website, and the library catalog.

    This batch includes guides for one new collection acquired in 2015 and 6 collections for which we previously had only minimal information available online. As of April 30, 2015 the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center had 822 finding aids in NWDA.

    Oregon Vocational Agricultural Teacher’s Association Newsletters, 1959-1970 (MSS OVATA): This collection consists of the organization’s newsletter, Old Yeller, written by and for agricultural teachers in Oregon high schools and community colleges. David Raynalds, who earned a M.Ed. in Agricultural Education from Oregon State University, contributed the regular column “Tex Talks” to the newsletter.

    Amidon, Edna P., Papers, 1924-1979 (MSS Amidon): The Amidon Papers document her work as an international leader in home economics.  Included are materials documenting her work as a Regional Agent (1929-1938) and Chief (1938-1964) of the Home Economics Education Service, particularly during the Great Depression and World War II; drafts of speeches and publications given in support of home economics; records of professional activities in Germany (1947), Sweden (1947), and France (1954); professional literature; and biographical materials.

    Center for the Humanities Records, 1974-2012 (RG 221): These records document the formation, functioning and activities of the both the Oregon State University Center for the Humanities as well as the Humanities Development Program that preceded it. In addition to daily operations and major events supported by the Center, the collection also details the academic certificate programs administered by the Center as well as the resident fellows that it hosted. The records likewise provide a thorough accounting of the International Film Series, which the Center sponsored for over twenty years. The Humanities Development Program was formed in 1977 and succeeded by the Center for the Humanities in 1984. OSU English professor Peter Copek ran the program and the Center until his death in 2001. The collection includes 31 photographs and 1 audiocassette.

    Nicholson, Diane, Photographs, 1974-1975 (P 153): This small collection of 50 photographs taken by Nicholson includes snapshots of a birthday party for University Archivist, Sally Wilson, and photographs of campus buildings and views. Diane Nicholson attended Oregon State University in 1970-1974 and earned an undergraduate degree in history; she may have worked in the University Archives during her student years or during the summer of 1975. This guide includes an item-level list of the photographs that comprise the collection.

    Phillips, Mark Clyde, Collection, circa 1857-1961 (MSS PhillipsM): The collection is comprised of materials generated and collected by Mark Clyde Phillips, an OAC Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Superintendent of Heating. The materials document Phillips’ education and career at OAC (1897-1947) and include correspondence, course materials, certificates and diplomas, a patent, and professional literature. Materials document the Phillips and Crawford families are also part of the collection. The collection includes 62 photographs. This collection now includes individually numbered photographs that formerly comprised the Mark Clyde Phillips Photographic Collection (P 070).

    Rihani, Ina, Photographs, 1977 (P 160): The Ina Rihani Photographs consist of snapshots of Monroe, Oregon, taken or assembled by Rihani.  Rihani enrolled at Oregon State University in the 1970s; she earned a B.A. in Sociology in 1975 and a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1982. The collection includes 61 photographs.  An item-level list of the images is part of this guide.

    Stock’s Cash Store Records, 1880-1897 (MSS Stock): This collection consists of three ledger books documents sales and purchases made by Stock’s Cash Store, a general store located in Corvallis, Oregon, between 1880 and 1897.  These materials were previously titled “Corvallis General Store Records.” Morris Stock was born in Morsbach, Germany, circa 1827. He immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s and, by 1860, was a merchant in Corvallis, Oregon.  He relocated with his wife to New York City and ultimately, returned to Oregon where he opened Stock’s Cash Store on Corvallis’ Main Street and established himself as a prominent member of the local Jewish community.

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    Robin Reed ~ An Oregon State Wrestling Legend

    R. Reed from the 1924 Oregon State Wrestling team.

    Most Oregon State fans are all too aware of some of the great football and basketball players who have passed through this school. Some of the fans may be aware that Oregon State has one Heisman trophy courtesy of Terry Baker, but it’s far less likely that they know that Oregon State has featured several gold-medal-winning Olympians. Amongst that company of athletes, one name stands out for his impressive career that was unparalleled in its dominance.

    Robin Reed wouldn’t have struck very many people as someone destined to be a wrestling great, weighing less than 130 pounds when he first took to the mat in high school at Portland’s Franklin High, but Reed quickly learned about the basics of the sport and in his time at Oregon State he took home the National AAU Championship in three different years[1]. His greatest feat was in 1924 when he won gold at the Paris Olympics, beating his fellow O.A.C. teammate Chet Newton in the finals and winning every single match by pinning his opponent.

    R. Reed (top) competing on the mat.

    Reed often participated in higher weight classes; during the 1924 wrestling season he entered the 175-pound class despite only weighing 140 pounds himself and won every single match. Perhaps the most extraordinary part about Reed’s career is that throughout it, he never lost a single match. In the 1927 Oregon State yearbook Reed’s style was described as “[placing] far more stress on a nimble brain and quick muscles than upon brute strength.” Despite his low weight Reed was able to wrestle with the best and according to the stories, on his way to Europe for the Olympics he wrestled every single other member of the U.S. wrestling team, winning every match and pinning all but the heavyweight.

    R. Reed as coach in 1925.

    After his college career came to an end Reed took up coaching at his alma mater, leading them to a Northwest conference title in 1925. After several years Reed quit coaching and became a professional wrestler for a decade, deciding to pursue real estate as a new line of work. In 1978 Reed was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and in that same year he passed away, leaving behind a remarkable career and an unblemished record on the mat.

    All pictures and other information not cited was taken from the Oregon State 2005-2006 Wrestling Catalog as well as the 1925, ’26 and ’27 yearbooks.

    Another round of thanks to History student Christopher Russell for this post!

    [1] “National Wrestling Hall of Fame.” National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://nwhof.org/stillwater/hall-of-fame/#type=hof&honoree=29.

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