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Lauren Elkanich

Arts & Culture

OREGON EXPERIENCE: Reub Long's Oregon Desert

OPB | Oct. 15, 2006 10:45 p.m. | Updated: Dec. 5, 2013 11:16 a.m.

“Originally there were only two classes of persons who stayed on the desert — those with not enough money to leave, and those without enough sense to leave. I qualified in both categories.” (Reub Long, “The Oregon Desert” Caxton Press, 1964)

Back in the early ‘60’s, Russ Jackman, a retired OSU extension agent, and Reuben Long, a colorful Fort Rock Valley rancher, collaborated to create a book. The result, “The Oregon Desert,” was unique. It successfully blended natural science with cowboy humor, and scholarly prose with casual meanderings. It was a celebration of rural Western storytelling, and over the years, it has become a Pacific Northwest classic. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s new series, OREGON EXPERIENCE, brings this vision of rural life to television in its next episode on Monday, October 30 at 9pm.

Reub Long, who died in 1974, lived his whole life in a flat, dry area of northern Lake County. Today, tourists drive the scenic Backcountry Byway there, ORV enthusiasts crowd the sand dunes in their four-wheelers and irrigation has carpeted the landscape with crop circles. But back in Long’s time, the Fort Rock Valley was just inhospitable desert. It has always been a tough place to earn a living, and most who tried, failed. But life on the desert has its pleasures, too, and with his ever-wry wit, Reub Long loved to talk about them.

In the spirit of the book he co-wrote, OREGON EXPERIENCE: “Reub Long’s Oregon Desert,” looks back at the places, events and people that he described. The program incorporates present-day video with original film and audio recordings of Long, plus a variety of home movies and family photographs. Perhaps best of all, the show features several new interviews with local folks who knew Reub Long — some of whom seem to rival him at storytelling.

The program will be rebroadcast on Friday, November 3 at 10pm.

About OREGON EXPERIENCE

OREGON EXPERIENCE is an exciting new history series on OPB-TV that brings to life fascinating stories that help us understand who we are and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. The series, co-produced by the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), takes advantage of the extensive film, video and stills from the archives of OHS and OPB, and draws upon the expertise of OHS researchers and historians. Each half-hour show features captivating characters — both familiar and forgotten — who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home.

Funding for OREGON EXPERIENCE is provided in part by Ann & Bill Swindells Charitable Trust, Oregon Cultural Trust and James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

About OPB
OPB is the state’s most far-reaching and accessible media resource, providing free access to programming for children and adults designed to give voice to community, connect Oregon and its neighbors and illuminate a wider world. Every week, over 1.5 million people tune in to or log on to OPB’s television, radio and Internet delivered services. As the hub of operations for the state’s Emergency Broadcast and Amber Alert services, OPB serves as the backbone for the distribution of critical information to broadcasters and homes throughout Oregon. Oregon Public Broadcasting is a statewide network that includes OPB Television, an affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and OPB Radio, presenting local news coverage and the programs of National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI) and American Public Media (APM). The OPB Web site is opb.org.

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