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Walter Cole Talks About His Legacy

Walter talks honestly about his legacy and how he wants to be remembered.

"Oregon Experience" is an OPB original television series that brings to life stories that help us understand this place where we live and reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians.

“Oregon Experience” recognizes and celebrates our shared diversity this month.
Over the last eleven seasons we’ve helped capture the stories of Oregonians who’ve been on the front lines in the fight for human rights. 

We invite you to watch again, or discover for the first time, these powerful documentaries about the events and people who’ve made a difference in the lives of all Oregonians.
The award-winning documentary "Darcelle XV" follows the legendary story of Walter Cole - as Darcelle, his work with the LGBT community and his life as Portland’s iconic Drag Queen.
"The Suffragists" explores the history of the struggle for voting rights for women and how the perseverance of those involved changed Oregon and, ultimately, the country.
And "Abigail Scott Duniway," a noted campaigner, writer and editor, whose relentless work for women’s rights spanned more than 40 years; and established her as a national leader in the political arena.
These are just a few of the captivating stories you’ll find in the “Oregon Experience” library.  We hope you’ll explore more of Oregon’s rich past.

Co-produced with the Oregon Historical Society, the series draws upon the Society’s skilled researchers and extensive photography and moving-image archives. The program also incorporates OPB’s own film and video resources and the expertise of some of Oregon’s finest historians. Each episode features captivating characters — both familiar and forgotten — who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home.

This program is supported in part by Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, the Oregon Cultural Trust, and the Clark Foundation.

Funding Provided By: 

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Upcoming Broadcasts

Jazz Town an Oregon Experience (1004)

February 26, 9 p.m. [OPB TV]

Vortex an Oregon Experience (403)

February 26, 9:30 p.m. [OPB TV]

More Oregon Experience

'The Vietnam War Oregon Remembers'

OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 2, 2017

"The Vietnam War Oregon Remembers" illuminates widely divergent viewpoints of a volatile time in American and Oregon history. 

Broken Treaties, An Oregon Experience

OPB | Broadcast: March 20, 2017

"Broken Treaties" introduces viewers to Oregon's Native American tribes and explores a thread of the Oregon story that hasn't been told very well over the years.

Massacre At Hells Canyon

OPB | Broadcast: Jan. 23, 2017

Hells Canyon is the site of what may be the worst massacre of Chinese by whites in U.S. history. For more than 100 years, evidence of the murders was hidden away, and the story long forgotten.


OPB | Broadcast: Nov. 14, 2016

During the early 1940s, Vanport, Oregon, was the second largest city in the state. But on a Sunday afternoon in May 1948, it disappeared completely — destroyed by a catastrophic flood. 

Darcelle XV

OPB | Broadcast: June 20, 2016

Darcelle XV is the West Coast’s oldest performing female impersonator, and operates what is likely the nation’s longest running drag revue.

Portland Jazz Back in the Day

OPB | Broadcast: April 25, 2016

Jazz Town examines the vibrant, post-World War II eruption of music and nightlife in North and Northeast Portland. A colorful and significant chapter in the city’s cultural narrative, this short-lived period is largely unknown to many Oregonians.

Thomas Condon: Of Faith and Fossils

OPB | Broadcast: Feb. 22, 2016

Irish immigrant Thomas Condon was a Congregational minister and Oregon's first state geologist. 

The Jewish Frontier

OPB | Broadcast: Jan. 25, 2016

Oregon's Jewish pioneers were among the region's first settlers. Arriving with the gold miners, they came for a better life away from persecution. In the process, they helped build the businesses and civic organizations that shaped the state.

Vilma Silva on Shakespeare's work: "Claim it. It's yours."

OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 19, 2015

Vilma Silva on Shakespeare's work: "Claim it. It's yours."

Scott Kaiser on Translating Shakespeare into... English.

OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 19, 2015

OSF's Scott Kaiser on translating Shakespeare into... English.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 19, 2015

Oregon Experience explores the origins and the evolution of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Murder On The Southern Pacific

OPB | Broadcast: May 4, 2015

In 1923, a Southern Oregon train holdup sparked one of the nation’s largest manhunts and helped established modern criminal forensics.

Portland Civil Rights: Lift Ev'ry Voice

OPB | Broadcast: April 21, 2015

Lift Ev’ry Voice explores Portland’s African-American history with a focus on the turbulent 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. At the time, issues surrounding urban renewal, school desegregation and brittle police relations were exploding both nationally and locally.


OPB | Broadcast: Jan. 26, 2015

Founded in 1811 by wealthy fur baron John Jacob Astor, Astoria is the oldest United States settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Learn more about the multifaceted history of this city and where those two centuries of activity have brought Astoria today.

State of Jefferson

OPB | Broadcast: Sept. 29, 2014

Southern Oregon and Northern California make up the mythical State of Jefferson. The “state” is the product of local lore, regional identity, and pride for its residents. It remains a symbol of an enduring rural-urban divide. Now, some are working to make it the 51st official state.

Luther Cressman, Quest For First People

OPB | Broadcast: April 30, 2014

A new Oregon Experience examines an Oregon man’s lifelong search for America’s first people. 

Ken Kesey: An Oregon Life

OPB | Broadcast: Jan. 3, 2014

Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964), was one of the best-known authors to ever emerge from Oregon. Airing January 20 at 9 p.m.  

Portland Noir

OPB | Broadcast: Sept. 26, 2013

From shanghaied sailors to opium dens, Portland’s illicit past is legendary. But how much of it is true?  Portland Noir examines Old Town’s sordid history.


OPB | Broadcast: Sept. 16, 2013

In 1943, as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, thousands of men and women from across the United States began arriving in a remote part of south-central Washington state. They knew very little about why the U.S. government had hired them — only that it was an important project to support the war effort. It was a project that would change the world forever.

Capturing Oregon's Frontier

OPB | Broadcast: April 9, 2013