Over the first half of the 20th century, Jacksonville almost became a ghost town, a freeway rest stop and a wasteland of "what ifs."
But then came Robby Collins, the man who saved the town and, in 1967, with the help of his friends, got it designated as the country's first National Historic Landmark Town.
Collins, a former lumberman, became a historic preservationist almost by accident when he spearheaded the opposition to a four-lane highway that would have bisected the gold-rush-era town in the 1960s.
That battle, and the ensuing work to get Jacksonville registered as a historical treasure, launched his international career in conservation and tourism development.
His accomplishments spanned the globe, from heading the Oregon Shakespeare Festival board in Ashland and becoming vice chairman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to teaching in Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Fiji, the Philippines, New Zealand, China, Nepal, Hungary and other countries.
Collins died May 23, 2003, at age 81, in Singapore from complications stemming from dengue fever.