SOU professor puts tales of regional history together

Dennis Powers explores his CD titled “Past and Present” on his computer Tuesday in his Ashland home.Julia Moore

An Ashland author has compiled 175 stories on the history of Southern Oregon — from gold dust days to the Ashland wildfire of 1959 to the 1964 tsunami, Beaver Money and Table Rocks — all on one, easily accessible CD.

Dennis Powers said he's giving his CD, titled "Past & Present: What You Might Not Know (But Want to) About Southern Oregon History," to libraries, historical societies and retirement homes. Others can pick up a copy for about $12.

The Harvard-educated professor of business law at Southern Oregon University said he put 1,750 hours into research and writing for the project over the past two years. He's designed the CD so that readers can access source documents with the click of a mouse for their own research and writing projects.

Powers' collection is built for PCs, but will soon be available as an iPod app, he said. It's available at libraries in Ashland, Grants Pass and elsewhere, historical societies, Hospice Boutique, the Wood House, Dogs for the Deaf, the Medford Chamber of Commerce and many retirement homes.

Author of 20 books, including a maritime series, Powers estimates he's invested $10,000 worth of labor and production costs, but all proceeds will go to the sellers.

Powers wrote short history stories for Jefferson Public Radio's "As It Was" and KMED radio's "Past and Present." Topics included Harry & David, the Carpenter Foundation, SOU, Crater Lake, Bigfoot, Hollywood stars in the valley, UFOs, the first electricity here, Payne Cliffs and local writers.

The first run of CDs was 750, and Powers plans another batch soon. Talent-based iOR Consulting & Design is handling production, he said, with lots of volunteer help.

"I received a real sense of satisfaction from this project, because I know people will find it useful and will appreciate the contributions so many people made, without expecting anything in return," he said.

The Southern Oregon Historical Society, which contributed most of the images, was given 150 copies. The group is selling them for $12 each, with all proceeds going to the society.

"It's a wonderful product with lots of great stories about the famous and not-so-famous history of the region," said SOHS Executive Director Rob Esterlein.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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