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New book tackles the un-boring community of Boring posted on 06/01/2021

The community of Boring has experienced a surprising array of unexpected and unusual events during its 118-year history.

The small Oregon town, with a name that leads to easy jokes about its sleepy nature, has been the home to a rich array of eccentric characters and events over the years. From the time the future heavyweight boxing champion of the world was hired to fight the town bully, to a massive fire blamed on fireworks that left half the town in ashes, the history of Boring has been anything but, and was populated with moonshiners, runaway trains, wild west gangs and a wild man who lived in the woods among other notable characters.

Boring resident and unofficial town historian Bruce Haney has gathered these unorthodox stories in his new book “Eccentric Tales of Boring, Oregon.” Haney gives a monthly speech about the history of Boring for the Boring Community Planning Organization and runs a popular history group called Boring Oregon History.

“I started looking in the newspaper archives for the most un-boring Boring stories I could find. After a couple years I realized that I had all these great stories that only myself and the people that attended these meetings knew about,” Haney wrote in an email. “That is when I decided to take the best ones and deep dive into researching them and make a book out of them.”

The tales Haney researched and collected for his book largely take place in the early years of the 20th century before the second world war. Haney touches on secret societies such as the Odd Fellows and Rebekah’s influence on the social life of the community, the proliferation of bootlegging operations during prohibition and the logging industry’s physical toll on workers in the region, plus a one-armed band on the vaudeville circuit comprised of maimed mill workers and further accounts of death and disfigurement of the town’s mill workers.

“I hope that readers get a better understanding of early 20th century America,” Haney noted. “I hope that when someone jokes ‘How boring is Boring,’ they will be able to tell the person how truly un-boring Boring is and has always been.”

Haney sheds light on an incident of historic prejudice that resulted in murder with the grim recounting of an assault on a trio of East Indian millworkers. A band of white millworkers began firing on the cabin occupied by the East Indian workers in an effort to intimidate them until one of the assailants began firing into the cabin and struck and killed Harnam Singh, a recent immigrant whom little is known about. One newspaper stated he was only in the country for two weeks at the time of his murder.

As a whole, the collection encapsulates a cross section of the driving influences and impulses of a community and the region during the first half of the twentieth century.

The book is Haney’s first foray as an author. Haney stated he is currently researching and planning his next book.

“I love researching and building stories using history. I have a few different possibilities for the next book ... I’m enjoying the feeling of being published for the first time,” Haney wrote.

The process of researching the book on Boring led Haney to develop a deeper connection with the town and its residents.

“When I was wondering how old that bar or that two-story brick building was, I never thought that it would lead to me finding and being welcomed into such a wonderful community,” Haney wrote in the preface to his book. “I grew up in the big city nearby, Portland, but I never felt part of a community there. In Boring, I do.”

“Eccentric Tales of Boring Oregon” in published by Arcadia Publishing and the History Press.

More information is available online at www.arcadiapublishing.com and www.historypress.net.

By Ben Simpson/MT





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