There was little in the background of Kenn Knackstedt to suggest his future contribution to Southern Oregon history.
Knackstedt grew up in Medford. After high school he served in the U.S. occupation forces in Japan as an Army radio repairman.
After military duty, he learned to fly. His godfather, Clyde Pangborn, was an early pilot who, with Hugh Herndon, became the first to fly across the Pacific Ocean. Knackstedt’s father had been a wingwalker in Pangborn’s flying circus.
Knackstedt went to college for one year, but dropped out and worked in a mill, where an accident left him disabled. He got a job as a darkroom technician at Brainard’s photo studio in Medford and married a high school teacher who helped him go to photography school in Santa Barbara.
From 1959 to 1989, Knackstedt took pictures, for schools, weddings, newspapers, special events, and even aerial shots. During those 30 years, he recorded Southern Oregon.
Today, his thousands of negatives are in the archives of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, available for all to see.
Source: Knackstedt, Betty, and Kenneth D. Knackstedt. “Kenn Knackstedt: Unpublished, undated biography.” Vertical File. Southern Oregon Historical Society, Medford, Ore.