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Anthropogeography of the Cascade Highlanders CLAUDE W. GOX Seattle, Washington The upper Cowlitz Valley of eastem Lewis County, Washington, lies in the western foothills of the Cascade Range to the south of Mt. Rainier. In the early 1880's a few mountaineers from Appalachia came west, worked back into this isolated area and discovered an environment much to their liking. This was the beginning of a migration mainly from Kentucky and Tennessee. It continued until the so-called "Big Bottom" and its converging smaller branches were generously sprinkled with settlers who brought with them most of the culture characteristics of the Appalachians . In Lewis County the upper Cowlitz country is now frequently referred to as Little Kentucky . Since the arrival of the first families fifty years ago, three generations have been born in this area, but the comparative isolation and intermarriage have only served to intensify the mountaineer pattern . The slow twanging speech, racial prejudices, feuds, suspicious, superstitions, and customs of the Appalachians are still an integral part of these Cascade highlanders. As in their former Kentucky and Tennessee homes, the hill people oí the Big Bottom region have a circumscribed economic existence, based mainly on desultory subsistence farming. The men also hunt and fish in and out of season, work in lumber camps, sometimes serve as guides, pick ferns, and make "corn likker", the latter occupation causing considerable friction with the authorities. Most of the homes are log cabins or puncheon-floored shacks. Homemade furniture is the rule, and the meagre- assortment of dishes re mains on the table from one meal to the next. Most foods are fried in home-made lard, hot bread is served at every meal, and the halfchurned butter is "fished for" when, needed. A few supplies come from the outside, mainly flour, salt, and baking powder. The local, home-made lye soap is hard on the hands, but the highlander finds it a cheaper and better "dirt-knocker " than the "boughten" variety. Illiteracy is common among the older people and schooling does not as yet reach all the children. Many of the older generation still insist that the world is flat. Most of the community belong to the hardshell Baptist faith; they hold the annual ceremonial foot-wash on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday of August. With the coming of the CCC. camps and the inauguration of a comprehensive road-building program , the isolation of the Upper Cowlitz is being gradually lessened. The building of a projected trunk highway up the valley to Mt. Rainier will eventually draw these mountain people into closer contact with the outside world. With the breakdown of isolation will probably come the eventual disappearance of their transferred Appalachian mores. (¦ill ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
p. 21
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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