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Finding the River

An Environmental History of the Elwha

Jeff Crane

Publication Year: 2011

In 1992 landmark federal legislation called for the removal of two dams from the Elwha River to restore salmon runs. Jeff Crane dives into the debate over development and ecological preservation in Finding the River, presenting a long-term environmental and human history of the river as well as a unique look at river reconstruction.

Finding the River examines the ways that different communities—from the Lower Elwha Klallam Indians to current-day residents—have used the river and its resources, giving close attention to the harnessing of the Elwha for hydroelectric production and the resulting decline of its fisheries. Jeff Crane describes efforts begun in the 1980s to remove the dams and restore the salmon. He explores the rise of a river restoration movement in the late twentieth century and the roles that free-flowing rivers could play in preserving salmon as global warming presents another set of threats to these endangered fish.

A significant and timely contribution to American Western and environmental history—removal of the two Elwha River dams is scheduled to begin in September 2011—Finding the River will be of interest to historians, to environmentalists, and to fisheries biologists, as well as to general readers interested in the Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula and environmental issues

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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p. vi

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Introduction: Find the River: The Present and Historical Elwha

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pp. 1-4

To hikers moving up the Elwha River from the Whiskey Bend trailhead, the river is a teasing presence, lying far below, with the trail providing occasional glimpses. But upon reaching Hume’s Ranch and breaking from the trail down to the river itself, the sound gathers up...

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Chapter 1: Strong River, Strong People: The Early History of the Elwha River and the Lower Elwha Klallam Indians

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pp. 5-36

The Elwha River is located on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, on the southern shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, nestled under the shadows and dark forests of the Olympic Mountains. On this far northwestern corner of the continental United States, storms...

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Chapter 2: "And What Would Be the Possibilities of That Power?" The Damming of the Elwha River

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pp. 37-86

The Americans migrating into the Elwha River and Port Angeles area carried a complex set of ideas about nature, land, and resource use. Nevertheless, in the early stages of settlement, new arrivals were compelled to eke out an existence highly dependent on the natural...

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Chapter 3: Fighting a Losing Battle: Preserving Fisheries on the Elwha and Other Pacific Northwest Rivers in the Dam-building Era

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pp. 87-132

With the collapse of the Elwha River’s fisheries and the failure of the hatchery, the river’s meaning had been successfully reduced to that of a source of industrial power to most residents of the region. However, the continuing decline of the fishery, the downstream...

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Chapter 4: Meaning Runs Through It: Reconverting the Elwha from Industrial River to Salmon River

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pp. 133-167

“Torpedo the Dams, Full Speed Ahead,” declared the flyer announcing a party to celebrate the impending demolition of the two dams on the Elwha River, located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, about six miles west of Port Angeles. River...

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Conclusion: Find the River: Restoration and the New Elwha River

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pp. 168-214

This book landed on bookshelves mere months after the dams were removed. Even as the Elwha’s story found readers, and the author checked the book’s rank on Amazon, the first salmon began nosing their way past the old dam sites into an expansive river ecosystem of...


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pp. 215-237


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pp. 238-245


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pp. 246-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780870716461
E-ISBN-10: 0870716468
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870716072
Print-ISBN-10: 0870716077

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 794698932
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Finding the River