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Hard Times in Paradise

Coos Bay, Oregon

By William G. Robbins

Publication Year: 2006

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

Map 1 / Coos County, Oregon

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pp. 2-5

Map 2 / Coos Bay area

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pp. 6-9

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Prologue to the Revised Edition

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pp. ix-xvi

When I finished the research for the first edition of Hard Times in Paradise, the resource-dependent communities around the Coos Bay estuary were experiencing high unemployment, soaring poverty, the proliferation of social problems, and a sharp decline in the number of familywage jobs. Southwestern Oregon's economic decline, columnist Russell Sadler wrote in 1980, would "take decades to turn around." ...

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Preface to the Original Edition

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pp. xvii-xx

This is a story about a small cluster of timber-dependent settlements on the southern Oregon coast. It describes a people and the forest resource that served as the staple for their survival. The study uses documentary and oral sources to recreate the social atmosphere and economic conditions that shaped people's lives. ...

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pp. 3-11

The Coos Bay district on the southern Oregon coast is a unique geographic region in one significant respect—it represented the last frontier for a migrating logging and lumbering industry that had its beginnings in the great white pine forests of New England. ...

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1 / Poor Man's Paradise

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pp. 12-25

As the imperial center of a nineteenth-century western trading network that extended the length of the Pacific Coast, the city of San Francisco developed a voracious appetite for a great variety of goods and raw materials. Ships carrying New England textiles, British manufactures, and silks, spices, and fineries from the Orient entered the rapidly expanding commercial port. ...

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2/ An Empire Itself

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pp. 26-39

The frenzied speculation in Northwest timberland at the turn of the century took place in the midst of a sharp rise in lumber prices, suspicions of a pending timber "famine," and the establishment of the federal forest reserves. Lumber capitalists who had made fortunes elsewhere swarmed to the lower Columbia River country, ...

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3 / The "Big Mill" and Its World

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pp. 40-53

When fire destroyed an old sawmilling facility belonging to the Georgia-Pacific Corporation in the spring of 1984, it marked the end of an era in the history of lumber manufacturing on Coos Bay. For that building complex, in the process of being dismantled for scrap metal, was at one time the envy of lumber manufacturers worldwide. ...

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4 / Logging the Coos Timber

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pp. 54-67

When Paul Bunyan made the long trek from the Great Lakes pineries to the forests of the Pacific slope, he brought with him a rich tradition of folklore and ballad that loggers had passed along for generations, some of it dating to the heyday of river drives in the Maine woods. ...

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5 / Getting By

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pp. 68-79

By the 1920s the lumber economy on the Pacific slope was part of a financial and trading network that extended from Tokyo to New York and London. The commercial health of that increasingly integrated system influenced peripheral areas that produced the foodstuffs, minerals, and construction materials required in the great urban centers. ...

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6 / Surviving the Great Depression

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pp. 80-94

The deteriorating American economy convinced many business executives, including those in the forest products sector, that such drastic conditions required immediate attention. Postwar lumber production in the United States peaked at 41 billion board feet in 1925, declined to 26 billion feet in 1930, and then plummeted to just over 10 billion feet in 1932. ...

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7 / The Second World War

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pp. 95-106

The Second World War had a profound and disrupting influence on most American communities. It brought an abrupt end to years of unemployment and economic stagnation, and it revolutionized the work force when thousands of women took jobs outside the home for the first time. ...

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8 / Lumber Capital of the World

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pp. 107-121

At the end of the Second World War, southwestern Oregon had one of the largest remaining stands of old-growth timber in the United States. Covering a vast four-county area, much of that forested wealth was tributary to Coos Bay, the best shipping port between San Francisco and the Columbia River. ...

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9 / Timber Forever

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pp. 122-137

Frank Younker knew timber. He remembers the huge logs rafted down the South Slough on the ebb tide. As a boy, he delivered supplies to Camp Four, the old C. A. Smith logging camp, and for most of his life he hunted and fished, and on occasion, used the South Slough country as a base for his moonshine operations. ...

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10 / Bosses and Workers

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pp. 138-152

Until the period of intensive mechanization following the Second World War, most of the natural-resource industries in the United States were labor intensive. Rank-and-file workers dominated the labor force in the coal-mining counties of West Virginia and the copper towns of Montana, as well as the logging communities of Washington and Oregon. ...

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11 / Hard Times and Survivors

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pp. 153-165

Before he came to the Coos Bay area in 1973, Jeff Manley had worked for a Kansas police department, as a probation officer on a juvenile court, as a labor organizer, and had helped develop a land recovery program for the Pottawattamie Indians. After a year at Boise State University, he was hired to direct the North Bend Community Action Agency, ...

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Post Mortem: Reflections on the Present Condition

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pp. 166-171

These are not happy times for resource-dependent communities like those in southwestern Oregon. But the timbered regions of western America are only part of a larger theater of action in what properly must be understood as the internationalization of trade and investment policy. ...

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Epilogue to the Revised Edition

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pp. 172-194

When forest products giant Georgia-Pacific relocated its corporate headquarters from Portland to Atlanta in 1982, the move came in the midst of 11 percent unemployment in Oregon. With 85 percent of the company's business east of the Mississippi River, the move symbolized the rise of the Southeast as an increasingly important component in the nation's wood fiber production. ...


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pp. 216-231


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pp. 195-212


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pp. 213-227

E-ISBN-13: 9780295803319
E-ISBN-10: 0295803312
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295985480
Print-ISBN-10: 0295985488

Publication Year: 2006

Edition: Revised

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Lumber trade -- Oregon -- Coos Bay -- History.
  • Logging -- Oregon -- Coos Bay -- History.
  • Loggers -- Oregon -- Coos Bay -- History.
  • Coos Bay (Or.) -- History.
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