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Pacific Northwest Cheese

A History

Tami Parr

Publication Year: 2013

In this rich and engaging history, Tami Parr shows how regional cheesemaking found its way back to the farm. It’s a lively story that begins with the first fur traders in the Pacific Northwest and ends with modern-day small farmers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

For years, farmers in the Pacific Northwest made and sold cheese to support themselves, but over time the craft of cheesemaking became a profitable industry and production was consolidated into larger companies and cooperatives. Eventually, few individual cheesemakers were left in the region. In the late sixties and early seventies, influenced by the counterculture and back-to-the-land movements, the number of small farms and cheesemakers began to grow, initiating an artisan cheese renaissance that continues today.

Along with documenting the history of cheese in the region, Parr reveals some of the Pacific Northwest’s untold cheese stories: the fresh cheese made on the Oregon Trail, the region’s thriving blue cheese and regional swiss cheese makers, and the rise of goat’s milk and goat’s milk cheese (not the modern phenomenon many assume it to be).

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 3-4


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p. 5-5

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p. 7-7

In the course of writing this book I worked with many dedicated people at county, state, and regional historical societies across the Pacific Northwest. I can’t say enough about how valuable these institutions are to preserving the history of communities across the region. Many thanks to all of the researchers and volunteers who took the time to help me in uncovering information ... ...

Map of the Pacific Northwest

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p. 8-8

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pp. 9-11

If you’ve visited a farmers market lately you have probably come across more than one local cheesemaker selling their wares. Using the milk of goats, sheep, and cows, cheesemakers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—eighty-six of them as of this writing—are producing an incredible and delicious variety of fresh and aged cheeses. While writing my ...

Map of the Oregon Country, 1818-1846

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p. 12-12

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Chapter 1: Furs, Cattle, and Empire: English Cheese in the Pacific Northwest

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pp. 13-34

Beginning as early as the fifteenth century a succession of European explorers sailed up and down the west coast of North America, searching for a variety of things including the elusive Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting Europe and Asia. No less a personality than famed English navigator Sir Francis Drake coursed along its shores, some argue as far north as present-day .....

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Chapter 2: Milk and Cheese in Oregon Country

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pp. 35-54

From a contemporary perspective the scenario sounds a little strange: imagine thousands of people deciding rather abruptly to uproot themselves, their families and livelihoods and travel thousands of miles without the benefit of motorized transportation toward a remote region of the continent most had only heard of or perhaps read about. Odd, perhaps, but such was the ...

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Chapter 3: From Farm to Factory: Cheese Becomes Big Business

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pp. 55-82

By the dawn of the twentieth century the Pacific Northwest had been utterly transformed. No longer the remote, vaguely mythical wilderness that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had explored, during the intervening decades the region had been mapped, carved up, and allocated by the various nations competing for dominion over it. The vast area once known as Oregon Country ...

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Chapter 4: Expansion and Innovation

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pp. 83-108

The World War I economic boom ended with the 1918 Armistice, sending the war-prosperous Pacific Northwest production engine into an economic slide. Thousands of lost jobs in the timber, shipbuilding, and aircraft industries contributed to a precipitous rise in unemployment and many who had migrated to the region for its wartime industry jobs simply left for greener pastures. The ...

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Chapter 5: The Mass Production Era

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pp. 109-132

In November of 1949 a newly constructed cheese plant opened in Tillamook, Oregon. Touted in the local press as the “largest in the Pacific Northwest,” the modern facility was built over a period of two years and cost $1.5 million. The sprawling factory included a storage warehouse capable of holding three million pounds of aging cheese, equipment for manufacturing a variety of dairy ...

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Chapter 6: Back to the Farm: The Artisan Cheese Renaissance

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pp. 133-162

During the 1960s and ’70s communities across the United States began to strain against the restrictive boundaries of racial segregation and Cold War politics. The Vietnam War mobilized students across the nation and college campuses across the Pacific Northwest staged political protests, some of them violent. Alongside the escalating social unrest emerged an intense focus on ...

Appendix A: A Short History of Cheese in Alaska

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pp. 163-168

Appendix B: Artisan Cheesemakers of the Pacific Northwest 2012

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pp. 169-172

Notes and Sources

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pp. 173-196


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pp. 197-208

E-ISBN-13: 9780870717055
E-ISBN-10: 0870717057
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870717048
Print-ISBN-10: 0870717049

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: B&W Photographs.
Publication Year: 2013