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Three Centuries of Land Use, Society, and Change in America's Forests
With The Lumberman’s Frontier, Thomas Cox has reconstructed a groundbreaking history that stands apart from all previous studies of American forests.
Forests were ubiquitous in early America, but it was only in selected areas that trees, rather than farming, ranching, or mining, attracted settlement. These areas constitute the lumberman’s frontier, which appeared first in northern New England in the seventeenth century, followed by upstate New York, the Allegheny Plateau, the upper Great Lakes states, the Gulf South, and the Far West.
The forest frontiers generated capital and building materials important in the nation’s development, but they also left a legacy of environmental problems, class and urban-rural divisions, and economic frictions. The 1930s marked the end of the lumberman’s frontier, but these consequences continue to shape attitudes and policies toward forests, most notably the questions “Whose forests are they?” and “How and by whom should forests be used?”
Drawing upon recent work in social and economic history, as well as a wealth of historical data on forest industries and individuals, The Lumberman’s Frontier neither glorifies economic development nor falls into the maw of ecological gloom-and-doom. It puts individual actors at center stage, allowing the points of view of the workers and lumbermen to emerge.
Monroe Sweetland and the Liberal Paradox
Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions
The Chinese in Hells Canyon
In 1887, more than 30 Chinese gold miners were massacred on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America. Massacred for Gold, the first authoritative account of the unsolved crime—one of the worst of the many crimes committed by whites against Chinese laborers in the American West—unearths the evidence that points to an improbable gang of rustlers and schoolboys, one only 15, as the killers.
The crime was discovered weeks after it happened, but no charges were brought for nearly a year, when gang member Frank Vaughan, son of a well-known settler family, confessed and turned state’s evidence. Six men and boys, all from northeastern Oregon’s remote Wallowa country, were charged—but three fled, and the others were found innocent by a jury that a witness admitted had little interest in convicting anyone. A cover-up followed, and the crime was all but forgotten for the next 100 years, until a county clerk found hidden records in an unused safe.
In bringing this story out of the shadows, Nokes examines the once-substantial presence of Chinese laborers in the interior Pacific Northwest, describing why they came, how their efforts contributed to the region’s development, and how too often mistreatment and abuse were their only reward.
Reflections on Healing the Willamette River
“Metzger’s keen insights spring from a lifetime of direct observation while growing up along the river and recording its most subtle changes and the impact of the scarring in the eco-region it passes through. Written with passion and grace, the book is, in a sense, a love story for a once-wild river now tamed. Metzger asks, ‘Who gives us permission to intervene?’ She concludes that in the great web of history, nature will ultimately decide, and that we humans are left only to imagine.” —Carol Ann Bassett, author of Galápagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution
Abby Phillips Metzger’s book of personal stories recounts a forgotten Oregon river, the Willamette, as it was before white settlement. Once a rich network of channels and sloughs, the Willamette today bears the scars of development and degradation. Yet, through canoe trips and intimate explorations of the river, Metzger discovers glints of resiliency: a beaver trolling through a slough, native fish in quiet backwaters, and strong currents that carry undertones of the wild Willamette. Together with tales from farmers and scientists alike, these experiences lead Metzger to ask whether something scarred can fully heal, and whether a disjointed river can be whole again.
A story of re-discovery as told by a learner, Meander Scars will appeal to readers of literary nonfiction, river advocates, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts interested in sustaining healthy river systems for themselves, their children, and beyond.
Their Stories, Their Lives
Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives sheds new light on why migrants come to Oregon, what their experiences are when they settle here, and how they adapt to life in the United States.
Although Oregon has had a settled Mexican-origin population since the mid-nineteenth century, the number of Latinos residing in Oregon has grown dramatically over the last two decades, leading to increased diversity across the state, particularly visible in the public school system and in agricultural and service occupations.
Mexicanos in Oregon explores this history of migration and settlement of mexicanos, highlighting their sustained practices of community building, their struggles for integration, and their contributions to the economic and cultural life of the state. Using archival records, primary and secondary sources, demographic statistics, and personal testimonies, and drawing from multiple disciplines, Gonzales-Berry and Mendoza create a picture of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions that have shaped the lives of mexicanos. The blend of scholarly research and individual stories reflects the very human dimension and complex forces that make up the mexicano experience in Oregon.
Stories from Yamhill County
When Barbara Drake and her husband left Portland and moved to a small farm in western Oregon’s Yamhill Valley in the late 80’s, they saw it as a temporary relocation—they would return to the city eventually. But as the couple’s experiences on the farm multiplied—training herding dogs, enlisting a pair of traveling dowsers to help them find a good well, and stargazing in a singular nighttime darkness—certain themes began to emerge, and the couple decided to hang on to their rural life as long as possible.
Barbara Drake articulates the lessons she’s learned from her long stint of country living in her new book, Morning Light. Replete with records of native wildflowers, an encounter with an elderly man who lived on her farm eighty years ago, and an old family recipe for wild blackberry pudding, Morning Light is an appreciation and exploration of the landscape of western Oregon, and readers will come to know it better through the book.
As entertaining and instructive as it is personal and reflective, Drake’s writing will resonate with anyone who has experienced a convergence of family history with natural history, considered their place in the historical continuum, or wondered if their lifestyle can be sustained with age.
In a world where even “the country” is becoming increasingly citified, Morning Light reminds us why we should care for our rural landscapes—while we still can.
The Tumultuous Story of Oregon's Most Populous County
Covering people and events from 1854 to the present day, this definitive history of Multnomah County provides compelling details about public works triumphs and political scandals.
Founded as a convenience so residents of the fast-growing city of Portland wouldn’t have to ride by horseback to Hillsboro, Oregon’s tiniest county geographically soon grew to be the state’s most populous. Through nearly sixteen decades, Multnomah County’s history seldom has been calm and peaceful. From hangings that turned into grim public spectacles in the nineteenth century to a glaring failure to deal with urban growth in the middle of the twentieth, the county survived several attempts to revamp its structure or merge with Portland’s better-known municipal government.
Highlighted episodes include the construction of the iconic Columbia River Highway between 1914 and 1918, the tragic flooding of Vanport City in 1948, the employee strike of 1980, the library scandal of 1989-1990, and the same-sex marriage license debacle of 2004.
Historian Jewel Lansing and journalist Fred Leeson make effective use of archival sources, oral histories, newspaper articles, and personal interviews to create the definitive reference on Multnomah County history, politics, and policy. History buffs and informed Portland citizens will be particularly engaged by the regional trivia and narrative details.
My Unexpected Years in a Hippie Commune