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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
Living on a Restless Coast
On a March evening in 1964, ten-year-old Tom Horning awoke near midnight to find his yard transformed. A tsunami triggered by Alaska’s momentous Good Friday earthquake had wreaked havoc in his Seaside, Oregon, neighborhood. It was, as far as anyone knew, the Pacific Northwest coast’s first-ever tsunami.
More than twenty years passed before geologists discovered that it was neither Seaside’s first nor worst tsunami. In fact, massive tsunamis strike the Pacific coast every few hundred years, triggered not by distant temblors but by huge quakes less than one hundred miles off the Northwest coast. Not until the late 1990s would scientists use evidence like tree rings and centuries-old warehouse records from Japan to fix the date, hour, and magnitude of the Pacific Northwest coast’s last megathrust earthquake: 9 p.m., January 26, 1700, magnitude 9.0—one of the largest quakes the world has known. When the next one strikes—this year or hundreds of years from now—the tsunami it generates is likely to be the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States.
Illuminating the charged intersection of science, human nature, and public policy, The Next Tsunami describes how scientists came to understand the Cascadia Subduction Zone—a fault line capable of producing earthquakes even larger than the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan—and how ordinary people cope with that knowledge. The story begins and ends with Tom Horning, who grew up to be a geologist and return to his family home at the mouth of the river in Seaside—arguably the Northwest community with the most to lose from what scientist Atwater predicts will be an “apocalyptic” disaster. No one in Seaside understands earthquake and tsunami science—and the politics and complicated psychology of living in a tsunami zone—better than Horning.
In this engaging new memoir, a loose sequel to her earlier Prairie Reunion, Barbara J. Scot explores her reluctance and longing to reconnect with a much-loved brother, lost to alcoholism for thirty years.
Scot uses long, meditative walks on the “clothing optional” beach of the idyllic Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon, to explore family responsibility, time’s passage, and faith. She weaves entries from her notebook—a record of the island’s wildlife, descriptions of the “Odd Ones” she encounters on the beach, and stories about the native people who once lived on the river—with the main narrative, tracing her search for her brother, her close friendship with a fellow writer, and daily life on the moorage. Scot considers the uses of fiction and non-fiction in memory as well as in writing, the brevity and beauty of human existence, and the inscrutable, enduring mystery of death.
In The Nude Beach Notebook, Scot highlights the importance of place as a means for exploring and interpreting one’s own story. In the end, her walks on Sauvie Island lead to her own redemptive journey.
Information, Emotion, and Meaning in a World of Data
Archaeological research has revealed much about Oregon’s history in the last twenty years. Oregon Archaeology incorporates this new knowledge, telling the story of Native American cultures in Oregon beginning with the earliest evidence of human occupation about 14,000 years ago and continuing into the nineteenth century. It includes selected studies in contact-historic period archaeology to illustrate aspects of first encounters between Native Americans and newcomers of European and Asian heritage, as well as important trends in the development of modern Oregon.
Oregon’s early human history is linked to four of the five major cultural regions of western North America: the Great Basin, the Columbia Plateau, the Northwest Coast, and California. Oregon Archaeology offers a coherent and unified history of an area that is highly differentiated geographically and culturally.
A historical narrative informed by evidence from critical sites, Oregon Archaeology is enriched with maps, photographs, line drawings, and an extensive bibliography. Oregon Archaeology is an essential reference for archaeology professionals and students, and also for general readers interested in Oregon’s Native American culture and history.
Because Oregon sits on the leading edge of a moving crustal plate, a striking diversity of geologic events have molded its topography. Over a century of study, a deeper understanding of the region’s tectonic overprint has emerged. In this timely update to the 2000 edition, Elizabeth and William Orr incorporate that new knowledge, addressing current environmental problems and detailing tectonic hazards. “Caught between converging crustal plates,” the Orrs write, “the Pacific Northwest faces a future of massive earthquakes and tsunamis.”
A comprehensive treatment of the state’s geologic history, Oregon Geology moves through Oregon’s regions to closely examine the unique geologic features of each, from the Blue Mountains to the Willamette Valley, from the high lava Plains to the Coast Range.
The book includes biographical sketches of notable geologists. It is lavishly illustrated and includes an extensive bibliography.
The Making of an Unquiet Land
Oregon Plans provides a rich, detailed, and nuanced analysis of the origins and early evolution of Oregon’s nationally renowned land use planning program.
Drawing primarily on archival sources, Sy Adler explores the dynamics of passing the key state laws that set the statewide program into motion, establishing the agency charged with implementing those laws, adopting the land use planning goals that are the heart of the Oregon system, and monitoring and enforcing the implementation of those goals through a unique citizen organization.
Adler brings to life the key actors associated with Oregon’s land use planning activities and organizations, highlighting the significant roles played by environmental activists, industry groups including homebuilders and realtors, local governments, and state officials. He reveals the conflicts and compromises that these parties with competing interests negotiated.
Oregon Plans both informs those new to Oregon and reminds long-time residents about controversial historic issues and the consequential choices that were made to address them during the mid-1970s. The book will interest anyone involved in land use, conservation, and environmental issues—from citizens to officials to developers—in Oregon and beyond.
Religious Activists in Pacific Northwest History
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).