Oregon


One more shot...
Photo of the Columbia River by Starlisa used under a Creative Commons license.

Blaine Harden, A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996).
When Woody Guthrie wrote his songs about the Columbia River during the Great Depression, hydroelectric projects like the Grand Coulee Dam were taming a wild river to bring jobs and electricity to a region that didn’t have enough of either. Harden’s father, like my grandfather, was one of the beneficiaries. Dams allowed barges to carry freight where rapids had been; irrigation made the desert bloom. Decades later, the Columbia is a river tamed, and the costs of this progress, such as declining salmon runs, are more evident. Harden, who grew up along the river and became a reporter for the Washington Post, traveled up and down the river to draw this picture of the river and the region.

Here is Google Book Search, with an excerpt and more. Here’s a story about Harden and the book in the Kitsap Sun. Phil Keisling, Oregon’s Secretary of State, reviewed it for Washington Monthly. Hal Espen reviewed it for The New York Times.

Buy it now at Amazon.com.

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Branding2
Photo by mharrsch used under a Creative Commons license.

William Kittredge, Hole in the Sky (Knopf, 1992).
Kittredge grew up on his family’s place, the MC Ranch in the Warner Valley in southeastern Oregon, in the northwest corner of the Great Basin. In a dry state, his grandfather built a holding of thousands of acres of well watered pasture and farmland. Two generations later, the paradise was lost, the result of environmental degradation and poor management. The ranch was sold before he was 40. Kittredge too declined, into alcoholism and infidelity. In this memoir, written years later, he takes stock of what he lost.

NPR has an excerpt. Lee Juilerat interviewed Kittredge in 1998 for Range Magazine. The book was on Portland Monthly‘s list of the 20 Greatest Oregon Books Ever. In 1986, Kittredge gave the Keynote Address at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Buy this book at Amazon.com.