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Question for NW history buffs
Old 11-09-2010, 10:30 AM   #1
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Question for NW history buffs

Just sitting here thinking what I really need is a good book on the history of the Pacific NW. I grew up there....but when you get right down to it... what do I really know? Considering I am hoping to move back to the Spokane area (grew up in SW WA) with a UK wife.....might do us both some good. Kind of hit me since when I moved here to N Yorkshire I borrowed a book from my landlord (made a ton of money in the business world) on the history of the area.....jeez, learned a lot from that one. If nothing else...the people back then who had money or had religious power have a lot to answer for....... well........ any really good books anybody know of a good one for the NW?
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Old 11-09-2010, 11:23 AM   #2
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The NW is such a varied place that there are really many histories. Anything you can find about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the later Oregon trail are central.

The coast is different. Astoria OR was named after Jacob Astor, whose fur trading company established Fort Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia. Seattle is situated on maybe the most favored west coast port site north of the SF bay, it had to be big. But a huge boost was given by the Klondike gold rush, and later from the founding of the Boeing Co. and WW2.

Another giant piece of NW history is the history of the native tribes. The fishing tribes along the coast and along the major rivers had a unique North American culture, and a high material standard of living. Of course the USArmy, General Custer, Chief Joseph and the eventual creation of the reservation system is very important.

Another big hunk of history is created by the railroads pushing through the Rockies in Montana and Idaho, and again the Cascades.

Don't neglect the silver mines in Kellogg and Wallace, and the rough social scene that was part of that.

The great thing about all this is that once you are here, it can become a lifelong habit to visit the sites, the great Indian museums, and the dams- the Grand Coulee Dam was a magnificent achievment and is a magnificent sight today.

Add in some study of the Portugese explorers into the Straits, fishermen from everywhere, and our colossal logging industry and you will have a good beginning.

Erna Gunther, who I met, wrote The Ethnobobany of Western Washington. Erna Gunther and the Ethnography of Western Washington

She got her information from Indians still following the old ways. When my wife and I lived on the coast we lived very close to this way, this book explains a lot about the wet side.

Ha
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Old 11-09-2010, 11:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F4mandolin View Post
Just sitting here thinking what I really need is a good book on the history of the Pacific NW. I grew up there....but when you get right down to it... what do I really know? Considering I am hoping to move back to the Spokane area (grew up in SW WA) with a UK wife.....might do us both some good. Kind of hit me since when I moved here to N Yorkshire I borrowed a book from my landlord (made a ton of money in the business world) on the history of the area.....jeez, learned a lot from that one. If nothing else...the people back then who had money or had religious power have a lot to answer for....... well........ any really good books anybody know of a good one for the NW?
I live in the Seattle area. When I first moved here, I read several good books about the history of the Puget Sound area, but not the PNW in general. I can't think of any specific books on the area with the exception of stuff like "The Journals of Lewis and Clarke."

There's a fairly decent web site on Washington State History:

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

this would probably be a good place for you to start.

BTW, there's a difference between the "Pacific Northwest" and the "Northwest." I'm originally from Ohio, which was carved from the "Northwest Territory."
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Old 11-09-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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All you really need to know at the present time about the Pacific NW is that the University of Oregon Ducks are the #1 ranked college football team in the nation .

That, and the fact that it's currently snowing in central OR right now.

On a more serious note, while I do not have a specific book I can recommend, what I have noticed is that local bookshops have a pretty good selection of local and regional history books. So you might want to do a search for local (PNW) bookstore websites and see what is available.
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Old 11-09-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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Check your local library. For example, the Everett Public Library has a "Northwest Room" that is filled with countless books on the most esoteric aspects and niches of Pacific Northwest history. I have spent hours there just browsing thru some of what they offer. Even small-town libraries will have something about their local history, I have found.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:55 PM   #6
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There are many sources and many more books and other sources of information. Here is a link to the Pacific County Historical Society in SW Washington and I would expect other counties have similar resources and likely more.

Publications available
Shopping

Links to other sources in the county and nearby counties
Links to other PC Museums

Your endeavor sounds like fun as well as educational.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:59 PM   #7
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Hmm. Guess I should clarify. I grew up in Castle Rock Wa......SW Washington. Small lumber community.....my father was killed working for Weyerheauser....his youngest brother was killed working for the same company.... many other relatives were killed/maimed/near death. I also worked for that same company. No issues....just what was there. I am familiar with the basic (vanilla) history of the NW. I guess you just can't compare head to head with a place like N Yorkshire. The history of this country goes back a "little" beyond the 150 years or so of what we consider history. I wish I could remember the name of the book I read...maybe I should go visit my old landlord to find out what it is. I have plenty of relatives all over the NW......I just happen to have lived the last 30 years mostly out of the country. My old neighbor in CR has written a couple of books on logging (Jim "Jeep" Lemonds)....Deadfall...... I guess I could go on. I was just wondering......being too lazy to really research it..... to see if there were some really good books people would recommend. My uncle Bill was a private commercial fisherman out of Ilwaco.....the stories he used to tell.....and that was just from that area (mouth of the Columbia up into Alaska ....etc). Maybe I am expecting too much..... I guess maybe I should be asking if there are any AREA specific books that people would recommend. Mouth of the Columbia.......NW indians...... logging/timber...... heck, I have another uncle who worked 30 years for Boeing. Any niche areas out there that have some good reads? Last time I got a message from Unclemick (I think it was him)? I think I knew some of his relatives out of Toutle.....that area could be a whole other book. I have spent too many years reading the really deep thinking books.........Zane Grey, Louie Le'Mour, heck even Doc Savage(ok....high school on that one)....... time to elevate my tastes in retirement (soon I hope....come on VERA!!!). If you know who Doc Savage is.....God help you for being boring................
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:34 PM   #8
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I'm sorry you lost your father and uncle to logging accidents. The woods and fishing are very dangerous occupations. My cousin was killed in the woods also when he was in his early twenties. Many years ago a great uncle drowned bringing a fishing boat over the bar.

You may enjoy visiting (when you return to the Pac NW) and checking out Camp 18. It is in Oregon and is a restaurant and logging museum with a recently opened loggers memorial. My dad loves to stop there and see the power saws on the walls with the 6 and 8 foot bars that are identical to the ones he used in the woods years ago as a faller.
Camp 18 Logging Museum | Steam Donkey, Dolbeer Single Spool, Willamette Compound Geared Yarder, Sawmill Bandsaw - Elsie Oregon

My aunt wrote 3 books that contain stories she put together based on her interviews with local residents in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. If you want to check those out I would be happy to PM you the info. It's not Castle Rock, but in the relative vicinity.
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BoxRec PNW Boxing History
Old 11-09-2010, 03:42 PM   #9
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BoxRec PNW Boxing History


Here's an on-line historical source I have spent many hours reading: BoxRec.com and its sister Wiki-based encyclopedia. You might enjoy reading about old-time Pacific Northwest boxers (early 1900s)--many of whom came from the timber and mining professions.

So, for example, if you go to Dode Bercot's Wiki page, you can: 1) read his Wiki bio, and 2) click on the Boxing Record link to his career record--where you can often find "bout comments." (That's a photo of him in this post.) Once on his career record page, click on any opponent's name and read their career record and Wiki bio (if one has been created).

There were many other such logger/boxers with interesting stories--such as Frank Farmer and Spark Plug Boyd. Here's a link to a pdf about the Farmer-Boyd saga. (Click the "farmerboyd.pdf" link on the linked page.)

BoxRec also allows you to see what Washington-state based bouts it has in its database (as well as other states and countries)--going all the way back to the late 1800s (over 1.5 million bouts so far, and growing).
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Old 11-09-2010, 04:24 PM   #10
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What Haha said, and..

I like to go to early writings. From a European prospective you will find a Google full view book by Sir Travers Twiss published in 1846, "The Oregon Territory its History and Discovery". That same year was published "The Oregon territory: a geographical and physical account of that country ..." by Rev. Charles Grenfell Nicolay (again, a Google full view book). Both may be available in reprint form.

The cultures of the coastal tribes and those in what is now Idaho are quite different. It has taken a while for the members of these communities to write their own history as much has been passed down through story telling, those that I have heard from the Pacific communities remind me of the Viking Sagas. This is a subject where a reader should just pursue the offerings as each writer is telling his own band's story. When my son was in middle school they asked children to make a presentation about their family's history, one of the boys brought in Chief Joseph's ceremonial head dress (escorted by very protective relatives). Boy did that make an impression on his classmates!

There was a WPA project interviewing Pioneers that is a rich source of the experience of those coming over the Oregon Trail. Again, now available on the inter-net.

In addition to the 'Overlanders' of the mid 1800 immigrant groups included Asians and Scandinavians. I don't have any particular books telling their story to recommend but there are a bunch out there.

The best museum: Exhibits & Galleries - Royal BC Museum.

I have wood products in my line too, grandfather was partner in a sawmill on the Oregon coast.
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Old 11-09-2010, 04:31 PM   #11
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Also check out the EPL's Digital Collection--especially its "Oral History Collection." (It's not that obvious, but those sub-categories, such as the yellowish "Oral History" image and the green title to the right--are HTML links, if you click on any one of 'em.)
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