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March 24th, 2020

The OSU Press remains open, although our office in Valley Library is closed until further notice. Staff members are working remotely and can be reached by email. At this time, we’re working hard to keep projects on schedule and to support our authors, readers, and publishing partners.

Please note that our distributor, the Chicago Distribution Center (CDC), will be unable to pack and ship books from its warehouse until further notice due to an Illinois state order. We have shifted many of our books to a remote manufacturing and delivery model to keep them available for purchase and delivery. We are also working to make more of our books available as e-books for immediate download through our website. However, many of our print books will be backordered and will not ship until after CDC reopens. We encourage you to order our print books from your local independent bookseller’s website or other online retailers. We are sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Thank you for your support. Stay healthy.

March 24th, 2020

Recently, OSU Press interns Ashley Hay and Isaiah Holbrook attended PubWest’s annual conference. Both on the cusp of entering the publishing industry, they reflect on their experience at this publishing association’s conference below




Last week, I was lucky enough to attend PubWest in Portland as an intern at OSU Press. Despite my youthful status and relative inexperience in the industry, I encountered friendly conference-goers, thoughtful conversations, and colorful debates over the course of the day. While at times I found myself overwhelmed at the depth and community of the industry I’m planning to enter, I think this was a useful step in immersing myself into this strange new culture.

I primarily embraced the role of passive observer, newcomer to all the etiquette, relationships, and practices playing out before my eyes. I learned a lot of about marketing this way, sitting in panels that discussed generational marketing, metadata, Pinterest, and sensitivity readers. Debates over the diversity of editors raised questions I never would have thought to ask. Contracts that require authors self-promote was previously a totally foreign concept. Partnerships with libraries, schools, and local media outlets all hold significant potential, and I might not have learned about the strategic ways some publishers connect with their communities elsewhere.

But I found some ways to participate in conversations, as well. During PubWest’s “Peer Pairs,” an organized speed-conversation event, I received plenty of advice and stories from industry professionals about the start of a publishing career. “Confusion is a learning state,” one woman told me, a marketer who cited the numerous times she, herself, had failed initially. “Pump them for all the ‘why’ questions,” another woman—an educator—said, suggesting I use mentors to learn about the history of any industry I enter. In return, my Gen-X status became a boon as I found myself answering all sorts of social-media-related questions. (Yes, Twitter is a surprisingly useful platform for community engagement. No, you shouldn’t use the same hashtags on every platform.) 

To be honest, I certainly didn’t expect such a strong sense of community to emerge almost immediately. Amongst the two hundred or so attendees, most people seemed at least vaguely familiar with each other, and I’d often see conversations across aisles, shifting clusters of familiar faces, and warm greetings of old acquaintances. Keeping my ears to the ground, I picked up plenty of industry gossip, much to my delight. Speakers and panelists all had their own stories and experiences, which they were all too willing to share, and even the drier moments held gems of unknown phrases, histories, or ideas I feel lucky to have caught.

Broadly, I feel lucky to have had this experience. Being able to dive so quickly into a professional community like this was a terrific learning experience. While this time, I focused on listening to and absorbing others’ knowledge, perhaps in the future I’ll become the one initiating conversations—or even sitting on a panel myself.


 The PubWest conference enabled me to gain even more knowledge about the publishing industry through both the marketing and editorial lens. As a fiction student in the MFA Creative Writing program at OSU, most of my conference experience stems from AWP, and although the perspectives from a writer’s eyes and a publisher’s are completely different, there are parallels between the ways that publishers think and the ways in which I think about writing and marketing my own work.

One of the panels I attended spoke about generational readership in publishing and gave a brief overview of the interests and disinterests of the majority of readers from each generation (from the Silent and Baby Boomers to Gen Z and Gen Alpha). Through this panel, I realized that an awareness of audience is essential in knowing how to tailor your books and advertise them to your generational audience. But listening to the panel, I couldn’t help but relate this same marketing tactic/awareness to a writer, and how writers also have to be cognizant of their readers, who their stories might attract, and figure out how to broaden their readership even when their freedom of experimentation in their work veers away from their initial work. Even though as a writer I’m more focused on generating work than on attracting my audience, this panel made me aware that in order to be visible, a writer must pay attention to their readership.

From this conference, I came to further understand the universal conversation the publishing world is having about increasing diversity and representation within the process of book publishing. I attended another panel that focused on  what it means to highlight diverse books and voices through a predominately white industry. This discussion covered a variety of topics that raised various questions such as: Who is allowed to write about people of color? How can we be a better representative of diversity and inclusion from an editor’s standpoint? From a marketing/advertising standpoint? Should sensitivity readers only be limited to the transmittal phase? It was through this conversation that I further learned my desire to be in that conversation, to make my presence and voice known as a person of color, and to contribute to a small solution to a global issue.

Not only were the panels a learning experience, but also the keynote speakers, specifically Charlotte Abbott’s talk on reader engagement. Abbott’s speech encouraged me to think about how my position as an intern can contribute to readership engagement. She articulated that in the small press community, many of us strive to reach for a broader audience that is often more accessible to bigger-named brands/trade publishers than academic presses; however, that doesn’t mean that increasing readership engagement isn’t accessible to us. Abbott’s talk was a stepping stone for my understanding of how interns can be a part of that conversation and enabled me to take what I learned back to the office and begin to apply it to our everyday practice.

I’m very fortunate that my work at OSU Press led me to this conference and gifted me further educational access into the world of small press publishing.


March 11th, 2020
In Black Woman in Green, Gloria Brown and Donna Sinclair share Gloria’s journey as the first African American woman to become a forest supervisor with the US Forest Service. In this blog post, they describe their process and present an excerpt from the book.


Gloria Brown
: This book is for any female or minority interested in moving up in any organization. It will appeal to anyone interested in how the Forest Service works and why we all must do our part to save our planet. The book is about the people who work on the ground to respond to issues like the spotted owl, clean water, salmon, and recreation in national forests—plus many other jobs that are being done on national forests.

Donna: This excerpt illustrates perfectly the rhythm of writing and spoken word between Gloria and me that resulted in Black Woman in Green. Gloria typically drafted chapters and then I asked her questions to flesh them out, often to include more detailed descriptions. As we moved along in the process, such descriptions became increasingly second nature for her, and we also came to know one another so well that I sometimes added stories she had told me. We would then refine the sections together. I would type, she would speak, and we would seek just the right word and then read aloud to make sure of the flow.

This section is especially memorable to me because it reveals our joint process. In this segment we drew from our individual experiences of flying into Portland to create images familiar to us both—Mt. Hood and forests—combining the isolation of being dropped into whiteness with the color of forest and money that resulted from timber harvests. It also demonstrates Gloria's transition from an urban African American woman to a woman who walks in multiple worlds.


I needed to understand how a region works “in the field.” So, Tom and John facilitated a two-week detail to the information office in Region 6, in Oregon, on the other side of the country. This was my first plane ride ever, and it exposed me to an entirely new world. As the plane circled to land at the Portland International Airport, I was struck by the brilliant white-topped peaks of Mount Hood. I had seen the Smoky Mountains, but never anything like this! I also quickly realized that Oregon’s population was as white as the mountain’s peaks. I had worked with Caucasians for a long time, but never before had I seen a place with no African Americans. Yes, I learned there were a few in the state—about 37,000 in a population of 2.5 million—but they were not very visible in the Portland Regional Office (RO), the city’s downtown area, and especially not on the Forest Service districts I visited. The most diversity I saw in Portland was in the personnel office, the mailroom, and the civil rights office; when I visited the Willamette National Forest, I saw no people of color. There were women, but at the forest and district levels, no one looked like me.

What I did see everywhere I looked was Northwest green, the color of money in the Forest Service, and the hue of deliverance for me. Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley took my breath away as an employee named Jerry Mason drove me to the Willamette National Forest supervisor’s office in Eugene. The Willamette National Forest stretches more than a hundred miles along the western slope of the Cascade Range, extending from Mount Jefferson east of Salem to the Calapooya Mountains northeast of Roseburg. Mount Hood dominates the Portland landscape, while Mount Jefferson looms above the crystal-clear lakes, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant plant life of the Willamette Valley and its national forest. To me, these were some of the prettiest landscapes in the country. Of course, I hadn’t seen a lot. Although I had been with the Forest Service for nearly ten years, I had never been in a national forest.

When I saw the massive trees, bigger than any living thing I had ever seen, soaring hundreds of feet into the air, a million fragrant needles sending oxygen into the atmosphere, I felt that I was in a cathedral, a church more powerful than any other. The Douglas-firs, true firs, and pines towered over me. Brilliant shades of green and gold moss and lichen brought the forest to life, while the flaming red of Indian fireweed burned into my consciousness, and the solitude of the trails calmed by soul. There were no cars, no streetlights, and very few people; just trees, rivers, and wildlife. I had never known solitude like that, even in a park. At a cookout in DC, there were people everywhere. This was different. People walked the trails, but the forest enclosed you in solitude. I had sent out pamphlets about forest ecology but had never walked in the forest. I had provided schools with educational materials about the environment, but had never seen old growth. For me, visiting the Willamette forest was like going into a darkroom and having the light come on slowly to reveal a new world. I had so many firsts, my parents didn’t believe my stories. I decided then to one day work on the Willamette. Daddy did say that if I ever got to live in Oregon, he would love to visit and fish for some salmon. I eventually got to Oregon, but Dad died before he could catch that fish.

Excerpt from Black Woman in Green
by Gloria Brown and Donna Sinclair, copyright © 2020.
ch. 1, pgs.17-18
February 13th, 2020

On this Valentine’s day we celebrate a different type of love—our love for the great state of Oregon! On February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially granted statehood by President James Buchanan. To recognize this day in honor of Oregon’s 161st birthday, we are sharing a snapshot of Oregon’s history through the development of sports. Brian S. Campf’s Sporting Oregon highlights the growing popularity of sports such as baseball, football, and basketball during the mid-1800s, and the unity and camaraderie that sports inspired in Oregonians. What better way to depict Oregon’s history than through excerpts of Sporting Oregon!

Baseball [pp. 6-8, 88, 174]

The first pitch for organized baseball in Portland was thrown . . . [when nine] of the city’s young athletes gathered in the office of J. W. Cook, a bag factory, on the evening of Monday, May 28, 1866, to form a team. . . . They met again on June 2 and emerged with team officers and a name befitting them: the Pioneer Base Ball Club (PBBC). Thirty members were added to the club’s rolls just over two weeks later, including Joseph Buchtel, a player who managed the club and would become the face of early Portland baseball. Thirty-one men from among the city’s population of 6,508 signed a constitution the club adopted. Portland was a small town then, with one architect, four hardware stores, six restaurants, nine bakeries, and one astrologer.

Less than two months after the team formed, the Oregonian called baseball “exhilarating,” observing that the spirit of the Pioneer’s play showed that “its enlivening effects are by no means a small matter,” and called the club’s progress “remarkable.”

Bat and ball games were not new to Oregon. One of baseball’s predecessor games, town ball, had been played in Oregon since the pioneer days. In a 1900 Oregonian story, an Oregonian born in 1848 recalled his experience with the sport as a boy:

The ballground had four corners, similar to our baseball ground, with a pitcher and a catcher. We did not know anything about curves, but threw the ball over-hand right from the shoulder. We did not stand on the bases as in the modern game. The striker [batter] had to run the bases, and if we could catch the ball on the fly or on the first bound the striker was out. If, when he ran from one base to the next, we could throw the ball in front of him, that is, between him and the base he was trying to reach, he was out. If we could hit him with the ball while he was running from one base to the next, he was out. It would be surprising how quickly one side could be caught out and the other side let in.

Balls for town ball were made by unraveling an old sock or stocking and wrapping the yarn around a piece of leather until it was the right size. Then “we would carry in the wood and do all kinds of chores to get mother to cover it with a piece of old pants leg or coat sleeve.”

A Medford resident claimed to have organized Oregon’s first baseball team in Corvallis in 1856, ten years before the Pioneers formed. “No, it wasn’t ‘town ball’ we played, but the original game of baseball,” he told the Medford Mail Tribune in 1910. Their only equipment was a bat whittled from native wood and a ball that at first was rubber and later was made of yarn covered in buckskin with a rubber center. “That ball was the most valuable piece of property belonging to the club,” he added. “If in playing in open fields, as we did in those days, the ball was ‘lost,’ the game was called until the players, spectators and even the umpire had searched until they found it.”


A note on the back of the 1909 “The Lions” of Scio postcard of female players reads, “This team beat the Star Nine 3 to 1 in a 5-inning game.” The Oregonian had previewed the contest: in Scio, “a unique feature of the carnival of sports to be held here the latter part of this week will be a baseball game next Saturday afternoon between two teams composed entirely of girls. A number of local girls have been practicing strenuously for the contest and it will be an interesting exhibition.”



Southpaw pitcher Jimmy Claxton became the first African American to play organized baseball in the twentieth century when he pitched for the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks on May 28, 1916. That same year he became the first black player to appear on an American baseball card (with the Oaks). He kneels in the front row, far right of this postcard of Portland’s 1914 Hubbard Giants baseball team, named for its manager Lew Hubbard. He played for them in 1915, as well.

Football [pp 25-26, 105] 

On November 12, 1892, Pacific University became Oregon’s first college team to enter the football fray, defeating Bishop Scott Academy 18–6. The following year, Pacific University played in the state’s first intercollegiate football game, trouncing Oregon State Normal School (now Western Oregon University) 54–0 on November 3. Only one or two of its players from the normal school had ever seen a game.

Five hundred people in Corvallis paid ten cents apiece to see Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) play its first foot-ball game on November 11, 1893. The Corvallis Gazette explained the new game to its readers, starting with this preamble: “Many of our people have never witnessed a game of football as it is now played, and as there is to be a contest between our boys and the visiting team from Albany tomorrow afternoon, perhaps a few simple points as we remember them will be of interest, the details of which can only be understood by seeing the men on the field.” OAC cruised to a 62–0 win over Albany Collegiate Institute (now Lewis & Clark College). “The Albany team proved no match for the Agricultural boys. In fact they were mere playthings,” according to the Oregonian.

Elsewhere in the school ranks, Portland Academy had a team by early 1893 and Portland High School (now Lincoln High) had one by November. Perhaps the most delightful story of a new team comes from Salem’s Willamette University, which would have been practicing in November but for an important missing ingredient: “The foot-ball has not arrived as yet so the boys have been creating exercise for themselves, by getting the field in good shape.”. . .

Beneath the mild heading of “Other Oregon News,” the Oregonian sandwiched a brief article about that historic contest between stories on business picking up in Pendleton and a Jacksonville boy who cut his foot chopping wood: 

Eugene, March 24—The first match game of football this city has witnessed was played today between the teams of Albany college and the University of Oregon. The Albany boys were outplayed at every point, and the score stood 44 to 2 in favor of the University of Oregon. Two of the Albany men were slightly injured.



The 1909 Eugene High School football team in the postcard expected to vie for

the Western Oregon interscholastic championship (they had won it two years earlier). They did not disappoint, beating every high school they played in 1909 after losing their first game 18–0 to the University of Oregon freshmen squad. Unsettled claims for the 1909 state title were asserted by Eugene High and by Portland’s undefeated Washington High School team. 

[pp, 32-33, 89]

A March 16, 1895, Oregonian article described the sport’s appeal. “An exciting game of basket-ball was played last night in the gymnasium hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. This is a new game, and is just being introduced here. The rules are such as to avoid the roughness and liability to injury of foot-ball; yet the exercise brings into play and develops about every muscle and portion of the body. It is a great fad in the East, and promises to be a most enticing amusement and exercise here.”

By late April 1895, at Portland’s East Side YMCA “a lively game of basket ball” was being played on most evenings, nine to a side played in a contest in May, and by July basketball was the “principal amusement” there. A sense of the action comes from the following excerpt from the Oregonian’s coverage of the May game:

A game of basket ball was played yesterday afternoon at 5 o’clock on the East Side YMCA field between the regular nine and the “scrubs.” It was the hottest game yet played, the practice the players are receiving being plainly evident. The features of the game were the first goal made by the regulars in three throws, Gwilt’s remarkable agility and sprinting to keep from being hit by the ball, McMonies’ high-jumping, and Van Auken’s fine goal-throwing. The score was 4 to 2 in favor of the regulars.

Play improved with practice. In intramural women’s athletics at the University of Oregon, “the ladies teams of basket ball continue to practice as rigorously as if they were to enter some inter-collegiate contest,” the Daily Eugene Guard reported in February 1895. . . .

Women thrived in the game. In 1895, the first athletic exhibition given by the Multnomah Club’s “lady members” included a basket-ball contest played before at least four hundred spectators. Wearing red or white ribbons to identify their sides, they played two ten-minute halves to a 3–1 final score. Young men watching “yelled as if they were on a football field."


The center for Astoria High School’s women’s basketball team is featured on a postcard mailed in February 1909 to William E. Gregory, Captain of the USS Armeria, detailing past and future games.

The team disbanded in November 1909 after the coach insisted they play under girls’ rules; the team countered that other teams would only play them under boys’ rules.




January 14th, 2020

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified 100 years ago today, giving women the right to vote. Long before they could vote, women in Oregon were shaping our history and fighting for political, social, and economic justice. Among them was Marie Equi, a Portland physician and one of the first "out" lesbians in Oregon. Today's blog post examines some of the ways that Marie Equi has made her way into contemporary classrooms and offers some suggestions for further reading.

*           *            *           *           *


The life story of Portland’s Dr. Marie Equi continues to appear in Pacific Northwest curriculum, according to Equi biographer Michael Helquist. Last spring an 8th grader in a private school in Portland contacted him through his website to ask about the history of abortions in Oregon. The student was curious about enforcement of the anti-abortion laws, and he asked how Equi had avoided prosecution. The student wrote that his inquiry had been approved by his school counselors since he had a well-defined project that he had already begun to research. He also took the occasion for an author interview, asking about motivation, obstacles, and the persistence needed to write history. 


On May 1st of last year, Professor Kimberly Jensen of Western Oregon University invited Helquist to speak to her undergraduate class, Women in Oregon History. Rather than a personal appearance, Helquist participated in a two-hour Q and A with the students via WebEx. All the students – about twenty young women and men– had read the full biography before the session, and they had prepared a list of questions and interests.


The comments and questions were spirited and probing, according to Helquist. “They were so appreciative of speaking to the author of one of the books they had enjoyed.” One spoke of her disappointment in not hearing about Marie Equi earlier in her schooling. This led to a discussion about historical erasure. Several expressed interest in pursuing a career in history. And they were especially curious about the research and writing process. The politics of abortion recurred again in questions. Following the discussion, Helquist notes, “the students mailed me a thank-you card with individual comments. I found it important that so many thanked me for ‘taking time’ and for ‘allowing us to engage with your book, knowledge, and personal experience.’ To me it suggests that students not only appreciated a change in classroom learning but also crave the interaction with someone from the outside listening to them individually.” 

 (For more information about using Marie Equi in the classroom, contact michael.helquist@gmail.com)

*           *            *           *           *

For further reading, check out these books about women who changed the course of Oregon history:

Beyond the Rebel Girl: Women and the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest, 1905-1924 by Heather Mayer

A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936 by Kimberley Mangun

Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist

The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story by Norma Paulus

Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly

Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest by Sue Armitage

Up the Capitol Steps:A Woman's March to the Governorship by Barbara Roberts

With Grit and by Grace: Breaking Trails in Politics and Law by Betty Roberts

Yours for Liberty: Selections from Abigail Scott Duniway's Suffrage Newspaper edited by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety

December 13th, 2019
If environmental scholar Peter Brewitt didn’t have his hands full with two young daughters, he could moonlight as a film critic. In this guest blog post, Brewitt explores the unexpected connections between Disney’s Frozen franchise and Same River Twice, his 2019 book on dam removal.

* * * * * * * * * *

Peter Brewitt(Massive spoilers ahead for Frozen 2. Also Frozen. This should be fine because, to judge by ticket sales, you’ve probably already seen them.)

I have two daughters, but for the last few years, I’ve felt like I have four: Penny and Lupin, princesses of House Brewitt, and Anna and Elsa, princesses of Arendelle. I know I’m not alone in this—Anna and Elsa have joined many, many families. The first thing my older daughter wanted to be when she grew up was an Elsa. My younger daughter has only just turned two but demanded a toothbrush with Anna on it and totes around a stuffed Olaf (the snowman) instead of a teddy bear. I know all of the songs by heart. So of course, when Frozen 2 hit theaters, we (except for the two-year-old) went to see it immediately. I really liked it, but I did not expect it to be about environmental interest groups, political framing, and dam removal. Which is to say, my book.

Quick background if you don’t know Frozen . . . Arendelle, a lightly disguised Norway, has two princesses. Elsa, the older sister, possesses the power to shoot ice out of her fingers. Anna, the younger one, has no such power but DOES have a spunky personality. Their parents die at sea (Disney trusts kids to deal with some heavy themes between catchy showtunes; Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”), Elsa freezes Arendelle but eventually sorts out how to harness her powers and be herself, and in the end, everyone learns about love, understanding, and the importance of taking action to fight climate change.

Frozen 2 is also about love and understanding, but this time the characters come together through dam removal. The action takes us north of Arendelle, to the tribal lands of Northuldra. The girls’ dad, King Agnarr, had been part of a state visit there as a young prince, and Arendelle had built a dam to support economic development in the Northuldrans’ pre-industrial landscape. But the dam, the girls discover, was really an instrument of colonial violence—the girls’ grandfather, a nasty combination of Andrew Jackson and Otto Von Bismarck named Runeard, built the dam to destroy Northulda’s magic and open the land for conquest. What’s more, Elsa and Anna turn out to be half Northuldran themselves! They decide to destroy the dam, and they rouse Earth Giants to do just that. Elsa uses her powers to divert the uncontrolled dam release away from Arendelle, and everyone, again, lives happily ever after or until the inevitable sequel.

And it’s all true! Other than talking snowmen and ice magic. In real life, dams have been and still are used to destroy indigenous livelihoods, displace local communities, and force the dominant culture onto native people who live near the river. The Northuldrans are directly based on the Sami, the indigenous people of northwestern Europe. Norway’s dams (96 percent of Norway’s power comes from hydro) have destroyed the Samis’ traditional resources and stoked political conflict. While Disney seems to have done a pretty good job partnering with Sami people to make the movie, the magic of Northuldrans, and Arendelle’s fear of it, parallel a worldwide tendency to treat indigenous people as extra–human beings, like fairies or hobbits. Honestly, I’m impressed that Disney raised all this in a movie for elementary schoolers.

So how to deal with the industrial mistakes and limited perspectives of the past? In Frozen 2 and Same River Twice, the same lessons apply. In river politics, we’re all stuck with one another, and all stakeholders need to communicate in order to make any progress at all—there is always someone else downstream. Different people frame and value nature differently. Failure to coordinate with one another results in conflict, whether because a magical mist descends upon the watershed or because a nonmagical mist of lawsuits descends upon the United States courts. And when a dam is useless or harmful (of course some of them are useful), it should be removed. Though I have to recommend a responsible engineering approach that minimizes downstream impact; I cannot recommend the Earth Giants.

December 10th, 2019

In today's blog post, coauthor and illustrator M.L. Herring gives a glimpse into the progression of a few of her illustrations featured in the Ellie and Ricky series (co-written with Judith L. Li). She also shares some of Ellie and Ricky’s various adventures throughout the series and highlights the ways their journeys have been integrated in the classroom and beyond. 



After four books covering four seasons, four regions, and four fields of science, our fictional eleven-year-olds, Ellie and Ricky, have completed their exploration of Oregon.


It’s been quite a journey for these intrepid kids, and for me and my coauthor Judy Li. Ellie’s Log began this adventure, as Ellie and Ricky explore the old-growth forest of the Oregon Cascades. The log, of course is not just a toppled old tree. The log is also Ellie’s journal, where she records what she and Ricky discover after a snowstorm delivers 220 feet of vertical life down to eye-level. The John Burroughs Society honored Ellie’s Log, the first time the society ever awarded a book of fiction.


Ellie’s Log struck a chord. It was clear that Oregon kids wanted to explore their own backyards and teachers needed engaging ways to meet new learning standards for science and the humanities. The OSU Press realized the importance of building a pipeline for future scientists and communicators. So the series was born.


Ricky’s Atlas allowed us to showcase Ellie’s friend Ricky, the son of Mexican immigrants, whose point of view expands Ellie’s world. In this summer story, Ricky invites Ellie to join him on a visit to his uncle’s ranch in Eastern Oregon. It’s fire season, and the kids see firsthand what wildfire means to people living in the West. Their journey gave us the chance to illustrate how fire continues to shape our arid lands and communities.

You have
to be quick to sketch wild animals. Sometimes you can draw only a few lines that you later develop into a realistic picture of what you saw.

Ricky, as it turns out, loves maps, and the atlas he creates during his visit is a playful exploration of time and space at multiple scales. However lighthearted, Ricky’s map-making follows the standards for geographic education established by the National Geographic Society. Ricky’s Atlas won the AAAS/Subaru award for the best hands-on science book of 2017.


In Ricky in the City, Ricky and Ellie travel to Portland on a school exchange in October. There they hone their skills of scientific observation to help monitor urban wildlife. Going beyond curiosity-led exploration, Ellie and Ricky are now working side-by-side with natural area managers on a citizen-science project to map wildlife connections throughout the metro area.


Ricky in the City gave me the chance to draw animals of the Willamette Valley, including these river otters, a common sight on Sauvie Island and on our farm. 

This gave Judy and me the chance to dive into the region’s many conservation organizations. We illustrate how the world is expanding for Ellie and Ricky, with new friends and new experiences in an urban setting familiar to half of Oregon’s kids.


And finally, Ellie’s Strand records one single winter day, when Ellie and Ricky travel to the coast to volunteer for a beach cleanup. By now, our two Oregon explorers are becoming adept at observation of the natural world around them. But the edge of the Pacific Ocean challenges them on a global scale.


Their day at the beach reveals amazing coastal creatures bathing in tidepools, hidden in beach wrack, and frolicking offshore. This was, of course, a joy to write and illustrate. But as they collect trash from their strand of beach, Ellie and Ricky soon realize the global scale of ocean pollution that threatens those creatures. It’s a feeling that is familiar to all of us who know and love the ocean, and we wanted especially to show how Ellie and Ricky rise to the enormity of the task. They realize the superpower of collaborative work, a recognition that is empowering children around the world.


I sketch what I see, and that means that I often sketch what’s in my hand. This is a drawing of California mussels for Ellie’s Strand 

The adventure continues. Judy and I are now at work with OSU Press to expand ways to encourage kids to explore nearby natural areas. Oregon Sea Grant has adopted Ellie’s Strand as a centerpiece for the Coast STEM Hub teacher training. Ellie’s Log and Ricky’s Atlas are used by the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program and OSU Extension Service for outdoor education. And the newest book, Ricky in the City, is quickly gaining a following among kids and teachers in Portland and beyond.


We hope that for years to come, young readers across the state will go outside with Ellie and Ricky to explore and record their own place in Oregon.




M.L. Herring lives on a peach farm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where she writes and illustrates works of science. She is an associate professor emeritus of science communication at Oregon State University.



December 6th, 2019
The Other Oregon Book CoverIn The Other Oregon, Thomas R. Cox explores the complexities of Oregon east of the Cascades with a thorough, multidisciplinary eye. He focuses on the interactions between environmental history, cultural and physical geography, natural resource management, and the people of the region. Here, an excerpt from his preface reveals a bit more about his background and approach.


Growing up in Redmond in the 1940s and 1950s, my friends and I used to bewail the inattention to our section by the state’s politicians and the metropolitan press. Eastern Oregon ought to be a separate state, we argued. And when I arrived at Oregon State as an undergraduate, I was both surprised and pleased to learn that classmates from Ontario, on Oregon’s eastern border, had engaged in the same discussions. Meanwhile, various and sundry fraternity brothers chided me for being from the “great desert,” to which I responded that I would rather bask in the sun like a lizard than be a “moss-back” from “the great swamp.” The stereotypes on which these exchanges were based, like most such, were oversimplifications. Vast stretches east of the Cascades—south from Bend, between Klamath Falls and Lakeview, and in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains—are forested, and north of the Blues mile after mile of onetime bunchgrass steppe now sport highly productive wheat ranches. Nor is the Westside a vast swamp; major portions of the Willamette, Rogue, and Umpqua Valleys receive so little rain they have never been forested in modern times. Yet, all in all, west of the Cascades is a well-watered land, while relative aridity dominates east of the range.

Thus stereotypes persist, and they are not limited to the fantasies of teenagers or rivalries of undergraduates. An old prospector, scouring the sun-drenched Pueblo Mountains in far southeastern Oregon, long ago commented on Western Oregon and its people: “Too many trees,” he opined, “It gives them a narrow vision, and they can’t see out.”

One can accept that the prospector had touched on a basic truth without falling into the maw of environmental determinism. As nineteenth-century historian Theodor Mommsen reputedly said, “Don’t speak to me of environmental determinism. Where once lived the ancient Greeks now live the Otooman Turks!” The relatively dry, challenging environment east of the Cascades presented opportunities quite different from those of the Willamette Valley; this harsh land drew people of a different sort, people who brought with them values and attitudes that shaped the economy, society, and outlook of the area and thus laid the foundation for the east-west divisions that, in spite of an ongoing influx of outsiders, have continued to the present day. The region’s identity remains shaped by the land and the ways that people have survived—and even prospered—on it. And for those who have not prospered, a certain pride remains in simply having persevered in this challenging place.

More lies behind these differences than relative levels of precipitation: the contrasts are cultural as well as environmental. Some years ago Dorothy Johansen, in her presidential address to the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, sought to explain the palpable differences between Oregon, Washington, and California—although her “Oregon,” like that of my daughter’s roommate, clearly lay west of the Cascades, particularly in Portland and the Willamette Valley. Echoing Louis Hartz’s fragment thesis, she argued that original settlers set the tone for each of the three states and thus shaped their societies in the years that followed. In his bicentennial history of the state, Gordon Dodds took much the same position—as did I some years ago in trying to delineate the sociopolitical differences among Oregon, Washington, and Idaho through a study of the state parks movement in each. All of us reflected the earlier argument of Earl Pomeroy, that settlers of the American West brought with them cultural baggage that shaped what they did and what they built. Experience in its varied forms reinforced the mix.

Excerpt from The Other Oregon: People, Environment, and History East of the Cascades by Thomas R. Cox, copyright © 2019.
November 19th, 2019
On today’s blog post, author Gretel Van Weiren shares with us some tips for getting kids outside. Her new book, Listening at Lookout Creek, reveals her spiritual practice as it has evolved with her—and her family’s—changing lives. Listening at Lookout Creek additionally explores the development of her own deep connection with the natural world—and that of her overscheduled teenagers’, despite their hyper-tech, hyper-busy lives.

10 Tips for Getting Your Kids Outdoors

We all know the data, mostly from personal experience: kids today are spending an inordinate amount of time on screens indoors and it is not healthy. We also know that time spent off screen outdoors is incredibly beneficial for childhood well-being. One recent study showed that just 15 minutes spent outside, whether in an urban park or a forested area, had significant psychologically restorative benefits. So how do we get our kids outside in today’s hyper high-tech world? This is a question that I have pondered since my own three children, now teenagers, have been small. Here are some ideas that I have gathered over the years.

1. Take food. This is a trick that I learned from my father, who on almost every fishing expedition would bring a snack that we were not otherwise allowed to have at home. Even with teens, I have learned that taking food on outings makes a huge difference for morale and serves as an enticement for future outdoor activities. My son Carl likes jerky, and daughters, Inga and Clara, chocolate.

2. Invite friends. This is a great one for kids of all ages, most of whom are happier when they are with their friends. Pack a picnic, meet at a park or sporting event, go on a bike ride or hike. And when they are together, give them the freedom to do what they want and try not to intervene (within reason, of course).

3. Ask them what they want to do. I cannot tell you how many times my kids have refused to go outside because it was my idea, not theirs. Sure, tell them that they need to go outdoors at some point during the day, but let them do what they want to do and on their time. When they do get up the gumption, which I promise they will, even if with some gentle prodding, be truly open to what they choose—even if it involves the phone some of the time.

4. Do it with them. I am convinced that mother used to send me and my three sisters outdoors immediately after school (and I mean within 10 minutes) because she wanted some peace and quiet to make dinner. And believe me, I completely understand the need. But studies show that it helps to get kids outside if you are willing to go with them. Learn to be, at least occasionally, a “companion in wonder,” as naturalist Rachel Carson famously termed it. You will enjoy it more than you think you might, and be healthier for it.

5. Work it into their study schedule. This is something that I started to do when my children entered high school and began to have so much homework and so many extracurricular activities that there was virtually zero free time to do anything else. We live in Michigan, so the weather dictates this activity, but for a good chunk of the year, I have a small table set up outside the front door where they can sit and do homework, even if for a few minutes. A neighborhood park with a picnic table, coffee shop with outdoor seating, or quilt spread on the grass also works.

6. Reward them. Repay them with something that they like when they do go outside. I am not talking about a new iPhone or car. You would be surprised, actually, at how small the remuneration needs to be for this to work. Think extra time on the x-box or simply promising them that you will not badger them for the rest of the day. Yesterday, for example, I made Carl a milkshake after he had voluntarily taken our dog outside.

7. Take their phone. Or, better yet, have a designated drawer in the house where they (and you) put the phone when a little stress reduction is needed. I know this is an incredibly unpopular proposal, especially among teens, but remember, you are the parent and are likely paying for a significant portion of their livelihood, including their phone. The time frame does not have to be long—15 minutes or so will do. But tell them to unplug and go do anything outdoors. I promise, over time, they will notice a difference in their mental state. Eventually, I have learned, they may even come to do it on their own.

8. Do chores. Make sure you give a list of options. It can be as small as taking the dog or garbage out or collecting the mail. Monetary compensation is always a good incentive. But so is simply reminding them that they are an integral part of the family unit who is needed to make it all work on a day-to-day basis. I cannot tell you how many times I have forced my children to do yardwork and they have come away seeing the value in it, for themselves and the noticeable difference.

9. Surprise them! There is nothing like a good surprise to make your children appreciate the outdoors. And again, like many of the above, it can be something very small. A short walk with an ice-cream cone on the first day of spring or permission to stay up late to see the full moon.

10. Make outside somewhere they want to be. In his popular book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, journalist Richard Louv quotes a child he interviewed who said that the reason that he prefers it indoors is because that is where all the plugs are. Make your yard or patio a place that is enticing to be. Add a hammock, pot of flowers, bird feeder, or comfortable chair. And again, bringing food outdoors always seems to work.
November 7th, 2019

This Monday, November 11, marks the 100th anniversary of an infamous event in Pacific Northwest history known variously as the Centralia Tragedy, the Centralia Massacre, the Armistice Day Riot, or the Armistice Day Tragedy. Whatever name it goes by, a day that began with fanfare and parades in celebration of the first anniverary of Armistice Day ended in violence and six deaths, as members of the American Legion squared off against members of the International Workers of the World labor union (IWW, or Wobblies). In today's blog post, historian Aaron Goings provides background, context, and an excerpt from The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington, which he coauthored with Brian Barnes and Roger Snider.

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In the annals of North American history, few years stand out as much as 1919. That year witnessed workers across the continent striking, with employers and the state combining to halt labor’s progress. The aftermath of the First World War saw left-wing movements burst forth across the globe with general strikes, socialist political victories, and attempts to spread revolution beyond Russia.

With wartime unemployment low, American workers unionized and struck in record numbers. In Seattle, thousands of workers laid down their tools in one of the country’s best-known general strikes. But Pacific Northwest strikes and labor radicalism were not confined to the Emerald City. To twenty-first century readers, it might be surprising that many of labor’s most notable conflicts took place in southwest Washington, especially in its lumber towns and logging camps. Partly to commemorate that history of working-class activism and class struggle, I joined my coworkers Brian Barnes and Roger Snider to write a popular labor history of this region. It is our hope that The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington (published in June 2019 by Oregon State University Press) reminds readers of the rich history of radicalism and progressive activism in southwest Washington, so frequently identified with conservatism.

Few incidents speak more directly to the intensity of class conflict than the Armistice Day Tragedy in Centralia, Washington, a horrible event in Pacific Northwest history. On November 11, 1919, a mob of American Legionaires raided the Centralia Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) hall and later lynched Wesley Everest, an IWW logger. The Red Coast provides a working-class perspective on many of the labor struggles of the early twentieth century Pacific Northwest, including the Armistice Day Tragedy. What follows is a chapter from the book entitled “Class War: Centralia 1919,” lightly revised for this venue.

* * * * *

Around Centralia are wooded hills; men have been beaten beneath these trees and lynched from them. The beautiful Chehalis River flows near by; Wesley Everest was left dangling from one of its bridges. But Centralia is provokingly pretty for all that. It is small wonder that lumber trust henchmen wish to keep it all for themselves.

— Ralph Chaplin, The Centralia Conspiracy

The Centralia American Legion and the leading businessmen of that city had more than a parade in mind when they gathered on November 11, 1919, to celebrate Armistice Day. Apparently believing that the spectacle of political violence would enhance the patriotic experience, they concocted a plan to raid the Centralia IWW Hall. IWW halls were of great practical and symbolic importance to workers. As Wobbly activist and historian Ralph Chaplin explains, the halls were loved by workers, but despised by employers. These “churches of the movement,” as public historian Robert Weyeneth called them, represented the closest thing to a home for many wandering IWW members. Chaplin noted:

It is here the men can gather around a crackling wood fire, smoke their pipes and warm their souls with the glow of comradeship. Here they can, between jobs or after work, discuss the vicissitudes of their daily lives, read their books and magazines and sing their songs of solidarity, or merely listen to the “tinned” humor or harmony of the much prized Victrola. Also they here attend to the affairs of their union—line up members, hold business and educational meetings and a weekly “open forum.”

So, as the parading legionnaires passed the hall for the second time, they paused, then charged the hall, only to be surprised by the spirited defense they encountered. A volley of gunfire dropped three of the attackers, but the mob continued to press home its attack, capturing the hall. One additional legionnaire was killed in pursuit of Wesley Everest, who escaped out the back but was later captured and dragged by the neck to the jail. Later that night, he joined the ranks of IWW martyrs when he was lynched at the hands of Centralia businessmen and patriots, none of whom were ever prosecuted for his gruesome murder.

The Armistice Day 1919 Centralia event is perhaps the single most written about event involving the IWW in the entire state of Washington. Analysis of the event has been extremely polarized, as interests representing the employing class and the working class have contested its meaning. And because of competing accounts, affidavits, and testimony, even some of the most basic facts of the case will probably never be established conclusively. What is perfectly clear is that the Centralia story must be understood in the context of the class struggle that had been raging on the Red Coast for over a decade and which had surfaced in Centralia since at least 1914. As all of the working-class accounts of the Centralia event note, violence and lawlessness were defining characteristics of the employers’ approach to this conflict.

The IWW served as the most logical target of employers’ violence and repression because, since its inception in 1905, it represented the most advanced, class conscious, and revolutionary element of the working class in this country. The patriotic fervor of the First World War and fear that the Russian Revolution would heighten class consciousness among American workers only intensified persecution of the Wobblies. Sensing an opportunity, employers engaged both the state and the public in their efforts to crush the hated IWW. Nationally, the federal government enforced the wartime Espionage and Sedition Acts against the IWW and other radicals to imprison and deport many. In September of 1917, the federal government raided IWW halls across the country and indicted more than 160 leaders of the organization. At the state and local level, class warfare raged as employers mobilized both the state and the mob to lash out at class-conscious workers. Washington State was one of the great theaters of this conflict, as the teens witnessed the Grays Harbor and Pacific County Lumber Strike of 1912, multiple free speech fights, the 1916 Everett Massacre, and the 1919 Seattle General Strike.

In Centralia, this war against workers effectively merged employers’ traditional weapons—a cooperative police, a captive legal system, and vigilante citizens’ committees—with the anti-radicalism and patriotism of the American Legion, a veterans’ organization at the fore of anti-radical activities. The American Legion described Centralia like this: “The city is the center of a rich timber district and the logging camps of the northwest are infested with bearers of the red card, who boast that in many districts membership in the I.W.W. is a requisite to employment.” The leadership of the Centralia Legion read like a roster of Centralia businessmen and the Legion became essentially a front organization, even the vanguard, for Northwest lumber bosses. In the words of Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, “The American Legion began to function as a cat’s paw for the men behind the scenes.” Indeed, there was nothing secret about the role of the Legion in the class war. The National Commander of the American Legion declared in 1923: “If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country’s institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy. . . . Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.”

Representatives of capital did not shy away from class conflict. An IWW organizer was run out of Centralia by the sheriff in 1914, and in early 1915 more Wobblies were “escorted” out of town by police and vigilantes. According to historian John McClelland, the local paper, the Centralia Chronicle, applauded anti-Wobbly repression and stated that it was everyone’s responsibility to keep rebel workers out of Centralia. Tom Lassiter, a partially blind newsstand operator whose stock included labor and radical papers, was victimized by the business interest on several occasions. At various times, his radical papers were destroyed, he was threatened, arrested, kidnapped, and dumped in a ditch. Yet no one was ever prosecuted for any of these acts of class violence. In Centralia, it was clear, the law was a weapon in the hands of the propertied class.

Perhaps inevitably, class conflict in Centralia came to center on the struggle to establish and defend an IWW union hall. As Chaplin notes, the “union halls were a standing challenge to their [the employers’] hitherto undisputed right to the complete domination of the forests. . . . They were not going to tolerate the encroachments of the One Big Union of the lumber workers.” In 1917, an IWW attempt to establish a hall was met with great hostility in the employer-dominated town, and the landlord evicted the Wobblies on learning of their identity. In the spring of 1918, Centralia employers targeted the town’s new IWW hall. During a Red Cross parade, prominent businessmen, including members of the Centralia Elks, and political officials attacked and destroyed it. They beat IWW members and burned hall property and records in a street bonfire. F. B. Hubbard, the most prominent of the Centralia timber barons and president of the Washington Employers’ Association, stole the desk from the Wobbly Hall and donated it to the local Chamber of Commerce. Despite the intimidation of the business leaders, the local IWW secretary, Britt Smith, opened a new hall on north Tower Avenue on September 1, 1919. It was clear for all to see that the IWW was not easily intimidated, but neither were their enemies.

In July 1919, George Russell, secretary of the Washington Employers’ Association, called a meeting of the Centralia Chamber of Commerce to find a way to destroy the IWW. F. B. Hubbard was picked to head a group designed to accomplish that objective. Although this was not the first meeting of Centralia business interests to combat the Wobbly threat, it marked a new level of organization on the part of capital that would not tolerate the affront the new IWW Hall afforded to its dominance.

Plans to rid themselves of the enemy intensified with the formation of the Centralia Citizens Protective Association, the purpose of which, according to one local paper, was “to combat IWW activities in this vicinity.” Local businessmen were members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Centralia Elks, and the American Legion; many belonged to more than one of these organizations. Although the plans called for greater secrecy as to the specific methods to rid themselves of the Wobblies, too many people were aware of the plans to keep it secret. Word began to leak out, and soon it became public knowledge that the IWW would be driven out of town. Once the Armistice Day Parade was planned, the Wobblies knew that this was the pretense to attack their hall, destroy their property, and assault them.

Initially, IWW members acted with uncommon prudence in attempting to prevent a violent attack on their hall. The owners of the Roderick Hotel, which housed the union hall and from whom the IWW rented, went to the local police with information about the planned attack. IWW members requested police protection. A trusted attorney, Elmer Smith, sought help from Governor Louis F. Hart in Olympia. The Wobblies even made a desperate appeal to the entire community. They distributed a lengthy handbill “to the law-abiding citizens of Centralia and to the working class in general,” which said, in part, “The profiteering class of Centralia have of late been waving the flag of our country in an endeavor to incite the lawless element of our city to raid our hall and club us out of town.” But Wobbly pleas to avoid violence fell on deaf ears, and the police chief declined protection.

Finally, as a last resort, the Wobblies sought legal advice from attorney Elmer Smith to determine whether they had the legal right to defend their hall with arms. Smith affirmed that they did. This was a major move on the part of the IWW. Although it had always shown remarkable restraint, the IWW was a defiant and proud group of class-conscious workers, and by November 1919 in Centralia Washington the Wobblies had had enough of the beatings, enough of the tar and featherings, enough of the destruction of their meager property, enough of the humiliation, and enough of the criminally brutal business-patriotic element. They would defend their hall, and plans for its self-defense were laid. Radical historian Harvey O’Conner opined: “Prudent men, valuing their own skins, would have closed the hall in the face of the obvious threat. But prudence was not a Wobbly trait. Rather their shining glory stood out in audacity, courage, and stubbornness in defense of their rights, and for that they are remembered in history.”

As the Armistice Day Parade got under way on the drizzly and ill-fated afternoon of November 11, 1919, the Wobblies made ready to defend their hall. They positioned armed men inside the hall and also in three locations outside the hall: in the Avalon and Arnold Hotels on the opposite (east) side of the street, and on Seminary Hill which overlooked the street from some considerable distance away. The parade route took the marchers north on Tower Avenue past the main business district to Third Street, the next side street past the IWW Hall, in a section of town occupied by businesses catering to the working class. At Third Street the marchers reversed direction to return now southbound on Tower Avenue with the Centralia American Legion contingent making up the rear of the parade. In front of the IWW Hall, the marchers paused and then rushed the hall.

Shots rang out from the hall and then from Seminary Hill and the Avalon Hotel. Three Legionnaires—Warren Grimm, Arthur McElfresh, and Ben Cassagranda—received fatal wounds on the streets near the hall, and Dale Hubbard, the nephew of the lumbar baron F. B. Hubbard, was shot by a fleeing Wesley Everest at the edge of the Skookumchuck river. Hubbard died later that night. Several other marchers were injured, and the IWW Hall was smashed and its contents dragged to the street and burned. Wesley Everest was severely beaten and dragged back into town and thrown in a heap on the jail floor. One of the marchers who pursued Everest to the river and presumably helped drag him to the jail was Legionnaire Ed Cunningham, who was picked by the American Legion to become the Special Prosecutor in the trial against the Centralia Wobblies. According to the Legion account, “Cunningham was able to use his first-hand knowledge of the tragedy to telling effect.”

In many of their clashes with the working class, employers hired detective agencies or relied on local or state police to combat workers, but in Centralia the American Legion served as the armed guard of the employing class. As news of the event spread, the American Legion assumed control of the town, controlled the flow of information, formed vigilante groups to hunt down suspected Wobblies, and raided establishments and homes. In touting the Legion takeover, the American Legion Weekly stated, “Though the office of the Sheriff and the Chief of Police assisted as much as possible, their forces were small and their aid nominal,” and “Posses which scoured the country about Centralia in search of fugitives were made up almost exclusively of American Legion men.”

That evening, two meetings were held at the Elks Club in which the murder of Wesley Everest was conceivably planned. At about five o’clock a group of men was told to go the armory for weapons and return to the Elks at six o’clock. At the six o’clock meeting, all assembled men who were not members of the Elks or the American Legion were asked to leave. In effect, this left the established business class and the Legion, those that could most be trusted to carry out a class lynching and protect those involved in it. This meeting lasted until about seven o’clock. At seven-thirty, someone visited the city’s power station and shut off all the lights in Centralia. Meanwhile, a lynching party entered the jail where Wesley Everest was held. The lynching party—meeting no opposition from the jailer—seized Everest and dragged him to a waiting automobile.

The automobile that held Everest fell in with a procession of automobiles containing Centralia’s most prominent citizens, and proceeded to the Chehalis River Bridge. Radical author Harvey O’Conner graphically described the scene:

At the bridge Everest was dragged out and rope knotted around his neck, and his body flung over. Everest clutched at a plank; Legionnaires stamped on his fingers, and he fell. Dissatisfied with the knot, the lynchers pulled the body back up and used a longer rope, and hurled the body over again. Still dissatisfied, they hauled Everest body up a third time—by then he must have been dead—and tied a more professional knot on a longer rope and flung the body over. Then with carlights playing on the scene, they amused themselves awhile by shooting at the swaying body. Satiated at last, the mob left and darkness returned. Next morning somebody cut the rope and the body fell into the Chehalis River.

The next day, Everest’s mutilated body was retrieved from the river, dumped on the jail floor, and left for two days in plain view of his imprisoned fellow workers. As Centralia’s authorities were no doubt complicit in the lynching, no attempt was ever made to bring the Everest’s murderers to justice.

As the Legion-led posses combed the surrounding area for more Wobblies, state authorities interrogated the jailed Wobblies by day as the enraged mobs terrorized them by night. In the woods surrounding Centralia, one posse member was shot and killed when he was mistaken by another for a Wobbly. This shooting, first reported as a murder committed by a Wobbly, was later ruled an accident. As this reign of terror continued in southwest Washington, the commercial press continued to churn out propagandistic accounts of how the Wobblies ambushed and murdered America’s finest young men in the streets of Centralia. Characteristic of this treatment was the front-page article in the Chehalis Bee-Nugget: “IWW Shoot into Armistice Day Parade in Centralia Tuesday. Warren Grimm, Arthur McElfresh, Dale Hubbard, and Ben Cassagranda Killed by the Assassins.” Authorities, businessmen, and Legionnaires combined to attack workers in other parts of the state and in neighboring Oregon. In Seattle, the Department of Justice seized the Union Record, the official organ of the Seattle Central Labor Council, and arrested its staff, including Harry Ault and Anna Louise Strong, on charges of sedition.

The passions that this class war engendered were still highly visible on January 26, 1920, when eleven Wobblies, including Elmer Smith, the attorney who advised the IWW members that they had the legal right to defend their hall, were brought to trial in the town of Montesano, the county seat of neighboring Grays Harbor County. The defense faced many obstacles in the trial, beginning with a huge resource disparity. The Wobblies were represented by George Vanderveer with occasional help from his law partner, Ralph Pierce, and attorney Elmer Smith, himself a defendant in the case. Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Ed Cunningham led a staff of six attorneys, whom Vanderveer referred to as the attorneys for the lumber trust. The Luke May Secret Service, a private detective agency paid for by lumber company funds, aided them. Finally, the American Legion recruited some fifty uniformed veterans to sit in on the trial by day, presumably to influence the jury. They were paid four dollars a day from funds contributed by the lumber companies and the Elks.

The prosecution certainly lived up to its reputation as the counsel for the lumber trust. Special Prosecutor Cunningham was himself deeply involved in the Armistice Day violence. He was one of the members of the mob that pursued Everest to the Skookumchuck River and helped drag him to jail. He watched while the mob broke into the jail and kidnapped Everest, and was alleged to have witnessed his murder. Historian Tom Copeland observed that “as Cunningham built the case against the Wobblies, he was also shielding himself from any potential legal action for his role in the raid and lynching.” Cunningham’s team successfully fought off a change of venue request, claiming there was no prejudice against the IWW in either Centralia or Montesano. In a clear attempt to intimidate anyone willing to testify for the defense, the prosecution had two defense witnesses arrested for perjury when they finished their testimony. The prosecution called on the governor to have troops from Camp Lewis sent to Montesano to stand guard outside the courtroom, thereby frightening the jury into thinking that an IWW attack was imminent.

The trial was, in fact, a mere extension of the class war, a political trial in which the authorities put the IWW on trial while pretending to adhere to the rule of law. The judge, John M. Wilson, insisted that he could try the case impartially, despite the fact that he had delivered an anti-IWW speech in the nearby town of Bucoda and had addressed the memorial service at the Centralia Elks commemorating the Legionnaires who had been killed during the Armistice Day Parade. Wilson rejected the defense’s request for a change of venue from Montesano, disallowed much of the evidence that Vanderveer tried to introduce during the trial, and made numerous prejudicial rulings that favored the prosecution and infuriated the defense. Vanderveer captured the trial’s essence in his closing statement. The prosecutors, he told the jury, “have told you this was a murder trial, and not a labor trial. But vastly more than the lives of ten men are the stakes in the big gamble here; for the right of workers to organize for the bettering of their own condition is on trial; the right of free assemblage is on trial; democracy and Americanism are on trial.”

“In view of such a charged atmosphere,” Albert Gunns contended, “the final verdict of the jury was moderate.” The prosecution sought a first-degree murder verdict for all of the defendants, but the jury did not agree. Elmer Smith, the Wobbly attorney, was acquitted, along with one other defendant. Seven defendants were convicted of second-degree murder, and one young defendant was judged legally insane. The jury attached to their verdict a written request for leniency in sentencing, but Judge Wilson rendered stiff sentences ranging from 25 to 40 years in the state penitentiary in Walla Walla. Irish immigrant James McInerney, himself a veteran of the Everett Massacre and victim of torture while in the Centralia jail, died while imprisoned, “murdered,” the Industrial Worker proclaimed, “by the Capitalist class.” Most of the remaining prisoners remained incarcerated until 1933, when Governor Clarence Martin commuted their sentences.

Several jurors were clearly uneasy with their decision, believing that they were not allowed to hear all of the important evidence. “Remarkably, two years after the trial,” Robert Weyeneth concludes, “seven of the twelve jurors voluntarily repudiated their verdict.” No member of the employing class or its “cat paws” was ever charged or even investigated for Everest’s murder or the Armistice Day hall raid that ushered in the Centralia Tragedy.

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Excerpt from The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-Radicalism in Southwest Washington by Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider, copyright © 2019.

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