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Struggle on the North Santiam

Power and Community on the Margins of the American West

Bob H. Reinhardt

6 × 9. 20 b&w photographs. 1 map. Notes. Bilbiography. Index. 240 pages.

2020. ISBN 978-0-87071-992-9. Paperback, $29.95.

A sixty-mile forested corridor stretching from the Willamette Valley to the Cascade mountains, Oregon’s North Santiam Canyon is like many other marginalized places in the American West. Its residents have long sought to exercise their limited power in the face of real and exaggerated external forces: global economic systems, cultural power emanating from larger cities, and state and national political forces. Struggle on the North Santiam examines how these Oregonians have responded to, interacted with, and sometimes gotten the better of such external forces.

In this deeply researched account, historian Bob H. Reinhardt connects the North Santiam Canyon’s history to that of the Pacific Northwest and, more broadly, the United States. Reinhardt details events that illuminate themes in the region’s history: railroad development as seen through the failed dreams of the Oregon Pacific Railroad, federal land scams in the Oregon land fraud trials of the early twentieth century, the causes and consequences of mid-century river development projects like Detroit Dam, the post-war booms and busts of the timber industry, the spotted owl/ancient forest debate, and the promises and perils of Oregon’s recreational tourism economy.

From nineteenth-century interactions between Native and non-Native peoples to the changing fortunes of the timber industry and questions about economic and environmental sustainability in the twenty-first century, the book offers important insights into the power dynamics in small communities. Struggle on the North Santiam will be of interest to scholars of the American West and thoughtful readers interested in Oregon and Pacific Northwest history.
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