Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Washington state history

Winter 2016

Main Street, USA

Standing on the beach at Smokiam Park, I dip my hand in the lake. The water is soft, slippery, almost squishy feeling. It’s full of sodium carbonate—washing soda. It’s a tiny lake, and on its southern beach is Soap Lake, a town experiencing a little renaissance.

 
Locals credit Washington State University’s Rural Communities Design Initiative for assisting their town of 1,500 in the eastern Washington scablands with improvement efforts. Soap Lake declined from fame and modest prosperity to a near ghost town but has recently rediscovered its pulse.

“Smokiam” is a Tsincayuse word that means “healing waters,” so maybe the sense of … » More …

Hop King cover
Winter 2016

Hop King

Hop King cover

Ezra Meeker’s Boom Years

Dennis M. Larsen ’68 

WSU Press: 2016

The demands of craft brewing in the last few years, along with declining European hops production, has driven the price of hops up as much as 50 percent, creating a windfall for growers in Washington. It’s not the first time in state history that hops brought a grower financial success.

Puyallup Valley pioneer Ezra Meeker first started planting hops as a cash … » More …

Summer 2014

Gallery: Gustav Sohon and the Mullan Road

Gustav Sohon (1825–1903) was an artist, interpreter, and topographical assistant. Sohon executed some of the earliest landscape paintings of the Pacific Northwest. One of his first assignments was with Lieutenant John Mullan, who was surveying the country between the Rocky and Bitterroot Mountains for the Pacific Railroad Surveys led by Isaac Stevens.

 

Read about Mullan in our feature “Lost Highway.”

Forgotten Fruit. Photo Zach Mazur
Winter 2015

Forgotten fruit

The ‘lost’ apples of the Palouse entice a detective to sleuth for their rediscovery

Dave Benscoter’s obsession began innocently—as a favor to a neighbor, Eleanor, a retired missionary. Resettled near Chattaroy, and now beset with complications from childhood polio, she asked Benscoter ’78 to harvest some apples for her from the old orchard above her house.

“Every apple was too high for me to pick,” he says of his initial effort.

“One of the trees was 40 to 50 feet high. The trunk was split, and I couldn’t get my arms around either trunk.”

Determined to deliver Eleanor’s apples at some point, he started pruning … » More …

Summer 2015

Coal Wars: Unions, Strikes, and Violence in Depression-Era Central Washington

Coal Wars
David Bullock ’85 MA
WSU Press, 2014

There was a time, it’s been recalled, when each home in Roslyn had three pictures on its wall: of Jesus, FDR, and John L. Lewis, the powerful head of the United Mine Workers of America, or UMW. But labor conflicts in the coal-mining town during the 1930s would severely strain and replace the loyalties reflected by the latter two. In Coal Wars, David Bullock recounts the bitter struggle in 1933-34 between the UMW and the more radical Western Miners Union in the mining communities of Roslyn, Cle … » More …

Robert Cantwell
Winter 2014

Lost writer from a lost time

A whole genre of literature, that of the American working class during the Great Depression, has all but disappeared. Now a WSU professor and a Northwest novelist are bringing writer Robert Cantwell, a Washington native, and his most significant book, Land of Plenty, out of the mists of time.

Cantwell, one of the finest American writers of the 1930s, was admired by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, says T.V. Reed, professor of English and American studies. His masterpiece is set in a Washington plywood factory and his characters are based on the workers he once toiled alongside.

Born in southwest … » More …