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Washington state history

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 Washington … » More …

Trail to Gold
Winter 2014

Trail to Gold: The Pend Oreille Route

Trail to Gold
Linda Hackbarth
Museum of North Idaho, 2014

During the Pacific Northwest’s mining boom in the second half of the nineteenth century, small communities to house and supply miners appeared throughout the West. And the need to move supplies into these areas lead to the arrival of steamboats on Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River.

Author Linda Hackbarth looks into the area around Lake Pend Oreille in the 1860s and the … » More …

Tomatoes
Fall 2014

Extension in Washington

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 provided a system of extension services supplied in cooperation by the land-grant universities around the country. It was a very good idea. So good, in fact, that Washington state had already thought of it. A year earlier…

In 1913, Washington’s legislature passed an act enabling counties to hire agents and established an office of the director of extension at the State College (now WSU). Even prior to that, the college’s faculty would travel out to some of the state’s more remote communities like Omak, Waitsburg, and Fairfield in a train with cars filled with demonstration materials, visual aids, even animals. … » More …

John Mullan
Summer 2014

Lost Highway

John Mullan closed the last link of the Northwest Passage and vanished from history—until now

On a May morning in 1858, along a small creek on the northern edge of the Palouse, hundreds of warriors from several Inland Northwest Indian tribes closed in on 160 Army soldiers led by Col. Edward Steptoe. An Army retreat turned into a 10-hour running battle. Two company commanders were mortally wounded, panicking the men. At last, the troops took up defensive positions on a hillside in what is today Rosalia. As night fell, they were surrounded, outgunned, and down to two rounds of ammunition apiece.

More than a … » More …

Road trip illustration
Spring 2014

Washington state road trips

Winthrop to Marblemount–North Cascades Highway—87.4 miles

cascade map

I was running late, headed for Marblemount over Washington Pass. As it grew darker, I drove through thick, swirling clouds. The clouds would part, revealing a jagged peak, then close quickly, then reveal another. It was dizzying and magical, the road before me disappearing and reappearing. It was only in 1972 that State Route 20 made the 87-mile drive from Winthrop to Marblemount possible. The highway passes through extraordinary landscape and ecological transitions, from the sagebrush of the Methow Valley to … » More …

Yankee on Puget Sound
Spring 2014

A Yankee on Puget Sound

a yankee on puget sound

Karen L. Johnson ’78 and Dennis M. Larsen ’68
WSU Press, 2013

Pioneer Edward Jay Allen lived near Olympia when the Oregon Territory was split in two and federal politicians elected to name the new territory Washington, rejecting the local suggestion of Columbia. Allen helped survey a wagon road over Naches Pass, a backcountry route still in use by those who favor mud and adversity over miles per gallon and speed. Future Union general George B. McClellan shared a cabin with Allen one summer, leading to a fast friendship a decade before … » More …