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Northwest history

Where were you logo with Mount St. Helens in background
Summer 2020

“It was raining ash”

The angry-looking ash cloud billowing above Mount St. Helens is one of the most iconic images in state history.

And is etched in our collective memory.

Those living in the state of Washington at the time of the May 18, 1980, eruption all have a where-were-you-when-it-blew moment. Here are some of them.

 

Don Swanson

Volcanologist Don Swanson (’60 Geology) agreed to man the mountain’s forward observation post for a few days to replace a geologist who needed to travel out of town. But Swanson himself needed a replacement for a night—that night.

David A. Johnston, a younger U.S. Geological Survey colleague, agreed to … » More …

Gay Pride flag in front of Mt. Rainier
Summer 2018

Out West

We make so many assumptions about gender expression and identity, and sexual orientation, that it’s sometimes a shock to realize that ideas about them have changed over time. Take pink and blue.

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys—except when it wasn’t. A Ladies’ Home Journal article from 1918 clearly states that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

A decade later, Time magazine repeated the … » 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.”

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 …

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 …

Summer 2012

Video: Plume, by Kathleen Flenniken

Kathleen Flenniken ’83 describes and reads from her second collection of poetry Plume, published by the University of Washington Press in 2012, in this video produced by her son Alexander Flenniken ’11.

Set off by images of the Atomic City, Flenniken’s hometown of Richland, Washington, she documents her coming of age and eventually her work at Hanford in the heart of the nuclear age.

Recently Flenniken was named Washington’s poet laureate for 2012-14. She teaches poetry and is a co-editor and president of Floating Bridge Press. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

» More …