Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

Geologist Merges Science with Eyewitness Interviews of Mount St. Helens’ 1980 Disaster


PULLMAN, Wash.— May 18, 2015 marks the 35th anniversary of Earth’s largest terrestrial landslide in historical times—a result of a restless volcano and a uniquely violent eruption. The top of Mount St. Helens plowed into Spirit Lake, throwing water 860 feet above lake level, a great inland tsunami. A ground-hugging hot surge sped across valleys and ridges, killing dozens of people and nearly all other life as it leveled 234 square miles of forest.


Challenging Existing Applegate Trail History


PULLMAN, Wash.— Levi Scott and his friend James Layton Collins completed the original manuscript for Wagons to the Willamette: Captain Levi Scott and the Southern Route to Oregon, 1844 –1847 in 1889. It is the only first-hand account written by someone who not only searched for the alternate route but also accompanied its first wagon train.


New Anthology Yields Long-term Value for the Nez Perce


PULLMAN, Wash.— On September 11, 1805, explorer William Clark made his first entry in an elk skin-bound journal which was to serve him through December 31, 1805:

we Set out at 3 oClock and proceeded on up the Travelers rest Creek, accompanied by the flat head or Tushapaws Indians . . . Encamped at some old Indian Lodges, nothing killed this evening hills on the right high & ruged, the mountains on the left high & Covered with Snow.

Thus did the first Americans enter Nez Perce country…

This is how Encounters with the People: Written and Oral Accounts of Nez Perce Life to 1858, an edited, annotated anthology of unique primary sources related to Nez Perce history, begins. Most of the selected material—Native American oral histories, diary excerpts, military reports, maps, and more—is published for the first time or is found only in obscure sources.


First Full-length Biography of Prolific Northwest Photographer Asahel Curtis


PULLMAN, Wash.— Long overshadowed by his older brother Edward’s fame, Asahel Curtis (1874–1941)  produced some 40,000 images chronicling a broad swath of early 2oth-century life in the Northwest. In Developing the Pacific Northwest: The Life and Work of Asahel Curtis, the first full-length biography of the photographer/booster/mountaineer, scholar William H. Wilson takes an in-depth look at Curtis and corrects some longstanding misconceptions.


How Priest Lake Became a “Cult” Vacation Spot


PULLMAN, Wash.— Wild Place: A History of Priest Lake, Idaho offers the first comprehensive, accurate chronicle of Priest Lake. Author Kris Runberg Smith’s family has had ties to the area since her great-great grandfather, a timber cruiser, arrived in 1897. Yet despite being a location one local newspaper branded “a cult with many vacationists,” no one had properly recorded its history.


Yellowstone Vacations, Victorian-style


PULLMAN, Wash.— WSU Press has recently released Yellowstone Summers: Touring with the Wylie Camping Company in America’s First National Park, by Jane Galloway Demaray. The book tells the story of the Wylie Camping Company and how the owner’s unswerving efforts helped develop, define, and preserve tourism in Yellowstone National Park.


Sharing Palouse-region Oral Traditions


PULLMAN, Wash.— Washington State University Press has just published River Song: Naxiyamtáma (Snake River-Palouse) Oral Traditions from Mary Jim, Andrew George, Gordon Fisher, and Emily Peone, a new collection of Native American oral histories. For many generations into the twentieth century, Mary Jim, her family, and their ancestors lived a free and open life on the Columbia Plateau. They journeyed from the Snake River to Badger Mountain to Oregon’s Blue Mountains, interacting and intermarrying within a vast region of the Northwest.

Denied a place on their ancestral lands, the original Snake River-Palouse people were forced to scatter. After most relocated to the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, and Colville reservations, maintaining their cultural identity became increasingly difficult. Still, elders continued to pass down oral histories to their descendants, insisting youngsters listen with rapt attention. Intended as life lessons, these sacred texts contain many levels of meaning and are rich in content, interpretation, and nuance.


Examining Roslyn’s Dramatic Labor History


PULLMAN, Wash.— The filming location for the popular TV series Northern Exposure, Roslyn might not be as eccentric as its fictional counterpart. But the sleepy little town does have a dramatic past and lingering bitter sentiments that some residents didn’t want exposed.


Coastal Fortifications Are a “Northwest Machu Picchu”


PULLMAN, Wash.— Popular recreation destinations today, the massive concrete fortifications at the entrance to Puget Sound silently guard an obscure past—one that piqued author David M. Hansen’s curiosity. Not content to simply wonder, the former Washington State preservation officer/historian specializing in military architecture set out to uncover the story behind the structures.


Small Western Towns Face Special Challenges


PULLMAN, Wash.— The vastness and isolation of the American West forged a dependence on scarce natural resources—especially water, forests, fish, and minerals. The small towns clustered near these assets were often self-sufficient and culturally distinct. By 1941, mass media, as well as improved transportation and infrastructure, propelled these sequestered settlements into the mass society era.

Today, the internet is shaping another revolution, and it promises both obstacles and opportunity.


The Man Who Built the Northwest’s First Engineered Highway


PULLMAN, Wash.— It took tremendous effort to build a road in the 1850s. When Governor Isaac I. Stevens needed someone to direct construction of the U.S. Military Wagon Road, he selected John Mullan, an army lieutenant and West Point engineering graduate.  That project—the first government-funded road across the Northern Rockies —came with exceptional challenges.


Pacific Northwest Agricultural History


PULLMAN, Wash.— Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the Pacific Northwest. Family wheat farms are one of the largest economic drivers of jobs in eastern Washington, creating approximately 25,000 jobs and a trade surplus for the state.