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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

First Full-length Biography of Prolific Northwest Photographer Asahel Curtis

8/15/2015

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.

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How Priest Lake Became a “Cult” Vacation Spot

5/15/2015

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.

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Sharing Palouse-region Oral Traditions

3/15/2015

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.

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Examining Roslyn’s Dramatic Labor History

9/23/2014

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.

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Coastal Fortifications Are a “Northwest Machu Picchu”

6/27/2014

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.

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Small Western Towns Face Special Challenges

5/15/2014

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.

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The Man Who Built the Northwest’s First Engineered Highway

5/1/2014

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.

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Pacific Northwest Agricultural History

10/25/2013

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.

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Chance Encounters Shed New Light on Pacific Northwest History

8/30/2013

PULLMAN, Wash.—Like the 1852 journey Edward Jay Allen—the hero of their book—took to Puget Sound, the authors’ path to publishing was filled with surprising twists and turns. While researching a related topic, Karen L. Johnson discovered a tantalizing article that sparked an obsession with the twenty-two-year-old pioneer roadbuilder.  She partnered with fellow Oregon Trail buff Dennis M. Larsen, and the pair began a long hunt for Allen’s letters cited in the article,

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A Country Doc with the Heart of a Hero

2/27/2013

PULLMAN, Wash.— The newest book from Washington State University Press, Rugged Mercy: A Country Doctor in Idaho’s Sun Valley, tells the story of Robert Henry Wright, known to many in his day as the “doctor who never lost a patient.” He graduated from American Medical College in 1906, a time when medical practice was shifting from folklore and quackery to real science, and the West was emerging from its frontier past.

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An Authentic Retelling of the Life of Chief Joseph’s Daughter

10/8/2012

PULLMAN, Wash.— The first young adult book from Washington State University (WSU) Press, Be Brave, Tah-hy!: The Journey of Chief Joseph’s Daughter, is unlike many popular and historical novels written for adolescents, because the protagonist is not portrayed as a modern heroine. Instead, her thoughts and actions are appropriate for a girl of her age, time and background.

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