River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia

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9780295985923: River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia

Winner of the 2007 Washington State Book Award for General Nonfiction

Finalist in the Western Writers of America 2007 Spur Award competition for the Best Western Nonfiction - Contemporary category

"In a sense, two Columbia Rivers flow through our lives - the river we see today and the natural river that gave rise to the spectacular sights and thunderings of such places as Celilo and Kettle Falls. To know either has always presented major challenges. The river's rugged physical character prevents knowing by slicing through inaccessible mountain ranges, vast stretches of unpopulated roadless areas, and extreme landscapes before emptying into the sea." -- from the Introduction

The Columbia River of today bears little resemblance to the river Native peoples and settlers knew in the early twentieth century. Between 1933 and 1984, an unparalleled fervor of engineering transformed much of the river into a series of large reservoirs contained by fourteen hydroelectric dams. While many mourned the loss of the freeflowing river, others embraced a newly tamed waterway that could control floods, irrigate desert lands, and supply electrical power for the growing region.

River of Memory honors a place and time now gone from view. It restores an unfettered Columbia through more than ninety historical photographs that capture the river as it once appeared. This extraordinary visual record is complemented with the words of early explorers, surveyors, and naturalists who wrote about specific places along the river and with new works by contemporary American and Canadian writers and poets.

Organized to carry the reader from the mouth of the Columbia where it enters the ocean to its source in eastern British Columbia, the narrative follows the natural history of the river through the archetypal journey of salmon returning to the river's headwaters in Columbia Lake. Introducing each section are illustrations of salmon and other indigenous fish by artists Joseph Tomelleri and Dan McConnell.

River of Memory encourages readers to linger along the river's shores and spend time reflecting on its dramatic mountain and plateau landscapes. It fosters connections between the river's natural and human histories through the words of the distinguished writers represented throughout, including Jeannette Armstrong, Gloria Bird, Peter Christensen, Tim McNulty, Kathleen Dean Moore, Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, Theodore Roethke, Kim Stafford, William Stafford, Robert Sund, David Wagoner, Elizabeth Woody, and many more.

William D. Layman is a recipient of the James B. Castles Award from the Center for Columbia River History and author of Native River: The Columbia Remembered. He is the guest curator of the Wenatchee Valley Museum exhibition "River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia."

"What a superb achievement! River of Memory is a revelation of the kind that rarely comes these days. Perhaps at long last the Columbia will begin to get the kind of thoughtful attention this 'river-world' deserves." - James Ronda, Past President, Western History Association

"Sensitive, intelligent, thoughtfully researched and powerfully evocative; I got a feeling for the history of the Columbia that touches on the monumental." - Bob Sandford, Chair, United Nations Water for Life Decade, Canada

"To understand rivers requires immersion, which is precisely what Bill Layman has done in his extraordinary project. River of Memory is experiential, ecological, and historical. There is simply nothing like this about any other river in the West." - William Lang, Portland State University

"This book is the most insightful and inspiring book on the Columbia I have ever seen. If you could only have one book about the Columbia River, this should, without a doubt, be it." - Brent Foster, Executive Director, Columbia Riverkeeper

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Book Description:

Dramatic historical photographs portray the Columba River as it appeared before the dams were built, accompanied by the words of early explorers, surveyors, and naturalists and contemporary poets.

From the Publisher:

"What a superb achievement! River of Memory is a revelation of the kind that rarely comes these days. Perhaps at long last the Columbia will begin to get the kind of thoughtful attention this ‘river-world’ deserves." -- James Ronda, Past President, Western History Association

"Sensitive, intelligent, thoughtfully researched and powerfully evocative; I got a feeling for the history of the Columbia that touches on the monumental." -- Bob Sandford, Chair, United Nations Water for Life Decade, Canada

"To understand rivers requires immersion, which is precisely what Bill Layman has done in his extraordinary project. River of Memory is experiential, ecological, and historical. There is simply nothing like this about any other river in the West." -- William Lang, Portland State University

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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William D. Layman
Published by University of Washington Press (2006)
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