After two decades, Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden returned to his small-townbirthplace in the Pacific Northwest to follow the rise and fall of the West’s
most thoroughly conquered river. To explore the Columbia River and befriend
those who collaborated in its destruction, he traveled on a monstrous freight
barge sailing west from Idaho to the Grand Coulee Dam, the site of the river’s
harnessing for the sake of jobs, electricity, and irrigation. A River Lost is a searing personal narrative of rediscovery joined
with a narrative of exploitation: of Native Americans, of endangered salmon, of
nuclear waste, and of a once-wild river. Updated throughout, this edition
features a new foreword and afterword.
First of all I am giving this book 4-stars.
Not because I LOVED it -- (well, maybe I did) but because it's so very interesting -- to ME-- and I thought it very well researched and written.
I grew up next to the Columbia River in Washington State and I love this river, but... if you are from anywhere but Oregon, Washington, Idaho.. I don't think this would have any interest for you.
Unless you are weird like me!
( I do like regional history. and culture! and Food! and people! and stories!)
The Columbia River and its history are really complicated. It's the only river in the United States that is completely controlled by computers.
There are 14 dams on the river -- 3 of which are in Canada, 4 border WA/Oregon, so there is an international as well as bi-state cooperation/agreement on how to manage the river nowadays. It's huge!
The agreement AND the complications of the river.
There are the dwindling salmon, Native American fishing rights, irrigation, hydro-electric power, atomic/plutonium dumping ground, timber industry, the river as a super highway (barges/transportation), etc to deal with.
Federal, State, County, City laws to figure out!
The book talks about all of that--good and bad. It pulls no punches--
and while I found that interesting--and read aloud to the Handyman on the 8 hour trip up to Washington last weekend-- I also found it bittersweet.
We grew up on the river. Or rivers.
We grew up where the Snake River flows into the Columbia.
We picnicked in the park where Lewis and Clark camped, when they too first saw the Columbia.
The smaller Yakima River, another tributary, also meets the Columbia there.
We grew up in the middle of the desert, surrounded by water, water everywhere.
It's hard to explain, unless you've been there. OR read the book.
There is a geological reason for the dry desert with rivers running thru it.
Geology AND Franklin D. Roosevelt (who endorsed the building of the Grand Coulee Dam in 1934)
All that aside---
Home is where the heart is!
I love the Columbia River.
Everything that happened to the Columbia River was a product of it's time... so let's not waste time thinking about 'what might have been'..
even if that's what the book did.
There's no going back now.
On another note --
When we are up in the Tri-Cities, WA, we try to do morning walks along the river.
This past weekend was a short walk-- only a couple of miles, but each time we go, we do a part of the Sacajawea Heritage Trail.
The Sacagawea Heritage Trail is a scenic river trek along the Columbia River through the Tri-Cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco in southeastern Washington. The trail is a 23-mile blacktop loop trail with portions on both sides of the Columbia River.
Most people will do a hike like this all at once. But not us! We like to take it in increments!
These are just some (not so great) photos taken on my phone, without my glasses, in the wee early morning, as we walked from the BLUE BRIDGE to the CABLE BRIDGE.