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Woman's home companion
Vol. LXIV, No. 6 (1937)

Walker, Stanley
Under one flag - the Pacific Northwest,   pp. [9]-[10] PDF (1.3 MB)

Page [10]

that other Oregon-a shadowy fabulous stretch which
extended north from the California boundary to the
indefinite line marking the southern end of the Russian
possessions in North America. On the west was the
Pacific Ocean; on the east the Continental Divide.
This empire was rich, mysterious, forbidding. Men
went there first to hunt and to trap the beaver. They
are there today because they like to raise prunes, or
apples, or cattle, or chickens-or because they can go
no farther west without running into the ocean.
AS THE schoolbooks agree, in 1846 a treaty be-
tween the United States and Great Britain fixed
the northern boundary line at the forty-ninth degree of
latitude. This was after hot-headed American patriots
had talked of war under the belligerent slogan of " 54-40
or fight!" although many of these same patriots be-
lieved in their hearts that this land was too cold and
otherwise inhospitable ever to support civilized life.
From the area defined in the 1846 treaty have been
carved the States of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and
parts of Montana and Wyoming.
This is the American Northwest. Once it called to
the rough singing French voyageurs. The priests
came. The mountain men swindled the Indians.
Stern-faced Methodists from New England came and
left their mark on the moral codes. This is the land
toward which old Ezra Meeker set his face along the
Oregon Trail. Men died hunting for passes through
the mountains so that railroads could be laid. Today a
man may stand at old Fort Benton in Montana, which
was the last point to which boats could be pushed up
the Missouri River, and wave his arm in an arc from
west to north, and he will have pointed at the real
Northwest. Part of it-like the rest of America-is
rather pathetic today. But for the most part it is
extraordinarily prosperous and so clean that visitors
are startled. It is a country of many climates, many
products and many kinds of people. True, like all
other places, it tends to become standardized yet it re-
mains a region of astonishing diversity.
 THE history of the Northwest is one of heroism,
greed and sometimes of cruelty. Today it is both
fog-kissed and sun-kissed. It enjoys all the blessings and
all the blights which come to a beautiful land when hu-
man beings have had their way for a few generations
among its high mountains, its forests and its deep
valleys--those productive spots where the rich silt of-
ten is one hundred feet deep. Worry is there, worry
about forest fires, soil erosion, the depletion of wild life
and, as always in America, about politics, labor and
The name of Oregon? No one knows for sure whence
it came. Forests have been despoiled to furnish paper
on which to print the arguments of savants and
guessers. It is known that the early explorers were
searching for a river called the "Ouregan" or "Ouri-
gan," though whether that name is of Indian or French
origin no historian can say for a certainty. It seems
plausibly to be a French corruption of an Indian name,
but that guess is not susceptible of proof.
In spelling and in sound Oregon is close to the
Spanish word for marjoram. Perhaps the wild mar-
joram which grows so abundantly over the Oregon
area brought the state at once a name and a faint ten-
tative share in the Spanish heritage that christened
both its southern boundaries.
The late Harvey W. Scott, the lonely and uncom-
promising editor who ran the Portland Oregonian for
fifty years, held to the theory that a rare Indian word,
orejon, meaning -dried apple," supplied the clew.
Scott may have been right (he usually was) but he
couldn't prove it. And he may have been influenced
by local pride in the apple industry.
William Cullen Bryant, the bewhiskered editor of
the New York Evening Post, spelled it "Oregan" in
his first version of Thanatopsis, published about 1817,
in the line: "That veil Oregan, where he hears no
sound . . ."
Afterward Bryant, for some reason never divulged,
changed this line to read: " Where rolls the Oregon.
and hears no sound . . ."
There is no such mystery about the name of the
State of Idaho. It is derived from an expression of the
Shoshone Indians, pronounced by them, "Ee-dah-
how." It is used frequently in the morning and it
means nothing more majestic, nothing more astonish-
ing, than that the sun is rising and it is time to get up.
In this part of the original Oregon the chief matters of
interest appear to be United States Senator William
Edgar Borah, probably the state's foremost product; a
man named Charles Hooper of Coeur d'Alene, who has
written more letters to newspapers than any other man
in the history of the world; the fantastic winter sports
resort and ski-jump in Sun Valley, near Ketchum,
opened this winter by W. Averell Harriman of Union
Pacific Railroad, and those enormous Idaho potatoes.
Of course the state has other things, such as copper
mines, beet plantations, sheep and cattle ranches and
so on, but most of the talk is about Mr. Harriman's
ski-jump, with the warm baths in the open-top igloos-
a layout which makes the old-timers wonder what, if
anything, the world is coming to.
X> THE first signs of returning prosperity in the
Northwest were felt in mining. With the rise in the
prices of silver and gold, prospectors began swarming
over the hills again, working old claims, crawling
through the passes like excited termites. Because of
this mining boom, largely, experts in such matters now
say that Spokane, Washington, is the "livest" city in
the Northwest. It is the center of a rich mining
When the Idaho, eastern Oregon, eastern Washing-
ton and British Columbia mines were down during the
depression, Spokane was dead and rather sad. But
with gold and silver prices up, Spokane has come to
life. Moreover a large number of government offices
were established in Spokane during the organization of
the New Deal and the work on the great Coulee Dam
meant another very large payroll. The most famous
single object in Spokane is the Davenport Hotel, where
food is served that is easy to eat (sadly, much of the
food in hotels and restaurants in the Northwest is not
very good). Moreover the hotel is probably as well
conducted as any hotel north of San Francisco and
west of Chicago.
The city of Seattle, foggy, hilly and for the most
part remarkably neat and enterprising, was really
built by the Alaskan trade. This city on the Puget
Sound was about as dead as a New England mill town
of today until gold was discovered in the Yukon. The
first big rushes to the north were out of Portland,
Oregon, then by far the most important city in the
Northwest, but soon because of the shorter distance
almost the entire flow to and from Alaska was through
the Seattle gateway. The northern transcontinental
railroads boomed the city. New steamship lines across
the Pacific were established. Eastern bankers put
money into it. It is the greatest city north of San
Francisco and west of the Rocky Mountains.
SEATTLE for the last thirty or forty years has
felt the go-getter influence, as distinguished from
the usual pioneer influence which has left its imprint
on the life of so many western cities. More, perhaps,
than any other city in the country it is run by union
labor, a strong outfit which will put up with no foolish-
ness. It was there that the Post-Intelligencer was shut
down for many months when the unions went to the
support of the striking editorial employees. The paper
has now resumed publication, on terms agreeable .to
the unions, and the new publisher is John Boettiger,
son-in-law of President Roosevelt. Mr. Boettiger and
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, the playwright, are the two
most recent additions to Seattle's list of outstanding
citizens. Mr. O'Neill is studying history and tra-
The mayor of Seattle, John F. Dore, makes no
secret of the dominant influence of union labor in the
affairs of the city. He is on friendly working terms
with Dave Beck, the boss of the teamsters and perhaps
the most powerful union leader in the Northwest. The
unions are so strong that they can put small firms out
of business if they desire, or can force large firms to
put a man representing union interests on the board
of directors. The mayor recently got into an argu-
ment with the organized women of the city, mostly
conservatives, who objected to some of his carryings-
on with the radical elements. The mayor called
them "perfumed hussies," which was regarded as
pretty strong language, but nothing serious ever
came of it.               [OONTINUED ON PAGE 501

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