The Columbia River: An Historical Travel Guide [Review]


ColumbiaRiver_ by Joann  Roe     


The Columbia River: An Historical Travel Guide

JoAnn Roe

Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-87004-538-7

228 pages, $16.95

Reviewed by Beth Neunaber

For Americans living in the Northwest, the mighty Columbia River plays an integral part in providing water for transporting goods, hydro-electricity, irrigation for crops, fishing and recreational water sports. JoAnn Roe, in The Columbia River: an Historical Travel Guide, presents the river’s history from European exploration of this primary waterway to the following decades of striving to find its beginnings. The travel guide gives insight into the region’s current dependence on the Columbia.

Roe‘s research into the early surveying of the Columbia River, interrelates well with the history of the United States’ and Canada’s western expansion. The early searching of these estuaries and their tributaries is detailed through well-documented maps throughout the book. Roe also includes black and white photos depicting scenery and places of interest along the river.

In addition to her account of the significance that the Columbia River plays in the role of commerce and recreation in Oregon and Washington, Roe completes the portrait through depiction of the geography and its evolution that has provided challenges and opportunity to the inhabitants of the northwest. The Columbia River is organized into four sections, through which Roe expounds on early indigenous populations, European exploration, mining, and the building of dams and emergence of a marine highway.

The reader finds an introduction to the history of the settling of the northwest and is offered brief details at the end of each section’s “Travel and Trivia.” I would recommend this book to any academic or public library focusing on history of the Northwest. In addition to history, people seeking further information regarding the geography, commerce, outdoor recreation, and tourist attractions of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia will find The Columbia River a useful travelogue.

Beth Neunaber is the Adult Services Supervisor at the Nampa Public Library in Southwest Idaho.


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