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JOANN ROE. The Columbia River: An Historical Travel Guide

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JOANN ROE. The Columbia River: An Historical Travel Guide. Caxton Press. Softcover, 250 pages, $16.95. Kindle $9.99. www.caxtonprinters.com

Most people think of the Columbia River as the border between Oregon and Washington, which it is, but that section constitutes only the last 300 miles or so of this 1243-mile river.  More than one-fourth of the river is in British Columbia.  It has a colorful history of steamships on various sections of the river, especially in remote eastern BC of the past. Roe tells of the discovery in 1792 by Captain Gray of the mouth of the river, where it confronts the Pacific Ocean in turbulent water.  Much misinformation ensued about where the river was born until Hudson’s Bay explorer David Thompson (formerly with the North West Company) was forced in 1811 by hostile natives to travel over Athabasca Pass (Alberta near Jasper to BC) in winter snow.  He came to the river, just where it makes a sharp NW to S/SW turn toward the distant USA, and later followed its length. Roe is noted for her telling of history from the viewpoint of those who lived it, rather than made treaties from afar, and the book is eminently readable history.  She tells of grain barges, fish wheels, Lewis & Clark, pioneers wrecked on makeshift rafts in the rapids of the Gorge, and worse wrecks of ships at the entrance to the river from the Pacific.