Back to 1940
Stepping Back to 1940
Setting the mood
As you stop at a roadside restaurant, you pull a newly published book from your bag. Called "Oregon: End of the Trail," it is a detailed and engaging guide to the state's culture, history, and geography. Of immediate interest to your family is the section that traces the very trip you will soon be making: down the Oregon Coast Highway (U.S. 101) from Astoria to the California border.
You've read in the newspapers how the guide was prepared by the Oregon office of the Federal Writer's Project. Established under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal," the project has for several years provided work for writers and other "white-collar" workers suffering the impacts of the Great Depression. Like the Oregon office, state Writer's Project offices around the country have produced (or are hurrying to finish) similar guides.
As you scan the book's pages, you are reminded just how recently the Oregon Coast Highway was completed: eight years ago. According to the guide, the long isolation of the pre-highway era left a legacy in coastal towns: "a certain individuality." You note how that individuality is captured in the guide's accounts of yodelers at Mohler, fish races at Depoe Bay, and Red Head Round-ups at Taft.
You also note that the book includes a wealth of interesting information about industry, agriculture, and tourist attractions along your intended route. But you find yourself especially drawn to the fascinating bits of history and local lore that capture the special character of coastal communities.
You close the guide and return to your car. You are more eager than ever to reach Astoria and begin the adventure!
Our version of that text includes some revisions in punctuation and spelling, as well as changes designed to assure greater accuracy in historical references.
The accompanying photographs are from a collection of the Oregon Department of Transportation, Highway Division, now maintained by the Oregon State Archives. Individual photos in the collection are undated, but they were taken around 1940, and thus depict the Coast as it appeared to writers of Oregon: End of the Trail. When possible, the images have been placed close to associated text.
We hope you enjoy your trip down the Oregon Coast!
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