Oregon State Archives News
New Exhibit Showcases A 1940 Journey Across Oregon
The Oregon Writers' Program used the talents of mostly Oregon-based academics to produce Oregon: End of the Trail in 1940. The work includes comprehensive accounts of Oregon's history, culture, and attractions. "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon" represents just one of the tours that can be found in the WPA volume. Oregon: End of the Trail was a welcome chance for many of Oregon's writers not only to exercise their talents, but also to celebrate their land. WPA State Supervisor T. J. Edmonds hailed the work "as a treasure trove of history, a picture of a period, and as a fadeless film of a civilization." The exhibit captures a snapshot in time and allows viewers to not only travel a route across Oregon, but see it as a tourist of 1940 would have experienced it.
The images used to illustrate the tour are from the Oregon Highway Department and the Secretary of State records found in the Oregon State Archives with additions from the on-line Oregon Historical County Records Guide. Forty-eight panels showcase the trip from Ontario to Astoria.
Oregon: End of the Trail was written when Oregon seemed to be rapidly changing. Its contributors feared the imminent disappearance of the small-town, rural life which had characterized Oregon. They knew that rapid industrialization was sure to follow the construction of Bonneville Dam, which had already marred the beauty of the Columbia Gorge. The writers were also apprehensive about the construction of highways that would contribute to increasing urbanization. Perhaps the most obvious change, however, was a demographic one caused in part by the immigration of dust-bowl refugees.
This tour can also be viewed on the Oregon State Archives Web site.