Oregon Yesterday and Today

OREGONIANS pridefully point out that theirs is the only state
for which a transcontinental highway is named. It is the Oregon
Trail, which began at Independence, Missouri. Even yet there travel
along US 30, which in part roughly approximates and in part coincides
with the original trail, a continuous caravan of folk whose purposes par-
allel those of the pioneers who sought adventure, profit or release from
economic pressure. This third objective they have realized, it is said,
because the Trail's End State, although slow to respond to the impetus
of prosperity, has been correspondingly resistant to the effects of de-
pression.

Oregon's topography, as well as its location, has importantly affected
its development. The ninth largest commonwealth, it is divided physical-
ly by the Cascade mountain range, and metaphysically by economic,
political, and sociological Alps of infinitely greater magnitude. The
Cascades cut the State into two unequal portions from the northern to
the southern boundary lines. If the geologists are correct, the mountains
owe their eminence to a terrific vulcanism that sent the great peaks
hurtling up through the ooze and miasma of prehistoric Oregon. The
disturbance gave the modern state a scenic grandeur that has exhausted
even the superlatives of the gentlemen who write recreational brochures,
but it walled eastern Oregon away from the humid winds, the warm
rains of the coast, and turned most of the land, through countless aeons
of slow dehydration, into a country of drought and distances, of grim
and tortured mountains and high desert grown sparsely with stunted
juniper and wind-blown sage.

The mountain range stood as a colossal veto of whatever motions
the early eastern Oregon settlers might have made toward economic
equality with the pioneers of the lush country west of the Cascades. It
turned them, out of sheer necessity, into cattlemen and sheepmen and
miners and "dry" farmers, just as more benign circumstances made
western Oregon residents into lumbermen, dairymen, fishermen and
farmers, and—in the more populous centers—into artisans and politi-