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Chaining Oregon cover
2008, 6 x 9", XVI+ 264 pages, 56 b&w figures, bibliography, index.

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Exploration and Discovery ~ History & Culture--North American

Chaining Oregon

- Surveying the Public Lands of the Pacific Northwest, 1851-1855

by Kay Atwood (Click for author info)

$27.95 Softcover
ISBN 0-939923-20-3; 978-0-939923-20-5

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Click here for Table of Contents, Foreword, and Preface.

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Chaining Oregon is the first comprehensive history of the early surveyors of the Pacific Northwest, the work they performed for the US General Land Office between 1851 and 1855, the contribution their efforts made to the westerly movement of American settlement, and the order they imposed on the land of the western valleys and adjacent mountains in what are now the states of Oregon and Washington.

When Oregon Territory's Surveyor General John B. Preston and his cadre of engineers arrived in the Oregon region in 1851, there was little precedent for the legal systematic description of private landholding, but when the last of these surveyors left in 1855, the western interior valleys of Oregon and Washington territories, from Puget Sound to the Oregon-California border, lay measured in the precise pattern of townships and sections that characterized the US Rectangular Land Survey System.

While inescapably having to work and survive within the political whorls and eddies of a frontier democracy, the surveyors themselves, traipsing across what was marginally or completely unsettled land for months at a time, typically were out of view of the general public--and have frequently remained out of view of historians as well. With Chaining Oregon, Kay Atwood has brought the surveyors, their work, and their legacy out of the shadows of history into the deserved light of scholarship.

Chaining Oregon is made up of eleven chapters, along with an Introduction and an Epilogue, notes, a bibliography, period photographs, and historic and contemporary maps. The work is both accessible and substantive; its flowing style will appeal to the general reader while its substance will be valued by historians, surveyors, geographers, archaeologists, environmental historians, and others with interests in the people, the processes, and places that make up this work. The historic images provide views of the places the surveyors worked, the tools they used, and the maps they made -- along with the elements of the landscape they recorded as they went about their work.