Two Books by Oregon Women

Online Branch
AAUW of Oregon
Book Review
December 2012

In the fall of 2012 my husband and I travelled through eastern Oregon.  In each town we visited local museums.  One thing I have learned over the years is that local museums have excellent selections of books by local writers.  At the Baker City Museum I purchased two books I would like to share with you.

The first is Women’s Voices from the Oregon Trail by Susan G. Butruille.  The book is in two sections.  Part one deals with true and often sad stories of the women who traveled the Oregon Trail, how they came to make this journey and what life was really like.  There are poems, songs, recipes, quilt patterns, and intimate details of the lives of many women who risked everything to get to Oregon.

Part two is a detailed Guide to Women’s History Along the Oregon Trail. Susan and her mother retraced the Oregon Trail by automobile from St Louis to Oregon City finding and documenting each Oregon Trail landmark.

This is a very interesting and informative book.

The second book is entitled The Prairie Keepers – Secrets of the Zumwalt by Marcy Houle.  A really good book!  Marcy was a graduate student at OSU in the mid-1990s when she was sent to Wallowa County in eastern Oregon to count hawks and study their habitat for an entire season.

The Zumwalt Prairie encompasses most of Wallowa County. It is one of the last remaining natural prairies in the west.  The prairie’s preservation is a priority for many of the local ranchers who have lived there for years and years. The alphabet soup of government agencies, who should care about the prairie but don’t seem to, is not only sad but also comical.

Marcy hikes nearly every inch of the prairie relishing her time in the grasses and flowers.  She learns to climb trees, ride a horse, drive a very old truck, identify nests, and band baby hawks.  She counts the hawks as well as the gophers and squirrels they eat.  The ranchers are helpful and welcoming.  Most government workers consider her an interloper and a problem.  She has some interesting adventures with the men she must work with.  A huge bull named Henry provides some tense moments.  Marcy convinces the community to help in a buteo rodeo to make sure all the baby hawks on the prairie are banded before they migrate south for the winter.

An interesting look at a very unique part of Oregon!

Penney Hoodenpyle
Online Branch Member