A Woman in the Woods
In 1973, Louise Wagenknecht was just another college graduate, but unlike many, she wanted to go home, back to the Klamath Mountains where she was raised. When a job offer from the Klamath National Forest gave her that chance, she jumped at it. She landed in the logging town of Happy Camp, where she’d spent part of her childhood, as chronicled in her previous memoirs, White Poplar, Black Locust and Light on the Devils.
With Shadows on the Klamath, Louise Wagenknecht completes her trilogy about life in remote northwestern California. In this new work, she recounts her years in the Forest Service, starting as a clerical worker on the Klamath National Forest before moving to a field position where she did everything from planting trees to fighting fires.
Her story is about a Forest Service in transition, as forest management practices began to shift. Not least among these changes was the presence of women in the ranks—a change that many in the Forest Service resisted. Wagenknecht blends the personal and professional to describe land management in the West and the people who do it—their friendships, rivalries, and rural communities.
Anyone with an interest in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, or the history of women in natural resource agencies, or the many issues associated with industrial forestry, should read this book for its valuable firsthand perspective. General readers interested in the rural West and personal memoir will also be richly rewarded.
- Publication year: 2021
Growing up in one of the West’s last company lumber towns, a small community called Hilt on the California-Oregon border, Louise Wagenknecht witnessed the dying years of a unique way of life. The lumber boom of the 1950s and 1960s would devastate the ancient old-growth forests of the Klamath Mountains as well as the people of Hilt, whose lives were inextricably tied to the company lumber mill. White Poplar, Black Locust is the story of that transformation, but it is also something more—a noteworthy addition to the literature of place, and a sensitive and richly textured family memoir. As Wagenknecht unravels the threads that still bind her to both Hilt’s history and her own, unforgettable characters emerge, and what should have been the happy ending to this story, the marriage of her divorced mother to a forester working for the Fruit Growers Supply Company, becomes instead the end of childhood innocence, foretelling the demise of the mill and the end of Hilt itself.
Originally published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2003, this first book in Louise Wagenknecht’s trilogy about life in the Klamath Mountains is now available through Oregon State University Press, together with Light on the Devils (2011) and Shadows on the Klamath (2021).
- Publication year: 2021
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