Synopses & Reviews
Louise Wagenknecht grew up in one of the West's last company lumber towns, a small community called Hilt on the California-Oregon border. There she witnessed the dying years of a unique way of life, the tail-end of the 1950s lumber boom that 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.
Expertly weaving memoir and history against the backdrop of a powerful yet little-known landscape, White Poplar, Black Locust is an immensely readable narrative of pain, loss, and ultimate survival.
"This is a lovely memoir of heartbreak and hope. . . . In a perfect world, this book would have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize."—Bloomsbury Review Bloomsbury Review
“A compelling read, offering a valuable blend of humanistic and scientific approaches to Northwest history and the ways in which a specific sense of place is constructed. In its attention to a womans perspective within a male-dominated lumbering milieu, it is reminiscent of Kim Barness In the Wilderness. Wagenknects memoir, however, is concerned with interweaving a story of gender and class with a tale of environmental understanding. That is the real contribution of White Poplar, Black Locust, as it links the personal and the historical . . . and ultimately teaches us much about arrogance and loss, respect and sustainability.”—Robert E. Walls, Oregon Historical Quarterly Glenn M. Busset - The Manhattan Mercury
"This is a wonderful book for those interested in memoirs, environmental writing, and the history of the far west; general readers will also find it enjoyable. It is rich with well-researched detail and with understanding that grows out of experience. . . . The book is also beautifully and engagingly written. Anyone who has asked, 'What is 'sense of place?' or 'How do writers evoke a sense of place?' must read White Poplar, Black Locust."—Kathleen A. Boardman, Montana: The Magazine of Western History Kathleen A. Boardman
"This is a cunningly fabricated book, a memoir about a family that manages to survive even as their economic world unravels around them. Louise tells an intricate story of sorrow without invective, of a dysfunctional family and a dissappearing environment in a smooth and closely connected story that alternately brings tears and cheers from the reader. It is the end of a way of life, in it's dying years. . . . You will be intrigued, entertained, frustrated, fascinated, and deeply angered—but you will not stop reading."—Glenn M. Busset, The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, KS) Montana: The Magazine of Western Historu
About the Author
Louise Wagenknecht has worked for the United States Forest Service for almost thirty years, most recently on the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho, where she is a writer and editor at the Forest Service headquarters.
Table of Contents
Part 1 White Poplar 1
Part 2 Black Locust 117