The Great River of the West
In 1867, when Carleton Watkins began his photographic expedition up the Columbia River Gorge, the river Iooked much as it had for the previous 10,000 years of indigenous human habitation. Yet even then, railways had already been Iaid to facilitate the movement of white settlers past rapids and falIs that made navigating the river extremely dangerous. That influx of immigrants set in motion events that would change the Columbia, the fates of the native people, and the Pacific Northwest forever.
Today, the Columbia's once wild rapids are pooled behind 14 dams into a series of vast Iakes. The River is fuIly industrialized. Native peoples have been displaced from their home Iands, their traditional fishing grounds inundated by dams. While the river stilI flows though a majestic and diverse landscape, it's rare to find a view that does not include stark evidence of the impact of the European immigrants who displaced them.
''The Great River of the West'', is a photographic survey of the 1250 mile long Columbia River, from its source in the Canadian Rockies, to the confluence with the Pacific, exploring its current cultural and economic landscape, with an eye towards its significance in the history of the Pacific Northwest and North America.