The pioneer battling with a hostile environment—whether it be arid land, drought, dust storms, dense forests, or harsh winters—is a staple of western American history. In this innovative, multi-disciplinary work, Peter Boag takes issue with the image of the settler against the frontier, arguing that settlers viewed their new surroundings positively and attempted to create communities in harmony with the landscape. Using Oregon's Calapooia Valley as a case study, Boag presents a history of both land and people that shows the process of change as settlers populated the land and turned it to their own uses.
By combining local sources, ranging from letters and diaries to early maps and local histories, and drawing upon the methods of geography, natural history, and literary analysis, Boag has created a richly detailed grass-roots portrait of a frontier community. Most significantly, he analyzes the connections among environmental, cultural, and social changes in ways that illuminate the frontier experience throughout the American west.