As most folks know, we make a podcast series here at ORHistory.com called Kick Ass Oregon History. And in addition to sharing amazing stories about Oregon’s past, we like to use those broadcasts as a vehicle to get our listeners off their ass, and out into our beautiful Beaver State to experience the physical spaces where these events took place. As we even state in the “About” section of this humble, little website:
We want you to put the book down, and get out and enjoy the historic sites we have in Oregon. We will provide some background, some additional details to the story, some of the less revealed, even the ribald. But you are going to make the Core of the Discovery.
“Get yer fuckin’ boots muddy,” as The Resident Historian likes to say.
I have been working on our podcast for the Tillamook Burn, the truly monstrous forest fire that swept across western Oregon in August of 1933 [look for that podcast to appear mid week!]. In addition to reading the few tomes available on the subject, and going through countless aged newspaper articles, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t visit the Tillamook State Forest.
What a fuckin’ waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong. Again, as The Resident Historian, it is MY JOB to visit these places, schedule permitting, to provide background for our little broadcasts. And I find that traveling to these locations always helps to give a sense of scale to the story we are telling. In addition, just taking in the lay of the land always helps provide depth to the narrative when reeling out the play by play of the event – especially something as large and complicated with thousands of moving parts that fighting this fire truly was. AND, on a personal level, I fucking LOVE Oregon, and I love just getting up in her, and taking her all in (disclaimer: innuendo fully intentional).
First of all – this is a Logging Forest. And it always has been. Those gorgeous old-growth Doug Fir trees that were burned down in the horrific blaze of 1933? Guess what? They were all going to be cut down anyways. Clear cut, in fact. Every single last one of ’em.
And the massive reforestation effort to re-plant the mighty Tillamook forest? It was so all those new trees could be cut down. Even Tom McCall, Oregon’s “Environmental Governor,” admitted as much when he dedicated the new Tillamook State Forest in July 1973, speaking these words:“More than a million snags are gone…and in their place is a new stand of Oregon’s economic life blood. The trees will grow, and suffer our harvest, and grow again. The forest…again will feed us.”
The trees seem tiny – and as this is a farmed forest, they are all uniform in shape and size. There seems to be very little diversity or variety in this forest. It’s all just kinda… blah…
Now mind you – I am NOT a forester – I am a historian. So I can’t with expert knowledge look at a forest and tell you what the fuck is going on. BUT – I am also an Oregonian. And in that, I love checking out her natural environs, taking in the dramatic beauty that she shares with me. And when I look at the Tillamook State Forest – there’s none of that. None at all. Just a bunch of trees waiting to be cut down.
So yeah… don’t even fucking bother stopping in the Tillamook. I already did it for you. And it blows.