By Joanna Bastian

At the two recent talks I gave, “The Complete and Entire History of the Methow, the Abridged Version,” I had meant to share the titles of the books I had gleaned for information, but forgot to do so at not one but both talks!

Side note: Thank you to everyone who came out to waste a perfectly good evening with me. I had fun, and I hope you did too.

A great book by a local author that covers everything but the kitchen sink is The Smiling Country, a History of the Methow Valley by Sally Portman. Sally, who is the Winthrop librarian, begins with the age of geology and ends by delving into the economy of ski tourism in the Methow Valley.

Arnie Marchand, an Okanogan tribal elder, wrote down a collection of native stories in The Way I Heard It. He recently spoke at the Methow Valley Interpretive Center, and shared many fascinating details about sustainable fishing practices before the dams disrupted the annual return of the salmon.

Roadside Geology of Washington by David D. Alt has diagrams and excellent content describing the western expansion of the North American continent as a series of island collisions along the shoreline. A section on the Methow Valley explains the location of the two fault lines on either side of the valley, and how to “read” the land today. Another good geological resource can be found in the Methow Naturalist publication by local resident Dana Visalli. These can be found at Cinnamon Twisp Bakery and at the Methow Valley Farmers Market in Twisp. Past publications can be found at

First on the Land by Chuck Borg is filled with USGS maps, newspaper articles, letters and personal interviews about the formation of the Moses Allotments in the Methow Valley and the people who lived on them. An excellent collection of correspondence with the Bureau of Indian Affairs shows the record of land exchanges and is an insight into the political dealings at that time in history.

Methow (A Scrapbook) by Bob Tonseth is a collection of newspaper articles about the Methow Valley dating back to the 1890s. Eyewitness accounts, interviews, poems and day-to-day gossip provide a colorful look into the turn-of-the-century settlement of the Methow Valley.

Denmark immigrant U.E. Fries shares firsthand anecdotes in his book, From Copenhagen to Okanogan. He came to the area in 1887 and carried mail by horseback from Okanogan to the first Methow post office at Silver.

High Hopes and Deep Snows, How Mining Spurred Development of the Methow Valley by Methow Valley News reporter Marcy Stamper is an informative read filled with stunning pictures of hard rock mining ventures.

And now for a shameless plug …

The Shafer Museum is publishing the Miller family articles that appeared in the Methow Valley News this last winter. “We are the Methow, A History of the First People of the Methow Valley as told through the Miller Family” will be available at the Shafer Museum in Winthrop at the end of this month.

When I showed the proof copy to Chuck Borg, his face transformed into shocked amusement. “Where did you get this picture?” he asked as he pointed to the cover. The cover image is of rock art found in the valley, and was provided by the Methow Valley Interpretive Center. Chuck had come across this particular rock painting when he was a young boy. The specific location of the site is sworn to secrecy, so don’t even try to wiggle it out of Chuck.


Email Joanna