[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Caxton Press
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

Author JoAnn Roe has poured years of writing and travel experience into a meticulous account of the history, geography and human interaction with the Columbia River. Had she split her familiarity with the subject, two books would have been more digestible. There’s too much to absorb though drawing from an eclectic bibliography supplies a refreshing account of the river’s early exploration and the sternwheelers, railways, trailblazers, gold miners, and sportsmen, even the travelers seeking a spiritual experience.

And this is all well and good. But by focusing so much on the history, helped along with fine maps, her travel suggestions get short shrift. Knowing the Washington State reaches of the river, I’d be inclined to mention the brilliant murals plastered over downtown Toppenish, rather than the museum. At Maryhill, the white peacocks roaming the grounds appeal at least as much as the concrete Stonehenge look-alike.

The book is a compelling read, but juxtaposed with travel tips, inclined to prolix. For Ms. Roe’s sake, I’m glad she did not decide to tackle the Mississippi.

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