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smokejumper firefighters inside airplane

Stories of Southern Oregon

The Southern Oregon Digital Archives (SODA) is a digital library with thousands of scanned images and documents. These collections are curated, digitized, and made available to the public on the Hannon Library website .

Our newest SODA collection, Stories of Southern Oregon, archives generations of regional history and the life stories of the people of Southern Oregon. This project celebrates cultural traditions and a shared heritage of agriculture, the timber industry, mining, mills, and even aerial wildfire suppression.

Smokejumpers

Among the new collections are historic photographs from the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum, which is located at the Illinois Valley airstrip outside of Cave Junction, Oregon. Smokejumpers are specially trained firefighters that parachute into remote forest areas to combat developing wildfires. The smokejumper base in Cave Junction was established in 1943, when smokejumping was still a relatively new approach to firefighting.

Photos from this collection capture the life and work of smokejumpers during the 1940s through the 1970s. From behind-the-scenes images of the Siskiyou Base to live shots of jumpers launching themselves from airplanes, this collection is a special part of Oregon’s history.

Men examining equipment for parachuting and firefighting

firefighters preparing to parachute out of a plane

Firefighter parachuting into the forestView more photos on our SODA website.

Digital Collections

Hannon Library has two platforms for digital collections. The original platform, Knowvation (formerly ArchivalWare), includes the BioregionFirst NationsSouthern Oregon History collections as well as the Institutional Repository with SOU scholarship from faculty and students. These are primarily collections of text documents.

Most of the library’s other collections are primarily image collections and are on a CONTENTdm platform.

Several of these projects were supported in whole (or in part) by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library. Other support also provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

logo for the Institute of Museum and Library Services

logo for National Endowment for the Humanities

loggers from early 1900s

Jeff LaLande presents “When Timber Was King: The Rise and Decline of Southern Oregon’s Timber Industry” on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 4 pm at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library (Meese Room). This event is free and open to the public.

In the early days, men felled the big trees with just an axe and dragged timber out of the forest with mules and oxen. Steam donkeys, two-handled saws, railroad lines and trucks changed the landscape and Rogue Valley mills ran 24×7. Today, most of Southern Oregon’s mills are silent, and a truck with a three-log load is rare indeed.

In this unusual presentation, LaLande describes the legislation, corporate powers and political changes that have altered the Oregon landscape forever.

About Jeff LaLande

Forest historian and archaeologist Dr. Jeffrey LaLande, now retired, worked with the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 50 years. He has traipsed the land, seeking out the equipment and traces of the timber industry’s history from long ago to more contemporary times. He photographed his findings for the Forest Service, cataloging places that few know of and fewer even have seen. LaLande also wrote narrative and scientific histories of the region’s great timber industry that drove Southern Oregon’s economy for a hundred years.

LaLande’s wide-ranging research interests include Southern Oregon’s Good Government movement, early Oregon political history, the Oregon Trail migration and the Rogue Valley’s donation land claims among other topics.

Thanks to a 2017 Library Services and Technology Act grant to Hannon Library, LaLande’s collection of historic timber industry photos are being digitized and will made available through the Southern Oregon Digital Archives (SODA) in the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection. LaLande’s earlier SODA contribution, a set of 647 images in the Rogue River National Forest Historic Images Collection, is available now.

Southern Oregon Digital Archives

Hannon Library’s Southern Oregon Digital Archives display eighteen collections that present a rich set of images, text and video on topics that range from locally discovered Chinese material culture, butterflies, First Nations, musical instruments, wine, agriculture and more. The Southern Oregon Digital Archives can be accessed at http://soda.sou.edu.

More Info

For more information on the March 7, 2018 program or the Southern Oregon Digital Archives, call 541-552-6442. If you need disability accommodations to participate in this event, please contact Disability Resources at 541-552-6213 or dss@sou.edu.