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Pacific Northwest


PACIFIC NORTHWEST is the region of the United States that comprises the northern coast of California, all of Oregon and Washington, and (according to some) the western part of Idaho. The region is known for its active volcanic peaks, such as Mount St. Helens in Washington. Spain, Russia, and Great Britain all had an early interest in the area. Meriweather Lewis and William Clark explored the region in the early 1800s, but it was not until the 1840s, after the Oregon Trail had been established, that settlers arrived in significant numbers. In 1846, the United States and England agreed that the 49th parallel would be the dividing line between the American Pacific Northwest and the British territory of Canada. Large coniferous forests supported the development of a variety of timber-related industries, including shipbuilding and later lumber and paper. Significant precipitation, along with two major rivers, the Columbia and the Snake, gave rise to various hydroelectric projects. Fishing, particularly for salmon, has long been an economic mainstay of the region; the aerospace and high technology industries dominate its economy in the twenty-first century. The region's exceptional natural beauty has attracted people with a strong environmental awareness and a tendency toward conservation rather than commercial exploitation.


Muir, John. Northwest Passages: From the Pen of John Muir in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Palo Alto, Calif.: Tioga, 1988.

Weiss, Michael Arthur. "Bringing Natural History to the People: Three Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest Frontier." Master's thesis, University of Oregon, Eugene, 1989.

Christine E.Hoffman

See alsoColumbia River Exploration and Settlement ; Mount St. Helens ; Oregon ; Snake River ; Washington, State of .

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