One of the things I decided to start doing on this blog was book reviews of books by local authors, or about the area in general. The first review covers both: High Desert of Central Oregon, by Raymond Hatton.
Hatton is Professor Emeritus of Geography up at COCC, and has written a number of books about Central Oregon. High Desert was first released in 1977 and the latest edition (Third) was published in 1997. You can find it at the library, or the Book Barn has several copies available for $12.95.
At 141 pages, it’s a fairly quick read, liberally supplemented with black and white photographs of many of the topics covered. Much of the text quotes other (usually older) sources, with Hatton’s very readable writing style tying them together.
The book is an excellent primer on, well, the High Desert, and while parts of it seem dated—it was originally written in the ’70s, after all—the sections concerning themselves with geography and climate are as relevant as ever. It’s roughly divided into two sections: a history of homesteading on the High Desert (a period which only lasted roughly from 1900 until 1920 in various stages) and general descriptions of the three main areas of Central Oregon desert: east of Bend along Highway 20 towards Burns, Fort Rock Valley, and Christmas Lake Valley. Each section covers some local history, as well.
Bottom line: it’s definitely worth a read, but to be honest, I’m a bit allergic to shelling out 13 bucks for a short book like this. If you can find it used, go for it—it’s currently out-of-print otherwise, so if you’re dying to own a copy of this book, head on down to the Book Barn or pick one up from Amazon.com at its full price.