Vintage photos in Lent's new book `Madras'
Two hundred vintage photos are featured in the new book "Madras," by Prineville author and historian Steve Lent.
"I hope the book will provide a graphic reminder of the early struggles and development of Madras, showing the growth of the community from a simple stage stop and post office, to a thriving center of agriculture and cultural diversity," Lent said.
The pictorial history shows how the cattle and sheep grazing area originally known as "The Basin" became settled by homesteaders in the late 1880s.
The town of Madras was incorporated on March 2, 1910, and became a commercial center with the arrival of railroads in 1911, earning it the nickname "Gateway to Central Oregon."
Photographs shows how the arrival of irrigation water from the Deschutes River by means of the North Unit Project in 1946, led to the arrival of many young farming families, which kicked off a new era in Madras.
The majority of images in the book were donated from the archives of the Jefferson County Historical Society, and Lent gave a special thanks to Madras resident Beth Crow for assisting him with finding photos and reviewing the book. He said it took him a year to complete the book.
Highlights of "Madras" include rare photos of the town and the surrounding vicinity, views of horse-drawn stages and freight wagons, and pictures of early settlers, ranches and farms.
"Some of my favorite photos are the ones of the smiling 1916 women's basketball team wearing their bloomer outfits, and ones that show the diversity of the `boom' things that came to Madras," Lent said.
"Madras" will be available at local businesses, area bookstores, independent retailers, online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665. It sells for $21.99.
Lent hopes to hold a book signing in Madras soon, to allow local residents a first chance to purchase the book.
With a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Oregon, Lent, 62, worked in wildland fire management for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, before retiring in 2002 and becoming the assistant director of the Bowman Museum in Prineville.
His other publications include, "Central Oregon Place Names, Vol. Two: Jefferson County," "Central Oregon Place Names, Vol. One: Crook County," and the photo book "Prineville" published, as was "Madras," in the Images of America series through Arcadia Publishing.
He is currently working on a place names book for Deschutes County.
Lent has twice served as president of the Crook County Historical Society, writes a weekly local newspaper column on local history and frequently gives historical presentations throughout Central Oregon.
In 2001, Lent was awarded a commendation award from the National Association of State and Local History for contributions to local history. He is a member of the Western Writers of America.
"It was fun going through all the photos, but I had 500 and had to narrow it down to the 200 in the book," Lent said, adding, "I will give all the pictures I scanned to the Jefferson County Historical Society."