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Local author eyes St. Helens history book

Tricia Brown asked to write 128-page book about city's past


by: FILE PHOTO - Tricia Brown.A South Carolina publishing firm wants Tricia Brown to write an illustrated history of St. Helens, the Scappoose-based author says.

While the book project does not yet have the green light — the Columbia County Museum Association, which is backing the project, is searching for $4,000 in grant money to pay for Brown’s services — Brown says she is excited about the prospect of exploring the city’s history. She indicates she wants to add some depth beyond the tales of St. Helens history that are common knowledge to old-timers, such as the artificial formation of Sand Island and the competition between St. Helens and Portland to become northwest Oregon’s commercial center on the Columbia River more than 150 years ago.

“Those who have been around know of these stories, so it would involve digging around and getting the lesser-known stories, as well as those that are prominent,” says Brown, whose husband grew up in St. Helens.

Arcadia Publishing, the South Carolina publisher, has published thousands of books about the history of people and places across the United States. It recently published a book Brown wrote about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, which was released earlier this year.

The St. Helens history book would be 128 pages long and include many historical photographs, according to Brown.

The Columbia County Museum Association has a repository of photos, including some that were so recently donated that they have yet to be catalogued, Brown says. Some of those images would likely find their way into any book that is written.

Brown and museum curator Les Watters approached the St. Helens City Council last month about gaining financial support from the city for Brown to write the book. The councilors were attentive but noncommittal, asking for Watters to submit a request in writing before they consider it further.

City Recorder Kathy Payne, however, offered her personal endorsement of Brown, the author of some 24 books that range from children’s stories to historical nonfiction.

"We definitely have the right person,” Payne told the council.

Much of Brown’s oeuvre centers on Alaska, where she lived for more than 20 years before moving to Oregon.

She has another children’s book slated to be published next month, which is titled “Charlie and the Blanket Toss.” Brown describes it as a coming-of-age story about a young Inupiak boy in northern Alaska participating in a traditional spring whale hunt for the first time.