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St. Helens history book project getting off the ground

Author, museum group looking for stories, photos of city's yesteryears


Photo Credit: COURTESY OF THE COLUMBIA COUNTY MUSEUM ASSOCIATION - 'St. Helens: America in Images' will feature potentially hundreds of historical photographs from the Columbia County Museum Association's archives and beyond. This photo is believed to show the old St. Helens Creosote site in the foreground and the shipyards of Sauvie Island in the background.The Columbia County Museum Association project to commission a book on the history of St. Helens is getting underway, the book's designated author announced Thursday, Aug. 21.

Tricia Brown, the Scappoose-based writer tapped by Arcadia Publishing to write “St. Helens: Images of America,” said the project has the green light and she is ready to get started, even though not all of the funding for the project has been lined up.

“And now we're looking for members of the community to share their personal photos and/or stories,” Brown added in an email Thursday. “We'd sure like to have some of those never-before-seen images that are good and sharp and (hopefully) identified.”

Tricia Brown.True to its name, “St. Helens: Images of America” will be a pictorial history book. Brown said it will be 128 pages long, most of which will include historical photographs with what she described as “meaty” captions.

“The captions really hold a lot of the information,” Brown said. “So they're not just lightweight, identifier-type captions.”

The museum association maintains an estimable archive of historical photos, artifacts and documents. But Joanne Pellham, the association's president, said she is hoping to see more as the book is put together.

“We are looking for people that might have something that we would be interested in to include in the book. We're always looking for that,” said Pellham.

Photos will be scanned and handed back, Pellham said, so anyone who wants to contribute will not lose them.

The book will cover St. Helens history from the mid-19th century to at least the mid-20th century, according to Brown. A section will deal with events from the city's more recent past, such as its use as a filming location for movies like “Halloweentown” and “Twilight.”

“We have an outline that we've agreed upon, so we're making now a shopping list of photos,” Breown said.

The scope of what is covered will include the former industries of St. Helens, such as the shipbuilding and paper mill businesses; the Native American history of the area; quirky place names and how they came to be called what they are today; and beyond, Brown and Pellham said.

“We're covering everything possible,” said Pellham.

The project has received support from the city of St. Helens, which put up $2,000 to partially fund it last month.

The book is slated for publication early next summer. Brown said Arcadia will make the book available to local retailers, and copies will likely be sold through the Columbia County Museum Association as well.

Anyone interested in sharing a story or image for “St. Helens: Images of America” is encouraged to contact Pellham at 503-410-9392 and set up an appointment.

The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. every Wednesday. It takes up the second floor of the historic Columbia County Courthouse, located at 230 Strand Street, St. Helens.

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