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In Search of Ancient Oregon: A Geological and Natural History

By Ellen Morris Bishop

A riveting natural history ... Oregon's treasures sparkle even more when they're understood.


Geology is an extremely visual subject, and In Search of Ancient Oregon is a beautifully photographed, expertly written account of Oregon's fascinating geological story. Written by a passionate and professional geologist who has spent countless hours in the field exploring and photographing the state, In Search of Ancient Oregon is a book for all those interested in Oregon's landscapes and environments. It presents fine-art-quality color photographs of well-known features such as Mount Hood, Crater Lake, Smith Rock, Steens Mountain, the Columbia River Gorge, and Cannon Beach, and scenic, not so well known places such as Jordan Craters, Leslie Gulch, Abert Rim, Hells Canyon, Elkhorn Mountains, and Three Fingered Jack. Each of the more than 220 stunning photographs is accompanied by readable text, presenting the story of how Oregon's diverse landscapes evolved — and what we may expect in the future. Until now, no book has presented this dynamic story in a way that everyone interested in Oregon's natural history can easily understand. The combination of extraordinary photographs and the author's lucid explanations make this book both unique and essential for those curious about our own contemporary landscape.

Awards for this book: Oregon Book Awards' Frances Fuller Victor Award

Media reviews

"Highly recommended."

—J. M. Dahl, Choice

"The author's photos bring the story of Oregon's landscapes to life."

Publishers Weekly

"Oregon's geological past is a bewildering landscape too complex to understand without the help of a skilled, knowledgeable guide. Ellen Morris Bishop is that guide, and this is the guidebook that can open the door to understanding some of the complexity that makes Oregon one of the most interesting places, geologically, on earth."

—Bill Andrus, East Oregonian

"A fascinating book looking into the geology and natural history of Oregon stretching back some 400 million years. Its wealth of superlative photographs is the ideal accompaniment to a text that is lively in its unfolding."

—Peter Kendall, American Rhododendron Society Journal

"This lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed book pulled me in."

—Lois Wadsworth, Eugene Weekly

"Available, understandable, and interesting to audiences beyond professional geologists."

—Cindy Omann, Hells Canyon Journal

"Among the best of a batch of excellent new offerings ('about Oregon delights') is In Search of Ancient Oregon."

—Lee Juillerat, Herald and News

"There is plenty of scientific intellectualism in her book, it is revealed in a way that is easy to swallow and comfortable to digest."

—Mardi Ford, La Grande Observer

"Oregon's everchanging landscape is explored in this absorbing book about the state's geological and ecological history."

—Leslie Forsberg, Alaska Airlines Magazine

"Oregon has never seen a book quite like this. It is a book to be paged through admiring the photos, then read slowly, and finally placed in your bookcase as a reference. Bishop's work will be around for a long time."

—Virgil Rupp, Northwest Books

"Bishop guides us through Oregon's formative epochs with the sure hand of a scientist who's comfortable communication beyond the often arcane confines of science."

—John Terry, Oregonian

"A riveting natural history ... Oregon's treasures sparkle even more when they're understood."

—Jonathan Nicholas, Oregonian

"An up-to-date and beautifully illustrated popular account of historical geography of Oregon and the Klamath Province of California. The plant hunter will be especially interested."

Rock Garden Quarterly

"Recommended for anyone who has an interest in either geology or Oregon."

—Susan Clark, E-Streams

"Anyone who thinks geology and natural history are dull will change their minds after glancing through this book. It's accessible, well designed, thorough, accurate and easily calls forth vivid visions of Oregon in the distant past."

—Dan Hays, Salem Statesman Journal

"A fantastic exploration via photo and readable text of how powerful geologic forces delivered the extraordinary landscape we know today as Oregon."

Open Spaces

"Bishop's expertise as a writer comes through with an exceedingly well informed and yet readable account of the 400-million-year history of the region."

—Douglas Palmer, New Scientist

"Until now, no book has presented this dynamic story in a way that everyone interested in Oregon's natural history can easily understand."

Hood River News

"In Search of Ancient Oregon is an interesting resource for guides wanting to share more information about the state's unique and dramatic geological history that formed its mountains, gorges, lakes, vistas, coastline and reefs."

Travel Planner's Resource to the West


Open Spaces

About the author

Ellen Morris Bishop

Ellen Morris Bishop received her Ph.D. in geology at Oregon State University, following postgraduate study at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego. She has conducted research, published scientific articles, and taught geology and environmental sciences for Eastern Oregon University, Lewis and Clark College, and Marylhurst University. In previous years she wrote a science column for The Oregonian and served as the science reporter for Vancouver, Washington's The Columbian.

Read more about Ellen Morris Bishop

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