Back in the early days of the twentieth century a small town in Central Oregon dreamed of winning the race to become the economic center of the High Desert. Much of this dream hinged on what today is an almost forgotten railroad war between rail magnates Hill and Harriman. The goal: be the first to connect the Deschutes River, an area rich in timber and other sought after goods, and the Columbia River.
Alongside the drive for economic success were the men and women whose lives were based in the simpler things. They lived and loved in this country, building their hopes and dreams while working the land to its fullest potential. The first story in the Good Earth series happens here; in the High Desert of Central Oregon, near the small-town of Hillman (named for the two railroad men who helped increase prosperity.)
Much of the land remains the same as it did more than a 100 years ago. The basaltic towers still reach for the bright blue sky and rim the golden wheat fields, and sweet green fields. Here is a small glimpse of the view my characters would have enjoyed from their back porch in the summertime:
Of course, the irrigation system and the red gravel road are more recent additions, but if you look close you can see a barn that may well have belonged to a neighbor.
Today this land belongs to a fortunate few, as it is part of a development known as the Ranch at the Canyon, in present day Terrebonne. Rather than small family farms, the land is farmed as part of a multimillion dollar housing development.
I wonder what my characters would think of the use of their land? Considering the trouble and pain they went through to protect it, I suspect I already know.
How does progress make you feel? Is it inevitable and necessary?