Portrait of a Couple at Niagara Falls in Waterproof Clothing (1860s) Ambrotype by Henry Hollister, image via The Getty Museum

Tourism in the United States began some time after the European settlers arrived. They were too busy to take time to vacation. However, in the early 1660s, Americans started traveling to spas and mineral springs for relaxation, with the goal of maintaining or improving their health.

In the mid-1800s, the Bahamas and its government passed multiple acts that encouraged the promotion and infrastructure for tourist to come to the islands. Along with the Bahamas becoming a popular tourist destination, Niagara Falls became a notable hot spot for tourist.

The popularity of tourist spiked after the Civil War due to improved infrastructure such as railroads where it made people more mobile. Due to the time commitment and slow transportation time, it was still an activity for the elite, those that could afford to take time off of work, because a vacation meant an extended stay.

As one could guess, the basic form of tourism was practiced after World War II when more people, such as the middle-class, had access to automobiles and the luxury of paid time off benefits. Today, only a third of American families will take a vacation, yet tourism revenues in the United States reached an all time high of 21,547 USD Millions in May of 2018.


Since the 19th century, Oregon has relied on the timber industry to drive its economies. It started with the California gold rush’s demand for timber to build railroads and has grown to a multi-billion-dollar industry. In the late 19th century, sawmills along the lower Columbia River were exporting 75 to 100 million board feet of lumber per year, depleting the Midwestern forests. Because of this, interest shifted to harvesting pine and fir.

Timber harvesting grew and grew until World War II, when timber harvesting really took off. Coos Bay was called the “Lumber Capital of the World” and the population grew 30% in the 1940s and 50s. More than 2,000 logging operations were in action at that time, with the state increasing its cut from 5.2 billion board feet to 9.1 billion in 15 years.

This, however, led to land managers completely depleting their forests. Federal laws were implemented in the 1960s and 70s to conserve the remaining forests. By the early 1980s, a recession greatly affected timber-dependent communities. High interest rates slowed down housing construction, Canadian lumber became highly competitive, and a demand for timber from Asia caused American companies to export their timber than mill domestically. Thus, mills closed down and those that remained open needed new technology, which cut the number of employees necessary to run the mill. The price of lumber dropped by nearly 50% and four of the five counties with the highest unemployment rates were timber-dependent counties, including Coos and Curry. 48,000 jobs were lost during the recession.

This caused Oregon to diversify in its industries and manage its land more sustainably. Now, Oregon harvests around 4 billion board feet of timber, but the industry has slowed down to allow for old growth. The wages of timber workers aren’t as high as they were in the 1940s, but jobs and wages have held steady and are projected to stay this way.





Oregon’s Timber History, An Update