Paper pub. date
January 2003
ISBN 9780870715570 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 160 pages. B&W photographs. Map.

New Era

Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon

Jarold Ramsey

New Era is a graceful and literate collection of personal essays on the human and natural history of the Oregon high desert, focusing on what happened to the people and the land of this region during and after the homesteading era of 1900 to 1920. It is a book full of stories-about early Indian/Anglo connections, about the ghost town of Opal City, about homestead ranches and the families who struggled to make their lives there.

Each chapter offers a new perspective on the interplay of human and natural history in a challenging time and place. Although Ramsey's focus is intensely local, he explores how these local details have larger Western and American meanings, too.

In his introduction, Ramsey writes that the title of his book "comes from the name of our little country school, and if it catches a sense of the indomitable optimism of the homesteaders who established it for their children, I also want it to suggest my concern… with changes in the land, and with what can get thrown aside and lost in the name of newness and progress." The stories gathered in New Era capture these changing and changed lives and landscapes.

New Era will appeal to a wide range of readers beyond those interested in the Oregon high desert country, especially those who value storytelling and the literature of place.

About the author

JAROLD RAMSEY was born in central Oregon and grew up on his family’s ranch there. He left the ranch to attend college, and became an award-winning essayist and poet, as well as a published playwright and a respected authority on traditional American Indian literature. He is professor emeritus of English at the University of Rochester and the author of several books. In 2017, he received the Charles Erskine Scott Wood Distinguished Writer Award for lifetime achievement from Literary Arts. He lives in Madras, Oregon.

Read more about this author


  1. New Era: Growing Up East of the Cascades
  2. The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story
  3. Going Around the Mountain
  4. The Kiln
  5. Opal City
  6. Quincey's Ladders: A Fishing Tale
  7. The Canyon
  8. Two Homesteads
  9. An Impromptu on Owning Land


"Blessed by Jarold Ramsey's vivid memories and fresh observations, New Era is a wonderful essay collection. Unforgettable characters populate Central Oregon's reservations and ranches, cities and schoolhouses. Here are rich harvests and severe breakdowns, good stories and bad medicine, memorable adventures and forlorn mishaps. Jarold Ramsey offers a graceful and heartfelt gift to those who love Oregon and the West."

—Craig Lesley, author of Winterkill and The Sky Fisherman

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