Monday, June 14, 2010


Author and historian Alfred Mullett took participants for a ride on the Sumpter Valley Railway at our May 27 meeting. Alfred’s book Images of Rail: Sumpter Valley Railway chronicles the history of the railroad and its impact on the social, economic and physical landscape of Eastern Oregon. He began his program with the story of the Eccles family who founded the railroad in Baker City in 1890. The line stretched from there to Prairie City, and Alfred presented photographic images of the stops along the route. The pictures show the rise and fall of the gold mining era in towns like Sumpter, Granite and Susanville, and provided a view of the lifestyle, structures and rich history and culture that was shaped by the Sumpter Valley Railway. Alfred’s presentation made that history come alive through his photos and words. As he said, “History is a part of story telling that can take us anywhere. A veritable Time Machine!” He emphasized the importance of being passionate about what we are writing, and encouraged us to study the history around us, to see beyond the surface of the stories we are writing and thus to become a part of the story. Alfred, who co-authored his book with writer Leonard Merritt, talked about the challenges of what he called cooperative writing, a process in which the authors bring to the project different skill sets that complement each other. He said it worked well for him and Leonard, since Alfred’s focus was on the writing and production whereas Leonard’s was more focused on marketing, But they both shared the process of research, tracking down sources, and of course paid attention to the legalities of using photos and archived materials where copyright laws might come into play. Their book is evidence that their efforts paid off in a well researched, well written and intriguing history of the Sumpter Valley Railway, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Rail series. To learn more go to

We thank Alfred for sharing his book and what he learned in the process of producing such a wonderful account of this part of Oregon’s history. We all learned much that will benefit us on our own writers’ journeys!

Following Alfred’s presentation, Mike Rettig read his piece entitled “The Appointment”, which was the third place winner in last year’s Literary Harvest contest. Good job, Mike!

Upcoming Events:

Thursday June 24—Resident humorist and author Jo Ann Senior will speak on the topic “Enhancing your Writing with Humor”. Following the program, Elsie Rochna will read her Literary Harvest award-winning story.

Saturday July 11, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.—Intensive Critique Workshop with author and teacher Mike Lankford, COCC Redmond Campus.

Thursday, July 22—Romance author Christine Young will be our featured speaker. Christine is a member of Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers and has published several historical romance novels.

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