The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SEATTLE, Wednesday—Bonneville Dam, which we visited yesterday morning, has a very beautiful setting. The hills rise on either side of the Columbia River and it reminds me a little of the Highlands of the Hudson. To me the most interesting thing was the contrast between what we had seen in 1934 and what we saw yesterday. As the Governor, who rode with us remarked: "These houses are pretty and they cost very little." But even more than the houses I was impressed with the landscaping, most of it done by WPA labor.

When people tell me, as they often do, that shovel leaning is the general characteristic of those who work on WPA, I am accumulating more and more pictures in my mind which I can paint for them, of work which I have seen and which was never accomplished by people who spend their time leaning on their shovels! Flowers take a great deal of care and real affection besides. They seem to sense that the people working with them are fond of them and for some people they will grow and for others they will not. The gardeners at Bonneville love their flowers! Some of the most beautiful that have been sent to the President and myself anywhere on this trip were picked and sent to the train before we left it on Tuesday morning.

With all the wonderful engineering construction to be seen at the dam. I suppose you will laugh when I tell you that the thing which interested me most was the run- way made for the fish so they could get up the River past the dam. It is so arranged that those who wish to jump can jump and those who wish to swim will find openings at the bottom through which they can swim. The grade by which the fish make their gradual journey past the dam is made easy for them by putting these openings on opposite sides of each section so that they swim along a wall and find the openings and then swim along the next wall to find the opening at the other end. Thus they go zigzagging up the hill, in just the way we were taught to do with horses when they were pulling a heavy load in days gone by.

The engineer told us that they had spent a great deal of money on this part of the project, but that it would be extremely valuable in helping them to deal with the problems of fish in other rivers. Here a big industry is involved, for the salmon industry in the Columbia River is of great importance to the community.

On leaving the dam we took a most beautiful drive, finally reaching the slopes of Mt. Hood and the Forest Reserve which is under the United States Forestry Service. About six thousand feet up the mountains a lodge has been built for the use of those who wish to enjoy winter sports and the beauties of the mountains in summer. As we climbed, the variety in the trees interested me greatly, and some of them were giants of the forest. Then we came to a place where green moss grew upon them in the way it does in the Maine woods on the pines, but it is greener here, while there it is silver gray. The Lodge itself which the President dedicated has many interesting architectural features. It is built exclusively of native products and by WPA labor. The interesting central fire place with its many openings is a feature I have seen in no other building of its kind and no where have I seen such big timbers used. All the furniture, all the hangings, all the iron work as well, were made by WPA workers. Here is a group of workers who have the makings of a handcraft organization and I hope their work will be appreciated. Mr. Griffith, the state WPA administrator must be happy over the work done here.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Seattle (Wash., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 30, 1937

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a draft version of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. My Day column draft dated September 29, 1937, FDR Library, Hyde Park, NY
TMsd, 29 September 1937, AERP, FDRL