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The Willamette Valley

Page history last edited by Michael 3 years ago

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    A lush (by 22nd Century standards) valley in northwestern Oregon. The Willamette River runs north along the middle of the valley, into the Columbia river at Portland. There are about 200 villages and towns, many of which are little more than wooden forts designed in the fashion of pioneer outposts or Dark Ages castles. The communities here are subject to a broad hodgepodge of loyalties; some settlements are actively allied with the United Combine, for example, while others have recently seceded from that faction to either join the Purity Corp, Hand of Jehovah, or to seek their own destiny, and still others never were part of the Combine to begin with – and like it that way. There are about 150 "sovereign communities" in the Valley.  





     Just the plain,ordinary inhabitants of the area.



     The War occurred on November 18th, 1989. Weather conditions at Oregon City that day were:  minimum temperature 37° F, maximum temperature 56° F, no precipitation, average wind speed 14 kph from the north.  Several nuclear weapons struck locations within the Valley:


    • Eugene:  SS-11 airburst -- 350 kilotons, blast zone out to 4 km, fires started out to 5 km

    • McMinnville: SS-18 M4/6 airburst -- about 600 kilotons, blast zone out to 5 km, fires started out to 8 km. Primary target was the Cascade Steel Mill (founded 1968).

    • Salem:  SS-13 airburst - 750 kilotons, blast zone out to 5 km, fires started out to 9 km


     At the north end of the Valley, Portland was also attacked:


    • SS-25 airburst - 550 kilotons, blast zone out to 5 km, fires started out to 7 km

    • SS-18 M4/6 surface blast, on the airport -- about 600 kilotons, crater 1 km diameter, blast zone out to 4 km, fires started out to 5 km

    • SS-18 surface blast, on the port facilities -- about 600 kilotons, crater 1 km diameter, blast zone out to 4 km, fires started out to 5 km


     ... plus a strike at Vancouver, Washington:


    • SS-N-20 airburst -- 100 kilotons, blast zone out to 3 km, fires started out to 3 km


     ... and the Trojan nuclear power plant:


    • two SS-18 surface blast, each about 600 kilotons, crater diameter 1 km, blast zone out to 4 km, fires started out to 5 km


     In addition, the Mk II TRIGA training reactor at OSU Corvallis Radiation Center was shut down during the War, buried about a year later, un-buried decades later, looted, and later re-buried under a large pile of dirt. The reactor itself is pretty much safely encased, but a lot of irradiated material got scattered by looters over the years. The building is 20 meters on a side, now covered by a truncated conical mound 40 meters in diameter at the base and 25 meters high. Dosage exposure is at most 0.1 microsieverts per day (0.001 rad), within 100 meters of the reactor. So, you'd pick up about 1/3 of a rad per year, living on the hill; exposure class RS-1 is at 70 rads.

     The Long Winter lasted from the War till about 2030; in some years snow was on the ground from September till May. About ten years of moderate weather (and major flooding -- the heaviest floods occurred in 1996) followed, and by 2045 the current hot-and-dry weather conditions were established.


What Outsiders Know


     Outside of the Northwest, the Willamette Valley isn't known of.


The Reality

     Other communities in the Northwest trade with the Willamette Vally extensively; it's a major source of agricultural goods. Products include barley, hops, corn, wheat, fruit, berries, vegetables, mutton, horses, hay, cheese (from sheep, goats and horses), wool, beer, wine, "bourbon", methanol for vehicles, lubricants, paper, etc. The Valley's people are subjects or citizens of  dozens of small kingdoms, lordships, baronies, free cities, republics, etc., which feud and raid each other from time to time.

     The valley has a Mediterranean climate, drier than in the 20th Century. Most rainfall arrives between December 1st and March 1st, totalling 38 to 50 cm (15-20 inches) annually on the valley floor.



     Roughly 50,000 people live in the Willamette Valley; about half of those live in the areas named below, the rest mostly live in communities of 150-200 persons.

     Ethnically, they're mostly Caucasian; there's a notable mix of German and Polish surnames.


Territory and Locations


we have larger maps of the north and south sections of the Valley;

communities marked in purple have a population of 500 or fewer


     The Valley is generally about 50 or 60 meters above sea level; it's about 130 kilometers from the Calapooya Mountains (at the southern end) to the outskirts of Portland (at the northern end), and has a typical width of 100 kilometers. The area of the mostly-level valley floor is over 5000 square kilometers.

     The Willamette River is considered navigable from the Columbia River south to Coburg (near Springfield); the Willamette Falls near Oregon City are about 12 meters high, and are bypassed by the Willamette Falls Locks. From the Columbia River to Oregon City is about 40 kilometers; the upper reach of the river is about another 200 kilometers long. In the 20th Century, various agencies built over a dozen dams on the Cascade Range side of the valley; 11 of those produced hydroelectric power. Most or all of those dams collapsed during or immediately after the Long Winter; three or four may still be standing (see Hydroelectric Plants below). There are about 150 towns and villages in the valley; we have a table showing some data, but here's a partial list of communities and places of note:




     For a few years after the War, the state government was located here; the Linn county courthouse served as the capital. Floods on the Willamette and Calapooia rivers during and just after the Long Winter brought down several important bridges and destroyed the water and sewage systems; fires, epidemics, and raids by the savages from Salem led to the town being entirely abandoned by about 2040.  




     The main town of a small community at the northwestern end of the Tualatin Valley.




     Before the Atomic War, this was Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, and some surrounding areas in Washington county, with a population of 55,000. It was composed of many residential neighborhoods, a few old farm areas being divided up for development, and the large campuses of tech companies -- most notably Tektronix and ESI. The area was almost entirely deserted within a few months after the War, due to fallout from Portland and the Trojan reactor. In the mid-21st Century, the area was slowly settled by exiles, lunatics, refugees, and outright criminals, from the People's Army, the Willamette Valley, the River Folk, the Chinook, the Combine, the Hand of Jehovah, and the Purists. By the 22nd Century the settlement is a hard place -- "hard but fair" is the motto, although it's a very hard place indeed. Newcomers will have to prove themselves. Besides some erratic farming, the locals make a living by scavenging in the ruins of Portland and the tech campuses, and selling their finds to merchants in the Valley (especially Oregon City). Population 1200.




     On the outskirts of the Eugene/Springfield ruins, at the southern end of the Valley. Farming and trade with the wild inhabitants of the forests to the south is important here. It's a fairly democratic place, by post-apocalyptic standards -- all the adult men vote on important matters. The town is the hub for a farming area about 10 kilometers across, with a total population of about 3000 persons in six small towns plus Coburg itself (population 250). Coburg agreed to join the Combine a few decades ago, but neither the Combine nor the Coburgers have paid much attention to that agreement; the locals don't feel that they're well-served by the Combine, "all the way up in Canada". There hasn't been a formal break, but for all practical purposes Coburg is no longer part of the Combine. There are two Civic Guards, employed more-or-less full time. Coburg has a tavern/inn/motel (the "Truck N Travel"); the other smaller towns have only a beer hall or tavern. Outsiders are welcome in town, especially if they are doctors or bring medicine; an actual Combine representative would probably be run out of town.




black lines indicate the levees around the university


     The rulers, the Harris family, are sort-of River Folk (or at least allied with the River Folk); they control trade on the river south of Oregon City. Visitors to Corvallis are only allowed to stay for three nights (unless they're waiting for a boat, or are otherwise "in business" with the Harrises), at the only inn (the Hilton); the locals have no tolerance for "people who come to waste their time" or "people snooping around". The Harris clan doesn't trust the People's Army (due to memories of the War); a watch is kept on the road leading over the Coast Range to Newport. Porter Harris is the current Mayor (the title of the oldest capable member of the Harris clan); he's a very old man, who remembers stories about the Communist Invasion. There are five households or sub-clans or something -- team R54 isn't sure how the Harris family is organized internally. If you're not teaching or studying at OSU, or not a member of the Harris family, you're pretty much treated as a peasant. The city controls an area of about 35 square kilometers round about (including a couple of villages); the population is 1050 (including the 80 members of the Harris clan), plus the OSU students. There have been at least half-a-dozen major floods since the Atomic War -- except for the areas inside the University levees, the ground level has risen about a meter in 150 years. The Willamette River has gradually cut its banks westward, swallowing a block or two of the old downtown area.

    • Oregon State University:  the University has been continuously active since the War -- although for much of the 21st Century the staff performed only maintenance and security functions, like building the levee. The story of the preservation of many facilities, the relationship of the university with the Harris clan, and the return of a teaching function about 40 years ago will have to wait. The university operates a hospital on campus, one of two in the Valley. About 130 persons graduate each year, of which a dozen or so were in medical fields (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists mostly), twenty or thirty studied to become teachers, and most of the rest had what 20th Century people might call a "high school education". There are less than 400 students, 25 faculty and 30 other staff members. The Director is Professor Ted Rogalski. They print a bi-weekly newsletter, circulation 200; and they have some CB radios.

    • The campus is about 1500 meters by 1000 meters, with a 6-meter high levee around it (and one internal levee). Three-quarters of the pre-Atomic War buildings are roofless ruins. Vegetable gardens, animal pens, and other self-sufficiency operations cover much of the open space. Dirt and fill for the levees is obtained from the ruins, or is brought in along the old railway line -- the University has two bottom-dump gondolas, and several flatcars and boxcars, plus a lot of non-serviceable rolling stock; trains are pulled by an old steam engine (a coal-burning Baldwin 2-8-2; it was on display in a city park from 1960, and now burns charcoal).

    • Keep in mind that OSU didn't have a medical department before the Atomic War; they did have a well-established College of Pharmacy and a small College of Veterinary Medicine.




     Formerly a United Combine ally in the Valley, but a faction of angry young men overthrew the previous leadership a few years ago, and installed a radical new baron. The inhabitants are farmers and hunters. The Young Men faction wants women -- badly -- and are negotiating with the Purity Corp about this. Raids on nearby communities haven't endeared the Jeffersonians to other Valley inhabitants. Population 900.

     In April of 2140, Baron Pierce and his immediate followers were killed or driven out by the Newtown military; Lady Elizabeth is the new ruler, and apparently an improvement over Pierce (not hard). Jefferson is now a "colony" of Newtown; some residents are moving between the two towns.




     Heavy snow, radioactive fallout, raids from Salem, and floods all drove the inhabitants of this city away; it was probably uninhabited and mostly in ruins by 2030.




     A lumber mill and logging town, politically part of Oregon City. It's at the end of the 15 kilometer rail line; population, 250.




     The 600 kiloton airburst left this town in ruins; the survivors scattered to small towns in the surrounding area. The actual target of the attack, a steel recycling mill, is surrounded by acres and acres of blasted, rusted mountains of cars and scrap metal. 


Mount Angel Abbey


    Located on Lone Butte, this monastic community acts as a Catholic seminary, a grade school and high school, a winery, and as a support base for a small force of mercenaries.


Mount Angel Abbey

     This Benedictine monastery was established in 1884 -- long before the Atomic War. It stands atop Lone Butte, 147 meters above the general level of the Willamette Valley plain. Most of the surviving original structures were constructed of red brick and black basalt, in the Romanesque style; post-Atomic War structures are similarly sturdy, and tend to be placed to form a complete curtain wall around the top of the butte.

     Abbot Paul is the 22nd abbot, and leads a community of 300 monks; the abbot usually serves for life, and is elected by the monks. They train Catholics to be priests and missionaries, and also operate a boarding school for Catholic boys ages 6 to 18. About 150 boys are enrolled at the boarding school.

     The slopes of the hill, and the land for almost a kilometer around, are covered by vineyards.

     Unusually, there is a military unit based here -- the Engelberg Company, a unit of 40 well-trained, well-equipped monks. Their equipment is at the "Oregon City" level -- their normal small arms are rolling-block single-shot rifles -- and in fact was mostly made there. They have at least one scrap tank, a couple of "technical" armored cars, and a few simple cannons -- probably only one leaves the Abbey at a time. They cost the Abbey $2 per day to deploy (with no conflict), so hiring the whole company costs at least $80 per day -- getting them for $100 per day means the Abbot likes you! The company is commanded by Brother Luke; Brother Mark is the usual "sales and marketing" officer, herald, envoy, etc.

     The abbey's best vintages sell for $6 per bottle (1.5 pints), though their basic stuff goes for half of that. Most are red wines, derived from syrah grapes; the Abbey's white wines are well-known in the Northwest. .




Oregon City




     This town is the focus of a small feudal territory, between the Willamette River and Interstate 5, about 200 square kilometers in area, occupied by 7000 people in 18 small towns (average 3 km separation). Wheat and barley farming is a major activity. The town of Peoria itself has 400 residents; it's about 8 kilometers west of Interstate 5, and is surrounded by a wooden palisade; there is an ancient (very ancient) water-powered gristmill. The territory is ruled by the hereditary Sheriff, Jim Palmer; he appoints 17 semi-hereditary Deputies to govern the 17 other villages. Most of the villages have a Vice Deputy to assist the Deputy, plus a Ranger to walk the boundaries and round up straying livestock. There's a militia (the Minutemen) composed of every male above the age of 10 years; this high level of military training is due to raids from Jefferson and Salem. Peoria is nominally part of the United Combine, and there's usually a Regulator present. Once a month a newspaper (4 pages) is distributed, circulation 1000. This town was known before the War as Shedd.




     Beside the nuclear attack in 1989, the state capital suffered from almost two decades of tyranny under the former inmates of the Oregon State Penitentiary. The prison wasn't directly affected much by the attack, and the prisoners soon took control of the remaining parts of the city, launching raids on neighboring communities to obtain supplies. Heavy flooding around 2020 left the city almost unrecognizable; three years later the former penitentiary burned down. The whole area is now overgrown ruins, with a few scavengers at times, and some highway raiders.




     Another shantytown, not allied with any of the larger factions. It's a shady haven for independent-minded folks and criminals. In fact, the town is a seedy den of thieves and cutthroats, ruled by the most powerful gang. The traditional title of the town's ruler is "sheriff"; the current sheriff is Goran Sawblade. He and his gang demand a monthly payment from each resident; if you don't pay, you are ejected from the town (if you're lucky). Goran claims to hold his position by right of being the "greatest warrior", and will allow challengers to meet him in the Justice Pits -- but it's likely he will do what he can to edge the odds in his own favor. Population 700.




     The Valley was contacted by the United Combine a few decades ago, and about half of the communities now belong to the Combine. Only a few are hostile to the Combine. There are nearly 900 "regular" soldiers in the valley, and over 4,000 members of various militias.


Equipment and Resources


     Oregon City produces muzzle-loading cannons and muskets, and repair parts for the simpler sorts of older weapons. Black powder and bullets are produced, also, but cartridges and more sophisticated weapons are imported by the River Folk, apparently from Idaho or Montana.

     Salvaged "modern" weapons are not uncommon in the hands of leaders or wealthy persons; magazines and ammunition are hard to come by, however. Black powder cap-and-ball weapons are common in the better militias and the most capable highwaymen gangs. Smaller or less well-funded towns or bandits make do with crossbows, bows and melee weapons.


Radios and Telephones


     Some folks in the Willamette Valley use crystal radios to monitor CB radio transmissions, since they're much cheaper than a CB and don't require any electrical power. It's only useful if you know when the CB will be transmitting, of course.
      CB radios are brought in by the River Folk once or twice a year, from sources ultimately in the Cartel areas (like Styx), and sell for at least $200 each here in the Lost Paradise. That cost doesn't include whatever electrical power supply is to be used. The Harris clan has a few CB radios, including a "base station" at Corvallis, and some on boats; the Oregon City militia and government own a few, and the River Folk on the Columbia River use CB a fair amount. Other CB base stations in the Valley:  Mount Angel Abbey, Liberal,  and Doctor House.
      Oregon City is connected by telephone to Leland, Liberal, and a few other communities within a couple of miles.

Hydroelectric Plants


     While these have not been surveyed by the Project, they might be useful. From south (near Eugene-Springfield) to north (near Oregon City) in the Cascade Range they are:


  • Lookout Point Dam (completed 1953, 120 MW)

  • Foster Dam (completed 1968, 20 MW)

  • Detroit Dam (completed 1953, 100 MW)

  • Oak Grove Powerhouse (completed 1922, 44 MW)

  • Mill River Dam (completed 1911, 23 MW):  provides drinking water for Oregon City, but the generators are not currently in service. There were several other dams further upstream on the Clackamas River, but they've been mostly destroyed by heavy flooding, etc. since the Atomic War.


     And finally, at Oregon City:  the T. W. Sullivan Plant was online transmitting electricity throughout the region from December 1, 1895, almost one year before power was tapped at Niagara Falls for transmission and distribution to Buffalo, New York.  The T. W. Sullivan plant was the first major long distance hydroelectric power plant for commercial transmission and distribution of current in the United States (and is still in operation as of 2014). The dam provides a head of 12 meters. Power capacity:  16 megawatts back in 1989, from 13 turbines installed in 1953. The various paper mills also had their own hydroelectric generators, probably contributing another megawatt or so. By 2139, generating capacity is down a bit, probably a total of 5 or 10 megawatts (still pretty good for a facility nearly 250 years old). The Harris clan claims ownership of the locks, dam and generators.

     Communities with electrical power distributed to individual shops or homes are:

  • Oregon City, and some of the towns they control (Leland and Liberal)

  • Corvallis/OSU

  • Newtown (only in the last few weeks)

  • Doctor House

  • Mount Angel Abbey (well, within a large building)




     Oregon City has a few railway locomotives and trucks, powered by methanol or gasogen engines, plus two steam engines (a 2-8-0 built in Germany in 1904 for  Russia, and a Baldwin 2-6-0 built in 1902 for the Southern Pacific). There are also a couple of "scrap tanks" at Oregon City, built by the machinists' guilds as donations "for the common defense". The Harris clan has quite a few motor and steam vessels on the river, purchased from the River Folk. They are known to sabotage or sometimes just flat-out attack "foreign" watercraft on the Willamette.

     A typical "lord of the manor" in the Valley will have some sort of lightly-armored motor vehicle, to dominate the peasants with.

     Transport otherwise in the valley is on horseback, or by wagons pulled by horses or mules, or by motorboats in the Willamette and its tributaries.





Comments (1)

Kirk said

at 7:28 pm on May 27, 2013

Do my eyes deceive me or is that really Rickroll Castle?

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