News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

New book takes readers 'Around Sisters'

The history of Sisters is newly on display in a hot-off-the-press addition to the prestigious Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series.

Author Sharon Karr will present "Around Sisters" at an event at Paulina Springs Books on Thursday, June 20, at 6:30 p.m.

Karr credits Central Oregon historian Steve Lent, former official historian of the Bowman Museum in Prineville, with providing the impetus for the book. Lent has written several regional titles for the series.

"We talked and he kind of mentored me through the proposal process," Karr said.

"Images of America," as the title suggests, is photo-intensive, with the images driving the narrative, assisted by captions of 75 to 100 words.

"What I love about the series is they appeal to people who are not necessarily book readers - but they can learn a little bit about Sisters," Karr said.

The book starts with the founding of Camp Polk and moves through the logging and ranching history of Sisters Country.

Geographically, Sisters encompassed communities now long gone - Cloverdale, Gist, and Plainview. These small communities depended on Sisters for mail, supplies, groceries, and other services. The development of Black Butte Ranch and the Metolius recreation area contributed to creating today's tourism hub. By stepping back in time, the reader can explore the past of ranching and irrigation and trace the logging, rodeo, and recreation history of those who came before today's travelers and tourists.

While Karr acknowledges that the book was "a lot of work," she enjoyed the research. Karr majored in history at the University of Oregon, and is a retired technical writer.

"One of my favorite places is sitting in a historical society and digging through their files," she said.

Three Sisters Historical Society has hundreds of photos, but sometimes she had to hunt for originals of a high enough quality for publication. Individuals like Bill Willitts and Floyd Leithauser also provided photographs.

"For such a small town, the history is so rich," Karr said.

She noted that she found family connections of her own in the research.

"Those were the biggest surprises - finding my connections," she said.

Karr said that her only real regret with the book is that it could not include Native American history, a history that we don't know very well." 

She noted that "all the old roads followed Native American trails."

Karr said it was a bit challenging to include the contributions of women, which were not necessarily documented in pictures.

"One that was hard was getting women to fit into the history, because the pictures are almost all men," she said.

Karr said that her talk will cover the material in the book, but also include much that didn't make it into the book, elaborating on some aspects that could not be explored in limited caption space.

"Then I talk about, how did this become a community," she said.

Paulina Springs Books is located at 252 W. Hood Ave.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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