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America in the 1970s: The Pacific Northwest

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Day 5 of Documerica Week on In Focus, featuring regions of the U.S. covered by the photographers of the Documerica Project in the early 1970s. In our final photo essay, we visit the northwestern states of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, during a heightened energy crisis that left gas pumps empty and frustrated businesses and residents. Construction of the massive Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline was about to take place, and Spokane, Washington was preparing for its debut on the world stage, building the site of Expo '74, the first environmentally themed world's fair. The Documerica Project was put together by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1971, with a primary goal of documenting adverse effects of modern life on the environment, but photographers were also encouraged to record the daily life of ordinary people, capturing a broad snapshot of America. Be sure to see the whole series: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. [30 photos]

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Looking east along Alaska's Glen Highway, toward Mount Drum (Elevation 12,002 Feet) at the intersection of the highway and the under-construction Trans-Alaska Pipeline in August 1974. The 48-inch diameter pipeline will cross the roadway between the two vehicles. The exact point is marked by a pair of wooden stakes along the right shoulder at Mile 673. (Dennis Cowals/National Archives and Records Administration)
Looking east along Alaska's Glen Highway, toward Mount Drum (Elevation 12,002 Feet) at the intersection of the highway and the under-construction Trans-Alaska Pipeline in August 1974. The 48-inch diameter pipeline will cross the roadway between the two vehicles. The exact point is marked by a pair of wooden stakes along the right shoulder at Mile 673. (Dennis Cowals/National Archives and Records Administration)
Alki Beach on Puget Sound, a favorite resort for residents of Seattle. A child plays at the water's edge while his mother and a friend fish and dig for clams. In background is the Olympic Mountain Range, May 1973. (Doug Wilson/NARA) #
The City of Seattle and Interstate Highway 5, with Elliott Bay at right, seen in June of 1973. (Doug Wilson/NARA) #
At the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, May 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Threshing at Pearson Field, Vancouver, Washington, Goodyear Blimp in background, June 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Downtown Spokane, Washington, construction on the future site of Expo '74, on the Spokane River, May 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Left: Demolition and clearing in downtown Spokane, Washington, one year before opening day of Expo '74, May 1973. Right: The Lake Washington Ship Canal system, Seattle, Washington, at sunset, in March of 1973. In the foreground, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge crosses Lake Washington, at center is the channel joining Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound (background). (David Falconer/Doug Wilson/NARA) #
Port of Seattle freight handling equipment and city skyline, an industrial waste barge under tow to landfill on the Snohomish River estuary. (Doug Wilson/NARA) #
Larrabee State Park, near Bellingham, Washington, May, 1973. (Doug Wilson/NARA) #
Looking down Southwest Broadway in Portland, Oregon during the energy crisis shows limited lighting on a misty evening, December 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
The gas shortage in the Pacific Northwest during December 1973 had even suited businessmen hitch-hiking in places like Beaverton, Oregon. (David Falconer/NARA) #
The country's fuel shortage led to problems for motorists in finding gas as well as paying much more for it, and resulted in theft from cars left unprotected. This Portland father and son made a sign warning thieves of the possible consequences, April 1974. (David Falconer/NARA) #
"Oregon's Rain Forest" park, Coos Bay, Oregon, September 1972. (Gene Daniels/NARA) #
Mount Rainer and Tacoma's industrial waterfront, in Washington State, in April of 1973. (Doug Wilson/NARA) #
The town of Cathlamet, Washington, on the Columbia River, boasted a population of 656 in May 1973. Today the population is listed as 534. (David Falconer/NARA) #
While spectators gather, a 22-pound silver salmon, caught by this Columbia River sports fisherman, is brought ashore, April 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Weyerhauser paper mills and Reynolds Metal Plant are both located in Longview, Washington, on the Columbia River, April 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Fishing craft crowd the Columbia River between Vancouver, Washington, and the Dalles, Oregon. In the background is Mt. Hood, May 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Gas station attendants peer over their "Out of Gas" sign in Portland, one day before the state's requested Saturday closure of gasoline stations, November 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
School children were forced to use their bicycles on field trips during the fuel crisis in the winter of 1974. There was not enough gasoline for school buses to be used for extracurricular activities, even during dark and rainy weather. (David Falconer/NARA) #
"Turn Off the Damn Lights" sticker in a Portland business office, October 1973. The slogan was displayed widely, showing the seriousness of the energy situation in Oregon during the fall of 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Horses in a pasture in front of the home of Jerri Fisher. He lives in the countryside near Poulsbo. Beyond the white house is his "second generation" home, in an area which will be affected by population growth when the Navy's proposed Trident submarine base is built nearby, October 1974. (NARA) #
Children play in the yard of a Ruston, Washington home, while a Tacoma Smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue, August, 1972. (Gene Daniels/NARA) #
At the Thunderbird Motel, one of many new businesses that have sprung up along the banks of the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. In the background is the interstate bridge, May 1973. (David Falconer/NARA) #
Photographer Dennis Cowals traveled to Alaska to document the landscape as construction on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline had just begun. Here, a caribou crosses a gravel roadway near Mile 0, northern Alaska, August 1973. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
Five Mile Camp, a pipeline construction camp named for its location five miles north of the Yukon River, Alaska, August 1974. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
The Alaska Ferry M/V Bartlett, heading west across Prince William Sound, Alaska. Columbia Glacier appears in the background, August 1974. In the 40 years since this photo was taken, Columbia Glacier has melted dramatically, retreating more than 10 miles back up the valley at upper left. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
A view west toward Worthington Glacier and Thompson Pass (Elevation 2,771 Feet), near Valdez, Alaska. Here the pipeline will parallel the Richardson Highway west of the roadway on a line that will place the pipeline between the snout of the glacier and the road. Mile 754-760, Alaska Pipeline Route, August 1974. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
A sea level view floating in Valdez Arm, looking southeast toward the terminal site. The construction camp is seen at the left with mobile living quarters awaiting placement at the right. mile 789, Alaska Pipeline Route, August 1974. The terminal, when completed, would have four berths for oil tankers to fill their holds, and 18 holding tanks, capable of storing 8.8 million barrels of crude oil. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
Having spent two hours creeping up on them, photographer Dennis Cowals prepares to take pictures of Dall Sheep as they come down toward the West Lick, one of two salt licks on either end of the Atigun Gorge, Alaska. This view looks south into the Brooks Range, August 1973. (Dennis Cowals/NARA) #
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