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Book Review Q12-1

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Gunnar Damström

In his eleventh documentary book, Guld och Röda Skogar (Gold and Red Forests), K-G Olin takes his readers on a journey to the mythical California gold fields and the gigantic redwood forests. The story begins with the discovery of large gold deposits in California in the mid-19th century which led to the migratory movement to this previously remote and forgotten corner of the world. An estimated two hundred Finns participated in the Gold Rush; Olin identifies most of them.

Another pivotal point in the book is the life in the redwood forests in Northern California. The Finns played important roles in the forest industry. There have been claims that the redwood forest would have never been exploited had it not been for the Finns.

Olin also covers immigrant life in the greater San Francisco area around the turn of the century 1900, and the big earthquake of 1906 that destroyed large parts of the city. Olin concludes there is no evidence that the catastrophe claimed Finnish lives. However, the church that the Finns had built with voluntary labor was totally destroyed in the catastrophe. Inauguration of the church had been planned for a date two weeks after the earthquake.

The book also tells about settlers in the Reedley and Bakersfield areas.

Guld och Röda Skogar is 485 pages and includes a table of names and short notes about the 15,000 or so Finns who immigrated to California. The publisher is Olin's own Olimex in Jakobstad. The book can be purchased from the SFHS Seattle office or you can visit Olin's home page: [[1]]

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