River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River (Hardcover)

The Story of the Carmel River

By Ray A. March

Bison Books, 9780803238343, 208pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2012



The thin ribbon of the Carmel River is just thirty-six miles long and no wider in most places than a child can throw a stone. It is the primary water supply for the ever-burgeoning presence of tourists, agriculture, and industry on California's Monterey Peninsula. It is also one of the top ten endangered rivers in North America. The river's story, which dramatically unfolds in this book, is an epic tale of exploitation, development, and often unwitting degradation reaching back to the first appearance of Europeans on the pristine peninsula.
River in Ruin is a precise weaving of water history--local and larger--and a natural, social, and environmental narrative of the Carmel River. Ray A. March traces the river's misuse from 1879 and details how ever more successful promotions of Monterey demanded more and more water, leading to one dam after another. As a result the river was disastrously depleted, cluttered with concrete rubble, and inhospitable to the fish prized by visitors and residents alike.
March's book is a cautionary tale about squandering precious water resources--about the ultimate cost of a ruined river and the slim but urgent hope of bringing it back to life.

About the Author

Ray A. March, the author of several nonfiction books, is a career journalist and cofounder and editor of the Modoc Independent News. He is also the cofounder of Modoc Forum, a nonprofit perpetuating an awareness of rural life through literature and the arts.

Praise For River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River

"Saturated with facts, March's account of this threatened river forces readers to reconsider water as a commodity that requires protection."—Kirkus Reviews

"In sharing its struggle so effectively, River in Ruin joins a stream of other exquisitely researched and vividly written books about collapsing western watersheds, works we ignore at our peril."—Colleen Mondor, Booklist 
-Colleen Mondor

"The Carmel River and its importance in providing water to the residents of the Monterey Peninsula is a topic all locals should be interested in. March does an excellent job of chronicling the ins and outs of how the river's role has changed over the years, just as its course has sometimes been altered by nature. This very readable and informative paperback is well worth reading."—Robert Walch, The Californian
-Robert Walch

“Painstakingly researched, this enlightening book by Ray March does westerners a considerable favor. We need more books like this. We need to understand how we created, and how to cure, the watershed chaos we currently inhabit.”—William Kittredge, author of A Hole in the Sky: A Memoir
-William Kittredge

“The story of a river, when best told, is the story of the region it succors, and Ray March has told that story with deep research, clarity of vision, and personal involvement. When it is told particularly well, as March has done, it is also the story of other rivers.”—Philip L. Fradkin, author of A River No More: The Colorado River and the West
-Philip L. Fradkin