Book Review: Overlook

This “believe-it-or-not” volume ends with the CLUI’s Federaland interpretive district in Wendover, Utah. Located where the ranching and mining activities of northeastern Nevada merge with the proving grounds and practice ranges of northwestern Utah, the community divides the very conservative Mormon state of Utah from the 24/7 liquor, gambling, and legal prostitution available in Nevada. A former railroad town and an airfield now reduced to a cluster of trailers occupy the Utah side of Wendover, while West Wendover in Nevada, which has five casinos that employs 80 percent of the population, describes itself as “On the Edge.”

The buildings have the utilitarian character of many of those in the military and industrial complexes described in the book. Photographs and self-guided tour materials for the surrounding area and the broader Great Basin area can be seen and used in the exhibit halls.

Interpretive materials displayed in the Wendover Exhibit Hall

The Center houses the Wendover Residence Program, which welcomes people from all over the world who want to inhabit, investigate, and learn to interpret the environment. Thus the Center is both a destination and a point of departure from which to search for those overlooks that furnish a wider view.

Except for the image of the Shasta Dam under construction on Page 3, the photographs in this review were taken by volunteer members of the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

8 Responses

  1. Barbara Seaton says:

    You help keep me wide-eyed.

  2. J. Ware says:

    I read with great interest your book review of Overlook. The American Landscape or rather how we as Americans have chosen to deal with it has always fascinated me. This is a little off topic, but as a civil engineer I am always amazed at the audacity that we have to make such grand interventions on the land – civil indeed. I know civil or civil works came about as contrasted to a war or defense engineer, but in our modern age our intentions and their impacts need to be constantly questioned and fully understood.

  3. Thank you for mentioning the Museum of Jurassic Technology! I was tempted to write about it, because it is next door to the CLUI in Culver City. But it has a different agenda and merits a post of its own.

    Those who don’t know about this unique public institution, may go to the Wikipedia website for a detailed history and look at other websites to read the visitors’ reviews.


  4. Thank you for mentioning the Museum of Jurassic Technology! I was tempted to write about it, because it is next door to the CLUI in Culver City. But it has a different agenda and merits a post of its own. If you want to learn more about this unique public institution, Go to its website and read the visitors’ reviews.


  5. L. Ogden says:

    Fascinating! Did you consider mentioning another “treasure trove of the little known”, CLUI’s neighbor in Los Angeles (Culver City), the Museum of Jurassic Technology?

  6. My thanks to Dan Gregory and Jay Claiborne for comments that extend the scope of my review by directing attention to other writers who have looked at our land with discerning eyes and written books worth re-reading.


  7. Great review that I almost wish I hadn’t read because I now want the book and the monk’s shelf says, so now who has to go. Don’t worry Jackson, Banham, McPhee, Pollen, Papa Lynch, you juar may have a new friend. This review made me pull a lesser known work on that shelf called Topophilia by Yi-Fu Tuan which I continue to re-read for the insights she provides on the interaction between the physical world, culture and biology. Overlook seems to illustrate what Yi-Fu Tuan explains so clearly.
    Once again, Sally, you have gotten me into trouble. I want it.

  8. Wow, Sally — this is the greatest eye-opener of a review and I can’t wait to get the book! The Overlook project brings to mind the interpretive landscape writings of J. B. Jackson, Reyner Banham, and John McPhee. Fascinating to learn about the design esthetic of “show caves”; “drowned towns”; and “sit sim villages” developed for training exercises. I love the sign that says “Absolutely Nothing Next 22 Miles”. There is everything in this subject. Bravo!

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