This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains

Overview

This is the complex story of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, from the range’s days as the majestic homeland of the Abenaki, first seen by English colonists four centuries ago, to its unassailable standing today as one of America’s most beloved national forests, comprising 112,000 acres of protected wilderness.

Christopher Johnson, an avid hiker intimately familiar with the White Mountains, achieves two important objectives in This Grand and Magnificent Place. He lovingly ...

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niversity of New Hampshire Press 2007 Hardcover First Edition. 336 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Brand new book. NEW HAMPSHIRE. A sweeping environmental history of a ... quintessential American wilderness. This is the complex story of New Hampshire's White Mountains, from the range's days as the majestic homeland of the Abenaki, first seen by English colonists four centuries ago, to its unassailable standing today as one of America's most beloved national forests, comprising 112, 000 acres of protected wilderness. Christopher Johnson, an avid hiker intimately familiar with the White Mountains, achieves two important objectives in This Grand and Magnificent Place. He lovingly explores their rich ecological, political, economic, and cultural history and, more broadly, opens a panoramic window on the evolution of American attitudes and policies toward wilderness over time. Two competing visions of wilderness historically have coexisted in America: the instrumental, in which the wilderness is seen as a conglo Read more Show Less

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Overview

This is the complex story of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, from the range’s days as the majestic homeland of the Abenaki, first seen by English colonists four centuries ago, to its unassailable standing today as one of America’s most beloved national forests, comprising 112,000 acres of protected wilderness.

Christopher Johnson, an avid hiker intimately familiar with the White Mountains, achieves two important objectives in This Grand and Magnificent Place. He lovingly explores their rich ecological, political, economic, and cultural history and, more broadly, opens a panoramic window on the evolution of American attitudes and policies toward wilderness over time.

Two competing visions of wilderness historically have coexisted in America: the instrumental, in which the wilderness is seen as a conglomeration of resources to be exploited for the benefit of entrepreneurs and consumers, and the aesthetic, in which the wilderness is appreciated for its natural beauty, the personal growth that it stimulates, the national pride it engenders, and the spiritual truth it offers. Johnson never loses sight of this fundamental dichotomy as he shares marvelous true tales of the first intrepid European settlers who “tamed” the Whites. He discusses Ethan Allen Crawford, the area’s first innkeeper, the emergence of tourism, and America’s love affair with the “wilderness experience”; and he explores tales of Thomas Cole, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other renowned artists who immortalized these mountains in their works. He considers the coming of grand resort hotels—and the contemporaneous wilderness revival—in the late nineteenth century and the passing of the landmark 1911 Weeks Act, which was instrumental in preserving American wilderness in the face of development and threats of irreparable environmental damage. Johnson traces the perilous course of the twentieth-century movement toward wilderness preservation, which has successfully conserved the Whites, an extraordinary American treasure, for future generations. Finally, he poses thoughtful and essential questions regarding the destiny of this American wilderness, exploring the balance between maintaining its usefulness while conserving its glorious heritage.

This skillful and accessible history will rivet general readers, students, and professionals interested in the history, culture, and politics of the White Mountains, as well as those fascinated by environmental history and wilderness protection everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book tells the story of the changing relationship between humans and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, beginning with the Abenaki people in the 1600s, who regarded it as their homeland... Filled with intriguing historical detail and vivid characters, this book is an informative and fascinating read.”—Northeastern Naturalist

"Delightful reading."—Milford (NH) Cabinet

"Johnson's chronology covers much familiar territory, but he also brings actors to the stage who are often neglected in conservation history, particularly hikers. His discussion of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century female hikers is a fascinating and overlooked part of our history. Johnson enlivens his story by weaving personal biographies into the narrative." —New England Quarterly

"Brilliantly insightful and a painstakingly researched book."—Appalachia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584654612
  • Publisher: University of New Hampshire Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Series: Revisiting New England
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON has worked in the textbook-publishing industry for many years, specializing in language arts and social studies. He holds an M.A. in English from Northwestern University and is the author of numerous articles on education and on the environment.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Exploring and Settling the White Mountain Wilderness, 1600–1820
Abenaki Homeland, European Wilderness, and Early Exploration
First Settlers and the Taming of the Wilderness
Transforming Attitudes toward Wilderness, 1820-1900
Ethan Allen Crawford and the Wilderness Experience
The Artist Who Redeemed the Wilderness
Writers and the Search for Meaning in Wilderness
White Mountain Art and the Domestication of Wilderness
The Resort Hotels: Luxury at the Edge of Wilderness
Hiking Clubs and a Wilderness Renaissance
New Policies toward Wilderness, 1900-2005
The Weeks Act and Its Impact
Outdoor Recreation and the Birth of a Wilderness Constituency
Toward Wilderness Preservation: The Development of a Philosophy
Preserving the White Mountain Wilderness
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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