The View From Vermont: Tourism and the Making of an American Rural Landscape

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With its small native population, proximity to major metropolitan areas, and bucolic rural beauty, Vermont was fated to be a tourist mecca, forever associated in the popular imagination with maple syrup, fall colors, and ski bunnies. Tourism, for good and ill, has always been the decisive factor in the conception of rural Vermont. What is surprising, however, is the degree to which we have accepted this notion of rural Vermont as a somehow timeless entity. Blake Harrison’s rich and rewarding study instead presents the construction of Vermont’s landscape as a complex and ever-changing dynamic informed by progressive, modernist, and reformist thought, competing views of economic expansion, rural and urban prejudice and social exclusion, and (more recently) by land use planning and environmentalism. This broad-based study includes the early history of Vermont tourism, the concomitant abandonment of farms with the rise of the summer home, the creation of an “unspoiled” Vermont (from billboards, at least), the impact of Vermont’s ski industry on tradition-bound tourism, and later efforts to legislate growth and protect an increasingly static ideal of a rural Vermont.

While grounded within a specific Vermont view, Harrison has much to contribute to broader studies of rural places, tourism, and landscapes in American culture. His analysis of how physical landscapes affect and are affected by our imagined landscape, and the insight afforded by his juxtaposition of leisure and labor, will deeply inform our understanding of rural tourist landscapes for years to come. This is a truly interdisciplinary work that will satisfy and challenge historians and geographers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" . . . a provocative discussion."—Boston Globe

"Blake Harrison's The View from Vermont is a scholarly work that transcends the world of academe. Deeply researched, befitting its doctoral-dissertation origins, the book is clearly written and should be of interest to anyone who would like to consider seriously the rural world that beckons them from their urban workplaces and suburban residences."—Journal of American Culture

"Through thoughtfully selected stories, Harrison combines sound scholarship and lively prose to illustrate tourism's central role in the 'reworking' of the rural landscape. Ultimately, as Harrison ably argues, it is naive to separate landscapes of work and landscapes of leisure, for the two are interdependent. The View from Vermont should be valuable to geographers interested in cultural landscapes and tourism studies."—Journal of Cultural Geography

"Harrison has written an interesting and provocative book. He details Vermont's allure from the nineteenth century, when it offered extended farm boarding, to the building of large hotels and lodges, to its popularity as a site for automobile vacations in summer and, more recently, for winter homes. He also depicts how tourism agents strove to spread Vermont's attractions across the seasons: from summer relaxation, to fall foliage touring, to spring maple syrup gathering, to winter sports." —New England Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584655916
  • Publisher: Vermont
  • Publication date: 12/29/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

BLAKE HARRISON holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and has taught courses on the human geography of New England and North America at Montana State University, Yale University, and Quinnipiac University. He currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Tourism and the Reworking of Rural Vermont
Two Worlds of Work: Nostalgia and Progress in Turn-of-the-Century Vermont
Abandonment and Resettlement: The Promises and Threats of Summer Homes
Accessing the Rural Landscape: Driving, Hiking, and the Making of Unspoiled Vermont
The Four-Season State: Creating a New Seasonal Cycle
New Paces for Old Places: Vermont’s Mid-Century Ski Landscape
Balancing the Rural: Planning, Legislation, and the Search for Control
Epilogue: The View from Vermont
Selected Bibliography

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