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The Lure of the North Woods

The Lure of the North Woods: Cultivating Tourism in the Upper Midwest

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The Lure of the North Woods
    Book Description:

    In the late nineteenth century, the North Woods offered people little in the way of a pleasant escape. Rather, it was a hub of production supplying industrial America with vast quantities of lumber and mineral ore. This book tells the story of how northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula became a tourist paradise, turning a scarred countryside into the playground we know today.

    Stripped of much of its timber and ore by the early 1900s, the North Woods experienced deindustrialization earlier than the Rust Belt cities that consumed its resources. InThe Lure of the North Woods, Aaron Shapiro describes how residents and visitors reshaped the region from a landscape of exploitation to a vacationland. The rejuvenating North Woods profited in new ways by drawing on emerging connections between the urban and the rural, including improved transportation, promotion, recreational land use, and conservation initiatives. Shapiro demonstrates how this transformation helps explain the interwar origins of modern American environmentalism, when both the consumption of nature for pleasure and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the North Woods and elsewhere led many Americans to cultivate a fresh perspective on the outdoors. At a time when travel and recreation are considered major economic forces,The Lure of the North Woodsreveals how leisure-and tourism in particular-has shaped modern America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8865-4
    Subjects: Business, History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: A North Woods Transformation
    (pp. xi-xx)

    For centuries, Ojibwe people enjoyed dense green forests, abundant wildlife, and waters teeming with fish on land that the United States later labeled northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. By the end of the nineteenth century, mining and logging had stripped this land of much of its natural wealth and splendor. Today, it is again recognized for its forests and lakes as well as its history of extractive industry that attracted immigrants and capital to the region. For many residents and visitors, it offers a natural paradise with more wildlife than people. While Ojibwe continue to call this...

  5. CHAPTER 1 A Crop Worth Cultivating: Creating the North Woods
    (pp. 1-42)

    Depicting a farmer holding a hoe with “publicity” emblazoned on the bottom, looking at a bush full of moneybags denoting $450 million in tourist expenditures since World War I, a 1920s cartoon captured tourism’s growing impact on Minnesota’s economy, people, and landscape. Beside the farmer is a watering can with “hospitality” in prominent letters and a scarecrow telling him, “Seems to me this is one crop worth cultivating.” During the interwar years, residents and organizations across the North Woods, some avidly and others reluctantly, helped tourism replace farming as the crop to cultivate. The lingual link to agriculture was no...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Tourists Do Not Deplete Our Soil: Interwar Land Conservation
    (pp. 43-72)

    In 1920, author, professor, and Michigan Land Economic Survey organizer Parrish Lovejoy arrived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he marveled at the devastation of “brushy wastes of scrub, fire-weed forests, bleached snags and charred stumps” as well as the potential of Michigan’s northern lands.¹ The lumberman’s ax had cleared land and left stumps, but Lovejoy viewed reforestation as a possibility through appropriate forestry and conservation measures. His travels led to a series of articles inCountry Gentlemancapturing conditions in the Upper Peninsula, and he concluded, as many settlers realized, that “very large areas of the cut-over lands are not...

  7. CHAPTER 3 No Dull Days at Dunn’s: Labor and Leisure in the North Woods
    (pp. 73-120)

    Between the world wars, North Woods resorts, lodges, housekeeping cabins, tourist camps, and state parks attracted growing numbers of vacationers seeking respite in natural surroundings. With more Americans receiving time off from work, proprietors and employees helped shape a new regional tourist identity and landscape with help from vacationers. In the 1920s, companies offered paid vacations to increase productivity while decreasing turnover and absenteeism. Such benefits rarely extended to workers in industries like mining and logging, but their urban counterparts fared better. Ascribing to the principles of welfare capitalism, some companies established vacation savings clubs for workers through payroll deductions...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Tell the World about Your Charms: The Promotional Appeal
    (pp. 121-152)

    Whether reciting poems on the Upper Peninsula, pulling out a map while driving and looking for directions to Minnesota’s Arrowhead, or sitting at home reading about northern Wisconsin’s lakes, vacationers encountered an array of promotional materials designed to lure them north during the interwar years. This literature linked urban and rural worlds, offering an image of the region as a rejuvenating and rustic escape from daily life filled with scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Potential vacationers inquired of resort owners and tourist associations after reading about outdoor splendor in regional and state publications like the UP’sLure Book, Minnesota’sRecreation...

  9. CHAPTER 5 You’ve Earned It—Now Enjoy It: Playing in the Postwar Era
    (pp. 153-190)

    Born in Ely, Minnesota, in 1917, Bill Rom was the youngest of nine children of Slovenian immigrants. After graduating from high school in 1935, he attended Ely Junior College before enrolling at the University of Minnesota and majoring in wildlife management. Rom secured a summer position with the U.S. Forest Service through Sigurd Olson, who served as dean of Ely Junior College and found jobs for students in Minnesota’s boundary waters. The $22 weekly salary provided Rom college funds, while the experience and relationships developed during summers in the forest fostered an intimate knowledge of the canoe country.¹

    After graduating...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Not So Quiet Crisis: Tourism, Wilderness, and Regional Development
    (pp. 191-218)

    In 1962, one year after the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission’s (ORRRC)A Progress Report to the President and to the Congressclaimed, “As our open spaces are bulldozed or paved and our accessible lakes and streams deteriorate from pollution, there is that much less for outdoor recreation,” President John F. Kennedy received a letter from a seven-year-old boy concerned about no longer having a place to play because the woods surrounding his home had vanished for new subdivisions. The scope of the outdoor recreation crisis had clearly expanded since 1924, when President Calvin Coolidge informed the National Conference on...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 219-222)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 223-264)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-290)
  14. Index
    (pp. 291-298)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 299-300)
  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 301-308)