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

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9780816677924: The Lure of the North Woods: Cultivating Tourism in the Upper Midwest


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. In The 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 Woods reveals how leisure—and tourism in particular—has shaped modern America.

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About the Author:


Aaron Shapiro, a Chicago native and North Woods visitor since his youth, is assistant professor of history at Auburn University. He previously served as national historian for the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C., and as assistant director of the Scholl Center for Family and Community History at Chicago’s Newberry Library.

Review:

"The Lure of the North Woods is likely to become the definitive history of tourism in the twentieth century Midwest, and a landmark in the history of modern tourism in the United States. Prodigiously researched and engagingly written, this book interweaves the stories of environmental pioneers, governmental officials, tourist promoters, and property owners whose efforts created a vacation playground in the North Woods." —Susan Sessions Rugh, author of Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations


"When someone from the Midwest says they are going on vacation ‘Up North,’ they mean the North Woods—the forests and lakes of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But as Aaron Shapiro shows in this insightful book, the region has not always been a tourists’ paradise. Shapiro demonstrates how the recreational needs of tourists, the economic needs of resort owners, and the organizational needs of experts converged to create one of the Midwest’s most cherished landscapes, exploring the intertwined roles of work and leisure, nature and culture, place and identity." —Jim Feldman, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

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