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High country summers

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Title:
High country summers the emergence and development of the second home in Colorado, 1880-1940
Creator:
Shellenbarger, Melanie
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English
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xix, 441 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Second homes -- History -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Second homes ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
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History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 419-441).
General Note:
College of Architecture and Planning
Statement of Responsibility:
by Melanie Shellenbarger.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
255562125 ( OCLC )
ocn255562125
Classification:
LD1193.A735 2008d S44 ( lcc )

Full Text
HIGH COUNTRY SUMMERS:
THE EMERGENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE
SECOND HOME IN COLORADO, 1880 1940
by
Melanie Shellenbarger
B.A., St. Marys College, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1975
B.I.D., Interior Design Institute, Denver, Colorado, 1993
M.B.A, John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1981
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Design and Planning
2008


by Melanie Shellenbarger
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Melanie Shellenbarger
has been approved
by
4 A '
Date


Shellenbarger, Melanie (Ph.D., Design and Planning, College of Architecture and
Planning)
High Country Summers: The Emergence and Development of the Second Home in
Colorado, 1880- 1940
Thesis directed by Professor Mark Gelemter and Associate Professor Michael
Holleran
ABSTRACT
The construction of second homes in the Colorado mountains began in the late
nineteenth century in areas embraced first by tourists with an enthusiasm for outdoor
recreation and a desire to experience firsthand Americas celebrated wilderness areas.
Four locations are investigated: Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park; the
Roosevelt, Arapaho, and Pike National Forests; Lincoln Hills, an African-American
resort community; and the Denver Mountain Parks and foothills.
Second homes have been ignored as undifferentiated from the residential landscape or
overlooked as part of the tourist landscape. Yet they reside in neither realm.
Occupying a distinct place in the cultural landscapes of the Mountain West, the early
summer homes of Colorado represent, but also depart from, the typology of the villa,
with a coherence that arises from materials and construction techniques rather than
self-conscious attempts at regional design. Summer-home owners ceased to be
tourists, becoming stakeholders considerably more invested in the land and place.
One must drill down through layers of the mythic West, to a depth more nuanced, yet
alive with stories about place, individual identity and collective memory, and reunion
and retreat. Many came to Colorado seeking solitude, yet returned in quest of
camaraderie, creating communities characterized by a distinctive form of kinship that
ebbed and flowed with the seasons and the years. Episodic use of the summer home,
the meanings associated with it, and the rituals and intergenerational memories that
grew summer after summer contribute to the evolution of the second home as both
place and process; it was a dwelling and it was dwelling.
As strong barometers of cultural convention and societal values, Colorados early
summer homes serve as access points for examining a variety of ideas that inform our
lives even today: wilderness as history; the complexity and consequence of the
American West; the often artificial opposition of culture and nature; ideas of place


and home; divergent but remarkably reconcilable concepts of tradition and modernity;
and the ways in which recreation and leisure offer opportunities for individual agency
and invention.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates\thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed


DEDICATION
To my husband, Mark, the love of my life, without whom this truly would not have
been possible...
and to Rockwood without which this would not have been nearly as much fun.
For my mother and in memory of my father.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The Co-Chairs of my Committee were instrumental in both the successful launch and
exemplary landing of this research. Dean Mark Gelemter recruited me to the Ph.D.
Program and his support over the course of the program and through the dissertation
has been constant. Michael Holleran, now Associate Professor and Director of the
Graduate School of Historic Preservation at the University of Texas, was immediately
enthusiastic about the promise of undertaking research on second homes in Colorado.
I am appreciative of their keen insights and unceasing encouragement.
My committee members also have aided me both through their guidance in
coursework and in seeing this work through to its completion. With landscape
architectural historian Ann Komara I explored the theoretical underpinnings of
landscape architecture. Architectural historian Taisto Makela encouraged me to
write the problem. Geographer Brian Page guided me through my initial forays into
the cultural landscape perspectives that inform this work. Patricia Nelson Limerick,
Chair of the Center of the American West on the Boulder campus, facilitated the
Western focus, and with good humor and some sage advice helped me in
understanding and managing the process of writing a dissertation.
I have been most fortunate to have the enthusiastic and ongoing support of two
outstanding and talented academics outside of the University of Colorado: James H.
Pickering, Professor at the University of Houston, whose histories of Estes Park have
been indispensable and whose advice, chapter reviews, and encouragement have been
invaluable; and Modupe Labode, formerly Chief Historian at the Colorado Historical
Society and presently an Assistant Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University
in Indianapolis, whose generosity with her own research and ideas helped me get
started on Lincoln Hills and whose careful reading of the Lincoln Hills chapter helped
me finish it.
I would like to thank the librarians, archivists and staffs at the many institutions
whose collections made this research possible: the Colorado Historical Society, the
Denver Public Library Western History Collection, the Blair-Caldwell African
American Research Library, the Estes Park Public Library and Estes Park Museum,
the Boulder Public Library Carnegie Branch, the University of Colorado Denver
Auraria Library and Archives, the University of Colorado Boulder Norlin Library and
Archives, the Colorado State University Library and Archives, the University of
Denver Library, and other public and community libraries.


I am indebted to the staff at Rocky Mountain National Park, most particularly Cheri
Yost whose personal tours of extant summer homes, ongoing support, and careful
read of the dissertation were immensely helpful. I also would like to thank Bill Butler,
Larry Gamble, and Tim Burchett for their assistance, as well as Ferrel Atkins and
Don and Marilyn Irwin for their tales and tours of the William Allen White cabin.
There are many people in Estes Park to whom I owe special thanks. Sybil Barnes of
the Estes Park Public Library and McLaren Library at Rocky Mountain National
Park, was extremely helpful in getting this research started there. I would also like to
thank Becky Latanich at the Library; Betty Kilsdonk and Derek Fortini at the Estes
Park Museum and such enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers as Marty
Yochum-Casey and Jane Wright; and Joe Hladick for his insights on early
construction methods of summer homes in the Estes Park area. Thanks also to Bill
Sweet for his thoughts and photos on Tyroleme. Jack and Lulie Melton of the YMCA
of the Rockies were gracious with their time, archival materials, and tour of
Mountainside Lodge.
Without the assistance of the Region 2 U.S. Forest Service staffs in Lakewood,
Boulder, and Fort Collins, the research on the summer homes of the national forests
would have been difficult to complete. I would like to thank Sue Struthers, Nicole
Branton, Paul Alford, Cindy Dean, Jaime Oliva, Jeff Overturf, Matt Miller, and
especially Terri Liestman, whose willingness to share resources and information
while in the throes of the immense Inventory and Evaluation efforts currently
underway is truly appreciated. I also would like to thank Jamie Clapper of the
National Park Service for her assistance in the early stages of the recreation residence
research. Cheryl Oakes of the Forest History Society was immensely helpful in
gathering background information on recreation in the National Forests.
The Lincoln Hills research was given a significant assist by members of the James P.
Beckwourth Mountain Club. I am indebted to Cheryl Armstrong for getting me in
touch with any number of people, including Niccolo Casewit, and to both of them for
the tour of Winks Panorama Lodge. Gary Jackson, Beckwourth Mountain Club Board
member and great-grandson of cabin owner William Pitts, has been both helpful and
encouraging. I would like to thank Mark Foster, retired professor at the University of
Colorado Denver, for his early ideas and insights. I also appreciate the assistance of
Terry Nelson at the Blair-Caldwell African American research library; Ray Rears in
the Community Development Department and Cindy Johnson in the Office of the
Assessor at Gilpin County; journalist Linda Jones; surveyor Dave Waldner; and
Daniel Shosky at SWCA.


Much appreciation goes to John Steinle, Administrator of the Hiwan Homestead
Museum for his assistance with the research on the Denver Mountain Parks and
foothills in the Library and archives in Evergreen. Thanks to Meghan McGinnes for
assistance with the photos and archival materials; to A. J. Tripp Addison for his help
with the Denver Mountain Parks history; and to Cynthia Shaw McLaughlin for the
information, tours and photos of Lorraine Lodge.
I would especially like to thank the second-home owners and families who opened
their homes and their hearts to me, especially Dorothy Scott and George Gibbs, John
and Prudence Dings, Liz and George Shoffher, John Roehl, Roger Sherman, Harry
Meyers, Nancelia Scott Jackson and her brothers John H.S. Scott and Arthur B. Scott,
Jennie Rucker, Phyllis Melton Dowling, and Janet and Robert Walker and their
daughter Robynn Thomas.
Thanks to the faculty, staff, and students in the University of Colorado College of
Architecture and Planning, and the Ph.D. Program, especially Willem Van Vliet, Kim
Kelley, Betsy Metzger, Kris Christensen, Pearl Shu-yi Wang, and Michelle Shepherd.
A special thanks to geography senior instructor Amanda Weaver and geography
student Dave Remington in preparing the digital maps contained in this document.
Finally, thanks to my family: my husband Mark, who has been with me every step of
the way; my sister Melissa, whose undying confidence and superb editing helped
make this document what it is; Melissas husband Bill and their children, Ashley and
Ethan, who helped support this document from both near and far; Marks sisters Jill,
Sue, and Jodi and their families whose ongoing interest helped me along; and my
Mother, forever the champion of whatever endeavors her daughters undertake.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures.....................................................xv
Tables.....................................................xix
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..............................................1
Denvers Recreation Fan..................................4
The Summer Homes of the Recreation Fan...................9
Magnitude and Meaning of the Second Home in Colorado....11
Definitions, Data, and Methods..........................15
Organization of the Document............................17
PART ONE: THE LURE OF LANDSCAPE: WILDERNESS AND
TOURISM IN THE AMERICAN WEST.........................19
2. CULTURAL LANDSCAPES OF THE SECOND HOME
IN THE AMERICAN WEST.....................................20
Cultural Landscapes and Architecture....................23
The Cultural Landscapes of the American West............30
The Rocky Mountain West.................................36
x


3. WILDERNESS IN THE AMERICAN WEST..............................40
Both Sacred and Secular: Early Perceptions of Wilderness....44
Wilderness in the Service of Identity and Industry..........53
From Awe to Anxiety: Wilderness Threatened...............56
The Rise of the National Forests and National Parks.........62
4. WILDERNESS TOURISM IN COLORADO AND
THE MOUNTAIN WEST.........................................72
Motivation: On the Hunt for Health, Scenery, and Recreation.72
Promoting the American West...........................79
African-American Tourism..............................82
Transportation: Rail and Automotive Travel...............91
Travel to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park....94
Destination Colorado: The Switzerland of America.......99
Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park..............100
The National Forests of Colorado.....................108
The Denver Mountain Parks............................110
PART TWO: THE EARLY SECOND HOMES OF COLORADO....................117
5. THE COLORADO SECOND HOME IN CONTEXT..........................118
The American Country House..............................119
xi


The Second Homes of the Middle Class
126
The Second Home in Colorado.............................137
6. ESTES PARK AND ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK..............143
The Estes Valley........................................147
The Tahosa Valley.......................................169
Rocky Mountain National Park............................186
7. THE NATIONAL FORESTS.....................................196
Legislation and Recreation Residences...................200
Promoting National Forest Summer Homes..................207
The National Forest Summer Homes of the Colorado Front Range ....215
The Decline of the Recreation Residence Program.........229
8. LINCOLN HILLS............................................237
Lincoln Hills Beginnings................................242
Winks Panorama Lodge and Camp Nizhoni...................259
The Heritage of Lincoln Hills...........................264
9. THE DENVER MOUNTAIN PARKS AND FOOTHILLS..................275
Early Summer Homes......................................277
The Denver Mountain Parks and Summer Home Development...287
xii


Summer Homes of Prominence.....................301
The Summer White House.........................315
PART THREE: VILLAS OF THE VERNACULAR: THE ARCHITECTURE
AND MEANING OF THE SECOND HOME............320
10. THE ARCHITECTURE OF COLORADOS SUMMER HOMES.321
Diversity in Style and Substance..........................326
The Architects of Colorados Summer Homes.................340
Tradition and Technology in the Modem Home................345
Traditional and Modernity in the Colorado Second Home.....349
Inherently and Unintentionally Sustainable................360
11. SUMMER PEOPLE, SUMMER LIVES.................................365
Escapingyrom Home to Home.................................369
From Mountain Wilderness to Mountain Home.................374
Above and Beyond Tourists.................................381
Seeking Reunion and Retreat...............................384
Working at Play, Playing at Work..........................395
12. CONCLUSION..................................................403
The Mountain West: Wilderness and Tourism.................406
xm


Summer Home, Summer Life
409
Applications and Additional Research..............414
EPILOGUE....................................................418
WORKS CITED.................................................419
xiv


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1.1. Denver s Recreation Fan............................................6
1.2. The Recreation Fan Area of the Colorado Front Range................10
6.1. Map of the Residential Area of Estes Park by W. R. Willard, 1933..148
6.2. Estes Park Map by W. R. Willard with Cottage Locations............150
6.3. Estes Park Map by W. R. Willard with Neighborhoods................151
6.4. Edgemont, Summer Home of William L. Hallett.......................152
6.5. Summer Home of F. O. and Flora Stanley............................156
6.6. Stanley Summer Home Main Floor Plan...............................156
6.7. Stanley Summer Home Stair and Palladian Window....................157
6.8. Tyroleme, Summer Home of Governor William Ellery and
Joyeuse Sweet.....................................................159
6.9. Mountainside Lodge, Summer Home of Dr. John Timothy Stone.........161
6.10. Mountainside Lodge Living Area with Stone Stair...................162
6.11. Mountainside Lodge Beaver-Gnawed Railing..........................163
6.12. William and Helen Dings Cabin.....................................173
6.13. Katherine Garetson and A.A. Shreve at Big Owl.....................174
6.14. Kidd-Leiffer Cabin ...............................................176
6.15. Kidd-Leiffer Cabin Interior.......................................177
xv


6.16. Graystone, Summer Home of Charles and Agnes Levings ...............178
6.17. Broadhearth, Summer Home of Ernest C. and Grace Ames...............181
6.18. Talcott Sisters Cabin..............................................182
6.19. Lodge-Pole, Summer Home of Edwin F. Gillette.......................184
6.20. Lodge-Pole Blueprint of Edwin F. Gillettes Remodel................185
6.21. The Scottage, Summer Home of Charles F. Scott......................187
6.22. William Allen White Cabin..........................................191
6.23. William Allen White Cabin Living and Dining Area...................192
6.24. William Allen White Cabin Living Area with Fireplace...............192
6.25. View Across Moraine Park with William Allen White Cabin in the
Foreground.........................................................195
7.1. Arapaho, Roosevelt, and Pike National Forests......................201
7.2. Summer Home Groups in the Arapaho, Roosevelt, and Pike
National Forests...................................................219
7.3. Meeker Park Summer Home Group Tract Map............................221
7.4 Harold and Elizabeth Robinson Cabin................................223
7.5. Selected Recreation Residences in the Arapaho, Roosevelt and
Pike National Forests..............................................225
7.6. Sans Souci, Summer Home of Oscar Brousse Jacobson..................226
7.7. Sans Souci Watercolor by Oscar Brousse Jacobson....................228
8.1. Selections from the Lincoln Hills Circular: Advertisements.........248
8.2. Selections from the Lincoln Hills Circular: Amenities and Terms....249
8.3. Selections from the Lincoln Hills Circular: Access.................250
8.4 Lincoln Hills Plat Map.............................................253
xvi


8.5. Lincoln Hills: Phases of Development.............................254
8.6. Lincoln Hills: Phase 1...........................................256
8.7. Lincoln Hills: Phase 2...........................................257
8.8. Lincoln Hills: Phase 3...........................................258
8.9 Lincoln Hills: Phase 4...........................................258
8.10. Winks Panorama Lodge.............................................260
8.11. CampNizhoni......................................................262
8.12. Lincoln Hills Rustic Gateway.....................................263
8.13. Selections from the Lincoln Hills Circular: Photos...............270
8.14. Zephyr View, Summer Home of William Pitts........................272
9.1. Map of the Denver Mountain Parks.................................276
9.2. Avoca Lodge, Summer Home of Molly and J. J. Brown................277
9.3. Avoca Lodge......................................................279
9.4. Camp Neosho, Summer Home of Dr. Josepha Williams
and her Mother, Mary Neosho Williams............................282
9.5. Camp Neosho Octagonal Tower......................................283
9.6. Camp Neosho Dining Room Eave Notched for Lodgepole Pine..........284
9.7. Camp Neosho Sitting Room.........................................285
9.8. Indian Hills Plat Map, First Filing..............................292
9.9. Indian Hills Plat Map, Fifth Filing..............................293
9.10. Indian Hills First Filing with Block Numbers and Lots............295
9.11. Indian Hills First Filing with Multiple Lot Purchases and Dates of
Purchase........................................................296
XVII


9.12. Bona Vista, Summer Home of George Olinger..........................301
9.13. Rosedale Castle, Summer Home of Paul and Margery Reed Mayo.........304
9.14. Greystone, Summer Home of Genevieve Chandler Phipps................305
9.15. The Cottage, Summer Home of the Evans-Elbert Family................307
9.16. Anne Evans Summer Home.............................................309
9.17. Baehrden, Summer Home of William A. Baehr..........................311
9.18. Lorraine Lodge, Summer Home of Charles Boettcher...................312
9.19. Lorraine Lodge Front Entrance......................................313
9.20. Lorraine Lodge Great Hall..........................................314
9.21. The Summer White House, Drawing by Jacques J. B. Benedict..........317
10.1. Dings Cabin with Piltz Fireplace...................................328
10.2. William Pitts, Contractor..........................................330
10.3. Mountainside Lodge Under Construction..............................334
10.4. Dings Cabin Under Construction.....................................335
xviii


LIST OF TABLES
Table
7.1. Chronological Distribution of Summer Homes by National Forest
and Ranger District....................................................218
xix


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
They came to the Colorado mountains from points distantNew York,
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Californiaand
nearbyFort Collins, Greeley, Denver, and Colorado Springs. They initially came by
train and stage, Stanley Steamer and coach; later most made their way to the Front
Range by automobile. Some came in health, seeking scenery; others came in illness,
seeking health. They were tourists, family, and friends often fed by an enthusiasm for
outdoor recreation, and a desire to experience firsthand the celebrated wilderness
areas of the American West. They made their way to Estes Park; Rocky Mountain
National Park; the Colorado, Arapaho, and Pike National Forests; Lincoln Hills; and
the foothills west of Denver dotted with the citys own Mountain Park system. In the
end, they decided to stay, staking their claim to the land (both literally and
symbolically) by buying or building a summer home there.
Charles F. Scott constructed the Scottage on Eagle Cliff at the edge of Moraine
Park; later William Allen White built a series of cabins next door. F.O. Stanley
designed a Georgian manse overlooking the village of Estes Park and the hulking
diamond of Longs Peak. Charles Levings created Graystone on the slope of the
Twin Sisters above the Tahosa Valley. Chicago architect, Edwin F. Gillette designed
several second homes for friends of Levings, and later came to own one of them
himself. Dr. John Timothy Stone built Mountainside Lodge on Emerald Mountain
high above the YMCA camp. Jock Spence built Camp Neosho for Dr. Josepha and
her mother, Mary Williams, and then honed his skills on even larger and more
1


elaborate summer homes in the area. Harold Robinson built his own cabin, aided by a
friend, out-of-work miners, and his wife, Elizabeth, who helped clear the land. John
Evans and Samuel Elbert amassed the Evans-Elbert ranch along Upper Bear Creek; it
would develop into a summer colony of their descendents and friends. William Pitts,
a Denver contractor and an African American, raised his cabin, later dubbed Zephyr
View by his grandson, on the banks of South Boulder Creek in Lincoln Hills.
George Olinger created Indian Hills less than an hours commute from Denver, and
then invited residents of the city to buy a lot and build a cabin. John Brisben Walker
hired Denver architect Jacques Benedict to build his own second home on Mount
Falcon, and then design another next door for the President of the United States.
The focus of this study is the emergence and development of the second home along
the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains from 1880 to 1940, with a few
forays across the Continental Divide and beyond the year 1940, recognizing that
neither geography nor chronology are as neatly packaged as one might believe. Here
is a place that clearly, as Alice T. Friedman states, locates architecture...in a rich
and variable, yet historically specific, cultural and formal context.1 Long a practice
of the wealthy whose storied vacation homes dotted the east coast, second-home
ownership continued to appeal to the denizens of great country houses, but also
emerged among the American middle class over the course of the nineteenth century
and gained momentum in the early twentieth century. The construction of second, and
for the most part, summer homes in Colorado began in the 1880s. Growth of this
trend continued with the formation of the national forests; the founding of Rocky
Mountain National Park in 1915; the establishment of the African-American resort of
Lincoln Hills along the Moffat Railway; and the ongoing acquisition of mountain
land by the City of Denver for its regional Mountain Parks recreational system.
1 Friedman, The Way You Do the Things You Do, 412.
2


The second home remains an important contemporary phenomenon; in 2003 an
estimated six percent of American households owned more than one homea
situation with significant cultural, economic, social, planning, and environmental
implications.2 Yet there is surprisingly little academic research on the genesis and
early development of the second home as a historical, cultural, and architectural
phenomenon, particularly in the Mountain West. Second homes in the American
Westand arguably throughout the United Stateshave largely been ignored as
undifferentiated from the overall residential landscape or overlooked because they
have been viewed as a part of the landscape of tourism. Yet they reside in neither
realm. Distinct from the homes of permanent residents, second homes at the turn of
the twentieth century were occupied seasonally or periodically by those who
conducted most of their lives in other places. Neither are these homes the dwellings
of tourists. Someone who builds or buys a second home ceases to be a tourist,
becoming instead a stakeholder considerably more invested, both financially and
emotionally, in the land and the place. The second-home owner occupies a definitive
interstitial space between tourist and permanent resident, just as his or her second
home serves as a dwelling that is typologically distinct from either short-stay lodging
or year-round home.
Scrutinizing the second home through the lens of the cultural landscape fosters the
exploration of questions relating to shared values and cultural identity. In fact, a close
analysis of the second home in Colorado at the turn of the twentieth century may
actually serve as an even stronger barometer of cultural convention and identity than
does a primary residence of the time. Fostered by a received view of the American
West and its wilderness areas as significant generators of national identity in the late
2 Notably, second home ownership is higher in Scandinavia. In Sweden, for example, fourteen percent
of households own second homes. McIntyre, Introduction, in McIntyre, Williams, and McHugh,
Multiple Dwelling and Tourism, 9.
3


nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the cultural landscapes of the Colorado
mountains in general, and its second homes in particular, offer new access points for
investigating the American West and its built environment. Although second homes
are distinct from tourist lodging, the cultural landscapes of recreation and leisure
provide an entree into better understanding second-home ownership as a byproduct of
tourism.
Denvers Recreation Fan
The Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado is the first major mountain
range one encounters when traveling from east to west. It pierces the horizon from
north to south, serves as part of the spine of the Continental Divide, and is home to
three of Colorados tallest mountains, Longs Peak, Mount Evans, and Pikes Peak.
Fronted by foothills, the Front Range is directly accessible from Denver and other
Colorado plains cities and has long been seen as a source of recreation, a tourist
amenity, and a source of civic pride. Eager to capitalize on bourgeoning Colorado
tourism and Denver economic growth, Denvers civic leaders in the early twentieth
century envisioned a carefully managed, mixed-used wilderness recreation
playground along the Front Range less than a days travel from the city. With Denver
at its terminus, they christened this area the Recreation Fan, radiating out toward
the foothills and high peaks of the Continental Divide.
The Recreation Fan is a particularly suitable cultural construct and geographic
delimiter through which to examine the development of the second home along the
Front Range of the Colorado mountains at the turn of the twentieth century for it
serves as a portal to the past. It not only describes a highly specific geographic region
that had been drawing tourists and summer-home owners for decades before its
4


conception, but it provides a snapshot of a carefully constructed view of the Colorado
Mountains immediately to the west and northwest of Denver.
The Recreation Fan was introduced in Denver Municipal Facts', a city-owned
magazine started in 1909 and published for more than twenty years (Figure 1.1). The
magazines stated purpose was to furnish its citizens free with a weekly record of
municipal events and a carefully compiled statement of the weekly conditions of its
finances.3 As a combination public relations organ and educational bulletin, it
discussed
always in a positive light, all functions of the various city departments,
and extolled all development projects, both progressing and proposed.
It surveyed other cities and compared them to Denver on such things
as development plans, laws, etc. City personnel were discussed and
praised, and new city equipment was displayed and discussed. Letters
to the editor were published, many from other cities. Upcoming events
were announced, and public health information was provided. Police,
fire, and health statistics were listed. New ordinances and tax issues
were discussed. Some citizens houses and other private buildings that
were considered attractive were shown.4
Denver Municipal Facts was progressive era boosterism at its finest. It kept Denver
citizens informed of the latest news and city-views, made them feel like insiders in
the crucial decisions of the day, and created a sense of civic pride vital to pushing
through the often elaborate and expensive projects developed by the ambitious Mayor
Speer and his contemporaries. What better place to introduce an idea that would
invest Denver and its citizens with ideological ownership of and commercial fiat to
the mountain playground immediately to its west?
3 Denver Municipal Facts Collection, University of Colorado Denver.
4 Denver Municipal Facts Collection, University of Colorado Denver.
5


The Diagram of
DENVER'S RECREATION FAN
Figure 1.1. Denvers Recreation Fan
(Developed by the author from the original drawing, in
Denver Municipal Facts, September-October 1921.)
6


In the September-October 1921 issue of Denver Municipal Facts, Arthur H. Carhart,
the U.S. Forest Services first Recreation Engineer who was based in Colorado, wrote
an article entitled, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant. Using language that
reflected prevailing attitudes toward Americas natural resources, Carhart boldly
stated, Recreation is a market commodity.. .So long as recreation is a product then
there must be some sort of a plant to manufacture it.5
Getting down to brass tacks, then, if Denver has the greatest play
places in the country she has a manufacturing plant here that is of
greater service to the nation than all the steel mills, cotton factories or
any other kind of commodity-producing processes. And if Denver has
that kind of a mill here, a mill which will make better minds, bodies
and souls, then there are going to be people...seeking that great plant
to secure its products.6
In short, the Recreation Fan was a win-win for all concerned. By naming the region,
Denvers civic and business leaders could claim ownership to its natural wonders.
The notion of the Recreation Fan not only, in the best mechanistic language of the
day, harnessed a product that would promote better health and welfare for its
consumers, it promised to bring tourists to Denver and to the nearby mountain
playgroundswhich the city would carefully and happily manage for their
recreational benefit and its financial profit. It also afforded Denver a form of
economic equivalence with major industrial cities in the East and Midwest. Carhart
was hardly shy in delineating the commercial and healthful benefits of developing
and managing the Recreation Fan, as well as Denvers moral obligation to do so,
arguing:
5 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 3.
6 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 4.
7


It is good business in the first place to do this. Development will bring
money to the community. We owe it to our citizens in the second
place, for it is entirely conceivable that with the full development of
this outdoor play opportunity in the Denver region we will produce
here a race of the most healthy city dwellers in the world. And finally
we owe it to the people of the Nation, for while Denver is more lucky
than many other cities in that she is at the very threshold of millions of
acres of National playgrounds in forests and parks, these areas belong,
too, to the people of the East, and Denver stands in the position of host
to these people who are seeking recreation in their own properties.7
The Recreation Fan encompassed five recreational areas. The first area, to the north,
included the resort community of Estes Park with its elegant Stanley Hotel and
adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park with its spectacular scenic wonders. This
nationally-renowned area would draw city-bred easterners and others seeking fine
accommodations, amenities such as golf, and all manner of social activities. The
second area included the Glacier area of the Colorado National Forest and the high
peaks of the Arapaho National Forest, a rugged mountaineering and backcountry
wilderness, which Carhart argued should be preserved as such.8 Devils Head Peak
was identified as the third and most southerly play area, which was seen as most
fitting for the motor gypsy interested in automobile camping. The most remote area
was the fourth, which encompassed the Continental Divide and areas on its western
slope, and was most suitable for pack trips and camping expeditions. Denvers own
Mountain Parks and the Mount Evans region made up the last area of the Recreation
Fan, seen as the play region which will most directly serve the people of Denver.9
This fifth area offered three distinct uses: hiking and horseback riding, auto-touring,
and summer home or residential use.10 Indeed, Carhart claimed, The Mountain
7 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 4.
8 Carharts desire for wilderness preservation was realized in 1978 when this area was designated the
Indian Peaks Wilderness within the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest.
9 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 5.
10 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 4.
8


ParksPike Forest Region is Denvers Summer Home.11 In a companion article,
Denver Municipal Facts editors recommended a sixth area, the Platte Canon.12
The Summer Homes of the Recreation Fan
Four second home locales within the area of the Recreation Fan are discussed in the
following chapters: Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park; the Arapaho,
Roosevelt, and Pike National Forests; Lincoln Hills; and the area surrounding the
Denver Mountain Parks (Figure 1.2). Considered together, they demonstrate the
commonalities through which second-home owners were drawn to the Colorado
mountains for highly complex, intertwined, and even paradoxical reasons. Yet each
represents different settlement patterns and spatial configurations, as well as
divergent opportunities for both social engagement and individual retreat from ones
daily life.
The first area includes Rocky Mountain National Park and its easterly gateway city,
the resort of Estes Park. Decades before Rocky Mountain National Park was created
in 1915, families from all over the country were building private summer homes in
and around the village of Estes Park, including many within what would become the
new boundaries of the national park. The homes ranged from rustic Lodgepole pine,
hog-trough or box comer cabins to modem, light-frame board and batten cottages.
11 Carhart, Denvers Greatest Manufacturing Plant, 5.
12 The editors also used the opportunity to ask Denver citizens to rally behind the concept in two ways:
first, by soliciting their Congressmen for a half-million dollar special appropriation for the continuation
of the Mount Evans Drive and, second, by supporting (financially one would presume) the construction
of a direct road into Platte Canon, estimated to cost $750,000, to be built by .. .Denver, the State
Highway Commission, Park County and perhaps the Forest Service. Some Conclusions on the
Recreation Fan, Denver Municipal Facts, September-October 1921, 6.
9


Figure 1.2. The Recreation Fan Area of the Colorado Front Range
(Historical Maps of Colorado; Copyright by and courtesy of
www.MemorialLibrary.com)
Estes Park offered vigorous, outdoor recreational opportunities amid a reasonably
genteel, village atmosphere with mail delivery, tearooms, and fine hotels.
The second area encompasses the recreation residences or summer homes of the
national forests. In keeping with its multi-use policies and a new emphasis on
recreation fostered by competition from the national parks, the U.S. Forest Service
not only allowed, but also encouraged summer home development within the forests.
Such recreation residences were modestly scaled and highly affordable private cabins
with a small living area, a tiny kitchen, one or two bedrooms, and an outhouse. They
tended to be set on small lots in clustered tracts of a dozen or so properties and
10


located in more isolated areas than the summer cottages found in many other Front
Range communities.
Lincoln Hills, an African-American summer home resort community established in
1925, comprises the third area. Billed as a beautiful and healthful mountain locale for
a camp or a cabin, Lincoln Hills was accessible from Denver by auto as well as by
railroad along the Moffat line running northwest from Denver. Lots ranged from $50
to $100 and drew owners from Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri,
Nebraska, California, New York City, and many other states. In addition to offering
cabin sites, Lincoln Hills was home to a popular inn known as Winks Panorama
Lodge and Camp Nizhoni, a girls camp managed by the Phyllis Wheatley branch of
the YWCA in Denver.
The foothills west of Denver served as yet another magnet for summer people in
towns such as Evergreen, a node of Denvers own Mountain Park system. In 1911,
the City had begun acquiring land in the nearby mountains and by 1927 had more
than 10,000 acres of Mountain Parks under city ownership. Summer-home ownership
in the areas surrounding the parks was strongly encouraged by city officials.
Preliminary findings suggest that these communities attracted a greater number of
Front Range urban dwellers than did resorts such as Estes Park, whose reputation
extended far beyond the perimeters of Colorado.
Magnitude and Meaning of the Second Home in Colorado
This research examines a triad of increasingly complex questions: What was the
magnitude of the early second home in Colorado; what architectural form did these
homes take; and what did they mean to their owners and to others at the time? While
it is impossible to determine with any degree of precision the number of early
summer homes along Colorados Front Range within the area of the Recreation Fan,
11


they clearly numbered in the thousands. Styles and forms varied significantly from
substantial and picturesque manor houses, to rustic stone and timber hunting lodges,
to log-slab sided chalets. However, the overwhelming majority were small, often tiny,
cottages and cabins, many of which were built in a loosely-articulated, local
vernacular called Rocky Mountain Rustic. Meaning and significance emerge out of
a dense web of perceptions and experiences central to the long history of these early
summer homes in Colorado.
In explicating meaning, this research explores the ways in which the summer home
served as a conduit for creating subtly shaded perceptions of place, and the choices
and experiences that informed those perceptions. It examines the early second home
as an architectural and cultural phenomenon that mediated between culture and nature
to create meaning through the twin concepts of reunion and retreat. It evaluates the
relationship between architectural design, and modernity and traditionalism, in which
technology was both eschewed and embraced, and rusticity of architectural form was
in many respects an aesthetic choice. Finally, it investigates the ways in which the
second home provided avenues for individual expression and invention within the
larger social and natural environs of the mountain resort, park, forest, or community.
For their owners, second homes embodied and reflected distinctive notions of place
that traversed a terrain far beyond the vast, general, and prepackaged appeal of
Colorado to tourists. In fact, one must drill down through the layers of the Colorado
known to tourists and artists, of frontier and wilderness, and of myth and legend to a
depth more subtleand nuancedthan any of the above suggest. For cabin or
cottage dweller, an evolving sense of place was, in part, due to a rather distinctive
form of seasonal migration. Western historians have delineated new patterns of
migration and settlement well beyond the Tumerian paradigm of pioneer families
moving from east to west in their conquest of the frontier. Clearly recognized as
equally important are the movements of people from west to east, south to north, and
12


north to south, as well as the often peripatetic and erratic patterns of circulation
within the Western region itself. While often classified as migratory patterns, such
movements seem more closely aligned with immigration, associated as they are with
the permanent settlement of a region. Early second-home owners, by contrast, are
characterized by migration as seasonally driven as those of the butterfly, the
hummingbird, and the college student on his or her way home for the summer. With a
persistent cyclicality, which often covered decades or even generations, the early
second-home owners of Colorado returned to their cabins and cottages year after
year, forging a singular relationship with both their dwelling and its environs. Thus,
for a summer-home owner, place translated into something much more than the
Colorado mountains; it responded to and embodied a highly specific set of
circumstances, including ideas of identity and collective memory, the natural and
cultural landscapes that accrued to a very specific location, and ideas of home at the
time.
At the turn of the twentieth century, second home communities such as those found
within Denvers Recreation Fan served as the loci of a rather benign collision
between concepts of culture and nature. Seeking a landscape of wilderness, these
homeowners by both desire and design altered the natural landscape physically and
perceptually in order to live with it and in it, actively participating in the creation of
summer homes and summer lives, which traversed the boundaries between
community engagement and individual escape. Moreover, while early summer-home
owners may have come to the Colorado mountains seeking solitude and wilderness,
many summered there regularly in quest of camaraderie. Early vacationers
eloquently describe the peace of the valleys and the grandeur of the mountains, as
well as the benefits of escaping the strictures and stresses of urban life. Yet by
returning annually to their summer cottages they created communities characterized
by a distinctive form of kinship that ebbed and flowed with the seasons and the years.
13


Retreat was balanced with reunion; the desire for refuge was yet infused with a strong
sense of the communal and social. Summering in Estes Park, Lincoln Hills, the
national forests, or Evergreen proffered a sort of interstitial space that mediated
between the culture of the cities and the splendor of the natural world.
The early second homes of Colorado also present an intriguing narrative of mostly
vernacular buildings and forms that embody complex notions of tradition and
modernity at the time. In some ways, neither local nor summer residents of
Colorados mountain communities hesitated in transporting the trappings of modem
society with them. Early railroads and stages, cabin resorts and guest ranches,
sawmills and steam-powered automobiles were rapidly followed by improved roads,
gasoline-powered cars, electricity, sewage treatment plants, telephone exchanges, all
manner of retail establishments, and home builders and developers as well.
Advancement and progress were not only anticipated, but eagerly embraced, with
little sense of hypocrisy or contradiction for their ultimate effects. Given the ready
availability of industrially produced goods and building products, rusticity of design
and functional primitivism of ones second home were clearly individual choices that
reflect, in part, different sets of expectations than those prevalent today. Many
second-home owners purposefully rejected modem conveniences in their homes,
some due to budget constraints and others due to philosophical principles, embracing
a simpler, although not necessarily easier summer life.
Second-home owners were drawn to Colorados mountains seeking outdoor
recreation, a healthful environment, a form of solitude unavailable in urban
environments, an escape from the summer heat, or simply the magnificent scenery
itself. Whatever it was they sought, they also brought with them the baggage
associated with a complex set of values and conventions surrounding the home and
notions of domesticity, particularly as translated to the distinct world of the summer
home and its attendant summer life. While broad patterns emerge, the story of
14


summer homes and summer lives at the turn of the twentieth century is, significantly,
a story of freedom, agency, and individual invention. Summering in Colorado
provided no end of satisfying opportunities for working at play or playing at
work. Yi-Fu Tuan states, The more Americans participate in, and indeed lead the
world in, globalism, the more they yearn for locality, tradition, and rootsfor the
hearths and ethnos that they can directly experience and understand, for the small
milieu that yields emotional satisfaction.13 Although globalism would only become
part of the common currency half a century later, Tuans sentiment equally applies in
a tum-of-the-twentieth century world that was rapidly changing, fraught with
international tensions surrounding the First World War, and in the throes of
industrializing, urbanizing, and modernizing. For the most part, the early summer
cabins and cottages epitomized a small milieu, in which their owners lived deeply
and fully.
Definitions, Data, and Methods
Summer-home owner or second-home owner, as defined herein, refers principally to
individuals and families who relocated to a residence, which they owned, in the
Colorado mountains for some portion or all of the summer for the primary purpose of
recreation and leisure. It does not typically include business and lodge owners,
although many of them also lived in the Colorado mountains on a seasonal basis for
the purpose of earning a living. It may include those relatively few families who
owned one or two rental cottages or cabins in addition to a second home residence.
The terms second home and summer home are used interchangeably, the first is
useful as a point of distinction from ones primary residence and the second in
recognition of the fact that virtually all of these early second homes were not
13 Tuan, Cosmos and Hearth, 104.
15


winterized and lacked central heat, insulation in the walls, and indoor plumbing.
Thus, they were generally opened in late spring, occupied during the summer, and
closed down in the fall. With increased automobile travel in the 1920s and beyond,
weekend visits became more prevalent and more and more second homes were
remodeled for year-round occupancy. It also should be noted that the nomenclature
used to describe these homes at the time was variable and included: cottage, cabin,
summer house, summer home, lodge, ranch, camp, and bungalow. Finally, the terms
second-home owner or summer-home owner are often used as shorthand for the
inhabitants of the summer dwelling, taking into account not only their legal owners
but other family members and friends who spent time there on an ongoing basis.
This research incorporates the archival approaches of the humanities in accessing
both written and visual information as well as observation and analyses of many of
the visual artifacts themselves. Collections and archives were canvassed at the
Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library; the Colorado Historical
Society Library and Office of Archaeology and Preservation; the Colorado State
Archives; the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library; the Boulder Public
Library Carnegie Branch; the Auraria Library of the University of Colorado Denver;
the Estes Park Library; the Estes Park Museum; the Rocky Mountain National Park
Archives; the Hiwan Homestead Museum Archives and Jefferson County Historical
Society Library; the Norlin Library Archives at the University of Colorado Boulder;
and others. Selected building records and other historic documentary evidence was
gathered from the four Colorado counties covered by this research: Larimer, Boulder,
Gilpin, and Jefferson. Among the primary materials consulted were newspapers and
magazines; architectural drawings and specifications; historic plat maps and other
maps from the period; photographs; correspondence and journals; and reminiscences
and memoirs. Genealogical databases and similar resources were consulted.
Numerous meetings and discussions were held with current owners of historic
16


summer homes (many of whom are descendents of the original owners); city and
county planning and building officials; building contractors; National Park Service
and U. S. Forest Service officials, architects, archaeologists, and archivists;
administrators and historians at the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club; a variety of
preservation consulting and cultural resource management firms; and officials with
the YMCA of the Rockies, as well as other individuals with interest in and
contributions to make to the research.
Finally, a number of oral history transcripts were consulted and a number of
interviews conducted with the original owners and the descendents of the original
owners of Colorado second homes built between 1880 and 1940. A variety of
memoirs, unpublished diaries, and similar manuscripts also were consulted. One must
take care in generalizing from oral histories, written memoirs, and reminiscences.
Nonetheless, while their numbers may not imply statistical significance, they most
certainly represent corroboration and provide a richness of tone and a compendium of
experiences that resonate across time.
Organization of the Document
Chapter 2 presents cultural landscape studies as a way to investigate the early summer
homes of Colorado. The cultural landscape provides an opportunity to draw the
interplay of place, space, and landscape back into the architectural equation, serving
as an intellectual framework for understanding the built environment as not only a
social act and a cultural enterprise, but as a contextual and spatial endeavor as well.
Chapter 3 addresses the regional and mythical context of wilderness and the
American West. Chapter 4 addresses the impact of wilderness perceptions on tourism,
the establishment of the national forests and national parks, and tourism in the area of
the Recreation Fan in Colorado, as well as the affects of all of these on the emergence
17


and development of early second homes in Colorado. The second home is
contextualized on a national and regional level in Chapter 5. Chapters 6 through 9
cover each of the four second-home areas along the Front Range in the region defined
by the Recreation Fan: Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park; the recreation
residences of the Arapaho, Roosevelt, and Pike National Forests; Lincoln Hills; and
the area of the Denver Mountain Parks system. Chapter 10 explores the vernacular
and high-style architecture of the second home in Colorado, and how concepts of
modernity and tradition affected home design. Chapter 11 explicates the meaning of
the second home further delineating how experience and ritual, as well as
opportunities for recreation, community, and solitude coalesced to empower the
invention and reinvention of summer lives. Finally, Chapter 12 summarizes the
findings and outcomes of the research and identifies opportunities for further
research.
18


PART ONE
THE LURE OF LANDSCAPE:
WILDERNESS AND TOURISM IN THE AMERICAN WEST
19


CHAPTER 2
CULTURAL LANDSCAPES OF THE SECOND HOME
IN THE AMERICAN WEST
The smoke curling from the chimney changes everything. Snowy, towering
mountains, blanketed with wind-tom trees and primitive rock outcroppings plunge
treacherously into deep valleys and rugged ravines. Far-flung peaks lie hazy in the
mist of implied distance. The image is immediately recognizable as the rough,
magnificent, and relentlessly inhospitable landscape of the American West as
captured on canvas by such artists as Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt. Yet,
tucked into a comer of this outsized painting, amidst the monumental scale of the
mountainous terrain, the tiniest of rustic log cabins stands in a meadow that backs up
to a deep and dense green forest. This simple dwelling jumps out at the viewer with
astonishing alacrity, and proclaims however humbly the presence of man. Boundaries
blur between the natural and manmade and the wilderness landscape yields suddenly
to the cultural landscape.
As a corollary to the famous adage of Winston Churchill who said, We shape our
buildings and our buildings shape us, one might argue that early second-home
owners in Colorado shaped their summer homes and their summer homes shaped the
landscape. Second homes reflect ideas about time, place, culture, and identity. They
serve as the material realm through which people pass their summersemblematic of
the values of their owners and the societal conventions of the times. They also stand
as artifacts whose presence changes the landscape, reflecting back these values and
20


conventions, and participating in the evolving cultural landscape of the American
west.
Traditionally, the term landscape has suggested the idea of a composed image in
the Western tradition of picturesque landscape painting, such as that described above.
More recently, the term cultural has been appended to the term landscape to
identify a setting that is tangible evidence of the intersection between the myriad and
evolving relations that comprise culture and the physical environs of space and place.
In the 1920s, Carl Sauers work on economically and socially stable rural
environments drew upon German notions of landschaft. Paul Groth and Chris Wilson
note that for Sauer, Landscape.. .was not a painting, a vista, or a garden, but rather a
particular area shaped by a cultural group and strongly influenced by the limits of
soil, climate and plant life. Sauer... shifted the sense of landscape back from a
composed image to the place itself.1 John Brinckerhoff Jackson, a pioneer in cultural
landscape studies whose legacy is particularly important to architecture, wrote,
Landscape is history made visible.2 Both Sauer and Jackson were speaking of a
more inclusive perspective, of a cultural landscape encompassing cityscape,
townscape, suburbia, village, farm, road, and even wildernessall of which are in
some measure culturally construed. There are ethnic, racial and gendered landscapes,
as well as contested landscapes. There always have been imaginary landscapes; today
there also are virtual landscapes. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
landscapes of production included the ranch, the sawmill, and the factory; landscapes
of consumption included the general store, the post office, and the gasoline station.
1 Groth and Wilson, The Polyphony of Cultural Landscape Study, in Wilson and Groth, Everyday
America, 5.
2 Forum I: Landscape Reflects Culture, History, Centre Daily Times (State College, Penn), October
2,1975, quoted in Jackson, Landscape in Sight, ed. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, x.
21


The notion of a cultural landscape implies a set of complex, casual, uncontrollable
and often messy environs in which lives are lived, identities assembled and
disassembled, and meaning created and recreated. Riddled with ambiguities, the
cultural landscape is positioned as subject and object, as a source of meaning as well
as materiality, as a locus of insider as well as outsider perceptions, as a form of
(constantly changing) representation, and as an arena in which the natural and the
cultural may collide and even combine. To paraphrase Don Mitchell, the cultural
landscape is something that is worked upon (although often the extent or nature of the
work is deliberately hidden) and something that does work upon other things and
people.3
There are few places where the cultural landscape stands in as sharp contrast to the
natural landscape as in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Even today, isolated cabins
and small settlements tucked into evergreen forests and expansive riparian valleys,
and surrounded by towering mountains, provide tangible evidence of the physical
environs of the cultural landscapes of the Mountain West. Patricia Nelson Limerick
remarks, ...the history of the human relationship to the physical environment is one
of Western historys strong suits. Maps of American settlement in the West show,
down to the present, large areas with sparse populations, where the human
relationship to nature is virtually spotlit.4 During the decades at the turn of the
twentieth century, the wattage of this spotlight would be amplified, clearly
highlighting distinctions between the built and the natural environments. Rag-tag
mining camps were cobbled together in the rush for gold. Fences marked the entrance
to, but did not enclose, the pastures of early ranches. Seasonal dwellings, including
astonishingly small cottages clustered together in summer colonies and rough log
3 Mitchell, Cultural Geography, 94.
4 Limerick, Something in the Soil, 103.
22


cabins raised in forested tracts, were drawn into high relief by the expansive parks
and high peaks which surrounded them.
The decision to build or buy a second home in Colorado at the turn of the twentieth
century was influenced by a received view of the American West and its wilderness
areas that radically changed over the course of the nineteenth and into the early
decades of the twentieth centuries. Thus, the early second homes of the American
West, and specifically the Colorado Mountain West, reflect ideas about nature and
wilderness; cultural identity and invention; progress and technology; and a quest for
both recreation and retreat. As architectural artifacts, they also embody a larger set of
ideologies relating to the home and domesticity, and the societal values and cultural
norms that underlie their design.
Both the cultural landscape as concept and the American West as region are pivotal to
an investigation of the emergence and development of the second home in Colorado
during the years 1880 to 1940. This chapter briefly addresses the persistent reworking
of the discourse related to cultural geography, which typically serves as the more
encompassing academic home of cultural landscape studies, and discusses some of
the relevant methodological and theoretical changes that have reinvigorated landscape
studies and debate in the past twenty years. It explicates the value of cultural
landscape studies to the scholarship of architectural history, and investigates
interpretations of the American West as a region and a place in which meaning and
cultural identity are created and recreated.
Cultural Landscapes and Architecture
Cultural geography is an area of scholarship that encompasses cross-disciplinary
perspectives and a proclivity toward a postmodern concern with the self-consciously
and historically-constituted construction of culture (as well as that of nature, history
23


and even academic scholarship). At the turn of the twenty-first century, cultural
geography is a discipline characterized by a divergence of opinion rather than
consensus around a norm, with spotty but concerted efforts to bridge the divide
between old and new paradigms, and negotiate a path among disparate new
paradigms. While such multiplicity is at times confounding, one could argue that
diversity with regard to theory, method, or approach is not a problem to be solved, but
rather the grit in the oyster that generates, in any discipline, the pearls of originality
and innovation. Moreover, even as disparate theories and methodologies may fuel
debates among scholars of the cultural landscape, a sense of the value in the everyday
may be where all find common ground. As the humanities have moved toward
culture, and cultural geography has moved toward new delineations of the meanings
of space and place, there is a growing coalescence around the centrality of culture and
spatial experiences to daily life. Specifically, a cultural turn has drawn attention
away from an objectified culture to one that is a fusion of incessantly mutable events
and evolving relations and through which meaning, values, and ideas are constantly
constructed, mediated, and reconstructed. At the same time a spatial turn has
generated interest in place, space, landscape, and region. As Mitchell notes:
If there is any consensus in all this new work in cultural geography, it
is simply that, no matter how it is approached, culture is spatial.
If.. .culture is ordinary, it is so because it insinuates itself into our daily
worlds as part of the spaces and spatial practices that define our lives.
Older cultural theory in many ways stressed time...New cultural
theory...stresses space, understanding culture to be constituted
through space and as a space.5
Both the cultural turn and spatial turn are significant developments for architectural
history since the built environment, in a very real sense, is equally a cultural and a
spatial actand one which can be productively explored through the concept of the
5 Mitchell, Cultural Geography, 63.
24


cultural landscape. Investigating the vernacular architecture of the cultural landscape
may serve as a window to unearthing deeper, perhaps more subtle, cultural meanings
associated with a particular building or the larger built environment.
Traditional architectural history has long found its primary methodological and
theoretical home in art history, focusing on formal analysis, tracing artistic influence
(and, therefore, emphasizing temporality and linearity), examining a limited and
exclusive selection of canonical works, and investigating the interaction between
influence and authorship.6 This is not to say that culture has been unimportant to art
and architectural historians, but rather that culture has been seen as a sort of
contextual stage upon which the architect and the architecture have been positioned
front and center. While an aesthetic, art historical approach has served architectural
history well, in many ways it may overlook the impact of the cultural landscape on
the canonical work and, in fact, may trivialize the inherent value of the ordinary.
We live in a built world and ordinary architecture comprises the overwhelming
majority of structures in this world, which serve not only as tangible evidence of
historical events, but as repositories of the intangibles that went into their making.
The built environment is always and insistently about the process of making places;
just as places are essential in the making of architecture. Architecture is literally wed
to the landsiting a building starts with the land; building materials often come from
the land; architecture remains among the most visible and substantial alterations to
the land of which man is capable. Focusing on the material artifacts of the ordinary
built world, vernacular architecture has been disinclined to follow the lead of art
history in emphasizing aesthetics, connoisseurship, and architectsin part because
the documentary evidence surrounding such buildings render these research areas
6 Scholars of vernacular architecture, however, have tended to examine the material artifacts of the
built environment from a different socio-cultural perspective, in part because information about owner,
designer and/or builder, and influence is generally unavailable for vernacular or folk architecture.
25


irrelevant or inaccessible, but also because of a stronger affinity with the material
culture and its social and cultural bases. Americas early second homesmostly
modest, occasionally monumentalserve as storehouse of cultural convention and a
gauge of societal values. The places and spaces created by and within the second
home scale down to the level of interior rooms and up to the level of the cabin or
cottage; the yard or meadow; street or dirt road; the neighborhood or summer colony;
the mountain village or summer home group; all of which comprise cultural
landscapes of leisure and recreation. This intrinsic emphasis on the ordinary and the
totality of the built environment serves as a link between research on cultural
landscapes and that on vernacular architecture. Thus, as academic disciplines, cultural
landscape studies and vernacular architecture studies share common interests,
theoretical and methodological foundations, and strong interdisciplinary character.
In addition, by emphasizing the architectural work itself, traditional art-architectural
historical approaches have not only accentuated the monumental, but privileged the
idea of architecture as product and in doing so, marginalized architecture as a
persistent and ongoing social and societal process. The study of cultural landscapes,
in a very pragmatic sense, embodies both product and process and so, grounds
architecture (in the largest sense of the word) firmly in place; at the same time
architecture creates the spatial content and context through which much of the
cultural landscape does its work. Quite simply, the artifacts of the built environment
are part and parcel of the ordinary material worldand even the most modest of
structures may create and carry meaning far beyond its immediate milieu.
John Brinckerhoff Jackson spent the better part of his life exploring the manner in
which meaning accrued to the built environment. He was instrumental in elevating
the study of ordinary and everyday vernacular landscapes to that of the extraordinary
and revelatory. For Jackson, the front yard, the porch, the parking lot, and the
26


highway represented subjects as worthy of study as the greatest monuments or finest
buildings of any age. He wrote:
My theme has never really varied. I have wanted people to become
familiar with the contemporary American landscape and recognize its
extraordinary complexity and beauty...Over and over again I have said
that the commonplace aspects of the contemporary landscape, the
streets and houses and fields and places of work, could teach us a great
deal not only about American history and American society but about
ourselves and how we relate to the world. It is a matter of learning
how to see.7
Noting that a building may provide a more complex dimensionality than even the
written word, Henry Glassie writes, A building is a far grander thing than a building
contract...The artifact belongs to spatial experience. It unfolds in all directions at
once, embracing contradictions in simultaneity, and opening multiple routes to
significance.8 In The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture, Anthony D.
King demonstrates the possibilities inherent in an analytical adhesion of vernacular
built form and cultural geography. King explores the bungalows history and meaning
(in all its global and symbolic variants), but he goes beyond these aims to examine the
circulation of ideas, culture, and socio-economic forms around the world, all of which
gave rise to the bungalows development and then were themselves influenced by
such development. Moreover, with a strong appreciation for the underlying dynamics
and nuances inherent in the meaning of bungalowas material artifact, image, and
textKing argues it is necessary to consider
7 Jackson, Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, ix.
8 Glassie, Material Culture, 46.
27


the images associated with terms for dwellings and the care with
which people refer to different types of house. What meanings do
such terms and images have? None of the criteria suggested above
indicated the variety of social meanings attached to the world
bungalow...Notions that a cottage is a little house in the country but
a bungalow is a little country house (England, 1891) or that a
bungalow is a house that looks as though it was built for less money
than it actually cost (United States, 1911) are not included in
dictionaries. It is because of these images that this study pays as much
attention to the term bungalow and the meanings attached to it as to
the reality it describes.9
This construction and dissemination of meaning may be read through the built
environment and the cultural landscape. The notion of reading the landscapeas
culture and as history, as image and as text, as material artifact and deeper symbol
to uncover meaning is clearly informed by literary, linguistic, and communication
theories. Communication is seen as intertextual, and thus, continually mediated by the
experiences of the content, the viewer, the reader, and (to varying degrees) the intent
of the author. Michael Conzen explains:
To ask us to accept...that landscape is comprehensive and cultural',
that it encompasses everything to be seen in our ordinary
surroundings, and that virtually all that can be seen has been created or
altered by human intervention, is to open up a challenging and
rewarding way of thinking about our everyday world. To ask us,
moreover, to see landscape as history adds a further dimension and
enrichment, for it asks us to see that every landscapenot just those
with historic sitesis part of a vast, cluttered, complex repository of
society, an archive of tangible evidence about our character and
experience as a people through all our historyif only we can learn
how to read it.10
The process of reading the landscape gives rise to methodological debates among
both cultural geographers and vernacular architectural historians, centering on how
9 King, The Bungalow, 2.
10 Conzen, The Making of the American Landscape, xv.
28


much weight should be given to the actual physical environment or material culture,
as opposed to the visual record or textual evidence. Recent research often combines a
number of different approaches, integrating and interpreting the physical, visual, and
textual dimensions of the landscape, moving from the particulars of the case study to
more complex explanations and insights.11 In (Re)reading Architectural
Landscapes, Iain S. Black explores not only how the cultural landscape can inform
the study of the built environment, but also how architecture can provide a focus for
cultural landscape studies as part of a much broader socio-cultural milieu. Citing the
work of Mona Domosh, Black advocates beginning with a particular building or
setting and then moving beyond it to encompass a series of interrelated layers of
explanation: functional, symbolic, personal and ideological. The building itself
informs the entire process of interpretation, through a continuous dialogue between
text and context. 12 Importantly, he believes the greatest value ensues from using
a multiplicity of methodological approaches:
A range of methods and sources needs to be brought to bear upon the
particular architectural landscape that caught the imagination in the
first place. This involves using multiple methods to interrogate
multiple sources, not simply to try and confirm consistencies between
different types of data, but also to try and confirm inconsistencies that
might throw new light on why particular architectural landscapes were
built, where they were built, for whom, and how they were represented
and used... In the case of architecture and landscape, such methods
might include oral history, iconography, textual analysis and
techniques for the study of visual sources of evidence.13
11 See for example, Page, Labor and the Landscape of American Gothic, 95-110; McGreevy,
Imagining the Future at Niagara Falls, in Foote and others, Re-Reading Cultural Geography, 347-
362; McGreevy, Reading the Texts of Niagara Falls: The Metaphor of Death, in Barnes and Duncan,
Writing Worlds, 50-72; and Domosh, Invented Cities.
12 Black, (Re)reading Architectural Landscapes, in Robertson and Richards, Studying Cultural
Landscapes, 26.
13 Black, (Re)reading Architectural Landscapes, in Robertson and Richards, Studying Cultural
Landscapes, 27.
29


By drawing the interplay of place, space, and landscape into the architectural
equation, the cultural landscapes of Colorados early summer homes serve as an
intellectual framework and a methodological approach for understanding these homes
not only as social acts and cultural arts, but as contextual and spatial endeavors as
well.
The Cultural Landscapes of the American West
In addition to the methodological framework provided by engaging the cultural
landscape, an investigation of the second home in Colorado from 1880 to 1940 leads
directly to the history and historiography of the American Westas a frontier and a
region. By the turn of the twentieth century, both the mythical and wilderness
landscapes of the Western United States were sources of tremendous pride and
distinction to Americanstempered in part by growing alarm and anxiety over their
anticipated disappearance. A combination of intrigue and anxiety, bolstered by
advancements in transportation systems and the establishment of the national forests
and national parks, fostered a growing tourism industry in the American West. Many
tourists would become second-home owners in Colorado and elsewhere in the
American West.
In 1890, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the closing of the American frontier.14 In
1893 Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his paper on The Significance of the
Frontier in American History at the Worlds Columbian National Exposition in
Chicago. Turner was a reasonably ambitious professor at the University of
Wisconsin. He offered a fairly straightforward and remarkably cohesive thesis
(cohesive in part because it was both oversimplified and simply wrong) that based
14 The Census Bureaus definitive closure of the frontier was based on the application of a formula in
which the frontier existed where there lived fewer than two people per square mile.
30


American character and national identity on the frontier spirit demonstrated by
successive waves of (mostly male) Anglo-American pioneers making their way
westward across America, conquering the wilderness and bringing civilization to the
hinterlands in a remarkable demonstration of democracy in action.15
Turners thesis so galvanized the debate around the substance and role of Western
history, it seems the history of western history over the last century is not
insignificantly a series of defenses and revitalizations of Turners thesis, juxtaposed
with an even greater series of denials and refutations. Quite simply, in the
historiography of the American West, frontier is a fully loaded term. Michael E.
McGerr comments wryly, For most of the western past, the frontier was always
thereforbidding for the settler, but reassuring for the historian following along
behind.. ..Even historians unpersuaded by the frontier thesis have been able to make a
good living by criticizing Turner and his disciples.16 An explanation of Turners
intellectual longevity is that his thesis, even with its myriad historical inaccuracies
and oversights, truly is reflective of at least some part of Western settlement patterns
in the nineteenth century. While there are likely none who would embrace Turners
frontier thesis wholeheartedly in this day and time; there are few who could deny that
there is some degree of truth in its straightforward, albeit overly simplistic,
explanation of American continental settlement. As critical as they are of Turners
15 In addition to the fact that the American west typically disappears from the history books at the
closing of the frontier, there are a host of other problems associated with the frontier thesis: Turners
model was too linear and repetitive, ignoring the particulars of social, ethnic, geographic, and
economic variation; he overlooked the economic and political dependence of frontier settlements on
their colonizersand investorsfrom the Eastern United States and dismissed the strongly imitative
nature of Westerners who, feeling themselves culturally inferior to their Eastern American
counterparts, mimicked styles, fashions and customs. Turners thesis was not only ethnocentric and
racist, it painted the picture of a virgin land ripe for exploration, when it was in reality an inhabited
land gained by the conquest of up to several million indigenous people. See Cronon, Miles, and Gitlin,
Under An Open Sky, 3-27.
16 McGerr, Is There a Twentieth-Century West? in Cronon, Miles and Gitlin, Under An Open Sky,
241.
31


frontier theory, William Cronon, George Miles and Jay Gitlin note, Whatever the
contradictions and errors of his scholarship, Turner was surely right to see the long
European (and African and Asian) invasion of North Americaand the resistance to
it by the continents existing inhabitantsas the pivotal event in American History.17
While Turners interpretation of the overall settlement process was exceptionally
reductive, there were in fact, existing, repeating patterns throughout the process of
Western colonization.
The frontier lingers in the early twenty-first century, and Turner remains firmly a part
of the discourse of the American West. Yet even Turner, as early as 1897, saw the
value in examining the American West from a regional perspective.18 Western
regionalism reemerged along with a new Western history in the early 1990s that
drew (and continues to draw) a line in the sand between the West of legend and that
of fact; between the West as process and that as place; and a West that died with the
frontier in the 1890s and the one that thrives today. Recent Western scholarship
incorporates gender, class, and ethnicity in its historic milieu; elevates the importance
of environmentincluding its exploitation and degradationin understanding
Western history; recognizes the reality, complexity, and consequences of conquest in
shaping the West; and exposes the mythic West of the popular imagination to greater
and more glaring scrutiny.19 It also instigates for a more comprehensive and in-depth
17 Cronon, Miles, and Gitlin, Under An Open Sky, 6.
18 Steiner and Wrobel, Many Wests: Discovering a Dynamic Western Regionalism, in Wrobel and
Steiner, Many Wests, 9.
19 In 1987, Patricia Nelson Limerick published The Legacy of Conquest in which she called for wide-
eyed and wide-open reevaluation of Western history, in which myths would be driven out in favor of
greater clarity and a more balanced view. Influential (along with William Cronon, Richard White,
Donald Worster, and others) in changing both the content and trajectory of Western history, Limericks
thesis was that the West, long depicted as an untamed wilderness domesticated by American pioneers,
was in fact ...a place undergoing conquest and never fully escaping its consequences. Limerick
argued for Western significanceon its own terms and as a part of the nation and its history. Limerick,
The Legacy of Conquest, 26.
32


examination of the twentieth century West, acknowledging its fundamental urban
quality and cultural diversity. Cronon, Miles, and Gitlin summarize the challenges
inherent in the vast reorientation of Western scholarship:
The West, then, is many things, and one cannot define away its
complexities by fiat.. .The West may be the region lying somewhere
beyond the Mississippi River, but it is also the experience of going
there. It is the westering (and northering and southering and eastering)
that carried new peoples into new lands all across the
continent.. .Whether we begin with the myths, the history, the region,
or the frontier, sooner or later we find ourselves wandering through all
of them because together they are where we came from.. .20
Bringing a regional perspective to bear on an investigation of the American West
(and more specifically the Colorado Mountain West) provides opportunities to
address what is often termed a sense of place and its role in the development of
regional identity. Place, Yi-Fu Tuan remarks in his classic study on space and
place, is a pause in movement.21 Tuan explores place at a variety of scales ranging
from the home to the homeland, and traces the experiential and creative possibilities
that may adhere to a sense of place.
Before Tuan and since, concepts of place have garnered considerable interest across a
wide range of academic disciplines, including not only architecture, but geography;
history and the humanities; environmental history; sociology, psychology, and the
behavioral sciences; philosophy; landscape architecture; and urban planning, among
others. Approaches to investigating sense of place are understandably divergent.
Phenomenological and hermeneutic perspectives inform the work and traditions of
Martin Heidegger, Christian Norberg-Schulz, Gaston Bachelard, Yi-Fu Tuan, Edward
Relph, David Seamon and others. In the Introduction to Dwelling, Place, and
20 Cronon, Miles, and Gitlin, Under an Open Sky, 26 27.
21 Tuan, Space and Place, 138.
33


Environment, editors David Seamon and Robert Mugerauer explain that
phenomenology offers a way of thinking rigorously and of describing accurately the
complex relation between person and world.. .phenomenology allows phenomena to
be understood as they are without the reduction or distortion so often the result of
positivist science or the many styles of structuralism.22 Such research tends to focus
on experiential relationships and reciprocity between humans and their environments,
how such connections may foster authenticity or engagement, and how they may
inform ideas and meanings associated with a particular place. By contrast, behavioral
approaches tend to fragment sense of place into affective and cognitive components,
isolating place attachment, place identity, and place dependence as distinct elements
in the equation. As Jennifer Famum, Troy Hall, and Linda E. Kruger remark, place
attachment is the environmental psychologists equivalent of the geographers sense
of place.23 Moreover, attachment to place may be based on social relationships or
processes more than particular physical landscape characteristics, so that even if the
landscape changes, the sentiments do not change.24
This last statement is antithetical to the particulars of place that inform this historical
investigation of the second home in Colorado and the larger Mountain West. First,
place is by far the most critical decision involved in buying or building a second
home. Unlike a primary residence, in which the greater constraints of job, schools,
family proximity, and other realities of day-to-day life play crucial and often
unconditional roles in dictating location, place is typically the primary driver in the
second home decision process. Place remains at the forefront because buying or
22 Seamon and Mugerauer, Dwelling, Place & Environment, 1.
23 Famum, Hall, and Kruger, Sense of Place in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, 3.
24 Famum, Hall, and Kruger, Sense of Place in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, 4. The
authors identify this component of place attachment as place identity. Place dependence, by
contrast, ...refers to connections based specifically on activities that take place in an outdoor,
recreational setting.
34


building a second home is significantly about locationand the freedom to choose
whatever location one desires. For some the seashore beckons, for others a lake is
mandatory, still others seek the forest, and some head for the mountains.
For the early summer homes under consideration here, that place was the American
West, and most specifically the Colorado Mountain West. Thus, the Western
landscape plays a major and irreducible role when investigating second home
settlement in Colorado. In fact, the mountains are every bit as much a part of the
narrative of the region as they are a part of its geography. Gary Ferguson says of the
Rocky Mountains, Hardly a story is told of this region in which the land isnt cast as
a major character.25 Similarly, Susan Rhoades Neel, argues:
Western history is best, truest, when it keeps nature in sight...What we
need is a history that has at its heart this simple but enduring truth:
nature has shaped us as surely as we have it. With every turn of the
season, touch of the hand, or gaze into the vast blue sky, nature and
culture together have made this place called the West.26
Moreover, the landscapes of the American West are closely linked to both Western
regional and American national identity. Donald Worster argues that the land stands
boldly, implacably in the foreground of experience, too wild really to tame, too old to
change, too large to reduce to a mere human scale. Confronting the land, being
subdued by it, westerners have found the beginnings of an identity.27
25 Ferguson, The Great Divide, 17.
26 Neel, A Place of Extremes, in Milner, A New Significance, 106.
27 Worster, Under Western Skies, 237.
35


Thus, suggesting that ideas of place stem from individual experience rather than the
physical landscape is an oversimplification of a complex phenomenon.28 Speaking
directly to the question of regional identity and the American West, David M. Wrobel
and Michael C. Steiner remark: Sense of place, it is generally assumed, emerges
from the soil.. .and the scenery. Yet.. .regional identity does not emerge only from
deep attachment to natural surroundings. Outside forces sometimes have transformed
western places and have helped form or construct regional consciousness.29 Regional
identity, they conclude, is a complex commodity influenced by environmental and
economic forces and the expectation of outsiders.30 As an example of the latter
point, railroads played a critical role in promoting Western wilderness and creating a
form of Western identity embraced by tourists. Similarly, early second-home owners
in Colorado, as neither tourists nor residents, neither outsiders nor insiders,
participated in both creating and absorbing regional identity.
The Rocky Mountain West
Defining a geographically bounded American West remains the subject of debate.
The problem traditionally has been to locate the geographic point at which the West
begins; more recently it has been to locate the point at which it ends (the debate in the
latter case centering on the inclusion of Hawaii and Alaska). There are ongoing
debates as to whether the tier of plains states running from North Dakota to Texas
should be included in entirety under the regional moniker West, or if the Pacific
Northwest should be denied entrance for its failure to meet the aridity benchmark, or
28 Here there may be greater unanimity with behavior scientists who believe that symbolic and cultural
meaning clearly affect ones sense of place. See Famum, Hall, and Kruger, Sense of Place in Natural
Resource Recreation and Tourism and Blake, Colorado Fourteeners and the Nature of Place
Identity, 155-180.
29 Wrobel and Steiner, Many Wests, 32-33.
30 Wrobel and Steiner, Many Wests, 35.
36


if the Southwest represents an area of such topographic distinction it should be
afforded a completely separate designation, or if California both literally and
figuratively lies beyond the West. An obvious lack of consensus around geographic
boundaries prompts some Western historians to abandon geographic attempts
altogether and describe the west in terms of attitude, character, and socio-cultural or
historical distinctiveness. Clyde A.Milner, Carol A. OConnor, and Martha A.
Sandweiss cite what Martin Ridge termed a psychological fault line that separates
regions commenting further that, Travelers sense this same fault line. Somewhere
beyond the Mississippi, the horizon is more distant, the land more open, and the sky
much larger. Well before they reach the Rocky Mountains, they know they have
reached the West.31 Regardless of how one defines the West, if one seeks the glue of
congruence, none of the above regional boundaries sticka major factor in the
increasing number and power of subregional analyses.
Whether the line between West and East is physical, psychological, mutable or
Active, the debaters fall silent when confronted with the states bisected by the spine
of the Continental Divide. As Anne Farrar Hyde argues, No one denies that the
landscape crumbling and thrusting from the Continental Divide is West.32 The
Rocky Mountains are undoubtedly part and parcel of the American West. The
Mountain West is often designated as a subregion, or what Steiner and Wrobel call
one of the many Wests within the larger West,33 arguing that a geographically
bounded, regional West has given less attention to another important area of western
diversity: regional diversity...We have to venture beyond the sweeping generalities to
31 Milner, OConnor, and Sandweiss, The Oxford History of the American West, 2.
32 Hyde, Round Pegs in Square Holes, in Wrobel and Steiner, Many Wests, 93.
33 Steiner and Wrobel, Many Wests: Discovering A Dynamic Western Regionalism, in Wrobel and
Steiner, Many Wests, 10 11.
37


see the various subregional realities that make up the broader West. 34 Dan Flores
concurs: .irrespective of all the ways that the American West has been
bounded...the Rocky Mountains are consistently and universally considered to
comprise the viscera of the West.35
The Rocky Mountain Westand Coloradoare distinctive topographically,
narratively, and symbolically. William Wyckoff and Lary M. Dilsaver state:
Both the physical and human geographies of these mountain zones
have conspired to create a very different West than that encountered in
the coastal lowlands, desert valleys, and arid plains below...the green
islands of the Mountainous West...have witnessed patterns of
settlement and development quite different from their lowland
neighbors. This West is defined not only by its elevation and slope, but
also by its peculiar diversity of environments, by its hoards of
concentrated resources, and by a unique convergence of historical
events which occurred in these settings during the past 150 years.36
Unlike the arid deserts and basins that typify a significant portionbut not allof
the Western United States, the Rocky Mountains are emerald islands that enjoy
abundant moisture.37 In fact, Dan Flores argues that any characterization of the whole
American West as arid is both completely reductive and simply wrong when one
considers the huge amount of area covered by mountainous regions, ...the truth is,
the American West is not a uniformly arid province at all.. .not all of the West is
desert influenced....More directly relevant here, the interior West also includes
myriad sets of mountain chains rising skyward, emerald islands in the lowland sea of
34 Steiner and Wrobel, Many Wests: Discovering A Dynamic Western Regionalism, in Wrobel and
Steiner, Many Wests, 11.
35 Flores, The Natural West, 146.
36 Wyckoff and Dilsaver, The Mountainous West, 1.
37 See, for example, Flores, The Natural West; Wyckoff and Dilsaver, The Mountainous West; and
Vale, Mountains and Moisture in the West, in Wyckoff and Dilsaver, The Mountainous West.
38


encircling plain, sagebrush steppe, and cactus desert.38 Flores believes that the
mountains provide new opportunities to consider the effects of slope (as opposed to
aridity) as the organizing principle for biological life and for new
conceptualizations of mountain influence both ecologically and historically.39
Thomas R. Vale writes:
It is the teasing promise of water, water in western mountains rising
above arid lowlands, which has...permitted a spatially restricted
western agriculture, prompted protection of mountainous watersheds,
and encouraged creation of singular wild landscape reserves; it has
stimulated the federal role in farming expansion, water production, and
nature protection; it has inspired concern to create sanctuaries for
noble human societies, utilitarian resources, and wild nature.40
To put it another way: water, weather, slope, habitat and wildlife, forests and parks,
tourism and recreation, legend and myth, mountains and wilderness, all drew second-
home owners to Colorado. Thus, the topography, the narrative, the symbolism, and
the tension and the connection between nature and culture are critical to
understanding the emergence and development of the second home in the Colorado
Rockies. The cabin in the clearing was built inand perhaps because ofthe
wilderness, yet through its very construction, it changed the wilderness. In truth, the
wilderness landscape has played so major a role in the second home settlement of the
Mountain West, one would be hard pressed to find a cultural landscape of early
second homes that wasand still isunaffected by wilderness.
38 Flores, The Natural West, 108 109. The aridity thesis also has been challenged by a number of
other scholars including Susan Rhoades Neel who argues for environmental eccentricity as the
defining characteristic of the extremely variable American West. See Neel, A Place of Extremes, in
Milner, A New Significance.
39 Flores, The Natural West, 111.
40 Vale, Mountains and Moisture in the West, in Wyckoff and Dilsaver, The Mountainous West, 160.
39


CHAPTER 3
WILDERNESS IN THE AMERICAN WEST
Wilderness is just not what it used to be. Over the course of American history
wilderness has been feared and despised, revered and celebrated, irrevocably altered,
coldheartedly destroyed, lovingly preserved and, above all, endowed with deep
symbolic and ideological meaning. In his classic examination of nature and culture,
Wilderness and the American Mind, Roderick Frazier Nash writes, Wilderness, in
short, is so heavily freighted with meaning of a personal, symbolic, and changing
kind as to resist easy definition.1 The rapidly changing and often ambivalent
perceptions of nature and wilderness that occurred in America over the course of the
nineteenth and well into the twentieth centuries are characterized by simultaneous and
contradictory exercises in exploitation, admiration, disapproval, and approbation. As
Peter Coates remarks in Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times, Nature has
been variously considered both part of us and quite apart from us, nurturing and
dangerous, animate and machine-like, spiritual and material. Nature, like us, has a
history.2 As a specific set of conditions within the larger natural world, wilderness
too has a history.3 It is a history couched in an intricate, and often contradictory, web
of philosophical, religious, and ideological beliefs. Moreover, it is a history
important to the emergence and development of the second home in the Colorado
1 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 1.
2 Coates, Nature, 2.
3 Among the many works addressing in depth the history of nature and wilderness are: Nash,
Wilderness and the American Mind', Cronon, Uncommon Ground, and Oelschlaeger, The Idea of
Wilderness.
40


mountainsinfluencing location, form, perceptions, and expectations on the part of
their owners.
The symbolic and value-laden burdens carried by the term wilderness, remain
formidable, often serving as a lightning rod for postmodernist debates on the twin
cultural constructs of nature and culture. Postmodern arguments center on the
importance of language in enabling understanding, which engenders insights, shapes
behavior, and facilitates the construction of meaning. Ideas of nature and wilderness,
and thus nature and wilderness themselves, change over time reflecting social
conventions, individual values, societal needs, and monographic invention.4 In this
view, if there is a sense that wilderness comprises an objective reality, it is a reality
that essentially counts for less than does the idea of wilderness in all its societal and
cultural manifestations.
Today, for example, there is a vague sense of unanimity that wilderness no longer
exists, except as a fabrication of an intractable and overactive, collective American
imagination or as an elaborate artifice in the service of mythmaking. In fact, as the
argument goes, wilderness disappeared long ago in the American West. Even the
earliest Indians altered the land through the practice of periodic burning to drive game
or eliminate undesirable plant species; worst-case scenarios describe severe
environmental degradation.5 The national parks and national forests have been
4 While clearly postmodern in character, the concept of nature as culturally constructed predates the
postmodern era. For example, in her 1959 work, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The
Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite, Marjorie Hope Nicolson contended that feelings toward
nature are quite self-conscious and socially determined and, thus, are neither universal nor inherent.
She wrote, What men see in Nature is a result of what they have been taught to see... Nicolson,
Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory, 3.
5 Coates takes exception to the notion of the ecological Indian arguing that, on any number of fronts,
the epithet is demeaning, Eurocentric, stereotypical, and incorrect. He cites, among other examples, the
willingness of Indians to engage in massive and reckless animal slaughter and damaging and
unsustainable agricultural practices, citing evidence that ...the physical environment of the New
World bore heavier traces in 1492 than it did in the mid-1700s... Coates, Nature, 92-94.
41


managed and molded into recreational playgrounds for over a hundred years. Old
growth forests are long gone and with them primeval wildness. Wilderness in
America is quite simply myth. Well, maybe; but maybe not. Perhaps the
disappearance of the wilderness is a reasonable conclusion when seen as shrinking
blocks of color on a two-dimensional map from the short-range distance of an easy
chair. Yet anyone who has gotten out of the easy chair and into the backcountry
realizes on a quite visceral level that wilderness does exist. Any hiker caught out
overnight in an unexpected snowstorm, catching a glimpse of alpenglow on a snowy
peak at dawn, or meeting a mountain lion on the trail will tell you it most certainly
exists in all its magnificent glory and bone-chilling ferocity. We call it wilderness and
we know when we are there. Simon Schama states, The very act of identifying (not
to mention photographing) the place presupposes our presence, and along with us all
the heavy cultural backpacks that we lug with us on the trail.. .The wilderness, after
all, does not locate itself, does not name itself.6 Indeed, one must ask: who built the
trail? Or perhaps, more directly for this research: who built the cabin at the edge of
the trail?
Thus, while wilderness is commonly accepted as a cultural conceptalbeit a highly
multidimensional and complex one that cannot be grasped outside of a particular
historical contextit also exists as an irreducible reality consisting of deserts and
mountains, plants and animals, rivers and streams. On a purely physical level,
wilderness, perhaps, is the place where nature rather than man has the upper hand or
as Cronon argues, where, symbolically at least, we try to withhold our power to
dominate.7 As Richard White observes:
6 Schama, Landscape and Memory, 7.
7 Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness, in Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 87.
42


No new land, no new place is ever terra incognita. It always arrives to
the eye fully stocked with expectations, fears, rumors, desires, and
meanings...Originally, and in the older scholarship, the annals of
discovery posed as the replacement of ignorance with knowledge, but
this was too simple. Postmodernists have deconstructed the texts of
discoverers as a deployment of various linguistic tropes... But this also
is too simple...There was, and remains, a tangible physical world that
sometimes affirmed but often mocked the representations designed to
constrain it. For all the power of the postmodernist critique, it neglects
this physical, tangible world, a world of substantial bodies, and
trivializes our experience in it.8
To hold wilderness and culture as unconditionally disconnected ignores the reality of
the shifting planes that serve to bring them together. In Landscape and Memory,
Schama states his thesis: Instead of assuming the mutually exclusive character of
Western culture and nature, I want to suggest the strength of the links that have bound
them together.9 The early second homes of Colorado, in some small measure,
provide a link between cultural landscape and wilderness landscape at the historical
juncture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The historical and cultural context for the development of the second home in
Colorado is grounded in the reality that wilderness wasand iswrit large on the
American landscape and within the American consciousness. Over the course of the
nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, ideas of wilderness changed significantly.
Theological beliefs influenced perceptions in the nineteenth century, espousing fear
and encouraging conquest. The wilderness areas of the American West were drawn
into focus by writers, artists, and photographers who provided a romantic context for
availing oneself of the opportunities offered there for solitude, reverence, and
contemplation. Lacking Europes culture and history, Americas Western landscapes
were put to use in creating an American national identity characterized by westward
8 White, Discovering Nature in North America, 874.
9 Schama, Landscape and Memory, 14.
43


expansion and fueled by Jeffersonian notions that Americas history and wealth
would be found in the land itself. Paradoxically, the same wilderness areas so crucial
to national identity also provided, quite literally, fuel for the countrys industrial
growth. Rampant destruction of Western forests, watersheds, and mountain mineral
belts was instrumental in the establishment of forest reserves, wilderness areas, and
national parks, as well as the formation of the federal agencies needed to manage
them. Thus, the creation of the first national parks and forests was motivated by
complex and contradictory desires to preserve scenery (in the service of American
national identity) and conserve the raw materials of utilitarian, material production (in
the service of American industry).
Both Sacred and Secular: Early Perceptions of Wilderness
While this research focuses on the years from about 1880 to 1940, it is necessary to
briefly address earlier American attitudes toward wilderness since such attitudes were
not only firmly ingrained but continued to be long lived, even when altered or
supplanted by revised ideas. To the earliest American settlers, the wilderness was a
formidable, savage and unforgiving reality, an enormous obstacle to be overcome in
the day-to-day struggle to survive. In the seventeenth and even well into the
eighteenth centuries, colonists both feared and despised wilderness partially because
their survival was ensured only through its physical conquest. Yet, European
colonists brought along a cornucopia of evolved ideological and theological notions
44


that proved even more significant than the act of shouldering the harsh realities of
daily existence in the American wild.10
Importantly, up until the mid-nineteenth century wilderness could hardly be
conceptualized outside of a theological paradigm derived from the Judeo-Christian
tradition, and for most of the colonists along the Atlantic Coast, from the tenets of
Protestantism. Moreover, it is crucial to consider that in the first three centuries of
American settlement religion played both a much greater perceptual and more
pragmatic day-to-day role than has been typical of any time since. Indeed, as Nash
states, Wilderness as fact and symbol permeated the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Anyone with a Bible had available an extended lesson in the meaning of wild land.11
Robert Mugerauer concurs, That the American landscape generally was seen in
religious terms seems odd to us now, so lost is the understanding and tradition. How
more deeply lost is the subtler, inner struggle between two traditions, both derived
from Genesis.12
Two inconsistent Biblical passages, which Mugerauer argues are the foundation of a
highly ambiguous and inconsistent relationship between man and nature in the
nineteenth century, highlight conflicted attitudes toward nature and wilderness at the
10 These attitudes are discernible in the enormous number of colonists coming to America from
Northern Europe, especially England, and settling the continent westward. Anglo-American attitudes,
which shaped ideas of conquest, exploration, and the frontier and the territories of the American West,
were instrumental in forming perceptions about wilderness. Recognizing that America was colonized
from multiple directions, one would surmise that similar perceptions may have existed among the early
Spanish settlers of the southwest. Attitudes toward wilderness among Asian peoples, primarily the
Chinese who immigrated to the West Coast, are quite intriguing but are beyond the scope of this study.
11 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 8.
12 Mugerauer, Interpreting Environments, 90. Both Biblical passages quoted are from Mugerauer.
45


time.13 The first passage, Genesis 1:28, was dominant in shaping the first two hundred
years of colonization of America. This passage states that man should replenish the
earth and subdue it: and have dominion.. .over every living thing that moveth upon
the earth. Thus wilderness was viewed as a cursed and forbidding metaphor for evil,
a visible manifestation of Gods disapproval, and a moral wasteland that demanded
subjugation, not only for survival but to ensure salvation. As settlers pushed their way
across America, leaving civilization behind, the wilderness, was instinctively
understood as something alien to manan insecure and uncomfortable environment
against which civilization had waged an unceasing struggle.14 Yet in the nineteenth
century, this biblical passage was joinedand contradicted bythe rising influence
of a second passage, Genesis 2:8-17, which states, the Lord God planted a garden
eastward in Eden ... And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of
Eden to dress it and keep it. Rather than destroying the wilderness, the second
passage suggested that taming wilderness and creating in its place a garden could
result in a symbolic recovery of Eden. One paradigm stressed dominion and
supremacy, the other preservation and protection. Both would thread their way
through the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, underlying ideas of utilitarian
conservation and scenic preservation that persist to this day.
Yet even while such theological underpinnings remained a potent source of
perceptions about the natural world and Americas wilderness environments,
increasingly secular paradigms began to emerge over the course of the nineteenth
century. Moreover, both urban growth and wilderness exploration began to instill in
Americans a sense of value and enthusiasm for the untold riches of the American
13 Most of the authors discussed herein, including Cronon, Coates, Oelschlaeger, and others,
investigate to varying degrees the influence of Judeo-Christian Biblical traditions on ideas of
wilderness and nature. Cronon, for example, notes, The Judeo-Christian tradition...has one core myth
that is so deeply embedded in Western thought that it crops up almost anytime people speak of
nature...nature as Eden." Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 36.
14 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 8.
46


continent. As Nash remarks, Appreciation of wilderness began in the cities.15 With
significant increases in population and concomitant urban growth in America,
wilderness clearly retreated as both a legitimate and symbolic threat to survival. In
addition, the acquisition of immense areas of the American continent and the reports
of the formal military surveys and government-sponsored expeditions which
documented them (as well as the less reliable but often more colorful tales of traders,
trappers, and miners), began to bear witness to Americas vast size, remarkable
natural resources, and astonishing scenery. Among the many such expeditions were
Lewis and Clarks 1803 exploration of the Louisiana Purchase; Lieutenant Zebulon
Pikes and Major Stephen H. Longs travels through Colorado in 1806 and 1820,
respectively; the multiple Western expeditions of John Charles Fremont in the 1840s;
and the 1871 Hayden Expedition. Often accompanied by artists and photographers,
these formal geological forays were important in creating, particularly among less
adventurous urban dwellers east of the Mississippi, both a sense of intrigue and a
stirring of pride in the American West. The Hayden Expedition is particularly notable
for its exploration of what would become Yellowstone National Park. Accompanied
by a variety of geographers and scientists, as well as landscape painter Thomas
Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson, geologist Ferdinand V. Haydens
reports of the areas wondrous geysers and mountain scenery were instrumental in
sparking interest in the idea of a national park.
The American landvast, magnificent and, above all, wildstood at the ready for its
artistic and cultural appropriation. Over the course of the nineteenth century, a
triumvirate of secular realitiesthe Romantic Movement, the flowering of American
national identity, and the dictates of American industrial growthboth enriched and
further complicated established theological paradigms. The Romantic Movement
perceived the American wilderness as neither merely Biblical metaphor, nor as
15 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 44.
47


simply fodder for the farmers plow or raw material for the miners pick. The
Romantic celebration of the natural and primitive, coupled with evolving artistic
concepts of the sublime and the picturesque, created an unprecedented aesthetic
appreciation for wilderness. Based on the theories of Edmund Burke and others, the
sublime comprised the most awe-inspiring, raw, and primeval forces of nature, and
thus of Godmagnificent, horrific, and terrible to beholdthat rendered man utterly
powerless and insignificant against their might. The somewhat tamer but still rugged
picturesque, sourced from seventeenth century landscape painting, favored the
dramatic, irregular, and emotive views of distant mountains, flowing streams, deep
valleys, and rough and craggy rock outcroppings.
The high mountains of the American West, in particular, benefited from this aesthetic
reversal. In her 1959 work, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development
of the Aesthetics of the Infinite, Marjorie Hope Nicolson charted the changing course
of the mountain aesthetic. Her study of radically changing English attitudes toward
mountains focuses on the timeframe from 1650 to 1800 and thus, pre-figures both the
period and place of this research.16 However, as William Cronon remarks in the
Foreword to the 1997 edition, The revolution in consciousness she describes has in
fact persisted down to the present: the way of viewing mountains whose origins she
traces has become nearly universal for most educated Americans and Europeans who
are heirs to this tradition. Modem environmentalism finds some of its most important
roots right here in Nicolsons mountains.17 Specifically, Nicolson argued that until
the mid-seventeenth century, mountains were not only ignored in Western European
aesthetic traditions but were considered shameful, vile, repulsive, and uglyhence
the mountain gloom of the title. One hundred fifty years later, mountain glory had
16 Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory. The terms mountain gloom and mountain
glory are chapter headings taken from John Ruskins Modern Painters, V.
17 Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory, xi.
48


sprung to the forefront of artistic conventions, the result of radical changes in
philosophy, theology, science, astronomy, literature, and aesthetics (particularly
through the explication of the sublime) in the course of the full flowering of
Romanticism.18
Similarly, an evolving language of aesthetics was crucial in creating both emotional
and symbolic access to the scenic beauty of the American West. Anne Farrar Hyde
argues that early nineteenth century visitors to the American West were, in a sense,
struck dumb by the shocking visual reality of a rugged, arid, and empty Western
landscape against which the pastoral and picturesque descriptors of European
aesthetics failed completely. There were quite simply no words to describe the sights
of the American West, until over the course of the nineteenth century, a language
evolved to articulate such scenery. Given agency through communication, Americans
developed a unique and personal aesthetic language, which, in turn, forever altered
feelings about Western scenery. As summarized by Anne Farrar Hyde, this language
provided Americans the power to appreciate the landscape and incorporate it into
their culture19 such that by the beginning of the twentieth century.. .the Far West
had become a celebrated and popular part of the American landscape.20 In a very
palpable sense, Americans were unable to own the West until they became adept at
articulating its physical features; the language of landscape provided a means for both
symbolic and physical possession.
18 Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory, 373-375; Coates, Nature,\30. Nicolson and Coates
identify an interesting connection between mountain sublimity and mountain travel. Both suggest that
the sublime experienceawesome, wondrous, horrifyingwas greatly fostered by the life-threatening
journey associated with negotiating primitive mountain roads and passes. In a very real sense, it was
the greater comfort and safety of nineteenth century travel that tamed the sublime.
19 Hyde, An American Vision, 9.
20 Hyde, An American Vision, 7.
49


Early nineteenth century American writers, poets, and philosophers created the
language through which wilderness could be described, and thus appropriated,
gamering strong interest in nature and the American wilderness. James Fenimore
Cooper published Leatherstocking Tales beginning in 1826 on the heels of his success
with The Pioneers. William Cullen Bryant, whose poetry had long celebrated
wilderness, in 1872 edited Picturesque America, a pictorial tribute to American
scenery. Ralph Waldo Emerson had published Nature in 1836, a tremendously
influential transcendentalist work in which he urged Americans to seek nature
through close study and direct observation for its spiritual, aesthetic, and moral
benefits.21 Emersons view remained staunchly anthropocentric, however, centered on
the dominion of human life over nature and the belief that the real worth of nature
was its use as a resource for the human imagination.22 In contrast, Thoreau, who
Max Oelschlaeger argues traveled far beyond the narrow tenets of Emersonian
transcendentalism in his rejection of human dominion over nature, was crucial to the
birth of a distinctively American idea of wilderness.23 Thoreau wrote:
21 Nadenicek, Emersons Aesthetic and Natural Design in Wolschke-Bulmahn, Nature and Ideology.
Although this essay focuses most closely on Emersons influence on naturalistic garden design and
landscape architecture, it provides insights into his wide-ranging influence on the increasing
appreciation for nature in America at the time. This includes the development of organic design, a
principle that later informed the rustic architectural aesthetic of the National Park Service.
22 Worster, Nature's Economy, 103. Both Coates in Nature and Oelschlaeger in The Idea of Wilderness
agree that Emersons primary interest in nature was in the role it could play in serving humanity.
23 Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness, 133.
50


If the heavens of America appear infinitely higher, and the stars
brighter, I trust these facts are symbolical of the height to which the
philosophy and poetry and religion of her inhabitants may one day
soar.. .there is something in the mountain-air that feeds the spirit and
inspires. Will not man grow to greater perfection intellectually as well
as physically under these influences?...I trust that we will be more
imaginative, that our thoughts will be clearer, fresher, and more
ethereal, as our sky,-our understanding more comprehensive and
broader, like our plains,-our intellect generally on a grander scale, like
our thunder and lightning, our rivers and mountains and forests,-and
our hearts shall even correspond in breadth and depth and grandeur to
our inland seas...Else to what end does the world go on, and why was
America discovered?24
The natural world offered opportunities for solitude and contemplation, evoked
feelings of awe and reverence, and served as a rich resource for the literary
imagination. Indeed, by the mid-nineteenth century an appreciation of wilderness was
deemed one of the qualities of a gentleman.25
The artists of the Hudson River School played perhaps an even greater role in
establishing and embellishing a deep resonance among the American public for the
countrys natural and wilderness landscapes.26 Centered geographically, conceptually,
and spiritually in the American wilderness, these artists recorded and glorified the
natural wonders of this still largely unexplored land. They were instrumental in
forging a new self-confidence and a national vision expressed by the land itself and
aspiring to a morality that would drive the very process of its exploration. The
Hudson River School included, most notably Thomas Cole, and most significantly for
24 Thoreau, Walking, 14.
25 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 60.
26 The term Hudson River School is somewhat a misnomer in that it implies a highly restricted locale.
Cole, Church, and others lived and painted along the Hudson River and the Northeastern United States.
Yet a number of other artists, most notably Bierstadt and Moran, painted in the Rocky Mountains and
beyond. Nonetheless, there is a recognizable commonality of style and aesthetic sensibility, and of
course, there is the land itself as subject matter which so engaged and thus, binds these artists together.
51


the American West, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. These artists constructed an
aesthetic tension between the wild and the civilized, grounded in explicit American
scenery and situated in the moody drama and emotive qualities of the sublime and the
picturesque. The massive, panoramic paintings of Bierstadt and Moran were
instrumental in fostering an appreciation for the astonishing American Western
landscapes of spectacular mountains, brilliant lakes and dense forests. That they took
liberties with the accuracy of the content was overlooked by most; a work celebrated
by those who viewed the image as a factual report.. .was also cheered by many who
recognized the painting as skillfully constructed fiction.27
Similarly, photography, which made the mass production and distribution of images
possible for the first time, played an important role in both meeting and creating
expectations about the Western landscape. Photographs were highly valued by a
substantial middle class audience eager for what they believed were accurate and
impartial images of the American West. Moreover, the work of photographers, such
as Carleton Watkins and William Henry Jackson, deliberately met middle class
expectations about landscape aesthetics and the Western frontier and its wilderness
areasand did so even though the medium continued to distance itself
technologically from painting and art. Importantly, the perceived objectivity of the
medium itself rendered a landscape that was not only magnificent but accessible; for
the views offered by the camera were those, not interpreted by an artist, but available
to anyone who stood in the footsteps of the photographer who had taken the picture
and simply snapped the shutter.
27 Anderson and Ferber, Albert Bierstadt, 77. This quote is a specific reference to a Bierstadt painting
entitled The Rocky Mountains, Landers Peak, painted in 1863. Nonetheless, the artistic license
taken with its execution is emblematic of the general practice of Hudson River School painters who
sketched images en plein air and then modified and embellished them on canvas within the confines of
their studios.
52


Wilderness in the Service of Identity and Industry
Given a strong assist by these American writers and artists, the Romantic celebration
of wilderness fostered the creation of an American cultural identity that was sourced
from the land itself. These American landscape artists united nature and art in the
single votive act of landscape painting and the American wilderness they depicted
became a source of intense national pride.28 Angela Miller argues in The Empire of
the Eye that wilderness served quite admirably as the basis for the blossoming of
American art and culture, in which nationalists found in the countrys geographic
scale the measure of their own cultural merit.29 Lacking Europes millennia-old
culture and history, American culture would be grounded, quite literally, in the
countrys remarkable scenery and prehistoric geological features.
Initially problematic was the fact that the landscapes capable of exciting such
symbolic fervor were sorely lacking in the eastern United States. The East Coast,
Mid-Atlantic, and Deep South, while emerging as pastoral delights, were strikingly
similar to European landscapes. Even worse, all were bereft of the requisite ruins,
castles, and architectural follies that were so much a part of customary picturesque
subject matter. Try as they might, influential American politicians, writers and artists
seeking in the land a source of American cultural superiority, inevitably came up
short.30 The scenic trump card for American national identity would be played in the
Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, unsurpassed in their soaring peaks,
spectacular geology, wondrous geysers, and abundant and distinctive wildlife. With
neither a history nor a heritage to rival Europes, the United States had an asset in the
American West that Europe could not even begin to match, a vast wilderness
28 Novak, Nature and Culture, 14.
29 Miller, The Empire of the Eye, 9.
30 Runte, National Parks, 15.
53


landscape so expansive as to be virtually incomprehensible in its scale and majesty.31
As Nash remarks, The nations short history, weak traditions, and minor literary and
artistic achievements seemed negligible compared to those of Europe. But in at least
one respect Americans sensed that their country was different: wilderness had no
counterpoint in the Old World.32
Thus, over the course of the nineteenth century, the Western American wilderness
was put to use in creating an American national identity in which the frontier
beckoned and would be tamed in keeping with Thomas Jeffersons vision of a
pastoral, agrarian nation of small freehold farmers. Coates remarks that, for Jefferson:
Wild and unmodified environments did not constitute nature.
Wilderness was the raw material out of which nature was fashioned
nature being the improved, privately owned landscape of farms,
gardens and rural estates that occupied the middle ground between
industrial urban society and untamed savagery.33
Although not quite in the fashion anticipated by Jefferson, in fact the land did become
the symbol of the nation; significantly, the symbol was interpreted as both the
manifestation of God and as the setting in which man would achieve Gods plan.
Thus, as the nineteenth century drew to a close, wilderness was artistically embraced
and culturally appropriated in the face of competing yet complementary theological
and aesthetic paradigms. Yet other more pragmatic and pressing needs arose.
Americans were making their way in great numbers to the American West, settling in
new urban centers and mining its riches. As the symbolic leading edge of wilderness,
the American Western frontier provided an escape and served as a fresh canvas upon
which one could paint a new life. Here was a land that seemed to provide a
31 Powell, Thomas Cole, 10.
32 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 67.
33 Coates, Nature, 123.
54


physically limitless and ahistorical setting in which men and women could imagine
their finest self-conceptions fulfilled.34 Theological interpretations of mans
dominance over nature may have waned, but the overall effect was the same: Insofar
as the westward expansion of civilization was thought good, wilderness was bad. It
was construed as much a barrier to progress, prosperity, and power as it was to
godliness.35 As the United States increasingly flexed its industrial muscle, there
developed an assertive tradition that regarded nature as the raw material of mans
bidding. With the might of industry and technology at the ready, wilderness was
regarded as a barrier to development and an impressive force to be subdued. This
imperialist stance, according to Donald Worster, both confirmed and perpetrated
mans dominance over nature and was grounded in political and economic ideas
under which the earth was perceived as a world that must be somehow managed for
maximum output.36
Grounded in materialistic and anthropocentric ideologies, wilderness would fall to the
loggers ax, the miners pick, the farmers plow, and the hunters rifle in the service
of economic and industrial growth. This darker consequence, located in the very
destruction that occurred through the nations act of claiming the wilderness as its
own, was at least initially ignored, due in part to the fact that the belief in a chosen
national destiny did a lot to keep such awareness at bay.37 The contradictions and
consequences inherent in the act of romantically revering the wilderness, while
34 Mitchell, Witnesses to a Vanishing America, 3.
35 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 40.
36 Worster, Natures Economy, 37. Worster identifies two opposing paradigms that inform the attitudes
and behavior of humans toward the natural world. He characterizes the first as Arcadian, akin to
notions of Christian pastoralism and Romanticism, positioning man in peaceful coexistence with the
natural world. The imperialist view is distinguished by its anti-Arcadian sense of dominance over the
natural world, akin to Christian ideas of the wilderness as a wasteland whose worth could be measured
in its service to man.
37 Novak, Nature and Culture, 17.
55


simultaneously participating in its destruction, and the nationalist implications
inherent in both, were either overlooked or disregarded. In Nature and Culture:
American Landscape and Painting, 1825 -1875, Barbara Novak contends that, in
fact, mythmaking efforts to reconcile these and other contradictions were a significant
part of the work of the nineteenth century. Nonetheless, the very destruction of the
natural landscape, and the subsequent anxiety associated with its demise, were among
the reasons for the establishment of forest reserves and, later, the national parks.
From Awe to Anxiety: Wilderness Threatened
In the waning decades of the nineteenth century, American appreciation and pride in
its wilderness areas was motivated by both their perceived aesthetic qualities and their
preeminence as a source of national identity. The emphasis was on the visual and the
aesthetic, on viewing scenic mountains, valleys, and forests for their picturesque and
sublime qualities. Importantly, for the most part this was wilderness to be examined
from a distance (or from the safety of a train or the front porch of a resort hotel), not
wilderness to be experienced firsthand. Runte contends, Well into the twentieth
century, Americans valued the natural wonders of the West almost exclusively for
their scenic impact.38 The objective was not wilderness preservation, it was scenic
safeguarding in order to protect and foster American nationalism. A visitor to the
American west could, if so desired, eschew wildness or roughness in any form,
seeking from the shelter of a railway car the picturesque aspects of the scene laid
before them, much as one might critically examine a painting in a museum. The goal
was not to experience wilderness but rather to see wildness. Rather ironically, the
presence of a cultural artifact, be it a steam locomotive, a humble cabin, or a
luxurious resort hotel, in their minds did nothing to devalue the wilderness aesthetic;
38 Runte, National Parks, 31.
56


in fact, when viewed from afar, the technological and the architectural provided, in
the approved aesthetic tradition of the picturesque, an appropriate juxtaposition of
culture and nature. In some ways, the isolated rustic cabin in the wilderness seems the
American equivalent of the architectural folly in the British garden.
By the 1890s, however, wilderness was not simply the subject matter for picturesque
paintings. Rather, experiencing nature and the outdoors was seen as a healthful
antidote to an increasingly urban and urbane society. As early as 1865, Frederick Law
Olmsted had summarized the benefits of a contemplative relationship with nature:
It is a scientific fact that the occasional contemplation of natural
scenes of an impressive character, particularly if this contemplation
occurs in connection with relief from ordinary cares, change of air and
change of habits, is favorable to the health and vigor of men and
especially to the health and vigor of their intellect beyond any other
conditions that can be offered them...The want of such occasional
recreation where men and women are habitually pressed by their
business or household cares often results in a class of disorders the
characteristic quality of which is mental disability.39
Olmsted listed the litany of ills brought on by the stresses of daily routine including,
paralysis, palsy, monomania, or insanity, but more frequently of mental and nervous
excitability, moroseness, melancholy or irascibility.40 Recreation in the outdoors was
considered a therapy of no small consequence, and Olmsted concluded that an
enlightened government will responsibly establish public parks for the use and
enjoyment of all its citizens; such benefits should not be available only to the wealthy
who could afford substantial private pleasure grounds.
The emergence of what Nash calls the wilderness cult sparked strong interest in
outdoor recreation, which would draw Americans to camping, riding, fishing, hiking,
39 Olmsted, The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees, 17.
40 Olmsted, The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees, 17.
57


and similar activities. Stanford Demars notes that Americans began entering into a
more personal relationship with nature, beginning to perceive their natural world less
as a medium for meditative appreciation than an arena in which to experience a more
intensified and, by implication, a more satisfying association with nature.41 Indeed,
the wilderness experience, unlike the wilderness aesthetic, presumed the absence of
civilization and its artifacts.42 Hiking was invigorating, boating relaxing, fishing
recuperative. In Roughing It, Mark Twain wrote of waking at dawn during a camping
trip at Lake Tahoe, There is no end of wholesome medicine in such an
experience.. .The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and
delicious. And why shouldnt it be?it is the same the angels breathe.43 Prompted
by a romantic tendency to associate wilderness with the frontier and Americas
pioneering past; see it as a locus of noble primitivism; and perceive it as a sanctuary
of renewal and relaxation, the average citizen could approach wilderness with the
viewpoint of the vacationer rather than the conqueror. Specifically, the qualities of
solitude and hardship that had intimidated many pioneers were likely to be
magnetically attractive to their city-dwelling grandchildren.44
Wilderness recreation also benefited from the support of influential American
politicians, naturalists, and avid (and generally upper class) outdoorsmen, who were
instrumental in establishing societies and clubs dedicated to its use and preservation.
President Theodore Roosevelt, an accomplished hunter, rider, and outdoorsman,
championed American wilderness from Washington, D. C. and from his ranch in the
Dakota Territories. Roosevelts own Boone and Crockett Club was founded in 1888,
the Sierra Club in 1892, and the Colorado Mountain Club in 1912their members
41 Demars, The Tourist in Yosemite, 56.
42 Runte, National Parks, 159.
43 Twain, Roughing It, 135.
44 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 143.
58


were enthusiastic recreationists, involved to varying degrees in wilderness
preservation efforts. The Boy Scout movement came to America in 1910. A series of
National Conferences on Outdoor Recreation were held in the 1920s. Individuals such
as John Muir in the Sierra Nevada and Enos Mills in the Colorado Rockies began to
give voice to a new idea: the inherent, essentialand not necessarily quantifiable
value in wilderness. In 1898, Muir wrote:
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are
beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home;
that wildness is a necessity; and that the mountain parks and
reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and
irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.45
Yet, the embrace of recreation as a virtuous and healthful cure for the ills of
civilization was accompanied by a dark cloud of anxiety that hovered over both the
disappearance of Americas frontier and the future of its wilderness. Recall Frederick
Jackson Turners 1893 paper on the closing of the frontier, delivered at the Worlds
Columbian National Exposition in Chicago. Turners thesis raised the unhappy
specter of the frontiers ultimate disappearanceand the negative impact its demise
would have on American character. The result was the condition called frontier
anxiety by David M. Wrobel.46 Wrobel distinguishes the disappearance of the
frontier in the 1890s as an event of no small consequence because, in a word, the
frontier was what made America exceptional. Simply the idea of the frontier
invested Americans with a confidence bom of boundless opportunity, a tremendous
pride in the countrys democratic uniqueness, and a sense of national distinctiveness
seen as unmatched by its Western European counterparts. It also served to explain
why the United States did not suffer from the same societal turmoil that had tom
45 John Muir, The World Parks and Forest Reservations of the West, Atlantic Monthly (January
1898): 15, quoted in Kaiser, Landmarks in the Landscape, 10.
46 Wrobel, The End of American Exceptionalism. Wrobel traces the influence of frontier anxiety from
its beginning in the 1880s to the early 1930s .
59


through Europe over the course of the nineteenth century. Europe, so the reasoning
went, did not have a frontier and from the late eighteenth through the nineteenth
centuries had seen no end to its societal ills in the forms of successive political,
social, and economic revolutions. The cheap, or even free, and seemingly limitless
lands of the American frontier were perceived by Americans and Europeans alike as a
sort of safety valve for American economic and population growth, an advantage
unavailable to class-tom Europe (except perhaps through emigration). As a barometer
of American well-being and moral character, one need only ponder the frontiers
predicted demise, beginning as early as the 1870s, in order to understand the
fundamental source of frontier anxiety.
Moreover, the notions of frontier and wilderness were hopelessly entangled in
American lore and iconography, for both the process (frontiering) and the place
(the frontier itself) were located in the mythic American West. Nash states, Many
Americans came to understand that wilderness was essential to pioneering: without
wild country the concepts of frontier and pioneer were meaningless.47 Yet even in
the early part of the nineteenth century, amid the rampant and optimistic enthusiasm
for progress, technological conquest, economic gain, and rapid settlement in this
seemingly inexhaustible land, there began to emerge a competing and unhappy view.
The realization struck that there existed, in the words of Lee Clark Mitchell, the
other side of progress: empire building required the destruction of wilderness.48 The
first kernels of doubt created an uneasy sense of impending doom that the wilderness,
too, would soon vanish or be vanquished.49 If indeed the frontier was already lost,
then might not wilderness be equally at risk? Wilderness had become so loaded with
47 Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 145.
48 Mitchell, Witnesses to a Vanishing America, xiii.
49 An important aspect of Mitchells explication of Americas vanishing wilderness is the plight of the
Indian, who he deems the most compelling actor in the wildernessindeed, the human symbol of that
evanescent experience... Mitchell, Witnesses to a Vanishing America, xiv.
60


some of the deepest core values of the culture that created and idealized it50.. .to
protect wilderness was in a very real sense to protect the nations most sacred myth of
origin.51 If the frontier was truly lost and beyond reach, so the thinking went,
perhaps at least wilderness areas could be preserved.
Alongside the rise in anxiety over the loss of American wilderness, there grew among
politicians interested in preserving, not wilderness, but rather United States economic
growth, a clarion call for better management of the countrys immense but finite
natural resources. Concerns over the rapid depletion and critical shortages of these
resources created additional angst. Trees to support lumbering (the nations fourth
largest industry in the late nineteenth century) and watersheds to sustain agricultural
production were viewed as precious resources needed to support economic growth,
business productivity, and wealth accumulation. Businessmen and politicians argued
urgently that a depleted supply of high quality lumber, ongoing boom-and-bust timber
cycles, and compromised watersheds from cut-and-run logging practices, would be
economically devastating to the country.
Although a preservationist spirit was fostered by both an aesthetic appreciation of
wilderness, particularly for the spectacular lands of the American West, and increased
participation in the recreational opportunities available in the great outdoors, it
seems unlikely that either would have sufficed to create the momentum needed to
establish the national forests and national parks. Impetus was created through
urgency; and urgency stemmed from the emergence of a triad of anxietiesthe
apparent demise of the American frontier, the nations vanishing wilderness areas,
and diminishing availability of raw materials needed for American industrial
production. All of the above led to the unprecedented appropriation of large tracts of
50 Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 73.
51 Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 11.
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public land by the federal government in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries.
The Rise of the National Forests and National Parks
The establishment of the early Forest Reserves (the name would later be changed to
National Forests) and national parks is a complex history of passion and politicking,
galvanized by an evolving discourse around the emerging concepts of preservation
and conservation. It is no coincidence that all of the earliest national parks and forests
were established in the Western United Statesthe land of myth and legend, the
disappearing frontier, and vast areas of wilderness destruction. In fact, as noted by
Runte, Although nine-tenths of the population lived in the eastern half of the
country, prior to 1919 every major preserve was in the West.52
Compared to the national parks, the forest reserves were an easier commitment to
make for a government dedicated to industrial growth. Coming off at least a century
of voracious consumption and appalling waste, Americas timberlands, watersheds,
minerals, and soils were, in many areas, hideously depleted and damaged. With its
natural resources at risk, the passage on March 3, 1891 of the Forest Reserve Act was
perceived as critical to the countrys economic well-being.53 President Benjamin
Harrison almost immediately established fifteen such reserves, comprising thirteen
million acres. By the end of the 1890s, close to forty million acres had been set aside
as forest reserves; ten years later the amount had almost quadrupled to 142 million
52 Runte, National Parks, 69.
53 The name would be changed from forest reserves to national forests in 1907, two years after the
establishment of the U. S. Forest Service.
62


acres.54 By 1907, these Reserves comprised almost unimaginably large land areas
totaling more than 150 million acres; their unprecedented reservation by the federal
government has been called by Char Miller, a radical experiment in American
political history.55
Initially, such lands were reserves in name only, without any well-considered policies
to govern their purpose, use, protection, or management. However, with the
establishment in 1905 of the U.S. Forest Service within the Department of
Agriculture, and the policies put in place by its first director, the legendary and
influential Gifford Pinchot, priorities centered on the effective regulation and efficient
administration of its vast lands.56 In setting policy for the Forest Service, Pinchot
proclaimed, All land is to be devoted to its most productive use for the permanent
good of the whole people... [W]here conflicting interests must be reconciled, the
question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the
greatest number in the long run.57
The idea of federally-owned forest reserves sprouted out of a complex root system
that held tight twin beliefs in the scientific management of the countrys natural
54 Rather ironically, the early forest reserves were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of
the Interior, even though the Division of the Forestry was part of the Department of Agriculturea
situation that left the Chief Forester without any forests to administer until the U.S. Forest Service was
established in 1905 and the lands transferred under its jurisdiction.
55 Miller, Foreword, to Lewis, The Forest Service and the Greatest Good, ix.
56 Up until the establishment of the U. S. Forest Service, the forests were not just being mismanaged;
they were not being managed at all. Although the Division of Forestry was established within the
Department of Agriculture in 1881, with little funding, even less jurisdiction, and no public forests to
oversee, the Chief Forester engaged primarily in research and reporting to Congress on forest planning
and administration.
57 Lewis, The Forest Service and the Greatest Good, xiii.
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resources and the governments moral obligation to do so.58 The federal governments
allegiance with the scientific management principles of the day is clearly
demonstrated by the mechanistic terminology used to describe its operations in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This scientific management mindset
seems quite at odds with the preservationist spirit that imbues environmental thinking
today, but was fully sympathetic to management principles and conventions at the
time. The 1905 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture is littered with such words as
efficiency, expert knowledge, economic tree planting, science of American
forestry, economy of labor, and practical methods of management for
commercial ends. Pinchot argued that Americas forests should be managed as any
crop, referring to the practice as tree farming. Runte summarizes:
Professional foresters...argued that trees should not be preserved
indefinitely, but rather should be grown much like crops, albeit ones
harvested at 50-, 75-, or 100-year intervals. Similarly, hydrologists
and civil engineers maintained that rivers should be dammed and their
waters distributed for irrigation, desert reclamation, and other
practical ends; to allow natural drainage was considered wasteful.
Americans must work to stabilize their environment by manipulating
natural cycles to achieve greater industrial and agricultural efficiency.
Only then would mankinds historical dependence on the whims of
nature be overcome.59
Pinchot valued progressive scientific management as the mechanism through which
the goals of efficiency and productivity would be achieved. He professionalized the
Forest Service, working with his family to endow the Yale Forest School and making
58 In 1864, George Perkins Marsh published Man and Nature: Or, Physical Geography as Modified by
Human Action, a hugely influential tome that warned of the dire consequences of environmental
degradation and advocated for a responsible stewardship. See also Lewis, The Forest Service and the
Greatest Good and Steen, The U.S. Forest Service.
59 Runte, National Parks, 68 69.
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available the 1,700 acres surrounding Grey Towers, his familys summer home in
Pennsylvania, as a field camp for future foresters.60
In truth, economic urgency trumped morality. Quite simply, the first order of the day
was to manage and conserve the countrys natural resources for present and future
usea hugely important task given their criticality in fueling American industrial and
economic growth. Justification for government stewardship of Americas public
lands dominates the 1905 Report of the Secretary of Agriculture: Forestry is a matter
of immediate interest to every household in the land. Forest destruction is no
imaginary danger of a distant future. If it is not speedily checked its effects will
sooner or later be felt in every industry and every home.61 In the early years of the
Forest Service, Gifford Pinchots notion of the greatest good of the greatest number
in the long run was understood in overwhelmingly utilitarian terms and the operative
word in forest conservation policies remained use. Pinchot issued the (appropriately
titled) first annual Use Book in 1905, a pocket-sized manual that succinctly described
Forest Service management policies.
Recreation was hardly a part of the Forest Services original mandate; summer homes
never even entered the picture. Tweed notes that, for Pinchot, recreation was an
incidental use.62 Even when increasing recreational use on the part of the American
public forced the federal government to attend to its management, recreation was
perceived as a trivial or tangential use in comparison to the more pressing resource
management problems at the time. In The Forest Service and the Greatest Good,
James G. Lewis puts the situation in historical perspective:
60 Lewis, The Forest Service and the Greatest Good, 43.
61 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 1905, 56.
62 Tweed, Recreation Site Planning, 2.
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Muir and his followers led with their hearts; Pinchot and his acolytes
led with their heads. The early Forest Service chiefs favored timber
and commercial use and considered recreation a compatible
commodity use. In practice, though, recreation took a backseat to
timber management. Timber was driving the bus in which the
recreating public was riding.63
In The U.S. Forest Service: A History, Harold K. Steen concurs, Mapping and
bringing under even rudimentary management the over 180 million acres of the
national forest system was a great burden. The agency dealt first with what it saw as
the great problems, leaving lesser issues to take care of themselves as best they could.
To the Forest Service, recreation was a lesser use.64
Nevertheless, while utilitarianism prevailed, recreational uses slowly began to work
their way into the forest management portfolio. The backlash from the Hetch Hetchy
Valley controversy associated with Yosemite National Park and ongoing pressures
from conservationists and recreationists alike, forced the Forest Service to begin to
yield its predominantly resource-driven, utilitarian position.65 Recreation became an
increasing preoccupation in the early decades of the twentieth century. Annual
Reports of the Secretary of Agriculture and Reports of the Forester devoted more
coverage to the subject, hired consultants to study the issue, and participated in a
variety of conferences and symposia on recreation. Frank A. Waugh, a professor of
landscape architecture at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, was hired by U. S.
Forester Henry S. Graves in 1917 to study recreational uses in a variety of national
forests across the United States. In his 1918 report, Recreation Uses on the National
Forests, Waugh enthused about the value of recreation: Outdoor recreation is a
63 Lewis, The Forest Service and the Greatest Good, 112.
64 Steen, The U.S. Forest Service, 113.
65 The Hetch Hetchy Valley was included within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park, and thus
reserved for wilderness preservation and presumably safe from development. Nonetheless, in 1913 San
Francisco, with U.S. Forest Service Director, Gifford Pinchots backing, received Congressional and
Presidential approval to build a dam and flood the valley for use as a municipal reservoir.
66


necessity of civilized life, and as civilization becomes more intensive the demand
grows keener. The vast extent of our present National Forests, their enticing wildness,
and the notable beauty of the native landscape lure men and women thither by
hundreds of thousands.66 In the 1920s, in order to accommodate sportsmen and
outdoor enthusiasts, the Forest Service turned its attention to wildlife population and
game management. The increasing number of national parks, which were often
carved out of Forest Service lands, and ongoing arguments favoring the establishment
of a new bureau to manage these parks, also tested Forest Service priorities.67 Future
challenges would revolve around the interpretation and application of appropriate
recreational use of the national forestsincluding the construction of new summer
homes and the management of summer homes built prior to the establishment of the
national forests.
The Reports of the Secretary ofAgriculture and the Reports of the Forester over the
first two decades of the twentieth century highlight a slowly emerging juggling act
between resource management and recreation. Obtaining funding for recreational uses
and for recreational staff remained an uphill battle for the Forest Service through the
1920s.68 Among the tactics used to justify such funding were attempts to quantify the
value of recreation, a fitting endeavor for a government agency inherently committed
to supporting economic advancement and tracking the costs of doing so, and to
66 Waugh, Recreation Uses on the National Forests, 1918, 3.
67 Pinchot and later Forest Service officials argued forcefully for inclusion of the National Parks within
the Bureau of Forestry (which later became the U.S. Forest Service) but were defeated in their efforts,
partially due to the Hetch Hetchy Valley controversy. See Steen, The U.S. Forest Service and Tweed,
Recreation Site Planning.
68 Tweed in Recreation Site Planning provides a good overview of the challenges faced by the Forest
Service in administering its recreational uses, which grew exponentially in the 1920s, without
anywhere near a commensurate amount of funding. While the Reports of the Forester and Reports of
the Secretary of Agriculture devoted increasing attention to recreation needs, Congressional funding
support was, in truth, almost nonexistent. It was only with the advent of New Deal politics and
programs in the 1930s that ... the Forest Service received recreation funds and support far beyond its
wildest dreams of earlier years. Tweed, Recreation Site Planning, 16.
67


identify sources of revenue from recreation. Importantly, summer homes began to be
seen as a recreational use that could accrue both monetary benefits for the U.S. Forest
Service and healthful benefits for their owners.
The establishment of the national parks was quite another matter. Romantic notions
of the American Wests scenic and recreational value, coupled with increasing
despair over the lost frontier and the destruction of wilderness, drove populist
sentiment toward the preservation of scenic wilderness.69 However, Congressional
support of wilderness preservation was dictated less by romance and despair, and
more by fundamental pragmatism and utilitarianism. Congress argued that national
parks should be comprised of the most magnificent natural scenery in the United
States, presumably in order to foster American national pride and identityas long as
park boundaries did not encompass land that held any promise of logging, mineral
extraction, or agricultural value. Thus, while the early national forests were
established on land deemed most crucial for watershed protection and timber
production, and thus most important for the countrys economic wellbeing, the early
national parks were established only on land bereft of such resources and, therefore,
of little or no economic value. Runte summarizes:
There evolved in Congress a firm (if unwritten) policy that only
worthless lands might be set aside as national parks. From the very
beginning Congress bowed to arguments that commercial resources
should either be excluded from the parks at the outset, or be opened to
exploitation regardless of their location.70
69 The rampant and ugly commercialization of Niagara Falls, long considered one of Americas most
magnificent scenic attributes and a major tourist attraction, also served as impetus to set aside the
Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees and later establish Yellowstone National Park. See Sears,
Sacred Places and Runte, The National Parks.
70 Runte, The National Parks, 48.
68


.. .Indeed, throughout the history of the national park idea, the concept
of useless scenery has virtually determined which landmarks the
nation would protect as well as how it would protect them.71
Legislation emphasized what Richard West Sellars calls fa9ade
management... protecting and enhancing the scenic fa9ade of nature for the publics
enjoyment, but with scant scientific knowledge and little concern for biological
consequences.72
In addition to preserving Western scenery, the early national parks became
increasingly valued for their recreational opportunities. Horticulturist and avid park
supporter, Horace McFarland succinctly captured the distinction between national
park and national forest, saying that a national forest was the nations woodlot,
while a national park was the nations playground.73 Helped along by reports of its
wondrous sights and by the lobbying efforts of railroad interests in Montana,
Yellowstone became the first national park in 1872.74 Of the largest existing national
parks, Yellowstone was followed by Yosemite and Sequoia in 1890, Mount Rainier in
1899, Glacier in 1910, Rocky Mountain in 1915, and the Grand Canyon (which had
been named a National Monument in 1908) in 1919.
As with the national forests, the national parks were established long before there
were policies and procedures in place to guide their management or administrators to
manage policy implementation. The U. S. Cavalry was prevailed upon to patrol
71 Runte, The National Parks, 49.
72 Sellars, Preserving Nature in the National Parks, 4.
73 McFarland to Graves, February 21, 1911, quoted in Sellars, Preserving Nature in the National
Parks, 37.
74 Sellars contends that while the profit motive has been obscured by the altruistic proposal for a
public park, in fact Northern Pacific Railroad investor Jay Cooke, who quickly appreciated the
railroads opportunity to monopolize the tourist trade, was instrumental in the lobbying efforts to
create Yellowstone National Park. Sellars, Preserving Nature in the National Parks, 8-9. Sellars also
provides a legislative and political summary of the establishment of the early national parks, 28 46.
69


Yellowstone. The state of California managed the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa
Big Tree Grove. Private concessionaires (particularly the railroads) provided lodging
and services within and around the park boundaries. Almost four-and-a-half decades
after the creation of Yellowstone and with fourteen national parks already in
existence, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Act on
August 25, 1916. Unlike the national forests, the national park mandate was to
conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and
to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will
leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.75 A May 13, 1918
policy statement issued by Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane, clarified and
strengthened the language through the application of three principles:
First, that the national parks must be maintained in absolutely
unimpaired form for the use of future generations as well as those
of our own time; second, that they are set apart for the use,
observation, health, and pleasure of the people; and third, that the
national interest must dictate all decisions affecting public or
private enterprise in the parks.76
The 1918 policy was significant for the numerous summer-home owners whose
cabins and cottages sat within national park boundaries, for it prohibited summer
homes, as well as other selected structures and activities, within the national parks.
Among the stickiest issues faced by both the national forests and the national parks
would be those surrounding recreation and tourism. Such terms as pleasure and
unimpaired, as well as preservation and recreation, would (like the term use
in the national forests) provide interpretive challenges in later years. Frederick Law
Olmsteds pioneering report on The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees,
prepared in 1865, had presented an innovative and well-considered assessment of the
75 Runte, National Parks, 104. The clause is traced to one penned by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
76 McClelland, Building the National Parks, 134.
70


needs for both preservation and recreation. As Linda Flint McClelland summarizes,
Olmsteds report set forth a philosophical and practical framework for the
development of natural areas for the use and enjoyment of the public.77 Olmsted
recommended improving roads leading to the Yosemite Valley; creating ring roads
around Valley and the Mariposa Grove with suitable resting places and turnouts for
passing being provided at frequent intervals; and offering trails and paths for those
inclined to alight from their carriages and proceed on foot.78 As with his plan for
Central Park, Olmsted carefully addressed the connection between providing the
amenities required to enhance public enjoyment of the outdoor experience, including
the crucial framing of vistas and views, while simultaneously safeguarding the natural
landscape from overuse.
The national forests and national parks quickly grew in stature and prominence as the
American public increasingly recognized their recreational bountyand tourists
responded wholeheartedly. Coupled with advancements in transportation systems, the
establishment of the national forests and national parks led to remarkable growth in
tourism in the American Westinduced by a unique admixture of patriotism coupled
with anxiety; given an assist by technology and industry, travel guides and railroad
advertisements; and bom of the desire to see firsthand the American wilderness prior
to its predicted demise.
77 McClelland, Building the National Parks, 52.
78 Olmsted, The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Trees, 24.
71


CHAPTER 4
WILDERNESS TOURISM IN COLORADO AND THE MOUNTAIN WEST
In the making of a tourist, three factors must coalesce: first, one must have a reason to
leave home; second, one must have a place to go to; and third, one must have a way
to get there. Quite simply, motivation, destination, and transportation must combine.
In the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, many Americans from
throughout the United States would travel to the American Westand particularly
the Mountain Westto see the magnificent wilderness caught on canvas and in
photographs or to seek its heralded and well-documented health benefits.
Transportation was initially provided by way of railroad and later and more
significantly via automobile. As for destination? The place to visit was Colorado
The Switzerland of America and the first spectacularly mountainous state reached
when traveling from the east seeking Americas wilderness.
Motivation: On the Hunt for Health, Scenery, and Recreation
In the late nineteenth century, tourism was a rapidly growing middle class
phenomenon and tourists traveled throughout America for any number of reasons.
Three aims, however, were particularly motivating: an often urgent need to improve
ones health or seek a cure for a specific illness; a desire to experience firsthand the
celebrated Western wilderness areas that boasted the scenery, scale, and variety
unmatched by anything to be found in the Eastern United States; and an unrestrained
enthusiasm for outdoor recreation. Momentum grew sharply in the early twentieth
centuryhelped along by massive promotional efforts from a variety of sourcesas
72


the American West beckoned and tourists responded in force. Tourism was aided
along its path to institutionalization by the advent of annual vacations and the
emerging concept of the weekend. As Ethan Carr notes, By the 1890s, Saturday half
holidays and two-week annual vacations encouraged weekend outings and summer
vacations not just for the wealthy (who had always traveled) but for laborers and
salaried workers.1 Importantly, tourists left home not only to go to other places, but
to escape from the gritty, dirty, and even dangerous summer life of the city. As
Stanford E. Demars remarks:
Not only was such travel destination-oriented, but...its basic purpose
was the desire to escape from the disagreeable elements of everyday
life. Nineteenth century leisure travelers welcomed opportunities to
flee the increasing congestion and tedium of the city.2
Yet, summers in the city were not merely characterized by ennui or inconvenience. In
investigating the effects of early tourism and later summer home ownership, one must
give the absence of air conditioning its due, for here was a technological shortcoming
of no small consequence. The summer heat also brought with it the more gripping
reality of higher death rates and disease epidemics. As Marsha E. Ackerman notes:
Summer outbreaks of such epidemic diseases as cholera and yellow
fever, while affecting poor and immigrant neighborhoods more
severely, also endangered the solid citizenry of major cities. Heat was
dangerous not because humans felt hot and sweaty but because foul
miasmasand later harmful germswere known to flourish in hot
weather amid the deficient sanitary conditions that characterized most
urban areas.3
Even when large cities began to create the infrastructure necessary to provide more
sanitary urban environments, the heat was often relentless. Ackerman summarizes
1 Carr, Wilderness by Design, 52.
2 Demars, The Tourist in Yosemite, 15.
3 Ackerman, Cool Comfort, 15.
73


a variety of coping mechanisms: sitting on the stoop, the fire escape, the roofcold
drinks and visits to ice-cream parlors, sleeping in municipal parks, reduced or
rescheduled work hours, and vacations for those who could afford them.4 Thus,
those who could leave, generally did, fleeing what was rather poetically called the
heated term. The Fort Collins Weekly Courier reported on July 8, 1908, Colorado
has many charming summer resorts where one can spend the heated term with ease,
comfort and satisfaction and enjoy the beauties and grandeurs that Nature has so
lavishly placed at this hand. The Courier similarly noted on August 15, 1901, Don
A. Carpenter is spending a short vacation with his mother, Mrs. Mary P. Carpenter,
and recuperating from the effects of Milwaukee heat.. .The heated term down east
was a little too much for him, so he came here to recover his wonted health.
In Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States, Cindy S. Aron
identifies escaping disease and seeking health among the earliest motivations behind
tourism. By the late eighteenth century, an elite group of wealthier Americans was
traveling to hot or mineral springs, the sea, and the mountains in search of better
health. Doctors wholeheartedly supported the trend and in the early nineteenth
century began prescribing travel to healthful climates in the belief that,
Nature... could be enlisted in the cure and prevention of disease.5 The practice
prevailed and even increased through the early twentieth century as such travel
became affordable to the middle class.
The American West, in general, and Colorado, in particular, were important
destinations for tuberculosis patients and others with various respiratory problems.
Colorados pure, dry mountain air was highly regarded in the medical community as
an antidote to tuberculosis and any number of other respiratory diseases; as a result
4 Ackerman, Cool Comfort, 16.
5 Aron, Working at Play, 18.
74


many doctors prescribed lengthy visits to the state for those in need of a mountain
cure. The number of health seekers who visited or moved to Colorado is
undocumented, but during the first decade of the twentieth century an estimated
twenty-five percent of the deaths in Denver were attributed to tuberculosis, a statistic
which hints at the substantial number of tubercular visitors to or inhabitants of the
city at the time.6 Many early touristsboth ailing and healthyarrived first in
Denver and then headed up into the mountains to such destinations as Estes Park,
Georgetown, Glenwood Springs, and Idaho Springs. Others sought Colorado Springs,
a new town that offered the ample accommodations and easy access to Pikes Peak, or
the neighboring fine resort of Manitou Springs, which
like Colorado Springs a creation of the Denver and Rio Grande
Railroad, flourished as a first-class spa. This Saratoga of the West
boasted eight mineral springs with ornamental pavilions, winding
pathways, and large hotels, boardinghouses, and private cottages.7
In fact, F.O. Stanley, who figures prominently in the development of Estes Park, first
traveled to Colorado from Massachusetts on the orders of his doctor in 1903. Within a
year Stanley had recovered from his tuberculosis, ultimately building a summer home
and a resort hotel (among other things), and returning as a summer resident for more
than thirty-five years.
Tourists also traveled on the hunt for scenery and sightseeing attractions. Early
attractions included natural wonders such as Niagara Falls (and Yosemite and
Yellowstone National Parks later in the century), and more curiously from a present-
day perspective, cemeteries, prisons and asylums. All assumed the mantle of quasi-
religious symbols. Sears notes that tourists referred to themselves as pilgrims, and
tourist destinations were seen as revealing the hand of God at work (whether in the
6 Abbott, Leonard, and Noel, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State, 227.
7 Abbott, Leonard, and Noel, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State, 224.
75


creation of magnificent scenery or the reformation of the penitent), and thus,
functioned as the sacred places of nineteenth century American society.8 Yet they
also embodied the nascent secular and commercial sides of an American culture that
would become increasingly predisposed to consumerism as the century drew to a
close.
In the early years of the twentieth century, middle class tourists seeking scenery
began to outnumber wealthy spa-goers and sickly tuberculosis patients (the latter now
less welcome or confined to sanitariums due to an enhanced understandingand
fearof the contagious nature of the disease). In See American First: Tourism and
National Identity, Marguerite S. Shaffer distinguishes between the peripatetic
sightseeing adventures of tum-of-the-twentieth century tourists and the earlier
pilgrimages and resort vacations described by Sears. What Shaffer terms national
tourism, played a crucial role in creating an American national identity; importantly
this form of tourism often involved visiting the national parks and national forests,
whose significance in creating such an American identity has already been discussed.
Shaffer states, Tourismboth the production of the tourist landscape and the
consumption of the tourist experiencewas central to the development of a nascent
national culture in the United States.9 Orvar Lofgren observes that to appreciate and
absorb the spectacular scenery of America, The viewer had to be a true American.
Thus the nationalization of the sublime added a new dimension of the sacred: the
feeling that in certain landscapes you were in communion with nature and with the
spirit of the nation itself.10
8 Sears, Sacred Places, 7.
9 Shaffer, See America First, 6.
10 Lofgren, On Holiday, 40.
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Still others traveled in search of recreationan objective that ultimately tied in nicely
with the hunt for scenery. Not surprisingly, concepts of recreation changed through
the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. Early activities were of
the genteel sort with billiards, cards, ocean bathing (segregated of course), evening
promenades, dancing, and similar amusements drawing enthusiasts. Well-established
resorts such as Saratoga Springs and White Sulphur Springs offered, for both the
middle and upper classes, a variety of amusements and entertainments including,
playing at tenpins, gambling in the casino, sipping water at the springs, or listening
to band concerts on the lawn.11 Yet, in addition to staying at resorts, Americans
began to express greater interest in visiting Americas fabled wilderness areas.
As more national parks were established and the U. S. Forest Service began to
enhance and emphasize the recreational amenities of the national forests, tourists
flocked to hotels, lodges, guest ranches, rental cabins, and campgrounds in and near
the parks and forests. Traveling first by train and later by automobile, tourists moved
from park to park and forest to forest, seeking scenery and recreation. In 1920, the
National Park Service reported 756,654 visitors to the national parks and the U.S.
Forest Service reported 4,832,671 visitors to the national forests. By 1930, visitors to
the national parks numbered 2,607,499 and visitors to the national forests had jumped
to 31,904,515.12 Indeed, in this age of inveterate collectors, tourists could collect the
national parks as they would Chinese tea caddies and Staffordshire porcelain dogs.
Yellowstone, with its spouting geysers, deep canyons, percolating mud pots, and
thermal springs, may well have served as the ultimate cabinet of curiosities.
Even wilderness preservationists began to see the benefits inherent in tourism. With
the national parks ever at risk to economic exploitation, preservationists realized after
11 Aron, Working at Play, 87.
12 Marshall, The Peoples Forests, 61. Note that these numbers may include individuals who visited a
single park or forest numerous times.
77


the loss of Hetch Hetchy that an appeal to the emotional aspects of magnificent
scenery would only go so far.13 Indeed, the economic gains from tourism could rival
those from mining, ranching, and logging. Ironically, gaining tourists meant making
concessions in the wilderness to allow for roads and lodging facilities. Nonetheless,
as Runte notes, Given a choice in 1910, preservationists clearly preferred roads,
trails, hotels, and crowds to dams, reservoirs, powerlines, and conduits.14
Both the significance of tourism to the national parks and forests, and the significance
of the national parks and forests to tourism can hardly be overstated. The value of
tourism was recognized early at Yosemite and Yellowstone. In 1871, Congress, while
delineating Yellowstone as a wasteland in terms of economic importance, also
noted its value as a tourist resort, stating, In a few years this region will be a place of
resort for all classes of people from all portions of the world. The geysers of Iceland,
which have been objects of interest for the scientific men and travelers of the entire
world, sink into insignificance in comparison with the hot springs of the
Yellowstone.15 The U.S. Forest Service, increasingly in competition with the
national parks for tourism and tourist dollars, would ultimately intensify its emphasis
on tourism and recreation. Both recreational policies and tourism would have a strong
impact on the construction and use of summer homes. As wilderness sightseeing and
recreation became increasingly fashionable, the business of promoting the American
West and her national parks and forests increased concomitantly.
13 For a brief history of the Hetch Hetchy Steal, see Runte, National Parks, 77-83.
14 Runte, National Parks, 91.
15 U. S. Congress, House Committee on Public Lands, The Yellowstone Park, 42nd Cong.; 2nd sess.,
H. Rept. 26 to accompany H.R. 764, February 27, 1872, quoted in Sears, Sacred Places, 162.
78


Promoting the American West
By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the American West was being promoted
heavily in guidebooks, railroad brochures and advertisements, magazines, local
historiesand by tourists themselves. Given a strong assist by an emerging tourist
infrastructure, which provided both the means and the culturally congruent message
that mediated between expectation and experience, tourists would help shape an
evolving aesthetic language and public memory. Their influence was not
insignificant, for as Limerick observes, Many of our ideas about the West originated
in the minds of people who were just passing through, people who saw only a little
and who still wrote as if they knew the whole.16
Shaffer, calling tourism a ritual of American citizenship, states:
Commercial clubs, railroad corporations, the National Park Service,
good-roads advocates, guidebook publishers, and a wide array of
tourist advocates and enthusiasts defined the tourist experience in
national terms...In the process, they created and marketed tourist
landscapes as quintessentially American places, consciously
highlighting certain meanings and myths while ignoring others,
deliberately arranging historical events and anecdotes, intentionally
framing certain scenes and views into a coherent national whole...In
teaching tourists what to see and how to see it, promoters invented and
mapped an idealized American history and tradition across the
American landscape, defining an organic nationalism that linked
national identity to a shared territory and history.17
In 1869 George A. Crofutt published the Great Trans-Continental Railroad Guide,
which he dutifully updated annually until 1876, at which point he replaced it with
Crofutts Overland Tourist, also updated annually until 1884.18 Beginning in 1881,
16 Limerick, Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West, in Wrobel and Long, Seeing
and Being Seen, 43.
17 Shaffer, See America First, 4.
18 Shaffer, See America First, 18.
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Crofutt wrote the Grip-Sack Guide of Colorado, a series of guidebooks for Colorado-
bound tourists. The 1885 edition of the Grip-Sack Guide is a compendium of all
manner of information about Colorado with lavish descriptions of the scenery and
resorts, as well as rather prosaic details on local wages (Bullwhackers, $25 to $35 per
month and board) and the number of horses, cattle, and sheep by county (8,166 horses
in Larimer County).19 He praises the industriousness of Denvers citizenry and calls
Estes Park (altitude 6,810; permanent population, 150) one of the most delightful
summer resorts in Colorado.20 One can imagine how Crofutts Colorado guide would
have been at once informative, engaging, inviting, and eminently reassuring to the
long distance traveler of the day.
For the national parks in particular, promotional efforts involved a cooperative effort
between the railroads, the U. S. government, and a tourist infrastructure that was
becoming increasingly institutionalized by the turn of the twentieth century. The role
of the railroads in getting tourists and settlers to the West and creating images of the
West can hardly be overstated. Runte remarks, The railroads of the West enjoyed a
marketing advantage that was second to none. Theirs was the romantic
terminus21... Among all the publicists of the region, the railroads were without rivals
in their ability to bring the West into the living rooms of the American people with
special attention given to its cultural and topographical significance.22 Using such
communication tools as advertising, art, and travel guides, which began to appear as
early as the 1860s, the railroads told travelers what to see, how to see it (by rail of
course), and how to feel when seeing it. As John Findlay summarizes, A railroad
agent once reportedly quipped, The West is purely a railroad enterprise. We started it
19 Crofutts Grip-Sack Guide, 28.
20 Crofutt's Grip-Sack Guide, 91.
21 Runte, Trains of Discovery, 9
22 Runte, Trains of Discovery, 10.
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in our publicity department.23 Thus, the railroads not only transported tourists to the
American West, and especially to the national parks, they played an absolutely
pivotal role in shaping the tourist experience.
Finally, the tourists themselves through diaries, scrapbooks, and shared consumption
of the land helped shape public memory and national identity through the very act of
being a tourist. Lee Clark Mitchell states that feelings of impending doom linked to
the vanishing American wilderness and catalyzed by the documented departure of the
frontier, not only bolstered travel but resulted in a plethora of travel journals and
diaries, as Americans rushed to seeand write aboutwhat they were convinced
was about to disappear.24 Patricia Nelson Limerick says of tourist writers:
These were journal-keepers, diary-writers, impression-recorders, and
word-mongers, and many of them could not look out a train window at
a wide open western horizon without reaching for their pens. The
result of their compulsive literacy was, by 1900, a western landscape
blanketed by words, covered two or three inches deep with the littered
vocabulary of romantic scenery appreciation. By 1900, a place like
Yellowstone had already been the scene of so much published
scribbling and emotion that it was extremely difficult for anyone to
have an immediate, direct response to the landscape, without a chorus
of quotations going off in the head. Before the eye could take in the
walls of Yosemite, the mind had already provided the caption: soaring,
sublime, uplifting; grandeur, glory, and spirit.25
In the words of historian Earl Pomeroy, the mid-twentieth century chronicler of
Western tourism, A great virtue of the tourist as an index to the West is this fact: that
he is not only recorder but ingredient.. .He never simply tours through the West; he
changes the West when he looks at it.. .the tourist becomes a Westerner, if he is not
23 Unnamed source quoted in Findlay, A Fishy Proposition, in Wrobel and Steiner, Many Wests, 51.
24 Mitchell, Witnesses to a Vanishing America, 30.
25 Limerick, Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West, in Wrobel and Long, Seeing
and Being Seen, 45.
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