On July 5, 1870, the New York Daily Tribune reported that “nature tourists” were flooding to the Adirondack Mountains. “Last summer, Mr. Murray’s book drew a throng of pleasure-seekers into the lake region,” the paper noted.
“Mr. Murray” was the Reverend William H.H. Murray, a New England clergyman, author of Adventures in the Wilderness: or Camp-life in the Adirondacks, and one of the all-time most passionate boosters of the outdoor life in the North Country.
On Monday, July 21, 2008, Dr. Terrance Young will offer an illustrated program entitled “Into the Wild: William H.H. Murray and the Beginning of Camping in America” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.
Part of the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the illustrated presentation will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $4.00 for non-members.
Dr. Young will explain how Reverend Murray’s book was the first to present Adirondack camping as a form of pilgrimage to wild nature. Every tourist and would-be camper who came to the Adirondacks in the summers of 1869 and 1870 had a copy of Adventures in the Wilderness tucked into his carpetbag, rucksack, or bundle. The result was the transformation of this previously remote and quiet region into an accessible, bustling destination.
Young is an Associate Professor of Geography at the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Ca. He teaches and writes about the historical geography of American recreation, and its relationship to the natural environment. He is the author of Building San Francisco’s Parks, 1850 – 1930, a book about the city’s municipal park system.
Dr. Young is currently working on a book about the history and meaning of American recreational camping entitled Heading Out: American Camping Since 1869.