Vassar College Digital Library
New Hampshire’s White Mountains are the site of some of the earliest tourism developments in the United States. In this thesis, I analyze how these developments served to re-shape and construct a new–and lasting–landscape of the region that served the interests of 19th-century settlers, entrepreneurs, and tourists. I base my analysis in a study of landscape construction that explores how places like the White Mountains are assigned meaning over time and have meaning co-produced by humans and nature. I examine the ways that those meanings infuse the landscape with a dominant ideology that dictates how a place is used. I argue that settler colonialism and early American nationalism changed the indigenous landscape of the White Mountains and established the region as a place to be used to cultivate national pride in the newly formed United States. This process laid the foundation for tourist developments during the 19th century. Two forms of tourism emerged during the 19th century: luxury tourism that commodified the scenery of the White Mountains and created mediated recreation experiences of the wilderness, and adventure tourism that put travelers into the Mount Washington landscape but commodified the experience of reaching the summit above all else. These forms of tourism converged and diverged over time, but both contributed to the production of the White Mountain landscape that exists today. That landscape was reshaped to privilege the parts of it that are most desirable as tourism commodities under capitalism, and those parts were naturalized in the land to support that purpose. I argue that as geographers, it is our job to understand why we have come to see the parts of White Mountain landscape that we see by unpacking the history and motivations that created it.
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Not Reviewed
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GEOG 300
Spring 2023
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