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Driven Wild

How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement

by Paul S. Sutter

Publication Year: 2002

In its infancy, the movement to protect wilderness areas in the United States was motivated less by perceived threats from industrial and agricultural activities than by concern over the impacts of automobile owners seeking recreational opportunities in wild areas. Countless commercial and government purveyors vigorously promoted the mystique of travel to breathtakingly scenic places, and roads and highways were built to facilitate such travel. By the early 1930s, New Deal public works programs brought these trends to a startling crescendo. The dilemma faced by stewards of the nation's public lands was how to protect the wild qualities of those places while accommodating, and often encouraging, automobile-based tourism. By 1935, the founders of the Wilderness Society had become convinced of the impossibility of doing both.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. v

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Foreword: Why Worry about Roads

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pp. vii-xii

Among the benchmark environmental events of the twentieth century was the U.S. government’s decision in 1964 to protect from development a growing acreage of public lands by legally designating them as “wilderness.” The process began in a few obscure places in remote corners of the country: the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, Trapper’s Lake in Colorado ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book began as a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Kansas, where I was privileged to have Donald Worster as my advisor. Don’s wisdom and patience were, in equal measure, critical to the successful completion of this book and to my maturation as a historian. His influence is everywhere in these pages. Beyond that, I am indebted to him for his ...

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1. The Problem of the Wilderness

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pp. 3-18

In October 1934, the American Forestry Association (AFA) held its annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. Among those on the program was a young forester, then working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), named Bob Marshall. Marshall had distinguished himself as a strident critic of the timber industry and federal forestry policy. His 1933 book, ...

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2. Knowing Nature through Leisure: Outdoor Recreation during the Interwar Years

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pp. 19-53

As Steiner suggested throughout his study, widespread American participation in outdoor recreation was one of the signature developments of the interwar period, and he rightly saw a connection between outdoor recreation, the increasing popularity of commercial amusements, and “the rising tide of sports and games.” But the boom in outdoor recreation was not just the ...

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3. A Blank Spot on the Map: Aldo Leopold

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pp. 54-99

Aldo Leopold was, to borrow from the frontier vocabulary of which he was so fond, a pioneer in the cause of wilderness preservation. Through his writings and initiatives within the Forest Service, he pushed forward the cause of wilderness preservation like no other person of his time, at least until Bob Marshall began his crusade for wilderness areas in the ...

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4. Advertising the Wild: Robert Sterling Yard

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pp. 100-141

As the only founder to come from National Park Service circles, Robert Sterling Yard was an anomaly among the foresters and hiking activists who made up the Wilderness Society’s original membership. He was the lone envoy—though an alienated one—from an agency that had defined nature preservation in the early twentieth century. Yard brought to the ...

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5. Wilderness as Regional Plan: Benton MacKaye

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pp. 142-193

Benton MacKaye was a visionary. His innovative synthesis of conservation and regional planning made him one of the most important and imaginative environmental thinkers of the early twentieth century. He was also a perceptive social critic whose environmental thought was informed by concerns about labor and community stability. Not only did ...

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6. The Freedom of the Wilderness: Bob Marshall

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pp. 194-238

Each of the four founders of the Wilderness Society discussed in this study brought unique concerns and strengths to wilderness advocacy. Aldo Leopold brought an impressive and rounded conservation career— an accretion of experience molded into a profound environmental philosophy. Robert Sterling Yard brought the preservationist values of an ...

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7. Epilogue: A Living Wilderness

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pp. 239-263

Modern wilderness emerged as a new preservationist ideal during the interwar years because of the profound changes wrought by the automobile, road building, a growing leisure-based attachment to nature, and a federal government increasingly willing to fund recreational development on the nation’s public lands. The founding of the Wilderness Society ...


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pp. 264-307


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pp. 308-331


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pp. 332-343

E-ISBN-13: 9780295989907
E-ISBN-10: 0295989904
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295982205
Print-ISBN-10: 0295982209

Publication Year: 2002