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The Lure of the North Woods

Cultivating Tourism in the Upper Midwest

Aaron Shapiro

Publication Year: 2013

In the late nineteenth century, the North Woods offered people little in the way of a pleasant escape. Rather, it was a hub of production supplying industrial America with vast quantities of lumber and mineral ore. This book tells the story of how northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula became a tourist paradise, turning a scarred countryside into the playground we know today.

Stripped of much of its timber and ore by the early 1900s, the North Woods experienced deindustrialization earlier than the Rust Belt cities that consumed its resources. In The Lure of the North Woods, Aaron Shapiro describes how residents and visitors reshaped the region from a landscape of exploitation to a vacationland. The rejuvenating North Woods profited in new ways by drawing on emerging connections between the urban and the rural, including improved transportation, promotion, recreational land use, and conservation initiatives. Shapiro demonstrates how this transformation helps explain the interwar origins of modern American environmentalism, when both the consumption of nature for pleasure and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the North Woods and elsewhere led many Americans to cultivate a fresh perspective on the outdoors. At a time when travel and recreation are considered major economic forces, The Lure of the North Woods reveals how leisure—and tourism in particular—has shaped modern America.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: A North Woods Transformation

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pp. xi-xx

For centuries, Ojibwe people enjoyed dense green forests, abundant wildlife, and waters teeming with fish on land that the United States later labeled northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. By the end of the nineteenth century, mining and logging had stripped this land of much of its natural wealth and splendor. ...

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Chapter 1: A Crop Worth Cultivating: Creating the North Woods

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pp. 1-42

Depicting a farmer holding a hoe with “publicity” emblazoned on the bottom, looking at a bush full of moneybags denoting $450 million in tourist expenditures since World War I, a 1920s cartoon captured tourism’s growing impact on Minnesota’s economy, people, and landscape. Beside the farmer is a watering can with “hospitality” in prominent letters ...

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Chapter 2: Tourists Do Not Deplete Our Soil: Interwar Land Conservation

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pp. 43-72

In 1920, author, professor, and Michigan Land Economic Survey organizer Parrish Lovejoy arrived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he marveled at the devastation of “brushy wastes of scrub, fire-weed forests, bleached snags and charred stumps” as well as the potential of Michigan’s northern lands.1 ...

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Chapter 3: No Dull Days at Dunn's: Labor and Leisure in the North Woods

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pp. 73-120

Between the world wars, North Woods resorts, lodges, housekeeping cabins, tourist camps, and state parks attracted growing numbers of vacationers seeking respite in natural surroundings. With more Americans receiving time off from work, proprietors and employees helped shape a new regional tourist identity and landscape with help from vacationers. ...

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Chapter 4: Tell the World about Your Charms: The Promotional Appeal

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pp. 121-152

Whether reciting poems on the Upper Peninsula, pulling out a map while driving and looking for directions to Minnesota’s Arrowhead, or sitting at home reading about northern Wisconsin’s lakes, vacationers encountered an array of promotional materials designed to lure them north during the interwar years. ...

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Chapter 5: You've Earned It—Now Enjoy It: Playing in the Postwar Era

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pp. 153-190

Born in Ely, Minnesota, in 1917, Bill Rom was the youngest of nine children of Slovenian immigrants. After graduating from high school in 1935, he attended Ely Junior College before enrolling at the University of Minnesota and majoring in wildlife management. ...

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Chapter 6: The Not So Quiet Crisis: Tourism, Wilderness, and Regional Development

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pp. 191-218

In 1962, one year after the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission’s (ORRRC) A Progress Report to the President and to the Congress claimed, “As our open spaces are bulldozed or paved and our accessible lakes and streams deteriorate from pollution, there is that much less for outdoor recreation,” ...

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pp. 219-222

Like many in my story, I have vacationed in the North Woods and labored there, spending days and nights traversing roads, rivers, and lakes, hunkering down in archives, hiking and snowshoeing through the forest, and occasionally catching fish. But what made this project so worthwhile were the people who aided my travels, and it is a pleasure to thank them. ...


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pp. 223-264


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pp. 265-290


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pp. 291-296

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About the Author

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pp. 320-321

Aaron Shapiro, a Chicago native and North Woods visitor since his youth, is assistant professor of history at Auburn University. He previously served as national historian for the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C., ...


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pp. 322-329

E-ISBN-13: 9780816688654
E-ISBN-10: 0816688656
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816677931

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013