Abstract

Redwood preservationists' mid-twentieth century shift from promoting to opposing highway improvements in Humboldt County, California, reveals the complexity of the technology- nature relationship. In the 1920s Save-the Redwoods League and California voters embraced Redwood Highway. The road's sublime, nostalgic aesthetic appealed to auto-tourists, functioning as wish image. It helped organize the vast, impenetrable Redwood landscape: old-growth rainforest groves now lined highway. In the 1950s Highway 101 upgrades, designed for logging trucks and fast cars, changed tourists' scenic experience. Redwood Parks Freeway distanced and dwarfed the redwoods. Seasoned redwood advocate Newton Drury, as well as newcomers like the Sierra Club, agitated against new road-construction within Redwood State Parks. Three studies of material culture-- Wolfgang Schivelbusch on railroads and visual consciousness; David Nye on the technological sublime; and Walter Benjamin on commodity fetishism-- shed light on preservationists' initial enthusiasm for combining Redwoods and automobiles, and failure to anticipate the ensuing conflict.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 30-54
Launched on MUSE
2004-02-05
Open Access
No
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