Although the six million acre Adirondack Park is one of the most popular areas to visit for biking, hiking, paddling, camping, and much more, it wasn’t always such a major tourist attraction. Once viewed as an intimidating obstacle, the Adirondacks eventually became the premier vacation hotspot in the United States!
Before the Adirondacks transformed into one of the most prominent resort areas in the country, the idea of taking a vacation was very uncommon in the U.S. The camping trips we take today for pleasure and relaxation were rare in the early 19th century because of the focus on industrialization.
At the time, many Americans considered wild areas, such as the Adirondack Park, as places to tame and take over rather than appreciate for their beauty – the mountains, lakes, and forests.
According to a Smithsonian Magazine article, these negative opinions changed as a result of pioneering writer William H.H. Murray. Murray was a young preacher from Boston who in 1869 published one of the first wilderness guidebooks, titled Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks. His book is centered around the idea of taking a vacation from city life and enjoying the simple pleasures in nature.
Inspired by his book, people in the U.S. went on “vacation” in the summer of 1869, a period called “Murray’s Rush.” A new train line made it easier for to travel from major cities, including New York City and Boston. However, most of these trips were disastrous because there weren’t enough places for people to stay, and no one knew where to go.
The following year, Murray became what could be considered the first marketer for the Adirondacks. He lectured around the Northeast about how people should prepare. Since then, the Adirondacks became even more popular, and the Smithsonian Magazine noted that the average summer population increased from 3,000 to 25,000 from 1869-1900. Wealthy Americans established summer lodging, including the Great Camps, and everyday people sought to escape city life. The idea of a vacation was embraced.
Where is your favorite place to vacation in the Adirondacks?
- Smithsonian Magazine – Where Was the Birthplace of the American Vacation?