“IMAGINING A PURE MICHIGAN LANDSCAPE: ADVERTISERS, TOURISTS, AND THE MAKING OF MICHIGAN’S NORTHERN VACATIONLANDS” in The Michigan Historical Review 42.2 (Fall 2016): 31-51
In the second half of the nineteenth century, a wave of urban tourists remade Michigan’s northern landscapes. Rather than a region of economic extraction, visitors imagined northern Michigan as a healthful remedy or haven to avoid the pressures of urbanity. Supported by railroad and steamship companies, tourists shaped the landscapes to answer their cultural concerns. Through conservation efforts and new environmental appreciation, vacationers redefined this region of the state—often at the expense of local inhabitants. A history of Michigan’s tourist landscapes provides a lens to view how cultural motivations imprint themselves onto the environment. Today, residents of Michigan come to expect certain pristine or “pure” environments. However, the history of Michigan’s vacationlands reveals that those places are constructed to reflect the imaginative desires of tourists and advertisers.