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The Making of the National Parks, an American Idea

de Kim Heacox

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This book chronicles the evolution of the American land ethic, beginning in 18th century Europe, through the 1800s, culminating with the creation of the national park service in 1916. An epilogue brings the story up to the present and features the work of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams. The story of the birth of our national parks is a unique story of America. Through compelling text rich with stunning photographs, maps, and paintings - many never seen before - this volume presents it as never before shown. Venture into Yellowstone in 1806 with John Colter, America's first mountain man, to discover an other world of seething mudpots and geysers. Half a century later, walk with young artist Thomas Moran, whose stunning landscapes of Yellowstone compelled Congress to deem it the first national park. Then follow Moran's career as artist-advocate of many parklands from the Tetons to Canyonlands. Dory the Grand Canyon rapids with John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War officer who first mapped the gorge. Wonder at the stories of the people for whom Havasu Falls is named, and of those whose spirits haunt Mesa Verde.Gaze upon the stunning paintings of Yosemite by Albert Bierstadt and the early photographs of William Henry Jackson and Andrew Joseph Russell. Discover how our national parks have played a part, through war and peace, in buoying the American spirit.… (mais)
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Nearly 173 years ago, George Catlin, a relatively unknown portrait artist, quit his “day job” and in 1832 sailed up the Mississippi River to follow the dream of finding “the grace and beauty of nature” presented in the Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper and in frontier landscapes by the early Hudson River School painters who proudly sought to portray the delicate beauty in the fierce wilds of a young nation.

Struck with the vulnerability of the wilderness after watching the slaughter of bison for money and with the westward expansion of pioneers clearing land for cultivation, Catlin hit on a solution to the problems observed. Catlin wrote, “Why could not the Indian, the buffalo, and their wild homeland be protected in a magnificent park…to preserve… [for] future ages! A nation’s Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild freshness of their nature’s beauty.” In simple words which conveyed a novel concept, the former portrait painter, turned adventurer, spawned an idea which came to fruition some forty years later in the form of Yellowstone Park, out nations’ first National Park.

The story moves from 17th century settlers through 1916 with the formation of our National Park Service. Along the way we learn new tales about familiar names like Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, John Wesley Powell, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau, Ansel Adams, and John Muir. Over 175 paintings and photographs from wilderness artists, some familiar and some not, serve to preserve history and enhance the story of our National Parks which have grown to today’s number of fifty.

Whether a student of history, political science, nature, wildlife, painting, photography, or simply an arm-chair traveler, the reader will not be disappointed when spending a few minutes or a few hours with former park ranger and award-winning author Kim Heacox and his book, An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks. [Library call number 917.3 HEACOX, Reviewed by Jennifer Tice]

Reviewed by Jen
  3RiversLibrary | Apr 30, 2007 |
DEN
  Earl_Dunn | Aug 28, 2006 |
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This book chronicles the evolution of the American land ethic, beginning in 18th century Europe, through the 1800s, culminating with the creation of the national park service in 1916. An epilogue brings the story up to the present and features the work of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams. The story of the birth of our national parks is a unique story of America. Through compelling text rich with stunning photographs, maps, and paintings - many never seen before - this volume presents it as never before shown. Venture into Yellowstone in 1806 with John Colter, America's first mountain man, to discover an other world of seething mudpots and geysers. Half a century later, walk with young artist Thomas Moran, whose stunning landscapes of Yellowstone compelled Congress to deem it the first national park. Then follow Moran's career as artist-advocate of many parklands from the Tetons to Canyonlands. Dory the Grand Canyon rapids with John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War officer who first mapped the gorge. Wonder at the stories of the people for whom Havasu Falls is named, and of those whose spirits haunt Mesa Verde.Gaze upon the stunning paintings of Yosemite by Albert Bierstadt and the early photographs of William Henry Jackson and Andrew Joseph Russell. Discover how our national parks have played a part, through war and peace, in buoying the American spirit.

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