Friday, July 20, 2012


The Curse and Scourge of the Wilderness

William H.H. Murray, Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks (Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co., 1869), pp. 16-17:
The fact is, nothing could induce me to visit Maine. If I was going east at all, I should keep on, nor stop until I reached the Provinces. I could never bring my mind to pass a month in Maine, with the North Woods within forty-eight hours of me. I will tell you why. Go where you will, in Maine, the lumbermen have been before you; and lumbermen are the curse and scourge of the wilderness. Wherever the axe sounds, the pride and beauty of the forest disappear. A lumbered district is the most dreary and dismal region the eye of man ever beheld. The mountains are not merely shorn of trees, but from base to summit fires, kindled by accident or malicious purpose, have swept their sides, leaving the blackened rocks exposed to the eye, and here and there a few unsightly trunks leaning in all directions, from which all the branches and green foliage have been burnt away. The streams and trout-pools are choked with saw-dust, and filled with slabs and logs. The rivers are blockaded with "booms" and lodged timber, stamped all over the ends with the owner's "mark." Every eligible site for a camp has been appropriated; and bones, offal, horse-manure, and all the débris of a deserted lumbermen's village is strewn around, offensive both to eye and nose. The hills and shores are littered with rotten wood, in all stages of decomposition, emitting a damp, mouldy odor, and sending forth countless millions of flies, gnats, and mosquitoes to prey upon you. Now, no number of deer, no quantities of trout, can entice me to such a locality. He who fancies it can go; not I.


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