Tracing the historical origins of the national park idea can be frustrating. In truth, no single individual can take credit for the idea of national parks.
Montana’s leading citizens sought to civilize Yellowstone by claiming it as a park, not a wild and dangerous land but a place of democratic enjoyment and wonder for generations to come.
Nathaniel P. Langford and other members of the 1870 Washburn-Doane expedition “Columbused” Yellowstone by “discovering” it as a “park.”
Devil’s Slide north of Yellowstone National Park has unsettled the religious imaginations of visitors since the nineteenth century.
Warren Angus Ferris visited Yellowstone in 1834 as the first tourist to experience the thermal features, and the first person known to use the Icelandic word “geyser” to describe them.
Horace Albright’s legacy enjoys high esteem, but many of the precedents he set for the National Park Service have contributed to problems that parks now face.
John (Fire) Lame Deer’s essay about the 1970 occupation of Mount Rushmore highlights a monumental clash between two visions of sacred land.
Visitors who delight in nature and stunning scenery at places like Acadia National Park often do not realize their aesthetic debt to Protestant reformer and theologian John Calvin.
Contemplating the legacy of Nathan Bedford Forrest at his grave beneath the remains of a Confederate monument in a Memphis park.
For early twentieth-century historians, the story of church in the wild west involved a racially informed moral tale of transforming savage disorder to settled order.