Thursday, July 06, 2006

Let’s see the country

Cross-country vacations were ‘invented’ by Samuel Bowles (1826-1878). The Springfield Republican newspaper editor, he traveled across America and wrote about what a wonderful time he was having doing so, Across the Continent (1865) [1]. Apparently, he believed that crossing the continent might help to med the schism caused by the Civil War.

By bringing “harmony the heretofore jarring discords of a Continent of separated peoples,” Bowles promoted travel as patriotism – businessmen promoted it as tourist dollars. However, with travel becoming easier and more accessible to the masses, it also helped transform the American West from cattle towns to industrial cities.[2]

Queen Victoria promoted her own version of cross-country traveling when she first made the trip – partly by the new invention of train – to Scotland in 1842. “Their exploration of Perthshire, walking, reading and deer-stalking, was so pleasurable that they returned annually. In 1852 they bought Balmoral and had the castle built. The Queen’s Scottish memoirs and paintings of the scenery were extremely popular and her love of tartan ensured publicity and a healthy business for the tweed industry.” [3]

Tourist dollars provided a boom to Scotland. If the Queen went to Scotland, so, too, could everyone else. When the railroad extended north in the early 1850s, travel became much easier for everyone as more and more people traveled both to and from Scotland to seek their fortunes.

2. The New York Times Sunday Book Review, July 2, 2006, Bruce Barcott

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