Catherine Dodd Corona

Where was the Birthplace of the American Vacation?

A Encomium to William H.H. Murray

Progymnasmata: Encomium

Coming from modest beginnings, William H.H. Murray caused the view of the wilderness of the Adirondacks to completely shift. Murray left his hometown Guildford, Connecticut to attend Yale college with only $4.68 in his hand sewn pocket. During the summers he became familiar with the Adirondacks and wrote for a small local newspaper. He shook up New England with his ruggedness, at one point he gave a sermon in his hunting breeches and shooting jacket, while his rifle leaned against the pulpit. He was tough, which allowed him to become closer to nature. That toughness was not reflected in the people we attracted to the Adirondacks, as mosquitoes and dirt attacked them. His book Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks caused a massive influx of people looking to get out of the overcrowded cities and into the spacious wilderness. 

A pull to nature that people have felt since they discovered America its freeing expansiveness. Similar to the shift to beach travel fifty years ago, people started to feel too close, and in a Darwinian sense needed to spread into the dangerous and unknown. This unknown being the beach or nature.

In Murray’s case people did not accept nature with open arms, but the increase in people visiting the Adirondacks did not stop. Murray was able to instruct people on how to feel comfortable in nature and people became more comfortable with mosquitoes and deer. What he did with his writing was quite impressive but claustrophobic cities definitely aided in sending people outdoors. He was definitely as the executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage in Keeseville, New York says, “Murray was the right person, in the right place, with the right words, at the right time,”. Even though Murray’s fame was luck does not take away his accomplishments. Murray aided in teaching people the benefits of the outdoors, which for many including myself, an unsurpassable benefit. He definitely is an inspiration for wilderness seekers and nature lovers alike. 


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