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Reasonable UseThe People, the Environment, and the State, New England 1790-1930$
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John T. Cumbler

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195138139.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

Farmers, Fishers, and Sportsmen

Farmers, Fishers, and Sportsmen

Chapter:
(p.161) 10 Farmers, Fishers, and Sportsmen
Source:
Reasonable Use
Author(s):

John T. Cumbler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780195138139.003.0014

At the end of the nineteenth century, Edward Bellamy, one of the Connecticut River Valley’s most famous literary residents, created a fictional character who wanted to avoid “industrial existence” and instead “all day to climb these mighty hills, feeling their strength” and to “happen upon little brooks in hidden valleys.” Bellamy planned for his protagonist “to breathe all day long the forest air loaded with the perfume of the forest trees.” The wanderings of this turn-of-the-century fictitious character through thick forests and deserted hills reflects the changes engendered in the valley with the coming of industrial cities and the abandonment of hillside farms. When Bellamy was born in 1850 at Chicopee Falls in western Massachusetts, the region was in the process of deforestation and had few areas that were not intensely farmed. Yet as Bellamy himself noted in an 1890 letter to the North American Review, “the abandonment of the farm for the town” had become all too common. Deserted farms became one of the themes Bellamy sketched out in his notes for the novel. Bellamy had his character live in an “abandoned farmhouse. . . . The farmhouse was one of the thousands of deserted farms that haunted the roadsides of the sterile back districts of New England.” In viewing the depopulated countryside as a retreat from industrial existence, Bellamy’s character represented the fate of late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century New Englanders. Increasingly, urbanized New Englanders began to look to rural areas not as sources of food or resources of necessity but as places to contemplate nature and practice fishing and hunting as sport. As rural areas, particularly on the hills and up the valleys, became less populated, farmers there lost much of their political voice. New city voices now became more important in the conversation about resource conservation. What farmers saw as abandoned and ruined farms, urban and suburban naturalists saw as rural retreats from the tensions and pollution of the cities. For these interlopers, rural New England represented a romantic ideal of a past they or their ances tors put behind them when they moved to the city.

Keywords:   bass, deforestation, electric power, forests, hatcheries, maple products, nativism, overfishing, resorts

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