Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal

Univ. of Nebraska. Feb. 2015. 216p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780803238305. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780803265400. HIST
Eisenfeld (writing, Johns Hopkins) tells the story of the formation of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. A frequent visitor to the park, she hiked there for years before learning its history. The first national parks in the West (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia) stimulated the desire among tourism, conservation, and government officials in the Appalachian Mountains for a park of their own. A committee was formed to find a site; they were convinced by a group from Virginia to locate the park there. That 40 percent of the designated land was occupied, by thousands of people who had farmed the area for up to two centuries, was glossed over. The subsequent removal of those occupants bore a striking similarity to the Highland Clearances in Scotland 150 years earlier: "improving" the land by removing the residents, burning them out, or arresting them when necessary. The story is an eye-opener for anyone who believes that our national parks were formed only to conserve wilderness.
VERDICT Anyone with an interest in national parks or the history of the state of Virginia or travelers to Shenandoah or Skyline Drive will appreciate this book.
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