Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States

By Cindy S. Aron | Go to book overview

3
"through the streets in bathing costumes" RESORT VACATIONS, 1850-1900

Life is so much the same at all watering-places, except the few, like Saratoga and Long Branch, which are cursed with the crush of fashionables, that it is scarcely necessary to descend to details of how the days come and go. 1

One July afternoon in 1872, newspaperman Alf Doten left his home in Carson City, Nevada, for a week's stay at Lake Tahoe. Upon arriving he and a female friend "took a nice little stroll together in the woods up the creek near by, & then took a sail on the Lake, paddling about in a skiff." His diary recorded that "other folks were out in other boats, fishing, etc." At about eight o'clock he returned to shore "& all hands sat in front of [a] house by [a] blaze of a big pan full of pine burrs, chatting etc -- I played [the] harmonica -- Bed at 9." The next day he fished, sailed, took a quick dip in the very cold lake, and enjoyed a concert by a National Guard Brass Band. In the evening he again "sat with family circle in front of house around pine burr fire. I played harmonica, & we had pleasant chat till 9½ when all hands retired. I [sic] Bed at 10." 2

Contrast Doten's experience with a description of a typical summer day at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1878. The visitor took the required pre-breakfast walk to the springs for a drink of the waters:

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