Tourism in the Mountain South: A Double-Edged Sword

By Morrow, Lynn | The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Tourism in the Mountain South: A Double-Edged Sword


Morrow, Lynn, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly


Tourism in the Mountain South: A Double-Edged Sword. By C. Brenden Martin. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2007. Pp. xxi, 246. Acknowledgments, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $32.00.)

Arkansas readers will feel quite at home reading this book. It joins the list of studies that place the experience of the Trans-Mississippi highlands within the larger context of the southern uplands. Tennessee public historian Brenden Martin's index includes no less than twenty-seven entries for the Ouachita Mountains, Ozark Folk Center, and Ozark Mountains. Our familiarity with these places helps us understand Martin's analysis of modern tourism.

The author focuses upon tourism as the leading industry in the southern uplands. He appreciates both the positive and negative influences of tourist economies over the generations. He persuasively argues that the industry is as fundamental to modernization history as agriculture, forestry, or mining, but the unregulated aspects of tourism give it a distinctive quality when it comes to investors and local participation. It is through his analysis of regional histories that we come to appreciate social and cultural transformations that were typically brought by outsiders-something that may inform public planning in the future.

The initial chapter traces the antebellum origins of tourism at hot and mineral springs. Four distinct regions emerge, including the Virginia Springs, the Blue Ridge, the Smoky/Cumberland Mountains, and the Ouachita Mountains. Members of wealthy elites, such as Thomas Jefferson and Henry clay, were the patrons, while journalists and travelers, like George Featherstonhaugh, recorded their experiences in what became "a watercure craze," as hydropathy joined "other major health reform movements" (p. 13).

The author explains how, water cures for health-seekers notwithstanding, gambling, social events, romance, and leisure time also drew tourists. He frames his discussions within two major technological changes-the emergence of railroads and automobiles-that brought increasingly more people to varied recreational locales. In both Part I, "From Trails to Rails: 1865-1914" and Part II, "From Rails to Roads: 1914-2000," he draws comparisons to events in Hot Springs, Winslow, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and nearby Branson, Missouri. But his larger discussions involve the nationally influential Asheville Basin, North Carolina, and Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (Dolly wood), Tennessee. The Asheville region's importance for uplands tourism in creating marketable investments in forestry and crafts, as well as promoting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, cannot be overestimated. …

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