Date of Award

Spring 2002

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kurk Dorsey


This dissertation analyzes the significance of the successful 1923--1928 conservation campaign that created a state park and war memorial in Franconia Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The Franconia Notch campaign utilized a century's worth of artistic and literary interpretations that created Romantic images of the natural beauties of the White Mountains and Franconia Notch which, together with the ideas of the Progressive Era conservation movement and the cooperative efforts of the state of New Hampshire, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs, resulted in a combination of circumstances that set the Franconia Notch campaign apart from contemporary conservation efforts elsewhere in the United States.

During the nineteenth century the White Mountains became a major resort area. The increasing accessibility of the region through better roads and later the railroad not only brought tourists to the region but the timber industry as well. By the beginning of the twentieth century, many New Hampshire natives and summer residents voiced their concerns for the preservation of New Hampshire forests. These concerns provided the basis for the White Mountains conservation movement.

This study argues that the vision of Franconia Notch, which was created by nature and tourism and which was tied to ideas about state, regional, and national identity, was crucial to the success of the Franconia Notch campaign. This vision inspired a campaign to preserve a unique New Hampshire landscape and its most well known feature, the Old Man of the Mountain, as a state forest reservation and war memorial. When Franconia Notch was offered for sale in 1923, the state of New Hampshire contributed half of the $400,000 needed. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs organized a publicity and fundraising campaign that lasted from October 1927 through June of 1928, raising the remaining $200,000 from 15,000 contributors. The park was dedicated in September 1928.