Peter J. Blodgett, Ph.D.* - Huntington Library
By the early twentieth century, America's major trans-continental railroads were constantly promoting the rugged landscapes and compelling vistas of the Rocky Mountain West as part of their efforts to make long-distance passenger traffic a lucrative dimension of their business. These aggressive advertising campaigns, national in scope and sophisticated in appeal, reveal much about the changing character of public interest in the landscapes of the West in general and of western national parks and monuments in particular. Through a close examination of the substance and the style of the advertisements that constituted these campaigns, however, a careful observer may discover a number of other messages that illuminate different social and cultural circumstances in pre-WWII America. Based upon just such a detailed examination, this paper will focus upon the powerful influence of outdoor recreation upon the development of the western national parks during the interwar years, both as an evolving national pastime by itself and as part of the burgeoning tourist industry throughout the American West.