Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mark McLaughlin

Second Committee Member

Anne Knowles

Third Committee Member

Micah Pawling


Modernizing nineteenth and twentieth century mobility reshaped and re- commodified the predominantly rural environments of Maine and New Brunswick. Landscapes like these can be better understood through the tripartite intersection of environmental commodification as “picturesque,” a democratizing tourism culture, and the development of modern individual mobility. The intersection of these forces produced a unique tourism borderland comprised of primarily second nature landscapes, which rapidly adapted to motor-tourism. All three themes are products of modernity, and their combination in Maine and New Brunswick produced a “tourism borderland” and “mobility borderland” between automotive spaces and the unprepared environments of pre-auto “Vacationland.” Before the twentieth century, vacationing culture, modern mobility, and economic dependence on tourism all existed in Maine and New Brunswick. However, the automobile revolution brought greater independence and accessibility to the experience. While westward expansion drew naturalist attention to wonders beyond the Mississippi River, the “pleasure periphery” of New England and the Maritimes became a testing ground for automotive vacationing. Urban centers on the East coast increasingly utilized places like Maine and New Brunswick as accessible wildernesses and seaside retreats as vacationing transitioned from an elite privilege to a possibility for the middle class. Early twentieth century affluent urbanites established anti-modern escapes that depended on automobiling technology, confronting local resistance to their new hobby that transformed the landscape into Vacationland for the autoists yet to come. Road construction and improvement carved the region into visually consumable routes and vistas, shaping regional identities, and helping to produce the modern North American model of tourism by the 1930s. The tourism borderlands of Maine and New Brunswick became a mobility borderland of automotive confrontation, resistance, and adaptation in the early twentieth century, existing in a “middle landscape” between urbanity and wilderness.

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