“Making the Mountain Pay”: Hugh Morton’s Grandfather Mountain and the Creation of Wilderness

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christopher Ryan Eklund (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Timothy Silver

Abstract: As one of the most prominent private tourist attractions in the South, Grandfather Mountain offers an opportunity to examine the evolution of the tourism industry. Hugh Morton, Grandfather Mountain’s owner, also used language invoking natural preservation, wilderness, and conservation to help sell the mountain to tourists. Under Morton’s guidance, the mountain became a recognizable symbol for wilderness and natural beauty, and through association with these concepts the peak attained public recognition as a natural enclave. This public support created friction between environmentalists and Morton. As the mountain attraction grew in popularity, Morton carefully nurtured a public perception of the mountain as a wild and pristine reserve, a perception that later influenced how the public responded to his further development of property for commercial reasons. Reading media accounts and public interviews against personal letters and government reports, this thesis argues that Morton created a public perception of Grandfather Mountain that he did not believe in himself. His personal role in the environmental movement, active advertising campaign that emphasized natural beauty and personal association with the mountain created a perception that did not reflect reality, but ultimately encouraged the conservation of the mountain.

Additional Information

Eklund, C.R. (2011). “Making the Mountain Pay”: Hugh Morton’s Grandfather Mountain and the Creation of Wilderness. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2011
Environmental History, Appalachian History, Tourism History, Hugh Morton, Grandfather Mountain

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