1835 "Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf" wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature. -- link to online text from Emerson Home Page
1845 Henry David Thoreau lived for two years in a cabin on Walden Pond, Mass., and in 1854 published his book Walden that became a bible of the environmental movement -- online text from Thoreau Reader -- Thoreau as one of the six members of the Ecology Hall of Fame
1848 George Perkins Marsh published his Address Delivered Before the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Sept. 30, 1847. Perkins was a congressman from Vermont when he delivered the speech, "calling attention to the destructive impact of human activity on the land, especially through deforestation, and advocating a conservationist approach to the management of forested lands;
George Marsh 1896
some of these insights were elaborated in a work by Marsh's fellow New Englander, George Emerson, in a book published the previous year, A Report on the Trees and Shrubs Growing Naturally in the Forests of Massachusetts.
Beginning around the middle of the eighteenth century, European and American literary figures had drawn increasing attention to the importance of nature; by the mid-nineteenth century, travel literature in periodicals and books joined with this Romantic literary legacy to stimulate a broad popular movement of nature appreciation. The third edition in 1850 of the Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent offered future generations a unique glimpse of mid-nineteenth-century Americans' response to spectacular natural beauty in the form of notations made by tourists in an album at Niagara Falls. Throughout the remaining decades of the century, the nature essay burgeons as an American literary genre. Throughout the last half of the nineteenth and into the early twentieth century, popular interest in ornithology proliferates through books, articles, and local clubs, providing a grass-roots base for support of many aspects of conservation. Prints, lithographs and engravings of American scenery, especially in the West, receive wide popular distribution between this decade and the turn of the century, stimulating broad interest in and appreciation for the special qualities of the American landscape, including its wilderness. Francis Parkman begins publishing his landmark histories of America, in which American identity is celebrated in terms of the presence of the wilderness. "
Niagara Falls 1868 by Currier & Ives
Lake Memphremagog by Currier & Ives
Moosehead Lake1855ca by Currier & Ives
White Mountains 1855ca by Currier & Ives
1850 The reports of the commissioners of patents and of agriculture noted the long-term harm produced by the destruction of America's forests. "Citing the observations of Alexander von Humboldt and others on the effects of deforestation, Thomas Ewbank, the United States Commissioner of Patents, warns in his two-volume Report of the Commissioner of Patents, for the Year 1849 (House of Representatives Executive Document No. 20) that the waste of valuable timber
in the United States, to say nothing of firewood, will hardly begin to be appreciated until our population reaches fifty millions. Then the folly and shortsightedness of this age will meet with a degree of censure and reproach not pleasant to contemplate. In the same document, Ewbank also warns that the vast multitudes of bisons slain yearly, the ceaseless war carried on against them, if continued, threatens their extermination, and must hereafter cause deep regret; especially in view of their great strength and docility, when tamed, and their capacity for being drilled to the yoke,... it should never be said that the noblest of American indigenous ruminants have become extinct."
1852 Elias Lyman Magoon published The Home Book of the Picturesque that celebrated the American landscape. In the introductory essay, he argued "for the importance of wild nature as a source of moral, spiritual and patriotic inspiration; this reflects the growing concern with nature as a spiritual resource, which becomes one of the definitive themes of the conservation movement. "
Elias Magoon 1855
1857 - Samuel H. Hammond published Wild Northern Scenes; or, Sporting Adventures with the Rifle and Rod, "an important book in the nascent tradition of the hunter-conservationist, which celebrates the beauty and beneficence of the Adirondack wilds and advocates preservation of limited wilderness areas as resources for recreation and rejuvenation. James Russell Lowell publishes an article in The Crayon calling for the establishment of a society to protect American trees such as the recently discovered California redwoods. In an early example of the growing public concern with fish conservation through fish culture, especially at the state level, George Perkins Marsh publishes a Report, Made under Authority of the Legislature of Vermont, on the Artificial Propagation of Fish, in which he also explores the effects of deforestation, agriculture, and industry on fish populations."
1857 State of Vermont hired George Perkins Marsh to study depleted fish populations in Connecticut River.
1858 Albert Bierstadt made his first trip to the Rockies and began to paint "grandiloquent images of Western scenery which have broad popular impact. " such as California Sunset
Olmsted in Century 1893
1858 Central Park for New York approved. "The commissioners charged with developing New York City's new Central Park as the first major rural park in an American city hold a landscape design competition; the winning entry is the Greensward plan created by Frederick Law Olmsted, who had been appointed the new Park's first Superintendent the preceding year, and British architect Calvert Vaux, and Olmsted is also appointed the Park's architect-in-chief. Its realization long hampered by the political infighting and insensitive public management which led to Olmsted's final departure in 1877, the Olmsted-Vaux design nevertheless gives Central Park its enduring identity, and profoundly influences the future course of landscape architecture in the United States. "
1861 Carleton E. Watkins made the first of his many photographs of Yosemite. "Watkins's images circulate widely, especially in stereoscopic form, and do much to publicize Yosemite throughout the nation. "