Lawrence Culver, associate professor of history at Utah State University, will present “Are We There Yet? Tourism and the American West” on Saturday. This free public program will begin at 2 p.m. in Grizzly Hall at the Cody Library.

Travel and tourism have been hallmarks of the American West since the nineteenth century.  Travel accounts and promotional materials were ways outsiders learned about the region and still shape how we think about it today. Communities, large and small, used tourism to draw visitors and new residents. Tourism was used to promote whole regions, from the Southwest to Southern California to the Rocky Mountain West. 

New technologies, such as railroads and automobiles, and new forms of recreation like skiing, drew visitors and transformed communities. Tourism played a role in the creation of national parks and other federal lands and is now one of the largest components of the West’s economy.

Tourism has also caused conflict between recreationalists and residents, tourists and locals, spurring spiraling real estate prices and disagreements over conservation, land use, tribal sovereignty and recreational access.

Westerners may be ambivalent about tourism, but it is an inescapable part of the region’s past and future.

Culver’s “The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America” (Oxford University Press, 2010) received a 2011 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Nonfiction Book.

Refreshments will be provided courtesy of the Friends of the Cody Library.

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