Down to Earth
Nature's Role in American HistoryBook - 2002
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"Not that the economic impulse that informed the early idea of wilderness disappeared completely. In setting aside the first national parks, Congress made a point of looking for worthless lands – regions with limited agricultural and ranching prospects and no sign of valuable minerals – possessed of monumental grandeur. Unlike European countries, the United States, a much younger nation by comparison, had few cultural icons to match the castles and cathedrals that gave Old World states unique national identities. With the country emerging from the divisive Civil War, its status as a unified nation still quite fragile, congressmen searched the landscape for awe-inspiring physical features – stunning mountain scenery, vast and colorful canyons, spectacular geysers – for its citizens to rally around."
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