In Medieval times people took comfort in their villages, towns and cities. The forests and the wilderness in general were viewed as the places most likely to harbor the supernatural. Witches tended to live on the outskirts of towns and villages where they could practice their dark arts in secret. Sounds came out of the forests,  swamps and mountain sides that were peculiar to those areas and thus alien and frightening to people. Even the roads around and through these places were considered unsafe. Sometimes for good reason they were considered to be the haunts of highwaymen.

When Europeans came to America it was to either plunder her riches or to push back the wilderness to turn the wild into what they saw to be civilization. Axes felled trees, villages and towns went up and so did cities. This pattern was repeated in Australia and New Zealand.

It wasn’t until the 19th Century that people in Britain and then the USA, Australia and New Zealand came to realize that there was, indeed, beauty to be found in the wild places that still existed. This was an unexpected offshoot of the Industrial Revolution that swept the western world.

The British Romantics, who were appalled by the ugliness of gray skies caused by great smoke stacks, slag heaps, and general pollution and squalor of their day, looked to areas that were still free of such things. Transportation to such areas became better and cheaper. There was travel by rail and also by bicycle.  By the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, it was possible for ordinary people to own cars. It was also possible to own cameras and thus family photos of visits to such places also became possible.

It was because of this interest, first generated by Romantics and then bolstered by ordinary people, that it was possible for first private interests and then governments to set aside wilderness land for preservation. Thus in the USA  Yellowstone National Park came into being and, in New South Wales, Australia the Royal National Park was founded.


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