The Great African Safari Bust

OR HOW THE BOY SCOUTS CAME TO AMERICA

Africa was part of my childhood. The attic in our Detroit home smelled like a zoo. There were lion, leopard, zebra, antelope, and colobus monkey skins that my sister and I and our friends used to take out of their trunks and forget to put back. There was also an elephant’s foot made into a wastebasket, ten or twelve elephant tusks and several small curved tusks of wart hogs, drums made out of antelope hide, and musical instruments with strings like the vines on which Tarzan swung from tree to tree. Read more »

Saving the Longhorns

These hardy Texas beasts with “too much legs, horns, and speed” had long since been replaced by stodgier breeds. Now they were facing extinction…

If you are someone who thought the Texas longhorn was as dead as the passenger pigeon, here is a bit of news. At one time closer to extinction than the buffalo ever was, this historic breed is again doing quite well, thanks to a few dedicated cattlemen who recognized the debt owed by the Southwest to the millions of longhorn beeves that plodded up the Chisholm and Western trails to Kansas and Nebraska railheads in the two decades following the Civil War and brought a large measure of prosperity to the impoverished Lone Star State. Read more »

High Point Of Your Trip

In 1879 Jim McCauley lured his sweetheart onto Overhanging Rock at Glacier Point, California, and threatened to push her off if she didn’t marry him. This rather hardnosed method of popping the question worked, or so McCauley said. His German-born girl had spurned earlier marriage proposals, but this time she quickly promised “I vill, I vill, I vill.” That November the two were married, and together they operated for eighteen years the Mountain House, a two-story tourist stopover that McCauley built near the site.Read more »

The Making Of An American Lion

A Welsh waif adopted a new country and a new name and then became—thanks to a New York newspaper—the most famous African explorer of his time

On Sunday, December 8, 1872, the manager of the Theatre Comique on Broadway took the unusual step of buying up almost the entire front page of the New York Herald to puff the triumph of his latest presentation. It was called Africa or Livingstone and Stanley , and, to judge from the ecstatic reviews that were quoted, the show was a ringing success.Read more »

Fox Hunting In America

Riding to hounds has been as much of a sport among well-to-do Americans as among the British gentry

Ask anyone where fox hunting originated and odds are he will respond promptly, “Why, the British Isles, of course.” Indeed, the cry of “Tallyho!” conjures up visions of Lord or Lady Poddlesmere galloping across the English countryside, leaping mammoth hedges for hours on end, and sipping strong waters around the fireside at the end of the day. As it turns out, though, we Americans can lay just as much claim to pioneering the sport as our cousins across the Atlantic, and probably no one will ever know for sure who is entitled to the honors. Read more »

Tall Tales From The Land Of Steady Habits

In 1781 an embittered American clergyman, a Loyalist living in exile in England, published a book entitled General History of Connecticut . It was, in fact, an amalgam of actual happenings, righteous tirades, and wild fantasies. The author, the Reverend Samuel A. Peters, was born in Hebron, Connecticut, was a graduate of Yale, and, after being ordained in England, was in charge of the Anglican churches of both Hebron and Hartford.Read more »

Private Fastness: Tales Of Wild

CUMBERLAND ISLAND AND HOW MODERN TIMES AT LAST HAVE REACHED IT

One of the good things that happened in America in 1970—a year otherwise noted for spreading oil slicks, raging forest fires, mercury in rainbow trout, and burgeoning pipelines in the tundra—was the decision by the National Park Service to purchase Cumberland Island, southernmost of the Georgia sea islands and a flaming issue in the long and bitter struggle between real-estate developers and conservationists over the future of the state’s coastline. Read more »

Urban Pollution-Many Long Years Ago

The old gray mare was not the ecological marvel, in American cities, that horse lovers like to believe

To many urban Americans in the 1970’s, fighting their way through the traffic’s din and gagging on air heavy with exhaust fumes, the,automobile is a major villain in the sad tale of atmospheric pollution. Yet they have forgotten, or rather never knew, that the predecessor of the auto was also a major polluter. The faithful, friendly horse was charged with creating the very problems today attributed to the automobile: air contaminants harmful to health, noxious odors, and noise.Read more »

Once More On To The Beach

Pilgrims and Puritans, naturally, hated the water, but by the turn of the century certain pleasures had been rediscovered

For some two hundred years the Europeans who planted themselves on our Atlantic shoreline turned their backs on the sea or merely farmed it. Those who did not head west for new lands remained to mow the salt hay, harvest the beach plums, fish for the sacred cod, or rake up oysters from East Jersey’s abundant beds. Beaches were simply convenient places for digging clams, drying fish, or landing cargoes without the inhibiting presence of customs officers. But the seashore was scarcely thought of as a pleasure ground. Read more »

The Legend Of A Lake

CONSERVATION

The lake was liberated from glacial ice ten thousand years before Babylon was built. Thus, it had more than fifteen thousand years in which to transform from an almost sterile, ice-gouged river valley into fecund, prosperous Lake Erie.

In fifteen millennia the lake received more than ninety species of fish and immense and varied populations of insects, worms, and crustaceans, and built up the largest concentrations of freshwater fish in the world. Read more »