The first collection of its kind to examine tourism as a complicated and vital force in southern history, culture, and economics
Anyone who has seen Rock City, wandered the grounds of Graceland, hiked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or watched the mermaids swim at Weeki Wachee knows the southern United States offers visitors a rich variety of scenic, cultural, and leisure activities. Tourism has been, and is still, one of the most powerful economic forces in the modern South. It is a multibillion-dollar industry that creates jobs and generates revenue while drawing visitors from around the world to enjoy the region’s natural and man-made attractions.
This collection of 11 essays explores tourism as a defining force in southern history by focusing on particular influences and localities. Alecia Long examines sex as a fundamental component of tourism in New Orleans in the early 20th century, while Brooks Blevins describes how tourism served as a modernizing influence on the Arkansas Ozarks, even as the region promoted itself as a land of quaint, primitive hillbillies. Anne Whisnant chronicles the battle between North Carolina officials building the Blue Ridge Parkway and the owner of Little Switzerland, who fought for access and advertising along the scenic highway. One essay probes the racial politics behind the development of Hilton Head Island, while another looks at the growth of Florida's panhandle into a “redneck Riviera,” catering principally to southerners, rather than northern tourists.
Southern Journeys is a pioneering work in southern history. It introduces a new window through which to view the region's distinctiveness. Scholars and students of environmental history, business history, labor history, and social history will all benefit from a consideration of the place of tourism in southern life.
Richard D. Starnes is Assistant Professor of History at Western Carolina University. He is currently completing a study of tourism development in western North Carolina since 1800.