AE22 The Power of Scenery: The Values in a View

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Thursday July 14

6:30 PM  –  8:00 PM

The Power of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origin of National Parks

ONSITE | Thursday, August 25, 6 - 7:30 p.m.

Instructor: Dennis Drabelle

$18 Non-member Adults**

(**Arboretum Members receive a 10% discount on all classes.)

All proceeds go to benefit Education Programs at The North Carolina Arboretum.

Capacity: 30 participants


Wallace Stegner called national parks “the best idea we ever had.” As Americans celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, a question naturally arises: Where did the idea for a national park originate? The answer starts with a look at pre-Yellowstone America. With nothing to put up against Europe’s cultural pearls—its cathedrals, castles, and museums—Americans came to realize that their plentitude of natural wonders might compensate for the dearth of manmade attractions. That insight guided Frederick Law Olmsted as he organized his thoughts on how to manage the wilderness park centered on Yosemite Valley, a state-owned predecessor to the national park model of Yellowstone. Haunting those thoughts were the cluttered and carnival-like banks of Niagara Falls, which served as an oft-cited example of what should not happen to a spectacular natural phenomenon.


A limited number of books will be available for sale and for Dennis to sign. Arboretum member discount applies.



Dennis Drabelle was born and raised in St. Louis, and he graduated from St. Louis University. He earned the Master's degree in English and a law degree, both from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as counsel to the assistant secretary of the interior with responsibility for the national parks. By then he had developed a passion for wilderness -- both hiking in it and reflecting on its importance to the human spirit. While working as a contributing editor of the Washington Post Book World from 1984-2015, Drabelle squeezed in backpacking trips to the American West as often as possible. Drabelle now lives and writes in Asheville, N.C., with his spouse, Mike Bell, who doubles as his first reader and editor.



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