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Camping and Cruising in Florida, 1884
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John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Camping and Cruising in Florida, 1884 on 04/16/2011 07:56:56 MDT Print View

I recently picked up (impulse buy) a refurbished Nook reader ($90). I'm not sure I'd take it on backpacking trips, but I'm getting a kick out of reading the 1880's camping craze. Camping and Cruising in Florida, by James A. Henshall is a good one. It's in the Google Books archive and is about a Georgia Doctor who convinces a few of his chronic patients to join him for a few month camping, sailing, fishing, shooting, in Florida.

Man, those were the days. Tie a cod hook to a line and a tree branch, come back later for your big ol' Redfish. Actually these guys tend to catch and shoot about everything, but I think it's all going in the pot (even the Sand Hill Cranes!). The doctor does deplore tourists who gun down pelicans to no good purpose.

I've got an 1889 book on dry fly fishing, and a 1875 geology text on tap. I never really learned geology. It amuses me that I might gain an obsolete perspective.

Is anyone else mining the old books for camp and camp-related reading?

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Woodcraft by George Washington Sears on 04/16/2011 18:57:40 MDT Print View

I think this one is a classic - full of old timey advice on camping and not a little environmentalism. The chapter near the end about the unspoilt wildlife is facinating.


Edited by theronr on 04/16/2011 19:06:36 MDT.

Jon Hancock

Locale: Northwest England
Not sure about electronic versions on 04/17/2011 03:28:51 MDT Print View

My shelves positively groan with the weight of old camping books, particularly North American ones from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some wonderful stuff in there, along with precisely the sort of cut-and-paste and speculative nonsense we still see today. Most surprisingly to those who've never read them, many of these books strongly advocate as light an outfit as possible; the key difference today (aside from the appearance of a "leave no trace" ethic) is that technological advances have made modern materials lighter and stronger, thus massively reducing the weight of even the lightest kit of old. Still, fascinating to read some of the ingenuity and experimentation, including oiled silk tents with bamboo poles and early designs for backpacks that turn into sleeping bags.

A good modern starter for anyone interested in this sort of book is David Wescott's "Camping in the Old Style" (Gibbs Smith, 2000), a bit anti-technology but it includes excerpts from many of the classics. A few others to hunt for:

"Camp Craft" and "Camping Out" by Warren H. Miller (delightfully pompous in places, but lots of solid material and Miller was quite an innovator in some areas)
"Camp and Trail" and "The Forest" by Stewart Edward White
"Jack-Knife Cookery" by James Austin Wilder ("...a cook-book for boys, written in rollicking, entertaining style...")
"Camp and Trail Methods" and "Woodcraft" by E. H. Kreps
"Camp Kits and Camp Life" by Charles Steadman Hanks

Probably the finest of them all, "Camping and Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart, is still in print. I have others, but that should start even the most eager reader in the right direction :-)

Edited by bigjackbrass on 04/17/2011 03:32:31 MDT.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: Not sure about electronic versions on 04/17/2011 07:01:03 MDT Print View

Thanks guys, I will try to find those. I've cracked the 1875 geology text and am learning things from it.

On technology & etc., in Camping and Cruising in Florida, the Doctor advises his patients to bring flannel long underwear (wool) and an old wool suit. One of the constants. [I also like the idea of camping in suits.]

I also see "Scientific stock speculation" by Charles Dow, 1920. Heh.

Edited by JohnJ on 04/17/2011 07:15:47 MDT.