In the summer of 1869, the Adirondack Mountains were overrun. Thousands of middle-class urbanites from Boston, New York City and other civilized regions along the east coast left the comfort of their homes and rushed into the unknown wilderness. The hordes of city dwellers included men, women and even entire families. They went seeking a storied wilderness of great restorative and even curative powers. These would be adventurers were informed by one man, a preacher from Boston. They heeded his words and followed.
The words of this burly Boston preacher, William Henry Harrison Murray, were set forth in a newly published volume entitled Adventures in the Wilderness, or Camp Life in the Adirondacks. The book had only been released in April of 1869, but was already in its tenth printing by the end of that summer. Educational, eye-opening and funny, thousands of copies of the book were sold to a public hungry for the promises of an accessible, but unexplored great wilderness.
The reading public that got its hands on Adventures were not, by and large, satisfied with simply reading about the Adirondacks. Instead, many decided to accept the author’s invitation to adventure into the restorative wilderness themselves. Those readers took advantage (or so they thought) of the author’s detailed instructions on trip preparation, as well as how and where to go once civilization was left behind. A special tourist’s edition of Adventures even included a map of the region and train schedules from several of the metropolitan departure points.
The 1869 pilgrimage into to Adirondacks became known as The Murray Rush shortly after that first summer, and retains that moniker some one hundred forty years later. In reality, The Murray Rush lasted nearly five summers, from 1869 through 1874. It was that first June in 1869, though, that marked a seminal moment in the social history of the United States, and led many to refer to W.H.H. Murray as the father of the outdoor movement and camping in the United States.
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona. NY