An Appalachian Trail: A Critical Geographic Study in Visual Representation and Landscape Production
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This study analyzes the role of popular visual media representations in the development of the Appalachian Trail, between 1921 and 2014. The Appalachian Trail is an iconic footpath stretching more than 2000 miles (3200 kilometers) along the Appalachian Mountains of the east coast of the United States. Visual media including photographs and maps have been key to the public awareness and perception of trail’s development since it was first proposed in 1921. The purpose of this research is, therefore, to critically appraise these materials, and illuminate how they serve to solidify meaning, enshrine power, and mediate user experiences. My findings suggest that through breadth of coverage, powerful imagery and cartographic discourse, institutional promoters of the trail, such as the National Geographic Society have infused an evolving set of their own values into the trail landscape. In the process this has influenced how the viewing public understands, uses, and seeks to shape the landscape of the Appalachian Trail.