Historical Research: Project Introduction

The National Park Service has contracted with SVM Historical Consulting, LLC to conduct historical research for future interpretive media products for the North Country National Scenic Trail, also known as the North Country Trail. Results of this research has been compiled into a historical research report, separated into chapters corresponding with a geographic section with appendices including an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources, a graphics document, and a document of pertinent quotations. The goal of this project is to fairly and equally convey the various cultural stories and demonstrate how people valued the landscape along the North Country Trail.

The geographic expanse of the North Country Trail has been divided into nine segments for this project. These segments correspond with known geographic and cultural regions of states and align with volunteer chapters of the North Country Trail Association. From east to west, the geographic sections are:

  • Adirondacks,
  • Central New York,
  • Finger Lakes Region and Western New York,
  • Western Pennsylvania and Eastern and Southern Ohio,
  • Western Ohio,
  • Southern and Western Michigan,
  • Upper Peninsula of Michigan,
  • Wisconsin and Minnesota, and
  • North Dakota.

Within each of these sections may be found a historical research report, annotated bibliography, a selection of quotations from relevant sources, and graphics which may be useful for interpretive or other forms of media. Topics important to the landscape of the North Country Trail are discussed and involve historical events notable for that region (e.g. early aviation history in Western New York) or general subjects applicable to every region (Native American history and culture). These topics are discussed in chronological order within each geographic section. The organization of the annotated bibliography, quotations, and graphics appendices follow this chronological convention.

Throughout this research, special attention was paid to heeding the insights that Amy Lonetree articulates in Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums regarding paradigms of Indigenous research methodologies, protocols, interrogation of existing “anti-Indigenous” concepts and language, incorporation of Indigenous languages including place-names, names of people, and proper nouns, and “privileging Indigenous sources and perspectives over non-Indigenous ones,” where applicable. However, it should be noted that Native American historical scholarship was generally written from a white-centric perspective, with inclusion of the Indigenous perspective coming about beginning in the 1960s. Efforts have been made to include within the annotated bibliography a full range of sources which demonstrate this temporal change in focus, and to note sources that convey negative stereotypes or paternalistic views of Indigenous culture and society.

Topics of research for the North Country Trail should not be limited to those covered in this report. Suggested subjects which may be further explored include the oil industry in western New York; railroads; the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania and Eastern and Southern Ohio; land grants and settlement in Ohio; and tourism and outdoor recreation in Southern and Western Michigan. Also, more focused research on local tribal histories utilizing indigenous primary sources is recommended.

SVM was contacted again in July 2018 to make additions to the research. This included covering the oil and gas industry in western New York; the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania and Eastern and Southern Ohio; and tourism and outdoor recreation in Southern and Western Michigan.

Amy Lonetree, Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012): 8.

Guide to Use of Annotated Bibliography Appendices

Annotated bibliographies include not only publication information about a source but also a summary of its contents. The comprehensive bibliographies included in this document follow the chronological organization of the historical research report. Listed at the beginning of each bibliography are journals and sources which apply to the geographic section as a whole (e.g. state, regional or county histories). Sources which may be most useful in researching the different subjects have been highlighted with bold text.

WorldCat (http://www.worldcat.org) is an online library catalog that searches libraries throughout the world. This website, used by many libraries as their own digital catalog, is the best place to search for books listed in this bibliography. Books published before 1923, which are considered in the public domain, may be available for viewing or download through Google Books (http://books.google.com), the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org), or the HathiTrust Digital Library (http://www.hathitrust.org). Many universities also make available theses and dissertations published by graduating students, and these may be accessed through Open Access Theses and Dissertations (https://oatd.org).

Chapter 1: Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright,” Copyright.gov, https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107, accessed August 4, 2017.

Rich Stim, “The Basics of Getting Permission,” Copyright and Fair Use, Stanford University Libraries, http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/introduction/getting-permission/.

Guide to Use of Graphics Appendices

Section 107 of the Copyright Act allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” The Stanford University Libraries provides a list of steps for obtaining permission for use of images in published works:

  1. Determine if permission is needed.
  2. Identify the owner.
  3. Identify the rights needed.
  4. Plan Ahead for Permission.
  5. Contact the owner and negotiate whether payment is required.
  6. Get your permission agreement in writing.

Most images cited in the graphics appendices this document are sourced from libraries and archives. Please contact the institution or copyright holder for information on the usage of any images.

About the North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail is a unit of the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trail Systems Act of 1968. The North Country Trail was created by an act of Congress on March 5, 1980. As a component of the national park system, the North Country Trail is administered by the National Park Service. Volunteer chapters and partner organizations maintain various segments of the North Country Trail. There are currently 39 chapters, affiliates, and partners across the nine states through which the trail travels.

The North Country Trail travels through the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. It is within driving distance of forty percent of the U. S. population, conveniently located to such cities as Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Fargo. The North Country Trail currently extends from the vicinity of Crown Point State Historic Site, New York, on Lake Champlain near the central Vermont border, westward approximately 4,600 miles to Lake Sakakawea State Park on the Missouri River in North Dakota, where it joins the route of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Planning is completed to expand the trail to include the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota as well as a link in Vermont to connect with the Appalachian Trail. Pending successful enactment of legislation incorporating these two areas, the trail will be approximately 4,600 miles long.

The North Country Trail is the longest national scenic trail in the United States. It is not confined to and does not follow a clearly discernible geological feature as do many other national scenic trails. Instead, it meanders through seven northern states taking users through a fascinating diversity of scenic, historic cultural, and natural landscapes and recreational features.

The portion of the United States through which the North Country Trail passes is known as the North Country, characterized by cold winters and rugged wilderness. The human history of the North Country reflects the change occurring across America throughout time. Each culture has found their own unique connection to the land, utilizing available resources to support themselves. In turn, the land left an individualized impression on each culture as they adapted to the unique complexities of the environment. The human presence across the North Country extends back least ten thousand years and includes pre-European contact, Euro-American expansion and American Indian conflict, communities established for the extraction of resources, immigration settlement, and the recreational users of today.

Bibliography of North Country Trail History

Foundation Document: North Country National Scenic Trail: ND, MN, WI, MI, OH, PA, NY. Washington, DC: National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, August 2015.

Johnson, Lyndon B. “Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty.” February 8, 1965. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=27285.

The National Trails Systems Act, U.S. Code 16 (2009) § 1241-1251.

Nationwide System of Trails Study. United States Forest Service. September 1965.

North Country National Scenic Trail: Comprehensive Plan for Management and Use. Washington, DC: National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, September 1982.

North Star. https://issuu.com/northcountrytrail.

Strickland, Ron. The North Country Trail: The Best Walks, Hikes, and Backpacking Trips on America’s Longest National Scenic Trail. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Trails for America: Report on the Nationwide Trails Study. Washington, DC: Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, United States Department of the Interior, December 1966.

United States Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, Lake Central Region. The North Country Trail: A Potential Addition to the National Trails System: Final Environmental Impact Statement. Ann Arbor, MI: Lake Central Regional Office, 1976.

Last updated: November 21, 2018