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The Oxbow

The view today. Image courtesy of Ryan Linn at Guthook Hikes www.guthookhikes.com.

About this Slideshow

In the 1820s and 1830s, when landscape tourism was just getting underway in the United States, Mount Holyoke in western Massachusetts, from which this photograph was taken, was the second most popular tourist destination after Niagara Falls. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson all stood on its summit. Guidebooks enthused over the view into the lush valley, where fertile fields framed the great looping bend in the Connecticut River known as the Oxbow for its resemblance to the curving part of yokes used on oxen (see the following slide). In 1840, the geologist Edward Hitchcock stood witness as rushing floodwaters sliced across the narrow end of the Oxbow, straightening the river’s course and transforming the bow into a separate pond, as we see it in this view.