Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/390

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

cursion resorts, all of which are in evidence to show at once popular need and popular appreciation. Hundreds of people frequent some of these places every year as they are; what would he the case were it understood that such parklike regions were indeed dedicated to the people for their use and kept and cared for for their enjoyment? Such localities are now generally private property and the public enter by sufferance only. In some places—alas for human nature!—the beauty of the "den" or "palisade" is by its owner ruthlessly defaced as the simplest method of checking an undesirable invasion by the populace. The populace can and should own its own means of entertainment; here and there private benevolence may meet the need, be tolerant of trespass, but it must not be expected.

The second count in the way of objection is a real difficulty whose gravity I do not for a moment attempt to minimize. How to secure, own, and care for several hundred or, for that matter, several thousand acres of land, to be used by all the people, is a problem, especially under our form of government. Were we in the Old World we should find no difficulty. Such localities are owned by the king or his equivalent, and are cared for and guarded with the same assiduity as any other private property. Nevertheless, the people of Europe have free use of the most splendid parks and beautiful woods in the world. The same thing can be true of the United States, hopeless as the task may now seem. In the Eastern States a movement to this end is even now discernible. What Mr. Vanderbilt is doing in North Carolina at Biltmore will doubtless be done presently in all our mountainous and forested States. This is another opportunity for our millionaires, and forest foundations properly established will prove for future generations rich in benediction as any university endowment left in the name of whatsoever State or sect. In Massachusetts five years since a movement was inaugurated for the accomplishment of similar purposes in New England. A board of trustees, by Legislature authorized to act, becomes the legatee of suitable property donated for public use, becomes the curators of such grounds, and the custodians of funds bequeathed for the care of such lands or for their purchase. The result in Massachusetts of such a simple effort has in five years proved most gratifying to the projectors as to every lover of his native land. Thousands of acres have already been rescued from spoliation and subjected to intelligent management such as will eventually result in the attainment of all the beneficent ends for which public parks exist. In most States nothing is done; nothing will be done until somebody or some association of our citizens make a beginning. That the effort will one day be made there is no doubt. Whether it shall be made in time to save that which Nature in this direction