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Keywords:

  • landscape;
  • Leavenworth;
  • theme town;
  • tourism

ABSTRACT. Theme towns are an often-overlooked but significant form of tourism in rural areas. Many a small town across the United States, faced with a declining resource-based economy, has turned to “theming” as an economic-development strategy. In hopes of creating an alluring landscape, the built environment is radically transformed, and a variety of invented traditions are instituted. This article explores one such place-Leavenworth, Washington-that “went Bavarian” in the 1960s and is widely viewed as a success story. We examine four interrelated concepts that produce the symbolic economy of Leavenworth: emulation of other theme towns, authenticity, visual difference, and place marketing. After discussing each, we turn to the questions of how residents are affected by tourism and what it is like to live in Leavenworth.