• Catskill Mountains;
  • historic landscapes;
  • Hudson River Valley;
  • Mohonk Mountain House;
  • tourism;
  • wilderness

ABSTRACT. Thirty years ago D. W. Meinig argued that certain landscapes “are part of the iconography of nationhood.” From the earliest European settlement, the North American “wilderness” forged the crucible that shaped U.S. culture. By the early nineteenth century romantic aesthetic theories and nationalistic patriotism influenced American perspectives on the emerging cultural landscape. Artists, writers, and travelers sought out places for their healthful and scenic qualities as well as for moral instruction from nature. The locus of this confluence of politics, philosophy, and art was the Hudson River Valley of New York State. Guesthouses and hotels, especially in and around the Catskill Mountains, accommodated these travelers. This article examines the cultural basis of the mountain resort in its appropriation and marketing of a regional landscape and its incorporation as a national icon, with a specific history of the development of Mohonk Mountain House by the Smiley family from 1869 to 2008.