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Apostles of the AlpsMountaineering and Nation Building in Germany and Austria, 1860-1939$
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Tait Keller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625034

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625034.001.0001

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Civilizing the Crags

Civilizing the Crags

Urban Adventurers Modernize the Mountains

(p.17) 1 Civilizing the Crags
Apostles of the Alps

Tait Keller

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter analyzes the structural changes to the Eastern Alps, with a focus on economic and environmental transformations in the late-nineteenth century. These developments related to larger currents of the “founding years” (Gründerzeit) in Germany and Austria, during which the two countries underwent tremendous political and economic upheaval in the 1860s and 1870s, stemming in large part from the Industrial Revolution. The formation of voluntary Alpine organizations coincided with Germany and Austria’s industrial expansion. Among them was a bourgeois organization that exemplified the transformations taking place in the Alps: the German and Austrian Alpine Association. It became the single most powerful actor in the Eastern Alps and the world’s largest mountaineering club. Unlike local or regional outdoor clubs, the Alpine Association crossed national borders and stretched across the two empires. When the club made the highlands accessible to urban tourists by building lodges and blazing trails, it revamped the economies of the Eastern Alps. Economic production transitioned from goods to services when transhumant herders and farmers became trek guides. Tourism soon supplanted agriculture as the economic foundation of the region. By the late nineteenth century, mountaineers had turned the peaks into playgrounds.

Keywords:   German and Austrian Alpine Association, Economic development, Environmental transformation, Industrial Revolution, Alpine lodges

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