What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Explore : mountains


To Understand America’s Small Towns, Ask About Their Swimming Holes

Whether at the Base of a Majestic Waterfall or the Site of an Old Quarry, These DIY Pools Are a Refreshing Way to Connect With Simple Pleasures of the Past

By Dave Hajdasz
July 14, 2016

Consider the swimming hole. It lacks the majesty of an ocean or the pedigree of a lake—forget about boating or surfing. A swimming hole is by its very nature utilitarian. It’s a hole. Filled with water. To swim in. Unlike its grander cousins, a swimming hole doesn’t exist on its own and doesn’t fulfill swimming hole-ness until someone actually gets in there and swims.

Swimming holes were born of necessity at a time when fabricated pools didn’t exist in most of …

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Et Cetera

The First Recorded American Mountain Climber Saw a Majesty No One Else Did

In 1642, You Had to Be a Little Nuts to Think Mountaineering Was a Good Idea

By Maurice Isserman
June 7, 2016

In the spring of 1642, in what was then the Upper Plantation of Massachusetts Bay Colony, later the colony, and still later the state of New Hampshire, Darby Field, a 32-year-old Englishman of Irish descent, was doing something unprecedented in England’s newly-established North American colonies—climbing a mountain.

Field, a resident of the community of Pascataquack (present day Durham, New Hampshire), left no written record of his climb or indication of its purpose. But others, including John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts …

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