American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide



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Thoreau’s Walden Pond

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and not discover when I came to die that I had not lived.”

                                                                        ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Before leaving for Walden Pond, visitors should learn a bit about Henry David Thoreau.

A visit to Henry David Thoreau’s famed Walden Pond should begin with an orientation to the nearby town of Concord, Massachusetts. Visitors should take the opportunity to explore Thoreau's personal possessions on display at the Concord Museum, including his desk, his walking stick, and the bedstead from his Walden Pond cabin. You can also prepare to take an excursion on Concord’s Thoreau Trail.

Read Linda’s reflections on Thoreau’s book, The Maine Woods. Anna has something to say about this classic as well on her page.

Right: Shepherd College student Dan Marrs with Henry David Thoreau, reviewing Dan’s journal (photo by Cat Hall).

About a mile outside of Concord, Walden Pond State Reservation preserves the pond and makes it available for public use. Many resources exist for exploring Walden Pond – whether the traveler is moving through virtual space or walking in the same woods Thoreau trod. Walden.Org is without a doubt the most comprehensive site devoted to Thoreau and his famous experiment. This site is the home for the Walden Woods Project and the Thoreau Institute.

A good video introduction to Thoreau and his life at Walden Pond is available at C-SPAN’s American Writers site.

Left: Winter at Walden Pond (photo by Cat Hall).

Although the pond is used by many people as a recreational destination, many literary travelers make pilgrimages to the famous pond every year. 

Francis McGovern’s essay, “Sunrise at Walden Pond,” is typical of the experiences that many have at this natural “shrine.”

Left: Shepherd College students and faculty walking with Walden Pond State Reservation director Steve Carlin to the original site of Thoreau’s cabin (photo by Lizzie Lowe).

“Thus I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.”

Left: Fishermen at Walden Pond (photo by Cat Hall).

A visit to the original site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond isn’t complete without considering all of the other folks who have made a pilgrimage to the site and paid homage to this unique man.

Left: Bronson Alcott's rock cairn tribute to Thoreau, at the site of the original cabin (photo by Cat Hall).

Although Thoreau’s original cabin is no longer at Walden Pond, the state reservation has erected a replica at the site. Read the journal entry Linda wrote while sitting in the cabin replica. Read the Thoreau-inspired work of Cat Hall and Lizzie Lowe.

Younger visitors should be sure to read about D.B. Johnson’s children’s books: Henry Builds a Cabin, Henry Climbs a Mountain, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, and Henry’s Night. Be sure to read Deidre’s heartfelt response to Thoreau AND D.B. Johnson.

Top left:Replica of Thoreau’s cabin, Walden Pond State Reservation (photo by Cat Hall). Bottom left: Inside the replica (photo by Anna Hughes).

“American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide” was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University), Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit “About This Site.” © 2003 Linda Tate.