The term "Thoreau Country" was first popularized by by H.W. Gleason, the photographer who did the images for the 1906 Houghton Mifflin edition of Henry D. Thoreau's Collected Works. However, a variation of it appeared in an article signed "A.L." in the New York Evening Post on October 10th, 1890:
"Thoreau's country," says a picturesque writer, "has the broad effects and simple elements that 'compose' well in the best landscape art. It is a quiet bit of country that under the seeing' eye can be made to yield a store of happiness. Its resources for the naturalist, at first scarcely suspected, are practically inexhaustible. It is not tame, as an English landscape is tame. It keeps its memories and traditions of the red man along with his flint-flakes and arrow-heads, and its birds and wild-flowers are varied and abundant. A country of noble trees, wide meadow-expanses—and the little river, quiet almost to stagnation, with just current enough to keep it pure, in places much overgrown with water-weed, in other places thick strewn with lily-pads, the banks umbrageous and grassy, fringed with ferns and wild-flowers, and here and there jutting into a point of rocks, or expanding into placid lake-like stretches—these are the main elements of Thoreau's country. Then we must add a clean, sandy soil, through which water percolates with great rapidity, leaving paths pleasant to the feet. Then come the low ranges of hills, the marshes, the ponds, and the forests, fit home for a rich varied wild flora. And then the weather influences maist be taken into account. This small district of country, though it feels the breath of the sea twenty miles away, is still somewhat sheltered from the asperities of the east wind. The summer nights are cool and refreshing, though the day may have a heart of fire, and the autumn has stretches of bright, cool, resplendent weather. Owing to the dry soil, the ways seem more open and cheery in winter than in other places, and the roads are good for walking all the year round."
Quoted by Henry S. Salt in his Life of Henry David Thoreau (1896).
The term gained new currency during the 1990s when it was adopted by the Thoreau Country Conservation Alliance (TCCA) in its efforts to preserve historic Walden Woods from over-development. Today, the Thoreau Society includes it in its Mission goal "to preserve Thoreau's legacy and advocate for the preservation of Thoreau Country." We have rolled out an number of activities that help to further this goal, including Mapping Thoreau Country and the Walden Climate Change Collaborative. Thoreau Country includes places Thoreau visited, as far south as New Jersey, as far west as Minnesota, and as far north as Canada, as well as other interior and exterior landscapes that he illuminated in his works.