Department or Program

Environmental Studies


This thesis juxtaposes a historical account of environmental toxicity in Maine against the popular notion of Maine as a “Vacationland.” Maine is famous globally for its pristine aesthetics, iconic coastline, and vast wilderness. Because of this, tourism is amongst the largest economic sectors for Maine, much different from the complex industrial history that once drove the economy and built a strong foundation for the state. Public discourse advertises Maine as a “Vacationland,” capitalizing on its natural features while ignoring and even marginalizing the toxic history of Maine which is still impacting communities today. This idyllic visage of Maine contradicts the state's reality: the Industrial Era has left its mark on Maine in the form of environmental toxicity and pollution. The waste from mills has contributed to the PFAS crisis; PFAS, per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substances, has contaminated hundreds of farmlands across Maine, deeming the farms to be polluted and useless. Drawing on the theories of William Cronan, Alexis Shotwell, and Rob Nixon, this thesis questions the validity of wilderness as truly pure and natural, thereby disputing Maine as a beautiful, untouched “Vacationland.” Public discourse illustrates Maine as an idyllic vacation destination, but this notion is a false pretense in that it ignores the reality of environmental contamination and the deleterious effects of industry in many Maine communities.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Tyler Harper

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.