Although he was just thirty-eight years old when he died, Bob Marshall is a major figure in the wilderness preservation movement. Marshall’s interest in the wilderness began early—his father was a progressive New York lawyer and conservationist, and the family spent their summers in the Adirondacks, where Marshall and his brothers became avid hikers and canoeists. Marshall studied forestry in college, and earned a doctorate in plant pathology from Johns Hopkins University in 1930. As an outdoorsman, Marshall’s stamina was legendary; he often hiked 30–40 miles in a day, and in 1932 climbed fourteen different Adirondack peaks in one nineteen-hour period. Following a series of journeys through Alaska’s Brooks Range (1929–1931), Marshall’s prodigious energy was increasingly directed toward wilderness preservation through his position as director of forestry in the Interior Department’s Office of Indian Affairs and later as a cofounder of the Wilderness Society in 1935.
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