.

The idea that the Western part of the United States was healthier than the East has two beginnings. During the very early 19th century this philosophy came to be popular and was referred to as valetudinarianism. It stated that some places were healthy and beneficial to people with severe diseases like consumption. Other diseases linked to the healthiness of a place and climate included rheumatism, dyspnea (an early diagnostics term for asthma, which was often correlated and mistaken with ‘tightness of the chest’), and the “fatigue” and “apoplexy” brought on by very high temperatures and humidity.

This early 19th century philosophy was strongly promoted by the yellow fever epidemics then arriving by ships. Miasma or the like was the cause for this disease, which came in independently of people as something called koino-miasma according to one British writer, later converted to the infectious iatro-miasma form emitted by people taken ill. Understanding the causes for these two forms of miasma–environmental or population based–helped physicians and the common person solidify any viewpoints that existed about how to stay healthy and avoid the poison, miasma, virus or animalcule out there responsible for deaths.

There has always been a strong association between the concept of miasma and the workings of nature. People knew that residing by swamps, smelly marshes, and brackish water inlets filled with decaying fish and animal carcasses was not an especially healthy thing to do. Yet preventing the effluvium that developed in these settings from coming in contact with people was an impossible task for health officials. To avoid illness and eliminate whatever weaknesses you had, or to recuperate your life spirit or vital force if you so believed, or to reduce your fever, revive the natural heat your body makes and eliminate the ague and its chills, it was commonly believed that all you needed to do was remove to places considered very healthy. There, you could remove whatever was in you that made you perceptible to the most recent plague to strike. Within the urban settings, this plague was mostly a city event, making any countryside the healthiest place to recuperate between 1800 and 1830. In the Hudson Valley, this led tens of thousands of urbanites to empty New York and Philadelphia during the late 1790s and very early 1800s, settling the rural towns placed all along the heavily travelled rivers.

As the Far West came to be more explored, the large chain of the Rocky Mountains served as a perfect example of where someone could engage in this same valetudinarian spirit as an explorer, wilderness-man, mountain man, farmer, or trapper. During the 1830s, the midwest became heavily inhabited across the Great Plains, as knowledge of the Rockies began to make its way eastward. The mountainman attitude about life and health once again prevailed and numerous individuals made their names known by moving to such a setting and being “healed”.

By the 1850s, the knowledge of climate, weather and disease was better understood. Basic weather observations were typical now for more than 50 years. Yet it wasn’t until the seasonal and meteorological differences for certain disease types became better understood that epidemiologists made their most important links between disease and weather. Also during the first half of the nineteenth century, physicians developed a better understanding of endemic versus epidemic disease patterns, relating these to isotherms on the earth’s surface. The early observation that diseases from the colder portions of the planet appeared to be less severe in terms of symptoms and fatality, and that similar effects upon disease patterns took place due to changes in elevation as well, enabled medical topographers and climatologists to fine tune their philosophy and take advantage of this relationship between diseases and people. During the 1860s, the understanding of world disease geography based on isotherms and other meteorological or climatic measures had reached its maturity. Some of the more detailed maps of world diseases were developed due to this period of improved understanding. By 1870, physicians were now mapping diseases independently from each other in large numbers. The differences between previously related diseases were now becoming better understood. Infectious diseases and diseases passed between people were now being more accurately compared and recategorized according to the zymotic theory, first developed as early as the mid-1830s. This philosophy wasn’t heavily promoted until around 1857, when the Royal Academy of Physicians supported this proposal by their most respected epidemiologist and statistician Dr. William Farr. The term miasma was still applied in order to better understand disease cause and effect, but only for very specific forms of diseases, those not known to be immunizable, or proven to be of a viral or toxic nature, diseases that still appeared to be of some natural origin.

Consumption seemed to behave differently in different climate and topographic settings, leading some to observe the much healthier and more active, less debilitating life one could live whilst in the high elevation settings of the mountain environments, namely such places as the Adirondacks, Appalachia, and ultimately, as the west became settled, the Rocky Mountains and Coastal Ranges of the Far West.

.

A second period of popularity in the settlement of healthier places commenced once the Civil War was over. Many of the older beliefs remained popular, but often with new lines of reasoning used to explain why there were certain diseases that appeared to resolve in mountain settings. During this period of time, the consumption or phthisis as it was now more often called appeared to demonstrate some obvious improvements in people who removed to these high elevation places for retreat related reasons.

Charles Denison played a very important role in the history of medical topography and disease due to his work as a physician focused on tuberculosis or consumption patients. During the 1870s, Denison removed to the Denver, Colorado area and opened up a treatment facility where he promoted the residency of this region for people afflicted with the deadlier forms of tuberculosis. About this same time, a Jewish group initiated a similar facility serving the same population of individual back east. The Jewish hospital remains active to this day in the Denver area and remains the primary facility for treating uncontrollable, resistant strains of tuberculosis. Denison’s facility was closed but most of the belongings turned over to it replacement.

In 1877 Denison produced his map of the Rocky Mountains area, focusing on the region within and just east of the Rockies. This was part of his book, Rocky Mountain Health Resorts, the first edition of which came out that same year. A few years later, in 1881, Denison published the second edition of his book , and naturally due to the topic at hand included a fairly detailed map of a band of the United States located on and just east of the Rocky Mountains, extending from Wyoming on down to southern Texas. This map provides some fairly detailed depictions of the places frequented for health related reasons. These places were not only devoted to clean air for the purposes of treating tuberculosis, but also places where the many mineral springs, cold and hot, of the Rocky Mountains could be found in this part of the country.

Adjusted death rates–deaths per 1000 people

Note: the following is from two images combined . . .

Complete Map, taken as two photos

.

Legend or Key

Large Sections

.

.

.

.

Sections

Greeley to Santa Fe

.

.

Cheyenne, WY down to Denver

Denver-Colorado Springs Area

.

Steamboat Springs Area

Santa Fe to Fort Craig

Guadelupe Mountains Area

.

Interpretation

.

The above details are for the climate around Pike’s Peak, near Manitou Springs. This section of a map provides Temperature (ºF), Rain Fall (in.), Relative Humidity (%), Total Movement for wind flow (miles), each by Season (Sp,Su,A,W) and as year total (YR), along with ND=number of days for year’s weather, for Fair (F), Cloudy (C), Rainy (R), and Snowy (S) days, and GV = Grains of Vapor per cubic foot of air, corrected for elevation. Arrows depict wind direction; arrows with a line across their shaft indicate direction related to rainfalls, arrows with a circle on the shaft indicate winds unlikely to bring rain. Pound signs (#) indicate hot springs. The grey polygon is a research area (Denison called these “S.S. Stations”), used to study wind flow patterns for the area in 1875 (recorded thrice per day); the above long edges depict approximately 270 days of wind flow along the two longest axes drawn in this polygon over Colorado Springs (WNW-ESE, and NNNE-SSSW). Orange lines are isotherms, green lines are for annual rainfall.

.

.

Philosophy (some readings)

.

.

.

.

Recreation and Camping Out for Health

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s