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On this day in 1927, in little Indiana, Pennsylvania, a strangely named Appalachian town, Edward Paul Abbey was born. His dad was a farmer with a serious socialist bent. His mother was a classics-loving schoolteacher. At 17 Abbey first visited the American Southwest, his great muse, love affair, home, and eventually his resting place. Once he moved there for good to attend the University of New Mexico, in the late 1940s, Abbey set to becoming a voice—the voice—for American wilderness. Though he died in 1989, Abbey remains eminently quotable, a charming example of the best kind of curmudgeon, and one of the influential talked about defenders of the West. He’d be 92 years old today and probably no less an opinionated firebrand as he was in his younger days.

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