American Wilderness Hermits in Photos, 1960's-1980's

Why do "secular" hermits in the United States seem to conform to the stereotype of rugged mountain man or wilderness survivor? Perhaps to conform to the image De Tocqueville had already seen in 1840 as a possibility for the people of the United States: "Every individual being in the possession of rights which he is sure to retain, a kind of manly reliance and reciprocal courtesy would arise ..." (Democracy in America, Introductory chapter).

Here are some of the hermits exhibiting this "manly reliance" -- including two women -- found in the archives of Corbis, which regulates copyright of the photographs, each having a Corbis watermark. The little information supplied by Corbis on each hermit is supplemented where possible by Web sources.

Mat Verhonick Nick Hogan Bill Hart Matt Olason Jeff Salkeld
Dorothy Molter Eulalia Bourne Bill Mattila Edward Abbey

    Top row
  1. Mat Verhonick, farmer in Enumclaw, Washington
  2. Nick Hogan, Desolation Valley, Utah
  3. "Buckskin" Bill Hart, Idaho
  4. Matt Olason, Cascade Mountains, Washington
  5. Jeff Salkeld, desert- and cave-dweller, New Mexico
    Second row
  1. Dorothy Moulter (1907-86), Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota. Subject of a book by Bob Cary entitled Root Beer Lady, the Dorothy Molter Story; Duluth: Pfeiffer-Hamilton, 1992. (note different spelling of surname); Museum info: and
  2. Eulalia Bourne (1897-1984), Arizona Sonoran desert; school teacher and author; see
  3. Bill Mattila (d. 1985), the Brockway Mountain hermit, Copper Harbor, Michigan. Described in a book by David M. Frimodig entitled Keeweenaw Character: The Foundation of Michigan's Copper Country. Lake Linden, MI: John H. Foster Press, 1990.
  4. Edward Abbey (1927-1989), environmentalist and writer, on Aztec Peak, near Globe, Arizona. Abbey spent much of his life as a park ranger and solitary. A significant amount of information, reviews, etc. are available; on the Web: