Sunday, September 21, 2008

1896 expedition project

In July I wrote about the first scientific expedtion in and around Mt. Rainier in 1896, including a summit by the team of geologists and support team. Since the initial finding of the report of the expedtion, I've been researching the available reports, photos and maps from 1880 to 1920. And what have I found?

Well, for one I've found a number of maps showing the different natural features and development by settlers and the government, and some more descriptions of other trips in and around Mt. Rainier. So far, it's fair to say most of the reports deal summit trips or vacation trips, the former to explore the different routes to the top of Mt. Rainier, and the latter people who visited Longmire, the first settlement, and Paradise, the first visitor destination.

It's simply looking at the early history of Mt. Rainier National Park, and I know some have done more extensive research into the early history of the NP and I'm focusing specifically on the 1896 expedtion, but it's been an excellent history lesson for me to see and try to understand what people when through and did on their visit to Mt. Rainier NP. It's a far cry from what we have and do today.

In addition, I've discovered one interesting idea. The photos in the 1898 report about the 1896 expedition weren't necessarily taken during the expedtion. Some of them I've found in some of the photo archives of photographers working around Mt. Rainier 1890 to 1900. To date I've found the negatives used with the original report, and two other photo archives of photographers. I suspect there are more, and they will be found, eventually, as I progress.

And the maps? I found and have paper or digital copies of the first USGS map of the National Park (1915 from surveys 1910-11 and 1913) and the update in 1938. I've found some other smaller maps, most in pamphlets, books or reports, from the early 1900's to the mid-1920's. It's very interesting to see the early history of the development in the NP.

And other stuff? Well, I found and have copies of some of the original notes taken by the expedition members, and I am transcribing some of it. Some of the notes haven't been found, either because the archives for the member doesn't have them or they're somewhere else, or institutions or universities have returned my inquiries yet. Looking for field note(book)s for one 2-week expedtion in the career of scientist is the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Beside the 1896 report, I plan to produce digital files of relevant information and maps so others can see the early history of the NP. Any material I provide through the photo guide will adhere to the laws governing copyrights.

And that's the story so far. I'm still researching maps and photo archives while reading the 1896 expediton narrative in sufficient detail to map their route. It's still months to maybe a few years from anything more than an idea of their route and locate the photos, and then to return there with my 4x5 camera, but hey, what could be a better project?

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