Friday, April 10, 2009

1896 USGS Expedition

I updated (April 10, 2009) the Web pages for the 1896 expedition by a team of USGS geologists. I translated the narrative in the 1898 report into a time line for dates and places, including a map with camps, stays, waypoints and trips on the expedition July 15-31, 1896.

The expedition started from Carbonado and travelled the Bailey Willis trail established in the early 1880's for miners and Mr. Willis in this exploration of Mt. Rainier for the railroad. The team did the first traverse of the northern side of Mt. Rainier above treeline, establishing base camps at Philo Falls and Winthrop Glacier. While there they did several day trips to areas and a summit climb up Emmons Glacier, not a common climbing route then.

The team included four geologists, four assistants and the 10-year old daughter of one of the geologist who was scheduled to do the summit climb but was scratched by the lead climber the day before the climb. He later said she could have easily done the climb, even better than some of the five on the climbing team. The youngest successful summit climber under 18 wasn't done until the 1960's and not until the 1990's when someone under 10 did a successful climb.

She did the whole two week expedition, all on foot, and all but a few days in the now Mt. Rainier NP. That's the time now hikers spend doing the Wonderland trail (usually 10-14 days). And that was in 1896 when supplies and equipment weren't near as good as today.

Anyway, that's the first set of Web pages on the 1896 expedition. The map above is an 1880's map by Bailey Willis from the original print edition of the 1898 report I found last year. It's cool to read original print material. Gives you a sense of history and value about our national parks.

Version history:
Initial version April 5, 2009.
Updated April 10, 2009, for additional description and corrected dates.

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