Alaska, the Harriman expedition 1899
by Burroughs, John - - Muir, John - - Grinnell, George Bird - - Healey Dall, William - - Keeler, Charles - - Fernow, Bernard E. - - Gannett, Henry - - Brewer, William H. - - Merriam, C. Hart - - Washburn, M.L.
pub. by Doubleday,NY 1901       ( republished by Dover, Mineola, NY, 1986 - isbn 0-486-25109-8 - - Maps. - some diagrams - - black and white photos - - Index p. 371-383 - - 383 p. total
This book is the collection of papers written by the Harriman expedition along the coast of Alaska in 1899. It was originally published very shortly after the expedition finished and was republished by publisher Dover. It is a wonderful description of Alaska as it was in 1899.
Originally Edward H. Harriman considered a hunting expedition in Alaska. It soon developed from a hunting expedition to a scientific expedition. Harriman was one of the self made men and railroad magnate who at the time of the expedition he controlled the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Saint Joseph and Grand Island, the Illinois Central, the Central of Georgia, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Wells Fargo Express Company. He was a powerful and very wealthy man.
Harriman chartered the George W. Elder a 250 foot long steamship for the expedition. It was outfitted with anything they might need for the scientific expedition.
The group included - The Harriman family and servants (11) - The Scientific party (24) - Artists (2) - Bird Artist (1) - Physicians (2) - Taxidermists and Preparers (2) - Photographers (2) - Chaplain (1) - Stenographers (2) - Ships officers (5) - and ships crew.

The members of the expedition were arranged into 12 committees.
    Executive - Route and Plans - Zoology - Botany - Geology - Mining - Geography and Geographic Names
    - Big Game - Lectures - Library - Literature and Art - Music and Entertainment.
Several people served on more than one committee. The regular program included informatinoal lectures from the experts in the company.

- - - Contents of the Book - - -

Alaska (poem) - Charles Keeler -
Narrative of the Expedition - John Burroughs -
    This part is the largest of the papers. It encompasses the whole of the expedition in     narrative form in a most delightful manner.
    It starts in New York. leaving on May 23, 1899 and describes the railroad trip across the USA
    with a side trip - description and photos of Shoshone Falls.     They wandered through parts of Oregon and Washington following the Snake river.
    The eastern contingent arrived in Seattle. The California contingent arrived and
    all found their staterooms on the steamer George E. Elder. The ship was especially laid out for the expedition.
    Supplies were loaded including livestock for food and suffient coal for a 2 month cruise. (I believe they re-coaled later in the voyage.)
    The expedition departed for Alaska on May 31, 1899.
    The completed party include 46 among the expedition and with the ships crew a total of 126 were aboard.
    The George E. Elder steamed up the inland passage past Victoriam, British Columbia into the Alaska panhandle, studying the glaciers on the way.
    Burroughs spent considerable time describing the bird life at each of the stops,
    and describes the flowers and small plants encountered.
    His narragtive takes up 118 pages of delightful detail and touches on all aspects of
    the Harriman Alaska expedition.
    The expedition arrived back in Seattle, Washington on July 30, 1899.

The Pacific Coast Glaciers - John Muir -
    Muir had visited many of the glaciers some time before and had studied them.
    It is notable that they were already retreating due to the climate warming.

Natives of the Alaska Coast Region - George Bird Grinnell -
    Lightweight Anthropology - Good and positive descriptions of the encounters.
    what could be done in the short time the expedition was at each of its stops along the whole Alaskan coast,
    including the 2 short stops at the eastern tip of Siberia in Russia.

the Discovery and Exploration of Alaska - William Healey Dall -
    Spanish, English, Russians etc.

Days among Alaska Birds - Charles Keeler -
    A more detailed look at the birds encountered.

The Forrests of Alaska - Berngard E, Fernow -
    What type of trees grew where, and what were useful commercially.
    Interesting that lumber was shipped up from Washington State as the lumber from there was of higher quality.

Geography of Alaska - Henry Gannett -
    Inland Alaska was not very well known in 1899. The gold rush caused some exploration
    but on the whole what was known of the interior was sketchy.

The Atmosphere of Alaska - William H. Brewer -
    You will not read anything like this anywhere else. It is a description of the air.
    Describing how it looks in Alaska and how that is differnt from other places.
    It is a very interesting presentation.

Bogoslof Our newest Volacno - G.C. Gart Merriam -
    A rather lengthy and great description of a volcano rising to the surface and creating an island
    and how that island is re-formed, shaped and worn by the sea. Detail description from 1796 to 1899.

The Salmon Industry - George Bird Grinnell -
    A straight forward description of the salmon fishery and how methods were depleating the
    number of salmon. This is a good description of how lack of regulation can ruin a resource.

Fox Farnubg - N,L. Washburn -
    Blue fox pelts were very popular in the fashion industry. Rather than hunt them to
    extinction there were efforts to establish fox farms to raise them on smaller islands.
    This met with modest success

The Innuit People (poem)- William Healey Dall -

Index - - certain individual papers have bibiiographies

I picked this book up at a rummage sale as something I might read to fill out my knowledge of Alaska.
It had been originally purchased in Alaska by someone who vacationed there. It was obvious that it had not been read.
I expected a dry listing of the features of the area. That was not an accuragte assessment.
It is a delightful book. Yes, it describes Alaska in as much detail as could be done in the time alloted.
It is also a writing of its time. In the gilded age when natural resources were exploited with little thought to the effects of such exploitation.
It is also in the beginning of the conservation movement when serious men of science were working at bringing a halt to enviornmental destruction.
Wikipedia has an article entitled Harriman_Alaska_expeditin which explains the expedition. There is a separate article on the ship SS George W. Elder in Wikipedia.
This book, and all its parts, are a good read.
~ 2017-03-23 ~

to Books index page.