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Mount Shasta as a Visual Resource

Expedition Artists of The Wilkes Expedition: The Early 1840s

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The first artists known to have created images of Mount Shasta were part of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. This U.S. Exploring Expedition, often called the Wilkes' Expedition, was primarily a major scientific mission (10 years in the planning11) set up to give the U.S. a good understanding of the Pacific Ocean. Eventually the country hoped to establish a more competitive U.S. whaling fleet.

However, through some unusual circumstances, which included the wreck of one of their main ships at the mouth of the Columbia river, the Expedition was in a position to spy a bit on the British and Mexicans.12 During this time it was widely supposed, by the government in Washington D.C., that possession of California might soon pass from Mexico to the British. The U.S. for the most part did not want that to happen. The government needed to know many things about the region between the Columbia River in the North and the Sacramento Valley in the South. It was 'terra incognita' to the U.S., who had no good maps nor information about who and what was in the region.

Watercolor of the Wilkes Expedition ships by Titian Ramsay Peale courtesy of the American Philosophical Society - trees on left, lake on right with two large ships on the water, one a triple masted ship
Watercolor of the Wilkes Expedition ships by Titian Ramsay Peale.
Permission pending from the American Philosophical Society.

An overland group led by a Lieutenant Emmons was specifically ordered to travel the Siskiyou Trail and note all forts and settlements of the Hudson's Bay company, as well as note the Indian tribes and their sympathies. The resulting pictures and maps, combined with the same from the Fremont Expeditions a few years later, aided the American conquest of California in 1846.

From the point of view of the explorers themselves, however, the Wilkes' Expedition was a bonafide scientific explorations of the highest caliber. Keep in mind, however, that it was precisely the stature and education of the botanists, zoologists, geologists, and artists, which gave credibility to the otherwise unwarranted presence of the exploring party.

Captain Charles Wilkes painted by Thomas Sully courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum - portrait of man in military uniform from 1800s
Portrait of Captain Charles Wilkes circa 1843 by Thomas Sully.
Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.

Travel during the 1840s required considerable resourcefulness and constant alertness; there were no good maps (they were there to make the maps themselves), no roads, no easy way. An organized 'Shaste' Indian resistance (which set forest and brush fires in the path of the 1841 expedition13), and the presence of grizzly bears (who counter-attacked when shot at) made California's northern mountains very wild indeed. Photography had yet to be invented, and thus the pictures drawn by the expedition artists were the only means of conveying to the outside world a visual rendering of this unusual and beautiful area.

Oil painting of ship U.S.S. Vincennes attributed to Captain Charles Wilkes © 1985 Peabody Museum, Salem - tall three masted ship in water with icebergs and sealions and a couple smaller boats
Oil painting of ship U.S.S. Vincennes attributed to Captain Charles Wilkes, 1840.
Image from Library of Congress American Memory Collection, © 1985 Peabody Museum, Salem.

Alfred Thomas Agate (1812-1846)

The earliest known picture of Mount Shasta was sketched by Alfred Thomas Agate. This picture, entitled 'Shasty Peak', was drawn in 1841 and first published in 1844 as a full page steel engraving in Volume V of the five volume report by the commander of the expedition, Charles Wilkes.

Steel engraving entitled Shaste Peak by Alfred Thomas Agate courtesy of the Mount Shasta Collection - tall jagged mountain in center with tall pine trees on right and left with large uprooted trees laying across front of painting, with two native americans standing on fallen trees
'Shaste Peak.' Second edition steel engraving by Alfred Thomas Agate.
From: Charles Wilkes. Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1845. Vol. V. [Imperial Octavo Edition, 1000 copies printed.]
Courtesy Montagne Collection.

The report, titled the "Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842" was published by Congress and limited to one hundred copies, many of which were sent to foreign heads of state, and most of which have been lost. Wilkes was granted a special copyright on the volumes, and he privately published 150 more sets. Later he issued an additional 1000 sets.14 Many trade editions were published in the decade to follow, the last being printed in 1856. But only the earliest three editions contain the engraving of Mount Shasta. In keeping with the national pride invested in the voyage, the publishing of the books was an important event for the country, for it made available a wealth of new knowledge about the world's geography.

A notice for the edition of 1000 reads

No pains or expense have been spared to render these volumes worthy of the theme they are designed to illustrate, and to make them equal, if not superior, to any thing of the kind ever produced in any country. The whole work may be considered as a truly national one. Nothing has been used in its preparation that is not STRICTLY AMERICAN, and the design of the author and Publishers has been to produce a book worthy of the country.15

The United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842 has been called the greatest assemblage of scientific talent the country had ever gathered, and it took twenty years of scientific effort to finish the writing of the individual scientific volumes (Volumes 5 through 20).

Emmons Party Fording the Yamhill River, 1840 by Alfred Thomas Agate courtesy of the Mount Shasta Collection - large water way with people on left a boat in on lake with people and horses on the right
Emmons Party Fording the Yamhill River, 1840 [1841] by Alfred Thomas Agate.
From the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Franz Stenzel. Now residing at Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Collection of Western Americana.

The artist of the 'Shasty Peak' engraving, A.T. Agate, and another artist, Titian Ramsay Peale, crossed over the Siskiyous near Pilot Rock (which they considered to mark the 42nd Parallel boundary between California and Oregon) on September 30, 1841. Altogether there were thirty-nine people and 76 animals crossing the Siskiyous. The traveling from the Columbia River to Mount Shasta took a little over three weeks.16 It was the final year of travel of the main Expedition and the two artists had already seen much of the coasts of South America, Somoa, Hawaii, Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand, Tahiti, and the Fiji islands.

The Mount Shasta region at that time was entirely Indian territory. Wilkes wrote that their camp they were visited by a party of Shaste Indians, who were allowed to enter it, and for some time there was a brisk trade for their bows and arrows. These Indians are a fine looking race, being much better proportioned than those more to the northward, and their features more regular. One of the boys was extremely good looking. He had a bright black eye, and pleasing expression of countenance; he was clad in dressed deer skins, over his shoulders and about his body, but his legs were bare. They all wore their black hair hanging down to their shoulders; and they do not compress their heads. Mr. Agate had much difficulty in getting them to stand still for the purpose of having their portraits taken (drawn) and gave them a miniature of his mother to look at, hoping it would allay their fears, but it had the contrary effect, as they now believed that he desired to put some enchantment on them, and thought that he was the medicine man of the party.17

Self-Portrait of Alfred T. Agate from the New York Historical Society - portrait of man looking forward Agate was a talented and trained artist, capable of excellent portrait drawing and botanical illustration. His landscape sketches were masterful, full of minute detail. For much of his landscape drawing, in order to save time, he used the camera lucida, a device which projected the scene onto a piece of paper for purposes of tracing.

His view of 'Shasty Peak' shows many things of interest: two Shaste Indians dressed in skins and one holding a bow and wearing an arrow quiver, accurate renditions of Ponderosa and Sugar Pine trees, a demonstration of the grand size of a tree trunk in scale to the Indians standing on it, the characteristic shallow root system of a grand conifer fallen over, and of course the mountain itself, in what is a reasonably accurate view of the summits of the mountain as seen from the foothills of Mount Eddy, due west of Mount Shasta.

For an artist today it is easy to circle the mountain and to select the view which is most desirable. But for Agate and his party in 1841 it was much more difficult and dangerous. The lack of trails, the heavy forests, and the rush to move through the area as quickly as possible, gave him only limited opportunities and vantage points from which to sketch his pictures. Thus his 'Shasty Peak' is remarkable.

According to Dr. Philip K. Lundberg of the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the Naval Historical Foundation, Agate contributed more than half (173 of 342) of the sketches and paintings reproduced as lithographs illustrating the five volumes of Wilkes Narratives. Some of the most interesting, though all of Agate's work is of the highest order, are those of the Oregon Territory, including a look into a Chinook Lodge, an Indian Burial Place, an Indian Mode of Rocking Cradle, and a picture of the tragic wreck of one of their main sailing ships at the mouth of the Columbia River.18

Agate was held in such high regard by his peers that the distinguished botanist Asa Gray, head of the Harvard botanists who used Agate's drawings and the expedition's specimens for the botanical reports, named a new genus (and species) of violet after him; Agatea violaris19 And Wilkes named both the Agate Passage in Puget Sound and Agate Island in the Fijis after the artist20.

Unfortunately Agate's health suffered severely from the exploring expedition; he died of consumption January 5, 1846, at the age of 34.

The Naval Historical Foundation in Washington D.C. today owns the Alfred T. Agate Collection of artworks numbering 188 drawings, oils, and lithographic proofs, all from the United States Exploring Expedition.

Titian Ramsay Peale (1799-1885)

Self-Portrait of Titian Ramsay Peale from the Smithsonian Institution - portrait of man looking to left with high collared jacket on Titian Peale earned a reputation as an accomplished artist and naturalist long before joining the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838 - 1842 (which came to Mount Shasta in 1841). He accompanied the Long Expeditions to the upper waters of the Missouri and across the plains from 1819 to 182121; from that trip his watercolor Sioux Lodges is considered the first known depiction - by a white man artist- of a Plains Indian tepee.22 His painting, in 1823, of a Plains Indian, on horseback and with bow and arrow ready to strike the massive buffalo bearing down on the horse, was later lithographed and widely published in the 1830s, thus becoming one of the standard images of the West.23 The image would be redone by scores of future artists. Peale predates, by more than a decade, the famous George Catlin works of the Plains Indians. In fact Titian Peale is the major forerunner of all the artists of the American West genre.24

But Peale was even more of a naturalist than he was an artist. Earlier, in 1817, and while still a teenager, he drew the plates for Thomas Say's American Entomology, then considered to be one of the first scientific books from America to win the respect of the Europeans.25 One noted naturalist, the English explorer Charles Waterton, said of him "I met no-one in the United States half so knowing or so keen after natural history as Titian Peale"26. By 1838 Peale was a stalwart of the prestigious Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia.

Because of his formidable knowledge and experience, Titian Peale was offered the position of naturalist on the U.S. Exploring Expedition led by Lieutenant Wilkes. Peale arrived at Mount Shasta as part of the Emmons overland exploration sent by Wilkes, in September and October of 1841. Thus he and co-member Alfred Agate were the earliest artists to visit Mount Shasta.

Cervus Lewisii by Titian Ramsay Peale from John Cassin. Mammalogy and Ornithology-Atlas. Vol. VII-B (Atlas only.) Washington. D.C., 1858. (United States Exploring Expedition Report. Courtesy of the American Memory Collection - brown four legged animal with antlers No painting or drawing of Mount Shasta by Peale is yet known to exist, though his paintings of the Hawaii volcanoes indicate that he was quite fascinated by fiery geology. Undoubtedly he sketched a view or two of Shasta as the group passed through the region. His position as naturalist also kept him busy in observing the birds and mammals of the area traversed In this respect he excelled, and he converted some of his drawings into engravings for publication in a separate atlas to accompany his official report . The report, of text only, entitled 'Mammalogy and Ornithology' was published in 1848 as Volume VIII of the United States Exploring Expedition Reports; it was not until 1858 that the atlas of large color plates was issued. In it was a picture of Peale's 'Mule Deer', and Peale was given credit by the scientific community for being the first to scientifically describe this species of animal. Peale credited Lewis and Clark when naming the species. He said in his report:

This deer was first seen and described by our adventurous countrymen, Captains Lewis and Clark, whose description, published in their journal in the year 1807, is so accurate, that we subjoin it entire, adding only the scientific names of the other species with which they compared it. .... We propose the name Lewisii, from the conviction that the above description, written forty years since on the Columbia River, was intended for the animal now before us.27
Peale used deer specimens from the Feather River and the Bay of San Francisco, for this work.28 Today, the Mule deer is considered a subspecies of the Black-tail deer, but at the time it was thought to be a distinct species, one that Peale had first seen while with the Long Expedition in 1820.

Only a few copies of Peale's 1848 report were distributed. Peale was relieved from the project, for Wilkes and others thought that Peale had botched the book by improper scientific descriptions. They also thought that Peale was lying about his progress in making the engravings. The book was recalled, and ten years later, in 1858, author and artist John Cassin rewrote the text, and produced a finished atlas. Some of Peale's Oregon and California engravings of animals and birds were published in the finished atlas. The two versions of the text are substantially the same, and most of Peale's observations were retained, making the need for a second edition somewhat questionable. Peale, however, had a long standing feud with Wilkes, and years of bickering during and after the expedition may have had a lot to do with Peale's being relieved from the project.29

The following descriptions are taken from Peale's 1848 book. These quotations concern Peale's conclusions and disagreements upon various topics of natural history. They offer some insight into the scientific tenor of wildlife study in the 1840s, and a unique look at the Northern California and Southern Oregon habitat of that time.

Grizzly Bear in 1841

It is curious that this animal should not be found on the Columbia River, near its mouth. In our journey south through Oregon, the first seen were on the Umpqua River; from whence, as we continued on, they seemed to increase in numbers, until we arrived in California; six were killed in one day by our hunters as we descended the Sacramento River, although the meat was not wanted. This destruction arose from a dislike to the animal, justly considered the most dangerous on the continent, elk, der, and antelopes being there plentiful, and affording much better food, unless they be very fat, which was not then the case.

The principal food of the Grisly Bears in California, is acorns, which are abundant and appear to be very nutritious; the Indians subsisting in a great measure on the same kind of food. Both Indians and bears ascend the trees to thrash down the acorns, which is about as effectually done by the bears, as by the Indians. From the accounts of previous travelers, it was supposed that the Grisly Bear could not climb; they will not perhaps attack a person who has retreated for safety up a tree, but they certainly do climb sometimes, and shake the acorns very effectually from the trees, as we had frequent opportunities of witnessing the traces of destruction left; and there is little difficulty in distinguishing their tracks from those of the Black Bear, Ursus Americanus, which are said to inhabit the same country.30

Sandhill Crane in 1841

Sandhill Crane by Titian Ramsay Peale courtesy of the American Philosophical Society - large long legged and long necked birds
Sandhill Cranes by Titian Ramsay Peale, 1819.
Permission pending from the American Philosophical Society.

This species was found in great numbers in the latter part of July, on the prairies of Oregon, and was seen almost daily in our journey to California. They prefer moist open grounds, and roost generally on small sand bars in the rivers, where convenient; but never, that we learned, in trees. We do not agree with Wilson or with Mr. Audubon, in believing the "Sandhill" and "Whooping Cranes," to be young and old of the same species; if it was so, we would expect to find at least one old bird in many thousand individuals seen by our parties in Oregon and California, but we did not observe a single specimen of Whooping Crane (Grus Americana), although the bird was known by several persons of whom we made inquiry, as a rare visitor on that side of the Rocky Mountains. Sandhill Cranes or Storks (Grus Canadensis) were familiar to every person; they are known to breed in the country, and are very abundant. Indians, fur-traders, trappers, and persons living in the forests and prairies, are prone to be observers of natural objects; they are, generally speaking, correct in their knowledge of the larger animals of the country where they range; they consider these two birds as distinct species, and we have no reason to disagree with them. Grus Americana is the larger of the two, and we believe it is of a dusky ferruginous colour when young, having seen it in both states of plumage on the salt marshes of Florida, and on the prairies of the Missouri, but it is not common near the Coast of the Pacific Ocean, while, on the contrary, the Grus Canadensis abounds there.31

California Quail in 1841

This beautiful species was first observed by the Expedition in the mountainous regions of Southern Oregon, near the forty-third degree of north latitude, which may be considered about their furthest range north; there the flocks were small, but as we proceeded south, they continued to increase, and in California great numbers were seen daily. Several flocks, or coveys, unite in the autumn months; they delight in bushy flats, near the banks of streams. During our march through the Indian countries north of California, we frequently observed them collect at night, to roost on trees. At such times their call-note was plaintive, and had a slight resemblance to the words cut-cut-cut me too. They are hardy; a few were kept alive by the members of the Expedition, and brought to the City of Washington, by a route equal to the circumference of the earth; they crossed the Equator twice, and have since produced a brood of young, which unfortunately all died.32

Titian Peale was a member of America's most famous artistic family. His father (Charles W. Peale), his uncle (James Peale), his nephew (James Peale Jr.), his three brothers (Raphaelle, Rembrandt, and Rubens), and at least eight other relatives33, were all accomplished artists; their artwork can be found in major museums throughout North America. His father, Charles Wilson Peale, aside from being a famous portrait artist, also founded two of the first natural history museums in the U.S., one in Philadelphia, and the other in New York.

The Peale Family by Charles Willson Peale courtesy of the Charles Willson Peale Family Papers (Smithsonian Institution) - 10 people sitting a table with young children and dog
The Peale Family by Charles Willson Peale.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Two other items of note about Titian Peale. One is that according to some sources he was born in 1799, which would make him the only artist at Mount Shasta to have been born in the 1700s. The other thing has to do with several commentators mentioning that Titian Peale made the first identification and perhaps description of the Water Ouzel, commonly known as the 'Dipper', a wonderful bird which frequents the rivers of the West.

Peale's quote for illustration of Catching Wild Geese in California: [permission pending from the American Philosophical Society]

When they first arrive from the North, they are very tame, allowing persons to approach very near, and a skillful rider on a horse is enabled to catch them with a 'lasso' (the noose used by the Californians for catching cattle and horses). By this process we have seen four that were taken in one afternoon by a Californian. p. 249 vol. VIII U.S.E.E.

All naturalists, military officers, and artists of the 1830s and 1840s were schooled in sketching as a normal part of their education. Therefore it should be no surprise that three other 'artists' were with Agate and Peale at Mount Shasta in 1841.

Lieutenant George Foster Emmons (1811-1884)

Photograph of George Foster Emmons courtesy of NOAA - portrait of man with mustache and beard in suit and tieGeorge Emmons, appointed leader of the overland group of 1841, was an expert draftsman. His official journal from the four year adventure includes 33 pencil drawings, but it is not known if any of them are of the California journey.34 His scenes of the South Seas and Antarctica were detailed and artistic. We give him here the benefit of the doubt, and call him a Shasta artist, because he was an artist and because he was responsible for the safety and success of the overland trip which reached Mount Shasta.

The instructions given by Wilkes to Emmons suggest much of the danger of the venture: are intrusted with the charge of the party and you will be careful that the organization is complete, and that they maintain a due obedience to your orders and authority--for on it will depend their safety....

The route I have pointed out to you (along the Willamette trail, and across the rivers and mountains of Umpqua, Rogue and Klamath, to the valley of the Sacramento) is believed to be feasible, but as the country is unknown it may not be so....

If you find it difficult to proceed with horses abandon them....

It is desirable to avoid all collision with the indians... but if attacked, you must not only repulse them, but punish them as far as may lay within your power. ...keep your party armed night and day...

Procure every information relative to the forts or stations of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company...If you meet with settlers, note their condition, whence from, etc....

I cannot too strongly impress on you the necessity of constant watchfulness and caution in the steps you pursue, and of acquiring the information necessary to be able to judge for yourself....

The information also expected from your party will be the names of tribes, numbers, manners, customs, habits, character, disposition, and incidents that any occur to the party, as also the timber, kinds and quality of soil, climate, etc.

The notes and journals should be full, and so as to be well understood by others without the necessity of explanation....35

Portrait of Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, officer of the Federal Navy from Brady National Photographic Art Gallery courtesy of the American Memory Collection - man reclining in chair in suit and tie
Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, officer of the Federal Navy.
From the Brady National Photographic Art Gallery.
Courtesy of the American Memory Collection.

At the end of their trip the journals of Emmons, Eld, Dana, Agate, and Peale were turned over to Wilkes. Indeed, all journals, diaries, notes, drawings, souvenirs, and all personal property collected during the four years by every member of the expedition became the property of the U.S. government. No one was allowed to keep anything from the expedition, and it was only at the end of the four years that they were brusquely informed of the situation. All of their hard earned mementoes were relieved from them.36 There was considerable grumbling from the members of the crew over this state of affairs. However, as a result of this action, we have today an extensive and vital record of this important voyage which in particular includes not only the art, but also glimpses of the ethnology, botany, zoology, and geology of Mount Shasta as it was in 1841.

Books about the Wilkes Expedition courtesy of the Montagne Collection stack of six books

Lieutenant Henry Eld (1814-1850)

Henry Eld was an officer with the overland group. He produced 43 maps and 42 pencil sketches of the land between the Columbia River and the Sacramento Valley.37 Only a few of the titles of the sketches are known, though it seems more than likely that he did some of Mount Shasta. One of the known titles is Crossing the Umpqua Mountains, Oregon38. Though not as polished an artist as the others, Eld's work nonetheless displays a naive charm and earnestness.

Encampment after the Peacocks's Wreck by Henry Eld courtesy of the Montagne Collection - pencil drawing of native Americans on lake with canoes and tall pine trees in background
Encampment after the Peacocks's Wreck, at Mouth of Columbia, 1841 by Henry Eld.
From Edward Eberstadt and Sons. The Northwest Coast. Catalogue No. 119. New York, no date.

It should be noted that although the U.S. Exploring Expedition is mostly unknown and unheard of today, it was in its time a major triumph. They proved that the Antarctic was a continent (Lieutenant Eld was the first to see the Antarctic mountains at a crucial stage of their survey of the icefields). And the specimens collected during the four year expedition - some fifty thousand plants, including the first specimen ever seen by science of the California Pitcher Plant, collected by the botanist Brackenridge near Castle Crags39, seven thousand mineral specimens, three thousand insects, innumerable shells, fishes, reptiles, mammals, and hundreds of tribal artifacts- all these became a world renowned scientific treasure.

Fortunately an Englishman named Smithson earlier bequeathed a half million dollars in gold to the United States, and this money was used to pay for the storage of various collections owned by the government. The collections of the Wilkes' Expedition were sent to Washington D.C. just as this new repository was developing. Eventually Wilkes' collections became the core collection of the new depository, which is today known as the .

James D. Dana (1813-1895)

James D. Dana filled the position of the staff mineralogist for the Wilkes' Expedition. His notebooks from the four years of travel contained fifty sketches, maps, and diagrams, including views of both Mount Shasta and Castle Crags41. Dana's sketch of Mount Shasta was engraved in 1849 for publication in the American Journal of Science and Art along with a lengthy article based on Dana's 1841 geological notes.42 In the article he describes in scientific terms the rocks, minerals, and geology of the Shasta region. As far as is known, his sketch of Mount Shasta became the second view of the mountain ever published.

James Dwight Dana (1813-1895). Shaste Peak. Engraving published 1849 (sketched 1841) is the second-ever published view of Mount Shasta). Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California - tall two peaked mountain in back ground across a valley with pine trees on right and left
Shaste Peak by James Dwight Dana.
Engraving published 1849 (sketched 1841); second-ever published view of Mount Shasta.
From: Notes on Upper California. In: American Journal of Science and Arts, 1849, 2nd Series, Vol. 7.
Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California.

The reason for the 1849 publishing of his geology journal of Mount Shasta was undoubtedly in response to the gold rush publicity. Dana was the pre-eminent U.S. geologist of his time, and he also was one of the few trained observers anywhere who had first hand knowledge of the northern California terrain. He had previously written that there was likelihood that gold was to be found all along the route between the Umpqua River in Oregon and the Sacramento Valley. He was probably deluged with inquiries about the Shasta region, and was forced to publish in more detail some advice to the would-be gold miners.

Dana's 1841 journal gives a fine account of the rigors of the trip. He here is referring to an area just a few miles south of Mount Shasta.

October 4- The thermometer at 2 A.M. on the morning of the 4th, stood at 32.5 F. We were off on our way through dense forests of evergreens, and soon left an undulating country by a descent into a gorge two hundred and fifty feet in depth. The rock thus far trachyte(lava) and evidently pertaining to the Shasty eruptions, soon changed to the talcose rock formation(serpentine), and pebbles of quartz and talcose slate were abundant along the bed of a rivulet....

The passage through the mountains occupied us from the 4th of October till the 10th. Destruction river was at first but a mere rivulet; it increased rapidly to a brawling torrent, and then to a large steam several feet in depth. It is a succession of cataracts through a great part of its course, affording scenery of the wildest character, as it dashes impetuously through its narrow defiles, over the rugged rocks. We seldom could travel even for a short distance upon its banks. Through our whole course, till we emerged upon the plains of the Sacramento, we were ascending and descending,- now up a rocky steep several hundred or perhaps thousand feet high, and then to the bottom of a craggy valley. The view ahead varied but little: ridge beyond ridge appeared to interlock below the river.43

James Dwight Dana from 1904 Smithsonian Institution publication courtesy of Mount Shasta Collection - portrait of man in suit with long curly white hair looking left Dana, who became a full professor at Yale, is best known as the founder of Dana's System of Mineralogy, which is still today the worldwide basis of mineral classification. Even his textbook of Mineralogy, now in its 19th revised edition, 140 years later, is a standard text for American universities. Dana's observations in Northern California are still valid, as for example his being the first to comment on and draw maps of Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento valley, correctly showing them to be an ancient but eroded volcano.

He also compiled a vocabulary of the Shaste Indians (Horatio Hale, the staff ethnologist, gave him a standard list of about one hundred common English words, for sun, moon, man, woman etc. Hale, who remained on ship, then later compiled the results of similar vocabularies from about twenty tribes of the Pacific Northwest. His finding were published in volume VI of the Expedition reports.) While in the south seas Dana discovered nearly two hundred new species of corals44, and he drew and described all of them in his reports; the artwork he did is of the highest quality of scientific illustration. Dana even assumed the editorship of the American Journal of Science and Art, a position he held for decades. It is remarkable that the first geologist to visit Mount Shasta was one of America's greatest scientists.

[11] Haskell. p. 2. The first suggestion of such a voyage was made by President John Quincy Adams, in 1825. The U.S. House of Representatives resolved to set the Expedition into motion on May, 21, 1828. It took ten years to get through the red tape and off to sea.

[12] Eberstadt. p.81. Eberstadt was an historian and bookseller who came into possession of most of the original journals and diaries of the Wilkes Expedition. His catalog of the material, published in 1941, was extensively annotated and illustrated. The manuscripts later became part of the Western Americana collection at Yale. He says quite bluntly that the Wilkes Expedition was spying on the Hudson's Bay Company.

[13] Wilkes, p. 126. The Wilkes report states that the Emmons group saw Indians setting fires in the Rogue Valley and that they came upon a squaw setting fires as they ascended the Siskiyous. It is interesting that the group of scientists and officers had already fought to the death, with losses on both sides, several times during the three years of South Seas travels. Whole flotillas of islanders had attacked in some instances. The Emmons group was experienced and prepared to defend itself, and they therefore could disregarded dire warnings from settlers and friendly Indians that it was foolish to try to cross the Siskiyous.

[14] Haskell. p 31. This is the most complete bibliography of all literature pertaining to the Wilkes Expedition, including details of all the various editions of the 20 different reports. The 180 page bibliography was published in 1941 to commemorate the 100 years anniversary of the expedition.

[15] Ibid. p. 41.

[16] Stanton. pp. 260-263. Preparations for this overland trip took almost a full month. Before leaving, they consulted with several famous Northwestern personalities, such as John McLoughlin, Tom McKay, and Joseph Meek.

[17] Ibid. p.239. It should be mentioned that Wilkes was not on the overland trip, though the narrative makes it seem as if he was. He used the journals of the actual overland explorers to reconstruct what was seen.

[18] Agate's drawings in the published Narratives must number in the hundreds. The images here are from the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

[19] Agatea violaris is the name given to the plant as recorded in Gray's Atlas to Volume XV of the Reports of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, published in 1856. Gray states, on p.91 of the text Volume, that "As the ancients garlanded the graves of their deceased friends with violets, so I dedicate this new genus of Violaceae to the memory of Alfred T. Agate, the Botanical Artist of the Expedition, who died at Washington shortly after its return."

[20] Ibid. p. 197.

[21] Goetzmann. p. 10. Goetzmann describes the route, and the art of the Long Expedition.

[22] Stebbins. p.71-72. Stebbins states, in reference to Peale's watercolors that "This is the first known depiction of a Plains Indian tepee, just as another watercolor is the earliest depiction of grazing buffalo on the Plains -making clear Peale's importance as forerunner to the many Western artists to follow."

[23] Goetzmann. p. 14. This famous image is reproduced in b&w on p. 14.

[24] Stebbins. p. 72. See footnote 23 above.

[25] Barber. p. 158.

[26] Ibid. p.159.

[27] Peale. pp. 40-41.

[28] Ibid. p. 40.

[29] Haskell. There are many varying accounts of Peale's attempts to finish his atlas, and the troubles that ensue: See also Viola; Peale; Stanton. Nearly all accounts, however, do little justice to the sheer volume of competent collecting, cataloging, describing, sketching, and painting which Peale performed as part of the Expedition.

[30] Peale. p. 29.

[31] Ibid. p. 213.

[32] Ibid. p. 182-183.

[33] Elam. This book is a history of the Peale Family.

[34] Withington. p. 76. This is a catalog of manuscripts in the collection of Western Americana at Yale University.

[35] Quoted in Eberstadt. p. 95.

[36] Stanton.p. 277. Stanton mentions that for the men who had to do the confiscation - "It was a humiliating business. No one relished serving on this committee enjoined to extract every scrap and relic from men who had labored four long and arduous years, their few pitiful souvenirs now to be tossed into the government's great maw . . ."

[37] Eberstadt. p 106.

[38] This drawing is reproduced on page 96 of Eberstadt.

[39] Viola. p. 31. The author states: "It was Brackenridge who spied the previously unknown pitcher plant, and he seems always to have prized it as the Expedition's best botanical discovery." and that "Darlingtonia californica, sole species of its genus, is the only Expedition plant with an illustrated publication of its own. The newly founded Smithsonian Institution published Torrey's treatment in one of the early volumes in its series Contributions to Knowledge"

[40] Viola. p. 243-253. These page detail the interesting circumstances of the Smithson bequest, including Smithson's request that the name Smithsonian Institution be used.

[41] Withington. p. 58-59.

[42] Dana . The published engraving is nearly identical to the sketch found in Dana's 1841 notebook. The initials on the engraving, L.S. , are those of the engraver. Undoubtedly this was Lockwood Sanford, who also did the engravings for Dana's Manual of Geology.

[43] Ibid. p. 250-251.

[44] Stanton. p. 317.


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