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Descriptions and Travel

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By the latter half of the 19th Century, many people were coming to the Mt.Shasta area to hike on our mountain or to simply observe its well-known beauty from a distance. In Wells' 1881 History of Siskiyou County California, we learn that the mountain was already of "world-wide fame and notoriety." A few years earlier, in the 1877 In Picturesque America, which Miesse refers to as "one of the first great American illustrated books," the chapter titled "Northern California," and written by R.E. Garczynski, devotes a few pages of very descriptive prose to Mount Shasta's beauty and power. Another worthy work, though just a couple pages in length, is Liberty Hyde Bailey's 1905 poetic observation about Mount Shasta.

Of course, one of the best ways to appreciate the mountain's beauty is to climb it, and the "First Ascent of Shasta Butte" was written about in the San Francisco Daily Herald of August 28th, 1854. The "Second Ascent of Shasta Butte" made it into the same paper on October 9th of the same year. Newspapers were certainly not the only media interested in summit climbs, and John W. Boddam-Whetham's summit climb (sometime before 1874) was included in Esther Singleton's travel book Greatest Wonders of the World. Another travel book, Californian Pictures in Prose and Verse, included a most interesting and descriptive Ascent of Mount Shasta by Benjamin Parke Avery.

Other summit climbs of note, while perhaps not as famous, include the controversial "first party of ladies who ever made the ascent of Mt. Shasta on September 9, 1856," and the "Excursion of Yreka's Brass Band to Summit of Mt. Shasta" in 1858--where they played a number of tunes including "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Hail Columbia."

Others climbers, like Clarence King and Benjamin Colonna, came to climb as well as study the moutain. King, perhaps one of America's greatest geologists, was also a talented writer, and in his Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, he included two chapters about the mountain: "Shasta" and "Shasta's Flanks." Both chapters are rich in artistic detail and insight. Colonna, an assistant to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, describes his famous mission up the mountain in his "Nine Days on the Summit of Mt. Shasta."


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