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“Exploration of the Sierra Nevada” (1925)
by Francis P. Farquhar


Further Scientific Explorations

Following the State Geological Survey and the Wheeler Survey, there were several other scientific explorations of the Sierra. The United States Coast and Geodetic Survey under George Davidson made a reconnaissance of the northern Sierra Nevada in 1879 and at that time signals were exchanged between stations on the summits of Round Top, near Lake Tahoe, and Mount Conness. A further reconnaissance from Mount Conness was carried on in 1887, and in 1890 it was occupied for a considerable period by a large party of the Survey. The remains of a small observing station are still to be found on the summit. 96

The United States Geological Survey, organized in 1879 with Clarence King as its first Chief, proceeded to gather together all of the activities carried on by the several independent surveys that had been occupying the western field for the preceding ten years. A systematic survey of the Sierra Nevada was not begun until about fifteen years later, but in 1882 and 1883 an intensive study was made of the region embracing Mount Lyell and Mount Ritter and Mono Lake. This work was carried on by Israel C. Russell, assisted by Willard D. Johnson as topographer, and under the general supervision of Grove Karl Gilbert. During the course of the field work, Russell and Gilbert visited the glaciers of Mount Dana and Mount Lyell, and Johnson made observations from the summits of Mounts Conness, Maclure, and Ritter.

In these explorations, particularly those dealing with the glaciers of Mounts Lyell, Dana, and Ritter, many of the findings of Muir and Joseph Le Conte in 1872 were confirmed. 97

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96 George Davidson, Overland Monthly, February 1892.

97 Fifth Annual Report of the U. S. Geological Survey, 1883-84, pp. 31-32, 303-328; Eighth Annual Report of the U. S. Geological Survey, 1886-87, I, pp. 261-394; Glaciers of North America, by Israel C. Russell, 1897, pp. 37-54.


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