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Full text of "Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences"






Volume XXI 











i / 


Volume XXI 




3. J. C. BRANNER ------------ By 


5. GROVE KARL GILBERT --------- By 







12. ALEXANDER SMITH ---------- By 



F. M. Chapman 

G. P. Merrill 

R. A. F. Penrose, Jr. 
W. A. Setcheli. 
W. M. Davis 

B. L. Robinson 
George K. Burgess 

C. B. Davenport 
W. H. Howell 
F. W. Clarke 
Ira Remsen 

W. A. Notes 
Edwin H. Hall 
E. B. Frost 



Volume XXI 






Presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1922 



Ancestry and boyhood 1 

Edu cation 2 

Field explorations 3 

Association with the Museum of Comparative Zoology 4 

Association with the American Museum of Natural History - 5 

Association with the American Ornithologists' Union 5 

Personal characteristics 6 

Home life 6 

Contributions to science 7 

Honors 13 

Bibliography 14 




By Frank M. Chapman 


There is nothing in the immediate ancestry, the early environment, or associations of Joel 
Asaph Allen to account for his obviously instinctive characteristics as a student of nature. 
One can only say that he was born a naturalist and that the definite, pronounced interest which 
at an early age he evinced in natural phenomena and in plant and animal life developed spon- 

Doctor Allen was born at Springfield, Mass., July 19, 1838, and died at Cornwall-on- 
Hudson, N. Y., on August 29, 1921. He came of good New England stock. On his father's 
side he was a descendant in the eighth generation of Samuel Allen, who settled at Windsor, 
Conn., in 1640, and who came to this country from England, it is believed, in 1630 with the 
Dorchester Company io the ship Mary and John. 

On the maternal side, Doctor Allen was descended from John Trumbull, great-grandfather 
of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull (said to have been the original "Brother Jonathan" and familiar 
friend of Washington), who was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and settled in Roxbury, 
Mass., in 1639. 

Doctor Allen's immediate progenitors were farmers. His father, however, was a carpenter 
in his earlier days, but later bought a farm on which he passed the greater part of his life. A 
man of excellent judgment and sterling integrity whose advice was often sought by his neigh- 
bors, he had, however, little appreciation of his son's desire to study nature, and evidently 
expected him to succeed him in the care of the farm. Doctor Allen's mother, on the other hand, 
had much sympathy with his yearnings for a knowledge of flora and fauna, and often used her 
influence to secure for him opportunities to study. Possibly tastes latent in her may have found 
expression in her son. They were not, however, possessed by Doctor Allen's two brothers, one 
of whom became a molder, while the other remained on the parental farm. 

Doctor Allen's early training was rigidly puritanical. Both of his parents were members of 
the Congregational Church and strict in their religious observances. His home was half a 
mile from that of the nearest neighbor; but in thus being removed from external influences, he 
evinced while still a toddling youngster so marked an interest in wild flowers that he was dubbed 
" Doctor Sykes," in allusion to an herb doctor of local reputation. 

With no training or contact with the outside world, other than that to be gained by 
attendance during the winter session at the conventional little red schoolhouse, distant a mile 
from his home, the young farmer developed a desire to know more of the soil and rocks, the 
animal and plant life, the ever-changing phenomena of sky and air which formed his environ- 

At the age of 13, after much pleading, his father presented him with a gun. At first used 
for sport, it soon became a means of acquiring specimens. No books were available ; there was no 
one to turn to for advice; and without instruction of any kind the tastes, not merely of the 
"nature lover," common in varying' degrees to most men, but the deeper, rarer instincts of the 
student naturalist, were manifested. The birds shot were measured, weighed, described, and 
named. Attempts were even made to make colored drawings of them. A new world was 
opening to the boy, and so far as he knew he was the only naturalist in it. 

His joy may be imagined, when, a little later, he made the acquaintance of one Bradford 
Horsford, a teacher of drawing, who was also an amateur taxidermist and ornithologist. From 

1 The biographical and bibliographical portions of this memoir are based on "Autobiographical Notes and a Bibliography of the Scientific Publi- 
cations," prepared by Doctor Allen, and published by the American Museum of Natural History in 1916. The more strictly historical portion is 
taken from the memorial address on Doctor Allen presented by the writer before the American Ornithologists' Union, at its Thirty-ninth Congress, 
held in Philadelphia, November 9, 1921, and subsequently published in "The Auk" for January, 1922. 


him young Allen borrowed, and afterward bought, a copy of the' Brewer edition of Wilson's 
American Ornithology. Subsequently Nuttall's and Audubon's works on North American 
birds were discovered in the Springfield Public Library, and the boy naturalist was launched 
upon the career which, with never-ceasing pleasure to himself and increasing profit to science, 
he followed for the succeeding 70 years. 


When one considers his comparative isolation and the general lack of interest in natural 
phenomena of the period, Doctor Allen was singularly fortunate in finding men who could 
give him the assistance he so eagerly sought. 

Shortly after meeting Horsford, a teacher took charge of the district school who possessed 
a broader education than anyone with whom young Allen had come in contact. A nature 
lover himself, he could appreciate his pupil's aspirations, and he not only assisted him in his 
studies, but gave him a copy of Blythe's Cuvier's Animal Kingdom. This work greatly 
enlarged the boy's horizon and showed his potential broadness as a naturalist. His interest in 
nature did not, as often happens, begin and end with birds, but plants, mammals, reptiles, 
fishes, insects — in short, the living world — equally appealed to him, and for years he kept a 
detailed record of meteorological phenomena. His first publication, indeed, was a summary 
from his journal of weather conditions, which appeared in the New England Farmer for 1858. 

Prof. Oliver Marcy followed the donor of " Cuvier" as the boy naturalist's friend and teacher. 
Later he became dean of the faculty of Northwestern University, but at that time he was the 
teacher of natural sciences at Wilbraham Academy, which Allen attended during the winter from 
1858 to 1862. This was a productive period in his development. Under the sympathetic 
guidance of Professor Marcy he selected his own studies, including physiology, astronomy, 
chemistry, Latin, French, and German. His summers were still spent on the farm, but with 
Humboldt's Cosmos, Lyell's Principles of Geology, and Dana's Mineralogy for companions, 
it is clear that his horizon was not restricted to the hayfields. To demonstrate, however, his 
value as a farm hand, the far from strong boy unduly exerted himself and this, with demands 
made by a desire to gratify his passion for collection and study, told heavily on his health. 
To these long periods of overwork, Doctor Allen attributed much of the semi-invalidism from 
which he suffered in after years. 

Much of his spare time was now devoted to the study of botany, with the aid of Gray's 
Manual, and to the making of a collection of plants. These, however, formed only a part of the 
future curator's "museum." During the years 1859-1861 he collected and mounted some 300 
birds, representing nearly 100 species, numerous mammals, reptiles, fishes, amphibians, some mol- 
lusks, and several hundred insects. Local minerals and rocks also found a place on the shelves 
of the room which did duty for a museum. These specimens indicated not a boyish desire to 
acquire; they were named and catalogued as part of a naturalist's equipment. 

"The whole," Doctor Allen writes, "was amateurish in the extreme, and represented merely 
a superficial acquaintance with a wide range of subjects, but enough to add immensely to the 
pleasure of living, giving, as it did, the sense of being in touch with the plant and animal life 
and the geological features of my immediate environment. " 

Few local collections have done better service than the one which inaugurated Doctor 
Allen's career in museum work. It not only directly increased its owner's knowledge, but by 
its sale to Wilbraham Academy he was enabled to pay his tuition in that institution, where 
future students could profit by his industry. 

The balance of the fund received for his beloved specimens enabled Doctor Allen to take 
the most important step in his fife as a naturalist. While at Wilbraham Academy he found a 
congenial spirit in a fellow pupil, William Harmon Niles, a nephew of Professor Marcy, and 
who subsequently became professor of geology and physical geography in the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology. 

Niles planned to enter the Lawrence Scientific School as a pupil of Agassiz, and Allen 
decided to join him. The necessary preliminaries having been arranged, they arrived in Cam- 

Academy of Sciences] BIOGRAPHY Q 

No. 1 ] O 

bridge early in February, 1862. They were cordially greeted by Agassiz, and plans were at once 
made for laboratory work and for courses of lectures in the Lawrence Scientific School under 
Agassiz, Jeffries Wyman, Joseph Lovering, Josiah P. Cook, and Asa Gray. Thus, as by the 
workings of a special Providence, the young naturalist's eager inquiries for directions on the road 
he was destined to follow were answered by the village taxidermist, the public schoolmaster, 
and the academy professor, each of whom assisted him on his way to the greatest teacher of 
his time. How fortunate it was for the future of science in America that Agassiz should 
have attracted to him students of the caliber of Allen, Alpheus Hyatt, Edward S. Morse, A. S. 
Packard, and A. E. Verrill, and others whose subsequent labors have exerted an incalculable 
influence on the development of zoological research in this country! 

Allen expected to specialize in ornithology and was somewhat disappointed to be given, 
with Niles, a collection of corals and told to find their methods of growth and laws of develop- 
ment. Neither books nor instructions were given them, and equipped only with a hand lens* 
they were instructed to use their powers of observation and report the result. Weeks were 
devoted to this task, but eventually the problems were solved and the young students given 
other work. With interruptions occasioned by ill health, when he devoted himself to fieldwork, 
Doctor Allen continued to work at Cambridge until the spring of 1865. 


In March, 1865, Allen was invited by Agassiz to accompany him on an expedition to Brazil. 
The party contained seven official members, including Charles Frederick Hartt, and six volun- 
teers, among whom was William James, later to become eminent as a psychologist. They 
sailed from New York on March 26 and arrived at Rio Janeiro April 22. 

After collecting in the vicinity of that city for some weeks Doctor Allen was detailed to 
join a smaller party which left June 9 for the northern Provinces of Brazil. A difficult journey 
of somewhat over six months brought him to Bahia. Although so far from well during this 
period that he was obliged to abandon the plan to reach the coast at Ceara, Doctor Allen's 
collections included several cases of birds, mammals, mollusks, and zoological specimens, 
besides six or eight barrels of fishes, reptiles, and other vertebrates in alcohol; and his note- 
books contained many pages of detailed observations on the country through which he had 
passed, its flora and fauna. 

On December 15 Doctor Allen sailed from Bahia on a 300-ton brigantine, and, after a 
trying voyage, during which they were blown from Cape Hatteras back to St. Thomas, they 
dropped anchor off Woods Hole, Mass., 90 days out from Bahia. 

Chronic indigestion now forced Doctor Allen to abandon museum work and return to the 
farm; but he had experienced the joy of exploration and, as soon as his health permitted, he 
took the field again, collecting in June, 1867, on Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario, and during the 
summer in Illinois, Indiana, and southern Michigan. At the end of this time he was physically 
so greatly improved that in October, 1867, he returned to the Museum of Comparative Zoology 
to act as curator of birds and mammals in that institution. 

After a year in the study, the winter of 1868-69 was devoted to zoological exploration on 
the headwaters of the St. John's River, then a primeval part of Florida. 

The results of the Florida expedition having been reported, Doctor Allen started in April, 
1871, on a nine months' collecting trip to the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains in the interests 
of the Cambridge Museum. General collections were made at intervals from the Missouri 
River to the Great Salt Lake, the selection of locality being largely dependent upon the move- 
ments of hostile Indians. At Fort Hays, Kans., the arrival of a military escort being delayed, 
Doctor Allen and his two assistants went buffalo hunting, accompanied by only a single hunter, 
securing and preparing in 8 days, of which 36 hours were occupied in traveling, 14 complete 
skeletons and 5 young calves. This collection was supplemented the following January by the 
skins of 8 buffalo in winter pelage. 

July and part of August were passed in Colorado, where Leucosticte australis was discovered 
on the summit of Mount Lincoln, and after 10 days at Cheyenne Doctor Allen went to Ogden, 


Utah, which became his base for the ensuing 7 weeks. In October he worked at Green 
River and Fort Fred Steele, and from October 20 to December 18 at Percy. Here he secured 
the assistance of two native hunters, and the collections, chiefly of big game, shipped from this 
point nearly filled a freight car. December 19 he started eastward and, after a short stop in 
Kansas to secure buffalo, reached Cambridge on January 22, 1872. The collection made 
on this expedition included 200 skins, 60 skeletons, and 240 additional skulls of mammals 
(mostly large species), 1,500 birds' skins, over 100 birds in alcohol, a large number of birds' 
nests and eggs, recent and fossil fishes, mollusks, insects, and crustaceans. 

The following year Doctor Allen, representing both the Cambridge Museum and the 
Smithsonian Institution, again went to our western frontier, on this occasion as chief of the 
scientific staff attached to the survey of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Railhead on this road 
was then at Fargo, N. Dak., beyond which construction trains ran as far as Bismarck. 

The work of the expedition lay in the country between Bismarck and a point on the 
Mussellshell River, about 50 miles northwest of Pompey's Pillar on the Yellowstone, a distance 
of about 550 miles. The journey occupied some three months from June 20. 

The region was infested by actively hostile Indians who had so interfered with the survey 
for the railroad route that an escort of 1,400 troops under General Custer accompanied the 
expedition. It was only three years later that this officer and his entire command were killed 
some 60 miles south of the most western point reached by Doctor Allen. 

After passing the mouth of the Powder River the expedition was in daily contact with 
Indians and twice was attacked in force; orders were given forbidding the naturalists to use 
firearms or to leave the line of march, and, Doctor Allen writes, " The opportunities for natural- 
history collecting and field research on this expedition were far from ideal," but some specimens 
and much valuable data were secured which later formed the basis of a report of some 60 pages. 
With the exception of a visit to Colorado with William Brewster, in 1882, made chiefly to 
regain his greatly impaired health, Doctor Allen did not again enter the field. His collecting 
days, therefore, were ended before those of most of his colleagues were well under way, and 
few who knew him only in the study realized the extent of his travels, the dangers on sea and 
land to which he had been exposed, and the amount of material he had secured. The present- 
day naturalist, who travels in palatial steamers or follows well-worn trails, has but faint con- 
ception of the discomforts of a 90-day voyage in a small sailing vessel and has perhaps never 
experienced the risk of being himself collected. 

From 1876 to 1882 Doctor Allen gave his time wholly to research, producing his mono- 
graphs on the American Bison, Living and Extinct, and North American Pinnipeds, the latter 
a volume of 800 pages. The intensity with which he applied himself to these and other tasks 
during this period overtaxed his always limited reserve powers and for long periods he waa 
able to do little or no work. 


Doctor Allen's association with the Museum of Comparative Zoology began when as a 
student under Agassiz, he acted as an assistant in routine work, and received a monthly allow- 
ance sufficient for his living expenses, together with a furnished room in the museum dormitory. 

He was not, however, made a member of the museum's scientific staff until 1871, when he 
became "assistant in ornithology." He continued to act as curator of birds and mammals 
until 1885, when he resigned to accept a similar position in the American Museum of Natural 

Practically all Doctor Allen's field work after boyhood was done for or under the auspices 
of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and he thus laid the foundation for the valuable col- 
lections of birds and mammals contained in that institution. The care of this material for- 
tunately did not prevent Doctor Allen from making the philosophical researches which soon 
distinguished him, and some of his most important contributions to science were produced 
while he was associated with the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Chiefly through his 
influence and that of William Brewster, Cambridge became the center of ornithological activity 


in this country. In 1876 this interest in the study of birds found expression in the formation 
of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, which, after giving birth to the American Ornithologists' 
Union, in 1883, has continued its career as a prosperous local organization. 

For eight years Doctor Allen served as corresponding secretary of the Nuttall Club, and 
as editor of its Bulletin, the latter position leading naturally to his editorship of The Auk, which, 
with the founding of the American Ornithologists' Union, logically succeeded the Bulletin. 

While in Cambridge, in addition to his curatorial duties, Doctor Allen served as lecturer 
on ornithology at Harvard College (1871-1873), as curator of reptiles at the Boston Society 
of Natural History (1868-1871), and as curator of birds and mammals in the same institution 


When the trustees of the American Museum, under the presidency of Morris K. Jesup, 
decided to make research as well as exhibition the function of that institution, their choice 
fell upon Doctor Allen as the head of the department of birds and mammals, a post] which 
Doctor Allen entered on May 1, 1885. 

This was the beginning of a new period in his life as well as that of the museum. Although 
the museum's exhibition halls had a fair representation of the leading types of birds and mam- 
mals, there was no study collection of the latter, and only about 3,000 study specimens of the 
former. The 50,000 skins and skulls of mammals at present in the museum were all, therefore, 
acquired during the period of Doctor Allen's curatorship, and to him in large measure is due 
the size and importance of the study collection of buds. Two years after Doctor Allen came 
to the museum, the Lawrence collection of 12,000 specimens was purchased, and this was fol- 
lowed by the Herbert Smith collection of 4,000 birds from southwestern Brazil, the Scott col- 
lection from Arizona, and the collections of Arizona birds presented by Dr. E. A. Mearns, and 
of humming birds by D. G. Elliot. At this time also the invaluable ornithological library of 
Doctor Elliot was acquired. The first three years of his connection with the museum Doctor 
Allen worked alone, but on March 1, 1888, the writer was appointed his assistant, and to-day 
the combined staffs of the now separate departments of birds and mammals number 17. 

Relieved now of the actual care of the growing collections, Doctor Allen devoted himself 
to their study, and the publications of the museum during the succeeding third of a century 
bear testimony to his industry and productiveness. During this period he published 37 papers 
on birds and 150 on mammals, based wholly or largely on museum material. To his duties as 
curator were soon added those of editor, a post which his natural qualifications and experience 
especially fitted him to occupy. For 32 years all the zoological publications of the museum, 
including 37 volumes of the Bulletin and 22 of the Memoirs, passed through his hands, and a 
large part of his time was consumed by the preparation of copy lor the press and the reading 
of proof. 

Doctor Allen was eagerly welcomed to New York by the resident naturalists of the city. 
He was at once placed on the council of the Academy of Sciences, and later was made president 
of the Linnaean Society, but he soon found that the duties of each day demanded all his strength 
and he was able to take only a small part in the scientific activities of the city. He, however, 
was one of the organizers of the original Audubon Society, and to the end was an active director 
of this society and its virtual successor in New York, the National Association of Audubon 


But by far the greater part of the time Doctor Allen could spare from his curatorial labors 
was given to the American Ornithologists' Union, in the welfare of which he was as much 
concerned as a father in the well-being of his first born. Indeed, to Doctor Allen might well be 
applied the title "Father of the American Ornithologists' Union." He played a leading part 
in its organization, served as its president during the first eight years of its existence, and was 
a member of its council until the day of his death. He edited 3 volumes of the Union's 
Check-List of North American Birds and for 28 years was editor of its official organ, The Auk, 
during which period he contributed 643 papers, reviews, and obituary notices to that publication. 


Only one in daily contact with Doctor Allen can realize the extent of the demands upon his 
time and strength made by his duties for the Union and the loving attention he gave to its 
affairs. It occupied a place in his affections second only to that held by members of his family, 
and he never spared himself in advancing its aims. 

Doctor Allen was chiefly responsible for the formulation of the Union's Code of Nomen- 
clature, a subject in which he took a deep interest and on which he was an authority. For 
years he served as chairman of the Union's committee on classification and nomenclature, and 
for the last 10 years of his life he was a member of the International Commission on Zoological 


Doctor Allen's distinguishing characteristics as a man were modesty, sincerity, unselfish- 
ness, gentleness, consideration for others, and a purity of mind and purpose which made it difficult 
for him to bebeve that anyone was not actuated by the same direct, guileless motives which 
ever animated him. I do not recall ever hearing him speak ill of another, but he was unsparing 
in his condemnation of careless work, and particularly of generalizations based on insufficient 
data. But so impersonal was his attitude, so impossible was it for him to cherish resentment, 
that whffe for an author he would show only helpful consideration, for his work honesty would 
compel him to be merciless. I have seen him treat with fatherly kindness a man whose theories 
he had subjected to fatally destructive criticism. 

As a student Doctor Allen was inspired by love of truth for truth's sake and by an intense 
absorbing interest in his work. "All I aspired to," he wrote (Autobiographical Notes, p. 42), 
"was opportunity for scientific research, believing that diligence, singleness of purpose, and 
honest work would bring its own reward. I was content to follow my own lines of dominating 
interest to such limit as the circumstances of earning a living would permit. I have never had 
any desire for money as such, nor any interest whatever in financial projects, nor any longing 
for honors beyond those my colleagues in science saw fit to impose." His powers of application 
and concentration were phenomenal ; his enthusiasm for research so unlimited that he constantly 
overtaxed his physical resources and the end of the day often found him on the verge of complete 
exhaustion. But so vitalizing was his love for his profession that, in spite of a frail physique 
and the fact that he never rested from his labors when it was a possible thing to pursue them, 
he was actively engaged in research to within a few weeks of his death. 

But he was never too absorbed in his work to be interested in that of others; an appeal to 
him for advice or assistance received his whole-hearted attention and he made your problem 
his. The writer owes him a debt which accumulated during 34 years of almost daily association. 
Coming to the museum in March, 1888, as an inexperienced assistant, he found in Doctor Allen 
not only a friend but a teacher to whom he might turn for instruction in even the most trivial 
matters with the assurance that he would meet with a sympathetic response. Doctor Allen's 
counsel was always based on a logical consideration of the facts at issue; for, as far as was 
humanly possible, he eliminated the personal equation in reaching conclusions. The inestimable 
privilege of securing Doctor Allen's advice was sought, therefore, not only by members of his 
staff but by workers in other departments of the museum and in other institutions. 


In 1879, after five years of wedded life, Doctor Allen's first wife, Mary Manning Cleveland, 
of Cambridge, died, leaving him his only child, Cleveland Allen, now in business in New York 

Seven years later, and a year after coming to the American Museum, Doctor Allen married 
Susan Augusta Taft, of Cornwall-on-Hudson, who survived him. " I owe to her deep love and 
sympathy," Doctor Allen writes, "to her supreme optimism and constant watchfulness over my 
health, and to her inspiration, the greater part of the little I may have achieved in these last 
thirty years, and doubtless many years of activity beyond those I otherwise would have attained." 


No. 1] 


Doctor Allen's first publication of major importance appeared in 1871, when he was 32 years 
of age. It was issued, unfortunately, under the superheading " On the Mammals and Winter 
Birds of East Florida" (an excellent faunal paper based chiefly on a winter's work in that State), 
but that portion of the paper which at once brought Doctor Allen to the attention of philosophic 
naturalists is contained under the subheading "With an examination of certain assumed specific 
characters in birds and a sketch of the bird-faunae of eastern North America." 

The subject of individual and geographic or climatic variation in the size and colors of birds 
was here given more serious consideration, based on detailed studies, than it had previously 

Trinomials had not then been adopted as tools of the taxonomist, and Doctor Allen, con- 
servative by nature, protested against the recognition as species of intergrading forms, a proce- 
dure which is now unquestioned. He argued that " whenever two forms which have both received 
names are found to intergrade, the more recent name shall become a synonym of the. other. 
Some, however, still urge that every recognizable form, closely allied to others, and even inter- 
grading, should be recognized by a binominal epithet, and that whether we call them species, or 
varieties, or races, or simply forms, that such names are none the less convenient expressions of 

Doctor Allen did not indorse this view, and although subspecific "splitting" was then in its 
infancy, he added with a prophetic foresight which indicated the thought he had given to the 
subject: "... Only experts can distinguish the forms, and frequently they only by actual 
comparison of specimens. . . . The names alone give us no clue to their real character, and are 
hence in a great measure meaningless when separated from the most explicit diagnoses, and 
whose affinities can frequently only be settled by the arbitrary criterion of locality." 

It is a tribute to Doctor Allen's open-mindedness to follow his gradually changing point of 
view as with increasing experience, gained through the study of constantly growing collections 
and a characteristically unprejudiced estimate of the labors of his colleagues, he finally became 
convinced of the importance of recognizing the slightest constant geographic variation by name. 

In 1883 and 1884 he published several articles or reviews advocating the use of trinomials as 
a convenient means of recognizing geographic forms in our systems of nomenclature. "Instead 
of doing violence to the ' Stricklandian Code,' " he wrote, "the trinomial system is a device, as 
we have stated on other occasions, to meet simply and completely a condition of things unknown 
and unexpected when that, in most respects, admirable system of nomenclatural rides was 
conceived, and is in accordance with the spirit if not the letter of that ' Code.' It is in no sense 
a lapse toward polynomialism." (Auk I, 1884, p. 103.) 

Six years later, under the title "To what extent is it profitable to recognize geographical 
forms among North American birds?" he wrote: " Conscious of my own changed tendencies, it 
has seemed to me well to raise the above question for brief consideration, since it can do no harm 
to survey the field calmly and take note of the present drift in respect to a very important 

"Recent investigations have taken me over fields I worked, with some care, ten to fifteen 
years ago. In the meantime material has greatly increased; series of specimens have been 
obtained from localities then unknown ; thus I find myself looking at things in a new light, but 
from, I trust, a more advanced position. My former tendencies, in common with those of 
others at that time, were in the direction of reducing doubtful forms to synonyms and closely 
related species to geographical forms. Now, with much additional experience, some increase of 
knowledge in respect to particular points at issue, and much more abundant material, some of 
my former conclusions seem open to revision, as I now realize that the resources then at command 
were far less adequate for the settlement of questions at issue than I then supposed them to be." 

He stdl, however, urged caution in the use of trinomials "in order to guard against drawing 
too fine distinctions"; and added, "very little is to be gained by naming races distinguishable 
only by experts . . ." (1. c, p. 7). But a dozen years later we find him wholly committed to 
the recognition by name of geographic variations which are appreciable only to the experienced 


systematise Replying to an article in Science by Mr. Hubert Lyman Clark on the advisa- 
bility of naming these slightly differentiated forms, he said: "We submit that the 'layman' 
who is naturally so troubled and confused by the modern ways of finding out how and to what 
extent animals are modified by their environment, is not the proper arbiter to determine the 
value and bearing of expert knowledge. If in other fields of scientific research it is not demanded 
that the investigator stop his work at the point where his results are within the comprehension 
of the lay mind, why should the student of birds and mammals be expected to refrain from 
extending his researches beyond the point of convenience for the layman ? " 

As an indication of this gradually changing estimate of the nature and importance of geo- 
graphic variations, as well as of the increasingly great amount of material that passed through 
his hands, it is interesting to observe that while from the beginning of his systematic studies in 
1870 to 1890 Doctor Allen described only 16 species and subspecies of mammals, during the 20 
years following 1890 he described 415. 

After treating at length of individual and climatic variations and illustrating Ms remarks 
with many specific instances 2 which up to that time had escaped the attention of systematic 
ornithologists, Doctor Allen presented an exposition of the "Causes of climatic variation," 
to which, after 50 years, we can add but little. After calling attention to the fact that increase 
in color is coincident with increase in humidity, and that the darker representatives of a species 
occur "where the annual rainfall is greatest, and the palest where it is least," he added: " This 
coincidence is clearly illustrated in the birds of the United States, when the darkest representa- 
tives of a species, as a general rule (indeed without exception so far as known to me), come from 
regions of maximum annual rainfall, and the palest from those of minimum annual rainfall." 

Part V of this classic work, "On the geographical distribution of the birds of eastern North 
America, with special reference to the number and circumscription of the ornithological faunae," 
has in reality a wider scope than the title implies, since it includes also a general discussion of 
the laws governing the distribution of life, an outline of the primary natural history divisions 
of the globe, and of the provinces of the North American temperate region. 

When we consider the comparatively limited, and often inaccurate, data which were 
available 50 years ago, the soundness of the conclusions reached by Doctor Allen in his study 
of these problems is a tribute to the breadth of his vision, the thoroughness of his methods, 
and the excellence of his judgment. 

"I am aware," he writes, "of the diversity of opinions still prevalent among naturalists in 
regard to the influence climate exerts on determining the geographical distribution of species 
and that many writers on this subject attribute to it only a slight importance, or altogether 
ignore it." That he, himself, did not share this view is evident when he adds: " That tempera- 
ture is a powerful limiting influence affecting the range of species, especially in respect to their 
northward and southward extension, is so easily demonstrable that I am surprised to see it 
still questioned. I have myself subjected this principle to a rigid examination in studying the 
distribution of the animals and plants of eastern North America, and have been surprised at 
the exact coincidence I have almost constantly met with between their northern and southern 
limits of distribution and isothermal lines, they following them in all their numerous undula- 
tions, sweeping northward in the valleys and southward along the sides of mountain ranges. 
The occurrence on isolated alpine summits of species existing at a lower level only far to the 
northward, is of itself suggestive of the powerful influence temperature has on the distribution 
of animals and plants. In the Northern Hemisphere a northern fauna and flora everywhere 
extends along the mountains hundreds of miles to the southward of their respective limits in 
the adjoining plains and valleys. Various other causes have, of course, a greater or less influence 
in determining the range of species, but none other, on the land areas, humidity perhaps alone 
excepted, is nearly so potent. The want of conformity of isothermal lines with parallels of 
latitude has doubtless led to confusion in regard to this subject, since vain attempts have often 
been made to circumscribe the botanical and zoological zones by the latter The iso- 

1 E. g., birds which subsequently were described as Pipilo erythrophthalmus alleni Coues, Ortyx virginianus floridanus Coues, Buteo lineatus 
alleni Ridgw., Sturntlla magna argutula Bangs, etc. 


therms of the continents are widely deflected by the irregularities of the surface of the land, 
running nearly straight and parallel across level areas; but in mountainous districts they bend 
abruptly northward or southward, following along the sides of mountains instead of crossing 
them. In the same manner are species, and faunae and florae, limited — a coincidence clearly 
indicative of the strong influence climates exert in determining their geographical limits." 

In defining the boundaries of faunal areas and in the nomenclature adopted for them Doctor 
Allen exhibited characteristic common sense and independence of thought: " The boundaries of 
realms and provinces," he wrote, "have often been arbitrarily fixed, inasmuch as they have been 
frequently limited and named in conformity to the continental areas, regardless of the funda- 
mental law of the distribution of life in circumpolar zones." He protested against " the arbi- 
trary partitioning of an almost homogeneous Arctic Realm between two implied totally distinct 
life regions, and also a similar division of the two slightly differentiated regions of the North 
Temperate Realm. For nearly all the species, and hence of course the genera and families, of 
the Arctic Realm, and a considerable percentage of the species, a large proportion of the genera, 
and nearly all the families of the Temperate Realm, occur in the northern parts of both the 
so-called 'Neogean' and 'Palaeogean Creations.' " These terms, he added in a footnote, together 
with "Palaearctic," "Nearctic," etc., "like those of 'Old World' and 'New World,' have been 
given with reference solely to the length of time the different land areas of the earth's surface 
have been known to the dominant race of mankind, and hence regardless of the zoological history 
of these different land areas. Modern science has taught us that the latest discovered continent 
(Australia) is peopled with the most ancient types of animals and plants now in existence, and 
that it is, zoologically considered, the ancient continent. Also that North and South America 
are behind Europe, Asia, and Africa in their zoological and geological development, while they 
are far in advance of Australia. To apply the term ' ancient ' to what is really the most recent 
and 'modern' to what is mediaeval, is evidently too great a misuse of language to be allowable 
in scientific nomenclature. The sciences of geographical zoology and geographical botany 
concern not merely the geographical distribution of the animals and plants now living, but also 
those of the past. If such descriptive terms as the above are to be employed, it is evidently 
important that they should be used in their legitimate sense. In the present paper it has 
hence been considered advisable to altogether discard these terms, since to use them properly 
would necessitate their adoption in a manner directly opposite to their original and generally 
accepted application." 

" Neotropical," as applied to southern Mexico, Central and South Americans also shown 
to be misleading, since it includes also the South American Temperate Realm. 

The terms employed by Doctor Allen for the eight major faunal areas, or "realms," call 
for no explanation and are, therefore, far more preferable than those which disguise an old 
fact under a new name. They are: 

I, an Arctic Realm; II, a North Temperate Realm; III, an American Tropical Realm; IV, an Lido-African 
Tropical Realm; V, a South American Temperate Realm; VI, an African Temperate Realm; VII, an Ant- 
arctic Realm; VIII, an Australian Realm. 

Doctor Allen followed Baird in recognizing two provinces, an eastern and a western, within 
the limits of the American portion of the North Temperate Realm, andhe then treated of thefaunas, 
or minor divisions of his eastern province, in so adequate a manner that the lines he laid down 
have not been essentially changed, and this treatise remains to-day an authoritative exposition 
on the causes governing the distribution of life in eastern North America. 

This publication won for its author the Humboldt scholarship of the Lawrence Scientific 
School and at once placed him in the first rank of American naturalists. It was characterized 
by Coues (Bibliography of North American Ornithology, p. 686) as "a highly important philo- 
sophic treatise upon the general subject, which is discussed at length with force and logical 
consistency; the author's broad views upon this subject had at once a marked influence upon 
ornithological thought." 
20154°— 26 2 


The subject of geographic variation continued actively to hold Doctor Allen's attention 
and, five years after the appearance of the Museum of Comparative Zoology essay, he published 
a paper on " Geographical variation among North American mammals, especially in respect to 
size," in which the following laws in regard to fissiped carnivora were enunciated: 

(1) The maximum physical development of the individual is attained where the conditions of environment are 
most favorable to the life of the species. Species being primarily limited in their distribution by climatic condi- 
tions, their representatives living at or near either of their respective latitudinal boundaries are more or less 
unfavorably affected by the influences that finally limit the range of the species. . . . 

(2) The largest species of a group (genus, subfamily, or family, as the case may be) are found where the group 
in which they severally belong reaches its highest development, or where it has what may be termed its center of dis- 
tribution. In other words, species of a given group attain their maximum size where the conditions of existence 
for the group in question are the most favorable, just as the largest representatives of a species are found where 
the conditions are most favorable for the existence of the species. 

(3) The most 'typical' or most generalized representatives of a group are found also near Us center of distribu- 
tion, outlying forms being generally more or less 'aberrant' or specialized. Thus the Cervida?, though nearly 
cosmopolitan in their distribution, attain their greatest development, both as respects the size and the number 
of the species, in the temperate portions of the northern hemisphere. The tropical species of this group are 
the smallest of its representatives. Those of the temperate and cold temperate regions are the largest, where, 
too, the species are the most numerous. . . . The possession of large, branching, deciduous antlers forms 
one of the marked features of the family. These appendages attain their greatest development in the northern 
species, the tropical forms having them reduced almost to mere spikes, which in some species never pass beyond 
a rudimentary state. 

A year later he contributed to the Radical Review (May, 1877, pp. 108-140) an article on 
"The influence of physical conditions in the genesis of species," which is fundamentally so 
sound and logical that 29 years later the Smithsonian Institution requested permission to 
republish it (Ann. Rep. for 1905, pp. 375-402). 

Doctor Allen here contended that the direct modifying influences of environment are more 
potent factors in evolution than natural selection, taken in the narrow sense of the "survival 
of the fittest." Climate is shown to be the most active agent in promoting variations in size 
and in color, but habits and food and the geological character of the country are considered 
to play their part. Of the action of climatic influences he wrote: 

That varieties may and do arise by the action of climatic influences, and pass on to become species, and that 
species become, in like manner, differentiated into genera, is abundantly indicated by the facts of geographical 
distribution and the obvious relation of local forms to the conditions of environment. The present more or 
less unstable condition of the circumstances surrounding organic beings, together with the known mutations of 
climate our planet has undergone in past geological ages, points clearly to the agency of physical conditions 
as one of the chief factors in the evolution of new forms of life. So long as the environing conditions remain 
stable, just so long will permanency of character be maintained; but let changes occur, however gradual or 
minute, and differentiation begins. If too sudden or too great, extinction of many forms may result, giving 
rise to breaks in the chain of genetically connected organisms. 

Due allowance, however, he states must be made for relative plasticity or susceptibility 
to the influences of environment shown by closely allied species. 

He also considers the possibility of species arising through what has since become known 
as mutation ; -writing : 

But it is supposed, again, that new forms are not always thus gradually evolved from minute beginnings, but 
sometimes — perhaps not infrequently — arise by a saltus; that individuals may be born widely different from 
their parents, differing so widely and persistently as not to be so readily absorbed by the parental stock. In 
proof of this, instances are cited of new species apparently appearing suddenly, and of varieties thus originating 
under artificial conditions resulting from domestication. Granting that new forms may thus arise, although 
as yet few facts have been adduced in its support, they are necessarily at first local, and in no way accord with 
the observed geographical differences that characterize particular regions, and which affect similarly many 
species belonging to widely different groups. 

Meanwhile, Doctor Allen was pursuing on a larger scale the studies in distribution, of which 
the earlier results were announced in the fifth part of the Mammals and Winter Birds of East 
Florida, and in 1878 there appeared his paper on " The geographical distribution of mammals, 
considered in relation to the principal ontological regions of the earth and the laws that govern 
the distribution of animal life." (Bull. U. S. Geol. Surv. IV, No. 2, pp. 313-377.) 


The fact that Wallace in his classic, Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876), adopted 
the faunal regions proposed by Sclater, gave Doctor Allen an additional incentive to prove 
the incorrectness of faunal boundaries which are not based primarily on climatic zones. " One 
of the reasons given by Mr. Wallace for adopting Doctor Sclater's regions," he writes, "is that 
'it is a positive, and by no means unimportant advantage to have our regions approximately 
equal in size and with easily defined, and therefore easily remembered boundaries, ' " to which 
Doctor Allen adds: "These arguments can be scarcely characterized as otherwise than trivial, 
since they imply that truth, at least to a certain degree, should be regarded as secondary to 

Wallace, commenting on the criticism of Sclater's faunal regions made by Doctor Allen 
in 1871, said: " The author continually refers to the 'law of the distribution of life in circumsolar 
zones,' as if it were one generally accepted and that admits of no dispute. But this supposed 
'law' only applies to the smallest details of distribution — to the range and increasing or 
decreasing numbers of species as we pass from north to south, or the reverse; while it has little 
bearing on the great features of zoological geography — the limitation of groups of genera and 
families to certain areas. It is analogous to the ' law of adaptation ' in the organization of animals, 
by which members of various groups are suited for an aerial, an aquatic, a desert, or an arboreal 
life; are herbivorous, carnivorous, or insectivorous; are fitted to live underground, or in fresh 
waters, or on polar ice. It was once thought that these adaptive peculiarities were suitable 
foundations for a classification, — that whales were fishes, and bats birds; and even to this 
day there are naturalists who cannot recognize the essential diversity of structure in such groups 
as swifts and swallows, sun-birds and hummingbirds, under the superficial disguise caused 
by adaptation to a similar mode of life." 

Doctor Allen was not slow to accept this challenge of the correctness of his fundamental 
principles, replying: 

I unblushingly claim, in answer to the main point, that the geographical distribution of life is by necessity 
in accordance with a "law of adaptation," namely, of climatic adaptation; that such a law is legitimate in this 
connection, and that the reference to the "superficial disguise" adapting essentially widely different organisms 
to similar modes of life is wholly irrelevant to the point at issue — a comparison of things that are in any true 
sense incomparable; furthermore, that the "law of distribution of life in circumpolar zones" does apply as well 
in a general sense as to details — "to groups of genera and families" as well as to species. 

He then advances the theory of dispersal of life southward from the arctic which has since 
been so ably developed by Matthew, writing: 

In this connection it may be well to recall certain general facts previously referred to respecting the geo- 
graphical relations of the lands of the northern hemisphere and their past history. Of first importance is their 
present close connection about the northern pole and their former still closer union at a comparatively recent 
date in their geological history; furthermore, that at this time of former, more intimate relationship, the cli- 
matic conditions of the globe were far more uniform than at present, a mild or warm-temperate climate prevailing 
where now are regions of perpetual ice, and that many groups of animals whose existing representatives are 
found now only in tropical or semitropical regions lived formerly along our present Arctic coast. We have, 
hence, an easy explanation of the present distribution of such groups as Tapirs, Manatees, many genera of 
Bats, etc., in the tropics of the two hemispheres, on the wholly tenable assumption of a southward migration 
from a common wide-spread northern habitat, to say nothing of the numerous existing arctopolitan and semi- 
cosmopolitan genera. . . . The succeeding epochs of cold caused extensive migrations of some groups and the 
extinction of others; with the diverse climatic conditions subsequently characterizing high and low altitudes 
came the more pronounced differentiation of faunae, and the development, doubtless, of many new types adapted 
to the changed conditions of life — the development of boreal types from a warm-temperate or semi-tropical 
stock. The accepted theories respecting the modification of type with change in conditions of environment — 
changes necessarily due mainly to climatic influences — render it certain that if animals are so far under the 
control of circumstances dependent upon climate, and emphatically upon temperature, as to be either exter- 
minated or greatly modified by them, the same influences must govern their geographical distribution. 

Further study induced Doctor Allen to modify somewhat the views advanced in his Museum 
of Comparative Zoology essay of 1871, "especially in relation to the divisions of the Australian 
Realm, and to unite the South African Temperate with the Indo-African, as a division of the 
latter, and also to recognize Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands as forming together an 
independent primary region, in accordance with the view of Sclater, Wallace, and others." 


He then presents in detail the evidence on which his conclusions are based, including a 
treatment of the regions and provinces contained in his realms, and after a general summary of 
the data supporting the behef that temperature is the most potent factor governing the dis- 
tribution of hfe adds: 

Hence, given: 1. Arctic and cold-temperate conditions of climate, and we have a fauna only slightly or 
moderately diversified; 2. A moderate increase of temperature, giving warm-temperate conditions of climate, 
and we have the addition of many new types of life; 3. A high increase of temperature, giving tropical condi- 
tions of climate, and we have a rapid multiplication of new forms and a maximum of differentiation. Again, 
given: 1. A long-continued continuity of land surface, and we have an essential identity of fauna; 2. A diver- 
gence and partial isolation of land-areas, and we find a moderate but decided differentiation of faunae; 3. A 
total isolation of land-areas, and we have a thorough and radical differentiation of faunae, proportioned to the 
length of time the isolation has continued. Hence, the present diversity of life is correlated with two funda- 
mental conditions: 1. Continuity or isolation, past as well as present, of land surface; and, 2. Climatic con- 
ditions, as determined mainly by temperature. 3 

In accordance with these principles, which rest on incontrovertible facts of distribution, it follows that 
the nearly united lands of the North present a continuous, almost homogeneous, arctopolitan fauna; that farther 
southward, in the warmer temperate latitudes, we begin to find a marked differentiation on the two continents; 
that this differentiation is still further developed in the tropical continuations of these same land-areas, till an 
almost total want of resemblance is reached, except that there is what may be termed, in contrast with the more 
northern regions, a "tropical fades" common to the two. The small amount of land surface belonging to 
these primary land regions south of the tropics have no more in common (a few marine species excepted) than 
have these two tropical areas, but it is hardly possible for them to have much less. The Antarctic (mainly 
oceanic) region has a fauna strongly recalling the marine fauna of the Arctic, but has no resemblance to that of 
the intervening area. 

The northern circumpolar lands may be looked upon as the base or centre from which have spread all the 
more recently developed forms of mammalian life, as it is still the bond that unites the whole. 

Subsequently published papers on distribution treated in detail of the mammals and birds 
of North America and were in the main elaborations of his earlier contributions to zoogeography. 

It was natural that Doctor Allen 's faunistic studies should arouse his interest in the closely 
allied subject of migration and, in 1880, he published a brief paper on the " Origin of the instinct 
of migration in birds, " in which he developed the theory that the seasonal movements of birds 
are, primarily, due to climatic changes occasioned by glaciation. He said: 

Nothing is doubtless more thoroughly established than that a warm-temperate or subtropical climate 
prevailed down to the close of the Tertiary epoch, nearly to the Northern Pole, and that climate was previously 
everywhere so far equable that the necessity of migration can hardly be supposed to have existed. With the 
later refrigeration of the Northern regions, bird life must have been crowded thence toward the tropics, and 
the struggle for life thereby greatly intensified. The less yielding forms may have become extinct; those less 
sensitive to climatic change would seek to extend the boundaries of their range by a slight removal northward 
during the milder intervals of summer, only, however, to be forced back again by the recurrence of winter. 
Such migration must have been at first "incipient and gradual," extending and strengthening as the cold wave 
receded and opened up a wider area within which existence in summer became possible. What was at first a 
forced migration would become habitual, and through the heredity of habit give rise to that wonderful faculty 
we term the instinct of migration. 

The explanation here offered of the origin of bird migration remains to-day an accepted 
theory among students of this phenomenon. 

While prosecuting these more philosophical researches, Doctor Allen was also devoting 
much time to the production of his classic memoir on The American Bisons, Living and Extinct, 
a quarto of some 250 pages, published in 1876, to his monographs of North American Rodentia 
(with Elliot Coues), and to his notable History of North American Pinnipeds, an octavo of 
some 800 pages which appeared in 1880. 

After accepting the post of curator of birds and mammals in the American Museum of 
Natural History, the character of Doctor Allen's work of necessity changed. Curatorial, 
administrative, and editorial duties now demanded all of his time and strength. His thought 

J In illustration of the above, it may be added that the circumpolar lands north ol the mean annual of 36° F., or, in general terms, north of the 
fiftieth parallel, with approximately an area of about 12,500,000 square miles, have representatives of about 54 genera of mammals; tropical America, 
with an approximate area of about 5,000,000 square miles, has about 90 genera; the Indo-African Realm, with an approximate area of about 15,000,000 
square miles, has about 250 genera. Hence the tropical lands are four to five times richer in genera, in proportion to area, than those of the cold- 
temperate and Arctic regions. 


and energy were devoted to laying the foundation of the great research collections which will 
forever remain monuments to his power to impress the museum authorities with the need of 
acquiring specimens for study as well as for exhibition. 

For the first few years of his curatorship he had no assistance and was himself forced to 
perform the clerical tasks of cataloguing and labeling specimens. But as material accumulated, 
he was relieved of these duties in order that he might prepare reports on the rapidly growing 

Thus his work became largely that of a systematist and during the succeeding 35 years a 
constant stream of authoritative papers, at first on birds and mammals but later exclusively 
on mammals, poured from his pen. This included monographic as well as faunal papers to the 
number of 165 on mammals and 37 on birds. 

The nomenclatural questions involved in work of this nature had a growing attraction 
for Doctor Allen, and his genius for unraveling the tangles of synonymy and allied problems 
soon made him a recognized authority in this thankless field of labor and resulted in his election, 
in 1910, as a member of the Commission on Zoological Nomenclature of the International 
Congress of Zoology. 

A regrettably large part of his time was devoted to the preparation of copy for the press and 
the reading of proofs, and, while the high standard of museum publications, both in matter and 
appearance, owes much to his expert care and sound judgment, one can not but feel that this 
editorial supervision might have been secured at less cost to his time. 

The Auk made similar demands upon him, but his rare ability as a discriminating, broadly 
informed, fair-minded, unprejudiced critic was given opportunity for expression in the often 
elaborate reviews of current literature which he prepared during the 36 years of his editorship 
of the Nuttall Bulletin and its successor, The Auk. 

The wide influence exerted by these reviews is convincingly stated in a letter to Henry 
Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History, by Dr. Joseph 
Grinnell, who writes: 

Of all the eastern ornithologists active during the past thirty-five years I believe that Dr. Allen wielded the 
greatest influence in the field of serious scientific ornithology out here on the Pacific Coast. It was through the 
columns of "The Auk, " especially in the review department of that journal, that Dr. Allen exercised this influence. 
I think others of the younger bird students here in the West would agree with me that our conceptions in system- 
atic zoology and geographical distribution were molded more importantly by reason of Dr. Allen's sane criticisms 
and comments in his various reviews than through what we read in other articles and in books covering the same 
ground. I know that this was true in my own case. 


Doctor Allen's retiring disposition made it difficult for him even to appear before his 
scientific colleagues with justice to himself or to the paper he presented. The recognition, 
therefore, which his work received was due to its inherent scientific value. 

He was awarded the Humboldt scholarship by the Lawrence Scientific School in 1871, the 
Walker grand prize by the Boston Society of Natural History in 1903, and the medal of the 
Linnaean Society of New York City in 1916, and in 1886 he was given an honorary Ph. D. by 
the University of Indiana. 

He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1876, was a founder 
of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1883, and was annually reelected to its presidency 
from that date until 1891; he was an honorary fellow of the London Zoological Society (1901), 
an honorary member of the British Ornithologists' Union (1907), an honorary member of the 
New York Zoological Society (1897), to mention only the more important of the societies on 
whose roll his name appears, and always, he wrote, these honors came to him as a "surprise." 

From a bibliography of over 1,400 titles covering the period from August, 1860, to August, 
1916, which was issued with Doctor Allen's Autobiographical Notes, 4 the more important titles 
have been selected for republication here. To these there have been added references to all 
Doctor Allen's scientific publications which have appeared since August, 1916, thus completing 
his bibliography. 

* Autobiographical Notes and a Bibliography of the Scientific Publications of Joel Asaph Allen. American Museum of Natural History, 1916. 



Birds of New England. <A r ew England Farmer (weekly), for Aug. 11, 25, Sept. 22, Oct. 6, 20, Nov. 3, 17, Dec. 

I, 22, 1860; Jan. 5, 26, March 2, May 18, June 15, July 20, Sept. 21, Oct. 26, Nov. 23, 1861; April 26, 
July 26, Aug. 16, Sept. 13, Oct. 18, 25, Nov. 8, Dec. 6, 1862. Also, published in the same newspaper 
(monthly), large 8vo, for Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec, 1861, January, March, May, June, July, Sept., Nov., 
Dec, 1862, and Jan., 1863. 

"Twenty-flve articles in all, taking the birds of New England in order from Accipitres to the middle of the Fringillidse. Popular bio- 
graphical accounts, written to interest farmers in the feathered life of their fields." — (Cones, "Bibliography of North American Orni- 
thology," in " Birds of the Colorado Valley," 1878, p. 661.) 

On the Mammals and Winter Birds of East Florida, with an Examination of certain assumed Specific Charac- 
ters in Birds, and a Sketch of the Bird-Faunae of Eastern North America. <^Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 

II, No. 3, pp. 161-450, pll. iv-viii, April, 1871. 

" Part I, The Topographical, Climatic, and Faunal characteristics of East Florida. (Part II, On Mammals.) Part III, On Individual 
and Geographical Variation among Birds, considered in respect to its bearing upon the value of certain assumed specific characters — 
a highly important philosophic treatise upon the general subject, which is discussed at length with force and logical consistency; the 
author's broad views upon this subject had at once a marked influence upon ornithological thought. Variation in general size and pro- 
portion of parts, both individual and climatic, are illustrated with numerous tables of measurements. An essay on species and varieties 
follows. Part IV, List of the Winter Birds of East Florida, with annotations — field notes, measurements, and much synonymy and 
technical criticism. Part V, On the Geographical Distribution of the Birds of Eastern North America, with special reference to the 
number and circumscription of the Ornithological Faunae. After general introductory remarks, the natural Provinces of the North 
American Temperate Region are discussed, and the Ornithological FauDae of the Eastern Provinces are treated. The following FaunsB 
are laid down and characterized:—!. Floridan. 2. Louisianian. 3. Carolinian. 4. Allegbanian. 5. Canadian. 6. Hudsonian. 7. 
American Arctic. Various tabular summaries follow, with general remarks on the distribution and migration of the birds of the Eastern 
Province. A copious bibliography of American Ornithological literature concludes. The plates illustrate the variation in the bill of many 
species. The article gained the Humboldt Scholarship, and is one of the most important of American ornithological works. Cf. Ibis, 
1872, pp. 189-191; Zool. Fee. for 1871, pp. 24, 25; Am. Nat., V. 1871, pp. 364-373."— ( Coues, 1. c., p. 686.) 

Notes of an Ornithological Reconnaissance of Portions of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.<BwM. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., Ill, No. 6, pp. 113-183, July 10, 1872. 

Notes on the Natural History of Portions of Dakota and Montana Territories, being the substance of a report 
to the Secretary of War on the Collections made by the North Pacific Railroad Expedition of 1873, 
Gen. D. S. Stanley, Commander. <Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist, XVII, 1874, pp. 33-86. Also sepa- 
rately published, 8vo, Boston, 1874, pp. 1-61. 

" III, Report on the Birds, pp. 44-68. 118 spp., fully annotated, the list preceded by general consideration of the avifauna of the region, 
and several partial local lists. An important contribution." — ( Coues, I. c., p. 699.) 

The Influence of Physical Conditions in the Genesis of Species/? Radical Review, I, pp. 108-140, May, 1877. 

On the influence of environment in modifying forms of mammals and birds, and discussion of Darwin's theory of the origin of species 
by natural selection. Reprinted (by request), with slightly modernized nomenclature by the author, in Ann. Rep. Smiths. Institution 
lor 1905 (1906). 

A list of the Birds of Massachusetts, with Annotations. <^Bull. Essex Inst., X, pp. 3-37, 1878. 

"This may be considered to supersede previous tracts on the same subject, both by the present and other authors, as it completely 
sums our knowledge of the subject. The paper opens with summary considerations, followed by a valuable historical resume. 1 . Species 
of authentic occurrence within the State, 317. 2. Extirpated, 4. 3. Of probable occurrence, 24. 4. Hypothetical and doubtful species, 
3 (Myiodioctes minutus, Empidonaz pygmzus of Minot, Thaumatias linnsei). 5. Introduced undomesticated species, 6. — 'Considered 
as fairly entitled to recognition as Massachusetts birds,' 340. Known to breed in the State, about 135. Extremely rare or accidental 
visitors, 90. North American species added since 1867, 35." — ( Coues, 1. c., p. 736). 

Origin of the Instinct of Migration in Birds. <BuH. Nutt. Ornith. Club, V, pp. 151-154, July, 1880. 

Attributed to change of climate at the close of the Tertiary period. "What was at first a forced migration would soon become habitual, 
and through the heredity of habit give rise to that wonderful faculty we term the instinct of migration" (p. 153). 

The Present Wholesale Destruction of Bird-Life in the United States. ^Science, VII, No. 160, pp. 191-195, 
Feb. 26, 1886. Also, Bulletin No. 1, of the A. O. U. Committee on Protection of Birds, pp. 1-5, March, 

A Revised List of the Birds of Massachusetts. <BuM. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., I, No. 7, pp. 221-271, July, 1886. 

An annotated list of 340 species, plus 4 species extirpated, 4 introduced, and 19 of probable occurrence. The third and last list of the 
birds of Massachusetts published by this author. 

On the Structure of Birds in Relation to Flight, with Special Reference to Recent Alleged Discoveries in the 
Mechanism of the Wing.<7Yans. New York Acad. Sci., pp. 89-100, 1888. 

To What Extent is it Profitable to Recognize Geographical Forms among North American Birds?<AwA:, VII, 

pp. 1-9, Jan., 1890. 

A protest against too fine splitting. 



On a Collection of Birds from Chapada, Matto Grosso, Brazil, made by Mr. Herbert H. Smith. Part I, Oseines. 
<Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist, III, pp. 337-380, Sept. 29, 1891. 

87 species here treated: Calliste margaritse, sp. nov., p. 351; Zonotrkhia capensis costarkensis, subsp. nov., p. 374. 

Part II, Tyrannidae.<Butf. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., IV, pp. 331-350, Dec, 1892. 

Parts III and IV, Piprida to Rheida;. <.BuZZ. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., V, 1893, pp. 107-158, July 19, 1893. 

Spp. and subspp. nov: (1) Pygmomis chapadensis, pp. 122; (2) Piaya cayana cabanisi, p. 136; (3) Jiuteo albkaudatus sennetti, p. 144; 
This concludes the paper, which comprises a list of 324 species, with annotations and comment on allied species in a number of groups. 
Part IV (pp. 152-158) , "Oological Notes, " contains notes on the nests and eggs of 27 species. 

The North American Species of Colaptes, considered with special reference to the Relationships of C. auratus 
and C. cafer.<Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., IV, 1892, pp. 21-44, and map, March 8, 1892. 
Hybridization on a large scale shown to obtain between C. auratus and C. cafer. 

The Geographical Origin and Distribution of North American Birds, considered in Relation to Faunal Areas of 
North America. <Auk, X, pp. 97-150, pis. iii-v (maps), April, 1S93. 

Merriam's Laws of Temperature Control of the Distribution of Land Animals and Plants. <C.Auk, XII, pp. 
172-173, April, 1895. 

Review of Dr. C. Hart Merriam's paper of this title in Nat. Qeogr. Mag., VI, 1894, pp. 229-238, pis. xii-xiv. 

The Origin and Relations of the Floras and Faunas of the Antarctic and adjacent Regions. Vertebrata of the 
Land; Birds and Mammals.<S«erace (2), III, No. 61, pp. 317-319, Feb. 28, 1896. 

Birds offer no satisfactory evidence of a former "Antarctic Continent." 

Alleged Changes of Color in the Feathers of Birds without Molting.<.Bu/7. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., VIII, pp. 
13-44, March 18, 1896. 

" It is a summary and criticism of the work of some of the more important writers upon the subject of color changes in feathers without 
moult, and it deals unsparingly with those who have asserted as possible the complete rejuvenation of an abraded feather. . . ." — J. 
Dwight, Jr., in Auk, XIII, pp. 166-167, April, 1896. 

List of Birds collected in the District of Santa Marta, Colombia, by Mr. Herbert H. Smith. <C.Bull. Amer. Mus. 
Nat. Hist., XIII, pp. 117-183, Aug. 25, 1900. 

An annotated list of 388 species. Spp. nov.: (1) OdontopkoTus atTifrojis.p. 127; (2) Afyiobiusassimilis, p. 144; (3) Ockthatca jesupi, p. 151; 
(4) Ochthaca olivacea, p. 152; (5) Attila paTvirostris, p. 153; (6) Attila rufipectits, p. 153; (7) Grallaria bangsi, p. 159; (8) Hylophilus brunneus, 
p. 171. 

960. 1 The Birds of Britain, their Distribution and Habits. Science, XLV, p. 591, June 8, 1917. 

Review of A. H. Evans' book of this title (Cambridge, 1916. 8vo, pp. xii+275, numerous halftone text figs.). 

961. ' Wayne's A List of Avian Species for which the Type Locality is South Carolina. Auk, XXXIV, p. 
346, July 1917. 
Review of the paper of Arthur T. Wayne by this title (Contributions Charleston Museum, III, pp. i-vi, 1-8, 1917). 

Catalogue of the Mammals of Massachusetts, with a critical revision of the species. <Bu(X Mus. Comp. Zool., 
I, No. 8, pp. 143-252, Oct., 1869. 

68 species, with critical and other extended annotations. The revisional comment was unfortunately based largely on the literature 
of the subject, in the absence of actual specimens of many of the forms considered. 

On the Eared Seals (Otariadce), with detailed descriptions of the North Pacific Species, by J. A. Allen. Together 
with an Account of the Habits of the Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus), by Charles Bryant. < 
Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool, II, No. 1, pp. 1-108, pll. i-iii, August, 1870. 

I. (1) ResumG of recent contributions to the natural history of the Otariadse, pp. 4-19; (2) affinities, distinctive characters and 
synonymy, with remarks on sexual, age and individual variation, and a conspectus of the genera and species, pp. 19-45; (3) on the North 
Pacific species, pp. 45-89. II. Habits of the Northern Fur Seal, etc., by Charles Bryant, with notes by J. A. Allen, pp. 89-108. 
Oulophocinx, p. 44, and Trichiphocinx, p. 44, subfamm. nov. of Otariadae; subsequently abandoned. 

On the Mammals and Winter Birds of East Florida, with an examination of certain assumed specific characters 
in Birds, and a sketch of the Bird-fauns of Eastern North America. <B«U. Mus. Comp. Zool., II, No. 3, 
pp. 161-450, pll. 4-8, April, 1871. 

Annotated list of the mammals, 35 species, pp. 168-185. Trichechus manatus Linne 1 employed as the name of the Manatee (p. 171). 

Notes on the Mammals of portions of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.<BuH. Essex Inst., VI, pp. 43-66, 
May, 1874. 

Four distinct lists of mammals observed in the region named in the title, with notes on their habits, distribution, etc. I. Mammals 
of Middlo and Western Kansas, 28 species, with three pages on Cynomys ludovkianus, pp. 45-52. II. Mammals of Park County, 
Colorado, 37 species, pp. 53-58. III. Mammals of Carbon County, Wyoming, 32 species, pp. 58-61. IV. Mammals of Great Salt 
Lake Valley, Utah, 42 species, pp. 61-66. 

Notes on the Natural History of portions of Dakota and Montana Territories, being the substance of a report 
to the Secretary of War, on the collections made by the North Pacific Railroad Expedition of 1873, 
Gen. D. S. Stanley, commander. < Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., XVII, pp. 33-91, June, 1874. (Also 
as a separate pamphlet of 61 pp., 1S74.) 

Mammals, pp. 36-45 (pp. 6-13 of the reprint), 31 species; notes on habits, distribution, etcj 
1 These titles are additions to the original bibliography, the numbers preceding them continue its system of enumeration. 


On Geographical Variation in Color among North American Squirrels; with a list of the Species and Varieties 
of the American Sciuridse occurring north of Mexico. <^Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., XVI, pp. 276-294, 
June, 1874. 

Variation in color, pp. 276-286; list of species and varieties, pp. 286-294. Genera: Sciurus, Sciuropterus, Tamias, Spermophilus, 
Cynomys, Arctomys. Species, 25, with 19 additional varieties=44 forms. Vars. nov.: (1) Tamias quadrivittatus var. pallidas, p. 289, 
(2) Spermophilus tridecem-lineatus var. pallidas, p. 291; (3) Spermophilus parryi var. kodiacensis, p. 292. : 

Geographical Variation among North American Mammals, especially in respect to size.<CBull. U. S. Geol. 
Surv. Terr., II, No. 4, pp. 309-344, July 1, 1876. 

Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Kentucky. | N. S. Shaler, director. | Vol. I, Part ii. | - | The American 
bisons, | living and extinct. | By J. A. Allen. | With twelve plates and map. | - I University press, 
Cambridge: | Welch, Bigelow & Co. | 1876. Also: 

Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, at Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass. | Vol. IV, No. 10. | - | The American 
bisons, living and extinct: | By J. A. Allen | Published by permission of N. S. Shaler, director of the Kentucky | Geological Survey. 
With 12 plates and a map. | University press, Cambridge: | Welch, Bigelow & Co. | 1876. 

4°, pp. i-ix, 1-246, 1 col. map, 12 pll. 1311., 2 woodcuts in text. Edition of 500 copies. 

These two publications were simultaneous, and only differ in the titles. The following are the contents: 

Title, p. i. 

Preliminary note (by N. S. Shaler), p. iii. 

Introduction, pp. v-ix. 

Part I 

1. Distinctive characteristics and affinities of the bisons, pp. 1-3. 

2. General historical account of the remains of extinct bisons hitherto found in North America, pp. 3-7. 

3. Description of the oxtinct species, pp. 7-31. 

4. Geographical distribution and geological position of the remains of the extinct bisons of North America, pp. 32-35. 

5. Relation of the existing species of bisons to the extinct species, pp. 35-36. 

6. Description of the existing species, pp. 36-70. 

Part II 

1. Geographical distribution, past and present, of Bison americanus, pp. 71-191. 

2. Products of the buffalo, pp. 191-201. 

3. The chase, pp. 202-215. 

4. Domestication of the buffalo, pp. 215-221. 

Monographs of North American Rodentia. By Elliott Coues and Joel Asaph Allen. = Report of the U. S. 
Geol. Survey of the Territories (F. V. Hayden). 

The Geographical Distribution of the Mammals, considered in relation to the principal ontological regions of 
the earth, and the laws that govern the distribution of animal lite. < Bull. U. S. Geol. and Geogr. Surv. 
Terr., IV. No. 2, pp. 313-377, May, 1878. 

Contents: I. Distribution of mammalian life in the Northern Hemisphere, considered in relation to laws of geographical distribu- 
tion, pp. 313-329. — Historical resume, with critical analysis of views of Sclater and Wallace. 

II. — Mammalian regions of the Globe, pp. 329-373.— (1) Arctic Realm; (2) North Temperate Realm; (3) Tropical Realm; (4) South 
American Temperate Realm; (5) Indo-African Realm; (6) Australian Realm; (7) Lemurian Realm; (8) Antarctic Realm. 

The realms are divided into regions and provinces. 

III.— General Summary, pp. 373-377, with diagram of realms, regions, and provinces. 

History of North American Pinnipeds: A Monograph of the Walruses, Sealions, Sea-bears and Seals of North 
America. Washington: Govern. Printing Office, 1880. = U. S. Geol. and Geogr. Surv. Territories 
(F. V. Hayden, TJ. S. Geol.-in-Charge) , Misc. Publ. No. 11. 8°, pp. i-xvi, 1-785, 60 woodcuts. 

Family OdobasnidsB, pp. 5-186. Odobsenus Brisson (1762) the proper generic name for the walruses, and Odobsenidee the proper name 
for the family — not Trichechus (auct. non Linne), nor Trichechidffi, which are, respectively, the proper names of the Manatees; 1 two 
species of walrus established, O. rosmarus (Linn.) and O. obcsus (Illiger) , with figures of skulls, and full history of each species, including 
the nomenclature, osteology and dentition, geographical distribution, chase, and commercial products. 

Family Otariidas, pp. 187-411. Technical and commerical history, with synopsis, characters, and geographic distribution of the 
extra-limital species, recent and fossil, as well as the North American. 

Family Phocidae, pp. 412-756. Technical history of the family, classification, synonymatic list of the genera and species, geographical 
distribution, fossil remains, milk-dentition, habits, migrations, locomotion on land, the seal-hunting industry and sealing-grounds, methods 
of capture, species hunted, products, decrease of seals from injudicious hunting, etc., pp. 412-557; systematic treatment of the North 
American species, pp. 557-756; Appendix: a, material examined (pp. 757-764) ; &, additions and corrections (pp. 765-773) ; index (pp. 775-785). 

"A most valuable and complete history of these animals, especially of those found in North America, of their distribution and pursuit, 
with full synonymy, and copious tables and references. The history of the species of the group generally is also discussed, with remarks 
on their synonymy and distribution."— Zool. Rec. for 1880, Mamm. p. 2. 

Preliminary List of Works and Papers relating to the Mammalian Orders Cete and Sirenia.<BuH. U. S. Geol. 
and Geogr. Surv., VI, No. 3, pp. 399-562, Aug. 30, 1882. 

Covers the period from Albertus Magnus (1495) to the year 1840, and numbers 1013 annotated titles, the annotations in many cases 
amounting to a full statement of contents, so far as pertinent to the present subject, including names of species and genera and nature 
of treatment. All thus far published. The cause of the discontinuance of publication is explained in an insert, as follows: 

11 Owing to the illness of the author, which prevented his revision of the proof-sheets, it was necessary to stop the printing of the ' List' 
at the end of the year 1840. The present instalment comprises only a little more than one-third of the article; the remainder will be pub- 
lished as soon as the author's health renders it practicable. — J. A. Allen, Cambridge, Sept., 1882." 

See further, a "Personal Note" in Bull. Amer. Mas. Nat. Hist., XXIV, 1908, pp. 279-280. 

The West Indian Seal {Monachus tropicalis). <.Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., II, pp. 1-34, pis. i-iv, April 25, 1887. 

Introduction, pp. 1-3; external characters, pp. 4-6; osteological characters, pp. 6-19; sexual differences, pp. 20-21; affinities of the genus 
Monachus, pp. 22-23; general history, pp. 23-26; geographical distribution, pp. 27-29; habits, pp. 29-34. 


A Review of some of the North American ground Squirrels of the genus Tamias.<C.Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist, 
III, pp. 45-116, June, 1890. 

24 species and subspecies are recognized, of which 13 are here first described, as follows: (1) Tamias obscurus, p. 70; (2) T. senex, p. 83; 
(3) T. speciosus (Merriam, inod. MS.), p. 86; (4) T.frater, p. 88; (5) T. amanus, p. 90; (6) T. cinereicollis, p. 94; (7) T. umbrinus, p. 96; (8) T. 
quadrivittatus gracilis, p. 99; (9) T. q. luteiventris, p. 101; (10) T. q. afflnis, p. 103; (11) T. q. neglectus, p. 106; (12) T. minimus consobrinus, p. 
112; (13) T. m. pictus, p. 115. 

The Geographical Distribution of North American Mammals. <C.Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., IV, pp. 199-244, 
pis. v-viii (maps), 1892. 

Influences determining the geographic distribution of life (climatic), pp. 199-200; interrelation of land areas, pp. 200-201; mammals as 
the basis for the classification of life areas, pp. 202-203; systematic classification of life areas, pp. 203-211; the Sclaterian system, pp. 211- 
212; the mammals of North America considered in relation to the North American Region and its subdivisions, pp. 213-240, with 3 maps. 

A synopsis of the Pinnipeds, or Seals and Walruses, in relation to their commercial history and products.<Fur- 
seal Arbitration. Appendix to the case of the United States before the Tribunal of Arbitration, etc., 
I, 1892, pp. 367-391. 

Revision of the Chickarees, or North American Red Squirrels (subgenus Tamiasciurus) .<Bull. Amer. Mus. 
Nat. Hist., X, pp. 249-298, August 31, 1898. 

Monographic revision. Subspp. nov.: (1) Sciurus hudsonicus baileyi, p. 261; (2) Sciurus hudsonicus ventorum, p. 263; (3) Sciurus 
hudsonicus streatori, p. 267; (4) Sciurus douglasii cascadensis, p. 277; (5) Sciurus fremonti neomexicanus, p. 291. 
Sciurus douglasii mollipilosus Aud. & Bachm. revived to replace Sciurus hudsonicus orarius Bangs, 1897, p. 277. 

The Musk-oxen of Arctic America and Greenland. <BuW. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XIV, pp. 69-86, pis. xiii- 
xvii, and 7 text figures, March 27, 1901. 
Principally on the Ellesmere Land form, here referred to Ovibos wardi Lydekker (=0. pearyi Allen, Ms.). 

A Preliminary Study of the South American Opossums of the Genus Didelphis.<C.Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
XVI, pp. 249-279, Aug. 18, 1902. 

A monographic revision, with copious tables of measurements. Subspp. nov.: (1) Didelphis marsupialis insularis, p. 259; (2) D. m. 
etensis, p. 262; (3) D. paraguayensis andina, p. 272; (4) D. p. meridensis, p. 274. D. paraguayensis Oken (1816) replaces D. aurita Tem- 
mlnck (1825). 

The Hair Seals (Family Phocidie) of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea.<Bu(7. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
XVI, pp. 459-499, with 10 text figures, Dec. 12, 1902. 

Nomenclature; sexual differences in dentition; revision of the North Pacific species (11 species and subspecies are recognized), the fol- 
lowing new; (1) Phoca hispida gichigensis, p. 488; (2) Phoca ocholensis macrodens, p. 483; (3) Phoca stejnegeri, p. 485; (4) Phoca richardii 
pribilofcnsis; (5) Phoca richardii geronimensis, p. 495. 

Phoca nigra Pallas (p. 483 footnote) suggested as apparently available for Callorhinus curilensis (see infra, No. 192). 

Mammalia of Southern Patagonia. Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896- 
1899, Vol. Ill, 1905, Part I, pp. 1-120, pis. i-xxix. 

Detailed treatment of 55 species, with special reference to nomenclature, that of the genera as well as the species discussed historically; 
full tables of references under the genera and species, and an annotated bibliography (pp. 192-210) of 65 titles. 

Eunothocyon, gen. nov., p. 153 (in text); Carcinocyon, gen. nov., p. 153 (in text); Ctenomys osgoodi, nom. nov., to replace C. robustus 
Allen, preoccupied, p. 191; Canis sclateri nom. nov. (p. 153) to replace Canis microtis Sclater, preoccupied. 

Species figured: Zaedyus ciliatus, Pis. i-iii (animal, skeleton, and three skulls); Kerodon australis and Clenomys osgoodi, pi. vii (skulls); 
Ctenomys sericeus and C. colburni, pi. viii (skulls); Eligmodontia, Oryzomys and Oxymycterus, pis. ix and x (skulls and dentition of various 
species); Akodon, pis. xi and xii (skulls and dentition of 6 species); Phyllotis, Euneomys, and Peithrodon, pis. xiii and xiv (skulls and denti- 
tion); Arctocephalus australis and .4. philippii, pis. xv-xvii (skulls, three views of each); Arctocephalus townsendi, pis. xviii-xx (skull, three 
views); Otaria byronia, pi. xxi (skeleton); Concpatus humboldti, pi. xxii (skulls and dentition); Cerdocyon griscus, pi. xxiii (skull, three 
views); Lynchailurus pajeros crucina, pi. xxiv (skull and dentition); Puma pearsoni, pis, xxv and xxvi (colored figures of animal, red and 
gray phases); Puma pearsoni, pis. xxvii-xxix (three views of skull). 

The North Atlantic Right Whale and its near Allies.<B^. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XXIV, pp. 277-329, pis. 
xix-xxiv, and 1 text figure, April 8, 1908. 

History, relationships, nomenclature, geographical distribution, and external and osteological characters of Eubalxna glacialis 

Ontogenetic and other Variations in Muskoxen, with a systematic Review of the Muskox Group, recent and 
extinct. <Mem. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., New Series, I, Pt. 4, 1913, pp. 101-226, pis, xi-xviii, 1 map, 
and 45 text figs., March, 1913. 

Ontogenesis of the horns, teeth, skull and pelage, pp. 107-143; individual differentiation as indicated by the skull, pp. 143-157; sys- 
tematic review, including historical summary, pp. 157-160; geographic distribution, past and present, pp. 160-164; classification and rela- 
tionship. 164-171; Oeibos, characters, alleged species and subspecies, pp. 171-179; geographic variation, pp. 179-180; synopsis of species 
and subspecies, pp. 180-182; systematic description, habits, and distribution: Ovibos moschatus moschatus, pp. 183-189; O. m. niphacus, 
pp. 189-191; O. m. wardi, pp. 191-201; O. yukonensis (extinct), pp. 201-203; O. pallantis (extinct), pp.<203-205; extermination, pp. 205-207; 
Muskoxen in Zoological Gardens, pp. 207-208; Bootherium, pp. 209-213; Symbos, pp. 213-215; Liops, p. 216; bibliography, pp. 221-226. 

Plates xi-xv, 0. 771. wardi as follows: pi. xi, horncores; pi. xii, transverse sections of horncores; pi. xiii, longitudinal sections of horncores; 
pi. xiv, sections of horncores; pi. xv, maxillary toothrow at different ages; pi. xvi, mandibular toothrow at different ages. Plates xvii 
and xviu, skull of Symbos cavifrons. 

Text figures 1-26, skulls and dentition of O. m. wardi from fcetal age to senescence; text fig. 27, map of distribution, present and recent, 
of Muskoxen in North America and Greenland, text figs. 28-31, skulls of O. m. moschatus and O. m. wardi; text figs. 32-36, mounted speci- 
mens of same; text figs. 38-44, photographs of calves of 0. m. wardi in New York Zoological Park; text fig. 45, type skull of Bootherium 


Review of the South American Sciuridae.<l?u<7. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XXXIV, pp. 147-309, pis. i-xiv, and 
25 text figs., May 17, 1915. 

Historical outline, pp. 161-158; general considerations, pp. 158-168; genera and subgenera of American squirrels, pp. 169-186; systematio 
review of the South American squirrels. 

271. 3 The Whalebone Whales of New England. Science, XLV, pp. 89-90, Jan. 26, 1917. 

Review of Qlover M. Allen's paper of this title (Mem. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., VIII, No. 2, pp. 107-322, pis. 8-15, tert figs. 1-12, 
Sept., 1916) . 

272. The American Museum Congo Expedition Collection of Bats. (With Herbert Lang and James P. Chapin.) 

Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XXXVII, pp. 405-563, pis. xliv-lv, text figs. 1-26, and 1 map, Sept. 
29, 1917. 

Systematic list, 68 species and subspecies, with much technical comment, pp. 405-478; notes on the distribution and ecology of Central 
African Chiroptera, by Herbert Lang and James P. Cbapin, pp. 479-496; field notes by Herbert Lang and James P. Chapin, on 68 species, 
pp. 497-560. 

Subgen. nov.: Lophomops, p. 460; Allomops, p. 470; spp. and subspp. nov.: (1) Nycteris pallida, p. 425; (2) Nycteris avakubia, p. 426; 
(3) Rhinolophus abx, p. 428; (4) Rhinolophus axillaris, p. 429; (5) Hipposideros coffer niapu, p. 431; (6) Hipposideros abx, p. 432; (7) Hip. 
posideros nanus, p. 434; (8) Hipposideros langi, p. 434; (9) Hipposideros gigas niangarx, p. 438; (10) Pipistrellus abaensis, p. 442, (11) 
Eptesicus ater, p. 443; (12) Epteskus faradjius, p. 444; (13) Eptesicus garambse, p. 445; (14) Qlamonycieris humeralis, p. 448; (15) Olau- 
conycteris alboguttatus, p. 449; (16) Miniopterus breyeri vicinior, p. 450; (17) Nyctinomus ochraceus, p. 455; (18) Chxrephon frater, p. 456; 
(19) Chserephonrussatus, p. 458; (20) Chxrephon (Lophomops) chapini, p. 461; (21) Chxrephon (Lophomops) cristatus,p.4G3; (22) Chserephon 
(Lophomops) abse, p. 464; (23) Mops congicus, p. 467; (24) Mops niangarx, p. 468; (25) Mops trevori, p. 469; (26) Mops (Allomops) osborni, 
p. 473; (27) Mops (Allomops) occipitalis, p. 474; (28) Mops (Allomops) faradjius, p. 476; (29) Mops (Allomops) nanulus, p. 477. 

273. The Skeletal Characters of Scutisorex Thomas. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XXXVII, pp. 769-784, 

pis. lxxxix-xcii, text figs. 1-8, Nov. 26, 1917. 

The extraordinary skeletal characters of Scutisorex congicus serve as a basis for raising the Scutisorex group to the rank of a subfamily 
of the Soricidse under the name Scutisoricinse, p. 781; with field notes by Herbert Lang, pp. 781-783. 

274. The Laysan Seal. Natural History, Journ. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XVIII, pp. 399-400, May, 1918. 

Remarks on Monachus schauinslandi Matschie from Laysan Island and on the widely interrupted distribution of the genus Monachus 
in warm temperate and subtropical latitudes, now known only from the leeward group of Hawaiian Islands, and the Caribbean and 
Mediterranean seas. 

275. Nelson's Wild Animals of North America. A Review. Natural History, Journ. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 

XIX, pp. 331-333, 2 photographs, March, 1919. 
Review of the paper of this title (Published by National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C, 1918). 

276. Severtzow's Classification of the Felidae. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLI, pp. 335-340, Sept. 22, 


A critical review of Severtzow's classification, with an annotated list of his genera and subgenera and comment on their validity. 

277. Notes on the Synonymy and Nomenclature of the Smaller Spotted Cats of Tropical America. Bull. 

Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLI, pp. 341-419, figs. 1-31, Oct. 3, 1919. 

Introduction, p. 343; list of currently recognized forms of smaller cats of Tropical America arranged in groups according to their obvious 
alliances, pp. 345-384; 37 forms recognized, of which 12 are rated as species and (excluding the typical races) 25 as subspecies, referred to 
7 superspeciflc groups. 

Gen. nov.: Oncilla, p. 358; subspp. nov.: Margay glaucula nicaraguse, p. 357. 

278. Preliminary Notes on African Carnivora. Journ. Mammalogy, I, pp. 23-31, Nov., 1919. 

Preliminary report on some 600 specimens collected by The American Museum Congo Expedition, 1909-1915. Discussion of the generio 
names Mungos and Ilerpestes. 

Nomen nov.: Micraonyx (for Leptonyx, preoccupied), p. 24; gen. and spp. nov.: Osborniciis, p. 26; Osbornictis piscivora, p. 25; Xenogale, 
p. 26; Xenogale microdon, p. 27. 

279. Note on Gueldenstaedt's Names of Certain Species of Felidae. Journ. Mammalogy, I, pp. 90-91, Feb., 


Comments on the nomenclature of the North American bay lynx, whose correct technical name should be Lynx rufa Schreber. 

280. The Technical Names of Two Colobus Monkeys. Journ. Mammalogy, I, pp. 96-97, Feb., 1920. 

Reference to Simla polycomos Schreber as the genotype of Colobus Illiger and designation of Simia badius Kerr as the genotype of 
Piliocolobus Rochebrune. 

281. Mammals of Panama. Journ. Mammalogy, I, pp. 188-189, August, 1920. 

Review of Edward A. Goldman's work of that title (Smithsonian Misc. Coll., LXIX, No. 6, pp. 1-309, pis. 1-39, text figs. 1-24, 1920). 


282. The American Museum Congo Expedition Collection of Insectivora. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLVII, 

Art. 1, pp. 1-38, pis. 1-4, text fig. 1, July 20, 1922. 

Deals with the Potamogalidse, Erinaceidse, Macroscelididse, and Soricidse collected by the Congo Expedition. Twenty one species 
and subspecies are listed, with much technical comment. Based on a collection of 377 specimens. 

283. Sciuridae, Anomaluridae and Idiuridae Collected by The American Museum Congo Expedition. Bull. 

Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLVII, Art. 2, pp. 39-71, pi. 5, Oct. 27, 1922. 

These three families are represented by 480 specimens belonging to 20 forms, all discussed with considerable detail. 

284. Carnivora Collected by The American Museum Congo Expedition. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLVII, 

Art, 3, pp. 73-281, pis. 6-78, text figs. 1-67, 1 map, April 11, 1924. 

The collection consists of 588 specimens representing 24 genera and 33 species distributed among the Canidae, Mustelidse, Viverridaa, 
Hyaenidfe, and Felidae. Much technical comment renders the report one of the most valuable contributions to African mammalogy. 

1 The following titles are additions to the original Bibliography. The numbers preceding them continue its system of enumeration. 


285. Primates Collected by The American Museum Congo Expedition. . Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XLVII, 
Art. -4, pp. 283-499, pis. 79-167, text figs. 1-3, 1 map, Feb. 6, 1925. 

The specimens number 645, of which 66 represent the Lemuridae, 549 the Lasiopygidae, and 30 the Pongidae. Among' them are 28 forms 
with one species new to science. There is one new genus, and one new generic name is proposed. A critical discussion of nomenclature, 
and other remarks give the report an authoritative place among papers on this group. 


On the Mammals and Winter Birds of East Florida .... and a Sketch of the Bird Faunae of Eastern North 
America.<BufL Mus. Corny. Zool., II, No. 3, April, 1871, pp. 161-450. 

Part V. On the Geographical Distribution of the Birds of Eastern North America, with special reference to the Number and Cir- 
cumscription of the Ornithological Faunae, pp. 375-425; List of Authorities, pp. 426-450. 

"In accordance with the facts stated above respecting the mode of the distribution of animals and plants over the earth's surface, and 
the zoological and botanical laws of the differentiation and mutual relations of the different regions, the following primary natural history 
divisions may be recognized: I, an Arctic Realm; l II, a North Temperate Realm; III, an American Tropical Realm; IV, an Indo- 
African Tropical Realm; V, a South American Temperate Realm; VI, an African Temperate Realm; VII, an Antarctic Realm; VIII, an 
Australian Realm" (p. 380). 

For eastern North America are recognized the following seven faunas: (1) Floridian, (2) Louisianian, (3) Carolinian, (4) Alleghanian, 
(5) Canadian, (6) Hudsonian, (7) American Arctic. Their boundaries and their characteristic species of birds are given (pp. 387-404), 
and they are further considered with reference to mammals and reptiles (pp. 404-406). 

The species of North American birds are considered and tabulated with reference to their geographical ranges (pp. 407-418). General 
remarks on the distribution and nligration of the birds of the Eastern Province (pp. 418-425). A Bibliography of ornithological works and 
papers, or "List of Authorities," relating to North America occupies pages 426-450, geographically arranged by States and countries 
and numbering 340 titles — much the largest list of papers relating to North American ornithology that appeared prior to 1878. 

The Geographical Distribution of the Mammalia, considered in relation to the principal Ontological Regions of 
the Earth, and the Laws that govern the Distribution of Animal Life.<BwH. U. S. Geol. and Geogr. Surv. 
Terr., IV, No. 2, pp. 313-377, May 3, 1878. 

I. General considerations, with criticism of the life-regions proposed by Dr. P. L. Sclater and supported by Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, 
pp. 313-329; II. Mammalian Regions of the Globe; pp. 329-373; III. General Summary, pp. 373-377. 

The primary divisions are essentially as laid down in 1871 (see above), except that a South African Temperate Realm is admitted, 
and Madagascar is recognized as an additional Realm, designated as the Lemurian Realm. Under these are denned regions of secondary 
and tertiary rank where such subdivisions seemed to be required. 

The Geographical Distribution of North American Mammals. <C.Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., IV, pp. 199-243, 
pis. v-viii (colored maps), Dec. 29, 1892. 

Influences determining the Geographical Distribution of Life, pp. 199-203; Systematic Classification of Life Areas, pp. 203-206; Primary 
Life Regions, pp. 206-207 (same as in No. 2 supra); North Temperate Realm, pp. 207-211; The Sclaterian System, pp. 211-212; The Mam- 
mals of North America considered in relation to the North American Region and its Subdivisions, pp. 213-240; Tropical North America, 
pp. 240-243; Tabular Synopsis, p. 243. 

The Geographical Origin and Distribution of North American Birds, considered in relation to Faunal Areas of 
North America. <C.Auk, X, pp. 97-150, pis. iii, iv (colored maps), July, 1893. 

I. The Geographical Origin and Distribution of North American Birds, pp. 98-117; II. The Faunal Subdivisions of North America, 
considered with reference to their Relationships, Classification, and Nomenclature, pp. 117-150 (tabular synopsis, p. 150). 
The classification adopted is essentially the same as that recognized in 1892 (see supra, No. 5). 


Mammals and Winter Birds of East Florida, etc. <BuK. Mus. Corny. Zool., II, No. 3, pp. 161-450, April, 1871. 

Part III. On Individual and Geographical Variation among Birds, considered in respect to its bearing upon the Value of certain 
assumed Specific Characters, pp. 186-250. 

Wide range of individual variation shown to occur in a considerable number of species, with extensive tables of measurements, pp. 
186-226; correlation of variations in general size, size of bill, etc., and in coloration, with differences in climatic and geographic conditions, 
pp. 229-242; species, varieties, and geographical races, pp. 242-250. A presentation of facts, without discussion of any theories of evolu- 
tion, which appeared later. 

Geographical Variation in North American Birds.<Proc. Boston, Soc. Nat. Hist, XV, pp. 212-219, Dec, 1872. 
A general resume of the author's studies of the subject, to that date. (Republished in Amer. Nat., VIII, pp. 534-541, Sept., 1874.) 

Geographical Variation among North American Mammals. <CBull. Geogr. and Geol. Surv. Terr., II, No. 4, July 1, 

1876, pp. 309-344. 

The correlation of size with geographical variation is formulated (p. 310) under the three propositions: 

" (1) Maximum physical development of the individual is attained where the conditions of environment are most favorable to the life 
of the species . . . ." 

The influence of Physical Conditions in the Genesis of Species. ^Radical Review, I, No. 1, pp. 108-140, May, 

1877. (Republished by request, in the Ann. Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1905 (1906), 
pp. 375-402.) 

"The doctrine of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, has recently been brought forward as the key to this complex problem 
and is upheld by a large class of enthusiastic adherents, who accept it as the full solution of the whole question. By others the conditions 
of environment are believed to be far more influential in effecting a certain class of modifications, at least, than the necessarily precarious 
influence of natural selection," etc. 

The direct modifying influence of environment as a factor in evolution is regarded as more potent than natural selection taken in the 
narrow senso of the "survival of the fittest." 

Sexual Selection and the Nesting of Birds.<iAuk, II, pp. 129-139, April, 1885. 

In reference to Wallace's "Theory of Birds' Nests ' ' (Intellectual Observer, July, 1867), and Dixon's " On the Protective Colour of Eggs" 
(in Seebohm's Hist. Brit. Birds, Introd., pp. x-xxxvii). 

i^w-ik r-. Q-cgsL 


Volume XXI 






Presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1924 


By George P. Merrill 

Dr. George F. Becker was born in New York City, January 5, 1847. His father was Alexander 
Christian Becker, of a Danish family, settled in Archangel, Russia, where it is stated the head 
of the house (Samuel Becker) held for a time the office of Danish consul, holding his commission 
direct from the King of Denmark. Samuel Becker was a man of considerable wealth and given 
to lavish entertaining, but lost his property through absorption in science, particularly the new 
chemistry. On account of these financial troubles, Alexander Becker (the father of George F.) 
came to the United States and settled in New York. His first venture was in mercantile life, 
but finding this distasteful he studied medicine and entered upon the practice of his profession, 
but died when the subject of this sketch was 2 years of age. 

" My mother's maiden name " writes Doctor Becker, "was Sarah Cary Tuckerman, a daughter 
of the Rev. Joseph Tuckerman known in Boston as a philanthropist and the first Minister-at- 
Large. He was a graduate of Harvard and an Overseer, and intimate friend of William Ellory 
Channing, Joseph Story and other prominent men of the day. The only scientific Tuckerman 
was my mother's first cousin, Edward, a member of this Academy [i. e., the National Academy 
of Sciences]. 

" Cambridge was selected as a residence by my parents with a view to the education of their 
two children Alexander Rudolph and myself. My mother's Cambridge friends were for the 
most part in the University set. Benjamin A. Gould was a very constant visitor. C. C. Fulton 
and Louis Agassiz married Mary Cary and Elizabeth Cary, first cousins of my mother. Charles 
Henry Davis, the founder of the Nautical Almanach and later Rear Admiral, was a frequent and 
welcome caller. Benjamin Peirce and Jeffries Wyman were likewise good neighbors. We knew 
Asa Gray more slightly but saw little of the Bonds. Longfellow, Lowell, Richard H. Dana, 
Holmes and Wolcott Gibbs and Charles Eliot Norton were valued acquaintances. 

" Most of the scientific men took some little interest in me a3 a child but I owe most to Agassiz, 
Peirce and Wyman who seemed to like to encourage me in scientific curiosity. 

" I was flying my kite in a field one day about 1856, when Peirce joined me to ask if I knew why 
it stayed up in the air. Of course I had no definite idea and he was at much pains to explain as 
much as I could understand of a distinctly difficult subject; he then and there excited an interest 
in my mind which has never yet wavered." 

There is abundant evidence in the correspondence to which the present writer has had access 
that between mother and son there was early developed a strong bond of affection which was to 
continue throughout their entire lives. 

It is told of George that when a boy of 4 years he quietly listened to his widowed mother all 
the evening as she read the history of the " Commonwealth of Massachusetts." After he had 
been tucked into bed, and sleep had come to him, his lonely mother was overcome with memories. 
Going to the child's bed, she knelt down; the little fellow must have felt her presence, for he 
reached out and touched her. "Oh, my child, who do you love?" said the mother. The 
sleepy little childish voice answered: "Anyone who will do good to the Commonwealth of 

In early youth Doctor Becker showed a decided taste for natural history and was of a studious 
and quiet nature, caring little for the talk and games of other boys. 

" Games and sports interested me but little, " he wrote, "and my mother had often to send 
me to the Delta, now occupied by Memorial Hall, to play with the other boys. I could play 
rounders and pre-Rugbian football decently well but I preferred gymnastics to these games 
because I could do them alone. The boys' talk did not interest me and I had sense enough to 
make no reference to natural history in their presence. 



" Then (as ever since) the only society I cared for was such as I found mentally stimulating 
and the only pleasures for me were those involving some mental exertion. Chess I liked, but 
cards I found dull, the element of chance spoiling the fun. 

" When I could not be at the Museum or in the woods and marshes I liked best to spend my 
time on the lounge in my mother's library with Audubon's text or Nuttall or Carpenter's animal 
physiology in my hands. I found them very stimulating to the imagination, as much so as Scott's 
novels, though these too I enjoyed." 

Concerning his boyhood he also wrote: 

It was a delight to me to roam alone about the woods especially those near Fresh Pond and the marshes not 
far away. Not a pool or a grove lacked inhabitants I knew something about. In fact, I believe I could recognize 
each New England bird and I was familiar with many of the reptiles. I knew not only the frogs and the toads 
but the spawn of most of the species and having heard so much of embryology from Agassiz it was delightful to 
follow the development of the translucent eggs from day to day, as well as to watch the fascinating transforma- 
tion of the tadpoles. ' I had a small shot gun which I generally carried on these expeditions but I rarely fired 
it excepting when some bird or rodent seemed to display characters to make him a candidate for admission to the 
museum. Sometimes, however, I would practice a bit at a mark to keep my hand in. One such day I was on 
the way home when a gentleman overtook me and seeing a museum alcoholic collecting case in my hands asked 
me what I had. I was tired and I didn't recognize my interlocutor so I merely replied the Latin names of my 
specimens, meaning to choke him off! But with these he was evidently familiar. He proceeded to ask me some 
questions I could answer, others much beyond me and then launched out into a most delightful 15 minutes 
disquisition suitable to my small capacity. I was ashamed, charmed and instructed as well I might be for it 
was no less than Jeffries Wyman who had thus honoured a little boy. I never met him afterwards without 
carrying away ideas and an improved sense of method. 

Becker was fitted for college in Latin and Greek under the tutelage of Prof. Wm. B. Atkinson 
and was admitted to Harvard in 1864, only "with several partial conditions which did not trouble 
me. I was glad to be an undergraduate and was confident I could keep up with my class. 
I had no trouble in doing so excepting when colds and sore throats kept me out of the class 
room as they sometimes did for weeks together. Indeed, I had plenty of time for desultory 
study, looking up anything I did not understand and always finding that it led to something 
else I did not comprehend, which needed new search." 

Concerning Agassiz and his teachings he wrote: 

Very clearly impressed upon my memory is a passage from one of his lectures delivered about this time 
[probably 1859]. Substantially it is as follows though I cannot of course guarantee its literal accuracy. "As 
investigators we are necessarily open to new ideas whether they arise in our own minds or those of our colleagues. 
Yet it must not be supposed that this habit is sufficient to assure our receptivity without making a conscious 
effort to take broad views. Fundamental discoveries occur only at comparatively long intervals and they 
require a mental readjustment which is difficult, especially after youth is passed. Thus when Harvey made his 
great discovery of the cellular structure of tissues, the scientific life of all the anatomists over forty years old was 
arrested. Some accepted the truth but confessed themselves unable to revolutionize the conceptions which 
had been the basis of their work, others vainly contended against the truth." 

Good precepts these but difficult to follow as the dear man himself soon exemplified. Not long afterwards 
the Origin of Species appeared and I well remember his next lecture to his class. He was almost overcome with 
pain, indignation and horror. This hypothesis, he told us, is a revival in a more insidious form of the thoroughly 
exploded heresy of Lamark. He could not express to us the pain it gave him to see the great learning and ability 
of Charles Darwin applied to sophistical and almost blasphemous reasoning. The book could not but do vast 
harm and wrong though it is, let no one suppose it easy to refute, unsound. On the contrary the vast informa- 
tion and acute though misdirected arguments make a reply most difficult. The safest way would be not to read 
it at all. Fancy such an injunction addressed to that set of youths. After the lecture they adjourned to 
Putnam's room and I think I must have been invited to go along too, at any rate I went without receiving any 
rebuff. Of course it was an indignation meeting though nothing abusive was said of the master. It was a great 
day, a critical epoch in the lives of most of the young men present. 

About the middle of his college course it would seem his interest in natural history had 
become considerably cooled, and — 

I was somewhat adrift when a single lecture on mathematics opened my eyes to the fact that this is a science 
of great principles and ideas, not a mere jumble of tiresome computations and unrelated Chinese puzzles. That 
was a happy discovery to me. Chemistry too, attracted me though the instructions we received were distinctly 

1 Drawings, essays, and even poems on these various subjects, found among his papers and evidently prepared at about this time, are of quite 
exceptional merit and show a trend of mind little dreamed of by those who knew him only in his later years. 


bad. In the senior year I took analytical and celestial mechanics under Benj. Peirce, with a single other class- 
mate. Peirce went too fast but he was inspiring and we were thus brought into contact with a really original 
thinker. I came out at graduation well up in my class — thanks to high marks in mathematics and English. 
At the close of that year (i. e., senior) my mother offered to let me study in Germany after graduating at 
Harvard. I gratefully and eagerly accepted. In the winter of 1867-8 I had the benefit of intimate association 
with Dr. Herman Hagen the well known entomologist. He had just come from Koenigsburg accompanied by 
his wife to take a position in the Museum, and Agassiz, knowing of our plans to spend some years in Germany, 
persuaded my mother to take them in for the winter. They had the task of wintering themselves in a new 
country while I had more than plenty to learn from a German Savant. Hagen and I soon had a lingua franka 
in which we could converse and we spent many of our evenings in high debate upon an endless variety of topics. 
He was a somewhat eccentric but highminded scholar of enormous learning and the best standards. Dilet- 
tantism and philistinism were to him anathema. His was just the companionship I needed and the opportunity 
was not thrown away. Though he was no better scholar than other of the men mentioned above, he had a 
greater effect upon me than they did because our intercourse was so constant and so familiar. My debt to 
Hagen is a great one. But for his instructions I should have been ill prepared to grasp the spirit of the German 
universities. By reason of his coaching I found myself at home in a very short time in German academic circles. 

That Becker was a diligent student while in Germany is shown by the following translation 
of a certificate from the well-known chemist Bunsen : 


It gives me especial pleasure to certify that Mr. G. F. Becker, Dr. Phil., from America has taken part in 
the practical chemical exercises in my laboratory with extraordinary zeal from Oct. 1868 to Nov. 1869; and has 
not only acquired a thorough knowledge of analytical chemistry, but also especial skill in the exercises of ana- 
lytic work. 

Inasmuch as I count Mr. Becker among my most active and most gifted pupils, I cannot suppress the wish 
that he may right soon find a sphere of action corresponding to his wishes and to his remarkable abilities. 

Pride in his work and a determination to master its practical details led Becker to under- 
take while in Germany the somewhat unusual task of a puddler in the royal iron works. With 
what success he met is shown by the following : 


It is herewith certified, that G. F. Becker of Boston has been at work in these works since Sept. 16 as puddler, 
and during this time has performed the severe labours of this branch of industry with extraordinary industry 
and most praiseworthy endurance. 

The trial charges, which Mr. Becker made, before leaving, without assistance, gave a most excellent result, 
and furnished the proof of the practical thoroughness as well as of the intelligent grasp, of the whole puddling 
process on the part of the aforenamed gentleman. 

He also took means to instruct himself with zeal and success in furnace construction, as far as the customs 

here present anything peculiar or unusual — put a helping hand in the building, repair and preservation of the 

furnaces, and made himself acquainted with the whole working of the shop. 

Konigshutte, Nov. 1, 1870. 

The Director, 

(Signed) Richter. 

During the Franco-Prussian war, Doctor Becker served as a correspondent for the New 
York Herald, being attached to the Crown Prince's staff, but says of himself that he was not 
very successful. He was present at the battle of Woerth and the siege of Strassburg, and was 
once captured by the French and held prisoner for a few hours. Even at this time he foresaw 
the coming of the great war, though anticipating its date. He wrote, "I bet a bottle of the 
best champagne that Germany will be at war with Europe within 10 years." 

Returning to America, Doctor Becker was employed during 1872-73 as a construction 
engineer by steel works at Joliet, 111. While here he invented, but did not patent, an improved 
puddling process which is stated to have been in use both in Joliet and Youngstown, Ohio, up 
to within the last five years (i. e., about 1918). Shortly after this he went to California, partly, 
it is said, on account of his health, though it seems probable that the field seemed most inviting 
to one of his profession. Here during 1875-1893 he was instructor in mining and metallurgy 
in the State university. Among his pupils was the now well-known mining engineer, John 
Hays Hammond. While here he fell under the influence of Clarence King, who was then 
engaged upon the survey of the fortieth parallel. In 1879, when King became director of the 
consolidated geological surveys, Becker was among the first to receive appointment, and it is 
here that his scientific career as a physicist and geologist may well be said to have begun. 
20154°— 26 3 


Soon after his appointment Doctor Becker made a reconnaissance of the San Francisco, 
Utah, Eureka, Nevada, and Bodin, Calif., mining districts, with a view to laying out the work 
rather than of completing the examination of any single district. Owing to a change in the 
plans of the director, Becker personally undertook the study of the mines of the region, though 
at a later date (1884) those of Eureka were examined and reported upon by Mr. J. S. Curtis, 
acting as his assistant. 

Early in 1880 Becker was instructed by the director of the survey to take, in addition to 
his survey duties, the office of a special agent of the Tenth Census (this without extra remu- 
neration) and to assist in the compilation of statistics and technical information as to the precious 
metal industries of the country. The district assigned included Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and the 
country to the west of them. To S. F. Emmons was assigned the area of the Rocky Mountains. 
This investigation extended throughout the census year. 

The results of this work were published as Volume XIII of the census reports, entitled 
"Statistics and Technology of the Precious Metals," by Geo. F. Becker and S. F. Emmons. It 
contained chapters on the geology of the Western States and Territories, statistics of production, 
and a very large amount of information on most of the important features of hydraulic mining, 
deep mining, quartz milling, etc., with brief but adequate discussions. This report, so far as 
statistics of production are concerned, is now out of date, but the technical information for the 
most part retains its value. 

Becker here took occasion to discuss the four ore belts of the Pacific slopes and thought to 
show that each coincides with a well-marked zone along which relative upheaval has occurred. 
This fact by itself he thought demonstrated that a relation existed between the great movements 
which interest geologists and the accumulation of ore deposits which form the basis of the 
mining industry. 

In March of 1880 Becker had been also instructed on the part of the survey to make a 
reexamination of the Comstock lode. Messrs. F. von Richtofen, Clarence King, and J. A. 
Church had each written reports upon the extraordinary deposit, but many features of the 
occurrence were not satisfactorily elucidated. The importance of the occurrence and the fine 
opportunity for study seemed to justify a fresh and more elaborate investigation. 

The work, which was carried on at the same time with the census investigation, was com- 
pleted in two years, the report forming Monograph III (1882) of the survey series. Besides full 
descriptions of the ore bodies and their occurrence, it contained a discussion of the rocks, show- 
ing that the lava propylite, supposed to be the chief rock of the district, consisted in reality of 
better-known eruptives in a peculiar state of decomposition. This, at the time, was an important 
petrographic discovery, and particularly so in view of the work of Zirkel on the rocks of the 
fortieth parallel survey. Examination of supposed propylites from all the other regions from 
which geologists had collected them in the United States showed that they were all of a character 
similar to that of the Comstock. Trachyte was shown to be absent, contrary to previously 
expressed opinions. The heat of the lode was shown to be due to hot water, rising along the 
vein from great depths, and deriving its heat from a source not less than 5 miles from the surface. 
The complex "distributed faults" or "step faults" of the locality were elucidated, and it was 
shown on mechanical principles how such were formed. Suggestions were given as to the most 
probable position of undetected ore bodies. 

While many of the ideas put forward in this report have been the subject of controversy, it 
may safely be said to mark a new era in geological investigations in America. No previous 
investigations, by any survey, had been undertaken on so broad a basis. No known and avail- 
able means of investigation were left untouched and untried. That Becker fully realized the 
possibilities of the opportunity offered is shown by the selection of assistants, among whom 
were the physicists, Carl Barus and William Hallock, and the then young and rising petrologist, 
J. P. Iddings. The appearance of this monograph placed Becker in the front rank among 
American geological investigators. 


Doctor Becker's next field of investigation comprised, under the administration of J. W. 
Powell, 2 a study of the quicksilver deposits of the Pacific coast. This proved a somewhat pro- 
longed investigation and for its satisfactory completion necessitated a study of the deposits of 
similar nature in Italy and Spain. Though under governmental authority, he was obliged to 
carry on this portion of the work at his own expense. The results of these studies appeared in 
1888, as Monograph XIII of the survey series, under the caption of " Geology of the Quicksilver 
Deposits of the Pacific Slope." 

In this report it was shown that all of the ores were deposited in preexisting openings and not 
by substitution. Where these openings were fissures the deposits were veins. Contrary to the 
generally received belief, veins of quicksilver ores, it was shown, are very common and were 
filled from solutions, not by sublimation, the material being deposited as black amorphous 
sulphide and subsequently converted into cinnabar. In connection with the deposits a new 
class of veins was proposed, called "chambered veins." It was shown that not only cinnabar 
but gold and the sulphides of iron, copper, and antimony and zinc dissolve in solutions of 
sodium carbonate charged with hydrogen sulphide, such as occur in great abundance as spring 
waters in volcanic regions. The report contained a digest of the descriptions of all the impor- 
tant or interesting quicksilver ore deposits of the world. 

In the same volume it was shown for the first time that the Cretaceous and Tertiary forma- 
tions in this part of California were continuous in life and sedimentation. Attention was 
also called to a great and hitherto unnoticed upheaval in the Coast Ranges, at the beg innin g 
of the Cretaceous period. Becker thought to show further that in some cases serpentine 
resulted from the action of mineralized solutions on sandstones. 

At the close of the census investigation, Mr. J. S. Curtis, who had been one of Becker's 
assistants in that inquiry, joined the survey and was directed by him to study the Eureka 
mines. Mr. Curtis's volume, Silver Lead Deposits of Eureka, Nevada, Monograph VII, 1884, 
of the survey series, was well received by those interested in mining. 

The above completes the list of Doctor Becker's monographic studies, but by no means 
closes or limits the period of his activity. In fact, they were but the beginning. While finish- 
ing the writing and attending to the publication of the report on quicksilver, he elaborated a 
plan to be carried out by his assistants, Messrs. H. W. Turner and W. Lindgren. It was in- 
tended that this investigation should cover the west slope of the Sierras for the entire length 
marked by frequent or important gold mines. The plan included four memoirs on the lithology, 
descriptive geology, mining geology, and systematic geology of the region. He proposed that 
the mapping and the descriptive memoir should be done by assistants under his supervision, 
while his own attention was to be given to the investigation of the questions arising in the work, 
such as the nature and origin of the structure, the character and effect of the glaciation, the 
origin and history of the ore deposits, the relation of the eruptive rocks to one another, and 
the like. 

This investigation was never completed as planned. About 7,600 square miles were mapped 
and much preliminary work was accomplished in areas of which the topographic basis has been 
only lately completed. 

Commenting upon this, Doctor Becker wrote: 

It might seem more expedient to have begun this work with the ore deposits, but a little consideration 
shows that this would have involved loss of time and labour. If one were to begin with the gold bearing gravels,, 
questions which would arise immediately are: What is the source of the pebbles? What are the relation of the 
channels to one another and to the present drainage system? What is the age of the deposits? These ques- 
tions can be solved only by a study of the general geology of the country. If one were to begin with the quartz 
veins more numerous problems of a similar character would compel a return to a preliminary study of the-, 
geological history of the region. 

Becker's personal studies of the gold belt led to seemingly definite solutions of a number 
of questions. Some of his conclusions were as follows: There is strong evidence of a post- 

1 King resigned on Mar. 11, 1881, and Powell was appointed to his position three days later. Doctor Becker's position on the survey does not 
to have been affected by the change. 


Triassic upheavel in the Sierra probably identical with a disturbance which has been recognized 
in British Columbia. Two sets of earlier Cretaceous beds (divisions of the Shasta group) are 
contemporaneous or continuous. Authentic information not previously published shows that 
California was inhabited by men in the Neolithic stage of development, before the main glacia- 
tion of the Sierra. The glacial period of the Sierra probably began and ended much later than 
that of northeastern America. The deep canyons of the modern rivers of the Sierra were due 
to the protecting action of the glaciers on the higher part of the range. 

A large portion of the Sierra, he thought, was affected by systematically disposed fissures 
or joints. A study of their peculiarities showed to him that this network of divisions was produced 
by a pressure acting on the range downward from the south-southwest. This pressure, he 
thought, could be accounted for by the weight of the sediments in the great valley of Cali- 
fornia, provided that the earth is a solid, highly viscous mass, but not if the interior is fluid. 

The fissure systems, he argued, controlled to a large extent the emission of eruptive rocks. 
They affected the modeling of the country and also indirectly explained the formation of the 
canyons, among them the Yosemite Valley and the great domes of that region. 

During the winter of 1892 Doctor Becker made his first systematic studies of the deform- 
ing effects of great pressures. This he regarded as essential to a comprehension of the structure 
(announced later) and showing that relative elevation must attend the formation of slate. 
The theory, to him, accounted for the distribution and spacing of fissures or cracks when the 
action is slow. In the same connection he accounted for the columnar structure of many 
lavas and gave a simple proof of the fact that the pebbles in auriferous river channels and other 
watercourses "shingle upstream." 

A reconnaissance of the gold fields of southern Alaska by Becker in 1895 afforded inciden- 
tally material for an interesting theoretical discussion of vulcanism and the shape of volcanic 
cones, in which it was shown that such tend to approach definite geometrical form almost 
exactly coinciding with that of Fujisan, Japan, but that steeper shapes will not form on a large 
scale by ejection from a central vent. 

In 1896, under the auspices of an English company, Doctor Becker v ! sited the Wittwater- 
strand of South Africa for the purpose of studying the gold fields. Aside from whatever report 
he may have made to the company, his observations found their way into print in the Eighteenth 
Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey (1896-97) and the Zeitschrift fur Geo- 
logie Praktique, besides less technical accounts in the National Geographic Magazine and the 
London Economist. In all these publications Doctor Becker held the ground of the marine 
origin of the gold-bearing gravels and the alluvial origin of the gold itself, in opposition to De 
Launay and others, who thought it precipitated from a saturated solution of gold and pyrite 
in sea water. He noted that "in the pre- Tertiary rocks only those gravels remain which were 
protected by superjacent beds and allowed to indurate. River gravels, as such, could escape 
dispersion only when during subsidence they were immediately covered by fresh deposits, 
without undergoing any notable wave action." Hence the extreme rarity of pre- Tertiary 
river gravels. Such an origin — i. e., as marine, rather than as river gravels — he felt furnished 
a strong reason for the belief of their prolonged productiveness. 

It was while employed in this work that Doctor Becker became conversant in some detail 
with matters relating to the Jameson raid and the Boer war and led to the preparation of an 
article on "The revolt of the Uitlanders," published in the National Geographic Magazine of 
that year. In this he set forth in a dispassionate and impartial way the prevailing conditions 
as they appeared to an outsider, and through his personal influence with President Krueger 
he is said to have been instrumental in bringing about an amicable settlement of certain diffi- 
culties that threatened to lead to international complications. 

The most original, outstanding, and valuable of Doctor Becker's work was not, however, 
along the lines of descriptive geology. His interests lay largely in the more abstruse chemico- 
physical problems and concerning which he had almost from the start taken advanced grounds, 
not merely in relation to the problems to be solved, but, as well, to the methods of their solu- 
tion. Along these lines he was a pioneer, and it was not too much to claim that the present 

aca^my o F sconces] BIOGRAPHY 7 

Geophysical Laboratory is the outgrowth of his work more than that of any one man. 3 His 
published shorter papers showed an ever-increasing tendency to delve into physical and chem- 
ical problems and theories and to devise methods for their solution. This is evident in his 
Finite Homogeneous Strain, Flow, and Rupture of Rocks (1893), Rock Differentiation (1896- 
97), Experiments on Schistosity and Slaty Cleavage (1904), Torsional Theory of Joints (1913), 
and numerous other papers. 

Concerning the paper of 1893 Day remarks: 

In this we recognize a splendid attempt to define and formulate in precise terms, some of the relations in 
the science of rock mechanics. This was a magnificent task of pioneer quality and of extraordinary difficulty, 
but was not immediately fruitful because clothed in somewhat abstruse form. 

In his discussion of rock differentiation an attempt was made for the first time in America 
to apply physiochemical laws along the experimental lines of Van't Hoff and others. The 
conclusions reached can be made clear by quoting his own abstract. 4 

All known processes by which the segregation or differentiation of a fluid magma could take place involve 
molecular flow. This is demonstrably an excessively slow process excepting for distances not exceeding a few 
centimeters. Soret's method of segregation, even if it were not too slow, seems inapplicable because it involves 
a temperature unaccountably decreasing with depth. The normal variation of temperature, an increase with 
distance from the surface, would be fatal to such segregation. The least objectionable method of segregation 
would be the separation of a magma into immiscible fractions; but this seems to involve a superheated, very 
fluid magma, while the law of fusion and the distribution of phenocrysts in rocks indicate that magmas prior 
to eruption are not superheated to any considerable extent and are very viscous. 

The homogeneity of vast subterranean masses called for by the hypothesis of differentiation is unproved 
and improbable. The differences between well-defined rock types are more probably due to original and per- 
sistent heterogeneity in the composition of the globe. Hypogeal fusion and eruption tend rather to mingling 
than to segregation, and transitional rock varieties are not improbably mere fortuitous mixtures of the diverse 
primitive relatively small masses of which the lithoid shell of the earth was built up. 

This paper was subjected to a critical review, with only partial agreement by C. F. Tolman, 
in the Journal of Geology for May-June, 1897. 

In the paper on schistosity and slaty cleavage published in 1896 and already referred to, 
Becker took issue with the general idea to the effect that a secondary cleavage may be induced 
under pressure, but argued that "deformation of a solid, homogeneous, viscous, isotropic, not 
infinitely brittle, mass will develop structure in it on not less than one surface nor on more than 
four surfaces simultaneously." This he thought to show both mathematically and by experi- 
ment. In summing up his results he stated: 

In view of the evidence merely outlined above, it appears to me utterly impossible to deny that solid flow 
does as a matter of fact induce a true cleavage which is parallel to the lines of relative tangential motion or glid- 
ing, this cleavage not necessarily being accompanied by any actual ruptures however microscopic. 

Again in his paper on Current Theories of Slaty Cleavage (1907), which was largely contro- 
versial, Becker referred to the prevalent ideas as found in the literature, and then he stated his 
own views as follows: 

Like Tyndall and Daubree, I consider a parallel arrangement of flattened grains unessential to cleavage. 
Rupture takes place on planes of maximum slide or maximum tangential strain. Rupture is a gradual process 
and cohesion is impaired through flow before it is destroyed. Impaired cohesion in my theory is cleavage. 
Cleavage develops most perfectly when the stress tending to produce it is persistent in direction, because viscous 
resistance is then small. In a rotational strain there are two sets of mathematical planes on which maximum 
slide takes place and both sets are parallel to the axis of rotation. They make with the greatest axis of the strain 
ellipsoid angles given by 


tan = 

(ABC) 1/3 

A being the greatest axis, B the least and C the axis of rotation. The planes of maximum slide contain the cir- 
cular sections of the ellipsoid only in a limiting case. During the progress of strain these mathematical planes 
sweep through wedges of the mass, but the two sets of planes sweep at different rates, one set having a relative 
angular velocity from, say, 20 to an infinite number of times as great as the other. On the planes which sweep 
rapidly viscosity reinforces rigidity, there is no time for considerable flow to take place, and unless actual rupture 

B See his Project for a Geophysical Laboratory and construction of a geophysical laboratory. Year Book, Carnegie Institution, 1902 and 1904. 
' Amer. Jour. Sci., vol. UI, 1897, p. 40. 


occurs, so that joints form, the effect will be small. On the other set of planes viscosity is small, the mass has 
time to yield by flow, cohesion is weakened and cleavage results. In a word, the theory is that slaty cleavage 
is due to solid flow attendant upon rotational strains. So much of the energy of the system as is not poten- 
tialized is dissipated on the plane of maximum slide, and this may or may not lead to the alteration of mineral 
constituents, e. g., the transformation of feldspar into biotite. 

In his paper on the Age of the Earth (1910), Becker pointed out the probable errors in the 
methods previously employed, with particular reference to the works of Kelvin, Darwin, Joly, 
and F. W. Clarke. He thought also to show that "radioactive minerals cannot have the great 
age attributed to them. Only something like a tenth of the heat emitted by the earth can be 
ascribed to radioactivity plus all other exothermic chemical transformations, the remaining 
nine-tenths of the heat being due to compression." Barrell, in a more recent paper (1917), 
subjected this conclusion to severe criticism, but as to which of the two credit is to be given for 
nearest approach to actual facts it is as yet impossible to say. Although not so shown in his 
correspondence, Doctor Becker was greatly interested in Chamberlin's planetessimal hypothesis, 
though by no means in agreement therewith. 

In accordance with an arrangement made with the War Department, Doctor Becker, under 
orders of July 8, 1898, visited the Philippines for the purpose of investigating and reporting on 
the mineral resources of these islands. He sailed from San Francisco on the transport Pueblo 
July 15, under General Otis. After reaching Manila, he devoted some time to the preparation 
of a brief paper entitled "Memorandum on the Mineral Resources of the Philippine IslaDds," 
compiled from various unpublished records and published memoirs available in Manila, and 
from verbal information furnished by mining men, capitalists, and others. This memorandum 
was published in Part VI of the Nineteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological 

In September of that year, Doctor Becker spent some days in field work on the island of 
Corregidor and about Mariveles. On his return to Manila he prepared, at General Otis's request, 
a memorandum on the agricultural resources of the archipelago. Shortly afterwards, finding 
it impracticable on account of the native rebellion to pursue further his geologic investigations, 
he attached himself to the Bureau of Military Information, Eighth Army Corps, under Major 
Bell. In this position he rendered valuable service, translating from the Manila newspapers 
articles of importance or interest to the Government and the military authorities, and endeavor- 
ing to enlighten public opinion in the islands by published articles correcting Spanish misrep- 
resentations and setting forth the real conditions in the United States so far as those conditions 
were likely to become of importance to the Philippines. 

Doctor Becker's own account of his services, as given in a report to Major Bell, are worthy 
of reproduction in full. 

Manila, P. I., March 1, 1899. 

Sir: Pursuant to your verbal request, I submit the following report of work done by me in connection 
with the Information Bureau of the 8th Army Corps, during the three months just passed, viz: December, 
January and February. 

I made voluntary tender of my services to you at the beginning of December, because the military situation 
made geological field work impracticable and I was unwilling to occupy the position of United States Geologist, 
in Charge, without rendering any services to the Government. 

The first duties assigned me in the Bureau under your direction were to keep watch on the Philippine 
newspaper, "La Independencia, " controlled by Mr. Antinio Luna, and to make translation of articles which 
seemed of importance or interest to the Military Governor. Another similar newspaper, the "Republica 
Filipina, " controlled by Mr. Paterno, was afterwards included in this commission, and a variety of written and 
printed documents were submitted to me for translation. Your files contain copies of these translations. The 
following is a list of the more important of them. "America and Ourselves" a leader in the Independencia of 
Dec. 2, 1898, "Let us Wait" a leader in the Independencia of Dec. 3rd. "Philippino Yearnings for Spain" 
being extracts from the Independencia of Dec. 10th, threatening extracts from the Independencia of Dec. 19th. 
Passages from Republica Filipina of Dec. 25th complaining of the delay by the United States in announcing 
its policy. "Let there be Confidence" a conciliatory leader in the Independencia of Dec. 26th. Interview 
with Malolos Cabinet, Buencamino spokesman (a letter to Mr. Rickards, dated December 27th). 

Primo de Rivera on the Paterno negotiation, (extracts from a memorial of the ex-captain General to the 
Spanish Senate in August last with some explanations and comments. Handed in December 31.) Primo de 
Rivera on ecclesiastical reform. (This from the same memorial as the last. Comments were added. Handed 


in Jan. 1, 1899.) Letter of Buencamino to Republica Filipina, January 1, being a reply to a letter of mine. 
Manifesto by Aguinaldo January 5th. Second Manifesto by Auginaldo January 5th. "Aguinaldo pleading 
with his brother Philippinos," a rare pamphlet by Emilio Auginaldo, issued in December 1898 and immediately 
withdrawn. The translation is accompanied by an analysis. After January 4th, the Philippino newspapers 
removed from Manila and became openly hostile to the United States. It then ceased to be a matter of im- 
portance to keep track of their sentiments or expressions. 

In December 1898 it appeared to be desirable to try influencing public opinion among the Natives by 
published statements correcting Spanish misrepresentations and setting forth soberly the real conditions in the 
United States so far as they are likely to become important to the Philippinos. In order to give such explana- 
tions more weight, it was expedient that they should be signed by a responsible person, and, if possible, by 
someone not in the military service. As I fulfilled these conditions, the task was assigned to me and several arti- 
cles were written. All of them were carefully scrutinized by the Chief of the Bureau of Information, and by 
him submitted to higher authority, but I alone assumed responsibility for them to the public, in order that 
the Military Government might not be committed in any way by these utterances. Nothing was added by my 
superiors to these essays, but some sentences were struck out as impolitic. The articles were translated into 
intelligible Spanish under my supervision, and were published both in that language in the Philippino papers 
and in English in the Manila Times. The following thus appeared: "The Future of the Philippines" printed 
in Independencia, December 10, and replied to in the same issue. This appeared in the Manila Times on 
December 7th. " Treatment of North American Indians," Republica and Times Dec. 17. " Territorial Govern- 
ment in the United States," Republica and Times of December 23. "Free Education in the United States," 
Independencia of Dec. 24, and Times of Dec. 27th. Letter to the Republica on the delay by the United States 
in announcing its policy, Dec. 28. A further paper on "Religious American and the Catholic" was prepared, 
and the Republica promised to print it, but failed to do so. At the suggestion of a General Officer and with 
your consent, I also wrote an unsigned editorial for the Manila Times entitled "An Important Step." It 
appeared on Tuesday, Feb. 21. 

During the month of January, at your instance, I took up the matter of the reestablishment of the Cedula 
Personal, gathering arguments for and against its reestablishment on any basis and opinions concerning the 
most expedient fees for such a personal certificate. It was found that the inhabitants of Manila wished for a 
Cedula and (although there was some opposition on this point) that it would be best to make only one class, 
putting the fee very low. I wrote an argument on the general question and directed especially to the desirability 
of making the Cedula compulsory on all men, in Manila, excepting U. S. soldiers, between the ages of 18 and 60, 
leaving it optional for women. General Otis was at first disinclined to the compulsory feature but yielded to 
my representations. I have the satisfaction of believing that the compulsory cedula will be an important 
aid in the preservation of order under American control in this Archipeligo. 

I also undertook an examination of the matter of licenses which, however, was interrupted by the outbreak 
of the Insurrection. 

In addition to the matters detailed above, many others have fallen to my share which are not important 
enough for special mention, such as deciphering telegrams, procuring secret agents, examining into rumours, 
collecting information, seeing to the printing and posting of the Military Governor's proclamation and making 
myself generally useful in the Bureau so far as my lack of military education permitted. You have also done 
me the honor to consult me on most of the matters in which you have been engaged. 

When the Insurrection broke out it became impossible for me to sever my connection with the Bureau 
without loss of self respect. Inclination drew me in the same direction as loyalty and I have accompanied you 
on most of your strictly military duties as well as upon quests for information. Without specific instructions 
I have understood that, in the field as in the office I was to be constantly on hand, in readiness to undertake any 
message or commission you might see fit to entrust to me, and to render without orders any service within my 
capacities which circumstances clearly called for, if only by example. It has not always been easy to draw the 
line between officiousness and negligence, but you have been kind enough to give me reason to believe that I 
have not erred grossly in either direction. Your own official reports more than sufficiently cover such services 
as I have found an opportunity of performing at the front. 

I cannot close this report without referring to the pleasure it has afforded me to assist, in a variety of 
extremely interesting matters and in some thrilling situations, an officer so ingenuously and intelligently devoted 
to his duty, who is as intent on correcting abuses and ameliorating the lot of the wretched as he is strenuous in 
the quest for military information and fearlessly aggressive on the field of battle. 

How well his services were appreciated is shown by the following extract, re George F. 
Becker, from official report of Maj. J. F. Bell, in charge of the Office of Military Information 
of the Department of the Pacific, to Maj. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, commanding Second Divi- 
sion, Eighth Army Corps, under date of February 11, 1899, on the fight at Caloocan of February 

I have reserved for the end of this letter, mention of the exceedingly gallant and courageous conduct of 
Professor George F. Becker, U. S. Geologist, because in accordance with his idea of his duty he insisted on accom- 
panying me into this fight and remained with the Company, much of the time mounted, throughout the entire 


engagement. He was as cool and collected as if he were pursuing geological investigations in his study, encour- 
aged the men behind whom he was standing and rendered other valuable services which required him to pass 
mounted immediately in rear of the entire line. I am sorry that, not being a soldier, he cannot receive the 
reward which his courage and gallantry has entitled him to. 

The view he took of his duty referred to above, arose from the fact that for sometime before this war he 
volunteered to assist me in the Information Bureau and the instincts of a courageous gentleman have prevented 
his abandonment of his self imposed task of following me wherever I go now that the expected war with the 
Insurgents has come about and sometimes calls me, in the line of my duty, into dangerous situations. 

In justice to him however I should add that long prior to any certainty of hostilities he made me promise 
that if hostilities did occur I would permit him to accompany me wherever my duty called me. He has accom- 
panied me, pursuant to his own desire, on every reconnaissance I have made and frequently against my judg- 
ment as to what was best for him. 
Very respectfully, 

Sgd. J. F. Bell, 

Major of Engineers. 

After the outbreak of hostilities, upon invitation of General McArthur, to whose staff 
Major Bell was transferred, Doctor Becker accompanied the latter to the front and participated 
in a number of military reconnaissances and engagements, rendering service that has been 
favorably reported to the War Department. 

In May he made a journey to the island of Negros and endeavored to examine the deposits 
of tertiary lignite there, but the hostility of the natives prevented extended investigations. 

While here he met with an adventure which gave him reputation quite unsought and along 
lines little expected. It seemed that he wished to examine a coal deposit near San Carlos, and 
for safety's sake was given an escort of a noncommissioned officer and 16 men. Notwith- 
standing this they were attacked by a considerable body of natives. The'rest of the story is 
told in a clipping from the newspaper Freedom of September 29 of that year: 

The men saw three lines of skirmishers surrounding the plantation. Guns were grabbed, orders given, and 
they were soon out and ready to meet the enemy ; now here is where the " Old Professor " as the boys called him 
[Becker] shone. Emerging from the owner's house in his shirt sleeves, with a little popgun, a 32-caliber revolver, 
which he had borrowed from one of the boys, he took his position as commander on the right, accompanied by 
four comrades. 

There was a hot fight for a time. Finally the rebels closed in on the right. The five men protecting that 
position awaited the charge calmly. When the insurrectos were within about 10 yards a volley rang out, and 
four blacks dropped. But one kept coming, and straight for the professor. Up went his little popgun and 
never a tremor in his arm. He fired and missed. The black was now almost upon him. Again he fired and 
this time he caught his man in the right arm shattering it, and causing him to drop the murderous looking bolo. 
A volley rang out and the black dropped at the professor's feet. When it was all over 12 dead insurrectos were 

"Well it's the first time I ever fired a pistol at a human being, boys, but I had to do it, and I did it." 6 

Incidental to this it should be stated that Doctor Becker was twice "cited" for bravery 
in the field during his stay in the islands. 

On December 26, 1902, President Roosevelt called upon the National Academy of Sciences 
for a report on the desirability of instituting scientific explorations of the Philippine Islands 
and on the scope to such an undertaking, expressing his hope that such a plan might be adopted 
by Congress. 

A committee of the academy, consisting of Messrs. G. F. Becker, W. G. Brewer, C. Hart 
Merriam, F. W. Putnam, and R. S. Woodward, representing Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the 
Department of Agriculture, and the Geological Survey, was appointed on January 14 following. 
Becker was elected secretary and under conditions usually prevailing may be assumed to have 
done his full share of the work. 

The committee was unanimous in the opinion that scientific explorations of the Philippines 
were most desirable, both for the good of science and for the benefit of the inhabitants of the 
islands, and so reported on February 7, 1903. 

On March 9 following, the President constituted a board of scientific surveys of the islands, 
consisting of Mr. C. D. Walcott, chairman, and Messrs. F. V. Coville, Barton Evermann, 

1 "A day or two since a half tipsy soldier called on Bell to speak about the reconnaissance at Gaudalupe of February 20, and ' to shake the hand 
of a brave man.' Then he added, ' Say, Major, who was that old man [Doctor Becker] along with you? ' and when he had heard, remarked ' Well 
he was a crackerjack, too.' " 


W. H. Holmes, C. H. Merriam, Gifford Pinchot, and O. H. Tittmann, selected from the Govern- 
ment bureaus to consider the cost and other features of the plan proposed by the National 
Academy. The board made a report in harmony with the plan of the academy. It estimated 
the total expense for the first of the 10 years (including an item of $250,000 for the purchase of 
three small vessels) at $761,950. It also submitted the draft of a bill to provide for these 
surveys and memoranda as to their administrative conduct. 

For reasons which it is not necessary here to discuss, even were they known, these recom- 
mendations were never carried out. 

Doctor Becker was also a member of the committee of the ixational Academy of Sciences 
appointed in 1915 by President Wilson to consider and report upon the possibdity of controlling 
the slides in the Panama Canal, which then threatened seriously to interfere with its usefulness, 
but was unable on account of ill health to visit the canal and participate in its deliberations. 
He had, however, been over the ground in 1913 in company with Geologist D. F. MacDonald, 
and rendered important service in the preparation of the final report. 

With all his close attention to details in matters of science, Doctor Becker was by no means 
oblivious to the duties of citizenship. This appears in his correspondence relative to the 
Philippines, already referred to, and in numerous letters I find in his files. While not obtrusive 
in his manner, it would seem that he was by no means diffident. Convinced of the soundness 
of his own opinion or views on any subject, he did not hesitate to make them known wherever 
he felt they might be useful. The following letters are of interest and self-explanatory: 

Newbury, N. H., Sept. 26, 1901. 
My Dear Becker: I thank you for your kind letter of the 21st and the speech you made at New York. 
Roosevelt's hard task would be easy if all men would give him the wise and reasonable consideration which 
you express in this speech. 

As for myself, I can only thank you for what you say. Nothing can bring me back to where I stood last 
June. But I must "fight my course" being chained to the stake. 
Yours faithfully, 

(Signed) John Hay. 

March 4, 1905. 
Dear Mr. President: I do not feel able to allow this day to go by without expressing my congratulations 
on your past administration and cordial good wishes for that which begins to-day. You have justified the 
predictions which were made by some of your friends, including myself, at the time of Mr. McKinley's death, 
and have earned the confidence which the nation has lately expressed in you. 

May nature continue to smile upon you and may the country continue to sustain you in raising the standard 
of national life. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

(Signed) George F. Becker 

Nov. 15, 1912. 

Dear Darwin: has informed me of your illness, bad news which at once recalled the 

details of many pleasant hours I owe to you. 

Illness and suffering sometimes make a body lonely; and that is why I write to say how much I wish I 

could cheer you now as you cheered me when I lay ill at McKinney Hughes house. You have a host of willing 

friends who hope all good things for you and know that you have deserved them. May our wishes be efficacious. 

Pray do not dream of answering this greeting or of asking any one to do so. I sympathize too keenly with 

Lady Darwin and your children to burden them with needless letters. 

Most cordially yours, 

(Signed) G. F. Becker. 

So. Lee, July 16, 1915. 
Doctor Otis Smith. , 

Dear Doctor Smith: I have read your Greek * B K address with pleasure and I think it ought to ao 

There is an argument for public spirit on the part of university men which I have never heard emphasized. 
Perhaps you might like to use it in some future address. University education is to a large extent gratuitous; 
for the undergraduates at Harvard or the Johns Hopkins do not pay fees covering more than a fraction of the 
expenses of their education. Men who seek or use their university training solely for their personal service are 
almstakers. Only by public service can educated men repay the debt they incur and thus fulfill the designs of 
the founders. 

Cordially yours, 

(Signed) George F. Becker. 


A striking feature of Doctor Becker's career was his versatility, which he seems ever to have 
cultivated, rather than held in check. An interesting illustration of this is afforded in a paper 
(lecture) prepared by him in 1904, entitled: "How small an Army we need." The purport of 
the paper can not here be further elucidated than to state that a copy of the same being sent 
Brig. Gen. J. F. Bell, then at Fort Leavenworth, Kans., received the following indorsement: 

Infantry and Cavalry School and Staff College, 

Office of the Commandant, 
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Sept. IT, 1904. 
Dr. George F. Becker, 

Washington, D. C. 
My dear Doctor: I have received the article entitled: "How small an Army we need," which you have 
kindly sent me for criticism. I not only have no criticism to make, but am astonished that a man who has never 
been a professional soldier could have written so soundly on the subject you have selected. I have submitted 
this article to many of my assistants on duty with this college, and it meets with the hearty concurrence of all of 
them. We find the matter of which it treats so clearly and cogently set forth that we would be greatly gratified 
to see it published in some form or periodical where it could reach the masses of our non-professional fellow 
citizens. You have not even made any technical error in the statements of fact or deductions. We only hope 
that there is a respectable percentage of our fellow countrymen who may be able to see this matter in the same 
light that you do. 

Hoping you may continue your studies and efforts on behalf of the country in this line, believe me, 
Trulv and sincerely yours, 

(Signed) J. F. Bell, 

Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, 


It is difficult to write of the purely personal side of Doctor Becker, since few of those who 
were associated with him and knew him at all intimately are now living. That he was of more 
than ordinary affectionate nature both as boy and man is evident from his correspondence; 
this is particularly conspicuous in his letters to his mother. Few but his most intimate friends 
could see in this seemingly unemotional man, absorbed in problems of science, one whose daily 
letters to wife and mother were concluded in language of the tenderest endearment. 

" I owe him a debt," writes his one time assistant, H. W. Turner, " for his rigid requirements 
of exact notes on all geological matters ... In camn we found Dr. Becker always a good 
sport and an interesting companion." 

"In thought and manner," writes Doctor Day, "Dr. Becker was a true pioneer, absolutely 
fearless, impatient of limitations, quick to get at the heart of the problem, direct and vigorous 
in its prosecution, and with an untiring spirit even under the strain of protracted illness which 
clouded the closing years of his life." And again, "Like most pioneer thinkers, Dr. Becker 
was by necessity the master of several fields of scientific research. He possessed an excellent 
working knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and geology, and used all these with 
the greatest freedom and effectiveness throughout all his work. With the possible exception 
of Gilbert, there is no man of his time in the Washington geological work who possessed greater 
versatility in discussion or such breadth of view." And still again, in a personal note to the 
present writer he says: "I cherish Dr. Becker's memory as that of one of the finest men, one 
of the soundest scientists, and one of the best friends I ever knew." 

Highly commendatory is the following extract from a letter written by General Bell to 
Mrs. Becker — the mother — under date of February 21, 1901: 

Your son and I were strongly drawn toward each other, because we lived here together at a time of great 
distress, and we found our ideas accorded respecting the propriety and impropriety of matters in general. We 
easily became indignant at abuses committed by Americans and worked hard together for the credit of our 
land and nation. His strong conviction and determination was a support to me in many cases of doubt and 
uncertainty. His companionship on the battle-field was inspiring. Bravery is expected in a soldier. He gets 
no credit from having it, but great discredit if he has it not, but brave^' is not expected from those whose bus- 
iness is other than fighting. They have nothing to gain and all to lose from being killed; whereas a soldier 
may gain undying fame by losing his life on the field of battle. Therefore, when a man takes his life in his 
own hands, as your son did, inspired solely by an interest in his nation, and the manly instinct antagonistic to 
cowardice, he is deserving of credit indeed. No bond of affection is so strong as that which is created by the 
sharing of mutual dangers. I think our satisfaction might have been more complete had we had your strong 
intellect and sympathy to aid us at a time when much hardship and sufering was visible on every side. 


The most prominent characteristic of Doctor Becker, as viewed by the writer, was his 
persistent aggressive attitude toward geophysical problems and the establishment of a labora- 
tory for the experimental work essential to their solution. This was the one dominant feature 
of his career and one which was ultimately crowned with success by the establishment of the 
Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory. That he was thoroughly in earnest in this is shown — if 
further evidence is needed — in his last will and testament, by which his entire residual estate 
is to pass to the Smithsonian Institution to be applied to "the advancement of geophysics." 

His thoughtfulness and willingness to assist in matters covering a wide field was little 
realized by the majority of his acquaintances. It was at his suggestion that there was estab- 
lished in 1909, by the National Academy of Sciences, a medal to be conferred from time to 
time upon men " who can not be classed as eminent scientists, but who are eminent in the 
application of science to the public welfare." His article in the National Geographic Magazine, 
"Revolt of the Uitlanders," was a model of unprejudiced plain speaking and unquestionably 
did much toward clarifying the public mind on a subject concerning which it was at best 
poorly informed. His remark in that connection that "no man of ordinary virtue who does 
not identify himself with the country in which he lives, to whom that country is not a 'home' 
will use his official power . . . for the best interests of the community from which he longs 
to be gone" is worthy of repetition. 

Becker took an ardent and decided stand in the Great War; and though there is found 
little on the subject in his correspondence, it is known that he was thoroughly American in 
thought and action. 

Doctor Becker enjoyed a wide range of acquaintances both among the scientific fraternity 
in America and abroad and what is commonly spoken of as "society," particularly that of 
the higher circles of political life, and around his hospitable table there gathered not only mem- 
bers of the congressional delegations, but the Cabinet, Supreme Court, and foreign legations 
as well. 

Doctor Becker received the degree of Ph.D. (summa cum lauda) from the University of 
Heidelberg in 1869, being, it is said, the first foreign student to attain this distinction, and was 
graduated with high honors from the Royal Academy of Mines of Berlin in 1871. He was an 
original fellow of the Geological Society of America and was president of the same in 1914. 
He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Washington Academy of Sciences, 
the Geological Society of Washington, the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and an 
honorary member of the Geological Society of South Africa. With the exception of the two 
years 1892-1894, when the position was abolished for lack of appropriations, Doctor Becker 
held in the United States Geological Survey, for the entire period from 1880 until his death, 
the position of "geologist in charge." 

He represented the Government in different geological congresses and in the Radioactivity 
Congress in Brussels of 1910. 

Doctor Becker was thrice married. First to Sarah M. Barnes, from whom he was 
legally separated in 1879, and on June 17 of the same year to Alice Theodora Watson, who 
died early in the year following. On February 11, 1902, he was married to Florence Serpell 
Deakins, who survives him. During the later years of his life he suffered severely from asthma 
and its complications, but retained active interest in his work until the last. He died at his 
home in Washington, April 20, 1919, at the age of 72 years. 


Compiled by Isabel P. Evans 


Definition of metallurgy: Min. and Sci. Press, vol. 29, p. 338, Nov. 28, 1874. 


Metallurgical Science: California University Bull. 7, 12 pp., Jan., 1875. 

Silver; the treatment and reduction of ores: Daily Alta California, vol. 27, no. 9056, p. 1, Jan. 18, 1875; also 

Min. and Sci. Press, vol. 30, p. 65, Jan. 30, 1875. 
Gold: Min. and Sci. Press, vol. 30, p. 78, Jan. 30, 1875. 

Steel: Daily Morning Call, San Francisco, vol. 37, no. 69, p. 1, Feb. 7, 1875. 
Quicksilver and fuel: Min. and Sci. Press, vol. 30, pp. 98, 102, Feb. 13, 1875 
The Comstock; a new feature of its formation: Daily Morning Call, San Francisco, vol. 38, no. 141, p. 1, Oct. 

19, 1875. 
Notes on a new feature in the Comstock lode: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 10, pp. 459-462, Dec, 1875. 


Public education and the Carpenter bill: Daily Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, Thursday, Mar. 9, 1876. 
A costly consequence of the Carpenter bill: Daily Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, Tuesday, Mar. 14, 1876. 
The future of the State superintendency : Daily Alta California, Mar. 15, 1876. 


Education; its relation to the State and individual, and its methods: California University Bull. 28, 72 pp., 
Dec, 1877. 


The rainfall in California: California University Bull. 31, 10 pp., Feb., 1878. 

Contribution to the history of spectrum analysis: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 16, pp. 392-393, Nov., 1878. 

Correction for vacuum in chemical analysis: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 16, pp. 265-269, 1 fig., 1878. Also, 

Ueber die Reduction der Wagungen auf den luftleeren Raum bei der chemischen Analyse: Liebig's Annalen, 

Bd. 195, pp. 222-227, pi. 2. fig. 6, 1879. 


[Reconnaissance of the San Francisco, Eureka, and Bodie districts, Nevada]: U. S. Geol. Survey, Clarence' 

King, Director, 1st Ann. Rept., 1879-80, pp. 37-47, Washington, 1880. 
Atomic weight determinations; a digest of the investigations published since 1814: Smithsonian Misc. Coll., 

no. 358, 149 pp., 1880. 
(and Hague, J. D.). Mining industries at the Paris exposition of 1878. Report of the Commissioners, 

vol. 4, pp. 165-361, 1880. 


A summary of the geology of the Comstock lode and the Washoe district: U. S. Geol. Survey, J. W. Powell, 
Director, 2d Ann. Rept., 1880-1881, pp. 291-330, 1882. Abstract, Science, vol. 4, pp. 66-67, 1884. 

Geology of the Comstock lode and Washoe district: U. S. Geol. Survey, Mon., vol. 3, xv, 422 pp., 7 pis., folio 
atlas of 21 sheets, Washington, 1882. 


On the relations of temperature to glaciation: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 26, pp. 167-175, Sept., 1883. 


The influence of convection on glaciation: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 27, pp. 473-476, June, 1884. 

The relations of the mineral belts of the Pacific slope to the great upheavals: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., voL 28, 

pp. 209-212, Sept., 1884. Abstract, Am. Nat., vol. 19, p. 1210, 1885. 
[Notes on California]: Science, vol. 3, p. 665, 1884. 

Geology of quicksilver: U. S. Geol. Survey, Fourth Ann. Rept., pp. 40-41, 1884. 
[U. S. Geological Survey work in California]: Science, vol. 3, p. 665, 1884. 




Notes on the stratigraphy of California: U. S. Geol. Survey, J. W. Powell, Director, Bull. 19, vol. 3, pp. 193-218, 

1885. Abstracts, Am. Nat., vol. 19, pp. 1211-1212, 1885. Am. Jour., Sci. 3d ser., vol. 30, pp. 399-401, 

Report, division of the Pacific: U. S. Geol. Survey, J. W. Powell, Director, 6th Ann. Rept., 1884-85, pp. 67-70, 

Geological sketch of the Pacific division: 10th Census U. S., vol. 13, statistics and technology of the precious 

metals, pp. 5-59, 1885. 
Impact friction and faulting: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 30, pp. 116-128, 194-209, 244-245, Aug.-Sept., 1885. 
The geometrical form of volcanic cones and the elastic limit of lava: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 30, pp. 283-293, 

Oct., 1885. 


A theorem of maximum dissipativity: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 31, pp. 115-120, Feb., 1886. 

A new law of thermo-chemistry : Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 31, pp. 120-125, Feb., 1886; Sci. Am. Suppl., vol. 

21, no. 537, pp. 8575-8576, 1886. 
Cretaceous metamorphic rocks of California: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 31, pp. 348-357, May, 1886. Abstract, 

Am. Nat., vol. 20, pp. 724-725, 1886. 


The Washoe rocks: California Acad. Sci. Bull., vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 93-120, Jan., 1887. Abstracts, Am. Nat., 
vol. 20, p. 1050, 1886; vol. 22, pp. 639-640, 1888; Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 33, pp. 75-76, Jan., 1887. 

The texture of massive rocks: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 33, pp. 50-58, Jan., 1887. Abstract, Pop. Sci. 
Monthly, vol. 31, pp. 425-426, 1887. 

Natural solutions of cinnabar, gold, and associated sulphides: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 33, pp. 199-210, 
Mar., 1887. 

Notes on the relative production and relative value of the precious metals: In E. Atkinson's report upon the 
present status of bimetallism in Europe: U. S. 50th Cong., 1st sess., Sen. Ex. Doc. no. 34, vol. 1, pp. 47-56, 
1887; also report from Consuls of U. S. Dept. State, no. 87, pp. 424-433, Dec, 1887. 

A sketch of the geological development of the Pacific slope: Newport Nat. Hist. Soc, Proc, vol. 5, pp. 3-11, 


Report, California division of geology: U. S. Geol. Survey, J. W. Powell, Director, 7th Rept., 1885-86, pp. 

93-97, 1888. 
Geology of the quicksilver deposits of the Pacific slope: U. S. Geol. Survey, Mon. 13, xix, 486 pp., 7 pis., atlas 

of 14 sheets, folio, 1888. Abstracts, Am. Geol., vol. 5, pp. 178-180, 1890; Am. Nat., vol. 24, pp. 

850-851, 1890; Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 39, pp. 68-69, 1890; Eng. and Min. Jour., vol. 49, pp. 137-138, 



Report, United States Geological Survey, California division of geology: U. S. Geol. Survey, Eighth Report, 

J. W. Powell, pp. 153-155, 1889. 
Report, California division: U. S. Geol. Survey, Ninth Report, J. W. Powell, pp. 100-102, 1889. 
Silicic acids: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 38, pp. 154-157, 1889. 
Summary of the geology of the quicksilver deposits of the Pacific slope: U. S. Geol. Survey, Eighth Rept., 

J. W. Powell, pp. 961-985, Plates 62, 63, 1889. 


An elementary proof of the earth's rigidity: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 39, pp. 336-352, May, 1890. 
Report, California division: U. S. Geol. Survey, Tenth Report, J. W. Powell, pp. 141-144, 1890. Abstract, 
idem, pp. 27-28, 1890. 


Crystalline schists of the Coast Ranges of California: Congress geologique Int., 4th session, London, 1888, 

pp. 170-176, 1891. 
Structure of a portion of the Sierra Nevada of California: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 2, pp. 49-74, Jan. 10, 1891. 

Abstracts, Am. Geol., vol. 7, pp. 201-222, 1890; Am. Nat., vol. 24, p. 276, 1890. 
Antiquities from under Tuolumne Table Mountain in California: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 2, pp. 189-198, 

pi. 7, Feb., 1891. Abstracts, Am. Geol., vol. 7, pp. 132, 258, 1890; Am. Nat., vol. 25, p. 366, 1891. 
Notes on the early Cretaceous of California and Oregon: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 2, pp. 201-206, Feb. 20, 

1891. Abstracts, Am. Geol., vol. 7, p. 258; Am. Nat., vol. 25, p. 365, 1891. 

aca^mv op sciences] BIBLIOGRAPHY 17 


The finite elastic stress-strain function: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 46, pp. 337-356, Nov., 1893. 
Quicksilver ore deposits: U. S. Geol. Survey, Min. Res., 1892, pp. 139-168, 1893. 

Finite homogeneous strain, flow, and rupture of rocks: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 4, 13-90, Jan. 3, 1893. Ab- 
stract, Am. Geol. vol. 11, p. 411, 1893. 
"Potential," a Bernoullian term: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 45, pp. 97-100, Feb., 1893. 
The interior of the earth: North Am. Review, pp. 439-448, Apr., 1893. 
Fisher's new hypothesis: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 46, pp. 137-139, Aug., 1893. 


On certain astronomical conditions favorable to glaciation: Am. Jour. Sci., 3d ser., vol. 48, pp. 95-113, figs. 

1-3, Aug., 1894. Abstract, Am. Geol., vol. 14, pp. 191-192, 1894. 
Sobre la teoria de la sustituci6n en Almaden: Sociedad espafiola de Historia natural, 2d ser., vol. 3 (23), pp. 

1-8, Oct., 1894. 
The genesis of ore deposits [discusses a paper on the same subject by F. Posepny]: Am. Inst. Min. Eng., Trans., 

vol. 23, pp. 602-604, 1894. 


The torsional theory of joints: Am. Inst. Min. Eng. Trans., vol. 24, pp. 130-138, 865-867, 1895. 
Gold fields of the southern Appalachians: U. S. Geol. Survey, 16th Ann. Rept., pt. 3, pp. 251-331, pis. 16-18, 

1895. Abstract, Reconnaissance of the gold fields of the southern Appalachians: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., 

vol. 1, pp. 57-60, Jan., 1896. 
Distribution of gold deposits in Alaska [Read before the Geological Society of Washington, Nov. 13, 1895]: 

Jour. Geol., vol. 3, pp. 960-962, Nov.-Dec, 1895. 


Schistosity and slaty cleavage: Jour. Geol., vol. 4, pp. 429-448, figs. 1-5, May-June, 1896. 

The Witwatersrand and the revolt of the Uitlanders: Nat. Geog. Mag., vol. 7, no. 11, pp. 349-367,4 pis., Nov., 

The gold fields of South Africa: Cosmopolitan Mag., vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 170-174, 3 figs., Dec, 1896. 


The present value of the Witwatersrand: The Economist, London, vol. 55, pp. 4-5, Jan. 2, 1897. 

Some queries on rock differentiation: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 3, pp. 21-40, Jan., 1897. Review by C. F. 

Tolman, jr., Jour. Geol., vol. 5, pp. 393-398, 1897. Abstract, Science, new ser., vol. 4, p. 927, Dec. 18, 

Note on computing diffusion: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 3, pp. 280-286, Apr., 1897. 
Fractional crystallization of rocks: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 4, pp. 257-261, fig. 1, Oct., 1897. 
Lewis on the diamond: Science, new ser., vol. 6, pp. 664—667, Oct. 29, 1897. 
New diamond find in the Transvaal: Science, new ser., vol. 6, pp. 726-727, Nov. 12, 1897. 
Discussion of Dr. Don's paper on the genesis of certain auriferous lodes: Am. Inst. Min. Eng., Trans., vol. 27, 

pp. 998-999, 1897. 
Witwatersrand banket, with notes on other gold-bearing pudding stones: U. S. Geol. Survey, 18th Ann. Rept., 

pt. 5, pp. 153-184, pi. 1, fig. 1, 1897. 


Auriferous conglomerates of the Transvaal: Am. Jour. Sci., 1th ser., vol. 5, pp. 193-208, Mar., 1898. 

Kant as a natural philosopher: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 5, pp. 97-112, Feb., 1898. 

On the determination of plagioclase feldspars in rock sections: Am. Jour. Sci., vol. 5, pp. 349-354, pi. 3, May, 

American treatment of Indians: Manila Times, Dec. 17, 1898. Also, De como tratan a los indios en la America 

del Norte: La Repiiblica Filipina, Mandaloyon, ano 1, no. 78, Dec, 1898. 
The Philippine question: Manila Times, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 1898. 
Territorial government in the United States; Manila Times, Dec, 23, 1898. Also Gobierno territorial de loa 

Estados-Unidos: Repiiblica Filipina, Mandaloyon, ano 1, no. 83, Dec. 23, 1898. 
Free education in the United States: Manila Times, Dec. 27, 1898. Also, Educaci6n libre en los Estados- 
Unidos: La Independencia, periodico filipino, ano 1, no. 93, Dec. 24, 1898. 
[Explicacion de los propositos que animan al Gobierno de Washington respecto al porvenirdel pueblo filipino]: 

Repiiblica Filipina, Mandaloyon, ano 1, no. 87 [p. 1], Dec. 28, 1898. 
Memorandum on the mineral resources of the Philippine Islands: U. S. Geol. Survey, 19th Ann. Rept., pt. 6, 

(cont.) Mineral Resources for 1897, pp. 687-693, 1898. Reprinted in the U. S. 55th Cong., 3d sess., Sen. doc. 

no. 62, pt. 2, pp. 514-518, 1899. 


The Witwatersrand banket, with notes on other gold-bearing pudding stones: Reviewed in Zeit. fur prak. Geol., 

Heft. 6, pp. 212-217, 1898. 
Reconnaissance of the gold fields of southern Alaska, with some notes on general geology: U. S. Geol. Survey, 

18th Ann. Rept., pt. 3, pp. 1-86, pis. 1-31, figs. 1-6, 1898. 


Rights and wrongs in South Africa: The Forum, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 31-37, Mar., 1900. 
Are the Philippines worth having?: Scribner's Mag., vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 739-752, illus., June, 1900. 
Brief memorandum on the geology of the Philippine Islands: U. S. Geol. Survey, 20th Ann. Rept., pt. 2, pp. 
3-7, 1900. 


President McKinley's death; a memorial address: Ticonderoga Sentinel, week of Sept. 15, 1901. 

Conditions requisite to our success in the Philippine Islands: Am. Geog. Soc, Bull., vol. 33, pp. 112-123, Apr., 

Report on the geology of the Philippine Islands, followed by a version of "Ueber Tertiare fossilien von den 

Philippinen" (1895) by K. Martin: U. S. Geol. Survey, 21st Ann. Rept., pt. 3, pp. 493-625, 3 pis., 2 figs., 

1901. Abstract, Am. Geol., vol. 28, pp. 126-127, 1901. 


Project for a geophysical laboratory; appendix I to report of Advisory Committee on Geophysics: Carnegie 
Inst, of Washington, Yearb. no. 1, pp. 44-58, 1903. 


How small an army we need. [Seen only in manuscript — written in 1904 — not found in print.] 
Construction of geophysical laboratory: Carnegie Inst, of Wash., Yearb. No. 2, 1903, pp. 185-194, 1904. 
Experiments on schistosity and slaty cleavage: U. S. Geol. Survey, Bull. No. 241, 34 pp., 7 pis., 1904. 
Present problems of geophysics: Science, new ser., vol. 20, pp. 545-556, Oct. 28, 1904; Eng. and Min. Jour., 
vol. 78, pp. 743-744, Nov. 10, 1904 (in part). Am. Geol., vol. 35, pp. 4-22, Jan., 1905. 


Simultaneous joints: Eng. and Min. Jour., vol. 79, pp. 1182-1184, 9 figs., June 22, 1905. Washington Acad. 

Sci., Proc, vol. 7, pp. 267-275, 1 pi., July 24, 1905. 
A feature of May6n volcano: Wash. Acad. Sci., vol. 7, pp. 277-282, pi. 13, July 24, 1905. 
Introduction to Day and Allen's "Isomorphism and thermal properties of the feldspars": Carnegie Inst., 

Washington, Pub. No. 31, pp. 5-12, 1905. 

(and Day, A. L.) The linear force of growing crystals: Washington Acad. Sci., Proc, vol. 7, pp. 283-288, 

1 fig., July 24, 1905. 

(and Day, A. L.) An interesting pseudosolid: Washington Acad. Sci., Proc, vol. 7, pp. 289-299, pi. 

14, July 24, 1905. 


Present problems of geophysics: Congress of Arts and Science, Universal Exposition, St. Louis, 1904, vol. 4, 
pp. 508-522, 1906. 


Current theories of slaty cleavage: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 24, pp. 1-17, 6 figs., July, 1907. Abstract: 

Science, new ser., vol. 25, pp. 967-968, June 21, 1907. 
Methods of igneous intrusion (abstract) : Science, new ser., vol. 25, p. 622, Apr. 19, 1907. 


Relations of radioactivity to cosmogony and geology: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 19, pp. 113-146, June, 1908. 
Age of a cooling globe in which the initial temperature increases directly as the distance from the surface: 
Science, new ser., vol. 27, pp. 227-233, Feb. 7, p. 392, Mar. 6, 1908. 


Origin of the gold of the Rand gold field: Ec. Geology, vol. 4, pp. 373-384, June, 1909. 

Half a century in geology; progress made since Agassiz discovered glacial period; New York Times, Section of 

Astronomy and Meteorology, Sunday, Dec. 12, 1909. 
(and Van Orstrand, C. E.) Hyperbolic functions: Smithsonian Mathematical Tables, pp. iii-li, 1-321, 

Washington, 1909. 
Relations between local magnetic disturbances and the genesis of petroleum: U. S. Geol. Survey Bull. 401, 

24 pp., 1 pi., 1909. 

academi 0F scences] BIBLIOGRAPHY 19 


Halley on the age of the ocean: Science, new ser., vol. 31, pp. 459-461, Mar. 25, 1910. 
The age of the earth: Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 56, no. 6, pp. 1-28, 1910. 

Reflections on Joly's method of determining the ocean's age: Science, new ser., vol. 31, pp. 509-512, Apr. 1, 


Some new mechanical quadratures: Philos. Mag., vol. 22, pp. 342-353. Aug., 1911. 
A new toy motor: Science, new ser., vol. 34, p. 683, Nov. 17, 1911. 


Biographical notice of Samuel Franklin Emmons: Am. Inst. Min. Eng., Bull. no. 57, pp. 673-691, 1 pi. (port.) 

Sept., 1911; idem, Trans., vol. 42, pp. 643-661, 1 pi. (port.), 1912. 
Major C. E. Dutton [1841-1912]: Am. Jour. Sci., 4th ser., vol. 33, pp. 387-388, Apr., 1912. 
The Gudermannian complement and imaginary geometry: Phil. Mag., vol. 24, pp. 600-608, Oct., 1912. 


Gold production; a discussion of its effects on prices and wages; possibilities of new fields: New York Times 

Annalist, p. 120, Feb. 10, 1913. 
Biographical notice of Samuel Franklin Emmons [reprinted from Am. Inst. Min. Eng., Trans., vol. 42, pp. 

643-661, 1 pi. (port.) 1912]. In Emmons, S. F., Ore deposits, pp. xxix-xlvii, New York, 1913. 
The torsional theory of joints (with discussion by H. M. Home, R. W. Raymond, G. F. Becker, and C. R. 

Boyd) [reprinted from Am. Inst. Min. Eng., Trans., vol. 24, pp. 130-138, 863-867, 1895]. In Emmons, 

S. F., Ore deposits, pp. 92, 104, 1 fig., New York, 1913. 


Note on mean density of fractured rocks: Washington Acad. Sci. Jour., vol. 4, no. 15, pp. 429-431, Sept. 19, 


On the earth considered as a heat engine: Nat. Acad. Sci., Proc, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 81-86, Feb.; no. 4, pp. 257- 

258, Apr., 1915. 
Isostasy and radioactivity: Geol. Soc. Am., Bull., vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 171-204, Mar. 31, 1915; Science, new 

ser., vol. 41, pp. 157-160, Jan. 29, 1915. 


A possible origin for some spiral nebulae: Nat. Acad. Sci., Proc, vol. 2, pp. 1-8, Jan., 1916. 

(and Day, A. L.) Note on the linear force of growing crystals: Jour. Geology, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 313— 

333, 3 figs., May-June, 1916. 
Conservatio virium vivarum: Science, new ser., vol. 43, pp. 743-744, May 26, 1916. 


Mechanics of the Panama Canal slides: U. S. Geol. Survey, Prof. Paper 98, pp. 253-261, 3 figs., 1917. [Sep- 
arate published July 25, 1916.] Abstract, Washington Acad. Sci., Jour., vol. 7, no. 1, p. 13, Jan. 4, 1917. 

20154°— 26 4 

•^rC. fo ra/?vmM - 


Voliome XXI 





R. A. F. PENROSE, Jr. 

Presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1923 


By R. A. F. Penrose, Jr. 1 

John Casper Branner was born at the town of New Market, Jefferson County, Tenn., 
on July 4, 1850. He was the son of Michael T. Branner and Elsie Baker Branner. His family 
were among the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the colonial days. They 
probably came originally from southern Germany or eastern Switzerland before the middle of 
the eighteenth century, and first settled in Pennsylvania. Somewhat later Casper Branner 
moved to Virginia, where in 1760 he received a grant of land in the Shenandoah Valley from 
Lord Fairfax, who had been given large estates in Virginia by Charles II. 2 

The family lived in this region until 1799, when Doctor Branner's great grandfather, 
Michael Branner, moved to Jefferson County, Tenn., and took up lands near the town of 
Dandridge on the Frenchbroad Kiver. He became the progenitor of the Tennessee branch of 
the family, while his brother, John Branner, who remained in the Shenandoah Valley, became 
the progenitor of the Virginia branch of the family. Both branches have multiplied and have 
spread widely through many parts of the United States. Strong, active, and earnest people 
have been characteristic of the family, and many of them have occupied high positions in the 
communities in which they lived. 

In the early childhood of Doctor Branner his family moved from New Market, Tenn., to 
the farms near Dandridge, owned by his father, some miles distant. At that time the country 
was sparsely settled, and books and schools were not numerous. The early education of Doctor 
Branner therefore was confined largely to local schools and to the reading of such books as were 
available. He attended the Maury Academy, about a mile from Dandridge, and later studied 
at what was known as the North Schoolhouse, at a school at Graham's Chapel, and still later 
he attended school at New Market. 

Doctor Branner was naturally of an inquiring disposition, and in the scarcity of books he 
early developed a deep interest in the natural features of the country surrounding him. He 
thus rapidly became familiar with the character of the rocks and of the animals and flowers 
that were found in the neighborhood. This early bringing up in close contact with nature, 
followed later by an education in institutions of high learning, doubtless served to develop 
that remarkable originality and initiative which distinguished him in later life and which pro- 
duced a man who became eminent among the scientists of his generation. In his early days he 
was intended for the ministry and was examined as to his qualifications for it, but he apparently 
never went further in this calling, having decided to devote himself to science. 

In 1866 Doctor Branner went to Maryville College, situated near Knoxville, Tenn., where 
he remained for about two years. At this period the demoralization in the South which followed 
the Civil War reached even to Maryville College; the students became discontented and many 
of them left. Doctor Branner was then 18 years of age, and the new institution known as 
Cornell University had lately been established at Ithaca, N. Y. He was attracted by the 
possibilities for study there, and in 1S69 went to what was known as the Ithaca Academy to 
prepare for the university, which he entered the next year. 

At Cornell, Doctor Branner took up mostly scientific courses, particularly in geology, 
botany, zoology, and other branches of natural science. Here also he had the good fortune to 
meet Prof. Louis Agassiz and Dr. Charles F. Hartt, the latter then professor of geology at 

1 The writer desires to express his sincere appreciation of the information given to himjby Mrs. J. C. Branner in the preparation of this memoir. 
Such assistance has been always willingly granted and has greatly helped the writer in his description of the life work of Doctor Branner. 

1 See " Casper Branner of Virginia and his descendants," by J. C. Branner, Palo Alto, Calif., 1913; also "Address at the reunion of the descend- 
ants of Casper Branner of Virginia, held at the original homestead, near Forestville, Vs., Aug. 30, 1918." Published in Shenandoah Valley, 
New Market, Va., Sept. 5, 1918. (The "New Market," Va., mentioned here should not be confused with the "New Market," Tenn., mentioned 
in the text of this memoir.— Author). 


Cornell. Doctor Hartt had made several trips to Brazil in previous years and had published a 
valuable account of its geology. He finally decided to make another trip into that country 
and invited Doctor Branner to accompany him. Doctor Branner had not yet completed his 
university course, but was much pleased at this opportunity to visit what was then a somewhat 
remote region, and he sailed with Doctor Hartt from New York for Rio de Janeiro in September, 
1874. In later years, on his return to the United States, he received the degree of B. S. from 
Cornell University. 

The expedition to Brazil was of much interest and importance as the beginning of the first 
serious attempt to start systematic geologic work in that country; and it was greatly to the 
gratification of the two explorers that in the following year the Brazilian Government, under 
the Emperor Dom Pedro H, established a department to continue this work under the name of 
Commissao Geologico do Imperio do Brazil. This was due largely to the efforts of Doctor 
Hartt and Doctor Branner, assisted by Brazilian scientists and others interested in this work. 
The new department was under the Ministry of Agriculture, and Doctor Hartt was appointed 
director, with Doctor Branner as assistant. Orville A. Derby, Richard Rathbun, and E. F. 
Pacheco Jordao were also on the same survey. Work was begun in the spring of 1875. 

Doctor Branner's first exploration in Brazil was largely in the coastal region of the State 
of Pernambuco and in the States of Sergipe and Alag6as, as well as on the island of Fernando 
de Noronha, off the coast of Brazil. Large collections of geologic materials were rapidly 
assembled at the headquarters of the Commissao Geologico do Imperio do Brazil in Rio de 
Janeiro, including many cretaceous fossils from Sergipe and Alagoas,, and Doctor Branner 
did much work in systematizing and arranging them. Somewhat later Dr. Charles A. White 
also described some of the fossils. 

In 1876 Doctor Branner returned to the United States, but went to Brazil again within 
a few months. The work of the Commissao Geologico was carried on until the next year, 
when it was discontinued by the Brazilian Government. Doctor Hartt died shortly afterwards. 
In later years other Government organizations were instituted for geologic research' and Doctor 
Branner in some of his subsequent trips to Brazil worked in conjunction with them. 

After the discontinuance of the first survey, however, Doctor Branner accepted a position 
as assistant to James E. Mills, a well-known American mining engineer engaged in operating 
gold mines in the State of Minas Gereas. In this work Doctor Branner rapidly became familiar 
with the older paleozoic rocks of the region and the occurrence of gold and other ores in them; 
but though the scientific results of the work were of much interest, the financial results were 
not equally satisfactory, and in 1880 he returned to New York. 

A few months later, however, he again went to Brazil at the request of Thomas A. Edison, 
the inventor, to search for a vegetable fiber which would add strength to incandescent lights. 
Doctor Branner collected and tested many kinds of bamboo and other fibrous plants through- 
out Brazil and the neighboring countries of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, but only a few 
of them seemed to possess the necessary straight-grained length and hardness desired. More- 
over, when occasionally he found a fiber which might partly answer the purpose it was either 
too difficult to obtain or too rare in its occurrence to use practically. Doctor Branner was a very 
persistent man and was not easily baffled; but though he traveled many thousands of miles in 
this search, he eventually concluded that the bamboos of Japan and China, already known 
to be suitable for the use in question, were usually cheaper and could be more readily obtained 
than those of South America. He returned to New York again in December, 1881. 

In the following year he was commissioned by the United States Department of Agriculture 
to go to Brazil to study the culture of cotton there, and especially the nature of the insects 
injurious to the cotton plant, with a view to securing information which might be useful in 
combatting the destructive insect common in the cotton regions of the United States. Though 
this investigation was the main feature of the trip, yet he also collected much data on insects 
injurious to sugar cane, oranges, and other fruits and plants. 

This work covered a large area of the country, and Doctor Branner and his assistant, 
Albert Koeble, were given every assistance by the Brazilian officials to facilitate their research. 


They found that the same insect which did the greatest damage to cotton in the United States 
existed to a greater or less extent in all cotton-growing regions of Brazil, but that it was par- 
ticularly abundant in certain districts. They made large collections, and in the spring of 1S83 
Doctor Brainier returned to Washington and presented his results to the Department of Agri- 

After this trip Doctor Brainier temporarily ceased his frequent visits to Brazil and 
accepted an appointment on the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania to do topographic mapping 
in the Lackawanna Valley and neighboring country, one of the great anthracite and industrial 
regions of the United States. Prof. J. P. Lesley was director of the survey at that time, and 
his natural genius in topography was an inspiration to Doctor Branner in accomplishing 
similar work not only in Pennsylvania but subsequently in other regions. Doctor Branner 
also made careful observations on the glacial geology of northeastern Pennsylvania, comprising 
the southerly extension of the great glacial region in these parts, a subject of especial scientific 
interest to glacial geologists. 

In the spring of 1885 Doctor Branner was elected professor of geology at Indiana Univer- 
sity, Bloomington, Ind., and in the same year received the degree of Ph. D. from that institu- 
tion. The president at that time was Dr. David Starr Jordan, noted scientist and one of the 
foremost ichthyologists in the world. Through his efforts and those of Doctor Branner the 
university became a center for special instruction and research. Doctor Branner, with his 
wide professional experience and his knowledge of remote regions, gave great effect to this 
movement, particularly in his work and instruction in geology, botany, and entomology; and he 
created a group of enthusiastic young students who later followed him to Arkansas and Cali- 
fornia. During part of this period he was also connected with the United States Geological 

In the spring of 1887, Doctor Branner was appointed State geologist of Arkansas by Gover- 
nor Hughes, a position which he accepted with leave of absence from Lidiana University. One 
of the mam reasons for the creation of the geological survey of Arkansas was the great excite- 
ment over the supposed existence of gold and silver in that State, especially in the Ouachita 
Mountains, which run westward from Hot Springs to what was then the border of Indian 
Territory, but which is now the border of Oklahoma. 

Many companies capitalized at millions of dollars had been formed to work the alleged 
mines. A thorough investigation was made by Doctor Branner and his assistants, and they 
were eventually forced to the conclusion that the mines then known were valueless and the 
few which contained a little gold and silver carried them in such small quantities as to be 
insignificant. This announcement of the first work of the geological survey caused great 
indignation among many of those financially interested in promoting the mines; the State geolo- 
gist was burned hi effigy, and the governor of the State was asked to remove him from office. 
Doctor Branner, however, stood firm, for he knew that he was correct in his conclusions, and he 
ignored the bitter efforts to destroy his professional reputation. Governor Hughes also sup- 
ported him, and the State legislature later indorsed his work and even increased the appropria- 
tion for continuing the survey. As time went on and the views of Doctor Branner were verified, 
the old antagonism was changed to a feeling of remarkable confidence and respect. 

Doctor Branner carried on his active survey in Arkansas for about five years, though he 
continued the work periodically for many years afterwards. It was doubtless the greatest 
accomplishment of his life; and though accompanied with innumerable difficulties and most 
arduous work, the result was well worth his splendid efforts. Fourteen volumes were published, 
and several were prepared but not published on account of lack of funds. They cover the 
paleontology, stratigraphy, petrology, economic geology, and other natural features of the State. 
The mineral resources were carefully investigated and discussed throughout the survey reports, 
but the purely theoretic geology was never forgotten as the economic possibilities were unfolded. 
The survey was thus of great importance from both purely scientific and economic standpoints, 
and when Doctor Branner finally left Arkansas to go to Stanford University his departure was 
regretted by the whole community. 


In some of his later trips to Arkansas after the survey closed he carried on geologic investi- 
gations previously unfinished and produced valuable results, some of which were described 
in various scientific journals and in the publications of scientific societies,. 

Much of the geologic work on the survey was done by Doctor Branner personally, and 
much of it was done under his supervision by geologists whom he had gathered about him from 
different parts of the country and by students who had followed him from Indiana University. 
A remarkable spirit of enthusiasm pervaded them all, and nothing manifested their loyalty to 
their chief more strikingly than when in 1907, many years after the survey had closed, the 
surviving members who had assisted Doctor Branner presented to him a portrait of himself as 
"an expression of their high regard and of their appreciation of his example and inspiritaion as 
a geologist and as a man." In replying to this presentation Doctor Branner said: "To every 
member of that former organization I feel strongly attached. A more loyal and more faithful 
body of men can not be found anywhere. As long as the survey lasted everyone exerted him- 
self to the utmost to do honest scientific work and faithfully to serve the legitimate interest of the 
people of the State; and it is a great pleasure to know that our work in Arkansas is more highly 
thought of by the people of that State as time passes." 

Doctor Branner was offered the professorship of geology at Stanford University in 1891, 
and resigned as State geologist of Arkansas and as professor of geology at Indiana University 
to accept the appointment. The new institution had just been founded and endowed by 
Senator and Mrs. Leland Stanford in memory of their son and only child, Leland Stanford, jr.' 
The president of the university at that time was Dr. David Starr Jordan, with whom Doctor 
Branner had formerly been associated at Indiana University; and in California, just as in 
Indiana, these two men worked together and gathered about them a teaching staff of dis- 
tinguished scholars from all parts of the United States. The result was that Stanford Univer- 
sity rapidly became a recognized institution of advanced learning; in fact, it never went through 
the condition of slow development which has marked many educational institutions, but it 
jumped almost immediately to the first rank, and is to-day everywhere regarded with ad- 
miration and respect. 

Doctor Branner entered upon his duties as professor at Stanford University in the winter 
of 1892, and for over a quarter of a century, both during his official connection with it and 
after his retirement, he was active in its development, displaying the same energy and force 
that he had shown in previous work in other fields. His influence with his students was of an 
intellectual character which was truly astonishing and which impressed all who came in contact 
with him. In 1899 Doctor Branner was made vice president, and in 1913 was made president, 
though he still retained his position as head of the department of geology. In December, 
1915, he retired from the presidency, greatly to the regret of the trustees and faculties, and 
was made president emeritus of Stanford University. In spite of his retirement his interest 
in the welfare of the university was always manifest and always sought. 

In addition to Doctor Branner's educational and administrative work at Stanford, he 
always maintained his active interest in Brazil, and in 1899 he made a trip to that country 
for the purpose of studying the immense ocean reefs lying off the coast of Pernambuco, and of 
distinguishing those composed of sandstone from those of coral origin, a work that had never 
been done before. Doctor Branner had been familiar with this region ever since his early 
days in Brazil with Doctor Hartt, but he had not had an opportunity to study it in detail until 
this trip. The research covered some 1,300 miles of coast line, and a large amount of new 
geologic information was secured. 

Doctor Branner was so deeply interested in exploration in Brazil that every time he visited 
it he found new material or new districts which he desired to investigate on future trips. In 
1907, therefore, he again returned to Brazil in order to study the geology of the black diamond 
districts of the State of Bahia and adjoining regions. His work covered vast areas, not only 
in Bahia but in the States of Alagdas and Sergipe. Many thousands of square miles were 
examined, and the general geology as well as the mineral resources were carefully observed. The 


Brazilian Government had followed these explorations with much interest; and realizing their 
important bearing on the industrial resources of the country, they employed Roderic Crandall, 
Doctor Branner's assistant, to continue the work after the latter had left Brazil. 

Doctor Branner returned to Stanford after about six months' absence, but before long 
his desire to revisit Brazil returned, and in 1911 he started with a new party for the purpose of 
making a study of the geology and biology of the Brazilian coast in the neighborhood of the 
mouth of the Amazon River. Particular attention was given to the study of sea life on both 
sides of the vast volume of fresh water poured out by that river, and especially to its effect 
on the marine migration which moves along the coast from the shores of Pernambuco toward 
the mouth of the Amazon. The haunts and habits of the larger snakes in Brazil were also 
studied in detail and several specimens of boa were secured. In spite of many difficulties, 
various new discoveries were made on this expedition, and a number of important papers on 
special subjects were published. 

In consequence of the numerous trips of Doctor Branner to Brazil the world to-day owes 
to his indefatigable efforts much of its geologic and other scientific knowledge, not only of the 
eastern part of the country in the States of Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, Minas Gereas, 
and Rio de Janeiro, where he did a large part of his work, but also of almost every other part. 
On some of his trips he worked in conjunction with Dr. Orville A. Derby, an American geologist 
who had been engaged in geologic work under the Brazilian Government and under the govern- 
ment of the State of Sao Paulo for many years. Doctor Branner was assisted on some of his 
trips by H. E. Williams, who had been with him on the geological survey of Arkansas, and by 
Roderic Crandall, who had gone to Brazil with him and who in later years continued work 
which Doctor Branner had begun. Others of his own countrymen were also on occasions 
associated with him. 

Doctor Branner was on most cordial terms with the Brazilian geologists, many of whom 
had done excellent scientific work and were always glad to cooperate with him. Some of his 
work was done jointly with them, and the noted Brazilian geologist, Dr. Miguel Arrojado R. 
Lisboa, was among Ids particular friends. Even with the officials of the Empire of Brazil and 
of the United States of Brazil which followed it, he was on terms of intimate good fellowship, 
and nothing illustrates this better than the passage of resolutions of condolence at the time 
of his death by the Chamber of Deputies of the Brazilian Government. 

Doctor Branner throughout his whole career naturally took a great interest in the subject 
of earthquakes, but this interest was much stimulated after the earthquake in California in 
April, 1906. Soon after that calamity he was appointed by Governor Pardee a member of 
the State Earthquake Investigation Commission of California. In addition to this commission 
one of the direct results of the calamity of 1906 was the formation of the Seismological Society of 
America, of which Doctor Branner was one of the charter members. He was president of the 
society from 1910 to 1914, and was chairman of the publication committee from 1911 to 1921. 
In 1915, when widely divergent opinions were being expressed regarding the questions of earth- 
quakes and landslides as affecting the Panama Canal, Doctor Branner was appointed a member 
of a committee of 10 which was commissioned by the United States Government to visit the 
Canal Zone and investigate these matters. 

Most of Doctor Branner's seismological work, however, was done in California and in more 
or less direct connection with the Seismological Society. He was extremely active in all these 
investigations and accomplished important results in collecting data which could be practically 
applied in the limitation, and in some cases the avoidance, of the destruction caused by earth- 
quakes and by the disastrous fires which often follow them as a consequence of broken water 
pipes. His work in this field was one of those remarkable accomplishments resulting from purely 
geologic research that characterized many of his investigations in other subjects. 

Prof. Sidney D. Townley, of Stanford University, who is himself a leader in seismological 
research, in writing of Doctor Branner's connection with the Seismological Society, says, in its 
Bulletin for March, 1922, that "In the death of Doctor Branner, the Seismological Society has 
lost one of its staunchest supporters. He gave liberally of his time, energy, and funds in support 


of seismological projects; he was the founder of the society's Bulletin, and it was he who provided 
the ideas and the ideals, the manuscripts, and the funds for the successful continuance of this 
publication through a difficult period of 10 years; it was he who obtained a gift of $5,000 
for the society, and he who by never-tiring efforts trebled its membership ; it was he who revived 
a nearly defunct society in 1910, and through 10 years of constant effort built up an organization 
of merit, worth, and usefulness." 

After Doctor Branner had retired from the presidency of Stanford University he retained 
his home there and devoted much of his time to work on many scientific problems which his 
busy life had previously prevented him from finishing. During this period he completed a 
geological map of Brazil, which was published largely by the assistance of the Geological Society 
of America, and with the map he wrote explanatory texts both in English and in Portuguese. 
The great amount of geologic detail displayed over vast areas of country in this map is a mute 
but eloquent testimony to the research, the learning, and the untiring efforts of its author. 

Doctor Branner was primarily a geologist, and his work covered a wide field in various 
branches of the earth sciences, including paleontology, stratigraphy, mineralogy, seismology, 
and economics; but he also accomplished important work in entomology, botany, and other 
branches of biology. He was one of the last of the old-time scientists who were learned in 
many branches of natural history, before the extreme specialization of modern times had made 
it necessary for a research worker to confine himself to narrow lines of scientific investigation. 

In addition to his accomplishments as a scientist, he was a linguist of unusual ability, a 
remarkable educator, and a strong leader of men. As a linguist he was learned in both ancient 
andmodernlanguages. Latin and Greek were thoroughly familiar to him; andinmodernlanguages 
he was preeminently a scholar in Portuguese, in which he wrote a grammar for English-speaking 
people, a textbook of geology for the Brazilians, and an explanation of his geologic map of Brazil, 
as well as numerous geologic reports relating to that country. In his later years he translated 
from the Portuguese the History of the Origin and Establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal, 
by Alexandre Herculano. Other modern languages also came easily to him and assisted him 
greatly in his various travels. 

Doctor Branner as an educator achieved remarkable success with the students who studied 
under him. His constant sympathy with them and his interest in their work did much to 
inspire that feeling of affection and loyalty preeminently observable in them. His forceful, 
fearless, and intensely intellectual personality, his wide experience in scientific research in 
many regions, his broad vision not only in his work but in his knowledge of men, gathered around 
him at Indiana University, on the Geological Survey of Arkansas, at Stanford University, and 
on numerous trips to Brazil, a group of followers which was truly wonderful, both in their num- 
bers and in their professional success in later life. His students have spread over almost every 
part of the world, and an unusually large percentage of them have done honor to their instructor 
and chief. As he himself said in later years, in referring to certain honorary recognitions which 
he had received in his profession, the greatest honor of all is that which comes to one from hav- 
ing men "who have been his students doing good and honest work in every quarter of the 

Doctor Branner married, in 1883, Miss Susan D. Kennedy, of Oneida, N. Y., a graduate of 
Vassar College. They had three children, one a daughter, now married, and two sons. They 
all graduated from Stanford University; and his two sons and his son-in-law enlisted as volun- 
teers in the American Army during the recent war with Germany. In a letter to the writer 
shortly afterwards Doctor Branner related how he also had tried to enlist but was not ac- 
cepted on account of age. That never-failing spirit to face boldly and fearlessly whatever 
difficulties fell to his lot was with him to the last. He died on March 1, 1922, in his seventy- 
second year. 

Doctor Branner was a member of numerous scientific societies and had in many cases re- 
ceived distinguished honors from them. He was a member of the National Academy of Sci- 
ences, the American Philosophical Society, the Geological Society of America (president, 1904), 
the Society of Economic Geologists; Seismological Society (president, 1910-1914); American 


Institute of Mining Engineers; Washington Academy of Sciences; London Geological Society; 
Societ6 Geologique de France; Societe Beige de Geologie; Instituto Historico di Sao Paulo; 
Brazil Academy; Institute Historico Geographico do Brazil; and many other scientific organiza- 
tions, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (secretary, 
section E, 1888-9; vice president, 1890; president, Pacific division, 1916; chairman Cordilleran 
section, 1913). He was also an associate editor of the Journal of Geology. 

Among the many scholastic and honorary degrees received by Doctor Branner during his 
career may be mentioned: B. S., Cornell, 1882; Ph. D., Indiana, 1885; LL. D., Arkansas, 1897; 
Maryville, 1909; California, 1915; Sc.D., Chicago, 1916. In 1911 the Hayden medal award 
was conferred upon him by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in recognition of 
his personal contributions to the science of geology. 

The remarkably wide sphere of subjects studied by Doctor Branner, and on which he wrote 
to a greater or less extent, is shown by the following bibliography, comprising over 370 titles, 
arranged chronologically: 



The course and growth of the fibro-vascular bundles in palms. Proceedings of the American Philosophical 

Society, April 18, 1884, Vol. XXI, pp. 459-4S3, 12 figs. 
The poror<5ca or bore of the Amazon. Science, Nov. 28, 1884, Vol. IV, pp. 488-492. Published as separate, 

with additional notes, 4 figs. Boston, 1885. 
Rock inscriptions in Brazil. American Naturalist, Dec, 1884, Vol. XVIII, pp. 1187-1192, 2 figs., 3 plates. 

The separates contain also pp. 1192a and 1192b. 
Preliminary report of observations upon insects injurious to cotton, orange, and sugar-cane in Brazil. U. S. 

Department of Agriculture, Division of Entomology, Bulletin No. 4, pp. 63-69. Washington, 1884. The 

same report reprinted as a separate, Boston, 1884. 
The Batrachichthys. Science, March 28, 1884, Vol. Ill, p. 376, 1 fig. 
Flexible sandstone. American Naturalist, Sept., 1884, Vol. XVIII, p. 927. 
Notes upon the glacial striae observed in Wyoming-Lackawanna region. Lackawanna Institute, Proceedings 

and Collections, 1884, Vol. I, pp. 19-27. 


Inscripc6es em rochedos do Brazil. Translated by Dr. Joao Baptista Regueira Costa and published by the 
Instituto Archeologico e Geographico Pernambucano. 4 plates. Pernambuco, Brazil, 1885. 

Glaciation of the Lackawanna valley. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 
August, 18S5, Vol. XXXIV, pp. 212-214. Abstract, Science, 1885, Vol. VI, pp. 221-222. 

The reputation of the lantern-fly. American Naturalist, Sept., 1885, Vol. XIX, pp. 835-838, 1 fig. 

A Gitiranaboaa. Liberal Mineiro, Ouro Preto, Brazil, Dec. 19, 1885. 

Cotton in the Empire of Brazil; the antiquity, methods, and extent of its cultivation, together with statistics of 
exportation and home consumption. Department of Agriculture, Special Report No. 8, pp. 79. Washing- 
ton, 1885. 

Cotton caterpillars in Brazil. Appendix V, pp. 49-54, of the Fourth Report of the U. S. Entomological Commis- 
sion ... on cotton worm and boll worm. Washington, 1885. 

Poror6ca oder der Zeitstrom am Amazonas Das Ansland, Vol. 58, pp. 11-15, 1885. Zeitschrift fur Schule 
Geographie, Vol. VI, p. 201, 1885. 


Glaciation of the Wyoming and Lackawanna valleys. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Feb. 

19, 1886, Vol. XXIII, pp. 337-357, 2 maps. Abstract, Science, 1886, Vol. VIII, p. 422. 
Geographical and geological exploration in Brazil. American Naturalist, August, 1886, Vol. XX, pp.' 687-690. 
Notes upon a native Brazilian language. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of 

Science, August, 1886, Vol. XXXV, pp. 329-330. 
The thickness of the ice in Northeastern Pennsylvania during the glacial epoch. American Journal of Science, 

Nov., 1886, Vol. CXXXII, pp. 362-366. 
Geological map of Indiana, colored according to the scheme of the International Congress of Geologists, 2x4. 

Indianapolis, 1886. 
Rough notes of lectures on Botany. Indiana University, 1886. 


The railways of Brazil; reprinted from the Railway Age, July 8, 1887, Vol. XII, pp. 470-473, with notes and 
additions, 26 pages, 2 maps. Chicago, 1887. 

Annual report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1887, 15 pages. Little Rock, 1887. 

Additional notes on the lantern-fly of Brazil. Transactions of the New York Academy of Science, Nov. 21, 
1887. Vol. VII, pp. 66-68. 

Notes on the glacial striae observed in the Lackawanna- Wyoming region. Lackawanna Institute of History and 
Science, 1887, Vol. I, pp. 19-27. Scranton, 1887. 

Topographical map in ten-foot contours of a portion of the Lackawanna valley between Scranton and Carbon- 
"■ dale, Lackawanna county, in the Northern Anthracite coal field; scale 1600' = 1". Preliminary topographi- 
cal map, Lackawanna valley sheets, Nos. I and II. Annual Report of the Second Geological Survey of 
jPennsylvania, 1886. Harrisburg, 1887. 




The so-called gold and silver mines of Arkansas; an official report to Governor S. P. Hughes. Arkansas Gazette, 

Little Rock, Aug., 1888. Engineering and Mining Journal, New York, Aug. 18, 1888. 
Notes on the fauna of the islands of Fernando de Noronha. American Naturalist, October, 1888, Vol. XXII, 

pp. 861-871, 2 figs. 
Notes on the Botoeudus and their ornaments. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Nov. 16, 

1888, Vol. XXVI, pp. 171-173, 10 figs. 
The Cretaceous and Tertiary geology of the Sergipe-Alagoas basin of Brazil. Transactions of the American 

Philosophical Society, 1888, Vol. XVI, pp. 369-434, 5 plates, 10 figs., 4to. 
Administrative report and introduction to Report upon Preliminary Examination of the "Geology of Western 

Central Arkansas." (Theodore B. Comstock, 320 pages.) Annual Report of the Geological Survey of 

Arkansas for 1888, Vol. I, pp. xv-xxxi. Little Rock, 1888. 
On the manufacture of Portland cement. Chapter XXIX of Annual Report of the Geological Survey of 

Arkansas for 1888, Vol. II, pp. 291-302. Little Rock, 1888. 
Introduction to "The Neozoic Geology of Southwestern Arkansas." (Robert T. Hill, 260 pages.) Annual 

Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1888, Vol. II, pp. xi-xiv. Little Rock, 1888. 
Introduction to "The Northern Limits of the Mesozoic Rocks in Arkansas." (O. P. Hay, 40 pages.) Annual 

Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1888, Vol. II, p. xiii. Little Rock, 1888. 
Preface to a Preliminary Report upon a Portion of the Coal Regions of Arkansas to "The Geology of the Coal 

Regions." (Arthur Winslow, 122 pages.) Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1SSS, 

Vol. Ill, pp. vii-x. Little Rock, 1888. 
Glaciation: its relation to the Lackawanna- Wyoming valley. Lackawanna Institute of History and Science, 

Vol. I, pp. 3-18, 4 plates. Scran ton (Pa.), 1888. 
Arkansas gold and silver mines; an official report to Governor S. P. Hughes in reply to certain charges. 

Arkansas Democrat, Oct. 18, 1888. Engineering and Mining Journal, Oct. 20, 1888, Vol. XLVI, pp. 

The age and correlation of the Mesozoic rocks of the Sergipe-Alagoas basin of Brazil. Proceedings of the Amer- 
ican Association for the Advancement of Science, 1888, Vol. XXXVII, pp. 187-188. 


Arkansas State Weather Service. Appendix V of the Annual Report of the Chief Signal Officer, 1888, pp. 

72-75. Washington, 1889. 
A preliminary statement of the distribution of coal over the area examined by the Geological Survey (of 

Arkansas). Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Feb., 13, 1889. 
The geology of Fernando de Noronha. American Journal of Science, Feb., 1889, Vol. XXXVII, pp. 145-161; 

map, 7 figs. 
The Convict-island of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha. Popular Science Monthly, May, 18S9, Vol. XXXV, 

pp. 33-40. 
The age and correlation of the Mesozoic rocks of the Sergipe-Alagoas basin of Brazil. Proceedings of the 

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1889, Vol. XXXVII, pp. 187-188. 
The age of the crystalline rocks of Arkansas. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement 

of Science, 1889, Vol. XXXVII, p. 188. 
(With R. N. Brackett.) The peridotite of Pike County, Arkansas. American Journal of Science, 1SS9. 

Vol. CXXXVIII, pp. 50-56, 1 fig., 1 plate. Reprinted in Annual Report of the Geological Survey of 

Arkansas for 1S90, Vol. II, pp. 378-391, 1 fig., 1 plate. Abstract, Proceedings of the American Association 

for the Advancement of Science, 1889, Vol. XXXVII, pp. 188-189; Neues Jahrbuch fur Mineralogie, 

1893, pp. 500-501. 
Analyses of Fort Smith clay shales. Brick, Tile and Pottery Gazette, June, 1889, Vol. X, p. 114. 
Building-stones of Arkansas. Stone, Oct., 1889, Vol. II, pp. 92-93. 
Geology of Arkansas. Abstract of a lecture delivered at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Minutes of the State Teachers' 

Association of Arkansas, pp. 34—38. Little Rock, 1889. 
Clays, Kaolins, and bauxites. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1889, Vol. I, about 

300 pp. (not published). 


Some of the mineral resources of Northwestern Arkansas. Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Jan. 12, 1890; 

Arkansas Press, Jan. 19, 1890. 
Professor Hartt in Brazil. Cornell Magazine, Ithaca, N. Y., Feb., 1890, Vol. II, pp. 1S6-192. 
The training of a geologist. American Geologist, March, 1890, Vol. V, pp. 147-160. 
The aeolian sandstone of Fernando de Noronha. American Journal of Science, April, 1890, Vol. CXXXIX, 

pp. 247-257, 8 figs. 
Geologia de Fernando de Noronha. No. 36 of the Revista do Instituto Archeologico e Geographico Pernam- 

bucano. Pernambuco, Brazil, 1890, pp. 20-21, 1 map, 7 figs. 

academy o F 8c»Nc>8i BIBLIOGRAPHY 11 

The relations of the state and national geological surveys to each other, and to the geologists of the country. 

American Geologist, Nov., 1890, Vol. VI, pp. 295-309; Science, Aug. 29, 1890, Vol. XVI, pp. 120-123; 

Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1891, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 

The poror6ca, or bore, of the Amazon. Popular Science Monthly, Dec, 1890, Vol. XXXVIII, pp. 208-215. 
Solar halos. Science, 1890, Vol. XV, p. 195. 


A preliminary report upon the bauxite deposits of Arkansas, with locations and analyses. Arkansas Gazette, 

Little Rock, Jan. 8, 1891; Arkansas Press, Jan. 12, 1891; Biennial Report of the State Commissioner of 

Mines, Manufactures, and Agriculture for 1893-94, pp. 119-126; Biennial Report of the same for 1895-96, 

pp. 105-112. 
Bauxite in Arkansas. American Geologist, March, 1S91, Vol. VII, pp. 181-183. Science, March 27, 1891, 

Vol. XVII, p. 171. Engineering and Mining Journal (N. Y.), 1S91, Vol. LI, p. 114. 
Introduction to "The Geology of Washington County." (Frederic W. Simonds, 154 pp.). Annual Report of 

the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 18S8, Vol. IV, pp. xi-xiv. Little Rock, 1891. 
(With F. V. Coville.) A list of the plants of Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas 

for 1888, Vol. IV, pp. 155-242. Little Rock, 1891. 
Introduction to "Notes on the Botany of Arkansas." (F. V. Coville, 10 pp.) Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 18S8, Vol. IV, pp. 155-156. Little Rock, 1891. 
Preface to "The Geology of Crowley's Ridge." (R. Ellsworth Call, 283 pp.) Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1889, Vol. II, pp. xi-xix. Little Rock, 1891. This volume also contains short 

articles on "The Relationship of the Pleistocene to the Pre-Pleistocene Formations of Crowley's Ridge 

and Adjacent Areas South of the Limit of Glaciation." (R. D. Salisbury, 24 pp.); on "Description of 

Fossil Woods and Lignites from Arkansas." (F. H. Knowlton, 19 pp.) 
Preface to " Manganese: Its uses, Ores and Deposits." (R. A. F. Penrose, jr., 642 pp.) Annual Report of the 

Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1890, Vol. I, pp. xxiii-xxvii. Little Rock, 1891. 
Preface to "The Igneous Rocks of Arkansas." (J. Francis Williams, 457 pp.) Report of the Geological Survey 

of Arkansas, Vol. II, pp. xi-xv. Little Rock, 1891. This volume also contains an article on " Tabulation 

of the Dikes of Igneous Rock of Arkansas." (J. F. Kemp and J. Francis Williams, 26 pp.). 
Analyses of Hot Springs waters. Report of the Superintendent of the Hot Springs Reservation to the Secretary 

of the Interior, pp. 9-16. Washington, 1891. 
David Starr Jordan, LL.D. (A biographical notice.) The Delta Upsilon Quarterly, New York, May, 1891, 

Vol. IX, pp. 195-198. 
(With James Hall and F. French.) Rapport de la seance du 31 Aout, 1891, sur les gammes coloriages generates. 

V. Congres Geologique International, Washington, 1891, pp. 79-80. 
(With Joseph LeConte and F. French.) Rapport de la seance de cloture du 1" Septembre relative a nomination 

d'une Commission internationale de bibliographie geologique. V. Congres Geologique International, 

Washington, 1891, pp. 81-89. 


The mineral waters of Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. I, 144 

pp., map. Little Rock, 1892. 
The cotton industry in Brazil. Popular Science Monthly, 1892, Vol. XL, pp. 666-674. 
The training of a geologist. Third edition, 19 pp., San Francisco, 1892. 
Preface to "Whetstones and the Novaculites of Arkansas." (L. S. Griswold, 443 pp.) Annual Report of the 

Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1890, Vol. Ill, pp. xv-xviii. Little Rock, 1892. This volume also 

contains short articles on "Geological Age of the Graptolite Shales of Arkansas." (R. R. Gurley, 16 pp.); 

"New Species of Graptolites." (R. R. Gurley, 3 pp.); "The Geological Age of the Rocks of the Novaculite 

Area." (Charles S. Prosser, 5 pp.); "Notes on Lower Carboniferous Plants from the Ouachita Uplift." 

(Charles S. Prosser, 2 pp.) 
Preface to "The Iron Deposits of Arkansas." (R. A. F. Penrose, jr., 153 pp.) Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1892, Vol. I, p. xi. Little Rock, 1892. 
Introductions to papers in "Miscellaneous Reports." Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. II. Little 

Rock, 1892. 
Introduction to "Final Report on the Coal Regions of Arkansas." (Arthur Winslow.) Annual Report of the 

Geological Survey of Arkansas, 1892, Vol. III. (Not published.) 
Introduction to "The Lower Coal Measures of Arkansas." (J. H. Means and G. H. Ashley.) Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1892, Vol. IV. (Not Dublished.) 


The lip and ear ornaments of the Botocudus. Popular Science Monthly, Oct., 1893, Vol. XLIII, pp. 753-757, 

5 figs. 
The supposed glaciation of Brazil. Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. I, pp. 753-772, illustrated. 
Preface to " Marbles and Other Limestones." (T. C. Hopkins, 443 pages.) Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1890, Vol. IV, pp. xvii-xxi. Little Rock, 1893. 


Observations upon the erosion in the hydrographic basin of the Arkansas River above Little Rock. Wilder 

Quarter-Century Book, pp. 325-337. Ithaca, N. Y., 1893. Also separate, Ithaca, N. Y., 1893. 
The coal fields of Arkansas. Mineral Resources of the United States for 1892, pp. 303-306, 1 fig. Washington, 

Proverbs from the Portuguese. The Overland Monthly (San Francisco), May, 1893. Second series, Vol. XXI, 

pp. 501-503. 
A geologica cretacea e tcrciaria da bacia do Brazil Sergipe-Alag6as: Traducgao de Garcia Muniz, 170 pages, 

Aracajii, 1893. (Portuguese edition of the Cretaceous and Tertiary geology of the Sergipe-Alagoas Basin 

without illustrations.) 


Elevations in the State of Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. 

II, pp. 77-152, 2 figs. Little Rock, 1894. 
Observations upon the erosion in the hydrographic basin of the Arkansas River above Little Rock, Annual 

Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1S91. Vol. II, pp. 153-166. Little Rock, 1894. 
Magnetic observations and meridian monuments established in Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. II, pp. 167-176, 10 figs. Little Rock, 1894. 
Introduction to "Preliminary List of the Mollusca of Arkansas." (F. A. Sampson, 17 pp.) Annual Report 

of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1S91, Vol. II, pp. 179-180. Little Rock, 1894. 
Introduction to "Catalogue of the Fishes of Arkansas." (Seth E. Meek, 35 pp.) Annual Report of the Geo- 
logical Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. II, pp. 216-220. Little Rock, 1894. 
Bibliography of the geology of Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1891, 

Vol. II, pp. 319-310. Little Rock, 1894. 
Introduction to and translation of the political constitutions of Brazil. The Convention Manual of the Sixth 

New York State Constitutional Convention, 1894. Part 2, Vol. Ill, Constitution of the Empire, pp. 

57-105. Constitution of the United States of Brazil, pp. 107-138. Albany, 1894. 
Preface to "The Tertiary Geology of Southern Arkansas." (Gilbert D. Harris, 207 pp.) Annual Report of 

the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1S92, Vol. II, pp. xiii-xiv. Little Rock, 1894. 
Report on road-making materials in Arkansas. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Road Inquiry, 

Bulletin No. 4, Washington, 1894. Fourth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Mines, Manufactures and 

Agriculture (of Arkansas) for 1S95-96, pp. 90-101. Little Rock, 1896. Also in Fifth Biennial Report of 

that Bureau for 1897-98, pp. 131-141. 
The geological surveys of Arkansas. Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. II, pp. 826-836. 
The education of a naturalist. Commencement address at Leland Stanford Jr. University, May, 1894. Daily 

Palo Alto, May 30, 1S94. Stanford University, 1894. 
Os gres de eolios de Fernando de Noronha. Instituto Archeologico e Geographico Pernambucano, 8 figs. "Per- 

nambuco, Brazil, 1894. 
Introduction to "Preliminary List of the Myriapoda of Arkansas." (C. H. Bollman, 11 pp.) Annual Report 

of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 189], Vol. II, p. 202. Little Rock, 1894. 
Preface to "The Geology of Dallas County." (C. E. Siebenthal, 42 pp.) Annual Report of the Geological 

Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. II, p. 278. Little Rock, 1894. 
"The Geology of Benton County," by Frederic W. Simonds and T. C. Hopkins, 75 pp. Annual Report of 

the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1891, Vol. II. Little Rock, 1894. (J. C. Branner, Director.) In- 
troduction missing. 


(With John F. Newsom.) Syllabus of lectures on economic geology. Palo Alto, May, 1895, p. 282. 

(With John H.' Means.) Great mountain railways. The Chautauqua, July, 1895, pp. 426-433. 

Report upon the condition of the Geological Survey of Arkansas. Appendix to the Biennial Message of Gov- 
ernor Wm. M. Fishback to the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas, 1895, pp. 26-33. 

Decomposition of rocks in Brazil. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 1895, Vol. VII, pp. 255- 
314. Plates. 


Our trade with South America. The Argonaut, San Francisco, Jan. 13, 1896. 

Decomposition of rocks in Brazil. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 1895-96, Vol. VII, pp. 

255-314, 5 plates, 6 figs. 
Thickness of the Paleozoic sediments in Arkansas. American Journal of Science, New Haven, Sept., 1896, 

Vol. II, pp. 229-236, S figs. 
Bibliography of clays and the ceramic arts. Bulletin 143 of the U. S. Geological Survey, 114 pp. Washington, 

Review of "The Soil, by F. H. King." Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. IV, p. 243. 
The decomposition of rocks in Brazil. Editorial in Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. IV, pp. 630-631. 
On the size of geologic publications. Editorial in Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. IV, pp. 214-217. 
A supposta glaciagao do Brazil. Revista Brazileira, April, 1896. Vol. VI, pp. 49-55, pp. 106-113. Rio de 

Janeiro, Brazil, 1S96. 


The study of Science. (Part of a lecture delivered at the Mount Tamalpais Military Academy.) Overland 

Monthly, San Francisco, Oct., 1S96, Educational Department, pp. 26-30. 
Abstract of "Oldest Fossiliferous Beds of the Amazon Region, by F. Katzer." Journal of Geology, Vol. IV, 

pp. 975-976. Chicago, 1S96. 
Review of the proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Sciences, geological subjects. Journal of Geology, Vol. 

IV, p. 981. Chicago, 1896. 

A preliminary report upon the bauxite deposits of Arkansas, with locations and analyses. Biennial Report 
State Commissioner of Mines, Manufactures and Agriculture for 1895-96, pp. 105-112. 

Report on road-making materials of Arkansas. Fourth Biennial Report, Bureau of Mines, Manufactures and 
Agriculture (of Arkansas) for 1895-96. 1890, pp. 90-101. 


Note on "O fim da creacao, pelo Visconde do Rio Grande." Revista Brazileira, Aug., 1897, pp. 254-255, Rio 
de Janeiro, Brazil; also in Annuario do Rio Grande do Sul parar o anno de 1898, pp. 261-265. Porto 
Alegre (Brazil), 1897. 

Bacteria and the decomposition of rocks. American Journal of Science, 1897, Vol. CLIII, pp. 438-442, and as 
separate; abstract Neues Jahrbuch fiir Mineralogie, 1899, Vol. II, Referate, 84. 

The bauxite deposits of Arkansas. Journal of Geology, April-May, 1897, Vol. V, pp. 263-289, 2 plates, 2 figs. 
Also as separate with 10 pp. additional matter, Chicago, 1897. 

(With J. F. Newsom.) The Red River and Clinton monoclines. American Geologist, July, 1897, Vol. XX, 
pp. 1-13, 1 map and 3 figs. ; and separate. 

Protection for American colleges. The Nation, New York, May 27, 1897, p. 395. 

The introduction of new terms in geology. Science, June 11, 1897, Vol. V, pp. 912-913; Science, July 23, 1897, 
Vol. VI, pp. 133-134. 

Mineral Wealth of Arkansas. Engineering and Mining Journal, Aug. 7, 1897, p. 153. 

Geology in its relations to topography. Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Oct., 1897, 
Vol. XXIII, No. 8, pp. 473-495; 1 plate, 16 figs. 

Introduction to Ashley's "Geology of the Paleozoic Area of Arkansas South of the Novaculite Region." Pro- 
ceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1897, Vol. XXXVI, pp. 217-220. 

The former extension of the Appalachians across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. American Journal of 
Science, Nov., 1897, Vol. CLIV, pp. 357-371, 2 figs. Abstract in Report of the British Association for the 
Advancement of Science, Toronto meeting, 1S97, pp. 643-644; Annales de Geographie, 7me Annee, Sept. 
15, 1898, pp. 245-246; Nature, Nov. 18, 1897, Vol. LVII, p. 70; Journal of Geology, Oct.-Nov., 1897, Vol. 

V, pp. 750-760. 

On the reporting of values to land owners by the State Geologist of Arkansas. Hot Springs News, July 12, 

Review of "The Bedford Oolitic Limestone of Indiana. By T. C. Hopkins and C. E. Siebenthal, in 21st Annual 

Report State Geologist of Indiana." Journal of Geology, July-Aug., 1897, Vol. V, pp. 529-531. 
The lost coal report of the Arkansas survey. Letter of Aug. 21, 1897. Batesville Guard, Sept. 3, 1897. 
Review of the "Unpublished Reports of the Commisao Geologica do Brazil," Published in the Boletim do 

Museu Paraense. Journal of Geology, Oct.-Nov., 1897, Vol. V, pp. 756-757. 
Review of Katzer's "Devonian fauna of the Rio Maecuru," published in the Boletim do Museu Paraense. 

Journal of Geology, Vol. V, pp. 757-758. Chicago, 1897. 
The phosphate deposits of Arkansas. Colliery Guardian, Vol. 73, 1897, pp. 65-66. 


Geology in its relation to topography (with discussion) . Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, 

June, 1898, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 53-95, 2 plates, 16 figs. 
(With O. A. Derby.) On the origin of certain siliceous rocks. Journal of Geology, May-June, 1898, Vol. VI, 

pp. 366-371. Abstract Neues Jahrbuch fur Mineralogie, 1900, Vol. I, p. 408. 
A geologist's impression (of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and Black Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona). Land 

of Sunshine Magazine, Aug., 1898, Vol. LX, pp. 149-152, illustrated. 
The Spanish University of Salamanca. San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 1898, p. 12, illustrated. Maryville 

College Monthly for 1898, Maryville, Tenn. 
Syllabus of elementary geology. 300 pp., 18 plates and 51 figs. Stanford University, 1898. 
Review of "Earth Sculpture, by James Geikie. The Science Series, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1898." 

Science, Dec. 30, new series, Vol. VIII, pp. 957-959. 
Report on road-making materials in Arkansas. Fifth Biennial Report, Bureau of Mines, Manufactures and 

Agriculture (Arkansas). 1897-1898, pp. 131-141. 


Some old French place names in the State of Arkansas. Modern Language Notes, Feb., 1899. Vol. XIV, 
No. 2, pp. 65-80. (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.) 
20154°— 26— 5 


Review of "Volcanoes (Science series), by T. G. Bonney." San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 1899. 

The recent ascent of Itambe. National Geographic Magazine, Vol. X, p. 183. Washington, 1899. 

Notes upon the Sao Paulo sheet of the Commissao Geographica e Geologica de Sao Paulo, published in the 

Revista Brazileira, Rio de Janeiro, 1S99. Vol. XIX, pp. 111-114; republished in the Cidada de Santos, 

Santos, Brazil. Jan. 10, 1900. 
The Sao Paulo sheet of the topographic survey of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Journal of Geology, Vol. VII, pp. 788-789. 

Chicago, 1899. 
(With C. E. Oilman.) The stone reef at the mouth of Rio Grande do Norte. American Geologist, Dec, 

1899, Vol. XXIV, pp. 342-344, 2 figs. 

Note upon "The Upper Silurian fauna of the Rio Trombetas, State of Para, Brazil, and Devonian mollusca of 
the State of Pard, Brazil, by John M. Clarke." Archivos do Museu Nacional, Vol. X, pp. 1-48, 49-174. 
Journal of Geology, Nov.-Dec, 1899, Vol. VII, pp. 813-814. 


A recife de pedra na foz do Rio Grande do Norte. Por J. C. Branner e C. E. Gilman. Traduzido por Dr. 

Alfredo de Carvalho. Revista do Rio Grande do Norte, 1900, Nos. 1, 2, Natal, Jan. e Fev., 1900, pp. 

Gold in Brazil. Mineral Industry for 1899, Vol. VIII, p. 281. New York, 1900. 
Diamonds in Brazil. Mineral Industry for 1899, Vol. VIII, pp. 221-222. New York, 1900. 
Ants as geologic agents in the tropics. Journal of Geology, Chicago, Feb.-March, 1900, Vol. VIII, pp. 151-153, 

3 figs. 
(With J. F. Newsom.) Syllabusof economic geology, second edition, 368 +viii pp., 141 figs. Stanford University, 

1900. (March 15th.) 

South America. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 10th edition. Supplement, 1902. (Article written in 1900.) 
Review of "A Preliminary Report on the Geology of Louisiana. By G. D. Harris and A. C. Veatch." Journal 

of Geology, Chicago, April-May, 1900, Vol. VIII, pp. 277-279. 
Two characteristic geologic sections on the northeast coast of Brazil. Proceedings of the Washington Academy 

of Science, Aug. 20, 1900, Vol. II, pp. 185-201, 3 plates, 5 figs. 
The origin of the beach cusps. Journal of Geology, Chicago, Sept.-Oct., 1900, Vol. VIII, pp. 481-484, 3 figs. 
The zinc and lead region of North Arkansas. Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas, Vol. V, 

395 + xiv pp., 38 page plates, 92 figures in the text, and geologic atlas of 7 sheets. Little Rock, December, 

1900. Reviewed by C. R. Keyes, Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. IX, pp. 634-636. 
O mappa topographico do Estado de Sao Paulo. Revista Brazileira, Vol. XIX, pp. 111-114, 1899. Republished 

in the Cidade de Santos, Santos, Brazil, Jan. 10, 1900. 
Results of the Branner-Agassiz expedition to Brazil, Vol. IV. Two characteristic geologic sections on northeast 

coast of Brazil. Proceedings of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Aug. 20, 1900, Vol. 2, pp. 185-201. 


Review of "A record of the geology of Texas, etc. By F. W. Simonds." Journal of Geology, Chicago, Vol. 

IX, p. 91. 
Review of "Geologie et mineralogie appliquees. Par Henri Charpentier. Paris, 1900." Journal of Geology, 

Feb.-Mar., 1901, Vol. IX, pp. 198-199. 
Os recifes de gres do Rio Formoso (Brazil). Revista do Instituto Archeologico e Geographico Pernambucano, 

No. 54, pp. 131-136, illustrated. Pernambuco, 1901. 
The origin of travertine falls. Science, Aug. 2, 1901, Vol. XIV, pp. 184-185. 
The zinc and lead deposits of North Arkansas. Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, 

27 illustrations, 32 pages, Vol. XXXI, pp. 572-603. Republished in Lead and Zinc News of St. Louis, Mo., 

Vol. II, Nov. 4, 1901, pp. 4-6; Nov. 11, 1901, pp. 4-6; Nov. 18, 1901, pp. 4-6; Nov. 25, 1901, pp. 4-5. 

Republished in Arkansas Democrat (semi-weekly). Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 24, 1901; Dec. S, 1901; Dec. 

22, 1901; Dec. 29, 1901. Abstract: Engineering and Mining Journal, New York, Nov. 30, 1901, pp. 718-719, 

Editorial upon giant ripples. Journal of Geology, Chicago, Sept.-Oct., 1901, Vol. IX, pp. 535-536. 
The phosphate rocks of North Arkansas. Arkansas Democrat, Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 3, 1901. Harrison 

Times, Jan. 18, 1902. 
Apontamentos sobre a fauna das Ilhas de Fernando de Noronha. Publicagao do Instituto Archeologico e 

Geographico Pernambucano. 14 pp., 2 figs.; 8vo. Pernambuco, 1901. 
The oil-bearing shales of the coast of Brazil. 1900. Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engi- 
neers, 1901, Vol. XXX, pp. 537-554. 


Depressions and elevations of the southern archipelagoes of Chile. By Francisco Vidal Gormaz. From the 
Revista Nueva of Santiago de Chile, 1901. Translation and introduction by J. C. Branner. Scottish 
Geographical Magazine, Edinburgh, Scotland, January, 1902, Vol. XVIII, pp. 14-24, 1 map. Edinburgh, 


Notes upon the surface geology of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. By James E. Mills. Edited from his letters by 

J. C. Branner. American Geologist, February, 1902, Vol. XXIX, pp. 126-127. 
The occurrence of fossil remains of mammals in the interior of the States of Pernambuco and Alagoas, Brazil. 

American Journal of Science, Feb., 1902, Vol. CLXIII, pp. 133-137; 1 map, 1 half-tone plate. 
Geology of the northeast coast of Brazil. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Rochester, Vol. XIII, 

pp. 41-98, 16 figs., 9 plates. 
The palm trees of Brazil. Popular Science Monthly, New York, Vol. LX, pp. 386-412, 25 figs. 
Discussion of Eric Hedburg's paper on "The Missouri and Arkansas Zinc Region." Transactions of the Ameri- 
can Institute of Mining Engineers, Vol. XXXI, pp. 1013-1014. 
(With J. F. Newsom.) The phosphate rocks of Arkansas. Bulletin 74, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment 

Station, Professor R. L. Bennett, Director, pp. 59-123. Fayetteville, Ark., Sept., 1902. 23 figures in 

text; 15 analyses. 
Review of "The Scenery of England and the Causes to which it is due. By the Right Hon. Lord Avebury. 

New York. The Macmillan Co., 1902." San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 1902. 
Review of the "History of Geology and Paleontology. By Karl von Zittel. London and New York, 1902." 

San Francisco Chronicle, May 11, 1902. 
Review of "The Earth's Beginning. By Sir Robert Stawell Ball. Appleton & Co., 1902." San Francisco 

Chronicle, June 22, 1902. 
Syllabus of a course of lectures on elementary geology. Second edition, 370 pp., 109 figs., 25 plates. Stanford 

University, 1902. 
The Carnegie Institution. Science, New York, Oct. 3, 1902, New series, Vol. XVI, pp. 527-528. 
South America. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 10th ed. Supplement. London, 1902, pp. 365-370. 


Geologia de Pernambuco. Traduzido do Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. XIII. Par 

Alfredo de Carvalho. Revista do Instituto Archeologico e Geographico Pernambucano, Vol. X, No. 58, 

pp. 381-402; No. 59, pp. 507-525. 1903. 
Da occurrencia de restos de mammiferos fosseis no interior dos Estados de Pernambuco e Alagoas. Traduzido 

do American Journal of Science, Vol. XIII. Par Alfredo de Carvalho. Revista do Instituto Archeologico 

e Geographico Pernambucano, Vol. X, pp. 219-224. 1903. 
Notes on the geology of the Hawaiian Islands. American Journal of Science, Oct., 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 301-316. 
Topographic feature of the hanging valleys of the Yosemite. Journal of Geology, 1903, Vol. XI, pp. 547-553. 
From school to college. San Jose. Muirson and Wright, 1903. 21 pp. 
Is the peak of Fernando de Noronha a volcanic plug like that of Mount Pelee? Illustrated. American Journal 

of Science, Dec, 1903, Vol. XVI, pp. 442-444. 
A bibliography of the geology, mineralogy, and paleontology of Brazil. ~ Archivos do Museu Nacional do Rio 

de Janeiro, 1903. Vol. XII, pp. 197-309. 
Review of "Ensayo de una bibliografia hist6rica i Geogrdfica de Chile. Par Nicolas Anriqua R. i L. Ignacio 

Silva. A." Journal of Geology, Vol. X, p. 921. 1903. 
The necessity of common roads in the zinc region of north Arkansas. The Lead and Zinc News, St. Louis, 

1903. Vol. V, 3 pp. 

The coal lands of western Arkansas. Fort Smith Daily News Record, Aug., 1903r 


Memoir of James E. Mills (with bibliography). Proceedings of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Geological 
Society of America, 1902-03. Reprint from Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 1903-04, Vol. 
XIV, pp. 512-517. 

Notas para a geologica do Rio Grande do Norte. Traduzidas pelo Alfredo de Carvalho. Revista do Instituto 
Historico e Geographico do Rio Grande do Norte, Vol. II, pp. 239-248. 1904. 

Outline of the genealogy of the first four generations of the Branner family in Virginia. Reprint from "Shen- 
andoah Valley," New Market, Virginia, Dec. 1, 1904. Also separate. 

Science in the South: An Address before the University of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Index, Fifth 
series, 1904. Vol. I, 14 pp. 

The stone reefs of Brazil, their geological and geographical relations, with a chapter on the coral reefs. Bulletin 
of Harvard College Museum of Comparative Zoology. May, 1904, Vol. XLIV, 285 pp. 

Review of "Grundzuge der Geologie des unteren Amazonas gebietes, by F. Katzer." Journal of Geology, 

1904, Vol. XII, p. 278. 

Geology in its relation to topography, in "The Field Practice of Railway Location, by Willard Beahan." 
(Engineering News Publishing Company), Chapter V, pp. 116-141. New York, 1904. 

Does poverty help or hinder a young man? Address to the students of Maryville College. Maryville College, 
No. 6, 1904, pp. 9-10. 



From school to college. Stanford University Press, 1905. No. II, 18 pp. 

From school to college. Stanford University, 1905. Address to the students of Stanford University, Sept. 6, 

1905. No. Ill, 23 pp. 

Extract from letter to Dr. Paulo Pessoa on Notilops Brama. Jornal do Commercio, April 7, 1905. 

Natural mounds of "Hog Wallows." Science, March, 1905, Vol. XXI, pp. 514-516. 

Omission of titles of addresses on scientific subjects. Nature, Sept., 1905, Vol. LXXII, p. 534. 

Stone reefs on the northeast coast of Brazil. Presidential Address before the Geological Society of America. 

Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Jan., 1905, Vol. XVI, pp. 1-12. 
Translation of "The geology of the diamond and carbonado washings of Bahia, Brazil, by O. A. Derby." 

Economic Geology, Nov.-Dec, 1905, Vol. I, pp. 134-142. 
Abstracts of " G6osynclinaux et regions a tremblements de terre." Par F. de Montessus de Ballore. Bulletin 

of Societe" Beige de G6ologie, Vol. XVIII, 1905, pp. 243-267. Journal of Geology, 1905, Vol. XIII, pp.' 

Introduction to the "Miocene foraminifera of California." By Rufus M. Bagg, jr. United States Geological 

Survey, Bulletin No. 268, 1905. 


Review of Becker and Day's "Linear force of growing crystals." Journal of Geology, 1906, Vol. XIV, pp. 

Review of " A register of national bibliography. By W. P. Courtney." Journal of Geology, 1906, Vol. XIV, 

p. 254. 
Movements on the fault line. Daily Palo Alto Times, May 1, 1906. 
Address delivered on the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Maury Academy at Dandridge, Tennessee, 

May, 1906. Knoxville, 1906, 18 pp. 
The San Francisco earthquake from the geologists point of view. The Pacific Monthly, June, 1906. 
Geology and the earthquake. Out West, June, 1906, pp. 513-518. 

The surface features of the State of Arkansas. University Publishing Company, N. Y., 1906, 16 pp. 
Review of "Geology. By T. C. Chamberlin and R. D. Salisbury." Science, 1906, Vol. XXIV, pp. 462-465. 
The relations of the drainage of the Santa Clara valle} 7 , California, to that of the Pajaro river. Abstract of a 

paper read before the Geological Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at 

the Ithaca meeting. Science, 1906, Vol. XXIV, pp. 369-370. 
Diamantina, Brazil. A letter. Engineering and Mining Journal, 1906, Vol. LXXXII, p. 747. 
Correspondence relating to the survey of the coal fields of Arkansas. Science, 1906, Vol. XXIV, pp. 532-537. 
The policy of the U. S. Geological Survey and its bearing upon science and education. Science, 1906, Vol. 

XXIV, pp. 722-728. 
The university training of engineers in economic geology. Economic Geology, 1905-06, Vol. I, pp. 289-294. 
Bibliography of clays and the ceramic arts. Second edition. American Ceramic Society, Columbus, Ohio, 

1906. 451 pp. 

Geologia elementar preparada con referenda especial aos estudantes brazileiros. Rio de Janeiro, 1906. 305 pp. 
Review of "Les tremblements de terre et les systemes de deformation tetraedrique de l'ecorce terrestre. Par 

F. de Montessus de Ballore." Anales de Geographie, 1906, Vol. XV. Journal of 'Geology, 1906, Vol. 

XIV, pp. 161-162. 
Portions of the report of the State earthquake commission upon "The California earthquake of April 18, 1906." 

Carnegie Institution, Publication No. 87. Washington, 1908. 
Isoseimals: Distribution of apparent intensity. Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission 

on the California Earthquake of April 18, 1906. Vol. I, p. 255. 


A drainage peculiarity of the Santa Clara valley affecting fresh water faunas. Journal of Geology, Jan.-Feb.; 

1907. Vol. XV, pp. 1-10. Map. 

Geology and the earthquake. The California Earthquake of 1906. Edited by David Starr Jordan, 1907. 

pp. 63-77. 
Earthquake of the 18th. Sierra Educational News and Book Review, March, 1907. Vol. Ill, 12 pp. 
The New Geological Survey of Brazil. Science, March, 1907, Vol. XXV, pp. 510-513. 
Geology in its relation to topography. Third edition of the article in Beahan's "Field Practice of Railway 

Location." First edition, 1904, pp. 115-141. 1907. 
Una mina salgada. The salting of the Sao Cyriaco mine in Minas Geraes. Jornal dc Commercio, Rio de 

Janeiro, Aug. 20, 1907. 


Annie Law and Fannie Law Andrews. Maryville College Monthly, Dec, 1908. Vol. XI, pp. 61-68. 
Bibliography of the geology of Brazil. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 1908. 19 pp. 
The Bogoslof Islands. Science, 1908, Vol. XXVIII, p. 480. 
The clays of Arkansas. U. S. Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 351, 1908. 247 pp. 


(With A. C. Lawson, G. K. Gilbert, H. F. Reid, etc.) The California earthquake of April 18, 1906. Report 

of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission. Carnegie Institution, Publication No. 87, 1908. Vol. I, 

pp. 104-111; 255-279; 281-284; 287-290; 292-299; 306-309; 311-313; 316-319; etc. 
(With David Starr Jordan.) The cretaceous fishes of Ceara, Brazil. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 1908. 

Vol. LII, Part I, pp. 1-29. 
The geography of Bahia. Boletim da sociedade geographica de Rio de Janeiro, 1908. 
Lista de altitudes no estado da Bahia. Ministerio de Viagao e Obras Publicas. Rio de Janeiro, 1908. 
Lo3'alty: An address to the students of Stanford University, Sept. 8, 1908. The Stanford Alumnus, 1908, pp. 

9-13. Popular Science Monthly, Dec, 1908, Vol. LXXIII, pp. 549-553. 
Manganese deposits of Morro da Mina, Brazil. Engineering and Mining Journal, Dec. 190S, Vol. LXXXVI, 

pp. 1196-1197. 
Ralatorio sobre a geologia dos estados da Bahia, Sergipe e Alagoas. Report to the Brazilian Secretary of Public 

Works. Rio de Janeiro, 1908. 
Syllabus of a course of lectures on elementary geology. Third edition. Stanford University, 1908. 434 pp. 
The Delos Arnold collection of natural history specimens. Science, 1908, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 717-718. 
Ibid. Popular Science Monthly, 1908, Vol. LXXIII, pp. 549-553. 
The United States Geological Survey. Letter signed "Geologist." Engineering and Mining Journal, 190S, 

Vol. LXXXVI, p. 1066. 
(With R. Crandall and H. E. Williams.) Mappa de parte dos Estados da Bahia, Pernambuco, Piauhy e dos 

Estados de Sergipe e Alag6as. Escala 1: 2,000,000. 1908. Reproduzido pela Inspectoria de Obras contra 

as Seccas. Ministerio de Viagao e Ouras Publicas. 1908. 


Bibliography of the geology of the State of Arkansas. Geological Survey of Arkansas, 1909, Annual Report, 

pp. 97-164. 
Bibliography of the geology, mineralogy and paleontology of Brazil. Bulletin of the Geological Society of 

America, Feb., 1909, Vol. XX, pp. 1-132. 
The economic geology of the diamond-bearing highlands of the interior of the State of Bahia, Brazil. Engineering 

and Mining Journal, May 15 and 22, 1909, Vol. LXXXVII, pp. 981-987; 1031-1033. Also published as a 

separate, New York, 1909. 
Review of "Los temblores en Chile, by M. R. Machado." Journal^ of Geology, Sept.-Oct., 1909, Vol. XVII, 

pp. 586-587. 
(With R. Crandall.) O problema das seccas do Norte do Brazil. Boletim do Ministerio da Industria, Viagao 

e Obras Publicas. Rio de Janeiro. No. I, pp. 83-110. 1909. 
Some facts and corrections regarding the diamond region of Arkansas. Engineering and Mining Journal, Feb., 

1909, Vol. LXXXVII, pp. 371-372. 

Relatorio preliminar sobre os resultados das exploracoes no interior do Estado da Bahia, apresentado ao Exmo. 

Sr. Dr. Jose Marcellino de Souza, D. C, Governador do Estado da Bahia, 17 de Julho de 1909. Rio de 

Janeiro. Published in Boletim da Directoria da Agriculture, Viagao e Obras Publicas do Estado da Bahia. 

pp. 105-108. 1909. 
(With J. F. Newsom and Ralph Arnold.) Santa Cruz folio, California. United States Geological Survey, Folio 

163, 1909. 


A brief grammar of the Portuguese language, with exercises and vocabularies. (Henry Holt & Company). 

1910. 268 pp. 

Review of "A college text-book of geology. By T. C. Chamberlin and R. D. Salisbury." Science, Jan., 1910, 

Vol. XXXI, pp. 146-147. 
Education for economic efficiency. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Conference for Education in the South. 

1910. pp. 196-209. 
The geology and topography of the Serra de Jacobina, State of Bahia, Brazil. American Journal of Science, 

Dec, 1910, Vol. XXX, pp. 385-392. 
Geology of the coast of the State of Alagoas, Brazil. Annals of the Carnegie Museum, 1910, Vol. VII, Part I, 

pp. 5-22. Illustrated plates. 
The geology of the Serra do Mulato, State of Bahia, Brazil. American Journal of Science, Oct., 1910, Vol. 

XXX, pp. 256-263. 
Slates of Arkansas. By A. H. Purdue, with a bibliography of the geology of Arkansas by J. C. Branner. Geologi- 
cal Survey of Arkansas, 1910. 170 pp. Illustrated maps. 
The tombador escarpment in the State of Bahia, Brazil. American Journal of Science, Nov. 1910, Vol. XXX, 

pp. 335-343. 
Outline of the geology of the black diamond region of Bahia, Brazil. Proceedings of the Australian Association 

for the Advancement of Science, Section C, 1910, Vol. XII, pp. 324-328. 
The luminosity of termites. Science, 1910, Vol. XXXI, pp. 24-25. 
Earthquakes in Brazil. Journal of Geology, 1910, Vol. XVIII, pp. 327-335. 


Geologic work of ants in tropical America. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 1910, Vol. XXI, 
pp. 449-490. Same condensed. Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1911, pp. 303-333. 
Illustrated, 1 plate. 


The aggraded limestone plains of the interior of Bahia and the climatic changes suggested by them. Bulletin 
of the Geological Society of America, May, 1911, Vol. XXII, pp. 187-206. 

Comparison of the effects of the earthquakes of Mendoza, Valparaiso, Kingston, and San Francisco. Bulletin 
of the Seismological Society of America, 1911, Vol. I, pp. 23-27. 

The minerals associated with diamonds and carbonados in the State of Bahia, Brazil. American Journal of 
Science, June, 1911, Vol. XXXI, pp. 480-490. 

Methods of geologic investigation and publication. Economic Geology, Jan.-Feb., 1911, Vol. VI, pp. 73-75. 

South America. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh edition, 1911. Vol. XXV, pp. 485—489. 

Suggested organization for seismological work on the Pacific Coast. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of 
America, March, 1911, Vol. I, pp. 5-8. 

(With J. F. Newsom.) Syllabus of a course of lectures on economic geology. Third edition. Stanford Uni- 
versity, 1911. 503 pp. 

Reviews of seismological literature. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1911, Vol. I, pp. 23-27. 

Impressions regarding the relations of surface geology to intensity in the Mendoza, Valparaiso, Kingston, and 
San Francisco earthquakes. Stanford University. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 

1911, Vol. I, pp. 38-43. 

The geography of northeastern Bahia. Geographical Journal (Royal Geographical Society), 1911, Vol. 

XXXVIII, pp. 139-152; 256-269. 
Miguel A. Lisboa and Eugene Hussak. Translated from the Portuguese by J. C. Branner. Journal do Com- 

mercio, Rio de Janeiro, Oct. 7, 1911. 


The boundaries and area of the Niles cone. The future water supply of San Francisco. Oct., 1912. pp. 

An early discovery of fuller's earth in Arkansas. Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, 

1912, Vol. LXVII, pp. 747-750. 

Earthquakes in Brazil. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, June, 1912, Vol. II, pp. 105-117. 
Erroneous geological conclusions on the formation of Livermore Valley. The future water supply of San 

Francisco. By the Spring Valley Water Company, 1912. pp. 232-232a. 
A hydrocarbon found in the diamond and carbonado district of Bahia, Brazil. American Journal of Science, 

Jan., 1912, Vol. CLXXXIII, pp. 25-26. 
Portuguese as well as Spanish. Springfield Republican, Oct. 3, 1912. 
Report on the geology of Livermore Valley. The future water supply of San Francisco. The Spring Valley 

Water Company, Oct., 1912. pp. 203-222. 
Syllabus of a course of lectures on elementary geology. Fourth edition. Stanford University, 1912. 462 pp. 
Eugene Hussak. Translation of an article by Miguel A. Lisboa. Journal of Geology, 1912, Vol. XX, pp. 

Reviews and notes on seismology published in Bulletin of the Seismological (Society of America, 1912, Vol. II, 
Geologic work of ants in tropical America. Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1911. 1912. pp. 303-333. 
Report on the geology of the proposed Hetch Hetchy aqueduct line for the water supply of San Francisco, 

made to John R. Freeman, July 11, 13, 20, 1912. J. R. Freeman's Report, pp. 110-111; 124-126. 


Address before the Instituto Historico e Geographico Brazileiro at Rio de Janeiro. Jornal do Commercio, 

Rio de Janeiro, June 10, 1913. Diario Official, June 20, 1913. 
As areias do Rio Grande do Sul. Annuario do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul para O anno de 1913. Porto 

Alegre, pp. 294-296, 1913. 
Chancellor Jordan and President Branner. Sequoia, Sept., 1913. pp. 23-28. 

Casper Branner of Virginia and his descendants. Privately printed, Stanford University, July, 1913. 476 pp. 
An early discovery of fuller's earth in Arkansas. Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, 

1913, Vol. XLIII, pp. 520-523. 

Earthquakes and structural engineering. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1913, Vol. Ill, 

pp. 1-5. 
The estancia beds of Bahia, Sergipe, and Alagoas, Brazil. American Journal of Science, June, 1913. 
The estancia beds of Bahia, Sergipe, and Alagdas, Brazil. Papers of the Stanford expedition to Brazil in 1911, 

Vol. I, pp. 35-48. Reprint from American Journal of Science, June, 1913, Vol. XXXV, pp. 619-632. 
The fluting and pitting of granites in the tropics. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1913, 

Vol. LII, pp. 163-286. Papers of the Stanford University expedition to Brazil in 1911, Vol. I, pp. 1-30. 

Stanford University, 1914. 


A inspectoria de obras contra as Seecas. Jornal do Cominercio, Rio de Janeiro, July 15, 1913. 

Os fosseis devonianos do Parana. Jornal do Coinmercio, Rio de Janeiro, June 14, 1913. 

Review of "The Flowing Road. By Casper Whitney." Science, June 24, 1913, Vol. XXIV, pp. 151-152. 

Inaugural address. Trustees series, 1913. No. XXIV. Stanford University. 

William Russel Dudley: An address delivered at the memorial services held in the University chapel. Dudley 

Memorial volume, Stanford University, 1913. pp. 7-10. 

The word "selva" in geographic literature. Science, 1913, Vol. XXXVIII, pp. 155-156. 

The influence of wind on the accumulation of oil-bearing rocks. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 

1913, Vol. XXIV, pp. 94-95. 


Annual report of the president of the university for the 23d academic year ending July 31, 1914. 

Stanford University, 1914. 
A brief grammar of the Portuguese language. Second edition. 1914. pp. 216 — 223. 
Address to the graduating class of Stanford University, delivered May, 1914. Daily Palo Alto, May, 1914. 

Stanford Alumnus, May, 1914. 
Earthquakes and business in the West: An address before the Commonwealth Club. The California Outlook, 

Jan. 10, 1914, Vol. XVI, pp. 17-18. 
Geologia elementar preparada con referencia especial aos estudantes Brazileiros. 2a edigao. Paris, 1914. 
Some of the obstacles to North American trade in Brazil. Journal of Race Development, April, 1914, Vol. 

IV, pp. 461-470. 
Papers of the Stanford expedition to Brazil in 1911. Introduction. Stanford University, 1914. pp. 3-6. 
Review of "Across Unknown South America. By Henry Savage Landor." Science, 1914, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 

577 7 579. 
Review of "The Upper Reaches of the Amazon. By Joseph F. Woodroffe." London, 1914. Bulletin of the 

American Geographical Society, 1914, Vol. XLVII, pp. 59-60. 
Review of "Geological Expedition to Brazil and Chile. By J. B. Woodworth." Bulletin of the American 

Geographical Society, July, 1914, Vol. LXVI, pp. 936-937. 
Seismological notes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1914, Vol. IV. 


Annual report of the president of Stanford University, 1914-1915.- 

Address to the graduating class, May, 1915. Stanford Alumnus, May, 1915. 

Annual report of the president of the university for the 24th academic year ending July 31, 1915. Trustees 

series No. 29, 1915. 
Brief grammar of the Portuguese language. Third edition, 1915. 
American Association for the Advancement of Science. Pacific Coast Committee. Nature and Science on 

the Pacific Coast, San Francisco, 1915. pp. 62-64. 
Patronizing the South American republics. Science, 1915, Vol. LXI, pp. 236-237. 
Seismological notes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1915, Vol. V. 

Structural engineering and earthquakes. Engineering Record, 1915, Vol. LXXII, pp. 780-781. Separate, 1916. 
Earthquakes. Nature and Science on the Pacific Coast, San Francisco, 1915. 
The untrustworthiness of personal impressions of direction of vibrations in earthquakes. Bulletin of the 

Seismological Society of America, 1915, Vol. V, pp. 26-29. 
Review of "Brazil and the Brazilians. By G. J. Bruce." Yale Review, April, 1915, Vol. IV, pp. 640-645. 
Review of "Through the Brazilian Wilderness. By Theodore Roosevelt." Yale Review, April, 1915. 
Review of "The Naturalist's Directory. By S. E. Cassino." Science, Jan. 22, 1915, Vol. LXI, p. 135. 
Review of "The River Amazon from its sources to the sea. By Paul Fountain." Yale Review, April, 1915, 

Vol. IV, pp. 640-645. 
Review of "The Lower Amazon. By A. Lange." Science, March, 1915, Vol. LXI, pp. 363-364. 
The mistakes of professors. By a student. School and Society, 1915, Vol. I, pp. 132-135. 
Address to the student body. Stanford University, Sept. 7, 1915. 


Can we keep the canal open? The Sunset Magazine, June, 1916. pp. 13-15. 

The Panama slides. The Sunset Magazine, June, 1916. pp. 13-15; 70-71. 

Committee on Panama Canal slides, of the National Academy of Sciences. Preliminary report on the possibility 

of controlling the land slides adjacent to the Panama Canal. Proceedings of the National Academy of 

Sciences, April 15, 1916, Vol. II, pp. 193-207. 
The Geological Survey of Arkansas. Manufacturers Record, July, 1916. p. 47. 
Orville A. Derby. Science, 1916, Vol. LXIII, p. 596. 
Orville A. Derby. Journal of Geology, 1916, Vol. XXIV, pp. 209-214. 
Memorial of Orville A. Derby. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, March, 1916, Vol. XXVII, 

pp. 15-21. 


The opportunities for and obstacles to North American business in Brazil. The South American, Dec. 1916. 

pp. 17-19. 
The potash-bearing rocks of Arkansas. Arkansas Gazette, April 30, 1916. 
Recifes de pedra da costa nordeste do Brasil. Revista do Instituto Historico e Geographico Brasileiro, Rio de 

Janeiro, 1916, Vol. LXXVII, pp. 68-85. 
Seismological notes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1916-1917, Vol. VI. 


The genesis of asbestiform minerals. Discussion of the paper by Stephen Taber. Bulletin of the American 

Institute of Mining Engineers, Mar., 1917, Vol. CXXIII, pp. 397-400. 
One of Mrs. Stanford's ideals. Founder's Day address. Stanford Alumnus, Mar., 1917, Vol. XVIII, pp. 

217-222. And separate. 
Seismological notes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1917, Vol. VI. 
Some of the scientific problems and duties at our doors. Presidential address before the Pacific Division of the 

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Science, May, 1917, Vol. LXV, pp. 417-424. 

Abstract with title Ignoring the Earthquake in Literary Digest, July 7, 1917, Vol. LV. 
One of the scientific problems at our doors. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1917, Vol. VII. 

p. 45. (An abridged form of the paper just listed.) 
The Tejon Pass earthquake of October 22, 1916. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1917, 

Vol. VII, p. 51. 


Address at the reunion of the descendants of Casper Branner of Virginia, held at Forestville, Virginia, Augus 

30, 1918. New Market, Va., 1918. 24 pp. 
Review of "South America. By Nellie B. Allen." Science, 1918, Vol. LXVIII, pp. 249-250. 
A favor da lingua Portuguesa. O Estudante Brazileiro, 1918. Vol. I, pp. 3-4. 
Seismological notes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1918, Sept., 1918, to Sept., 1919. 


The importance of the study of the Portuguese language. Hispania, March, 1919, Vol. II, pp. 87-93 . 

One of Mrs. Stanford's ideals. Extract. Daily Palo Alto Times, Memorial number, Stanford edition, 1919. 

pp. 19-20. 
Outlines of the geology of Brazil to accompany the Geologic map of Brazil. Reprinted from Bulletin of the 

Geological Society of America, 1919, Vol. XXX, pp. 189-338. 
Incidents in the history of the Geological Survey of Arkansas, and some conclusions to be drawn therefrom. 

Arkansas Gazette, Nov. 20, 1919. 


Bauxite: Historical foreword in "Outlines of Arkansas Geology." By John G. Ferguson. Little Rock, Arkan- 
sas, 1920. pp. 45-46. 
Herbert Hoover as an educational illustration. Address delivered at the banquet offered Herbert Hoover by 

the Alumni of Stanford University at San Francisco, Dec. 29, 1919. Stanford Illustrated Review, Jan., 

Incidents in the history of the Geological Survey of Arkansas, and some conclusions to be drawn therefrom. 

In "Outlines of Arkansas Geology." By John G. Ferguson. Little Rock, Arkansas, 1920. pp. 14-20. 
Resumo da geologia do Brasil para acomphar o mappa geologico do Brasil. O Estudante Brasileiro, Vol. I, 

pp. 3-5, April, 1920. 
Resumo da geologia do Brazil. Edicao Brazileiro, 152 pp. 1920. 
Trouble with Loro Tatus. Nature Study Review, 1920, Vol. XVI, pp. 189-194. 
What some animals know about topography. Nature Study Review, 1920, Vol. XVI, pp. 143-144. 
Oil and gas geology (of Arkansas). In "Outlines of Arkansas Geology." By John G. Ferguson, 1920. 

pp. 104-105. 
Recent earthquakes in Brazil. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 1920, Vol. X, p. 90. 

In addition to the seismological publications of Doctor Branner already mentioned, he was the author 

of a number of notes and reviews in the bulletins of the Seismological Society of America from 1910 to 1920. 

Some of these were not signed. 


Brazil and its geology with reference to future possibilities of developing oil. California Oil World, May 26, 

1921, Vol. XIII, pp. 32-33. 
Memorial of J. C. da Costa Sena. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, March, 1921, Vol. XXXII, 

pp. 16-18. 
O que en faria si fosse estudante Brazileiro. El Estudiante Latino-Americano, May, 1921, Vol. Ill, pp. 4-7. 
Oil prospects in Arkansas. Arkansas Gazette, May 25, 1921. p. 16. 
How and why stories. Henry Holt & Company, 1921. 104 pp. 

^-.^/ <%6^6tz^-^ 


Volume XXI 






Presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1924 


By William Albert Setchell 

William Gilson Farlow was born in Boston, Mass., on December 17, 1844. He was the 
son of John Smith Farlow and Nancy Wight (Blanchard) Farlow. He received his early 
education in the public schools, both of the grammar and high school grades. He entered 
Harvard University in 1862 and received the degree of B. A. in 1866. He entered the Harvard 
Medical School in November, 1867, and received the degree of M. D. in May, 1870. He was 
appointed assistant to Asa Gray, Fisher professor of natural history in Harvard University, 
in July of 1870, continuing in this position for two years. In June, 1872, he sailed for Europe, 
where he traveled and studied for somewhat over two years, returning to America in the 
summer of 1874. In the same year he received the appointment of assistant professor of 
botany at Harvard, with the particular field of cryptogamic botany, giving instruction both 
at Cambridge and in the newly established Bussey Institution at Jamaica Plain. In 1879 
he was appointed professor of cryptogamic botany in Harvard University, with teaching 
entirely at Cambridge. He continued to teach until 1896, at which time he withdrew from 
all work along this line except as to advising and assisting certain graduate students. He 
married Miss Lilian Horsford, daughter of Eben Horsford, in 1900. He died June 3, 1919, 
having served in the faculty of Harvard University as assistant professor and as professor for 
45 years and having advanced to the position of senior member. 

As a boy and undergraduate student, William Gilson Farlow seems to have had strong 
inclinations toward music and botany. In these respects he resembled his father, John Smith 
Farlow, born in Boston in 1817 and educated there, who, besides being a successful man of 
business, member of the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts, president of the Massa- 
chusetts Reform Club, for many years president of the Newton Public Library, etc., was also 
for a time president of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston ; and, although with no critical 
knowledge of botany, was very fond of plants, was a member of the Massachusetts Horticul- 
tural Society as well as that of Newton and was awarded many prizes at their exhibitions. 
During his boyhood and youth, William Gilson Farlow followed his father's likings for science 
and the humanities and gave many evidences of the same alert and active mind as well as 
capabilities for comprehensive grasp of fundamentals which characterized his later Life. He 
was twice awarded the Franklin medals for scholarship in the Boston schools. In college he 
was a member, and secretary for one year, of the Pierian Sodality, acting as pianist and several 
times soloist at its public concerts. His unusual musical ability attracted the attention of his 
instructors in music and J. K. Paine, professor of music at Harvard, urged him to take up 
music as his chosen profession. He was an inimitable story-teller, even in his younger days, 
and Likewise took part in amateur theatrical performances. He was also secretary and treas- 
urer of the O. K. Society in his junior year. He was a member of the Harvard Natural History 
Society and curator of its herbarium, and his scientific attainments were held in high esteem 
by his classmates and fellow collegians as well as by his instructors. He was elected secretary 
of his class at senior class election. He was accustomed to explain his habit of casting quick 
glances from side to side and slightly upward by saying most humorously that when he was 
a freshman he was much smaller than he was later on in life and that the sophomores used to 
throw water out of the second-story windows on the freshmen as they passed the dormitories. 
Consequently, in watching out for the sophomores at their windows he acquired a Lifelong 
habit. At graduation, filing answers to questions asked by the class, he stated that he had 
"no definite plans for life." 



During the year following his graduation he continued his botanical interests and, taking 
the advice of Gray and following in the footsteps of most of his botanical predecessors in this 
country, resolved to proceed to the doctorate in medicine as a preliminary and possibly also 
as an alternative to entering the field of botany. He spent a portion of this year in studying 
anatomy under Dr. Jeffries Wyman, in Cambridge, himself an enthusiastic naturalist, and 
entered the Harvard Medical School in Boston in November, 1867. He entered upon and 
carried through his medical studies with the zeal and thoroughness characteristic of him, and 
at the end of his third year he won a coveted appointment as surgical interne at the Massa- 
chusetts General Hospital in Boston under the distinguished surgeon Dr. H. J. Bigelow. He 
obtained his medical degree in May, 1870, and his duty done, his anchor cast to windward, he 
relinquished the favorable opportunity of advancing in medicine as he had earlier that of 
entering upon a career in music. 

His medical education finished and with no intention of practicing, he returned again to 
Cambridge, studying with Asa Gray and even helping Gray with his classes. He was formally 
appointed to an assistantship with Gray in July, 1870, in which position he continued for two 
years. He succeeded Horace Mann, who had died during Gray's absence in Europe, and at Gray's 
request attempted to give more instruction in cryptogamic botany than had hitherto been 
given. With such an inspiring and enthusiastic principal as Gray, he undoubtedly absorbed 
and otherwise gained an extensive knowledge of the flowering plants and vascular cryptogams, 
but his chief attention seems to have been directed toward the marine algae, of which Gray 
had obtained a considerable collection for an American botanist through his friendship and 
connection with William Henry Harvey, who had written the Nereis Boreali-Americana, the 
first account of our American marine algas, and who with J. Whitman Bailey had worked over 
and reported on the algae of the United States exploring expedition, from Charles Wright, from 
J. G. Agardh, of Lund, and others. He used to tell, with some amusement and for the instruction 
of those who later were studying in this same field, of his lack of the sense of the importance of 
certain numbers noted on some of the specimens and how he nearly lost for future generations 
the valuable specimens distributed by Harvey from Ceylon, from the Friendly Islands, and from 
Australia. At the same time, another of Gray's pupils, Daniel C. Eaton, of Yale University, 
was occupying himself with marine algae and both cooperated with the United States Fish Com- 
mission under Spencer F. Baird in work on the southern coast of New England. Farlow spent 
the summer of 1871 at Woods Hole, on the southern shore of Massachusetts, with the wonderful 
corps of naturalists which Baird had assembled there. Eaton afterwards joined with Farlow 
and Dr. C. L. Anderson, of Santa Cruz, Calif., in issuing a series of dried specimens in fascicle 
form of the marine algae of North America, but soon relinquished the algse into Farlow's exclusive 
charge. During this period of his life, Farlow came into correspondence with J. G. Agardh, of 
Lund, in Sweden, sending him many rare specimens and receiving determinations, criticisms, 
and specimens in return. He began during this period of Iris assistantship to prepare and 
publish his earlier papers on the marine algae. During his assistantship he introduced the study 
of the lower cryptogams into the Harvard curriculum, a novelty in American educational 

It will be of interest as well as instructive to glance for a moment at the botanical situation 
in the United States at the period of Farlow's assistantship to Gray (1870-1872). Gray 
himself, at 60, was meditating retirement from teaching and administrative duties and was 
negotiating with Charles Wright as to the work in the herbarium. He was also preparing for 
the addition of a lecture room and laboratories (completed late in 1871). Sereno Watson was 
with Gray at that time, whither he had proceeded (1870) to complete his account of the plants 
of King's expedition. George Lincoln Goodale, who joined Gray as assistant, was destined 
(1873) to take over the subject of "Vegetable physiology." The corporation of Harvard 
University had started (1870) the organization of the Bussey Institution, a school of agriculture 
and horticulture, for which plans had been made by the founder as early as 1835 in a will proven 
in 1842 and funds turned over to Harvard University by the trustees of the founder in 1861. 
John Torrey was still alive and professor of botany in Columbia University, although in the last 


years of his life (fl873). Daniel C. Eaton, pupil of Gray and grandson of Amos Eaton, was 
professor of botany in Yale University, with his specialty in ferns, but publishing, at this period, 
his few papers on marine algas. Sullivant was still alive but was not publishing. Lesquereux 
and James had taken over the mosses and C. F. Austin the hepatics. Edward Tuckerman was 
professor of botany at Amherst College and was writing his classical papers on American 
Lichenology. Charles H. Peck, at Albany, was acting as State botanist and beginning to 
publish on fleshy fungi. T. F. Allen was beginning to publish on American Characeaa. In 
Europe, Hofmeister, although still active, had passed on his mantle and task of preparing a 
comprehensive Handbuch der Botanik to Sachs and to De Bary, and the oncoming generation 
was deeply immersed in what has been designated the " vegetations-punkt " type of investiga- 
tion. J. G. Agardh, at Lund, was veteran in phycology, as Elias Fries was in fungi, while 
Muller, at Geneva, was working on the Flora Brasiliensis, with lichens as his hobby. Schwende- 
ner (1860-1868) was publishing the series of papers on the algal types of lichen-gonidia and 
was bringing about the fundamental and spirited discussion as to the possible dual nature of the 
lichen-thallus, which was to be prominent for so many succeeding years. Bornet and Thuret 
were the foremost exponents of algal morphology and reproduction. Of great importance to 
Farlow were all of these, but possibly foremost in influence for his chosen profession was the fact 
that Sachs had produced the second edition of his epoch-making Lehrbuch der Botanik, which 
had not yet been translated into English and which had not, at the time, made the profound 
impression outside of Germany which it later created. It seems worth while to mention the 
situation outlined above, since it, as limited, had a direct influence on Farlow and his work. 
Even the oldest of our prominent American workers of the present day and even those of Europe 
were, at this time, not advanced beyond the grades below the university. There was no strictly 
botanical periodical in America except the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club (1870- ), 
botanical articles being few in production and published in the American Journal of Science or 
the American Naturalist, but mostly in the proceedings of the few learned societies of that 
era, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of Boston, the Boston Society of Natural 
History, the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Academy of 
Sciences, the St. Louis Academy of Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences. The 
National Academy of Sciences was not founded until 1863. 

From the point of view of the condition of botanical science and teaching in America, 
where the "college" point of view still held the most considerable place in higher education and 
where "research" was not, as yet, spelled with a capital "R," it is little to be wondered at 
that Farlow, having followed the botanical tradition of preparing himself in medicine, having 
associated himself with teaching in Harvard University, following his own natural bent, and in 
accordance with Gray's sympathetic advice and desire for extending the bounds of botanical 
instruction and specialization at Harvard, should have been attracted toward the lower crypto- 
gams and have turned his attention to northern and central Europe for the assistance he needed 
for his further training and orientation in this field as well as in general. As Farlow himself 
says later on in his life (1896) : "It certainly now seems ridiculous that one who had only just 
finished his medical studies and knew nothing about cryptogams beyond what he had read in 
leisure moments or had picked up in the field should attempt to teach the subject. But the 
young are courageous, not to say audacious, if they are not learned, and, it must also be admitted, 
the demands of students for information on the subject were easily satisfied at that time." 
Consequently we find him leaving Cambridge and Gray at the end of the second year of his 
assistantship and setting sail for Europe in June, 1872, where he spent the next two years in 
study and travel. He burdened himself with specimens, particularly with algse, many of them 
from the Oregon and California coasts, collected by E. E. Hall, and C. L. Anderson. Landing 
in England, he proceeded at once, via Copenhagen, to Lund, in Sweden, to consult and absorb 
wisdom from J. G. Agardh, the founder of phycological taxonomy. He has left us a glimpse 
of his visit and experiences at Lund in the charming and characteristic letters to Gray, of which 
only too little was published in the American Naturalist in 1874. Among the west American 
marine algse submitted to Agardh at that time were the specimens upon which he founded the 


genus Farlowia. From J. G. Agardh, during this visit and by his correspondence, Farlow 
was assisted in fixing determinations of his later lists (1875 and 1876) of the algse of the United 
States, as well as many which he never published but passed on to his own disciples. From 
Lund he went to Stockholm and on to Upsala, where he met Elias Fries and his son Th. Fries, 
authorities in taxonomic lichen ology and fungology. Farlow tells in his biographical notice of 
Edward Tuckerman how the elder Fries recalled the visit of the American lichenologist whose 
sharp eyes detected, as they strolled on the famous avenue near the University of Upsala, a 
species of lichen which the elder and most famous lichenologist had never seen there. It is 
to be recalled also, in connection with the visit to Upsala, that the younger Fries was bringing 
out his comprehensive work on Scandinavian lichens (1S71-1874). 

From Sweden, Farlow went to Norway for alga? and then on to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) 
to examine the collections at the Imperial Academy of Sciences collected by the Liitke expedi- 
tion (1823-1827), and those collected later by Wosnessenski for the Imperial Academy, on the 
northwestern coasts of America. These had been studied and reported upon by F. J. Ruprecht 
and were apparently in the same condition and arrangement as when left by him. From 
Petrograd, he went to Moscow, thence on to Berlin and Cologne, and finally to Strassburg, 
to the laboratories of Anton de Bary, in the newly established German university in the terri- 
tories recently wrested from France. 

Anton de Bary was at that period easdy the first and foremost plant morphologist in the 
world, and his students were drawn from all countries. In his laboratories Farlow met many 
of the future leading botanists of central and northern Europe. Two of these, both Poles, 
J. Rostafinski and E. Janczewski, became his especial intimates, and after their work at Strass- 
burg was over they journeyed on into France together, or at least met again at the Villa Thuret. 
De Bary and Sachs were both associated with Hofmeister in his plan for issuing a compre- 
hensive Handbuch der Botanik. De Bary had already published his remarkable work on the 
morphology and physiology of the fungi, lichens, and myxomycetes (1866), in which it is 
noticeable that the bacteria were not included as they were in the revised edition (1884), and 
was at work on his comparative anatomy of the vegetative organs of the flowering plants and 
ferns (published 1877). Farlow found at Strassburg a master and his disciples deep in the 
work of testing and advancing botanical knowledge in extensive fields. Of the three asso- 
ciated more closely, Rostafinski gave the world a monograph of the Mycetozoa (1873 and 
1875), Janczewski elucidated the development of the ascogonium in Ascobolus (1871), and 
Farlow investigated and described the first known case of apogamy in ferns (1874) . In De Bary's 
laboratory Farlow learned and practiced the microtechnique of that day and learned much as 
to methods of instruction, literature, and the work of his contemporaries. Since De Bary 
paid much attention to the parasitism and saprophytism of fungi and the reactions of host 
plants to their parasitic forms, we may readily infer that Farlow received much inspiration 
for the work he instituted on his return to America on phytopathology. It was at this time, 
as he related later, that he became acquainted with Sachs's textbook (second German edition, 
1870), for which his admiration never ceased. 

Farlow fully occupied his stay of two years abroad. Besides his work in De Bary's 
laboratory, he visited Switzerland, becoming acquainted with its Alpine flora, both as to 
flowering plants and cryptogams, especially the lichens. He settled down for a while at 
Geneva, where Johann M tiller- Argoviensis assisted him in his study of the rich lichen flora 
of that locality. From his notes as to this part of his stay, we learn that he did not neglect 
the fungi in his collections and studies. During the stay abroad, Farlow found opportunity 
of spending some time at the Villa Thuret at Antibes, with G. Thuret and E. Bornet, in 
phycological studies. Rostafinski and Janczewski were also there. The two French phy- 
cologists were foremost in the study of the morphology and development of the algse. Thuret's 
masterly series of papers on the zoospores and antheridia of plants, with their superb illustrations 
(1850-1853), his researches on the fertilization of the Fucaceae (1855-1857) and, in connection 
with Bornet, the solution of the cystocarpic development in the red algaB (1867) had marked a 
new epoch in such study, and his taxonomic work, although he published little in this line, was 


based on a tnorough knowledge of both the morphology and development of the living plant as 
well as on the work of his predecessors. Bornet, his coadjutor, was fully his equal and was 
destined to become Farlow's most beloved and revered friend and correspondent for the rest 
of his life. Farlow used to say that Bornet was the only botanist he knew who made no real 
mistakes. Bornet was at the time making the famous study of the algal nature of lichen- 
gonidia, soon after published (1873). The Bornet and Thuret publications, Notes Algologiques 
(1876 and 1880) and Etudes Phycologiques (1878) are the most outstanding in the realm of 
phycology. As a result of their work at Antibes, Janczewski published most important papers 
on the propagula of the Sphacelariac'eae (1872) and on the methods of growth of the thallus of 
the brown algae (1875), as well as papers on the structure of Porphyra (1872) and the development 
of the cystocarp in certain red algae (1877). Rostafinski also published several papers on 
algal structure (1875-1877) and was inspired to begin a revision of the Laminariaceae, which 
never came to other than preliminary publication, but which nevertheless had its influence. 
Farlow, while publishing nothing as an immediate result, was influenced most profoundly in 
his later work on the algae, particularly in the studies leading up to his Marine Algae of New 

It is impossible to follow all the wanderings of Farlow during his two years abroad, but it 
is sufficient perhaps to say that he visited Paris and various places in Germany, Italy, England, 
and Ireland, to examine type specimens, to visit and consult with various botanists, and to 
familiarize himself with their floras, both phamogamic and cryptogamic. He returned to 
Cambridge late in the summer of 1874, well equipped in every way to take up the work in his 
chosen field. He brought with him many authentic specimens, much in the way of literature 
and notes, and had annexed a host of sympathetic correspondents to assist in developing exact 
knowledge of our lower cryptogamic orders. 

From 1874 to 1879, Farlow was attached particularly to the Bussey Institution, although 
he gave a certain portion of his time to cryptogamic instruction at the Botanical Garden in 
Cambridge. I have previously mentioned the Bussey "Institution, the idea of which was in 
the mind of its founder, Benjamin Bussey, of Roxbury, as early as 1835, but which, because of 
the conditions of the bequest, did not come into active existence until 1870. The workers 
here were at that time F. H. Storer, dean, and in charge of agricultural chemistry; D. D. Slade, 
in charge of applied zoology; and C. S. Sargent, at the Arnold Arboretum (established 1872), 
in charge of arboriculture. It is to be borne in mind that the continent of North America 
possessed few agricultural colleges or agricultural courses in universities, the majority of the 
older of these institutions being founded in the late sixties or early seventies. Of stations for 
agricultural experimentation there were few in Europe, the first, that of Moeckern, near Leipzig, 
having been organized in 1851, the Rothamstead station, under Lawes and Gilbert, having 
started somewhat later, and at the time of the inauguration of work at the Bussey Institution 
between 30 and 40 in Europe all told. The first strictly agricultural experiment station in 
North America (Connecticut) came into existence in 1875. Storer, with S. W. Johnson, of 
Yale, and E. W. Hilgard, of Mississippi, Michigan, and finally of California, were developing 
agricultural chemistry in this country, Storer being particularly interested in the chemistry 
of fertilizers. The Bussey Institution was intended for several classes of students, both for 
those not intending to proceed to a degree and those who were candidates for one. We may not 
wonder, then, that Farlow's work in connection with the Bussey Institution was primarily 
directed toward the fungi of economic interest and that he laid there, firmly and efficiently, 
the foundations of what has come to be known as phytopathology. The papers published by 
Farlow in the Bulletin of the Bussey Institution and elsewhere, between the years 1876 and 1880, 
show by their titles and content the trend of his interest toward the taxonomic, physiological, 
and pathological aspects of the fungi, although he still paid very considerable attention to the 
algae. Plis papers on potato rot, diseases of oranges and olives, the downy and powdery mildews, 
particularly of the grape, the black knot, onion smut, the reddening of salted codfish, the deterio- 
rating effect of certain lower algae and related organisms in water supply, all are models of their 


kind and indications of his activity in connection with the worK laid out for the Bussey 
Institution and the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, the latter furnishing 
the plates for Farlow's articles. 

During his connection with the Bussey Institution, Farlow also gave instruction in crypto- 
gamic botany at Cambridge two days a week, in a primitive laboratory in Lawrence Hall, and 
also summer-school instruction at Cambridge and in the marine alga? at Woods Hole, Mass., 
in what he calls an "improvised laboratory." He had certain advanced students, the first 
of whom, Byron D. Halsted, later professor of botany at Rutgers College and botanist of the 
New Jersey Experiment Station, took for his thesis subject: "A classification and description 
of the American species of Characese" (Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., Proc, vol. 20, pp. 169-190, 
March, 1879). 

In 1879, as he tells us (1896, p. 2), the diminished income from the Bussey funds caused a 
suspension of his instruction at the institution and he was transferred to Cambridge, with the 
appointment to a professorship of cryptogamic botany, the first recognition of the equal standing 
of the lower plants with the higher, "cryptogamic" being adopted as a portion of his title, 
"in order," to quote his own words (1896, p. 9), "to point out the existence of this branch 
of botany as a proper field for study in this country." Farlow was now 35 years old and had 
established firmly cryptogamic botany as a worthy branch of university instruction and at- 
tention. He was free to devote himself to the building up of his own branch of botany as Asa 
Gray had in his time, and from even less beginnings, built up his wonderful structure and equip- 
ment of phsenogamic botany. A room was assigned for laboratory and herbarium in the build- 
ing of the Lawrence Scientific School, whence it was removed to the attic of Boylston Hall, 
later to the lower floor of the east wing of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, then to the 
third floor of the Agassiz addition to that building, and finally to the upper floor of the central 
or botanical section of the museum building, where it met other divisions of botanical in- 
struction. The botanical establishments at Harvard University have always been scattered 
and are scattered even at the present day, but during the last years of Farlow's life, economic 
botany, histology, and physiology were housed in the same building with cryptogamic botany, 
while the Gray Herbarium and the Arnold Arboretum were more or less distant from them. 
The period in Farlow's life extending from 1879 to 1896 represents the time of his active teaching 
of larger as well as of smaller classes and of graduate students. Among his earlier advanced 
students and assistants of this time was William Trelease, and somewhat later Roland Thaxter, 
the former soon becoming immersed in work on the morphology and taxonomy of the higher 
plants, particularly after becoming the first director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the 
latter continuing on with the fungi and becoming Farlow's successor, to carry on the work 
of placing the great Farlow Herbarium and Library on a permanent basis for growth and 

About the year 1885 there came into Farlow's laboratories George Howard Parker, Benja- 
min Lincoln Robinson, Robert Paine Bigelow, William McMichael Woodworth, and James 
Ellis Humphreys, who brought with them a true biological spirit and introduced some in- 
novations in botanical methods. Some of this group brought with them from the zoological 
laboratories the method of embedding in paraffin, and used this technique in their cryptogamic 
research, probably the first application of this method in any botanical laboratory. About 
1887, A. B. Seymour was appointed assistant to Farlow and began his long association with 
the cryptogamic herbarium and preparation of indices of species and host plants of North 
American fungi. In the fall of 1887, began my own four years of connection with the crypto- 
gamic laboratories, first as Morgan fellow and later as assistant in biology, and with me, in the 
laboratory, besides Seymour as assistant, were Kingo Miyabe and W. C. Sturgis. From this 
time on the cryptogamic laboratories became the shrine toward which the pilgrimages of the 
cryptogamic students of the United States and Canada were directed. There may be mentioned 
H. M. Richards, G. J. Peirce, C. L. Mix, T. W. Galloway, L. M. Underwood, E. A. Burt, R. A. 
Harper, B. M. Duggar, Hermann Schrenck, George T. Moore, and others, most of whom 
finished up one or more short papers with Farlow or began research work to be reported on later. 


In 1883, Farlow began to issue the important series of papers entitled "Contributions 
from the Cryptogamic Laboratory of Harvard University." 

In 1891, intending to relieve himself of routine teaching and to take a trip to Europe, he 
gave over the teaching of cryptogamic botany to Roland Thaxter, who was called from his 
position as botanist of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station at New Haven, Conn., 
for the time being, resuming only graduate instruction in 1S92. This, also, he finally relin- 
quished in 1896, in his fifty-second year, although he remained helpful in matters of advice 
and reference to the end of his life. After 1896, however, the younger generation did not 
come into intimate contact with him or share to any considerable degree the benefits arising 
from his direct suggestion and criticism. 

After 1896, Farlow devoted himself largely to furthering the projects which had been 
in his mind, in building up the material basis for his subject, devoting his time to clearing up 
undetermined and current specimens, preparing material for a future distribution, pushing 
forward the work on the bibliographical index of North American fungi, and to answering the 
multitudinous letters asking for advice or assistance on critical points in cryptogamic taxonomy 
and literature. He was compelled also at this period to assume certain large responsibilities 
in the business affairs of his family, which made serious inroads on his time and energy. He 
carried through all these matters with his usual energy and thoroughness, shaping his affairs 
so as to leave all in orderly fashion when his end might come. Fortunately, he continued able 
to go on with his work of all kinds until a few weeks before he passed away quietly, conscious 
and calm until his last moments. There passed away at the close of this last and by no means 
least active period of his life the dean of American botanists, one who had created more than 
one subdivision of botany, pure and applied, in North America, who had led, generally directly, 
but at least indirectly, to the highest goal of attainment practically all of the surviving bot- 
anists of his country. He left behind him a sorrowing wife, a host of ardent pupils and fol- 
lowers, and, as a further heritage, collections of books, specimens, notes, drawings, and indices 
unequaled for work along the lines of cryptogamic botany. His memory remains green and 
will continue to live with us, his pupils and associates, and his example will continue for the 
inspiration of generations to come. 

The character of William Gilson Farlow was too many-sided for any one person to appraise, 
record, and attempt to make plain, especially to those who have not had the privilege of pro- 
longed personal contact. To those of us who knew him well little need be said as to his per- 
sonality and accomplishments. To those who knew him only from his writings or from the 
treasures of specimens and books which he brought together there is some fair indication of 
his energy, wisdom, and farsightedness. For the coming generations there is desirable some 
expression, feeble and inadequate though it must necessarily be, as to his lovableness, his 
kindliness of spirit, his regard for truth, and straightforwardness. I am thoroughly conscious 
of how far short any attempts of mine may be in attempting to summarize the qualities and 
accomplishments of such an outstanding personality as that of William Gilson Farlow; but, 
having passed in review the main periods of his life, it seems best to undertake some general 
exposition of certain of numerous manifestations of his personality and his pursuits. 

In stature, Farlow was decidedly below the average, a matter concerning which he was 
somewhat sensitive, especially when -associated with one who was tall. He seldom, however, 
made reference to it except through some witticism. In referring, as he did on rare occasions, 
to his college days, he used to remark that at that time he was even smaller than at maturity. 
In the one room on the third floor of the Alexander Agassiz section of the Museum of Compara- 
tive Zoology, which served for cryptogamic laboratory and herbarium in my own first years 
at Cambridge — a lofty room piled high with materials — he was accustomed to ask me, the 
tallest of the workers, to get something from the top of one of the cases, with the usual after 
remark, " Now, please touch the ceiling." His own worktables and desks were made so low 
and his chairs so high that no one else could work at them comfortably. 

His figure — erect when younger and slightly bowed in his latest years — passing from his 
house on Quincy Street up through Divinity Avenue to the museum with short, rapid steps, 
20154°— 26 6 


always with books or manuscript under his arm, was distinctive and could easily be recognized 
as far as it could be seen. His downward, sidewise glance, seemingly furtive but really diffi- 
dent when one came to realize its significance, was keen, and there was little that escaped it. 
The beginning of his conversation was often abrupt, but passed on into a monologue when 
discussing a problem or recent occurrences in the botanical world, which ended usually with 
some interrogation, often disconcerting as to whether an answer was demanded or not. Often 
some query on the part of others was greeted with a laugh or chuckle, which frequently placed 
his listeners more or less hors de combat and demanded further explanation or discussion. His 
ejaculations of surprise or incredulity were characteristic. Very commonly he would say: 
"Mercy! Bless my soul! I wonder where we are coming to when so-and-so puts forth such 
a view." Occasionally when he had some puzzling plant before him he would come over to 
our laboratory table and, laying down the specimen, say: "I will give any one of you 5 cents 
if you will tell me what this is." Many such a problem was placed before us, and we wrestled 
with it mightily, but seldom were we able to win the munificent reward, although at times 
we were given what we were much the more anxious to obtain, viz, his recognition of merit in 
our suggestions. This recognition was difficult of complete affirmation, since his critical mind 
interposed every possible objection, and the attainment of even partial approval was the result 
of a strenuous elimination of all that could not be sturdily and properly maintained. This 
method begot caution about accepting evidence unless of the most definite and pertinent 
variety. The alternative views he presented during such discussions, the keenness with which 
he detected flaws in the arguments presented, or the merciless fashion in which he carried 
some point raised to its logical and usually absurd or irrelevant conclusion, all these character- 
ized the workings of his mind and made a profound and, if viewed properly, a most profitable 
impression on his associates. Many there were who misunderstood his extremely critical atti- 
tude, his witticisms, and his lack of acceptance of any pronounced opinion, even of his own, 
but those who came in daily contact with him soon learned to estimate them at their true worth 
and to welcome them as leading to the truth as nearly as it might be possible to approximate 
to it. To his students Farlow, while critical of their endeavor, was always sympathetic, even 
to those who least appreciated his efforts. Many a student received material aid, either 
directly or indirectly, and found him most embarrassed, seeming even cynical, when he 
attempted to express his appreciation. I remember the case of one assistant who married 
during vacation time and chose for his wife a young woman as poor as himself. Farlow was 
much excited and said to me: "Mercy! Bless my soul! What do you think has happened? 
I have just been informed that X has been married. He only receives $500 for the next year 
and no prospect of any more for I don't know how many years. What are we coming to?" 
This was accompanied by a look which showed his concern and despair. X, however, seemed 
to manage and soon passed on from Harvard to a position yielding at least more than $500, 
but Farlow gave no sign of having intervened. This case is typical. 

In spite of differences of opinion as to the value of certain methods of work and the kind of 
results obtained, Farlow was always willing to look up points in literature and material for 
others and spent much of his time and energy in doing so, although often ill repaid in the final 
outcome. He was earnest rather than outwardly enthusiastic, but the attention he gave to 
details and larger points for those who desired to do good work was more significant than any 
amount of outward approval or compliment. He was a kind friend and counselor, although he 
seldom gave direct advice and his assistance, other than in direct line of his subject, was indirect 
and unobtrusive. As a host he was perfect, and at the gatherings at his rooms, or later in his 
own home, he knew how to draw out even the most diffident to join in the conversation and to 
feel at ease. He made the treasures of his library and his collections available, but always with 
circumspect reserve, to his students and visiting specialists, ever with due respect to their care 
and preservation. On the treasures of his mind, which were enormous, one could always draw 
and no one ever came away from a visit to him without added profit and comfort. His retentive 
memory and the breadth of his reading and acquisitive instinct made his knowledge encyclopedic 
in extent and his mastery of detail, without loss of coordination, was simply marvelous. At no 


time did he show greater control of his mental balance and wisdom in meeting a particular 
situation than in the last weeks of his life, when, knowing as a physician that his end was certainly 
approaching, with calmness and deliberation he arranged his various and very considerable 
affairs and consulted with those who were to carry on his work and those for whom he desired to 
provide. During the bast several years of his life, in fact, he had devoted himself to preparing 
for this end, which came peacefully to him, still in possession of his mental faculties. A word as 
to Farlow's health may not be amiss in this account. It may be said that, although never 
robust in the commonly accepted sense of the term, and although subject through much of his 
life to distressing and nerve-racking headaches, he lost little time from his work through illness 
and spent more than the ordinary working hours of the day in his pursuits. In later years 
he was less subject to these interruptions of his work and was amazingly cheerful as well 
as industrious. 

As a field naturalist, Farlow was keen and untiring, although few of his later students had 
the opportunity of observing him in this capacity. As to his earlier trips and methods I know 
little except from casual remarks. He was wont, at times, to compare the condition of the 
neighborhood of the time with what it was earlier, when, judging from his reminiscences over 
some specimens, he lamented the intrusion of asphalt pavements and garbage heaps in select 
localities and called to mind that Rev. Prof. A. P. Peabody, then an elderly man and college 
pastor, could remember back to the time when Arethusa bulbosa grew in one corner of the college 
yard. Even in my own day (1887-1891) at Cambridge there remained some traces of good 
collecting places, such as " Norton's Woods," a small patch of woodland to the north of the 
museum, " Glaciahs," near Fresh Pond, etc., but the tracks of progress were already blotting 
them out, although it was still possible to obtain a considerable number of both algae and fungi 
from them. Our few excursions with Farlow, especially those to the seashore, opened our eyes to 
the possibilities of keen-eyed and experienced collecting. Every form of plant life had its point, 
or points, of interest, and we returned home from such a trip laden down with specimens and our 
minds stored with information concerning them. His- first collecting was undoubtedly in the 
vicinity of Boston, Cambridge, and Newton. He early visited the seashore of the north coast of 
New England and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. These remained his principal 
collecting places, but in his early years of teaching he collected on the south shore of New England 
and proceeded on the north shore as far as Eastport. During his two years abroad he collected, 
probably extensively, in some favored localities. He mentions Switzerland particularly for the 
lichens and flowering plants. He was zealous also in his search for fungi, since he realized, as he 
intimated again and again in his writings, that little was to be obtained from American sources 
as to type or even reasonably authentic specimens of any kind, and an acquaintance with the 
traditions of mycology was one of the first points to be gained for future progress. His collections 
of marine algae at Woods Hole and Gloucester, Mass., and at Eastport, Me., supplemented by 
his considerable collections at other places along the northeastern coast of the United States, 
were the foundation of his Marine Algae of New England, and supplemented by his experiences 
along the Florida coast in 1875 and the California coast in 1885, both trips in company with Asa 
Gray, formed the personal experience basis of bis broader work on the marine algae of the United 
States. Farlow made trips to the Bermuda Islands in 1881 and 1900, collecting all sorts of 
cryptogams, but especially algae, fungi, and lichens. He detected during these visits several 
species not noticed by any of the other botanists visiting the islands. 

While Farlow's trips to Florida and to Mexico, California, and the Bermudas were general 
as to interest, yet marine algae were the principal feature. His mycological collecting was 
largely done nearer home and almost exclusively in New England. Owing to his attraction 
and more or less of propulsion toward phytopathology, the parasitic fungi are more prominent 
in his published writings, yet it must be emphasized that he was a great collector and student of 
the fleshy fungi and that he left unpublished a considerable series of magnificent colored plates 
(already printed) of our American species. His studies on the Gymnosporangia or Cedar- 
Apples of the United States (misprinted " The Gymnosporangia or Cider- Apples of the United 
States" in first proof) is classic and was the forerunner of such monographic work on our fungi. 


His other published work on the Rusts or Uredineae shows his interests and insight into this 
difficult group of plant parasites. He went so far as to have prepared and even lithographed 
figures of the spores (telia) of the species of some of the more critical genera, but the text was 
never prepared. In regard to the perplexing synonymy, he used to remark that it was very 
likely that Adam may have named all the flowering plants, but that Eve must have named the 
Uredineae. Eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire, particularly the White Mountain 
region, were his field for fungi, as well as other cryptogams, nor did he pass unnoticed the flower- 
ing plants. His friendship with such inveterate collectors and students as the Faxon brothers, 
led him even into other New England territory. In later life his summers were usually spent in 
New Hampshire, either at Shelburne, where he found so many rarities, or, after his marriage, in 
his summer residence at Chocorua, overlooking the lake, where the field for fungi of all kinds 
was of the richest. He himself has told the very interesting story of how, while resting on a 
couch on the veranda of his place at Chocorua, he heard a pattering noise and, looking, saw a 
squirrel with some object in his mouth. A movement alarmed the squirrel, who dropped what 
it was carrying and fled. On examining the object, Farlow found it to be one of the hypogaeous 
fungi which are so seldom collected and which, without this contribution from the friendly animal, 
he might never have seen. It brought also to his mind the larger suggestion of the dispersal 
agency we are now realizing so well in California, concerned in connection with hypogaeous 
fungi in general. In his honor, one of the shoulders of Mount Chocorua, running from the peak 
along the ledges to the "Brook Trail," where he did much of the collecting of his last years, has 
been named Farlow Ridge. The last years of his life, Farlow spent much of his time putting the 
various specimens he had collected into condition, and since his death some of them have been 
sent out under the title of "Reliquiae Farlowianae." While realizing that the "closet-botanist" 
was a very important and helpful member of the profession, his various expressions as to fear of 
his being classed strictly in that ilk gave evidence of the importance he attached to field studies. 
As a collector in the field, Farlow was very keen and successful, and his herbarium is full 
of results of his activity in this line. The influence of the great collections accumulated by Asa 
Gray, the foundation of the Gray Herbarium of to-day, rich in variety and in type material of 
the flowering plants and the vascular cryptogams, and poor, but not entirely lacking, in rep- 
resentatives, and very valuable ones, of the lower cryptogams, as well as the influence of Asa 
Gray himself, by example and by practice, led Farlow very early to the task of bringing 
together a similar authoritative and working collection of cryptogamous plants, particularly of 
lichens, algae, and fungi. Farlow's earlier experiences in attempting to put into order and 
availability the cryptogamic portions of Gray's herbarium and to arrange and classify his own 
collections were augmented by his many and extremely valuable purchases and exchanges. 
The first considerable collection to be purchased was the fungus herbarium of Rev. M. A. 
Curtis, of Asheville, N. C. This was acquired for Farlow by Asa Gray while the former was 
studying in Europe. The Curtis collection is rich in specimens from Schweinitz, in those 
collected by the various exploring expeditions, and in duplicate specimens retained by Curtis 
from sendings abroad for identification and publication by such European authorities as Elias 
Fries, Berkeley, De Notaris, Desmazieres, Duby, and others. This collection was purchased in 
1872. Through "friends" of Harvard University, there was purchased in 1898 the collections of 
Prof. Edward Tuckennan, of Amherst College, the founder of American lichenology. These 
collections were rich in types and other authentic specimens of Tuckerman and all the lichen- 
ologists of his day. The Tuckerman collections contain most of the older and rarer lichen 
Exsiccati as well as the unrivaled series of North American specimens collected by the founder 
and his correspondents. It has also a representation of the lichens of the various exploring 
expeditions undertaken by the United States. To these collections of fungi and lichens, Farlow 
added enormously through his own collecting and by those received through his pupils and 
correspondents. The marine algae are due to his own efforts and those of his correspondents, 
the only collection of any size acquired by purchase being the small De Alton Saunders collec- 
tion. In the collection of marine algae, however, are specimens from every then living phy- 
cologist of note as well as from those who preceded them. I am not in possession of any exact 


numerical estimate of these various collections which Farlow brought together, but figures give 
only a very inadequate idea of the value of the assembled material. In J.896, however, Farlow 
made the statement that the cryptogamic collections (in largest degree due to his own efforts) 
must number several hundred thousand. 

Farlow early appreciated the value of published sets of specimens ("Exsiccati" or "Exsic- 
catae") and diligently sought out such as might be purchased. His success in this direction was 
most extraordinary, so that in his Sketch of Cryptogamic Botany in Harvard University, he 
states that between 1872 and 1896 there were brought together (and kept together as sets), 
not including those complete or partial sets whose numbers were scattered through the general 
herbarium, 75 different series, including 64,000 specimens representing about 23,000 distinct 
species. From 1896 to 1919 he continued to add to this series, both of older and of current 
issues. It is to be remembered that each of these specimens is a datum of reference, and it is 
doubtful whether any such considerable collection of fundamental specimens exists anywhere 
else. In connection with this unique collection of published specimens of the lower cryptogams, 
it seems very desirable to note Farlow's attitude toward their preservation and arrangement. 
He kept each series of specimens with their printed labels, title pages of the fascicles, etc., together 
and intact, while the more usual method is to separate them from one another and distribute 
them through the general collection. By the latter method, the relation of the series, date of 
issue, etc., is lost. The specimens cease to be integral parts of a " published " series and 
are often difficult of location in the general collection because of shifting views as to 
synonymy, etc. Under Farlow's method the specimen, usually quoted by number, is readily 
located and all data as to details of publication may be readily ascertained. To facilitate access, 
Farlow indexed all these specimens and even made the proper cross references, so that the 
existing status of a specimen might readily be ascertained, or all published specimens relating 
to a certain species might readily be found and comparison made. Farlow left these collections, 
both general and published, to Harvard University under certain conditions. It is to the credit 
of those concerned in carrying out the trust that the conditions have been fulfilled and that the 
Farlow Herbarium is now lodged in a fireproof building, arranged and cared for as a basal unit, 
for the benefit of cryptogamic botanists of the present generation as well as of those to come. 

Under the present disposition of the Farlow Herbarium, the Farlow Library is housed in the 
same building and in convenient juxtaposition to the specimens. During his lifetime, Farlow 
used to lament the impossibility, in his estimation, of bringing the two together, the herbarium 
having been located in the museum building, while the library, in the later years of his life, 
occupied a fireproofed addition to his own residence. The necessary books had to be carried 
back and forth between the two locations or else consulted separately. As in the case of the 
series of published specimens, Farlow sought out and purchased rare publications relating to his 
specialties, bought current periodicals and books, acquired separates, and all that were of in- 
terest or importance. His eye was keen over book catalogues, and his library was as complete 
as an expert with means at his disposal could make it. Farlow was extremely careful of his 
books and rarely could be induced to loan one, and consultation was chiefly in his study and 
under his own eye. In this way he kept his collection intact and uninjured. He was an 
omnivorous reader through the whole field of botany, keeping track, largely through the original 
articles, of progress in special fields— others as well as his own. His memory was exceedingly 
retentive, and he provided a fund of information to his students, his botanical visitors, and his 

Associated with the work of accumulating two such fundamental adjuncts to accurate work 
on the lower cryptogams as a satisfactory herbarium and an adequate library, came the matter of 
making both and the results of coordinated labor in the two available. That was accomplished 
by a series of indices. References and cross references were made, both in connection with the 
literature and the published specimens. The species were carefully attended to and their host 
plants (or animals) in case of the parasitic species. The synonymy, not only from the published 
data but from critical research, was carefully worked out. The result was not only indices to 
facilitate the work of Farlow himself, his students, and his correspondents, but for publication. 


Several of these did come to the point of publication, such as a list, followed by a supplementary 
list, of works on North American fungi (1887 and 1888), a host index of the fungi of the United 
States (1888 and 1891), and finally the first part of the magnum opus, the Bibliographical Index 
of North American Fungi (1905), which included the fungi only as far as Badhamia, the rest 
remaining stdl in card form (approximating 350,000 references) awaiting funds to make it avail- 
able to the many to whom it would be of the greatest benefit. These indices have been of 
inestimable influence in the work on North American fungi, both as to those published and those 
unpublished. Information and criticism founded on the data contained in them has been 
freely given, especially in correspondence, and has tended to keep down errors, unnecessary 
publication, and constructively to keep accuracy up to a high level. One of the greatest boons 
to our current work on fungi would be conferred by the publication of this last great index and 
adequate provision for its continuance from Farlow's farseeing and most admirable inception. 

While the number of titles of the writings of William Gilson Farlow is ample, while the 
variety of topics he touched is very large, and while the new facts and considerations brought 
forward by him are very considerable, yet his critical knowledge of the various groups upon 
which he worked was so enormous and so detailed that we turn from what he has left us to 
that which we feel that he had to give with a sense of most serious loss. His very early publi- 
cation on the apogamy in certain ferns was clearly a student publication, a happening in a 
laboratory where its importance was realized by an able instructor of wide experience. Far- 
low's main interest, however, did not lie in that direction and he did not follow up that lead, 
although he retained a deep interest in apogamy and related phenomena, as I well remember 
from experiences somewhat over a quarter of a century later whde a student in his laboratory 
and in connection with pteridophyte apospory. His earliest papers concerned themselves 
with the marine algae, taxonomic and critical, and these led up to what many of us, and it seems 
to me justly, consider his most characteristic and outstanding publication: viz, his account, 
really manual, of the marine algae of New England and adjacent coasts. In arrangement, 
in content, and especially in critical and explanatory remark, this small volume is a model, 
refreshing, instructive, and intriguing to personal effort on the part of reader or student. 
Farlow's matchless humor and keen characterization show themselves again and again. For 
example, speaking of the common Leathesia, he notes that it is "sometimes called potatoes 
by the unromantic dwellers on the shore, " or again, in speaking of a nomen nudum, Calli- 
thamnion Tocwottoniensis of Olney's list, which he says: "fortunately for printers and the 
throats of American algologists has never been described. " It was one of Farlow's sincere 
desires that a new manual of New England algae be prepared and issued, and the task fittingly 
devolved on Frank Shipley Collins, who had accomplished so much in that direction, but he, 
too, passed away without having completed the task. 

Through his connection with the Bussey Institution and the turning of his attention from 
his favorites, the marine algae, to what later came to be called plant pathology, or phyto- 
pathology, Farlow gave us the results of his work on c.ertain species and groups of parasitic 
fungi. The potato rot and the grapevine mildew in particular led him to the Peronosporaceae 
and their relatives, and his papers on these organisms were for long years authoritative. Onion 
smut, the black knot of cherry, and many miscellaneous plant diseases caused him to write 
other illuminating papers, but his chief attraction along these lines seemed to be the group 
of rusts, or Uredineae, as they were called for so long a period. His pioneer paper on the 
Gymnosporangia led to a series of investigations, first, in the way of cultural studies by 
Thaxter and, later, by others, to determine their exact heteroecism. His critical notes on that 
troublesome question, synonymy, particularly vexatious in the group of the Urcdineae, and 
his notes on some species in the third and in the eleventh centuries of Ellis's North American 
Fungi (18S3) are among his important contributions. He likewise elucidated and arranged 
the Synchitrium species of the United States. All these— Synchitria, Peronosporaceae, Usti- 
agineae, and Uredineos — parasitic groups of fungi and of both biologic and economic interest, 
he touched but to adorn, and we feel bereft that out of his encyclopedic knowledge of these 
groups he did not find the opportunity to yield still more than he did in permanent form. We 


feel that we might have expected, and with all propriety, one or even several monumental 
works such as the Bibliographical Index to North American Fungi, already alluded to, some 
monographs and revisions, but it was not to be. His index work, published and unpublished, 
numerous lists and occasional notes such as most of his later publications consisted of, are 
most grateful, but aggravating, as promise unfulfilled. His knowledge of the fleshy fungi 
was second only to that of his on the parasitic fungi, but we possess little of it. Even his 
coUection of wonderful printed plates was not brought to publication. He is perhaps to be 
envied in that he leaves us in the Dosition of Oliver Twist, asking hungrily for more with never 
an approach toward satiety. 

Farlow's attitude toward general questions of a botanical or biological nature was largely 
expressed in conversation or in his public addresses, some of which have, fortunately for us, 
been printed. In conversation and formal address, he showed keenness of vision as well as 
great modesty, which he was inclined to cloak under pessimistic or sarcastic utterance. His 
classic statements, humorous or sarcastic, were generally the opening statements or used at 
times in the body of the address to suggest a "reductio ad absurdum." There has already been 
quoted in another account of Farlow an extract from his address before the American Associa- 
tion in 1905. In introducing his subject, which was entitled "The popular conception of the 
scientific man at the present day," Doctor Farlow says: 

What is or is not progress, depends, of course, upon the point of view. Some are so far ahead of the major- 
ity that they cannot see how much progress is made by those behind them. Others are so far in the rear that 
they cannot distinguish what is going on ahead of them. We must also admit that there are different direc- 
tions in which progress can be made. You have all seen the agile crab, and been surprised to find how rapidly 
he gets over the ground, although he never seems to go ahead, but to scramble off sidewise. The crab perhaps 
wonders why men are so stupid as to try to move straight forward. It is a popular belief, but, not being a zool- 
ogist, I caDnot vouch for its correctness, that the squid progresses backward, discharging a large amount of 
ink. One might perhaps ask: Is the progress of science sometimes like that of the crab, rapid, but not straight- 
forward; or, like the squid, may not the emission of a large amount of printer's ink really conceal a backward 

On another occasion, but at dinner and consequently informal, Farlow alluded to conven- 
tions and meetings and their purpose by relating the difficulties Mrs. Farlow experienced in 
obtaining eggs of the proper quality. On consulting with various dealers she was instructed 
and had trials of various grades, from "fresh," through "strictly fresh" to "newly laid" eggs. 
On inquiring as to how one could tell when eggs were newly laid she was informed, "by the 
cackle." Farlow then said, "How are we going to tell the newly laid discoveries at our meetings? 
The answer is, 'by the cackle.' " His attitude toward most of the newly announced discover- 
ies was, as was natural to him in all things, skeptical. His address expresses this over and 
over again. On one occasion (Amer. Soc. Naturalists, 1886), he said: 

Probably a good many of my hearers have heard the remark, "I suppose you must make considerable out 
of your scientific papers." Unfortunately, with the exception of text-books of a lower grade, one is only too 
glad not to be money out of pocket. I fear that you all can bear witness that, with rare exceptions, your pub- 
lished papers have never paid for themselves. It is only after the results of research have reached a homoeo- 
pathic dilution in some text-book or popular article that they begin to pay. Of such dilutions we already have 
an abundance, and the more important point is to get something new which will bear dilution. Unfortunately 
the public do not clearly see the difference between the original work and the dilution. The former does not 
pay, and needs encouragement; the latter is a commercial article having a recognized money value. 

A characterization such as this is certainly definite and not by any means "out of order." 
It is matched by the graceful closing of the same address: 

But you will probably think that this paper is not like a ball of twine, which, however much it may be 
twisted and snarled, really has an end. There is much more I should like to say on the subject; as it is, I 
have tried to avoid particular specifications as to subjects of research, which would be interesting only to bot- 
anists, but to state broadly some of the difficulties in the way of botanical research, and to indicate the path 
which promises to be most favorable in the future. If my life proves to be as long as your patience, there 
will be plenty of opportunities hereafter to consider some points which I have been unable to touch upon today. 

Aside from his witticisms, as such, and often in connection with them, Farlow presented 
his general ideas in the same clean-cut and pointed fashion in which his detailed work was done. 


[Vol. XXI, 

His clear outline of " The task of American botanists" in 1886, and his analysis of "Biological 
teaching in colleges," in the same year, and his humorous but searching characterization of 
"The popular conception of the scientific man at the present day" convey no less direct and 
profitable food for thought than his masterly and detailed treatment of "The conception of 
species as affected by recent investigations on fungi." It is from these published addresses 
that one may obtain some vivid and truthful ideas concerning the nature and work of the 
man who wrote them. If one may add, as many still living are able to, impressions from per- 
sonal contact, informal conversations and talks at small dinners or in company, one may dis- 
count certain impressions of cynicism, pessimism, and sarcasm, and realize the kindliness 
yet clear vision of him, whom all those of us who did know him will love and revere. 

As a conversationalist, Farlow was recognized as more than usually endowed with ready 
wit and repartee. The witticisms which characterize his public addresses were even more 
abundant and more pointed at times when the occasion called for them. To the bumptious 
or overgrateful person alike, his shafts struck directly and the conceited received short shrift 
at his hands. Yet he was ever gentle with the sensitive and, although really embarrassed, had 
extreme sympathy and desire to assist in the case of misfortune on the part of the truly deserving. 
He gave of his deep wells of information at times of friendly intercourse. Well do I remember 
being informally inducted into the history of the development of our knowledge of cryptogamic 
botany. This happened on the occasion of my more or less formal evening calls upon him 
in his rooms, then in Holyoke House. After a short call which I presumed would be agree- 
able to him and I rose to go, he would detain me, with my hand on the door knob, for an hour 
or more while he discoursed, almost in a monologue, on the personality, ancestry, botanical 
pedigree, and accomplishments of some distinguished botanist or botanists who had come up 
in our work. There was much of the unwritten history in these informal talks and food for 
thought as well as stimulus to further reading after I had finally been allowed to say my last 
adieu and depart, full of increased knowledge. At his dining club and elsewhere it was more 
or less a practice to bait Farlow, as it were, to bring out his ready and often biting repartee. It 
was a contest of some of the best wits of Harvard University, and Farlow is said usually to have 
borne away chief bonors. 

Farlow 's letters were by no means the least of his influences exerted on behalf of what 
was best in cryptogamic work in the United States and even abroad. His correspondents 
seem to have been limited to those interested in any phase of cryptogamic botany. He was 
in constant interchange of views, literature, and specimens with practically all of the foreign 
cryptogamic botanists, while those at home had mostly been students with him or later in the 
cryptogamic laboratories at Harvard University. All difficulties, and particularly puzzles, 
were submitted to him, and while, at times, somewhat slow to answer, he generally replied 
briefly but to the point, giving much of his valuable time to this work, solely for the sake of 
assisting his friends or, possibly at times, to confound those of whose methods and work he 
could not approve. He must have written many thousand letters, with few exceptions in his 
own scrawly hand, and of which he, himself, was the severest critic. He did not accustom 
himself to a secretary or to a typewriter. In his experience were many extraordinary requests 
and he himself speaks feelingly (1887) of "the impecunious ignoramus who informs you that he 
is going to write a book, to include all the fungi of this continent, and coolly asks you to give 
or lend him all your books and specimens and tell him how to begin. " While something definite 
is likely to have happened to this particular type of person, yet I have no doubt that if there 
were a grain of reasonableness to be discerned in such a character, Farlow would have recognized 
it and not have withheld such aid as he might be able to render. We have all fed upon the 
crumbs which dropped so plentifully from his well-filled larder and yet find ourselves unable 
to express our indebtedness and gratitude except in a few colorless words. 

As a critic, Farlow was thorough and at times severe, but not intruding his criticism other- 
wise than called for by his duty to one of his students, nor unasked for. In his many reviews 
of particular papers or outlines of progress he was manifestly fair. He did not assume the role 
of mentor as Gray did occasionally in his later years. There is one review of Gray's, a rebuke of 


some recent work in cryptogamic botany, in which the voice is the voice of Gray but the hand 
seems most likely to have been that of Farlow. He always warned us who were composing 
our youthful papers under his direction against too strong statements about any writer or 
his works. "Do not say," he often remarked, "that he is wrong or make use of any such 
direct expression, no matter what you think; simply quote him or his work with great 
respect and then show that he is thoroughly mistaken." This is a practice he always carried out 
in his own writings. 

Farlow's influence as a builder up of unrivaled facilities for work in cryptogamic botany 
was supplemented by his influence on the teaching of this subject as well as on the teaching 
of botany in general. Few of us think of him as the founder of a pedagogical system and per- 
haps it is not possible to advance that claim; nevertheless, his methods and his viewpoints 
were so distinct, so analytic, and based so firmly on the psychologic aspects of both teacher 
and taught that he at least emphasized in botanical pedagogy a distinct and practically novel 
method. Farlow has given some of his ideas in his Sketch of Cryptogamic Botany at Harvard 
University from 1S"4 to 1896, and those who have access to a copy of this very interesting and 
instructive publication will do well to consider most carefully what he says. I suspect, how- 
ever, that this privately printed document is not readily at hand to many, and I excuse myself 
for having quoted or abstracted many details from it. His other pedagogical disquisition, 
Biological Teaching in Colleges (1886), is readily accessible and much of his own attitude 
toward methodology is contained in it, with touches of his own personality which render it 
most illuminating. 

It was my own good fortune to be associated with him as assistant (1888-1891) in the 
first part of what was called natural history 5 (botanical instruction being given the first half 
and zoological the second) and that, too, at a time when his ideas were fully developed. The 
first four plants used by him in this course were the distinctive features, since the training toward 
developing power in observing, recording, and inferring the structure and activity was the point 
laid stress upon. We began with a yeast cake, rock candy, and water. The rock candy was 
dissolved in water in a tall but slender glass cylinder and the yeast cake was then pulverized 
and added. The jar (or several of them) was placed in a warm place, usually on the window 
sill, where the student could look through it, and this was done several hours, or days even 
before it was to be used by the class, so that each cylinder might be evidencing proper activ- 
ity. The details of preparation were announced to the class and they were asked to record 
in notes and drawings what they saw. The results, of course, are obvious, and the answers 
varied. The students were led by questions to distinguish their observations from their 
inferences. The plain facts of the rock candy being sugar and of the fermentation which most of 
them saw being an inference, as well as how they might, or might not, be able to demonstrate the 
truth of one or another inference, was brought out through questioning, objecting, and suggesting. 
Then the students were directed to make examinations with the compound microscope, using 
low power and then high powers, and to test with iodine and follow that with sulphuric acid 
of proper strength. Having listened to lectures on the cell and having heard that the "yeast 
plant" was concerned, all the students found cells, although usually their first finds were either 
air bubbles or starch grains. Many desired to know what they were to look for and seemed 
disappointed or even helpless when advised to determine, draw, and describe as many kinds 
of things as they might be able to distinguish in their preparations. After drawings were made, 
the students wanted names, but Farlow always suggested that they study each kind of object 
under each power of the microscope and under the influence of each reagent before coming to 
a conclusion. When the yeast cells were finally distinguished from the air bubbles, starch 
grains, and bacteria associated with them, they frequently proceeded to endow them with 
nuclei and even at times with chlorophyll. By the time the yeast exercise was completed most 
of the students had come to realize the manner of procedure and to distinguish "what they 
could see" from "what was purely a matter of inference." 

After yeast came Spirogyra, the same care being exorcised to emphasize method; and 
besides iodine and sulphuric acid, glycerin was applied to untreated filaments and also strong 


alcohol. The students thus became acquainted with a vegetable cell, its wall, chromatophores, 
pyrenoids, and starch inclusions, the nucleus suspended in the center of the vacuole, and the 
primordial utricle, being induced to reason out each part and its structure by the "Yankee" 
method of answering one question by asking another. As a final test, each student was 
required to draw a diagram of a median longitudinal section of the Spirogyra cell. Thus the 
student was induced to infer the details of an object with three principal dimensions and portray 
it graphically. Spirogyra was followed by Nitella to show cyclosis, and a diagram of a median 
longitudinal section was also required to represent relation of layers from cell wall to center 
of a joint or tip cell. The final test of power to interpret solids came with the study of pine wood. 
First a transverse section was cut and mounted in balsam, so as to be properly cleared. This 
section was contrived so as to cover several annual rings. A careful drawing of this section 
was required, and the student was asked concerning his idea of the shape of the cells in pine 
wood, the answer usually being "square." He was also led to realize that there were several 
varieties of cells in the section and, by comparison with the microscopic view of the piece of 
wood whence the section had been cut, as to the direction of the center of the original tree, 
and consequently to distinguish spring wood, autumnal wood, and medullary rays. Most 
students were brought to the point of acknowledging that the only way to be certain about the 
shape of the cells would be to cut a longitudinal section. Over this would ensue a discussion 
as to what direction the longitudinal section must be cut, whether in any longitudinal direction 
relative to rings or rays or parallel to one or the other. The discussion in this connection, 
aided by suggestions as to consequences, led to the cutting of radial and tangential sections. 
About this time the student was frankly and thoroughly puzzled and at his wit's end as to 
how to match up three such different looking sections as those cut transversely, radially, and 
tangentially through coniferous wood. By directing attention through questions as to direction 
of center, occurrence, etc., the identification of the various kinds of cells and discoid markings 
was accomplished in all three sections. The final exercise, that of drawing in isometric pro- 
jection the corner of a block of pine wood and matching the cell outlines, finally and emphati- 
cally completed the training in solid geometry and at least induced caution as to answering 
questions without careful consideration. After these several preliminary exercises the course 
proceeded to various selected plant types, from the simpler to the more complex, and the benefit 
of the preliminary training became apparent. The attack directed toward each problem was 
more straightforward, the reasoning more cautious and based on more actual observations, 
and the inferences drawn more logical. 

Natural history 5, especially as to the first half, became nationally famous and one heard 
of it in various places and with differing comment. It was said that the instructor gave his 
students a razor, a microscope, and a broom handle and insisted upon a complete report. 
Many were the wild surmises and improbable hypotheses presented by the students, some 
received by Farlow with his inimitable chuckle, but all treated with respect and seriously argued. 
The instructor had need of ready wit and resource. The son of a distinguished member of 
Harvard University, after having ruined his best razor, told me in all solemnity that he con- 
sidered that form of implement a very poor tool for cutting pine wood. The attitude of Farlow 
toward his students, especially beginners, but applying to all, was much more psychologically 
pedagogic than was usual in his time. It was something of the point of view of Louis Agassiz, 
but was more directive than his, so far as I may learn. He often said that if he were to live 
his life over again he would be a psychologist like "Willie" James because then he would not 
be compelled to bother to collect specimens everywhere and could dismiss them when through 
with studying them. His classification of students given in his naturalist address of 1886 is 
typical: Two classes, one of which was composed of individuals who wanted to be told what 
to see, and the other of those who knew so much ( ?) that they began to lecture on what they 
thought the specimen ought to show and who were led into extraordinary errors through their 
superficial training. The latter is the kind of student who, to use Farlow's own words, "called 
a hole in a cell wall a bioplast," and was highly pleased with his achievement untd he was 
asked what a bioplast was. "The suggestion that a hole might without any great violence 


to the English language be called a hole, was timely, if not pleasing." In quite another vein 
and yet to the same point, he said (The Task of American Botanists) : "It is well to have our 
standard high but it should not be unattainable." "We may well set before our young men 
such models as De Bary, Sachs, Strasburger, and others; but it is just possible that a young 
man who is determined to be a De Bary, a Sachs, a Strasburger, or nothing, may have to 
adopt the latter alternative." "The trouble is, too many young men assume that the work 
they are destined to do is of the highest grade and they expect to be provided with all the 
refined apparatus and complete equipment which the leaders abroad possess." "They will 
not begin the simplest thing without an array of reagents which would be the envy of a good 
many chemists and the number of staining fluids which they must have around them would 
make the rainbow blush at its own poverty." "One young man thinks that he can not do 
any work because he has not a Jung microtome, another has been unable to do anything during 
a vacation at the seashore because he had no osmic acid. The botanist who declares that 
he can not do physiological work because he has not a large amount of apparatus would do 
well to recall the case of a Mr. Charles Darwin who published something on the power of move- 
ment in plants." His whole philosophy as to development of power rather than sponge capacity 
may be considered as being summed up in the sentence: "You can not make a boy a good 
mountain climber by carrying him up the Mount Washington Railway, no matter at how rapid 
a rate; and, in ordinary life, there are many mountains to be climbed, up which there is no 

As a lecturer, Farlow had a manner of his own. Incisive, yet coherent, with emphasis and 
yet not neglecting minor matters, glancing sidewards to discover the effect being made, biting 
the ends of his mustache when he paused to allow the effect of a rhetorical question to sink 
in. He usually began: " The subject of my lecture to-day is — by the way, are there any ques- 
tions about the last lecture"; and when there were none, continuing, "I am pleased to see that 
you understood it so well." He was accustomed to emphasize his points by touching the desk 
in front of him with the outstretched forefinger of his' right hand. He was more than success- 
ful in extracting the meat from a topic and laying it plainly before his hearers. He had a horror 
of extraneous details, although he said they often help. His classical illustration was of ergot. 
"Ergot," he told his class, "is a very interesting fungus. By the way, it grows about here in 
the flowers of the wild rye on the banks of the Charles River," going on to describe its charac- 
ters, etc. On examination, asking about ergot, he received the reply: "Ergot is a plant grow- 
ing on the banks of Charles River." 

With advanced students and those studying for higher degrees his methods were, of 
course, different, but he always used the question method, answer and rebuttal following. He 
could ask the most searching questions, taking the wind completely out of the sails of the over- 
confident and reducing superficial conclusions from a turgid condition to that of complete col- 
lapse. He never assumed an authoritative tone himself, but always expressed a conclusion 
tentatively and often interrogatively, unless it were negative, in which case he was often most 
decisive. I remember well his statement as to the claims of a botanist who had distributed a 
number of sterile specimens of a critical genus of the green algae, claiming, when remonstrated 
with, the ability to determine such specimens, whether other botanists could or not. "One 
may not be able to say definitely whether such sterile specimens are undoubtedly of a certain 
species," said he, "but one can say what they are not, and the specimens distributed certainly 
do not belong to the species whose names are on these labels." In the first work of research I 
attempted with Farlow it was necessary to compare the structure of an alga (Tuomeya) with 
which I was at work with that of the type specimen. As Farlow possessed only a wee frag- 
ment of the type, I could take only one slice from it, and I was compelled to make a section of 
my material which corresponded exactly with that slice before he would allow satisfactory 
identity. I finally succeeded, but it cost me nearly a week's time to obtain that identical sec- 
tion. Farlow could find more flaws and raise more objections than any other instructor with 
whom I ever came into contact, but when he finally did approve there was the satisfaction 
that little further destructive criticism could be directed against it. On this account, the writ- 


ing of a paper under Farlow's supervision was an experience long to be remembered, but also 
an experience worth while. Ever}?- sentence was discussed, both as to the truth of the statement 
and the way in which this truth might be conveyed. 

Farlow's influence on the teaching and research of botany is by no means confined to the 
cryptogamic side, although most of his activity belongs there. His example, in its manifold 
excellence, penetrated to many fields not peculiarly his own. By the time of his death he had 
become the Nestor of American botanists, and his appearance at the annual meetings was 
always hoped for and thoroughly appreciated when he could attend. His words of wisdom, 
his witty remarks, his rare addresses, and his after-dinner speeches were events. In Cam- 
bridge he received and entertained visiting botanists so that his home became a veritable 
Mecca to those seeking counsel and consolation. He was welcomed into all American societies 
to which he was eligible. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 
1879. He was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 
and of the Botanical Society of America. He was a corresponding member of various societies 
and associations of England, France, Germany, and Italy; in fact the list of his honors in this 
direction is long and varied, even for a distinguished member of Harvard University. 

Besides the degrees of B. A., M. A., and M. D., in course, Harvard University conferred 
the degree of LL. D. in 1896. The University of Glasgow in 1901 and that of Wisconsin in 
1904 conferred upon Farlow the same degree and the University of Upsala that of Ph. D. in 
1907, on the two hundredth anniversary of the birthday of Linnaeus. Many species were 
named in his honor and at least two genera. He died full of honors, revered and respected by 
his colleagues and sincerely mourned by his former students and his friends. I may be 
allowed, in closing, to quote the final paragraph entered on the minutes of the faculty of arts 
and sciences of Harvard University, on December 2, 1919, as a fitting epitaph: 

A pioneer, a cultivated and learned man of wide influence, a stimulating teacher and keen investigator, a 
loyal friend, Dr. Farlow was original, versatile, conscientious, modest, sympathetic, and generous; with him 
has passed from the Harvard group of scholars a unique personality. 

I desire to make grateful acknowledgment to Mrs. William G. Farlow, Prof. Roland Thaxter, 
and Mr. A. P. D. Piquet for assistance and suggestion. I have obtained material and inspira- 
tion from the following biographical notices and resolutions : 

Thaxter, Roland, Winthrop J. V. Osterhout, and Theodore W. Richards. 

Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Minute on the life and services of Prof. William Gilson Farlow. Harvard 
Univ. Gazette, 15 : 60, Dec. 13, 1919. 
Thaxter, Roland. William Gilson Farlow. Harvard Graduates Magazine: 269, Dec. 1919 (with portrait). 

William Gilson Farlow. Bot. Gazette, 69:83-87. Jan. 1920 (with portrait). 

Clinton, G. P. William Gilson Farlow. Phytopathology, 10 : 1, Jan. 1920 (with portrait). 

Blakeslee, A. F., Roland Thaxter, and William Trelease. William Gilson Farlow. Amer. Journ. 

Botany, 7: 173, May 1920 (with portrait and bibliography). 
Riddle, L. W. William Gilson Farlow. Rhodora, 22 : 1, Jan. 1920 (with portrait). 


The following list of Doctor Farlow's publications was prepared from memoranda furnished 
by Mr. A. P. D. Piquet and is as nearly complete as it has been possible to make it except that 
none of his numerous reviews of books and articles have been included. This list was published 
by Blakeslee, Thaxter, and Trelease in connection with their notice of Doctor Farlow's life in 
the American Journal of Botany for May, 1920. 

1871. Cuban seaweeds. Amer. Nat. 5 :201. 

1872. Marine alga;. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 14 : 64. 

1S73. List of the seaweeds or marine algae of the south coast of New England. Rept. U. S. Fish Comm. 1871-2 : 

1874. Notes from the journal of a botanist in Europe. I. Amer. Nat. 8:1. II. Amer. Nat. 8:112. III. 
1 Amer. Nat. 8: 295. 

An asexual growth from the prothallus of Pteris cretica. Bot. Zeit. 32 : 181. 

The same. Quart. Journ. Micr. Sci. II, 14 : 266. 

An asexual growth from the prothallus of Pteris serrulata. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sci. 9 : 68. 


1875. List of the marine algse of the United States, with notes of new and imperfectly known species. Proc. 

Amer. Acad. 10 :351. 
The potato rot. Bull. Bussey Inst. 1 : 319-338. 

1876. Gustave Thuret. Journ. Bot. 14 :4. 

Fungi heaped up in pines by squirrels. Amer. Nat. 10 : 112. 

On a disease of olive and orange trees occurring in California in the spring of 1875. Bull. Bussey Inst. 

I :404. Abstr. in Journ. Bot. 14 :287. 
The same. Monthly Micr. Journ. 16 : 111. 
The same. Amer. Journ. Sei. Ill, 12 : 37. 

On the American grapevine mildew. Bull. Bussey Inst. I : 415. 
Synopsis of the Peronosporea? of the United States. Bull. Bussey Inst. I :426. 
List of fungi found in the vicinity of Boston. Bull. Bussey Inst. I : 430. 
The black knot. Bull. Bussey Inst. I : 440. 
University instruction in botany. Amer. Nat. 10 : 287. 
Spores of Blodgettia confervoides. Amer. Nat. 10 : 428. 

Alga? : in Contributions to the natural history of Kerguelen Island. Part II. Bull. U. S. Nat. Mus. 3 : 30 
List of the marine algse of the United States. Rept. U. S. Fish Comm. 1875 : 1. 
Algse: in Report on a peculiar condition of the water supplied to the city of Boston 1875-76, by Professor 

Nichols, Dr. Farlow, and Mr. Burgess. Rept. Cochituate Water Board, Boston 1876 : 10. 

1877. Remarks on some algae found in the water supplies of the city of Boston. Bull. Bussey Inst. 2, pt. 1 : 75. 
Botany; pp. CLXXV-CLXXX, in Annual Record of Science and Industry for 1876. 

Notes on some common diseases caused by fungi. Bull. Bussey Inst. 2 : 106. 

On some alga? new to the United States. Proc. Amer. Acad. 12 : 235. 

Onion smut. Rept. Mass. Board Agr. 1876, pt. 2 : 164. 

Report on matters connected with the Boston water supply. Rept. Water Board, Boston 1877 : 4. 

1878. On the synonymy of some species of Uredinese. Proc. Amer. Acad. 13 : 251. 
Diseases of fruit-bearing trees. Rept. Mass. Board Agr. 1877 : 218. 

1S79. Botany: in Annual Record of Science and Industry (editor S. F. Baird) 1S78. Also in other volumes. 
Diseases of forest trees. Trans. Mass. Hort. Soc. 1879 :44. 
List of alga? collected at points in Cumberland Sound during the autumn of 1877. Bull. U. S. Nat. Mus. 

The sea weeds of Salt Lake. Preliminary report. Amer. Nat. 13 : 701. 

1880. On the nature of the peculiar reddening of salted codfish during the summer season. Rept. U. S. Fish 

Comm. 1878 : 969. 
The Gymnosporangia or cedar apples of the United States. Anniversary Memoirs Boston Soc. Nat. 

Hist. pp. 1-38. 
On some impurities of drinking water caused by vegetable growths. Rept. Mass. Board of Health, 

Lunacy, and Charity, 1 :suppl. 131. 

1881. Unusual habitat of a Coprinus. Bull. Torrey Club. 8 : 67. 
Note on Laminaria?. Bull. Torrey Club. 8 : 67. 

Notes on Gymnosporangia. Bull. Torrey Club. 8 : 85. 

In Burnett, S. M.: Otomyces purpureus (Wreden) in the human ear. Archives of Otology, 10 :324. 

In Remsen, I.: Report on a peculiar condition of the water of Boston in November, 1881. City of Boston, 

Document 143 (1881) : 15. 
An account of recent progress in botany (for the years 1879 and 1880). Smithsonian Rept. 1880 : 313. 

1882. The marine alga? of New England and adjacent coast. Rept. U. S. Fish Comm. 1879 : 1-210. Separates 

publ. in 1881. 
American grape mildew in Europe. Bot. Gaz. 7 : 30. 
Grape mildew. Bot. Gaz. 7:42. 

Notes on New England alga?. Bull. Torrey Club. 9 : 65. 
Swarm spores of Closterium. Amer. Monthly Micr. Journ. 3:118. 

1883. Notes on fresh-water alga?. Bot. Gaz. 8 : 224. 

Notes on some species in the third and eleventh centuries of Ellis 's North American Fungi. Proc. Amer. 

Acad. 18:65. 
Note on Phallus togatus, Kalchb. Bot. Gaz. 8:258. 
Cryptogams; in Watson, S.: List of plants from southwestern Texas and northern Mexico, collected 

chiefly by Dr. E. Palmer in 1879-80. Proc. Amer. Acad. 18:190. 
Notes on some Ustilaginea? of the United States. Bot. Gaz. 8:271. 
Additional note on Ustilaginea?. Bot. Gaz. 8:318. 

Botrytis Rileyi Farlow; in Riley, C. V.: Report of the entomologist. Rept. U. S. Dept. Agr. 1883:121. 
Enumeration of the Peronosporea? of the United States. Bot. Gaz. 8:305, 327. 
An account of progress in botany in the year 1881. Smithsonian Rept. 1881:391. 


1884. Notes on the cryptogamic flora of the White Mountains. Appalachia 3:232. 
Additions to the Peronosporeas of the United States. Bot. Gaz. 9:37. 
Maladies des monies seches. Rev. Mycol. 6:197. 

The spread of epidemic diseases in plants. Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. 32:307. 

An account of the progress of botany in the year 1882. Smithsonian Rept. 1882:551. 

Notes on a fungus parasitic on a species of Potamogeton. Trans. Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club 2:127. 

1885. Notes on Fungi. Bot. Gaz. 10:219. 

The Synchytria of the United States. Bot. Gaz. 10:235. 

A new locality for Nelumbium. Bull. Torrey Club. 12:40. 

Notes on some injurious fungi of California. Bot. Gaz. 10:346. Also in Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. 

34:300 and Proc. Soc. Prom. Agr. Sci. 1885:29. 
An account of the progress of botany in the year 1883. Smithsonian Rept. 1883:681. 
Lower Cryptogamia; in Ray, Lieut. P. H.: Report of the international polar expedition to Point Barrow, 

Alaska 1885:192. 
Notes on some species of Gymnosporangium and Chrysomyxa of the United States. Proc. Amer. Acad. 


1886. Botany at Harvard. Bot. Gaz. 11:43. 

Biological teaching in colleges. Pop. Sci. Monthly 28 : 577. 

The Brothers Tulasne. Bot. Gaz. 11:93. 

Nostoc group (Phycochromacea?). Bot. Gaz. 11:149. 

White Mountain Floras; in "The Appalachians." White Mountain Echo 9:12. 

Yeast (Saccharomycetes). Bot. Gaz. 11:150. 

Development of Roesteliae from Gymnosporangia. Bot. Gaz. 11:189. 

The development of the Gymnosporangia of the United States. Bot. Gaz. 11:234. 

Puccinia mahacearum Mont, in Massachusetts. Bot. Gaz. 11:309. 

On a supposed disease of roses caused by a fungus. Proc. Soc. Prom. Agr. Sci. 1886:233. 

Notes on Arctic algoe, based principally on collections made at Ungava Bay by Mr. L. M. Turner. Proc. 

Amer. Acad. 21:469. 

1887. The task of American botanists. Pop. Sci. Monthly 31:305. 

Vegetable parasites and evolution. Bot. Gaz. 12:173. Also Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. 36:233 (1888). 

H. W. Ravenel. Bot. Gaz. 12: 194. 

(With Trelease, W.) List of works on North American fungi, with the exception of Schizomycetes, pub- 
lished before 1887. Harvard Univ. Libr. Bull., nos. 37-38 (Bibliographical Contributions No. 25), 
with Supplement: Fungi Exsiccati Am.-septentrionalis. 

Vegetable parasites of codfish. Bull. U. S. Fish Comm. 6:1. 

Aecidium on Juniperus Virginiana. Bot. Gaz. 12:205. 

1888. Asa Gray. Bot. Gaz. 13:49. 

Apospory in Pteris aquilina. Annals of Botany 2:383. 

A curious vegetable growth on animals. Garden and Forest 1:99. 

Tubercles of leguminous roots. Garden and Forest 1 : 135. 

Fungus diseases of insects. Garden and Forest 1:159. 

The cultivation of truffles. Garden and Forest 1 : 194. 

Apical growth in Fucus. Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. 36:271. 

Algae and fungi; in Enumeration of the plants collected by Dr. H. H. Rusby irT South America 1885^1886. 
Bull. Torrey Club 15:183. 

Anton de Bary. Garden and Forest 1:15. 

Siphoplychium casparyi, Rfski. Journ. Mycol. 4:82. 

Memorial of Asa Gray. Proc. Amer. Acad. 23:321. 

Remarks on the collections of lichens belonging to the Boston Society of Natural History. Proc. Boston 
Soc. Nat. Hist. 23:274. 

Notes on fungus diseases in Massachusetts in 1888. Proc. Soc. Prom. Agr. Sci. 1888:25. 

A supplemental list of works on North American fungi. Harvard Univ. Library Bibliographical Contri- 
butions no. 31. 

Asa Gray. Ber. Deutsch. Bot. Gesell. 6: XXXI. 

(With Seymour, A. B.) A provisional host index of the fungi of the United States. Part I, Polypetalae. 
Cambridge, Mass. 

1889. On some new and imperfectly known algae of the United States^_I^_Bull. Torrey Club 16:1. 
White huckleberries. Garden and Forest 2:50. 

Leaf spots on greenhouse plants. Garden and Forest 2:66. 

Appendix to the paper on the life history of Macrosporium parasiticum, Thum. by Kingo Miyabe. Ann. 

Bot. 3:26. 
Notes on fungi. Bot. Gaz. 14:187. 
Miles Joseph Berkeley. Garden and Forest 2:410. 


1890. (With Seymour, A. B.) A provisional host index of the fungi of the United States. Part II. Cam- 

bridge, Mass., 1890. 
Poisonous action of Clalhrus columnatus. Bot. Gaz. 15:45. 
Curious case of germination in Citrus decumana. Bot. Gaz. 16:179. 
Leo Lesquereux. Proc. Amer. Acad. 25:320. 
Botany at the University of Montpellier. Garden and Forest 3 : 378. 

1891. Karl Wilhelm von Naegeli. Proc. Amer. Acad. 26:376. 

Diseases of trees likely to follow from mechanical injuries. Trans. Mass. Hort. Soc. 1891: 140. 
(With Seymour, A. B.) A provisional host index of the fungi of the United States. Part III. Cam- 
bridge, Mass., 1891. 

1892. Dr. Mayr on the parasitic fungi of North American forest trees. Garden and Forest 5:37. 

Notes on collections of cryptogams from the higher mountains of New England. Proc. Boston Soc. 

Nat. Hist. 25:387. 
Notes on fungi; in Sargent, C. S.: The Silva of North America. Under fifty-six host genera, 1891-1898. 
Diseases of mushrooms. Garden and Forest 5 : 590. 

1893. The rose of Jericho. Garden and Forest 6 : 23. 

The ginger-beer plant. Garden and Forest 6:50 (editorial). 

Notes on some algae in the herbarium of the Long Island Historical Society. Bull. Torrey Club 20:107. 

White huckleberries. Garden and Forest 6:363. Also in Agr. Sci. 7:368. 

Alphonse de Candolle. Proc. Amer. Acad. 28:406. 

1894. Notes for mushroom-eaters. Garden and Forest I, 7:32; II, 7:43; III, 7:52; IV, 7:63; V, 7:72; VI, 7:82. 

1895. Note on Agaricus amygdalinus, M. A. Curtis. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 26:356. 
Mimicry of fungi in insects. Bot. Gaz. 20:547. 

Memoir of Edward Tuckerman. Nat. Acad. Sci. Biographical Mem. 3:17. 
Biographical memoir of Asa Gray. Nat. Acad. Sci. Biographical Mem. 3:161. 

Thallophyta and Bryophyta; in Bryant, H. G. : The Peary auxiliary expedition of 1894. Bull. Geogr. 
Club Philadelphia I, Append. C:208. 

1896. Fungi; in Rusby, H. H.: On the collections of Mr.|Miguel Bang in Bolivia. Part III. Mem. Torrey 

Club 6:130. 
A sketch of cryptogamic botany at Harvard University, 1874-1896. Cambridge, Mass., 1896. 

1897. Botany; in The Smithsonian Institution 1846-1896, the history of its first half century. G. B. Goode, 

editor. Washington, 1897. 
Poisonous mushrooms. Garden and Forest 10:467. 
Algae; in Trelease, W.; Botanical observations in the Azores. Rept. Mo. Bot. Garden 8:188, 195. 

1898. Botany: Marine algae; in Grabau, A. W., and Woodman, J. E.: Guide to localities illustrating the 

geology, marine zoology, and botany of the vicinity of Boston. A. A. A. S. P. 97. Fiftieth Anni- 
versary Meeting. 

Basidiolichenes and Basidiomycetes; in Hitchcock, A. S.: List of crytogams collected in the Bahamas, 
Jamacia, and Grand Cayman. Rept. Mo. Bot. Gard. 9:115. 

Some edible and poisonous fungi. Bull. U. S. Dept. Agric, Div. Veg. Phys. and Pathol. 15: 453; also 
in Yearbook U. S. Dept. Agric. 1897:453. 

The conception of species as affected by recent investigations on fungi. Amer. Nat. 33:675; also in 
Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. 47:383. 

1899. Three undescribed Californian algae. Erythea 8:73. 

Poisoning by Agaricus illudens. Rhodora 1:43. 

1900. Address of the president before the American Society of Naturalists, at New Haven, Conn., 28 Dec, 1899. 

Science n. s. 11:11. 
Botanical bibliography. Bot. Gaz. 29:64. 

1901. (With MacDougal, D. T., and von Schrenk, H.) Report of the committee on securing better reviews of 

botanical literature. Pamphlet. 

1902. Fungi; in Delabarre, E. B.: Report of the Brown-Harvard expedition to Nachvak, Labrador, in the 

year 1900. Bull. Phila. Geogr. Soc 3: 201. 
Thallophytes and Musci; in Robinson, B. L.: Flora of the Galapagos Islands. Proc. Amer. Acad. 

38:82, 102. 
Boletus betula and B. Russelli; in Lloyd, C. G.: Mycological notes, no. 11. 
Hypocrea alutacea; in Lloyd, C. G. : Mycological notes, no. 11. 

1905. Bibliographical index of North American fungi, vol. 1, pt. 1, pp. xxxiv + 312. Carnegie Institution of 

Washington, Publ. 8. 
Myxomycetes; in Coker, W. C. : Vegetation of the Bahama Islands (Special publ. from The Bahama 
Islands, G. B. Shattuck, editor). Geogr. Soc. Baltimore, p. 242. 

1906. The popular conception of the scientific man at the present day. Science n. s. 23:1. 

List of works of Job Bicknell Ellis. Issued August, 1906 (From list of works on North American fungi, 
revised edition). 
1908. Notes on fungi I. Rhodora 10:9. 


1910. Jane Loring Gray. Rhodora 12:41. 

(With Atkinson, G. F.) The botanical congress at Brussels. Science n. s. 32:104; also in Bot. Gaz. 50: 

A consideration of the Species Plantarum of Linnaeus as a basis for the starting point of the nomenclature 
of cryptogams. Amer. Nat. 44:385. 

1912. Notes on the chestnut blight. The Pennsylvania Chestnut Blight Conference, p. 70. 
The fungus of the chestnut tree blight. Science n. s. 35: 717. 

1913. The change from the old to the new botany in the United States. Science n. s. 37:79. 

1914. The vegetation of the Sargasso Sea. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 53:257. 

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 53: Minutes, p. xv. 
1916. Rhododendron maximum in New Hampshire. Rhodora 18:25. 
The marine algae of the Pacific. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2:424. 
Montia sibirica in Massachusetts. Rhodora 18:240. 
Jean Baptiste Edouard Bornet. Proc. Amer. Acad. 51:852. 

1877-1889. (With C. L. Anderson and D. C. Eaton.) Algae Exsiccatae America? Borealis. 
Fascicle I. Nos. 1-50, 1877. 
Fascicle II. Nos. 51-100, Apr. 1878. 
Fascicle III. Nos. 101-130, 1879. 
Fascicle IV. Nos. 131-180, June, 1881. 
Fascicle V. Nos. 181-230, July, 1889. 


Volume XXI 






Presented to the Academy at the Annual Meeting, 1922 
20154°— 26 7 i 



Chapter I. Gilbert's ancestry and youth 1 

Foreword 1 

The Gilbert family 2 

Boyhood in Rochester 2 

Four years at college 5 

A brief experience in school-teaching 5 

Apprenticeship in Cosmos Hall 6 

The Cohoes mastodon 6 

The Mohawk gorge at Cohoes 8 

Half a century of diaries 8 

Preparation of this memoir 9 

Chapter II. Two years on the Ohio survey 11 

First experience in field geology 11 

Surface geology of the Maumee Valley 12 

Chapter III. Three years on the Wheeler survey. 15 

Three seasons in the West 15 

Field notebooks: Personal experiences 16 

Notes on scientific topics 19 

A boat trip into the Colorado Canyon 21 

Chapter IV. Geology in the Wheeler reports.- 25 
Reports on the Great Basin and plateau 

provinces 25 

Geological generalizations and conclusions. 26 

Stratigraphy 28 

Historical geology 28 

The great unconformity 29 

Submergence of the Archean continent 30 

Volcanic rocks and structures 31 

Diastrophism: Fractures and flexures 32 

Upheaval of the Zufii dome 33 

The upheaval of mountains 34 

Hot springs and diastrophism 35 

The Colorado plateau as a field for geo- 
logical study 35 

Chapter V. Physiography in the Wheeler reports. 37 

The gradual growth of physiography 37 

Processes and products of stream erosion . . 39 

Normal hanging valleys 40 

Cataracts and rapids 40 

Graded rivers 41 

Cliffs and slopes in canyon walls 41 

Retreating escarpments ■ 42 

Topography of fractures and flexures 43 

Volcanic features 45 

Various minor topics 46 

Subsequent valleys 47 

Planation by subaerial erosion 48 

Two laws of erosion 49 

Examples of subaerial degradation 50 

Successive periods of erosion 51 

The Gila conglomerate 52 

Summary 52 

Chapter VI. The basin ranges in the Wheeler 

reports 53 

The problem of the basin ranges 53 

Physiographic principles 53 

Three-fold treatment of surface forms 54 

Age and structure of the ranges: First 

Wheeler report 55 

Bearing of range form on range origin 56 

The basin ranges as upheaved and warped 

fault blocks 57 

Upheavals and eruptions 59 

Erosion of the upheaved ranges 59 

Basin ranges in the second Wheeler report. 60 
Physiography and geology in the basin- 
range theory 61 

Views of Powell and Dutton 62 

Gilbert on the origin of the Sierra Nevada. 63 
Incomplete statement of the basin-range 

theory 63 

Chapter VII. First winters in Washington 67 

Extension of scientific acquaintance 67 

Marriage and home making 69 

Chapter VIII. Five years on Powell's survey. 71 

Acquaintance with Powell 71 

Field work for the Powell survey 72 

Two visits to the Henry Mountains 74 

The Henry Mountains report 75 

Observed and inferred structures 78 

Recognition of laccoliths 79 

The base of the laccoliths 81 

Chapter IX. The conditions and processes of 

laccolithic intrusion 83 

The Henry Mountains as typical laccoliths. 83 

The hydrostatic law and rock cohesion 84 

Mechanics of laccolithic intrusion 85 

Relation of diameter and depth 86 

Genetic definition of a laccolith 87 

Gilbert's theory not generally understood. 88 

Dana's alternative theory 90 

Effect of magmatic viscosity 91 

Evidence for magmatic fluidity 92 

Validity of Gilbert's view 92 

Chapter X. The principles of land sculpture 95 

A physiographic classic 95 

Land sculpture and climate 97 

Wandering streams on planation surfaces. . 98 

Interdependence of drainage lines 99 

Terminology of drainage lines 99 

The Waterpocket Canyon 100 

Subsequent valleys in the Henry Mountains. 102 
The subsequent origin of Waterpocket 

Canyon 103 

Baselevel and time 104 

Progress in physiography 106 




Chapter XI. Divers duties on the Powell survey: page 

1877-1879 109 

Land classification 109 

Triangulation in Utah and Arizona 110 

Barometric hypsometry 111 

Diurnal variation of the barometer 113 

Geology of the Black Hills 113 

Physiography of the Black Hills 114 

Personal items 116 

Chapter XII. The United States Geological 

Survey 117 

The consolidation of the earlier surveys 117 

From Salt Lake City to Washington IIS 

Distractions of office work 118 

The Great Basin mess 120 

Chapter XIII. Lake Bonneville 123 

Gilbert's first assignment on the national 

survey 123 

Earlier work on Lake Bonneville 123 

The Bonneville outlet... 124 

Two humid epochs 126 

Bonneville clays and marls 127 

Preliminary reports on Lake Bonneville 129 

The topographic features of lake shores 130 

The Bonneville monograph 131 

Chapter XIV. Increasing scientific relations: 

1881-1890 133 

The Philosophical Society of Washington.. 133 
A review of Whitney's "Climatic Changes". 133 
The American Naturalists and the Amer- 
ican Association 134 

The National Academy of Sciences: De- 
flection of rivers 135 

Age of the Equus fauna 136 

Joints in Bonneville clays 137 

Home affairs 137 

Geology of the Appalachians 138 

Chapter XV. The inculcation of scientific 

method by example 143 

Gilbert's first presidential address 143 

The scientific guess 144 

First views on isostasy 145 

Chapter XVI. The proglacial Great Lakes 147 

Reaction of the West upon the East 147 

The shore lines and outlet of Lake Iroquois. 148 

A popular article on the Great Lakes 150 

Chapter XVII. The history of Niagara River__ 153 

The retreat of the Falls: 1S86 153 

The Toronto lecture: 1889 154 

Variation in the volume of Niagara 156 

The human element 157 

Chapter XVIII. A trip abroad 159 

Scientific meetings in England 159 

A week-end at a country seat 161 

Impressions of a London club 161 

Three days in Paris 162 

Chapter XIX. Three years as chief geologist of 

the national survey: 1889-1892 165 

Change from scientific to administrative 

duties 165 

The larger duties of a chief geologist 166 

Criticism of manuscripts 167 

Chapter XIX — Continued. page 

Standard geological maps: 1887-1S89 168 

Revision of 1902-3 171 

Correlation papers 171 

The smaller duties of a chief geologist 172 

The disaster of 1892 173 

After fifty years 176 

Chapter XX. General scientific activities: 

1891-1900 179 

The International Geological Congress of 

1891 179 

The origin of Coon Butte 181 

The moon's face 183 

Scientific societies in Washington 186 

The Geological Society of America 188 

The National Academy of Sciences 190 

Other scientific societies 191 

Chapter XXI. Personal relations: 1S91-1900.. 193 

College lectures 193 

Literary work 195 

A generous trait of Gilbert's character 198 

Lost in Philadelphia 199 

Home affairs 199 

Gilbert's religious views 201 

Chapter XXII. Field work in Colorado: 1893- 

1895 203 

A temporary resumption of work in the 

West 203 

Published records of work in Colorado 205 

The Pueblo geologic folio 206 

Subsequent valleys 207 

Chapter XXIII. Discussions of isostasy 211 

The strength of the earth's crust 211 

The geodetic treatment of isostasy 212 

Three essays of 1895 214 

Chapter XXIV. Niagara and the Great Lakes. 217 

A return to Niagara 217 

The first eastward discharge of the pro- 
glacial lakes 218 

Relations of successive cross-spur channels. 220 

A long channel floor as a great highway 220 

The Niagara escarpment 22 1 

Glacial erosion in western New York 222 

Modern variations in the Great Lakes 223 

The future discharge of the Great Lakes at 

Chicago 224 

The profile of the bed of the Niagara gorge. 225 

Chapter XXV. Glaciers and glaciation of Alaska. 227 

The Harriman expedition to Alaska, 1S99__ 227 

Glaciers and glaciation 227 

Glacial erosion of fiords 228 

Method of discussion of glacial erosion 229 

Physiographic items 230 

Submarine glacial erosion 231 

Chapter XXVI. A later study of the basin 

ranges 233 

The basin ranges are long neglected 233 

A dissenting opinion 234 

Gilbert as censor 236 

The summer of 1901 in Utah 238 

Loss of the field maps 239 

Field notebooks of 1901 240 

The Fish-spring Range 242 

The House Range 242 


Chapter XXVI — Continued. Page 

The western face of the House Range 243 

Vertical uplift or horizontal extension 244 

Ranges in the Humboldt region, western 

Nevada 245 

Chapter XXVII. Scientific relations: 1901- 

1910 247 

Decreasing relations with scientific societies. 247 

Latest work and words on Niagara 250 

The naming of Gilbert Gulf 251 

Chapter XXVIII. New fields of work in Cali- 
fornia 253 

Studies and vacations in the Sierra Nevada, 

1903, 1904 253 

A house party in the Sierra, 1907 254 

Scientific hospitality in the Sierra, 190S 255 

Earthquakes and faults 256 

The San Francisco earthquake 257 

Gilbert's conception of an earthquake 258 

Earthquake forecasts 259 

Earthquakes in Alaska 260 

Residence and investigations at Berkeley. _ 261 

Illness of 1909-10 262 

Chapter XXIX. Reports on hydraulic-mining 

debris 265 

Transportation of detritus 265 

Preparation of first report 266 

Distribution of debris 268 

Gravels outwashed upon the valley plain.. 269 

Deposits in San Francisco Bay 270 

Quantitative physiography 271 

Chapter XXIX — Continued. Pago 

The tides of San Francisco Bay 272 

Work upon second report 273 

Chapter XXX. The last eight years 275 

Gradual recovery from illness 275 

Summers at Annisquam, 1911, 1912.. 276 

Personal incidents 277 

Last words on isostasy 279 

The geological aspects of isostasy 281 

Chapter XXXI. Leading characteristics of Gil- 
bert's work 283 

Gilbert's era 283 

Characteristics of published work 283 

The Wheeler survey reports 284 

The Powell survey reports 285 

The national survey; Bonneville and Wash- 
ington 286 

Liberation from Washington 287 

Work in California 287 

Gilbert's presidential addresses 288 

Gilbert's personal influence 289 

Scientific honors 291 

Chapter XXXII. Gilbert's last study 295 

Return to an old theme 295 

The Wasatch Range 296 

Structural evidence of faulting 297 

Physiographic evidence of faulting 298 

Confirmation of physiographic by struc- 
tural evidence 299 

The Wasatch fault block 299 

Final illness and death 300 



G. K. Gilbert, 1891. Frontispiece 

Fiq. 2. Gilbert at the age of 19 Facing 5 

3. Section at the mouth of the Colorado Canyon; from Gilbert's notebook, October 4, 1871 22 

4. Mouth of the Colorado Canyon. Photograph by W. T. Lee, United States Geological 

Survey Facing 22 

5. Ideal diagram of Confusion, House, and Fish-spring Ranges; from Gilbert's notebook, October 

29, 1872 56 

6. Ideal section of a laccolith; from Gilbert's notebook, August, 1875 75 

7. Mount Holmes, Henry Mountains; looking southeast. Photograph by H. E. Gregory, United 

States Geological Survey Facing 76 

8. Mount Jukes, Henry Mountains, looking west. Photograph by C. R. Longwell, United States 

Geological Survey Facing 76 

9. Mount Hitlers, Henry Mountains; from Gilbert's notebook, 1876 76 

10. The western face of the Morvine laccolith 80 

11. Gilbert in Colorado, 1894 • Facing 210 

12. Mount Gilbert, Chugach Mountains, Alaska. Photograph by National Geographic Society. Facing 232 

13. Western face of the House Range, Utah. Photograph by G. K. Gilbert 1 

14. Eastern slope of the House Range, looking south; Swasey Mountain in the distance. Photo-I 

graph by G. K. Gilbert >242-243 

15. Western face of the House Range, looking south. Photograph by G. K. Gilbert J 

16. Southeast part of Fish Springs Quadrangle, United States Geological Survey 242 

17. Generalized frontal section of the House Range; from Gilbert's notebook, 1901. Low-lying 

frontal blocks are omitted 242 

18. Gilbert Gulf, an arm of the ocean temporarily occupying the basin of Lake Ontario; from report 

by H. L. Fairchild 251 


By William M. Davis 



Gilbert gained an exceptional place in the esteem of his colleagues by his appeal alike to 
their intellect and their affection. He was penetratingly successful in his search for external 
facts as well as for their mental interpretation. He manifested an extraordinary capacity in 
the critical analysis of many factors, with patience and impartiality in the just consideration 
of every one. His published reports inspired confidence, for they were completely free from 
special pleading, and they were, moreover, presented so clearly, so intelligently, as to satisfy 
the reader that the observations on which they were based must be full and accurate, and 
that the conclusions to which they led must be well grounded and trustworthy. He set forth 
the truth as he found it, and once having had his say he refrained from entering into conten- 
tious disputes to maintain his views. While he was always generous in accrediting the work 
of others, he never demanded that his own work should be similarly recognized; indeed, his 
silence in this respect reached self-sacrifice. It was from no urgency or insistence on his part 
that his opinions were adopted, but from the persuasively convincing logic with which they 
were set forth. It was his habit in presenting a conclusion to expose it as a ball might be placed 
on the outstretched hand — not gripped as if to prevent its fall, not grasped as if to hurl it at an 
objector, but poised on the open palm, free to roll off if any breath of disturbing evidence should 
displace it; yet there it would rest in satisfied stability. Not he, but the facts that he mar- 
shaled, clamored for the acceptance of the explanation that he had found for them. 

He was always ambitious to do good work, but he never strove for office or for position. 
The nearer one lived to him and the longer one knew him the clearer it became that his personal 
nature was as exceptional as his scientific capacity; for in his private life as in his geological 
tasks he was fair-minded, self-controlled, serene; gentle in his manner, simple in his ways, 
uncomplaining under trials and disappointments, loyal to his duties, steadfast in his friendships. 
Little wonder that those already old when he was young should have recognized in him one 
who would continue the work they had begun and carry it forward into regions of space and of 
thought they had never entered ; or that those still young when he was old should have looked 
upon him with respect akin to awe as one who, surviving from an heroic age when a western 
frontier remained to be explored, had discovered there many of the facts and principles which 
they, on entering geological science, had found embedded in its foundations; or that those 
of his own generation should have watched and admired his scientific progress as he overcame 
one problem after another, and have gratefully rejoiced in the ever-increasing recognition of 
his merit as he advanced from excellence to eminence; or that those favored ones among his 
contemporaries who lived near him and who had in their own tasks the guidance of his wise 
counsel and the encouragement of his never-failing sympathy through a long unbroken com- 
radeship, should have esteemed the man himself above his works. Unknown to the multitude, 
he was the source of an ever-widening current of scientific thought that flowed out to earnest 
men over all the breadth of our country and beyond. His career covers a remarkable epoch 
in American science, and it is a great credit to American science that it should have given high 
rank to a man of his gentle personality. 

2 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS IMb " oi " 8 [vousSi; 


Grove Karl Gilbert was born in Rochester, N. Y., May 6, 1843, the son of Grove Sheldon 
and Eliza Stanley Gilbert. On both the paternal and maternal sides, his forbears were of New 
England origin. An old record states that John Gilbert, jr., "a brave and honest gentleman," 
came to America in 1630 and settled with his wife and sons at Dorchester, Mass. One of his 
descendants, bearing again, a century and a half later, the name of the brave and honest gentle- 
man of 1630, lived in Connecticut and was an officer in the Revolutionary War; he married 
Theodosia Marsh, and died at Little Falls, N. Y., in 1795. The sixth of his seven children, 
born in New Hartford in 1782, received the ancestral name and was the grandfather of Grove 
Karl Gilbert. Ten years after his father's death, this third John Gilbert was established as 
an ax and tool maker at Clinton, N. Y., and there in 1803 he married Eunice Barnes, daughter 
of an ingenious bell and clock maker of the same town. He moved in 1811 or 1812 to Le Roy, 
where in 1824 he invented a rotary steam engine, which was regarded as so promising as to 
give hope of profitable manufacture; but after going to New York City to develop the machine, 
he there fell victim to an epidemic of typhoid fever and died April 6, 1825, without having 
made progress in his plans; thus briefly is recorded the tragic end of a worthy life. 

Grove Sheldon Gilbert, son of the third John Gilbert, was born at Clinton, August 5, 1805, 
and on his father's death became, at the age of 19, the "head of the family." In the same 
town lived Thaddeus and Betsy Doud Stanley and their 12 children. The father, born at 
Goshen, Conn., in 1769, was a quiet, industrious citizen, a cooper by trade, much loved and 
respected; he died in 1843. One of his daughters, Eliza, became on November 30, 1826, 
the wife of Grove Sheldon Gilbert. The young man had studied medicine and taught school, 
and for a time the pair had a shifting residence; but most of their married life was spent in 
Rochester, N. Y., where the husband established himself as a self-taught portrait painter. 
His success was moderate and hardly yielded him a competence. He strove earnestly in his 
profession, painting for art rather than for fame, but did not reach his ideals; yet after reluc- 
tantly sending, at the urgent request of some of his friends, one of his portraits to an exhibition 
held by the National Academy of Design in New York in 1847 he was, much to his surprise, 
elected to honorary membership in that body in the following year. 

Grove Karl Gilbert was the fifth born and the fourth son in a family of seven children, 
only three of whom, an older brother and sister and Karl himself, lived to maturity. His 
little home in Rochester, known as the " Nutshell," was one of small means and high principles. 
About the time of Karl's birth, his father and mother both withdrew on account of some deep 
religious conviction from the Presbyterian Church with which they had been previously con- 
nected, and joined no other, even though lack of church membership left them socially isolated 
in a community of churchgoers. Karl was therefore never sent to Sunday school and did not 
receive what the Orthodox would have considered proper religious instruction, nor did he form 
the habit of attending church; but his father was of a deeply religious nature and talked much 
and earnestly on religious matters with his children. In so far as the son's pure and serene 
character came from home teaching, his parents must have been well satisfied. 


But who shall say how far character is affected by early teaching and how far it is inborn ? 
Scientific tastes do not seem to have been especially encouraged by Karl's home influences, 
yet close observation as a first step in their development was begun early; for when still a 
little fellow, 5 or 6 years old, he ran in from the garden one morning, calling in excitement 
to his father: " The onions are up!" The father went out to see them, and finding no onions 
in sight turned to chide the boy for telling what was not true; but little Karl insisted until 
his father, kneeling down to see better, detected the minute sprouts hardly above the soil. 

Other stories of Karl's boyhood preserved among family memories show a gentleness 
and forbearance that were characteristic of the man in later life. Once when his classmates 
were crowding out from a schoolroom, he was pushed down a flight of stairs, and although 
not seriously hurt by the fall he fainted and much excitement followed. On his return to 

academy of sc.ENCEs] ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 3 

consciousness the teacher inquired who had pushed him; Karl did not know. Others were 
then asked the same question, but Karl objected: "Please, sir, don't find out; I don't want to 
know who did it." "Why not?" said the teacher. "Because I am afraid I should not like 
him any more." Again, one winter day while the family was living at Irondequoit, about 
3 miles out of Rochester, Karl went skating, leaving only his sister at home in the absence of 
both parents; he returned earlier than was expected, and the sister did not learn until years 
afterwards that Karl had broken through the ice and after some difficulty in getting out and 
ashore had gone to a near-by house, where clothes were lent him while his own were drying; 
he had said nothing of all this on returning home. 

There is no reason to believe that the boy made any record of this adventure at the time, 
but much more of it than the cold plunge remained in his retentive memory, as appears from a 
letter that he wrote nearly half a century later — in April, 1901 — to the author of an essay 
on the work of ice in lakes: 

In my boyhood I made an observation on the behavior of lake ice which T have never had an opportunity 
to repeat since I came to have scientific interest in it. . . . Near my old home at Rochester, N. Y., there is 
a narrow bay [Irondequoit] separated by a bar from Lake Ontario so as to constitute practically a lake. The 
sides are so irregular that the width varies from J^ to 1 mile and the length is perhaps 3 miles. One cold day, 
in skating the length of this bay, I found the ice to be divided by open cracks extending from side to side of 
the bay. There were perhaps a dozen of them in the whole distance. I do not know the thickness of the ice 
but it was thick enough to be entirely firm. . . . The cracks were several feet wide as I am able to assure myself 
by certain details of the day's experience. The wind was blowing and a little snow was drifting. This was 
caught by the water of the cracks so that each one was marked by a line of wet snow. Usually the line of snow 
was so well frozen as to bridge the crack and enable me to glide over it, but in some cases, after testing with 
my "shinny stick, I did not venture to skate across, but retreated so as to acquire speed, making a flying jump. 
In another case I trusted unwisely to the ice and fell through. These two facts probably indicate [an] extreme 
width of crack of from 3 to 5 feet. . . . My recollection that the day was cold is supported by the fact that 
after I had fallen in, my clothes were frozen before I reached the nearest house. The theoretical interest in 
the phenomena arises from the fact that the ice sheet as a whole seems to have been shortened by cooling. . . . 
In the direction across the bay the ice could shrink horizontally by merely drawing away from the shore, but 
lengthwise of the bay it could not shrink in the same manner because held by the irregularities of the lateral 
coasts. ; ,The shortened length therefore found expression in the cracks. 

This is a remarkably fine example of mature reflection superposed on the vivid recol- 
lection of a youthful experience; and how delightful it is to think of Gilbert as a boy skating 
through the wind and making his flying leaps over the cracks in the ice on Irondequoit Bay. 

On another occasion, while the family was still living at Irondequoit, Karl's father was 
ill, and his mother, alarmed by a serious turn in her husband's condition in the night, called Karl 
and told him to hurry to the city for the doctor. He set out at once and returned so soon that 
his mother on seeing him exclaimed: "Why Karl, haven't you started yet?" The boy had run 
most of the way to the doctor's house and back, about 6 miles, returning with medicine and 
advice before his mother knew he had set out. 

Karl must have been a studious boy, for when he was only 10 years old, his father received 
a most gratifying report from the boy's teacher, who polysyllabically said: "His deportment 
has been unexceptionable, and he has been a most faithful, industrious, and attentive student, 
meriting in every way my highest approbation." His acquisitiveness and his memory must 
have been as good as his deportment, as appears from a letter written to one of his sons from the 
coast of Massachusetts in August, 1912: 

Nothing newer here than that I saw some Mother Carey's chickens this morning, the first I have ever 
seen. They have a peculiar trick of touching the water with their toes as tho running on it, and I remember to 
have seen a picture showing the trick when I was a small kid absorbing information from the Penny Magazine. 

This reminiscence is followed by a little sketch, not showing the birds he had seen that 
morning but reproducing by memory the picture he had seen some 60 years before. 

Although an exemplary scholar, Karl was also fond of boating, for which good opportunity 
was offered by the Genesee River in its course near Rochester. He and a companion built 
several small craft for rowing; one boat of flat-bottom model, called the Wave, was so light that 
it could be " held out at arm's length with one hand." A regatta was planned in 1859, when the 


launching of the Great Eastern steamship in England was the topic of the hour; and the Wave, 
rechristened the Great Western with that spirit of exaggeration which laughs at itself, was entered 
in the lists in competition with canoes and other boats of professional build; but the owners of 
these conventional models, having seen Karl practicing, withdrew their entries and he rowed 
over the course alone. The competitors of the home-made Great Western are even remembered 
to have made the unexpurgated remark: " The damned little thing can go." Expertness on the 
water thus early gained served Gilbert well during western exploration in later years, and he 
always enjoyed canoeing for exercise. It is said that when Wheeler's exploring party, of which 
Gilbert was geologist, ascended the Colorado River in 1871, as will be told on a later page, the 
Indian guides recognized GUbert's skill as a boatman and thought his boat the safest of the 

But as in the case of his adventure on the ice of Irondequoit Bay, it was not only physical 
expertness that came from his early excursions ; while he was boating on the Genesee his observ- 
ant mind was stimulated to a reflective activity and even to simple experimental research, 
which he recalled in a letter to a geological correspondent 40 years later: 

When I was a boy I noticed that by rocking a skiff I gave it a forward motion. That led to the trial of 
other impulses, and I found that by standing near the stern and alternately bending and straightening my legs, 
so as to make the skiff rock endwise, I could produce a forward velocity of several yards a minute. If I stood on 
one side of the medial line, the skiff moved in a curve. The motions I caused directly were strictly reciprocal, 
the departures from initial position being equaled by the returns. The indirect result of translation was connected 
with reactions between the water and the oblique surfaces of the boat. 

It is characteristic of keen minds to take account of small matters that are unnoticed by 
the mentally sluggish. 

Karl completed the course at the Rochester High School in 185S and was then, at the age 
of 15, overtall for his years, thin chested and somewhat delicate, in spite of his prowess on the 
river; but schoolmates as well as teachers knew him as an earnest and successful student, who 
did well whatever he undertook. A companion in those years recalls him as "a quiet, modest 
boy, with pleasant manners, kindly disposition, a lively sense of fun, and of very even temper." 
Long afterward, when one of his sons asked what he did as a boy, he replied: "I studied a good 
deal when not working"; from which it may be inferred that no small share of family duties fell 
upon him at home. He recalled half a century later that his father, wishing to test his capacity 
in mathematics, set him the following problem: "A loaf of bread is in the form of a hemisphere, 
with a crust of uniform thickness, the volume of the crust being equal to that of the crumb. 
What are the dimensions of crumb and crust?" As he solved the problem unaided his father 
opined that he might be of use in the world, notwithstanding his lack of robustness. 

Gilbert's interest in his ancestors was not strongly developed. In his seventieth year he 
wrote to one of his sons, regarding certain details about his great-grandfather that had been 
gathered by a relative: "I am not much interested but perhaps you may be sometime, and so 
I suggest you keep Mrs. M's letters." On the other hand, he always felt and showed a strong 
affection for the living members of his family. In later years, when his residence was elsewhere, 
visits to Rochester were frequent; he nearly always halted there on his journeys to the West and 
back. When returning from the Henry Mountains of Utah in the autumn of 1876 he was in 
time to attend his parents' golden wedding on November 30. His mother died on February 25, 
1883, at the age of 77; and his father on March 23, 1885, at the age of 79. The elder brother, 
Hiram Roy Gilbert, after whom Grove Karl's second son was named, continued to reside in 
Rochester until his death in 1902; the elder sister, Emma Gilbert Loomis, survives at her home 
in Jackson, Mich., where, as will shortly be told, Karl himself had, on leaving college, a short 
experience in school-teaching, where he repeatedly stopped to see her when crossing the country 
east or west, and where, while halting there for the last time of many on his way to California, he 
died May 1, 1918, five days before completing his seventy-fifth year. 


academy 0F sciences] ANCESTEY AND YOUTH 5 


Karl was the only one of the Gilbert family who attended the University of Rochester 
and gained a college degree; and this was at the cost of difficulty and sacrifice on the part of 
his father and himself. Regular outdoor exercise was a condition of the opportunity. The 
youth sometimes had to go shabbily dressed and was too much occupied to join freely in the 
social life of his companions; but his bravery and steadiness of character were such that he 
never appeared to be unhappy in consequence of these restrictions. Among his trials was a 
pair of light blue trousers which a tall friend of his father's had made the mistake of buying, 
and which when still in good condition were passed on to the tall boy; so good was their quality 
that they lasted undesirably long. 

As elective studies were practically unknown when young Gilbert went to college, he took 
a prescribed classical course, and received the degree of A. B. in 1862, at the age of 19. His 
standing was always good, but he was indifferent to college honors; and in this respect the 
youth foreshadowed the man. The 36 units of his college studies included 8 of mathematics, 
6 of Latin, and 7 of Greek, both the ancient languages being continued into the senior year. 
Rhetoric, logic, and zoology had 2 units each, and nine other subjects, including French, Ger- 
man, and geology, but 1 each. He contributed rhymed skits to a college paper, and always 
afterwards enjoyed composing verses, more or less humorous, on current or local events. During 
part of his senior year he was president of the Delphic Society, one of the two literary societies 
of the college, and he was awarded the Greek oration on graduating. The extended training 
in mathematics, for which young Gilbert had a natural capacity, served him well in geophysical 
researches of later years; perhaps his classical studies contributed to the clear style for which 
his geological reports were famous; they seem also to have determined a tendency to the use 
of long words of Greek origin and occasionally to the invention of such words, but they did 
not prevent his later approval of "simplified spelling," which in his case as in so many others 
was evidently a matter of unconventional temperament,, and not of either ignorance or learning. 

Gilbert's college teacher in zoology and geology was Henry A. Ward, who came to be widely 
known for his extensive dealings in natural history specimens, to which he later gave his whole 
time, as is further told below in the account of " Cosmos Hall." A first acquaintance with 
geology was thus gained, but unless by the rule of contraries it can not have been the influence 
of this enthusiastic collector, whose lectures must have been of a matter-of-fact rather than of 
a philosophical nature, which led Gilbert to say in an address, 20 years later, that the im- 
portant thing is to train scientists rather than to teach science, and that the " practical questions 
for the teacher are, whether it is possible by training to improve the guessing faculty, and if 
so, how it is to be done;" thus implying not so much that, in his own experience, accurate 
observation is easy, but that successful guessing is difficult. It must also have been not his 
professor's idea but Gilbert's, prompted perhaps by a remembrance of an over-insistence on 
the names of things, that the content of a subject is often presented so abundantly in college 
teaching as to obstruct the communication of its essence, and that the teacher "will do better 
to contract the phenomenal and to enlarge the logical side of his subject, so as to dwell on the 
philosophy of the science rather than on its material." 1 


On finishing his college course without developing any decided bent toward a special 
profession or occupation, and without physical strength enough to warrant his enlisting for 
military duty in the War of the Rebellion— his name was twice in the draft fist, but not drawn 
either time — yet having reached the pedagogically competent age of 19, young Gilbert tried 
school-teaching at Jackson, Mich., not as the beginning of a life career, but, young American- 
like, as a means of paying a debt contracted during his undergraduate years. A class photo- 
graph at that time shows boyish undevelopment; the neck was overlong, the shaven chin was 
heavy, almost uncouth; the mouth was not fully resolved; but the upper part of the face 

' The inculcation of scientific method by example. Presidential address, American Society of Naturalists. Amer. Journ. Sci., XXXI, 1886, 
184-299. This address is analysed in a later section. 


already had the clear-minded serenity that was so marked a quality of his whole expression in 
later years. Of his efforts as a teacher, one of his boyhood playmates wrote: "Karl was of 
too kindly a disposition to make a successful teacher of youngsters ; they would take advantage 
of him." His own opinion, frankly told 50 years later, was that he could not control his 
pupils, an unruly lot of country boys; so he gave up teaching when the school year was only 
two-thirds over. This episode has a wholesome moral; it satisfactorily contradicts the current 
myth that a delicate-minded young master of a village school must needs thrash all the dis- 
orderly cubs in his classes as the only means of opening for himself an assured path to future 

On returning to Rochester the unpugilistic schoolmaster found himself out of employment 
for a time, and the experience of waiting for work was so distasteful to him that he recalled 
its unpleasant impression many years afterwards in a letter to his elder son at a time, in 1912, 
when the son had his turn of waiting at the end of one engagement for another. The father, 
who in his later years adopted simplified spelling, wrote: 

I've had little experience with being out of a job, but enuf to know it is demoralizing. My slack time 
was forty-nine years ago, and I recall that I had no hart to do the various things that I had supposed I very 
much wanted to do when I was too busy to find time. Waiting for something to turn up seems to be an occu- 
pation in itself, and anyone who can really utilize the time while he waits is to be congratulated. 


The period of unemployment did not last long. Gilbert soon found work in Cosmos 
Hall, a scientific establishment which his former teacher, Professor Ward, had built on the 
grounds of the University of Rochester for the assembly and preparation of zoological and 
geological materials for sale to colleges and museums. Gilbert afterwards wrote of it: 

The establishment thus instituted grew and developed . . . Its work was performed largely by young 
men of congenial tastes, who there acquired the practical experience which commended them later to the trustees 
of larger responsibilities. It thus served incidentally as a training school in the natural sciences and especially 
in certain branches connected with museums. 

This apprenticeship does not seem to have been entered upon so much because zoology 
and geology attracted the youth of 20, as because an assistant was wanted and the youth had 
nothing else to do; but the work must have proved satisfactory, for the youth kept at it five 
years — from 1863 to 1868. His duties included the sorting and naming of countless specimens; 
many thousand labels in the Ward collection, afterwards acquired by the University of Roch- 
ester, are in Gilbert's handwriting of that period. During at least part of these years, evenings 
were spent in home study of mathematics, with readings in anatomy and geology. In his 
daytime work he must have learned many facts and have profited from the discipline of steady 
occupation; but the philosophy of science could not have been learned any better by the hand- 
ling of its material content during these five years of apprenticeship than during the preceding 
four years of undergraduate study; yet a liking for scientific subjects seems to have grown up 
during this laborious period and a loyalty to Cosmos Hall also, for he afterwards ranked him- 
self "somewhat proudly" as its senior alumnus. Nevertheless, it is significant that Gilbert 
mentioned the "practical experience" there acquired rather than the influence of the director 
of Cosmos Hall as of chief value in preparing the young assistants for larger responsibilities. 


Gilbert was occasionally charged by his chief with the installation of exhibits in museums, 
and this gave him glimpses of the world. It may have been in the course of journeys thus 
undertaken that he learned something by sight of the Pennsylvania Appalachians, to which 
he refers in a most appreciative manner in his first western report. Perhaps the most impor- 
tant assignment of this kind came when he went, in 1S67 and 1868, to the State museum at 
Albany to restore and mount the skeleton of a mastodon, discovered a few miles away, at 
Cohoes, on the Mohawk, in 1866. Probably as a result of this discovery, and as if with a 
premonition of his work in mounting the skeleton, Gilbert wrote a general account of "The 

-academy of sciences] ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 7 

American mastodon," which, his first published paper, appeared at Rochester in Moore's 
"Rural New Yorker" for March, 1867. This essay is notable for its effective presentation 
of good matter in a popular form, as the following extracts show: 

The recent discovery of the entire skeleton of a Mastodon at Cohoes, and the general interest felt by the 
public in the matter, will perhaps warrant a brief description of this ancient denizen of our forests . . . The 
large cavities in the front of the elephant's skull, that furnish a firm attachment for the muscles of the trunk, 
are equally characteristic of the Mastodon, and must have been accompanied by a similar proboscis. In fact, 
without this flexible nose that serves for hand and drinking cup alike, he must have perished, his projecting 
tusks keeping him from browsing, and his short neck not enabling him to reach grass or water . . . Each 
leg bone of the Mastodon is a little longer than the corresponding bone of the elephant, and is, in a greater 
ratio, thicker. This is but one phase of a general law of nature, — that the small are proportionally stronger 
than the large. The cricket leaps at one spring thirty times his own length, while the hippopotamus and ele- 
phant are too unwieldy to do more than walk or trot. The ant carries in his teeth loads many times heavier 
than his own bod}'; the black bear is related to have borne in his mouth a carcass of about his own weight; 
the horse does not easily bear on his back more than half his weight; and the Mastodon required a dispropor- 
tionate strength of limb to support his own huge body merely. Thus it appears that the latter approaches 
the limit of size for terrestrial animals . . . The Creator has adapted the teeth of all animals to their food, 
making them into chisels for the nut-piercing squirrel, hooks and knives for the flesh-devouring lion, shears 
for the grass-cropping ox, needles for the insect-catching mole and bat, and mill-stones for the twig-eating 
Mastodon . . . Lyell says that the cataract of Niagara has receded four miles at least since certain bones 
were deposited on its bank, and it now wears back only a few inches in a year. The Cohoes skeleton, naturally 
buried eighty-five feet under the earth, probably lay for still longer ages . . . 

As the Origin of Species had appeared but a few years before this essay was written, the 
teleological philosophy of the next-to-last passage is not surprising. The reference to Niagara 
in the last statement makes one wonder whether the writer recalled his early interest in that 
subject when, in later years, he became its master. 

The Cohoes mastodon skeleton that was to be mounted at Albany had been found in a 
huge pothole, measuring 40 by 70 feet across and over 60 feet in depth, near Cohoes Falls of the 
Mohawk River, just above its junction with the Hudson a few miles north of Albany. The 
work upon it was done under the direction of Prof. James Hall, whom, as director of the State 
cabinet of natural history, Gilbert and his associate Howell, also from Rochester, thus had 
advantageous opportunity of meeting. Hall took part in the excavation until he wrenched his 
hip by a fall in the pothole; then the work was left in charge of Gilbert. The skeleton was 
somewhat incomplete, and the missing parts had to be reconstructed; hence, as Hall wrote, 
"after carefully making a list of the bones we possessed, with measurements of the more im- 
portant ones" — a large part of this labor apparently falling on Gilbert — "the young men were 
sent to Boston," in order to examine two more perfect mastodon skeletons there on exhibition; 
one was in the Warren Museum, a private institution in that city founded by Dr. J. Collins 
Warren ; 40 years later this specimen was sold to the American Museum of Natural History in 
New York, where it is now preserved; the other was then in the anatomical collections formed 
by Prof. Jeffries Wyman, of Harvard College, Cambridge, and is now in the Harvard University 
Museum. According to Hall the young men during this visit met Louis Agassiz, Jeffries Wyman, 
J. Mason Warren (son of the founder of the Warren Museum), and Theodore Lyman; but un- 
happily there is little record of what these already established seniors and the then developing 
juniors thought of one another. A brief note in Doctor Warren's diary for June 20, 1867, 
merely records: 

Three young men, who came from Professor Hall of Albany and were introduced by Dr. Wyman, were 
engaged a good part of the day in measuring the Mastodon, preparatory to putting up one at Albany, which 
was found near Cohoe's Falls and which is imperfect, a number of the vertebrae, among other things, being 

The mastodon was naturally more interesting to him than the three young men. No 
entries were made in Wyman's diary for that summer, and Agassiz kept no diary. So the 
past fades away. However, it is recalled that, as if in consequence of expertness gained in 
mounting the mastodon, Gilbert was not long afterward engaged in restoring missing tails for 
fossil Irish elks in the museums at Albany and Columbia University. Although he had few 


contacts with Hall in later years, the memory of his sojourn at Albany while working on the 
fossil mastodon sufficed to call him back there in 1898, when he was one of the few pallbearers 
at the funeral of the great paleontologist. 


While in Albany, Gilbert, besides working on the mastodon skeleton, studied the gorge 
of the Mohawk at Cohoes and prepared an account of it which appeared in Hall's report. This 
is his first essay based on original field observations; it does not read at all like that of a geological 
catechumenist. He examined 350 potholes in the river bed above the falls; their typical form 
was that of a " chemist's test-tube;" the deepest had a vertical measure of 23 feet, with a diam- 
eter of 3 feet. A simple conclusion as to the origin of the potholes is conservatively announced : 
"In my examination I saw nothing to controvert the theory that they were formed by the 
grinding action of stones moved by water." The huge pothole in which the mastodon skeleton 
was found is one of a group of much larger dimensions, in the low upland outside of the river 
gorge and apparently excavated by other currents than those of the Mohawk. Cohoes Falls, 
descending 57 feet, he between rapids up and down stream, and are peculiar in that they occur 
in a series of strongly tilted Hudson River shales of fairly uniform texture; hence the question 
was raised: "Is it not possible that rapids constitute the normal mode of descent of a river 
over these upturned shales, and the falls are merely an episode occasioned by preexistent pot- 
holes?" — the potholes thus referred to presumably being members of the upland group. Many 
years later Gilbert spoke of this study of potholes as having been of so much interest as to lead 
him to desire further work in geology. 

Although all these items are of interest, Gilbert's study here is chiefly significant from a 
novel quantitative method that he invented for determining the recession of the gorge-side 
cliffs. " Climbing from below, or lowered by a rope from above, " he measured and cut sections 
of 20 contorted cedars, growing in a cliff and "appearing at a little distance mere bushes, but 
really very old trees, " which had been dwarfed by starvation in the infertile shales, and of which 
the roots had been "bared by the waste of the cliff during the growth of the trees. " An average 
of 6 sections gave 144 rings of growth to an inch of trunk radius, and the estimated age of the 
oldest tree sectioned was 716 years; yet the trunk of this famished pre-Columbian settler, who 
must have began his struggle for existence about the time of Thomas a-Becket of Canterbury, 
measured only 37.5 inches in circumference, or 6 inches in radius. The relation between age 
of tree and length of bared and exposed root gave a cliff recession of 12 inches a century; and 
this led to the estimate of 35,000 years as "a minimum for the time that has elapsed since 
Cohoes Falls were opposite the mastodon pothole. " 2 This laborious method for the determina- 
tion of cliff recession might have been applied by any patient and painstaking junior under the 
direction of an experienced master; but that the patient and painstaking junior should himself 
and on his own initiative have invented the method, as well as applied it, shows him to have 
possessed exceptionally masterful qualities with regard to natural phenomena, even if he could 
not master unruly boys in a country school. The thousands of years revealed in the age of the 
Cohoes gorge by this ingenious determination are hardly so impressive as the evidence that 
the determination gives of investigational ingenuity on young Gilbert's part. 


During Gilbert's apprenticeship at Cosmos Hall he formed the habit of keeping a concise 
diary, and this habit was pursued all through his hf e. Brief entries were made in small pocket- 
books concerning the persons he met and the places he visited; and 51 of these consecutive 
annual records have been preserved, beginning in 1868 and continuing to 1918; the last entry was 
made only a few days before his death. It is a great privilege to look over the personal records 
of such a man, not in the way of peering curiosity but in a reverent spirit, with the memory of the 
man himself constantly present, and with much of the sadness that one feels when standing alone 

' 21st Ann. Rep. State Cabinet Nat. Hist, [for 1867]. Albany, 1871. 129-148. 

academy of sconces] ANCESTRY AND YOUTH 9 

and in silence by the grave of a trusted friend. A sincere interest is aroused by every item that 
teaches something of his habit of thought, something of his inner nature, something of the power- 
ful and beautiful personality that so greatly aided the progress of geology in America and that 
endeared itself so warmly to all bis associates. 

Unhappily, entries in the diaries are for the most part colorless records of fact, with very 
few expressions of opinion or of feeling. There are occasional blank periods, and these are pro- 
longed when the diary was replaced by field notebooks during many seasons of work in the West. 
Annual summaries of travels and other leading topics are found in many of the later books. Men- 
tion is frequently made of stops on journeys westward or eastward at Rochester to see parents or 
an elder brother; or at Jackson, Mich., to see a sister; but there is nothing written to indicate the 
warm affection that united the diminishing family. Instead of drifting apart in later years by 
reason of separated residence, the survivors seemed to grow closer and closer together. Brief 
extracts from the diaries will be found on later pages, where they occasionally serve to fix the 
dates of journeys and or to clear up matters that would otherwise remain obscure. The pocket 
diaries served also as cash accounts, in which items were faithfully entered for many years even 
to such detail as "car fare— .05"; indeed, in later years, the diaries contain little more than 
records of receipts and expenditures. The entries were regularly transferred to a carefully kept 
set of account books through most of Gilbert's life. A payment that closed or "squared" an 
account was marked in the diaries by a small rectangle. But in spite of all care, the entry of a 
small sum, usually less than a dollar, as "unaccounted for," not infrequently was needed when a 
balance was struck; a new start with cash on hand would then be made, headed "O. H." 

Among items of larger interest are the subjects of papers at scientific meetings and of occa- 
sional lectures at colleges and elsewhere. Thus it is found that Gilbert's study of the Mohawk 
gorge remained in his mind, for an entry regarding it was made in a diary nearly six years later 
in Washington, February 7, 1874: "Evening G. & G. Soc. spoke on the Cohoes Cedars as time 
data." The "G. & G. Soc." is believed to have been an informal gathering of geologists and 
geographers; but as to that and many other allusions-noted in Gilbert's brief records of long- 
gone years, positive information is lacking. 


Besides the half century of diaries and a large number of published reports and essays, 
many of Gilbert's field notebooks and more than a score of volumes of his press-copy letter books 
have been looked over in the preparation of this memoir; and in addition to these sources a large 
amount of personal material, from which many selections have been made, has been contributed 
by his friends and correspondents. This material has been extremely helpful, and its value 
is here gratefully acknowledged. The sources of passages thus secured are, however, seldom 
indicated ; indeed, many extracts and quotations are not given as such but are welded into the 
text, because it is felt that attention should be concentrated upon the subject of the memoir 
and that distractions should be as few as possible. A similar principle was followed by Gilbert 
himself in his memoir of G. H. Cook, State geologist of New Jersey, in the preparation of which 
he borrowed freely from a number of sources, yet in which "marks of quotation are omitted 
because consistency would demand their use with a very large number of parts of sentences." 

Gilbert's field notebooks and his official letters have been of great assistance in providing 
authentic record of his activities. Some of his personal letters, submitted by the intimate 
friends to whom they were written, have been even more valuable. Looking over these sources 
is like bringing the dead to life again. His written words conjure up his voice; his sen- 
tences recall his manner of talking; a humorous phrase brings the echo of his jovial laughter; 
when a reference to some past sorrow is encountered, it is as if the veil which time lets fall over 
the sad events of a long life were lifted, and as if the dulled grief were sharpened into pain again. 
But upon personal matters of this kind, meant by the writer only for the intimate friends to 
whom they were told, the veil falls again. Deeply as certain times of unhappiness were im- 
pressed upon Gilbert's inner self, frankly as they were spoken of to a very few, they were never 
made known to the greater number of his associates and they must now lie buried with him; 


buried all the deeper because his courageous philosophy of life led him to live joyously. He 
kept his griefs and disappointments to himself and radiated only good cheer upon his comrades. 

His field notebooks are more open to quotation, and many extracts from them will be found 
on later pages. It has been like reviewing a long chapter in the history of American geological 
exploration to look them over. Detailed sections representing much painstaking observation 
on desert mountain slopes speak aloud of the fatigues and rewards of outdoor work. As one 
sees successive items of evidence noted day after day, one may imagine the exhilaration with 
which new areas were entered. An occasional explanatory phrase suggests the manner in 
which the writer might have spoken at a scientific gathering, when recounting the enlivening 
experiences of search and discovery. Official letters have frequently afforded more entertain- 
ment than might be expected from such a source ; they shed much light on Gilbert's manner of 
dealing with men as well as with problems, and they repeatedly reveal his inexhaustible gener- 
osity as well as his absolute fair-mindedness. His published essays and reports are well known 
as models of impersonal, logical presentation. The capitalization of certain names, such as 
"Basin Ranges," which he there adopted has been omitted in accordance with present official 
practice. It has been indeed a high privilege to enter so deeply into Gilbert's way of thinking 
as the review of all these records has permitted. 

Yet, in spite of much effort, information on various points of interest is not to be had. 
Truly, if nothing were lost or forgotten biographical memoirs would grow to an unwieldy length; 
but it is deeply regretted that so much of the innermost and best should vanish beyond recall. 
Many personal records have disappeared, as the marks of light footsteps disappear from a 
surface of wind-blown sand. Concerning the mental life of Gilbert's boyhood and early man- 
hood, there are only such glimpses as are set forth on the preceding pages of this chapter; con- 
cerning the deeper feelings of later years a few paragraphs will be foimd on later pages. Only 
the record of scientific accomplishment is fairly complete. Would that the penciled outlines 
in the little pocket diaries had been written out elsewhere more at length; and yet how short 
would have been their endurance as the centuries roll by even had they been engraved on tab- 
lets of stone with an iron quill. 

Over the infinite prairie of level eternity, 
Flying as flies the deer, 

Time is pursued by a pitiless, cruel oblivion, 
Following fast and near. 

Ever and ever the famished coyote is following 
Patiently in the rear; 

Trifling the interval, yet we are calling it "History — " 
Distance from wolf to deer. 



While Gilbert was still working under Ward in the spring of 1869, he learned that a second 
geological survey of Ohio was about to be organized; whereupon, as if intuitively knowing the 
value of application in person, he went to the capital of that State and asked, as he himself said 
"with a lot of cheek," the then governor, Rutherford B. Hayes, later President of the United 
States, for an appointment as assistant geologist. On being told that appointments would be 
given only to Ohioans, he went undiscouraged to call on J. S. Newberry, the successful one of 
several candidates for the office of State geologist, from whom the same refusal was met; but it 
was happily accompanied by advice to join the survey as a volunteer assistant, with promise of 
$50 a month for expenses, but no salary. Gilbert at once accepted this opportunity and went 
to work in July of that year; thus at the age of 26 he became a field geologist. The next year 
a small salary and a larger responsibihty were allowed him. 

Not the least advantage of this position was the association that it gave the young volunteer 
with other geologists ; for the survey staff included besides Newberry several men who then and 
later made their mark on geological science. Edward Orton, afterwards professor of geology 
at the State university, successor of Newberry as director of the State survey, and president 
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the time of his death, when 
Gilbert succeeded him in that office; R. D. Irving, who became professor of geology in the 
University of Wisconsin and while there wrote a notable contribution to the history of pre- 
Cambrian time, before bis death in middle life; E. B. Andrews, whose contributions to the Ohio 
survey reports constitute some of their best chapters ; Henry Newton, who later studied the Black 
Hills of Dakota for the Powell survey, his posthumous report being edited and in part largely 
written by Gilbert ; and N. H. Winchell, later professor of geology at the University of Minnesota, 
director of the survey of that State, and for many years editor of the American Geologist. 

As a part of his office duties, Gilbert made drawings of fossil plants and fish, which won 
praise from his chief as being of " a style that has not, been surpassed in this country." Portions 
of two winters were spent in New York City, there also in association with Newberry, who, be- 
sides directing the survey of Ohio, then and for many years following occupied the chair of geology 
and paleontology in the School of Mines at Columbia University, and who found his summer 
assistant helpful in the preparation of winter lectures. The assistant himself presumably 
utilized part of the indoor season in writing his reports for the Ohio survey; but records of other 
subjects than geology are found in the diaries of these winters. The young man was attracted 
by theaters, sermons, and lectures; of the latter he once heard two on the same day, January 9, 
1870; one by the eminent Congregationalist, Henry Ward Beecher, on the "Request of the 
disciples for more faith," and the other, perhaps as an antidote for the first, by that ill-balanced 
iconoclast, George Francis Train, on "Old fogies of the Bible." Moreover, through Newberry, 
Gilbert met several noted men at New Haven: Silliman, Marsh, Norton, and Blake among 
others; but Dana is not mentioned. In February and April, 1871, the young geologist presented 
papers at meetings of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, first on the " Surface geology 
of the Maumee Valley," a subject that is further described below; second on the remains of a 
mastodon found in Ohio; these appear to be his first communications to a scientific society. 
Altogether the months in New York must have been enlivening. The intimate association with 
Newberry, winter and summer for two years, led Gilbert to feel a warm regard for his chief, which 
was afterwards manifested by frequent visits to him in the course of eastward or westward 


Gilbert's field work in Ohio appears to have been limited to the northwestern part of the 
State, where a slightly diversified sheet of glacial deposits permits few exposures of bedrock 
20154°— 26 8 11 

12 GROVE KARL GILBERT-DAVIS [Memoies [ vol TI xxi i ; 

and gives a monotonous appearance to the smooth landscape. He prepared separate reports 
on several counties, following a standard plan for the State as a whole; but in addition he dis- 
covered and solved a delicate problem regarding the surface features of his apparently unpromis- 
ing district. The results thus gained were so novel and so significant that Newberry generously 
permitted their publication in the American Journal of Science in 1871, two years in advance 
of their appearance as a chapter of Volume I of the survey reports in 1873. The area concerned 
is a plain of faint relief, which presents a general and very gentle slope northeastward to the 
southwestern end of Lake Erie; its materials were described as lacustrine clays, from 50 to 100 
feet in thickness, and explained as the deposits from the expanded predecessor of Lake Erie 
which overflowed southwestward to the Ohio-Mississippi system. The nearly level plain is 
interrupted by two low and concentric swells or "ridges," both of curved outline, convex to 
the southwest; the outer and larger one being from 25 to 50 feet high, from 4 to 8 miles wide, 
and some 200 miles long around its curve, the chord of which measures about 120 miles. 

At the close of a second season's field work, after Gilbert had detected the divergent ar- 
rangement of the glacial striae on occasional exposures of bedrock, the occurrence of a south- 
westward outflow channel for the expanded body of clay-depositing water which proved it to 
be a lake and not an arm of the sea, and several beaches that mark shore fines temporarily 
occupied as the expanded lake fell to lower levels, he came upon a fruitful explanation for the 
curved ridges and the arrangement of the neighboring streams, concerning which he made a 
concise entry in his diary on November 10, 1870: "Invented the moraine hypothesis for St. 
Jo and St. Marys rivers"; this brief statement being one of very few of its kind in his long 
series of annual records; and it is this "moraine hypothesis" that forms the main subject of 
his special report. It is interesting to note that, as if already unconsciously developing the 
well-balanced and candid style of presentation which characterized so many of his later writings, 
Gilbert opens the chief passage concerning his hypothesis, not with a confident assertion of 
his conclusion as if it were a fact, but with a frank announcement of it as an opinion: "I con- 
ceive," he wrote regarding the larger one of the two swells of the surface, "that this ridge is 
the superficial representation of a terminal glacial moraine, that rests directly upon bed rock, 
and is covered by a heavy sheet of Erie clay, a subsequent aqueous and iceberg deposit"; yet 
while he inferred the moraine to be thus buried, he thought that the clays "so far conform to 
its contour, as to leave it still visible on the face of the country — doubtless in comparatively 
faint relief, but still so bold as to exert a marked influence on the hydrography of the valleys." 

The context shows he had seen that all the little brooks run down the faint slope of the 
plain on courses which converge northeastward toward the lake; but that on reaching the 
exterior side of the curved morainic swells, the brooks are gathered into streams that flow along 
the base of the swell to the axis of the curves, where, uniting in the Maumee, they resume their lake- 
ward flow through open gaps in the swells. A rational treatment was thus accorded to the 
disposition of drainage lines, and that at a time when the courses of streams were usually 
treated simply as matters of course, for which the current methods of orthodox geology sug- 
gested no explanation. More briefly expressed in the terminology of to-day, the Maumee 
drainage would be called consequent upon the inclination of the plain and the slopes of the 
morainic swells. Yet although the arrangement of the streams was discovered to be generi- 
cally explainable, neither Gilbert nor his later associate, Marvine, who made the same dis- 
covery for various streams on the eastward slope of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains 
a few years afterwards, thought of giving the streams a generic name indicative of their origin; 
that happy idea sprang from the inventive, systematizing mind of Powell when he explored 
the Colorado River of the West. 

Gilbert's statement closes with the first announcement of a conclusion of far-reaching 
importance concerning the lobate margin of the great continental ice sheet, the pattern of a 
small part of which he had detected: 

We are here furnished partial outlines of the great ice-field, at two" stages of its recession. Though but 
small fractions of the entire outlines, they yet suffice to indicate that the margin was lobed or digitate in con- 
formity with the topography of the country that it traversed. 

No finer instance of a mental leap from a particular instance to a broad generalization 
can be found. It is true that priority in the recognition of drift ridges as terminal moraines 


appears to belong to C. A. White, who, as State geologist of Iowa, had somewhat earlier pub- 
lished an account of "two well marked but slight elevations in the general [drift-covered] 
surface of the country," both of which "seem at least to be accumulations of drift material 
which mark periodical arrests of the recedence, by melting, of the glaciers to the northward 
as the glacial epoch was drawing to a close. 1 And it is also true that priority in the detection 
of local lobation with divergent striations on the ice-sheet margin should be credited to M. C. 
Read, an associate of Gilbert's on the. Ohio survey, although the lobation that he described 
was due to a northward-opening embayment in the conglomerate-capped uplands of north- 
eastern Ohio into which a salient of the ice fitted, 2 rather than to a more abundant advance 
of the ice along a broad depression, such as the floor of Lake Erie. Hence even if Gilbert 
should not be credited with absolute priority of statement, his views concerning moraines and 
ice-margin lobation must certainly be regarded as better defined and of broader reach than 
those of his contemporaries. Yet in certain respects his views were incorrect, as he himself 
later acknowledged; for there was no land barrier by which, as he supposed, lacustrine waters 
could have been held at so high a level as to have submerged the morainic swells which now 
guide the rivers; and instead of their being covered by a "subsequent aqueous and iceberg 
deposit," it is the clayey moraines themselves that form the broad swells of the surface. 3 

As to the lacustrine barrier, Gilbert made a singular error which he afterwards righted. 
He erroneously assumed that the higher level reached by the expanded Lake Erie was due 
to an uplift of the land in the region of the St. Lawrence Eiver, an idea which he held 
with sufficient confidence to mention it briefly again five years later in his report on the Henry 
Mountains, even though Newberry had added a corrective footnote to the Maumee Valley 
report reading as follows : 

It should be remembered that the retreating glacier must have, for ages, constituted an ice dam that 
obstructed the natural lines of drainage, and may have maintained a high surface level in the water basin that 
succeeded it. 

When Gilbert was 15 years older and greatly matured by his experience in the Far West, 
he returned to the investigation of the Great Lakes region, and then, if not sooner, recognizing the 
correctness of Newberry's good guess, brought out his masterful essay on the history of Niagara 
River, as will be further told below. 

Another item in the Maumee Valley report deserves mention for its bearing on later studies, 
as well as for the evidence that its final statement gives of Gilbert's cautious manner of dealing 
with his problems. He records : 

It is noteworthy that the small streams [which flow from the clay plain into the southwestern end of Lake 
Erie] . . . occupy, near their mouths, larger channels than it seems natural that they should have opened under 
the existing conditions. ... If we suppose that the present water level of the upper [southwestern] end of 
Lake Erie was immediately preceded by a lower level, we have an easy explanation of the phenomena. 

In other words, he recognized that the broadened stream mouths should be explained 
as slightly drowned valleys, although neither he nor anyone else had at that time used the sug- 
gestive phrase, "drowned valleys," in this sense. Similarly, the brief statement: "There is 
evidence that Lake Ontario at Rochester, N. Y., has stood seventy feet lower than now," 
suggests that he had recognized the neighboring Irondequoit Bay, familiar in his boyhood, as 
a partly submerged valley. Then after noting that the upland at the eastern end of Lake Erie, 
through which Niagara River has cut its gorge, is 38 feet above present lake level," and that 
wave-work ought to have formed beaches corresponding to that outlet level all around the 
lake shores, he adds regarding the southwestern end of the lake : 

We must look for the record of this work considerably above, or somewhat below the present coast; the 
present data do not indicate which is the more probable position. 

The problem thus opened he completely solved later. No one else seems to have examined 
it in the interval. 

' Report, Oeol. Survey Iowa, I, 1870, 98. 

Qeol. Survey of Ohio. Report of Progress, 1870, 471; repeated in Vol. I, 1873, 639. 
> U. S. Oeol. Survey, Monogr. XLI, 1902, 666. 



Before Newberry became director of the State survey of Ohio, he had been geologist of 
several western exploring expeditions conducted by officers of the United States Army Engineers. 
It was therefore natural that, when Lieut. G. M. Wheeler, also of the Army Engineers, was 
organizing the "United States geographical surveys west of the one hundredth meridian" 
in the winter of 1871, he should ask Newberry to suggest a geologist for the new expedition. 
Gilbert was recommended and was forthwith appointed as "geological assistant;" thus began 
rather "late in life," as he himself felt, his career as an exploring geologist in the little-known 
Far West of those days. 

It should be here recalled that, in the years shortly following the War of the Rebellion, the 
exploration of our western national domain was actively prosecuted. When Wheeler's survey 
was established, several other independent surveys were already in progress under different 
departments of the National Government, each one in active competition with the others for 
funds at Washington, and in ill-concealed rivalry with the others in the West, as a consequence 
of which an overlapping duplication of field work sometimes occurred. The eventual con- 
solidation of the several surveys, following the recommendation of a committee of the National 
Academy of Sciences, in a single United States Geological Survey was not accomplished until 
1879. It should also be borne in mind that Wheeler's survey was primarily, as its original 
name indicates, geographical and not geological; and further that Wheeler's conception of the 
work of a geographical survey was essentially the making of maps, including the determination 
of latitude, longitude, and altitude for standard points, and the representation of the inter- 
mediate areas by hachures or shading. He appears, as far as one may judge from the text of 
his own reports, to have had no clear conception of physical geography or of geography as a 
whole, even as it was developed in his time; and regarding geology he does not seem to have 
been informed at all. 

No other geologist was appointed on the Wheeler survey in 1871, but A. R. Marvine, a 
recent graduate of the short-lived Hooper Mining School of Harvard University, who served 
under Wheeler primarily as an astronomical assistant and who became an accomplished geo- 
logist on the Hayden survey, which he joined the following year, reported on such geological 
observations as he could make while moving from camp to camp. A year later E. E. Howell, 
who had no more geological training than he could gather while a fellow worker with Gilbert 
in Ward's Cosmos Hall at Rochester, was added to the Staff. With these two, as well as with 
H. W. Henshaw, collector in natural history, Gilbert was closely associated. How different 
was the preparation of the young geologists for their tasks from that now exacted of new mem- 
bers of our National survey! Not one of them had made or could have had opportunity of 
making more than an introductory study of geology in college, for no American college then 
offered advanced teaching in that science. Not one had prepared a thesis, based on original 
research and replete with citations from the work of earlier geologists, or had passed a formidable 
oral examination on the general content of geological science for a doctorate in geology; higher 
degrees in geology were then practically unknown among us. To charge these little-practiced 
apprentices with the geological exploration of a new country was like authorizing a boy to swim 
by throwing him overboard into deep water. And yet for those who survived it this rude 
method led to great results; so great indeed as to make one wish that all young men who now, 
after a fair beginning as undergraduates, wish to embark on geology as a profession, might have 
the inspiring opportunity of investigating a little-known region on their own responsibility, as a 
practical test of their quality and capacity. 

16 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS lMEii0l * S [v™xxi, 

It was indeed with a sudden plunge into the deep unknown that Gilbert entered upon 
the arduous experiences of his first season of western field work, for it began abruptly and 
continued through eight months of almost continuous movement. Having left Rochester on 
April 21 and arrived at San Francisco on the 29th, a week before his twenty-eighth birthday, 
he had only three days there before turning back again and going with various members of 
the survey as far as Halleck in northeastern Nevada. Two weeks were spent at that point 
before the unwieldy expedition, which numbered over 40 men with 165 horses and mules, 
made its first move; later on, it was usually divided into two or three smaller parties. 
Gilbert's division for a time zigzagged among the ranges of the Great Basin into California on 
the west and Arizona on the east; then crossing the plateaus south of the Colorado Canyon, 
it went eastward as far as Mount San Francisco. Return westward was finally made through 
southern Arizona by the valley of the Gila to Yuma, where a river steamboat was taken down 
the Colorado to its mouth; thence an ocean-going steamer, running southward through the 
Gulf of California and northward along the Pacific coast, carried the party to San Francisco 
on January 3, 1872. During a brief delay there Gilbert called on J. D. Whitney, at that time 
director of the State survey of California, to examine volcanic rocks, and on Clarence King, 
director of the Fortieth Parallel survey ; and then turning to the East, with stops on the way 
at Cleveland to see his former chief, Newberry, and at Rochester to see his family, he went for 
the first time to Washington, where he arrived on January 25. Journeys across or nearly 
across the continent were repeated many times in later years. 

Departure was made from Washington for a second western field season late in June, 
1872, this time with the title of chief geologist; and after making stops again at Rochester and 
Cleveland, Salt Lake City was reached early in July. Thence Gilbert's party, frequently 
working independently of the main expedition, explored southwestern Utah and northwestern 
Arizona, thus covering an eastern part of the Great Basin and a western part of the plateaus 
north of the Colorado Canyon. It was during this season that Gilbert saw the House Range, 
wliich he selected nearly 30 years later for closer study as a typical example of a dissected moun- 
tain block. Farther east the truly fracturelike cleft of the Virgin River in massive sandstones 
was examined, and acquaintance was made with the long fines of cliffs, "trending east and 
west and facing south," by wliich the northern plateaus are "divided into a series of great 
terraces." The return journey from Salt Lake City to Washington was begun on December 12. 

The third and final season under Wheeler began in July, 1873, at Fort Wingate, N. 
Mex., which was reached by stage from Pueblo, Colo. Field work extended over western 
New Mexico and eastern Arizona south of the Colorado River, thus once more including parts 
of the plateau and Great Basin provinces. Monoclinal flexures and the Zuni uplift were studied 
in the plateau region, of which the southwestern and southern margin was traced; several 
members of the basin-range system were examined, and volcanic phenomena were studied 
more fully than before. This season closed with Gilbert's return, in late November and early 
December, by stage to Pueblo and train to Washington; there he spent a large part of the fol- 
lowing year in completing his reports. His residence in Washington is described in a later 


It is profitable to know something about the personal methods of work adopted by suc- 
cessful scientists, and the field notebooks of an eminent geologist are therefore of special inter- 
est. The theory of note taking in geological field work, especially during a prolonged cam- 
paign in a distant and little-known region, demands that the records of observed facts shall be 
so complete as to leave little to the memory, and advises that full but carefully separated 
records should be made of the speculations and interpretations excited by the facts. Practice 
departs largely and variously from theory, and in Gilbert's case conspicuously so. His notes 
of three field seasons on the Wheeler survey were made in 17 small books, each containing 
about 140 pages, measuring 6 by Z% inches, and usually with from 70 to 100 words to a page, 
written crosswise. The record of observations for the first year of rapid movement with a large 
party is only occasionally detailed, more often scanty; a day occupies from 1 to 10 pages. In 


subsequent years, when he was freer to move as he wished, records are fuller. Theoretical in- 
ferences are rarely found; sketches, profiles, and sections are for the most part incompletely 
and roughly drawn. The handwriting was rather careful in the first book of 1S71, but became 
more irregular afterwards; in some of the later books grotesque initial letters are often elabor- 
ately drawn at the beginning of each day's notes, as if there had been time to spare after break- 
fast before the party was ready to move. The form of record is simple and direct, often col- 
loquial, and occasionally facetious. The pages contain a mixture of items about persons and 
places of temporary value; of more serious but irrelevant matters, such as notes on vegetation 
and mining, usefid in building a background of experience for the writer even though no later 
use is made of them; and of geology proper, in the extension and interpretation of which memory 
must often have been largely resorted to before the recorded observations could be put into 
form of value to others than the writer. 

The following extract from an entry at a waterless camp in the Mohave desert in August, 
1871, is altogether exceptional in its fullness and generalized quality, but it is characteristic of 
Gilbert's even temper; for in spite of many discomforts and of occasional hardships, no word of 
complaint is anywhere recorded. 

Our dry camp of last night illustrated some phases of human nature, good & bad. There was no con- 
version of character, but merely a development. Those who customarily exhibited sense remained cool. The 
feeble-minded were panic stricken. The generous, the selfish, the sanguine, the timid did not change their 
characters. . . . The greed with which one or two absorbed the public water showed that it would not do 
to make it common property in case of extremity. The only way to ensure a proper economy & temperance 
in its use is to have each canteenful private property, & if a larger quantity is transported, to have it issued in 
rations in some equitable manner. 

A sample of frequent notes on plant forms is as follows, from near Ivanpah, Nevada: 

The novelties in vegetation have been many. It appears that there are two Spanish bayonets, one trunked 
& branching with seed pods barely as large as a bk. walnut, the other with paler leaves & pendent seed-vessels 
three or 4 inches long. These, esp. the 1st with the Palmetto make the plain look like an orchard, so thickly 
are they set. New cacti of 6 kinds. 

Mishaps are often recorded, as on August 27, 1871, in the desert of Nevada: 

Today my mule gave out with hunger & fatigue & I had to walk several miles, but she finally recovered so 
as to bring me into camp at nine o'clock, which was but an hour later than the rest. 

Frontier conditions during the era when the West was in the dim dawn of the Star of 
Empire, before the sunlight of civilization had come over from the East, were illustrated by 
an incident in Arizona, November 7, 1871: 

"In Camp near Prescott. Rumor of the attack on the stage containing H , L , and S — . 

November 8: 

. . . The camp goes on with its regular business notwithstanding the news from Wickenburg. Indeed 
there is nothing to be done except to write to the friends of the murdered. The at-present accredited version of 
the affair is: The stage with 7 passengers & 1 driver was attacked 6 m. beyond Wickenburg by white men 10-13 
in number. The driver did not halt when ordered & the stage was fired into from behind. Several men were 

wounded including the driver & the team became unmanageable [Two passengers] though both wounded 

jumped out and escaped by running ahead. ... At the stage were found the dead bodies of all but H , 

who is not yet accounted for. The murderers took hastily some money & retreated. A large amt. of money 
was overlooked. Twelve men started from Wickenburgh or Vulture Mill in pursuit and a company of cavalry 
was afterwards dispatched. Later news leaves no hope for H . 

It is interesting to learn from a passage in Wheeler's narrative that a member of the Mo- 
have tribe who accompanied the boat party of the survey into the Colorado Canyon, as de- 
scribed below, aided in discovering the perpetrators of this murderous attack, who were thus 
found to be not white men but Indians. 

Toward the end of the first season, some experience was had of the forlorn conditions 
prevalent in certain frontier towns. Four days "were spent in Arizona City in a somewhat 
monotonous manner. . . . Marvine & I practised a little at billiards. . . . Wrote a column 
for the Free Press. The Free Press office is about 14 ft. square and includes the bed as well as 
the table and desk of the editor & all hands. Boxes serve as chairs & bottles as candlesticks. 

18 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoirs Nat ional 

No stove. A dirt floor." A tersely expressed opinion of the editor is added, but is not here 
quoted. Great changes have taken place since that early time, for in the present era of state- 
hood, Arizona is, according to the competent testimony of one of its own officials, entering 
upon a career of progress " that shall be equal to none." 

The notebooks of the second season contain somewhat fuller records than those of the first. 
A rather wide range of home reading is suggested by an entry made on August 8, 1872, in a 
narrow shelter from the glaring sunshine of the Sevier desert: 

I write this in the shade of a telegraph pole. " Bless the good Duke of Argyle." 

But in case any reader itches for an explanation of this remote and aristocratic allusion, 
he will be barking up the wrong pole if he consults a telegrapher. An increasing range of field 
experience appears to have been reached after leaving the arid basin ranges and entering the 
moister province of the high plateaus, for note was made on October 14 of an item characteristic 
of practical geological exploration : 

Just at camp we had to cross a creek at a steep spot & my saddle went forward. I "nat'rally " went over- 
board into the creek. No damage reported beyond a wetting. 

This confession is illustrated by a faint little pencil outline of the horse stopping on the 
rapid incline and the rider plunging head first into the water below. 

Not long before, on October 3, Gilbert had his first view of the fantastically sculptured 
slope beneath the south-facing escarpment of one of the high plateaus in southern Utah, 
which appears to have excited more admiration in the minds of the senior members of his 
party than was felt by one of the assistants. 

Up the Sevier a few miles & then to the left a few miles more until we came suddenly on the grandest of 
views. We stand on a cliff 1000 ft. high, the "Summit of the Rim" . . . Just before starting down the slope 
we caught a glimpse of a perfect wilderness of red pinnacles, the stunningest thing out for a picture. 

Later on the same day is written, under "Incidents": 

When Mr. Hoxie and I reached the jumping off place & were entranced & exclamatory at the grandeur of 
the view & its topographical excellence, up comes Mr. Kilp & remarks with a smile: " Well, we're nicely caught, 
■aint we?" 

This trifling incident merits citation here, because it remained in Gilbert's mind long 
afterwards and was retold in California with much fuller account, drawn from memory, of the 
wide prospect than is entered in the notes, "to illustrate the relation of the traveler's appreciation 
to his point of view," as follows: 

One summer afternoon, 35 years ago, I rode along a high plateau in southern Utah. My companions were 
Hoxie, a young army officer; Weiss, a veteran topographer, who mapped our route as we went, and Kipp, an 
assistant whose primary duty was to carry a barometer. Not far behind us was a pack-train. We were ex- 
plorers, studying the geography and geology of a strange land. About us was a forest of pine and fir, but we 
rode through a lane of sunlit prairie cradled in a shallow valley. Suddenly the floor of the prairie came to an 
end, and we halted on the crest of a cliff overlooking a vast expanse of desert lowland. The desert was not a 
monotonous plain, like that of northwestern Utah, but a land of mesas, canons, buttes, and cliffs, all so bare 
that the brilliant colors of their rocks shone forth — orange, red, chocolate, blue, and white — fading slowly into 
the gray of the remote distance. We were looking across the broad barren tract through which the Colorado 
winds in Glen and Marble canons, and of which the Painted Desert of Arizona is a minor division. To most 
of us it was a supreme vision of beauty and grandeur as well as desolation, a scene for which words were in- 
adequate; and we stood spellbound. The silence was at last broken by Kipp, who exclaimed, "Well, we're 
nicely caught!" and his discordant note so carried us from the sublime to the ridiculous that our tense emotion 
found first expression in a laugh. . . . Kipp saw only that the cliff at our feet barred further progress in that 
direction, and all that had appealed most strongly to the others was lost on him." ' 

The wretchedness imposed upon certain settlers who, for reasons that are best not in- 
quired into, seek isolation in a barren desert where living is barely possible, is strikingly de- 
scribed in the notes of November 10, 1872, at a camp by a small spring under the Verm ili on 
cliffs of the plateau province, east of the Kaibab and north of the Marble Canyon of the 

1 Sierra Club Bulletin, 1908, 225. 


The house of . . . has one long room & about 10 inhabitants. It is half dug in the shale & half 
built of stone. Two wagons near by serve as sleeping apartments. Before the door is a spring that flows 
down a steep slope of shale trod to mud by the cattle & devoid of vegetation. Back of it rises the red sand- 
stone cliff & in front stretches the desert plain cut by the Colorado chasm. The largest tree is greasewood [a 
small shrub] & in fine the picture is one of intense squalor & desolation. Imagination could not invent a more 
appropriate home for such an outcast. 

Better conditions were found a few weeks later in a small Gentile town farther north : 

I have returned at night to 's Store which is the most comfortable house I have seen for many weeks. 

It has four rooms and a housekeeper. The table cloth is white. The butter is good & the milk is cream. This 
is a combination of luxuries unknown in the saintly settlements. Contra the wholesome brown bread of Mormon 
penury is exchanged for white, light, palatable, indigestible biscuits. Beds. 

The last word suggested a review, which follows : 

At Zion we furnished our own blankets & slept on the floor. At Rockville the same except we were furnished 
pillows. At Mt. Carmel we were given extra blankets & the lee side of a corn stack. At Toquerville I slept 
in a wagon box with the boy, at Workman's Ranch on the ground with the boy again. At Kanab in a bed 
on a bedstead alone, at Allendale ditto with the boy. At Circleville, ditto, ditto. 

Such are examples of personal experience taken from Gilbert's early records of his western 


Geological notes are usually limited to matters of direct observation, such as the nature 
of volcanic rocks, sections of stratified formations with record of attitude, composition, and 
fossils, and estimates of thickness. Surface forms are described briefly, if at all. Reviews 
and generalizations are rare; by way of exception a good number of observations on springs 
are collected in summaries on two dates in August, 1871. A bath in Sevier Lake led to a con- 
cise note as to the density of its water: 

It is not so buoyant as Salt Lake & I infer not so salt. Floated about as in figure, ab & c are water lines 
for fresh water, Sevier L. & G. Salt Lake. The water of thfc latter holds 20% of mineral matter. The second 
may have 12%-14 %. 

The figure referred to shows a man immersed to different depths, indicated by lettered 

Theoretical inquiries and speculations were rarely recorded, although it is impossible 
that a mind as active as Gilbert's should not have indulged in them frequently. A rare example 
is as follows, November 19, 1871 : 

. . . There are Problems connected with the +d sandstone [a cross-bedded yellow sandstone, 400 feet 
thick, in the upper Gila Valley]. 1st. How can it have originated conformably over a large area of limestone? 
The Potsdam [sandstone resting on cr3'stalline rocks] is easily accounted for. It represents a gradual sinking 
of the land & is followed by the natural sequence of shale and limestone. If the +d sand also represents a 
sinking, where is the erosion of the complementary elevation? 2d. How came so great a mass to be cross- 
stratified in one system from top to bottom? . . . The uniformity of all beds along lines of mesa front and the 
line of the Colorado indicates that these lines were coast lines or parallel to coast lines during the original 
deposition. The belt of the -f d sandstone may not be a broad one though it is already proven to be 100 miles 
long at least. Perhaps the bed was laid slowly during a period of constant conditions when a strong shore 
current bore the sand along to gradually build out a bar. In that case the ocean must have been south of the 
mesa line [plateau rim] for the dip is that way. . . . Later, having seen more of the +d sandstone I have to 
limit the description as to cross lamination. The lines do not run through the lines of bedding, though they 
present that appearance at a distance. At the top of a bed they terminate somewhat abruptly without deflec- 
tion while at the bottom they become tangent to the line of bedding. The lines may have originally curved 
at the top also, & have been cut off by the currents that formed the succeeding bed. 

The reason for this exceptional deliberation may be found in a preceding entry: 

Mules and horses strayed this a. m. & some delay in getting them. 

But deliberate as the discussion was, the absence of all suggestion of an aeolian origin for 
the cross-bedded sandstone is noteworthy. 

In the following year, 1872, the peculiar conditions under which the coal beds of the 
plateau province had been formed excited inquiry: 


The alternations of coal and limestone in this section is an anomaly. Not less so is the absence of underclay 
in the southern coals. There should be some discoverable reason. Is it not that the Cretaceous coal is 
made from plants so far different from those of the coal measures that they have a different soil or even habitat. 

In the same year the best of a very few examples of general discussions was written east 
of the Kaibab on November 15, concerning the broad denudation of the plateau country: 

The detached mesa (of chocolate shales apparently) that we see beyond [south of] the Colorado . . . bears 
on the problem of denudation. It is an outlier 20 miles at least from the main bed. Such instances are ex- 
ceptional & while they indicate great denudation do not solve the problem whether the entire Kaibab region 
has been covered by the banded sandstone or by the yellow sandstone or by the Cre. & Ter. with the facts now 
at my command I do not see how to solve it. Where cliffs of like age & character face each other on opposite 
sides of an anticlinal it is not difficult to bridge the chasm in imagination, but where successive cliffs involving 
10-1200 feet of strata from Ter down face the metamorphic zone of Arizona & drain toward it, it is hard to 
say how far they have extended. There are other island mesas of different beds but I can recall none so far 

Some examples are then cited from the Great Basin province southwest of the plateau 
area, regarding which it is said: 

These however have been separated first by convulsions & only secondarily by denudation. 

Other examples on the plateaus are added, and of these it is said: 

The margins of the several strata are remarkably simple & suggest pelagic erosion rather than fluvial, 
but there is no other evidence tending the same way. No trace of the denuding coast phenomena appears. 
Perhaps it is better to suppose that the general limits of denudation are the limits of rapid denudation deter- 
mined by changes in the character of the beds subjected to it. 

Convulsions, pelagic erosion, and limits of rapid denudation are encountered rarely if at 
all on subsequent pages. 

It is not a little surprising to find that records of theoretical views as to the origin of the 
basin ranges are almost wanting. The few that are entered will be quoted in the chapter devoted 
to that problem, although they are very indefinite as to the main point involved, namely' the 
occurrence of master faults along or near the base line on one or both sides of the ranges. It 
might be inferred from this that the discussion of faults was an unfamiliar matter to the re- 
corder, but the accounts of certain dislocated blocks in the plateau province show clearly 
enough that such was not the case. One of the most explicit of these accounts concerns the 
displacement, now well known to many observers, of the Vermilion and other cliffs near Pipe 
Spring, west of Kanab, on the Utah-Arizona line. There, under date of October 25, 1872, 
the observed topographic and structural facts are shown in sketches and in plan; and the 
place of the inferred but invisible fault is made clear in two cross sections. Referring to one 
of these the statement is made: 

It is evident that Pipe Spr is precisely on the fault & is determined by the abutting of the banded sand 
against the chocolate (just here slate) shales. 

The cliff on the west of the fault, composed of beds dipping at a moderate angle toward 
the fault line, decreases in height toward its cut-off termination; 

& pipe spring is at its extremity receiving its discharge from the dip in a manner that astonishes. 

But there is a significant difference between the well-defined faults by which the northern 
part of the plateau province was found to be divided into huge blocks and the inferred faults 
by which the basin ranges were thought to be limited. The faults of the first group were proved 
by standardized and generally accepted evidence, furnished by the repetition of a clearly 
exhibited series of identical strata on their two sides; whde the faults of the second group were 
adventurously inferred on unstandardized physiographic evidence, furnished by visible strata 
only on one side. This evidence was not then clearly formulated even in the mind of its dis- 
coverer, and was entirely unknown to geologists in general. Indeed it was not explicitly 
formulated by its discoverer himself until about 30 years later. 


Something of Gilbert's activity and courage in his first year of western work may be learned 
from a passage in Wheeler's own report of the venturesome penetration of the Colorado Canyon 
upstream in the autumn of 1871, thus reversing the course of Powell's boat journey down the 

academy of sciences] WHEELER SURVEY 21 

river a few years before. After the' canyon was entered the chief of the party found valiant 
support in his geologist at a time of emergency: "No one but Mr. Gilbert and myself," he 
wrote, "think that the boats can pass the rapid in front of us. . . . Mr. Gilbert and myself 
propose to reassure the men by taking the first boat across [up] the rapid "; and they succeeded. 
Boyhood practice in boating at home on the Genesee here served a good purpose. 

The leading facts regarding this trip are as follows : While a small division of the expedi- 
tion went eastward over the plateau, a party of 34 persons, including 8 survey members, 6 
boatmen, 6 soldiers, and 14 Mohave Indians, set out on September 16 in three boats and a 
barge from Camp Mohave, where the southernmost point of Nevada lies between Arizona and 
California, a short distance up the river from the present crossing of the Santa Fe Railway at 
Needles; they worked their way against the current 80 miles almost directly northward and 
60 miles deviously eastward, passing on the way through several subordinate canyons that 
trench certain members of the basin range system, and thus reached the " crossing of the Colo- 
rado," where some of the party left the boats and went on overland. Above this point the 
reduced boat party advanced about 50 miles southeastward into the lowermost section of the 
Grand Canyon as far as Diamond Creek; but one of the boats was sent back with a number 
of the men when further progress was threatened by some difficult rapids ; and the exploration 
was completed by only 20 of the original 34 members. In the 30 days of travel, the distance 
along the river was 222 miles, and in this distance 208 rapids were ascended. The boats were 
left at the mouth of Diamond Creek, a side valley was ascended southward to the plateau, 
where, after joining the rest of the expedition, the journey was continued eastward over a lava- 
covered country. Wheeler wrote a narrative description of the boat trip in the first volume 
of his reports (pp. 157 to 169), illustrated by several good photographs — many others were 
lost in the river or spoiled in overland transit afterwards — and accompanied by a topographical 
map on which the 31 camps of the river party are indicated; but as the publication of this volume 
was delayed by Wheeler's ill health until 1889, it was out of date when it appeared. The 
following extracts from Gilbert's notes, though they now are even more of a "back number," 
will give some idea of the observations made and of the difficulties encountered : 

September 19, 1871: 

. . . P [ainted] canon is not a very startling affair in point of size but well deserves its name. Its variegated 
lavas are umber, ochre, black & reddish. Not brilliant colors but in good contrast. 

September 21: 

. . . The wind was of great service today carrying us along gaily except at three or four rapids. Contra, 
it interfered with photography & kept O in a perpetual state of profanity ... I am a little dis- 
appointed in Black canon as I had based my ideas on Ives' view of the entrance of which I cannot find the 
original . . . Gibraltar affords data for half of that picture but the other side is wanting. 

September 23: 

. . . The canon in this part better accords with the idea I had conceived. The walls are not so steep as 
fancy (& Ives) had pictured them nor are they so high but they are for considerable distances unclimbable and 
we found camping ground so scarce that our search for it was prolonged into the darkness. 

October 2 : 

. . . Adjacent to the river are gravel mesas of two distinct epochs, the lower being red. These are in one 
sense conformable. The red was eroded deeply before the deposition of the other ... In general we may 
say that the red was succeeded by a low water system, succeeded in turn by a higher . . . 

October 4: 

. . . The edge of the Great Carboniferous Mesa [the western margin of the Plateaus] is not due to erosion 
but to a dislocation with a N. S. trend . . . The wall has the right to all the adjectives (except numerical) 
that have been given to it. 

October 5 [in camp at the Crossing of the Colorado] : 

... In the course of the afternoon the land parties arrived & were ferried over. Had a long talk with 
Marvine & Ogden. Packed a box for Truxton Springs. Hence the River party takes but three boats, each 
with 15 days' rations for its 7 men. Lieut. W., Mr. O'S & I command the boats. 



[Memoirs National 
[Vol. XXI, 

A cross section drawn near this point and showing the dislocation which defines the " western 
edge of the great Carboniferous mesa" is reproduced in facsimile in Figure 3. 

3 %&i~3ttG^*o /N2§^ -y^4v\/ 

fig. s.- 
October 6: 

■Section at the mouth of the Colorado Canyon; from Gilbert's notebook, October 4, 1871. 

... I propose to call our boat (no. 3) the Trilobite. We managed to get off from Camp Crossing at 
about ten A. M. Mr. Marvine accompanies us so far as to get a glimpse of the mouth of the Canon & then 

returns. We camp outside of the Canon & H & I start to climb the wall. H sickens (morally) at 

the first third of the climb & returns. I do not reach the top until after sunset though I started at about 1 P. M. 
It is the hardest climb I ever undertook. . . . 

October 7 : 

. . . Last night I spent alone on the mountain at the foot of Big [Grand] Cafion. Having no blankets I 
built a little fire in a sheltered spot among the rocks and hugged it all night, getting little sleep. The first thing 
that daylight shows me is that I am on only the first terrace & the second rises 5 m. to the east and trends a 
little S of east. There can be no doubt that it consists of yellow and red sandstone . . . and the best guess I 
can make at its feet is yellow 600, red 1200; total 1800. 

Many years afterwards Gilbert told a friend that he had expected, when looking up at the 
escarpment from the river, to make both ascent and descent before dark; that he was much 
alarmed at finding himself compelled to spend the night on the "terrace" because "bad Indians" 
were about; and that when trying to sleep he was actually frightened by hearing "pat, pat, pat," 
like footsteps stealthily approaching, but the pats proved to be only the beating of his own 
heart, audible in the extreme stillness of the solitude. 

The notebooks give details of the stratigraphic succession in the escarpment of the plateau: 
Here is the limit of disturbance . . . The gravel accumulations in the wash valley are immense & prove 
that a high barrier has once contained the waters of the valley. . . . Reached Camp [on river bank] at about 
1 P. M. with a big tired on. Whiskey, coffee & a rest brought me around however . . . Broke camp about 2 
P. M. & worked up the river a few miles, passing springs. The granite that we had at the mouth & which I 
neglected to collect disappears on todays march & the strata descend so as to bring No. 2 below water." . . . 

On October 11, an entry is made about great joints in — 

the "red-wall" limestone as I may as well designate the heavy mass that it troubled me so to climb. . . . We 
find as we proceed two long stretches of rowing water where the granite walls hold the river narrow with very 
little debris at the foot. A sharp rapid intervenes and at the head of the upper a roaring rapid that gave us one 

too many. The leading boat, — M at the helm; H at the pole — wrecked or rather swamped & 

upset scattering its freight along the bottom & top of the river. I started at once with . . . [four oarsmen] to 
save the floating debris. Some of the men are demoralized a little by the rapid & tomorrow I have volunteered 
to steer a boat up. The granite continues to grow higher and is beautifully sculptured by pot-holes & sand 
action. Much of the surface is smooth and glazed. 

Photograph by W. T. Lee, U. S. Geological Survey 


On October 12 the fifth notebook of the summer is begun. 

This book opens under a cloud at Camp 22 ... in the Big Canon, for last night occurred the accident 
that lost valuable books & papers and this morning all hands are at work repairing & searching ... In the 
P. M. after astronomical observations & caulking, we take all things up again to the rapids & with Mr. Wheeler 
for bowsman I take Boat Picture up the rapid. We ship w r ater . . . but the large force on the ropes pulled us 
through safely. Our camp at the head of the rapids. 

October 13: 

. . . From this point & time the boat party is divided, One boat goes down stream with dispatches & 

exhausted & demoralized men. The Picture & Trilobite go on up with 10 men (7 white & black; 3 red) each. 

. . . During the day we make some lively transits. One involved a run out with the line on the thole-pin & 

then a jerk ahead after throwing it off . . . The boat was often so highly inclined on a fall that to go forward one 

must climb as though up stairs .... 

October 14: 

... At noon we encounter again the worst rapid we have met & this time are compelled to make a portage 
of boats as well as freight. Above the rapid the current for a few rods being too swift to row & the cliff perpen- 
dicular so that towing is out of the question. We have "crept" in the old Genesee style & laid a rope to warp 
up by with loaded boats . . . The principal birds in the canon are bats ! they can be seen at all hours of the 
day and night. The steep walls do really shorten the day in such manner as to delay us somewhat. 

October 15: 

. . . Our progress is but four miles over a series of rapids. Toward night we reach a double rapid, — two 

rapids with a short interval of water that can be crossed. On the lower half the rope broke & let H- and 

me drift down stream. We did not discover that we had our line dragging until it anchored us in comparatively 
slack water below. Then we pulled in the rope and made for the nearest accessible shore. We had shipped some 
water & put the cargo ashore to save wetting. Made coffee & beds. 

October 16: 

H and I were out of camp (27) last night on acct. of boat accident, and the camp missed us, for we 

had food & beds & our crew went without either. They had however some bread in the morning when we came 
up & some of them made up all deficiencies by a good hearty grumble lasting through the day. Tonight Lt. 
Wheeler puts us on short allowance .... Our bacon is gone, & beans & rice are scant; but coffee is in plenty 
and will outlast every other item. Our flour will hold out -at this rate six days & these must bring us to the 
Diamond River or back to the crossing, the former if possible. 

October 18: 

... 2 accidents & I in each of them. 1st as my boat the Trilobite was taking in her cargo her fastenings 
gave way & she fell backward over the rapid, bumping her stern severely over the rocks & starting a rapid leakage. 

R H and I had the ride down and did not enjoy it. 2d At a very lively rapid an attempt was made 

to drag up an otherwise empty boat with S and me aboard, & we were swamped & upset. Shore was near 

at hand & we swam to it & hung our clothes on the rocks to dry. Here I found the inconvenience of having 
no change of raiment ... In the first accident three carbines were lost & one of them mine. I do not feel 
very sorry unless I am called on to pay for it; which would be highly unjust. The care of it was onerous & not 
compensated by any present nor probable use. This forenoon we saw a star (probably Venus) by day probably 
at 10 or 11 A. M. It appeared just above a 1000-ft. cliff that occulted the Sun, & was plain to be seen. This 
will go well with the bat matter in describing the gloom of the canon . . . The roar of the rapids is echoed by 
the cliffs and in the still of the night has the seeming of a mingling of many voices. As I write it is somewhat 
musical & reminds me of church-bells in the distance (when alone they are musical). 

October 19: 

. . . The water has been so swift today that we have had to tow the boats most of the way. . . . 

October 20: 

. . . Lay in camp at Diamond River all day resting or trying to. The river trip has proved very exhausting 
& after 24 hours of nothing to do (heavier than solar observations) I still feel as though just out of a threshing 

Here a detachment of the overland party came down from the plateau, with mules carrying 
a supply of food, so that the river party, which had been on short rations for a time, had a full 

The only published allusion made by Gilbert to this difficult piece of exploration is an incon- 
spicuous sentence in the geological volume of the Wheeler reports, in connection with a sys- 
tematic explanation of cliffs and slopes in the terminal part of the canyon: 

With the boat party, headed by Lieutenant Wheeler, I ascended this portion of the gorge, and had my 
attention especially drawn to the rapids and other phenomena of erosion and transportation. (Vol. Ill, p. 70.) 



Gilbert's first season of western work led him rapidly into a region of "mountain intricacies, 
rigid plateau contours, and desert wastes," as Wheeler described it. The young geologist had 
to carry on his studies, which were regarded as subsidiary to the main geographical object of the 
expedition, as well as he could. Naturally and necessarily his work was incomplete. Yet his 
chief, as if to forestall a reexploration of the region by one of the rival surveys, announced his 
belief that "the geological matter" gained by Gilbert and bis associates "when supplemented, 
as it soon will be, by a series of geological maps and paleontological reports, will answer all the 
present needs of the Government and of the industries of these partially inhabited areas, in 
which, for years to come, geological or other scientific examinations will find but few localities 
where sectional industrial interests may be healthfully promoted with economy to them or to 
the Government." 

The young geologist was under no such illusion. Although his chief credited him with 
having "aided to give form to the work of the geological parties," it is plainly to be understood 
from many pages of bis reports that he regarded his journeys as mere reconnaissances. For 
example, in his first chapter he explicitly states that the Inyo Mountains, one of the larger ranges 
next east of the southern Sierra Nevada, are "too important and complex to be characterized 
by our meager data." He felt that it was tantalizing to see 8,000 feet of bedded rocks beauti- 
fully displayed in bare mountains, near the middle of the oblique California-Nevada boundary 
fine, and "yet be unable to examine a single stratum." At many points bis observations were 
regarded as "too cursory to warrant individual mention." He understood that it would be 
premature to attempt a full discussion of the Great Basin "before the characters of the basin 
ranges shall have received more thorough study than has been possible for us." But the most 
emphatic statement concerning the limitations of his work is to be found in a printed "Pref- 
atory note," dated 1876, which he prefixed to the unbound copies of bis reports on the three 
seasons of field work, reprinted for personal distribution from Wheeler's Volume III, with the 
special title: "On the Geology of Portions of Our Western Territory Visited in the Years 1871, 
1872, and 1873." The note is in part as follows: 

The observations which form the basis of these reports were hurried in the extreme. The writer, for the 
most part, accompanied field parties which were specially equipped for rapidity of movement and were crowded 
to the utmost. Moreover, in a country almost unmapped the demand for geographical information was more 
urgent than that for geological, and all plans and routes were accordingly, and with propriety, shaped to give 
the topographer the best opportunities consistent with rapidity of movement, while the geologist gleaned what 
he could by the way. To study the structure of a region under such circumstances was to read a book while 
its pages were quickly turned by another, and the result was a larger collection of impressions than of facts. 
That many of these impressions should be erroneous was inevitable, and no one can be more conscious than I 
of the fallibility of what I have written. Still I am far from counting my labor lost; for the best presentations 
that have been given of western geology are not free from error, and I certainly have most honorable company 
in my imperfection. 1 

1 The remainder of the "Prefatory note" is here given, in order that the corrections which it includes may be added to the original Volumo 
III of the Wheeler Survey by those who possess it uncorrected. 

"More than a year has elapsed since the manuscript left my hands and in that time I have again visited Utah. Partly as the result of my 
new work, and partly by facts which have been developed by others, I have been induced to change some of my ideas and I avail myself of this 
occasion to mate a few retractions." 

" On page 132, basalt is erroneously reported to occur near the town of Salina, Utah. 

"On page 44, it is stated that an orographic disturbance occurred in the northeast part of the plateau province 'before the deposition of the C re- 
taceous.' The unconformity which I ebserved I now know to have arisen after the deposition of the Cretaceous. 

"On page 116, the opinion is expressed that artesian water might be found along the eastern base of the Pahvant range. Mr. Howell has since 
discovered a fault in the strata of that locality which greatly diminishes the probability. 

"It is asserted on pages 129, 130, and 525 that the San Francisco lava-field is continuous with the great lava-field of New Mexico. The notes of 
Dr. Loew show that this is not so. 



It is only with respect to the plateau province that Gilbert seems to have regarded his 
studies as fairly satisfactory, and that not so much because he made a prolonged stay there as 
because of "the simplicity of the structure, the thoroughness of its drainage, which [in contrast 
with the Great Basin Range province] rarely permits detritus to accumulate in its valleys, its 
barrenness, and the wonderful natural sections exposed in its canons." There one "can trace 
the slow lithological mutations of strata continuously visible for hundreds of miles; can examine, 
in visible contact, the strata of nearly the entire geological series, and detect every noncon- 
formity, however slight; and can study the simpler initiatory phases of an embryo mountain 
system." It is well to bear in mind the contrast thus suggested between the simplicity and 
visibility of the plateau-province structures and the complications and concealments of the 
basin range structures, when one examines the reports regarding them. 

Gilbert wrote, besides several condensed reports of progress and a number of brief scientific 
articles on special topics, two final reports, dated July and October, 1S74; the first covered the 
field work of 1871 and 1872, the second, that of 1873; both were prepared in Washington and 
appeared in "Volume III, Geology" of the Wheeler survey, dated 1875. The method of 
presentation originally proposed was largely modified, apparently as a result of Gilbert's prefer- 
ence for synthetic treatment. An itinerary, which had been planned to record the bulk of the 
observed facts in the order of their encounter, was omitted except for the barest outlines, which 
for the first two years are given in a two-paragraph footnote, and for the third year in a half 
page of text; the systematic treatment was correspondingly expanded. As Gilbert said in the 
preface to the first report, "General statements have been put for individual, so far as the 
material would allow"; and again in the preface to the second, "Wherever the facts at hand 
have appeared to warrant a general statement, that has been given in preference to the indi- 
vidual facts, in the belief that, even though it shall require future modification, it will be more 
readily available and in every way of more service to geological science than the enumeration 
of the local details that were the subjects of direct observations." The preface to the first 
report also makes generous reference to his associates : 

I have endeavored to acknowledge, in presenting the material, the contributions to it that have been made 
by gentlemen of the expedition and others; but it is proper to add that these acknowledgments fall far short of 
expressing my indebtedness to the work of assistants, Messrs. A. R. Marvine and E. E. Howell. The inter- 
locking of our routes has brought their data into such relation to mine, that all my more general statements 
are, in part, based upon them. 

Although it may be agreed that narrative records are generally less satisfactory than 
classified statements for the presentation of scientific studies, one must here regret the loss of 
first impressions made by the geology and the physiography of regions so extraordinary as the 
Great Basin and the plateaus on a mind so sensitive to receive them and so keen to analyze 
them as Gilbert's. 


The preceding details concerning Gilbert's first seasons of field work in the West have 
been given with some fullness, in order to show the conditions under which he was formally 
launched upon his geological career. A similarly detailed analysis of his first official reports, 

"There is no good ground for the opinions advanced on pages 86 and 81 that the courses of Eanab and Paria creeks were in part determined by 
antecedent folds, and that the Aubrey cliff as a topographic feature antedates the Grand Cation. 

"The unhappily large number of typographical errors in Part I are due in part to the fact that I was absent in Utah during the proof-reading 
and did not see the pages until they had been stereotyped. In these few copies that I distribute myself I have corrected many of the errors in the 
margin. I have also restored in part some words and sentences that were suppressed in the manuscript after it passed from my hands. Certain 
of the restored passages are necessary to the understanding of the context and others are needed to prevent the impression that I disregarded through 
ignorance or discourtesy the work of other geologists. 

"I have to regret that I cannot present with these unbound pages the engravings which accompany them in the official issue. I can only hope 
that my friends who receive this extract will obtain also the complete volume." 

The chief "restored passages" mentioned in the next-to-last paragraph above, are inserted as interleaved printed slips where they belong and 
will be reproduced in connection with their context on later pages of this memoir. The marginal manuscript corrections are chiefly as follows: 
Page 41, "basin ranges" is given capital initial letters, as elsewhere; p. 57, 59, 60, "plateau" is similarly capitalized; p. 75, 8 lines from bottom, for 
Cherty read Aubrey; p. 83, 176, for Monument read Glen; p. 95, 6 lines from bottom, after subaqueous add clay; p. 99, four additional shell species, 
collected by Hayden in 1870 and identified by Tryon, are added to the five collected by Gilbert; p. 103, for Anodae read Anodonta; p. 109, 116, for 
San Francisco read Colorado; p. 172, for Cordillera read Basin Range; p. 173, for New Mexico read Dakota; p. 175, after Newberry add and Major 
Powell; the lower half of p. 183 and four-fifths of p. 183 should be included in the footnote of p. 182; p. 509, 519, after Newberry add Hayden; p. 512 
7 lines from top, for northward read westward. 


with respect to their contributions to geology and physiography, will be presented in this and 
the following sections, not only because of the evidence that they give of the rapid development 
of his life work, but also because of their importance in the history of geological science. 
Undoubtedly the best known and most frequently quoted chapters of his reports concern the 
mountain ranges in and near the Great Basin, to which he was the first to give the general 
name, basin ranges; yet his discussion of the structure, history, and form of these mountains 
was less complete than that of the plateaus next adjoining on the east, regarding which his 
excellent descriptions and well certified conclusions have been less frequently cited. This 
contrast appears to have a double explanation. Gilbert's conclusions regarding the plateaus 
agreed essentially with those reached about the same time or later by Powell and Dutton, 
whose fuller accounts, published in separate volumes, practically superseded his few and brief 
chapters. On the other hand, his conclusions regarding the basin ranges traversed those 
reached at about the same time by the geologists of the Fortieth Parallel survey, and therefore 
became widely known as the subject of a prolonged controversy, which even to-day is not 
settled to the satisfaction of all concerned. Gilbert's views on this question were highly 
original, but their first presentation was unfortunately very incomplete. They will be examined 
in a special section, after the geologic and physiographic problems of the plateau province 
have been set forth. 

The chief geological topics treated in Gilbert's contributions to Volume III of the Wheeler 
survey reports are: Stratified rocks, their sequence, thickness, composition, and fossils, with 
some discussion of the conditions of the deposition, their horizontal variations, and their place 
in. the geological series; volcanic rocks, their sequence and distribution; the structures pre- 
vailing in each of the two physiographic provinces under examination, which show, first, that 
the deformed rock masses of the basin ranges and their inferred strong displacement by in- 
visible marginal faults contrast strongly with the prevailingly horizontal strata of the plateaus 
which are but moderately disturbed by visible faults and flexures ; but which show also that the 
more disturbed blocks in the northern part of the plateau province represent structural transi- 
tions between the less disturbed plateaus farther south and the basin range province on the 
west; in a word, that the plateau province exhibits embryonic stages of the deformation which 
is more fully developed in the basin range province; processes of deformation, concerning which 
occasional brief but significant suggestions are offered; certain chapters of historical geology; 
the absence of general glaciation; erosional processes; and lacustrine records, chiefly those of 
the great extinct lake to which Gilbert gave the name of Bonneville and on which he later 
prepared a monograph, to be analyzed on a later page, as his chief publication under the United 
States Geological Survey. Fuller statements concerning some of the above topics will be given 
in the following sections, with page references to Volume III. 

Gilbert shared with Marvine and Howell the duty of coloring geologically eight of the 
Wheeler survey topographical maps, prepared with hachures on a scale of 8 miles to an inch. 
The area covered includes parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, and the colors 
distinguished eight time divisions and two groups of igneous rocks. Of course the geological 
boundaries are broadly generalized and without detail. 

The chief physiographic results— that is, all discussions of land forms as dependent on rock 
structures and surface agencies — will be summarized in later sections. They concern the forms 
produced by stream erosion and by general degradation in plateaus of horizontal structure, 
by the general erosion of volcanic cones and lava fields, and by the advanced denudation of 
monoclinal flexures and upheaved domes; little attention was given to the description of forms 
exhibited by the irregularly deformed structures of the basin ranges. Two general laws of 
erosion were formulated and applied in a highly suggestive manner. The erosional reduction 
of highlands or uplands to plains was clearly recognized, and the distinction is intimated between 
the young forms of a later cycle of erosion introduced by the uplift of a region, and the old 
forms that had been previously developed in an earlier cycle. 
20154°— 26 9 



A large amount of painstaking routine observation on the basin ranges as well as on the 
plateaus is represented by 21 columnar sections, with measures of the thickness of successive 
formations and brief accounts of their composition and fossils, Meek being the authority for 
most of the species named (157-170). The sections include an immense accumulation of 
sedimentary formations, the time relations of which, conveniently exhibited in graphic form 
(171), extend from Archean to Quaternary. These well-generalized records are followed by a 
brief review of each larger tune division from younger to older (172-186), which constitutes the 
most considerable contribution to historical geology that is to be found in any of Gilbert's 
reports. A brief passage of altogether exceptional nature is here included — 

The genus Cruziana was first described by A. D'Orbigny from the Lower Silurian of South America. It 
has since been found in Lower Silurian strata in France and Sweden; in Primordial strata in England, New- 
foundland, and Montana; in the Chazy group in Canada, and in the Clinton group (Upper Silurian) in New 
York.' Its known vertical range is thus entirely within the Silurian and its broadest distribution in the Lower 
Silurian. By these facts [other fossils also being here referred to] I am let to conclude that the Tonto group 
[lying unconformably on crystalline rocks at the bottom of the Colorado canyon] is certainly Lower Silurian 
in age and probably Primordial (185, 186). 

Whether this passage was borrowed from a report of the paleontologist, Meek, or whether 
it is a reminiscence of the Gilbert's years in Cosmos Hall is not clear, although the first-person 
pronoun suggests the latter alternative; but in either case the passage is peculiar, almost unique, 
in making repeated references to foreign localities. Such references are rarely found in Gilbert's 
reports. In common with other explorers of the West, he was so overwhelmed by the great 
mass of new facts there discovered and by the heavy labor of description, and discussion that 
he seems to have found no time for comparing them or their explanations with more or less simi- 
lar facts and explanations previously recorded by the geologists of other continents; his work 
was essentially American. 


Among other results of importance determined by Gilbert as a member of Wheeler's survey, 
as well as by the geologists of rival surveys, were several generalizations regarding the historical 
geology of the West as contrasted with the previously established standards of the eastern 
United States; for example, the meagerness of the Upper Silurian and Devonian beds, the 
marine origin of the Carboniferous, the occurrence of Cretaceous coal — " Whenever there shall 
be a market for it, coal will be developed in all the indicated areas of Cretaceous outcrop" 
(546) — and the supposed lacustrine origin of much of the Mesozoic and Tertiary strata in the 
plateau province. On the last-mentioned topic an important change of opinion was made 
20 years later. Curiously enough, the large-scale occurrence and presumably aeolian origin 
of certain cross-bedded sandstones, best exhibited in what he called the Gray Cliffs, now usually 
known as the White Cliffs, in the northern part of the plateaus, received little attention. The 
sandstones were long afterwards referred to as exhibiting " superlative cross-bedding " but with- 
out a suggestion of origin. 2 Certain paleogeographic changes, indicated by variations of the 
stratigrapliic column from place to place and presumably caused by ancient deformations and 
emergences, are discussed, for the most part briefly. Thus among other contrasts between 
the region of the basin ranges and of the plateaus is the emergence of the former in mid-Mesozoic 
time, so that since then, although possibly suffering progressive deformation, it has been exposed 
to erosion, while the latter continued to subside and to receive sedimentary deposits, largely 
derived from the former, as late as the Tertiary era (63, 1S7). 

The present greater altitude of the plateau province resulted from a later movement when 
its long-continued subsidence was reversed to upheaval. "The Wasatch and the country 
immediately east of it [the plateaus] have been elevated, relatively to the adjacent portion of 
the Great Basin, not less than 4,000 feet since the drainage of the Great Tertiary lake" (59, 60). 
Gilbert's associate, Howell, made an excellent contribution to this subject: he wrote on a later 
page of Wheeler's Volume III than Gilbert's first report : 

When the Cretaceous and Tertiary seas covered the present Plateau region, the Great Basin, as it is now 
called, was the continent which furnished the material for the heavy beds of rock which were then deposited. 

■ Ripple-marks and cross-bedding. Bull. Oeol. Soe. Amer., x, 1899, 135-140. 

ac.dkmy of scen-ces] WHEELER SURVEY 29 

The present altitude of the plateaus is due to a later uplift, after "the main folding of the 
range system," on fault lines at the western base and a few miles to the east of the Wasatch 
Range; " along these two lines have been the main movements which have reversed the position 
of the two systems; placing the plateau above the plains of the Basin Range system" (252, 253). 
The great erosion of the basin ranges here implied as following their "main folding" will be 
referred to again in discussing the explanation of the ranges as fault-block mountains. Gilbert 
was evidently much impressed by the contrast to the Appalachian revolution of the Atlantic 
slope that was presented by the almost unbroken continuity of deposition in the plateau prov- 
ince from the "Silurian" to the Tertiary; the chief break in this long sequence is a slight uncon- 
formity between the clays of the lower Trias, later called Permian, and an overlying conglom- 
erate: the clays "were somewhat eroded by the current which spread" the conglomerate, "as 
is shown by the inequality of the surface on which it rests" (175). 


Of wider significance is the discussion of the tremendous unconformity at the base of this 
great Paleo-Meso-Cenozoic series in the plateau province; it had already been recognized by 
Newberry and Powell, but was more fully discussed by Gilbert as follows: "In the Grand 
Canon of the Colorado . . . the Tonto sandstone [the formation in which the Cruziana, 
above noted, occurs] rests directly on the plicated and eroded schists and associated granites, 
and demonstrates them pre-Silurian." Hence "the Archaean strata had been deposited, 
plicated, raised above water, and eroded, before the epoch of the Tonto group." The depo- 
sition of the "Silurian" sandstones with their marine fossils on the underlying crystalline rocks 
was therefore interpreted in Gilbert's first report to mean that the Paleozoic ocean "slowly 
encroached upon the Archaean continent, paring its ridges, filling its hollows, and spreading 
over all . . . the coarse siliceous detritus that constituted the advancing beach" (186, 187). 
That the encroachment of the ocean was largely due to the subsidence of a preexistent land 
had been previously pointed out in the statement that the Paleozoic "series, in a great number 
of instances, exhibits limestone at the top and vitreous sandstone (quartzite) at base, with 
usually shale between"; and this, following Newberry, is declared to be "the typical sequence 
of deposits upon a continent slowly sunk beneath the ocean" (183). The amount of sinking 
which continued from "early Silurian to late Cretaceous," is estimated at "no less than 
8,000 feet" (187). 

It is interesting to add that, although no mention is made of them in the text, one of 
Gilbert's sections of the Colorado Canyon wall (p. 184) correctly represents the very ancient 
but moderately inclined pre-Paleozoic strata, later called Unkar by Walcott, which, repeated 
by faults in several parts of the canyon, form east-dipping, wedgelike masses, with their under 
surface resting unconformably upon a remarkably smooth, slanting floor of the still more ancient 
crystalline rocks, while their upper surface is everywhere obliquely beveled by the great erosional 
plain, cutting evenly across the moderately inclined Unkar strata and the strongly plicated 
crystalline rocks alike, which serves as the even floor upon which the Tonto sandstones were 
so broadly outspread. Gilbert's section here referred to is believed to be the first published 
illustration in which one of the wedgelike masses is properly represented; the corresponding 
figure in Powell's Exploration of the Colorado River of the West (p. 212, fig. 79) is seriously 
incorrect and misleading. 

The great "Pre-Silurian" unconformity is more broadly treated in Gilbert's second report, 
where its occurrence in the southeastern part of the basin range region is strikingly described: 

The break between the Archaean schists and the Paleozoic beds is strongly marked. The Archaean sedi- 
ments were plicated, were tilted, and were lifted above the ocean and eroded before the Paleozoic were laid 
down (510). 

A general statement is made later: 

There are two general facts in regard to the geological history of the great West that deserve especial 
mention . . . The first is that the pre-Silurian stratigraphical break is as complete and as universal in the 
West as it is in the Eastern States and Canada . . . And, second, there is always, at the contact, a contrast 

30 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoirs [ vo™xi i ; 

of conditions as regards rnetamorphism, the Silurian rooks being, usually, merely indurated, and the Archaean 
invariably highly metamorphic. These two characters of the break serve to show that it represents a vast 
chasm of time, a chasm, the duration of which may have been greater than that of the ages which have since 
elapsed. A third character of the break, one that is supported by less evidence, but negatived by none, is that 
the lowest of the superposed rocks are conglomerates and coarse sandstones. The lowest Paleozoic rocks are 
Primordial, and the basal portion of the Primordial is everywhere siliceous and of coarse nature. Where the 
Primordial is absent, and the Carboniferous rests directly on the Archaean, a limestone has been observed at 
the contact; but this is a local phenomenon, the meaning of which is that certain Archaean mountains were 
islands in the Silurian sea, and were afterwards covered, or more deeply submerged, by the Carboniferous sea. 
The conclusion to be drawn from the coarse, fragmental nature of the lower deposits is that the water which 
spread them was an encroaching ocean, rising to possess land that had long been dry. The recognized interpre- 
tation of a widespread sandstone is continental submergence, or, what is the same thing, an advancing coast 
line; and where the formation is important in depth, as well as breadth, we must suspect, at least, that the 
shore waves sorted, not merely the detritus which they themselves tore from the cliffs of indurated rock, but 
other debris, which they found already ground, and which needed only redistribution (521, 522). 

It is worth remarking that less mention is made in the second report than in the first of 
the work done by the advancing ocean in paring down Archean ridges; for although marine 
erosion was, in 1860 and 1870, the usually accepted method of preparing a flat floor for the 
reception of unconformable sediments, Gilbert had made much progress, as will be shown 
later, during his successive seasons in the field, toward recognizing that subaerial degradation 
could, in areas of weak rocks at least, produce a plain without the aid of marine abrasion. It 
is therefore significant that the abrasive action of shore waves is limited, in the second report, 
to their attack on "cliffs of indurated rock." 


Of still greater importance is a delicately worded protest, next to be quoted, against an 
old-fashioned teaching that was geologically orthodox in the time of Gilbert's youth — the kind 
of teaching that Professor Ward pretty surely gave him — to the effect that the Adirondack 
Mountains in New York and the Laurentian highlands to the north of them represent Archean 
areas which rose from, not sank into, a wide primordial ocean, and which were as a result sheeted 
over with a receding succession of strata as the waters withdrew from their emerging flanks. 
The protest is as follows: 

It would be perhaps, out of place to controvert here the familiar presentation of eastern Paleozoic history 
as an emergence, beginning with the uplift of the Laurentian highlands, but it may be confidently asserted 
that western Paleozoic history is the reverse of this. There was a time when the Archaean highlands consti- 
tuted islands in the Paleozoic sea, but this condition was produced, not by the emergence of these islands, as 
the nuclei of a growing continent, but by the submergence of the surrounding area, and the consequent abolition 
of a continent (522) . 

The clearness of insight and the originality of interpretation here revealed are thoroughly 
characteristic of Gilbert's work; and yet in spite of his convincing demonstration, the orthodox 
belief which it should have promptly supplanted survived for years; it was still maintained, 
for example, in so standard a work as Dana's Manual of Geology, not only in the third edition 
of 1S80, but also in the fourth of 1895. There is probably no better illustration than this one 
anywhere to be found of the effect of vivid western facts in freeing a philosophic-minded inquirer 
from domination by orthodox eastern theory. As with other generalizations, to be mentioned 
later, this one seems to have been based less upon observations in the Great Basin than in the 
plateaus; for the smaller and scattered localities of Paleozoic basal unconformity found in the 
basin ranges are much less impressive than the majestic continuity of its exposure deep in the 
Grand Canyon. There truly the magnificent display is writ so plain that he must indeed run 
far who readeth it. Yet this novel and fundamentally important interpretation of a sinking 
Archean continent, a geological discovery of the first rank, does not seem to have impressed 
itself deeply upon Gilbert's modest mind; for when, only 10 years afterwards, a correspondent 
who did not have the above-quoted passage in mind, wrote to him asking if he had not some- 
where expressed an opinion about the pre-Paleozoic submergence instead of emergence of the 
Adirondacks as an outlier of the Laurentian highlands, the reply was, " There is some mistake 
in regard to my opinion about the Adirondacks, for I have none. I have never seen them." 

academy op sciences] WHEELER SURVEY 31 

Then after a page of other matters : " P. S. I find that it is Powell who has an opinion about 
the Adirondacks"; as if in the multiplicity of new ideas this one had been forgotten. A later 
instance of a somewhat similar kind will be told in connection with the problem of laccolites. 

A digression may be made here to introduce a striking statement concerning the great break 
between the Archean rocks and the later formations, a statement that is noteworthy for the 
importance of its content as well as for the strength of its induction. It is taken from a review 
of Geikie's Textbook of Geology, which Gilbert wrote in 1885: 

The unconformability between the Archaean and the Palaeozoic [it may be inferred that this classic diph- 
thong was introduced by the editor of Nature] is not mentioned in such a way as to convey an impression of 
the profoundness of the chronological break. There is no known locality where a newer formation rests con- 
formably upon the Archaean. There are few where the discordance of dip is not great. There are few where 
the superior formation is not relatively unaltered, and none where the inferior formation is not highly meta- 
morphosed. So far as we know, the Archaean strata were both thrown in great folds and plicated in detail, 
were universally subjected to a metamorphism such as in later rocks seems to have been accomplished only 
at a depth beneath the surface, and were subsequently worn away upon a most stupendous scale before they 
received any sedimentary covering within the regions now accessible for examination. Compared with this all 
other chronological breaks are trivial, and we may almost say that, compared with this, all other stratigraphical 
breaks are local. 3 

It would appear from such a passage as this that, although Gilbert was as a rule little 
occupied with historical geology, he had a fine appreciation of its greater lessons. 


Volcanic forms will be referred to on a later page; volcanic rocks and structures may here 
be passed over briefly, for although they were duly attended to wherever encountered, they were 
not in after years subjects of Gilbert's special studies. He rarely concerned himself later with 
the distinction of trachyte, rhyolite, and basalt; and indeed the mention of these and other 
kinds of lavas in his early reports is chiefly noteworthy in connection with his endeavor to test, 
by examination in the field, Richthofen's then recently announced "natural order of sequence" 
for eruptive rocks which "had been before considered almost exclusively from a chemical and 
lithological point of view" (131); noteworthy also because, while the repeated references to 
Richthofen would appear to constitute an exception to the rule that Gilbert did not cite the 
work of foreign authors, it is not so in reality; for the work here referred to was based chiefly 
on observations made by the distinguished German geologist and geographer when he was 
crossing the western United States on his way to China in the sixties, and his " Natural system of 
volcanic rocks" was first published in the memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences in 1868. 

As to Gilbert's field test of the sequence of volcanic rocks in the Great Basin, basalt was 
always found to overlie trachyte and rhyolite, but the succession of these two seemed variable; 
the earlier members of the series, propylite and andesite, were rarely met (131, 132). In the 
plateau region "the invariable order of superposition is: Basalt, sanidin-dolerite, trachyte." 
A sententious statement of ponderosity hardly paralleled in later writings is made concerning 
the second member of this series: 

The name "sanidin-dolerite" is used, for merely temporary convenience, to designate a rock of considerable 
importance in Arizona, which seems to fall without our present nomenclature and deserves the careful scrutiny 
of the lithologist. ... It is quite possible that when, by the determination of the constitution of its matrix, 
it is fully denned, it will not appear lithologically entitled to a specific appellation, but the recognition of its 
individuality finds geological warrant in Arizona (526). 

Concerning the relative abundance of different volcanic rocks, it is said that on the plateaus 
basalt covers large areas in relatively thin sheets and there rivals trachyte in abundance; but 
in the Great Basin basalt, although assuming an apparent importance on the map from being 
of latest date, shrinks into insignificance when its volume is compared with the massive erup- 
tions of trachyte and rhyolite; these rocks, rising from few issues, have formed huge bosses, 
often of great thickness, divided by few or no bedding surfaces. Even though now much reduced 
by erosion, they still remain in immense masses (127, 128). The use of the German word, 
"Trass," for a volcanic ash deposit (540) was probably an echo of Cosmos Hall. 

* Nature, xrrii, 1885, 261. 


The considerable duration of the basaltic period-:— the latest phase of volcanic activity on 
the plateaus— and the recency of its last eruptions are shown by the contrast between the 
erosional isolation of several basalt-capped tables and the freshness of certain neighboring 
cones and flows. Thus the extensive flows that proceed from the many cones named the 
Marcou Buttes, in western New Mexico, "follow the present surface, and are almost incomparably 
newer than the Acoma and Mt. Taylor plateaus, the clift borders of which surmount the 
recent flows by 500 or 1000 feet." Powell is quoted — and this is of interest as showing the 
free interchange of results between the two explorers before either of them had published his 
report — regarding the lava cap of Uinkaret Mountain, the body of which is a "Triassic island" 
or remnant of the Carboniferous "terrace" north of the Colorado Canyon; and from this 
Gilbert draws the inference that, since the capping flow was erupted, the Vermilion Cliffs of 
Triassic sandstone, 1,500 feet in height, have retreated 30 miles; he adds that younger cones 
"dot the intervening plain" (136). The youngest eruption known to Gilbert is found in a 
group of cones on the Sevier Desert in the basin range region, of which he gives a detailed 
account. Some of them — 

may fairly be called modern, although there is no tradition of their eruption . . . Only the consideration of 
the extreme aridity of the climate can countenance the possibility that centuries, instead of years merely, may 
have elapsed since the termination of this eruption . . . Indeed, when we compare the stupendous denudation 
that has transpired during the period of basaltic vulcanicity in this region, with the differential film that has 
been removed since this last manifestation, and when we consider, in addition, that intermittence is a char- 
acteristic of volcanic activity, we are not merely permitted to think of a renewal of that activity as possible, 
but logically compelled to regard it as probable (136). 

He elsewhere wrote, regarding the recent cones in the Sevier Desert: 

In passing, it may be noted, for the benefit of those who base theories on the littoral distribution of vol- 
canoes, that this locality is six hundred miles from the Pacific ocean. 4 

More pertinent to Gilbert's other work is a conclusion concerning the dynamics of vol- 
canic eruptions, which is stated, after an account of some of the larger volcanic structures, as 
follows : 

It is well worthy of note that the majority of these eruptions among the Plateaus rest upon nearly level 
strata, and that where they are associated with inclined strata, such inclination is seen to pertain to a 
structure extending far beyond the volcanic outburst, and evidently not dependent on it as a cause . . . 
This remark applies not merely to the eruptions of basalt, which we know from the narrowness of its dikes and 
the easy slope of its currents to have been usually a tolerably thin fluid, but also to the most viscous trachyte, 
which, in the case of San Francisco mountain, for example, has been built, not a scoriaceous mass, but a 
pyramid of compact lava, to a height of nearly 5,000 feet, with slopes of 10° and 20°. It is by no means 
impossible, it is probable, rather, that in upheaved ranges, uprising lavas sometimes force apart rock masses, 
already greatly dislocated so as to open the broad fissures, in which their dikes are occasionally found. But the 
idea that the ridges of corrugation are lifted by the eruptive rocks that are associated with them — an idea that 
finds frequent expression in the phrases "upheaved by trap," "upheaved by granite "—appears deserving to 
be laid on the shelf along with the cognate idea of "craters of upheaval" (130, 131). 

In spite of this well-grounded protest, the idea of "volcanic upheavals" is still strongly 
rooted in the popular mind, as if it were an established geological principle. On the other hand, 
not only did Gilbert's later work on the Henry Mountains give much countenance to the pos- 
sibility of surface upheaval by underground intrusions, but in another part of his Wheeler 
report the deep-seated forces which caused large eruptions in the province of the basin ranges 
are held to be identical in their subterranean loci and in their action with the deep-seated 
vertical forces which caused the upheaval of the range fault blocks, as will be pointed out 
more fully on a later page. 


The displacements of the basin range province will be discussed in a later section. As to 
the neighboring plateau province, Gilbert, somewhat later than Powell, discovered that some 
of the great north-south blocks into which the province is divided are separated by rather 

< Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. for 1874, 1876, Pt. II, 30. 

academy or sciences] .WHEELER SURVEY 33 

clean-cut fractures which, when traced to the natural section afforded, by the east-west course 
of the Grand Canyon, are found to have vertical planes; but other blocks were seen to be sep- 
arated by monoclinal flexures, which, as they sometimes become fractures when followed along 
their length, were closely associated with faults; and concerning this land of displacement it 
was said in a special article: 

The monoclinal fold, barely recognized by geologists heretofore, but here the predominant structure, is 
one of the simplest elements of corrugation, and the fruit of its careful study cannot fail to be of great import 
to the student of dynamical geology. 5 

Inasmuch as certain flexures, when followed along their length, become fractures, the 
familiar term, fault, was used with "a somewhat more extended meaning than the one ordi- 
narily given to it," so as to include both kinds of displacement, and no reason was seen why, 
"regarding the phenomena as the results of a slow-acting force, we may not suppose that in 
depth, as well as longitudinally, the relation and alternation of fractures and flexures will depend 
on the nature and condition of the beds affected" (56). 

As to the proximate cause of these displacements, Gilbert was most specific. Although 
he showed that volcanic eruptions did not as a rule heave up the strata through which their 
lavas rise to the surface, he was nevertheless convinced that forces of vertical upheaval, not of 
horizontal compression, were responsible for most of the displacements detected in the nearly 
horizontal fault blocks of the plateau province, as well as in the more strongly tilted fault blocks 
of the basin ranges. It was recognized that the vertical displacements of the huge plateau 
blocks may have been in some cases accompanied by small horizontal movements, resulting in 
a slight diminution of the breadth of the region, ''but it is impossible ... to suppose that 
the vertical movements have been caused by lateral pressure applied to the strata in which 
they are manifested. Whatever the place and mode of the remote cause, the immediate acts 
vertically and from some position beneath the strata we are to examine" (56). The relation 
of the displacements to the rigidity of the displaced strata is studied. It is at first noted that 
"stupendous blocks of rock, ten, twenty, or even thifty miles in diameter, and of unknown 
depth, have changed their relations to other blocks, with which they were once continuous, 
and have themselves remained rigid, all evidence of movement being at the common boundaries 
of the dissociated blocks" (558). It is then suggested as a corollary that " the meaning of these 
movements of the earth, in vast but limited masses, is, that rigidity is an important factor in 
the determination of the superficial manifestations of subterranean movements." In the case 
of flexures, "the fact that, at points of differential movement . . . the rocks were not 
fractured but were flexed, proves that changes were of secular slowness, and the rigidity that 
resists secular applications of force . . . demands for its interpretation that we shall grant 
to the rigid masses a depth commensurate with their superficial dimensions, and suppose that 
the forces which move them are situated still deeper" (559). 


The fine example of diastrophism seen in the Zuni Mountain dome close to the western 
border of New Mexico — later studied by Dutton and now familiar to many travelers on the 
Santa Fe Railway which crosses its northern margin at the continental divide — attracted 
GUbert's particular attention, and was explained as due to the " upward transfer of subterranean 
material" which did not penetrate its cover. The domed structure involves a deep body of 
fundamental Archean rocks with a heavy cover of Carboniferous, Triassic, and Cretaceous strata, 
now partly removed, as further stated below; so that while the residual mountain mass measures 
only 45 by 20 mfles, with a local height of 3,000 feet, the original dome would measure 70 by 
35 miles, with a height of 6,000 feet. The reconstructed dome is contrasted with the volcanic 
cone of Mount Taylor, 30 or 40 mfles to the east; in that mass, " the rising rock passed through 
the superstrata, and, piling itself on the surface, built a mountain of its own substance; in the 
other it moved a comparatively short distance, but lifted all above it, and built a mountain by 


• Proc. Amer. Assoc. Adv. Sci. for 1874, 1875, Ft. II, 35. 


upcurving the superficial strata" (504). In spite of the small vertical distance of the sub-Zuiii 
rock transfer, the magnitude of the transfer far exceeded that in the companion volcanic eruption; 
the reconstructed Zuni dome was calculated to have a volume of 700 cubic miles and the sub- 
Zuni rock transfer must have been of similar measure; but the volume of the Mount Taylor 
cone was estimated to be only about 60 cubic miles. 

An example of Gilbert's graceful phrasing follows: Although "assumed by earlier explorers 
to be a continuation of the Sierra Madre of Mexico . . . the Zuiii range, far from deserving to 
be entitled the mother of a family of mountains, is a lonely orphan, dissevered from all kindred. 
It stands, in the midst of the plateau region, a mountain of upheaval; from every side of it 
the strata stretch in level tables. ... It is truly a mountain by itself, and in its isolation, in 
its accessibility, in its simplicity of structure, and in its relation to the local system of the 
plateaus, it offers a richer harvest to the geologist, who shall give it a thorough study, than any 
other single mountain with which I am acquainted " (563) . The removal of the weaker covering 
strata, the topographic effects of which will be further considered in a later section, has laid 
bare the harder core: 

"The rapid destruction of the lower Trias shales, and the stubborn resistance of the underlying [Carbonifer- 
ous] limestone, have led to the baring of a broad area of the upper surface of the limestone, and this great exposure 
of a single stratum reveals some details of structure that could not otherwise be comprehended without laborious 
study. The rock appears to be divided into blocks of such magnitude that their superficial areas would be 
expressed in miles rather than in acres, and these blocks have been inclined with somewhat different dips and 
directions, so that at their edge they differ in altitude. So far as my limited observation goes they are not 
separated by faults, but are connected by monoclinal flexures ... of small throw, and separated by wide 
intervals. They are not parallel, but bear toward all points of the compass and intersect each other . . . 
Their study cannot fail to throw light on the function of rigidity as a factor of orographic corrugation" (586). 

The Zuni dome, which was not seen until the third season of field work, gave support to 
the view that Gilbert had previously reached in his examination of the basin ranges and of the 
faulted plateaus ; for it was concluded that although, as a remote cause of the domelike upheaval, 
"there may have been horizontal motion of subterranean matter, the immediate cause could 
only be an upward motion" (564); and this goes well with the conclusion announced in the 
chapter on the basin ranges in the report on the first and second field seasons: 

The movements of the strata by which the ridges have been produced have been in chief part vertical 
along planes of fracture, and have not involved horizontal compression (42). 

Gilbert's tendency toward quantitative methods in geology, which like much of his careful 
reasoning may be regarded as an outcome of his capacity and training in mathematics, is illus- 
trated not only in the above estimate of the volume of the Zuni upheaval, but in another aspect 
of the same problem. He wrote, regarding the deformation of the dome: 

If, as is probable, the strata of the Carboniferous limestone are continuous across the Archaean near its 
crest . . . then the absolute length of the curved strata can be measured and compared with the direct distance 
between their remote parts; and there is reason to hope that, by a series of such measurements in different 
parts of the range, an answer can be found to the question whether, in the production of the curve, the remote 
portions of the strata were brought nearer, or whether the curved portions were stretched (566) . 


It may be pointed out that Gilbert's views about the upheaval of the Zufii dome were in 
a certain sense reactionary, for they were announced at a time when, after long discussion, 
vertical forces, which were the mainspring of geological movements in an earlier stage of the 
science, had been largely replaced, especially with respect to mountain masses, by forces of 
lateral compression. While his views concerning the vertical upheaval of fault blocks in the 
plateau province did not encounter opposition, it is probable that the outspoken dissent from 
his explanation of the basin ranges also by vertical forces was favored by the geological theories 
most in fashion at the time his reports came out. 

Reactionary as Gilbert's views in this matter were, they were less revolutionary than a 
later explanation for high-standing plateaus advanced by Suess, to the effect that such plateaus 
stand high because the surrounding lands, once at similarly lofty levels, had later subsided. 
Had this explanation come to be accepted, Gilbert's views would have been wholly contra- 
dicted; but as a matter of fact his reactionary views were prophetically correct, inasmuch as 
they have come to prevail to-day not only for the plateau and the basin range provinces to 


which he applied them, but much more extensively; for by following certain physiographic 
principles in the development of which Gilbert was much concerned, it has been discovered 
that the present height of many if not most mountain systems is due largely to one or more 
broad upheavals of relatively modern date, sometimes accompanied by strong faulting but 
not by marked folding, while the pronounced folding of the mountain rocks must be ascribed 
to horizontal compressive forces of date so ancient that the relief and height then given to the 
writhing surface had been greatly reduced if not obliterated by long periods of erosion before 
the later upheavals gave the worn-down mountain mass its present height and permitted its 
present deep dissection; hence many mountains that we actually see as existing topographic 
features seem after all to owe their visible height largely if not wholly to vertical forces. 


In spite of the confidence that Gilbert exhibited in the action of vertical forces, he under- 
took a study of the distribution of hot springs in the United States with the object of deter- 
mining whether their high temperature was due to the development of subterranean heat by 
mountain corrugation under horizontal pressure, as "advocated by Messrs. Hunt, Mallet, 
and Le Conte" (146) ; this citation being one of the few references to other geologists than those 
who had worked in our western field. The result gained by charting nearly 150 hot springs 
was that their distribution coincides "very exactly with that of corrugation" (148); but the 
hot springs of the Appalachian region, where corrugation and eruption are things of the past, 
are regarded as depending on mountain-making deformation only in so far as it furnished 
fractures by which their waters might reach the surface; their temperature is ascribed, 
following Rogers, entirely to the normal increase of earth-crust temperature with depth. 
It is only in the West, where corrugation and eruption "have persisted to so late a period 
that we have good reason to believe they have not ceased" (148) that heat due to rock crushing 
under the action of mountain-making compressions is believed to control the occurrence of 
hot springs; and the hottest ones are found in volcanic districts. 

Gilbert's views as to the diastrophic relations of the apparently unlike provinces of the 
basin ranges and the plateaus is clearly expressed in the following extract. After pointing out 
that in both provinces the deforming forces were deep-seated in position and nearly vertical in 
direction, he goes on: 

A single short step brings us to the important conclusion that the forces were identical, (except in time 
and distribution) ; that the whole phenomena belong to one great system of mountain formation, of which the 
ranges exemplify the advanced, and the plateau faults the initial stages. If this be granted, as I think it must, 
then it is impossible to over-estimate the value of this field for the study of what may be called the embryology 
of mountain building. . . . The field is a broad one and its study has but begun; but with its progress I con- 
ceive there will accrue to the science of orographic geology a more valuable body of geological data than has 
been added since the Messrs. Rogers developed the structure of the Appalachians" (61). 


An excellent summary of Gilbert's ideas about the plateau province is to be found in an 
article with the above title that was published after he had taken a position under Powell, 
whose influence is repeatedly manifest, although the influence had not then gone so far as to 
cut off the terminal -al from geological. Extracts from the article are presented here, but it 
deserves attentive reading as a whole, so forcibly did it set forth a large body of new knowledge. 
Both the climate and the drainage of this region favor its study. As to climate; the thinness of 
the soil and the usual absence of trees facilitate observation to a degree unsuspected by workers 
in a moister climate: 

From a commanding eminence one may see spread before him, like a chart to be read almost without effort, 
the structure of many miles of country, and in a brief space of time may reach conclusions, which, in a humid 
region, would reward only protracted and laborious observation and patient generalization. There is no need 
to search for exposures where everything is exposed. 

As to drainage: 

The Colorado and its branches flow across the Plateaus in deeply carved, narrow canons. . . . Empowered 
by the rapidity of its descent, each tributary river has carved a cation of its own, and so too has each branch 
and creek tributary to a river, until the whole tract is divided by a labyrinth of ramifying canons. . . . Thus 
does drainage conspire with aridity to prepare for the geologist a land of naked rock. 


The material for study is then summarized under four heads; mountain building by dis- 
placement, mountain building by eruption, stratigraphy, and erosion. As to displacements in 
the plateau province — 

faults and folds abound through its whole extent, but they are comparatively of great simplicity. They are 
indeed so simple that they can be completely known. Their entire phenomena may be comprehended, measured, 
described and delineated. The course of many a fault can be traced from end to end, and its throw measured 
at every step. The form of many a fold can be determined throughout, and pictured or modelled in miniature, 
with every detail of flexure. 

Special attention is given to the monoclinal fold, then a novelty, although in the plateau 
province it is "a characteristic type of displacement and is rivalled in frequency only by the 
fault." Similarly, the huge blocks of earth crust, dislocated but undeformed between the 
flexures or faults, are presented as a class of displacements "so little known heretofore that it has 
not found place in the manuals of geology." It is believed that when all blocks are studied out, 
the generalizations reached "will not be inferior in value to any single contribution that has been 
made to our knowledge of the results of orogenic movements." 

As to mountains resulting from eruption, two types, the Uinkaret and the Henry Moun- 
tains, are presented in addition to the ordinary volcano. The Uinkaret type, as described by 
Powell north of the Colorado Canyon near the western border of the plateau country, consists 
of ancient lava flows, eroded in the form of high mesas and then mantled by later flows "so as 
to give the appearance at first glance of a range made up entirely of volcanic matter." The 
Henry Mountains, which Gilbert was then studying and concerning which a full account will 
be given here in a later chapter, were briefly stated to consist of " a number of bubble-shaped 
domes, one for each individual mountain of the group." Both these novel types are declared 
to "diverge most widely in character from those with which geologists are already familiar." 

Stratigraphy is briefly treated. By reason of the numerous deep canyons strata may be 
examined "not merely along a simple line, but throughout an extended area. With such 
exposures . . . the history of a system of sediments can be made out with a completeness 
that surely can not be excelled elsewhere." Yet in spite of their visibility, neither in this article 
nor in other reports are novel results announced regarding stratified formations. The problem 
of deposition was little considered as compared to the problem of erosion. This problem, 
evidently a favorite with Gilbert, is given a detailed analytical treatment quite unlike that of 
the three preceding topics but closely similar to that of the chapter on "Land sculpture" in 
the Henry Mountains report, to be summarized below. Perhaps the most significant statement 
here is that concerning the contrast between the widespread degradation which the uplands 
of the province have suffered, estimated at 5,000 feet, and the depth of erosion in the narrow 
canyons, which is of similar amount; but hardly a hint is given of a great movement of 
elevation between the times of broad degradation and deep erosion. 



It has often been remarked that the early geological explorers of the West were impelled 
to consider surface forms in close association with underground structures because of the mani- 
fest relations of the two in a treeless region. This was never truer than in Gilbert's case. He 
does not appear ever to have had any teaching in physical geography; and indeed, even if he 
had, the subject as it was taught in his boyhood and youth, 60 years ago, would have given him 
little or no understanding of the causal connection between the rock structures beneath the 
surface forms and the surface forms of the rock structures. Furthermore, his two years' ex- 
perience on the drift plain of northwestern Ohio can not have helped him much to learn the 
dependence of form on structure, although his keen power of observation and his analytical 
turn of mind did enable him to gain an understanding of certain surface features in that dis- 
trict of faint relief, as has been told above. But his three seasons in the West made him a 

It is curious to recall, when one reviews the relations between geology and physical geog- 
raphy for something more than a century past, how promising a beginning of close association 
between the two sciences was made, when both were young, by Hutton in his Theory of the 
Earth; how far apart they drifted 50 years later when geology, as it seasoned and matured, 
nevertheless became largely the science of the crustal structure and history, while physical 
geography was stagnating in empiricism; and how intimately the two rejoined each other after 
the exploration of the West began. For geology, then recognizing that it must attend to the 
surface of the earth as well as to its under structure, gave new life to the physical geography of 
the lands, and this vivifying influence was happily applied at about the same time that the 
doctrine of evolution enlivened and invigorated all aspects of organic geography. It is gratify- 
ing to see how largely Gilbert's western work contributed to the extension of the physiographic 
line of geological investigation into the rich but little cultivated field of the geography of land 

Hutton was a leader among those who, 130 years ago, at the beginning of the association 
between geology and geography, set forth in very simple terms certain relations between struc- 
ture, erosion, and form. Had the foundation then laid been continuously built upon, the 
physiography of the lands would not have been so modern a science as is actually the case. 
The old master pointed out that, in various mountain forms, 

we find the original structure of the mass influencing the present shape in conjunction with the destructive 
causes. . . . Now, this original shape is no other than that of beds or strata of solid resisting rock, which may 
be regularly disposed in a mountain, either horizontally, vertically, or in an inclined position; and those solid 
beds may then affect the shape of the mountain in some regular or distinguishable manner. . . . Thus, a hori- 
zontal bed of rock forms a table mountain. . . . An inclined rock of this kind forms a mountain sloping on the 
one side, and having a precipice on the upper part of the other side, with a slope of fallen earth at the bot- 
tom. . . . Wereitvertical, again, itwouldformarockyridgeextendedinlength.andhavingitssidesequally sloped' 
so far as the other circumstances of the place would permit. Therefore, whether we suppose the mountain 
formed of a rock in mass, or in that of regular beds, this must have an influence in the form of this decaying 
surface of the earth, and may be distinguished in the shape of the mountains. 

The observant Scotch theorist was indeed so convinced of the truth of the principle that 
form is dependent upon structure that he reversed it and inferred structure from form: 

In distinguishing, at a distance, those regular causes in the form of mountains, we may not be able to tell, 
with certainty, what the substance is of which the mountain is composed, yet, with regard to the internal struc- 
ture of that part of the earth, a person of knowledge and experience in the subject, may form a judgment in 
which, for coming at truth, there is more than accident; there is even more than probable conjecture. 1 

' Theory of the Earth, Edinburgh, 1785; pages 411, 412, 413. 


38 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [ ^ EiIolRS [xo^xxi, 

What a leap earth science would have made at the end of the eighteenth century if this 
founder of the uniformitarian school could have seen the plateaus of northern Arizona? 

There was, however, no lack of opportunity for the application of Hutton 's physiographic 
principle in various well-known parts of the Old World. Northeastern France is unparalleled 
as a field for the study of those unsymmetrical ridges, which are coming to be known as cuestas, 
"sloping on the one side, and having a precipice on the upper part of the other side," because 
they are developed on a series of gently inclined strata; yet although these cuestas have long 
been familiarly known in their geological relations, they have been rarely studied physio- 
graphically, perhaps by very reason of their familiarity. England also affords excellent and 
early known examples of the relation between structure and form in the cuestas that traverse 
its southeastern half, to say nothing of such striking though small features as the typically 
Alleghenian zigzag by which the ridge known as the "Wenlock Edere" in Shropshire is offset 
and extended south westward past Ludlow near the Welsh border; but with the development 
of geological specialists, first in stratigraphy and paleontology and later in petrography, the 
close examination of small rock outcrops that these sciences demanded seems to have distracted 
attention from a broad grasp of the plant-covered landscape in which the structures, fractionally 
disclosed in the outcrops, are often generalized. As to English geographers, they were indifferent 
to geology through most of the nineteenth century and treated cuestas and other physiographic 
features empirically if at all. It is true that Lyell ably applied and extended through the middle 
of the nineteenth century the principles of uniformitarian geology that Hutton had established 
at the end of the century before, but Hutton's beginnings in rational physiography had no 
equally eminent exponent to carry them forward; witness the slowness of British geographers 
to recognize the chalk escarpments around the Weald in southeastern England as cliffs of 
subaerial denudation, not of marine abrasion; witness also their failure to describe the beautiful 
and familiar embayments of Cornwall on the Atlantic coast of British Europe as partly submerged 
valleys, until after this simple explanation for such features had been applied by Dana, as a 
member of the United States exploring expedition under Wilkes, to the far-away Pacific 
coast of British America. 

During the same period in the New World, the influence of the New York survey under 
the leadership of Hall was dominantly stratigraphic and paleontologic ; and even the brilliant 
correlation of structure and form established for the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania by Rogers 
and Leslie had, in their time, no extended application elsewhere; perhaps because it was not 
accompanied by a sufficiently rational treatment of deformational and erosional processes. 
It was not until the West was penetrated that, in the absence of heavy vegetation, the relation 
of surface form and underground structure, manifest for miles around in every extended view, 
came to be understood as the systematical result of erosional processes acting slowly and 
persistently through long-lasting time; and by none of the western explorers was this relation 
more helpfully explained than by Gilbert. Apart from his views on the origin of the basin 
ranges, it was in this physiographic field that his early contributions to earth science showed 
the most originality. 

Gilbert 's physiographic work naturally found its best opportunity in the treeless parts of 
plateau province, where the sequence from simple to moderately complicated structures is 
so clear, where the apphcation of erosional processes in the production of surface forms is so 
immediately visible, and where the change of eroded form with the change of structure and the 
passage of time is so convincingly manifest. The rational treatment of land forms, already 
begun elsewhere, here progressed rapidly; and the results to which such treatment soon led are 
now so widely accepted under the evolutionary philosophy by which modern geography is like 
other sciences dominated, that the present generation of geologists and geographers may find 
it difficult to realize how large a share of the fundamental principles on which the physiography 
of the lands has grown and flourished were implied or outlined or formulated no longer ago 
than in Gilbert's first report. Young as he then was, he was either abreast or ahead of the 
earth science of the time. 

acadkmy op sciences] WHEELER SURVEY 39 

However, Gilbert was not the first observer to detect the mam features of the plateau 
region; that had been done by Newberry, Gilbert's chief in Ohio, who, as geologist of the Ives 
expedition to the Colorado River of the west in 1857-58, had crossed the plateaus south of the 
Grand Canyon, and had reached well-grounded views on many points. He saw the funda- 
mental crystalline rocks deep in the canyon, lying unconformably beneath their heavy sedi- 
mentary cover; he understood the importance and efficacy of ordinary erosional processes, 
not only in the excavation of narrow canyons beneath the plateau by larger or smaller streams 
but also in thebroad recession of cliffs upon the plateau surface; indeed, he regarded the opening 
of broad upland valleys, such as that of the Little Colorado above its canyon, as "a much 
grander monument of the power of aqueous action than even the stupendous canon of the 
Colorado." Great honor is due to one whose vision was so broad! Gilbert had also been 
preceded by a few years in the plateau province north of the Grand Canyon by Powell, where 
the senior explorer had gained an understanding of its extraordinary cliffs of erosion and cliffs 
of fracture somewhat earlier than the junior, although their reports were published in the same 
year. But there was never any question of priority between these two comrades in science; 
they shared their facts and their fancies in perfect confidence, and each always felt that his 
results were at the service of the other. Indeed, their results were so freely interchanged that 
neither one knew or ever sought to claim just what he had contributed to the total, as will 
appear later. 


The processes of erosion are so intimately associated with the forms that they produce 
that the two may be well considered together as we select the most significant items concerning 
both topics from Gilbert's early reports. As to processes, emphasis was given to the importance 
of suspended sediments in river scouring, the source of the sediments being beautifully analyzed 
(71, 72). The contrast between the plateau province and the Great Basin with regard to stream 
erosion was clearly brought out; in the plateaus the valleys have been formed by erosion and 
are still being deepened, while the tables between the valleys are residual; in the Great Basin 
the intermont valleys are residual between mountain ranges uplifted in parallel lines, and the 
valleys, initially of greater depth, have for a long time been filling with detritus eroded in and 
transported from the mountains (63). Among other items of interest is an appreciative but 
brief account of piedmont detrital fans, features that, although familiar enough to-day as 
characterizing the basin ranges, were little known to eastern geologists and geographers 50 
years ago: 

The debris of the mountain is brought to its margin in gorges or cafions, from the mouths of which it is 
spread in broad, low talus-cones, which make up the foot-slope. The stream that flows from the canon, whether 
transient or perennial, distributes the detritus over the cone by shifting its bed from time to time as the sediments 
clog it. As the canon wears deeper at its mouth, and the stream discharges at a lower level, the upper portion 
of the cone is excavated and a new one is modeled with lower apex and lower grade (65). 

To-day, a writer might pass over such matters as familiar to the point of being trite, but 
such was not the case 50 years ago. 

It was, however, chiefly from the plateau province that Gilbert took his examples of erosion. 
He evidently reveled in the opportunity for the investigation of surface foims that this extraor- 
dinary region afforded. He wrote of it: 

The canons of the Colorado and of its tributaries, and the country which they intersect, are unsurpassed 
as a field for the study of river denudation. Not merely do they exhibit the grandest and most impressive results, 
but they show the agent by which they have been wrought, still in vigorous activity (67). 

Hence, although the theory that profound canyons have been eroded by their rivers was 
not regarded as a fully established truth by all geologists at the time of the Wheeler survey, 
Gilbert, like his predecessors and associates in western exploration, found the field evidence 
for this theory so convincing that it was illustrated rather than discussed in his reports. The 
most cleftlike canyon that he examined was that of the Virgin River, now included in Zion 
National Park, near the western border of the plateau province, about 100 miles north of the 
Grand Canyon. While passing through this cleft, 2,000 feet deep in massive sandstones, "the 


most wonderful defile" it had been his fortune to behold, he noted that "many times our upward 
view was completely cut off by the interlocking of the walls, which, remaining nearly parallel 
to each other, warped in and out as they ascended. " His section of this defile, reproduced on 
the cover of Leconte's Geology, has been mistaken by some as representing the Colorado 


Hanging lateral valleys were detected in the narrow incision of Zion Canyon, for many of the 
side canyons " at their mouths are not cut so deep " as the main cleft, and "discharge at various 
heights above the river" ; and these hanging side canyons were acutely adduced in an important 
argument: for beneath their mouths, the sandstones of the main canyon were seen in "perfect 
continuity and integrity ... a continuity that cannot be seen in the main canon, since its bed 
is everywhere covered by detritus." The unbroken continuity of the sandstones beneath the 
side canyons was evidently taken to certify to their similarly unbroken continuity below the 
main canyon bed, and thus to warrant the interpretation of the canyon not as an example of a 
fracture, but as "an example — and a peculiarly differentiated exam pi c — of downward erosion 
by sand-bearing water. The principle on which the cutting depends is almost identical with that 
of the marble saw, but the sand grains, instead of being imbedded in rigid iron, are carried by a 
flexible stream of water." Inasmuch as the plateaus were found to be traversed by several great 
faults, this critical argument for the nonfaulted structure of the heavy sandstones cleft by the 
Virgin River is all the more pertinent. It is noted further that, as the side canyons are " worn by 
smaller streams . . . their bottoms are of steeper grade" (79), but it is not explicitly stated, that 
for the same reason, their depth is less than that of the main cleft; yet this principle was surely 
understood. In any case, hanging lateral valleys of normal erosion had rarely been described in 
those days, and had been still more rarely mentioned so understandingly in published reports. 


Erosional processes and principles were so grandly exemplified by the Colorado River in its 
canyon that, although many of them were fairly understood by the few explorers of the region, 
they still merited explicit statement for the benefit of geologists and geographers in general. 
The extinction of cataracts, for example, is introduced by a reference to the prediction concerning 
the future of Niagara made by Hall, whom Gilbert had known in Albany, to the effect that 
"there will come a time when the fall can no longer be maintained . . . and will be replaced 
by a rapid." Then applying this principle, Gilbert remarks: 

In the Grand and Marble canons [of the Colorado] this stage has been reached, and the whole descent of 
1,600 feet [along the river] accomplished entirely by rapids. The stratigraphic conditions to the formation of a 
cataract are indeed not wanting . . . But the river passes the hard beds and the soft with almost equal pace . . . 
At no place does the river fall from a ledge of rock into a pool below (75). 

Evidently the exceptional cascades found by Powell where dams had been formed by lava 
streams that plunged down the side walls after the canyon had been eroded can not have come 
within Gilbert's field of observation. 

The numerous rapids which beset the river, and which, by a literal interpretation of a pas- 
sage quoted above, might be regarded as almost extinguished, hard-stratum cataracts, are shown 
to be of other origin. " Some of the most violent rapids" are due to large rock masses which have 
fallen from the walls, so that they "locally obstruct the channel"; but the majority of the rapids 
are found, as Powell had noted, where the occasional floods of steep tributary canyons sweep 
down blocks of rock, sometimes 10 or 15 feet in diameter, and drop them at their mouths, thus 
half closing the river channel with bowlder deltas or — 

dams, that must often be of great depth. Over each of these the water [of the main river] finds passage at the 
edge opposite the tributary, and descends the lower slope with swift current and broken surface. . . . To roll, 
jostle, break, and finally grind up and remove these boulders is the task — perhaps the chief task — of the river, 
and until it removes them it can perform no work on the solid rock which underlies. ... In the current cycle of 
events within the gorge [canyonl, there are times when each of these dams in turn is removed. . . . While the 
dams will occur at the same localities and with the same characters, they cannot be regarded as strictly perma- 
nent (71). 

academy of scences] WHEELER SURVEY 41 

The similarity of the results here presented with those reached by Powell is manifest, and 
it is explained in Gilbert's reprint of his reports by an interleaved addition to a footnote on 
page 70, in which the localities that he visited are named as f ollows : 

I take this occasion to specify the data acquired by my own party that I may at the same time credit to the 
observations and photographs of my friend Professor Powell and his party whatever other information is commu- 
nicated in these pages upon the Grand Canon. We have interchanged ideas so freely in conversation that I find 
it impossible in writing to avoid basing conclusions in part upon his unpublished material. 

The intimate relations begun between these two explorers when they were members of 
different surveys was long continued. 


The conception of a river at "grade" — to introduce at once a term that Gilbert himself 
suggested some 30 years later — is recognized as involving a permanently maintained rather 
than a slowly varying gradient: As "the river sinks deeper below the plateau, there will accom- 
pany a gradual diminution of the inclination of its bed, of the velocity of its current, and, in 
consequence, of its erosive power, until finally it can no longer clear its bottom of introduced 
detritus, and, its downward progress being arrested, the widening of the channel will begin" 
(75). The fact that the load of detritus to be transported will decrease in quantity and in 
coarseness of texture with the advancing age of the river and thus permit a long-continued 
diminution of its fall was not perceived. Indeed, in view of the statement that the amount of 
detritus "abraded from the bottom of the canon is too insignificant to demand more than men- 
tion " in comparison with that which is received by rock falls and slides from the walls and by 
inwash from the side streams, Gilbert might be supposed to have thought that the"arrest of 
downward erosion is already nearly reached by the Colorado ; but on this point his opinion was 
clearly otherwise : 

Of the time that will elapse before this consummation we can form little conception, but it can hardly be 
less than that consumed in the excavation already accomplished, so slowly will the work proceed as it approaches 

He then turns to a quantitative consideration of the duration of river erosion, a subject 
which he had already treated at Cohoes, in New York, and to which he returned in later years 
at Niagara. 

Of the time already consumed [in the erosion of the Colorado Canyon] we may some time have an approxi- 
mate estimate in years, for so rapidly does the sand carve away the rock, that I believe it perfectly feasible to 
ascertain its rate by observation, and, by considering what part of the rock-bed is exposed and what protected, 
to assign, within reasonable limits, the present rate of degradation of the canon. To pass from this to the 
average past rate would require the consideration of somewhat involved conditions, and the result would not 
be so satisfactory as that obtained from the secession [recession?] of Niagara Falls, but it would be of great 
interest to obtain even a crude estimate in centuries of a period of time commencing, as I believe, before the 
close of the Tertiary age (75) . 

Two comments are suggested by the above extracts. First, that the brief mentions of 
Hall and Niagara, both known in Gilbert's earlier experience, are among the few references 
made to the studies of other observers or to the features of other rivers. Second, that several 
of the principles concerning the erosional activities of rivers, which are enunciated as if they 
were novelties, had been previously recognized and announced by European observers. Hence 
in departing from a narrative of his journey and adopting a more generalized form of report, 
the young geologist incurred responsibilities that he did not altogether meet. But it is an old 
story that our earlier scientific explorers of the West were so engrossed with the results of 
their own observations that they had little or no time to explore the results already gained 
by other explorers in foreign fields. 


Although not often quoted, Gilbert's explanatory account of the relations between the 
stronger and weaker strata of the plateau and the cliffs and slopes in the side walls of the Colorado 
Canyon, published in the same year, 1875, with Powell's discussion of the same subject in his 

42 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [M " M0IM [ ££ , §3ct 

" Explorations" of the river, must be regarded as the more explicit of the two. Gilbert's recog- 
nition of the general relation between stratigraphy and topography is nicely shown in his numer- 
ous columnar sections, referred to above, for they are indented on one side so as to distinguish 
the cliff-making and the slope-making strata; an excellent device that might well be generally 
followed. With regard to the Grand Canyon, the general statement, "In every profile of the 
canon the positions of the hard-massive beds are marked by precipices, and of the soft by 
slopes" (68), is followed by detailed descriptions and illustrated by true-scale cross sections 
of the canyon in different parts of its length (69) ; and these sections include also several exam- 
ples of a third element of canyon form, namely, cliff-top platforms or terraces, which are so 
clearly represented that, although they receive no specific explanation in the text, it can hardly 
be doubted that they were understood to have resulted from the faster recession of medium- 
strong cliff-making strata that overlie the back of the platform as compared to the slower 
recession of the stronger cliff-making strata that underlie its front. Regarding the intricate 
pattern of the side canyons and of the cliffs in their separating spurs, as seen in plan, it is natural 
that nothing was said in the early days of physiography. 

Another and less generally understood principle of valley erosion was also recognized: The 
transformation of a narrow canyon into a well-opened valley where an eroding river, as it is 
followed downstream, passes from a body of strong cliff-making strata into an underlying body of 
weak slope-making strata. Thus the change from the cleftlike Zion Canyon of the Virgin, cut 
in massive sandstones, to the following open and habitable stretch of its valley is explained as 
occurring where the river cuts down into the underlying variegated marls before it again canyons 
in the still lower limestones (79) ; similarly, the Colorado, crossing the same series of weak strata 
where they are gently inclined against its flow, has a broadly opened valley at the mouth of 
Paria Creek, between two narrow and deep canyons, the one upstream being cut in the massive 
overlying sandstones, and the one downstream in heavy underlying limestones. 


The plateau province is well described as being "divided into a series of great terraces, by 
lines of cliffs trending east and west, facing south, and composed severally of the harder strata 
of the geological series" (44) from Tertiary to Carboniferous; the broadest terrace being the 
lowest member of the series in which the Colorado Canyon is cut. Each line of cliffs is described 
empirically in some detail. In view of the clear explanations already given for the erosion of 
canyons and for the forms of their walls, it is surprising to find here a less explicit discussion of 
the great terrace-edged cliffs than was given by Powell who, in an elaborate account of retreat- 
ing escarpments, contrasted them with fault cliffs in the following suggestive terms : 

The cliffs of erosion are very irregular in direction, but somewhat constant in vertical outline; and the 
cliffs of displacement are somewhat regular in direction, but very inconstant in vertical outline. 2 

A corresponding statement is made by Gilbert only in explaining a specific fault scarp, as 
noted in the next section; but the context of his report leaves no doubt that the problem here 
considered was well understood and that the plateau terraces were seen to be the result of a 
vast denudation. Indeed, a sentence that is buried in the abstract of a paper on the "Recency 
of certain volcanoes of the western United States," presented to the American Association for 
the Advancement of Science in 1874, suffices to show that, had not Gilbert chosen for some 
reason to make his report brief, he could have been as explicit as Powell; for while explaining 
the long duration of volcanic activity in the West, as indicated by the amount of erosion that 
had taken place between the earliest and the latest eruptions, he introduced an excellent phrase 
regarding the Triassic cliffs that face southward across the Carboniferous plateau: 

An erosion of infinite slowness is carrying these cliffs back toward the north and thus increasing the Car- 
boniferous area at the expense of the Triassic. 

This subject will be further considered below in the analysis of Gilbert's views on the 
degradation of highlands to lowlands, and on the occurrence of more than one cycle of erosion 
in the plateau region. A single but highly significant passage may be quoted here, as it shows 

1 Explorations of the Colorado Eiver of the West, 1875, 191 


a marked advance from the doubts expressed as to widespread denudation in the field notes of 
1872, cited above; for the huge cliff-edged terraces came later to be well understood as sub- 
ordinate incidents in the vast erosion that the plateau province has suffered : 

Of the immensity of the denudation that has reduced the Plateaus to their present condition, we have 
unmistakable, and at the same time unexpected evidence, in the existence of insular masses of strata, remote 
from the mesas [terraces?] of which they once formed part. The most important of these are found . . . [in the 
Uinkaret mountains not far north of the western part of the Colorado canyon, and again to the south of the 
canyon, farther east], and consist of limited tables of Triassic rocks, resting on the broad Carboniferous floor 
[of the lowest terrace], and surviving the general destruction in virtue of protecting mantles of lava (SI). 

It is interesting to note that in Gilbert's reprints of his reports, an interleaved statement 
supplants this quoted passage, as follows: 

Professor Powell discovered in the Uinkaret Mountains an island of Triassic strata, from which the corre- 
sponding cliffs have retreated twenty-five or thirty miles; and has surmised with much plausibility that Red 
Butte, south of the Grand Canon and fifty miles west of the nearest point of the Triassic escarpment, is similarly 

This is probably one of the "sentences that were suppressed in the manuscript"; it was 
thus restored by Gilbert to prevent the impression that he "disregarded through ignorance or 
discourtesy the work of other geologists." He never did that; yet scrupulously honest as he 
was in acknowledging his own indebtedness, he exacted no such acknowledgment from his 
associates with regard to the overflowing abundance of helpful suggestions that he gave them 
all through his generous life; not even if they, after a longer or shorter interval of semi- 
conscious assimilation, sometimes gave forth his ideas as their own. 


The unlike forms of retreating escarpments due to long-continued denudation and of fault 
scarps due to recent fracturing are described only in very general terms in the first report, 
and are but briefly mentioned in the second report 'in describing a specific feature, the scarp 
of the lava-capped Natanes Plateau beyond the southernmost part of the plateau province. 

There, instead of the scalloped figure, made up of convex curves, that results when erosion controls [the 
form of lava-capped mesas], we have a straight line, interrupted only by angular embayments, where it is inter- 
sected by waterways; and the steepest cliffs, instead of overhanging the points of most rapid present erosion, 
are along the rectilinear front, which faces a broad, streamless valley. This character maintains for twenty 
miles, and is unquestionably due to a fault — a fault of not less than 2000 feet throw (528). 

This example will be referred to again in connection with the basin ranges, as the Natanes 
Plateau is assigned to that province. The quotation suffices to show that Gilbert recognized 
the contrast between young fault scarps and far-retreated escarpments as clearly as Powell 
did; but the statement, clear as it is, loses much of its value by being associated with a special 
locality of moderate dimensions, instead of being placed under the account of the northern 

The great fractures and flexures of the plateau province, which were regarded with good 
reason in the first report as the unlike but possible contemporaneous effects of similar vertical 
forces, are briefly described as to their displacements and surface forms (48-57), but unfor- 
tunately the descriptions are so phrased as to give the reader little understanding of the immense 
denudation that the displaced structures have suffered. It is indeed too often implied in the 
report on the first and second seasons of field work that the topographic features now seen along 
the lines of these flexed or fractured faults are largely the result of the fracturing or flexuring. 
For example, a summary regarding the plateaus states that they are "subdivided by longitu- 
dinal — north and south — cliffs, produced by faults" (57); and in an account of the long Echo 
Cliffs flexure of the Triassic sandstones, which comes up from the south and crosses the Colorado 
at Lees Ferry, it is noted that "on both sides of the river the fold produces conspicuous topo- 
graphic features" (51) ; but as a matter of fact the topographic features are the product of an 
enormous denudation of the flexed strata. Moreover, although a generalized section of the 
20154°— 26— 10 


plateau blocks shows the Grand Wash Cliffs, by which the plateau province is limited on the 
west, to have retreated moderately from the great fault at their base, the Hurricane and Toro- 
weap scarps that separate the three western blocks are drawn directly on the line of their faults, 
thus confirming the impression given by the passages just quoted, that the topographic features 
of these faults result from displacement little modified by erosion, although this is by no means 
true. It is not until later mention is made of the vast denudation by which the southern plateaus 
have been stripped of the higher strata which form the clift terraces in the north (81), that the 
original topographic expression of the fractures and flexures may be inferred to have been 
greatly modified by the deep and wide-spread erosion which has worn the present surface 
thousands of feet below the original surface; and even this inference is not well assured because 
the faulting is not explicitly stated to have preceded the widespread erosion. 

However, the topographic features associated with certain faults — for example, the long 
flexed fault of the Sevier Valley which was seen at intervals for a distance of 225 miles without 
reaching either end of it — is represented by cross sections in which a considerable amount of 
post-faulting erosion is indicated, so that the reader is not left altogether uninformed as to a sig- 
nificant measure of change in the surface forms of the faulted structures. Indeed, although it 
is unguardedly said on one page that "the Kaibab fold throws the [Triassic] belt twenty-five 
miles to the north" (176), it is briefly and more truthfully explained on an earlier page that 
the northward shift of certain cliffs on the east side of a fault as compared to the west side is 
"not due to any horizontal displacement along the line of fault, but merely to the fact that the 
eastern portions, being lifted higher than the western, became subject to different conditions 
of denudation" (51) ; but this explanation is so incomplete, not to say obscure, that it has to be 
worked out by the reader. On the whole one must conclude, and with some surprise, that the 
physiographic treatment of fractures — a subject in which Gilbert has usually been regarded as 
a leader and a master — is not always illuminating. 

The physiographic treatment of flexures is in certain respects more satisfactory than that 
of fractures. The structure of some of the flexures is described clearly and quantitatively; 
thus along the margins of the Kaibab Plateau, the highest of the blocks in the plateau province, 
the heavy Carboniferous limestone is said to have been flexed on a curve of from 2 to 3 miles 
radius; the massive Triassic sandstone, 1,000 feet thick, is said to be bent on the fine of the 
long Sevier Valley fault through an arc of 15° or 20°; and in the Paria flexure farther east, the 
same heavy sandstone is described as "seamed throughout, as though it had been crushed and 
reunited, like the bars of ice in Professor Tyndall's celebrated experiments on regelation" (56). 
There is no correspondingly clear statement in the first report of the degradation that the 
flexures have suffered, although it may be inferred from certain generalized sections (fig. 26, 
p. 51; fig. 29, p. 53). 

The second report briefly describes a monoclinal flexure in the southern part of the plateau 
province, trending northwest and producing a throw of 1,500 to 2,000 feet to the southwest in 
Cretaceous and Triassic strata; and the relation of form to structure is represented in a section 
from which it appears that the flexure had been reduced to small relief before a basalt flow was 
poured over it, for a remnant of the flow fortunately survives in a mesa that unconformably 
covers the eroded edges of the upturned strata on the line of maximum bending. Yet even 
here emphasis is given in the text to "the antiquity of the eruption," which "is measured by 
the general degradation of the country of more than 500 feet," with the resulting isolation of the 
basalt mesa; and little is said of the much greater prebasalt degradation, for although this is 
well represented in the section, the text merely states that "the fold is older than the basalt" 
(557). A somewhat fuller account is given of the Nutria flexure, with a throw of from 
3,500 to 4,000 feet, along the southwestern side of the Zuni uplift. The great erosion that the 
flexure has suffered is well represented in several sections, and is clearly set forth in the text in 
connection with the denudation of the Zuni dome, as will be shown below. It was a matter of 
deep regret to all the American members of the Transcontinental Excursion of 1912, when their 
special train, while making the final eastward turn of its long circuit, stopped in the gap of the 
vertical Triassic sandstones that follow the axis of this superb flexure not far east of Gallup on 

academy op saENCEs] WHEELER SURVEY 45 

the Santa Fe Railway — as it indeed had been their regret near the beginning of the excursion 
at Niagara and near its middle in the Great Basin — that, on account of ill health, Gilbert could 
not be of the party and tell to the European guests something of his early work in the Far West. 


Features of volcanic origin, already known in part from the reports of earlier observers, 
were found by Gilbert in abundance and variety and given illuminating description, although 
as his later work led him away from volcanic problems, his name is not usually associated 
with studies of this kind. The young cinder cones of the Sevier Desert have already been 
mentioned ; they are practically unchanged by erosion. " The weathering of the frail scoria, 
that caps the crater rim, does not seem to have been begun; the taffylike pellets that, spattered 
from the bubbling caldron, fell half cooled upon its wall seem as though congealed, but yester- 
day" (136). In the surrounding lava beds, the "most interesting feature is the existence of 
a number of caves, produced by the escape of lavas from their channels, after the formation of 
a self-sustaining crust. The caves he entirely below the general level of the lava field, and we 
discovered them only where portions of their roofs had fallen." The tubular aperture of one 
cave was followed "for one or two hundred feet. . . . The width . . . averaged 30 feet and 
the depth 18, and in length it extended indefinitely beyond the section we explored" (141). 

Mount San Francisco, on the plateau south of the Colorado Canyon and perhaps the 
youngest of the larger volcanoes, was ascended in the summer of 1871 and 65 cinder cones 
were counted from its summit. Farther southeast, in the Mogollon area, a rich variety of vol- 
canic features was found in Sierra Blanca, composed of massive trachyte of imperfectly conical 
form, nearly 3,000 feet in local height, with — 

a remarkably low angle of slope . . . long slopes of sanidin-dolerite, that appear to have flowed from side fis- 
sures . . . spread in successive sheets over the plain ... to the east . . . for ten or fifteen miles, and to the 
west for thirty miles. . . . Scattered over these broad sheets are rounded cinder cones, not exceeding a few 
hundred feet in height, and with some of them are associated coulees of balsalt. The depth of the water-worn 
gorges upon the flanks of Sierra Blanca, attest the antiquity of its chief mass, and in some of these gorges have 
run streams of basalt. In the valley of White Mountain river . . . are vestiges of three distinct lava flows, 
which entered at as many different epochs in the progress of the excavation of the valley, and have been 
successively cut through by the stream (527). 

Lava sheets of various dimensions were seen in all stages of preservation and erosion. 
Some of the most recent examples were found near the southern rim of the plateaus, where 
" the flowing lavas have in part overrun the cliff and poured into the valleys of the Verde and 
its tributaries. The principal roads connecting the upper and lower countries avoid the preci- 
pice ... by following the easy grades of these black congealed rivers" (130). Another 
recent flow lies in the valley of the San Jose, a western branch of the Rio Grande; many trav- 
elers on the Santa Fe Railway, which now follows this valley, will agree that " the convolutions 
of the viscous current, presented as perfectly as though cooled but yesterday, afford there a 
wonderful and impressive spectacle" (533). Another flow of greater age followed the valley 
of Zuni River, a branch of the Little Colorado, for 50 miles, where it crosses the New Mexico- 
Arizona boundary, and caused "a curious duplication of the valley, which has been deepened 
by later erosion on both sides of the lava" (533). Not until the third season of exploration 
was it known that "within the borders of Arizona and New Mexico lies one of the great lava 
tracts of the world, second in magnitude in our country only to the great northwestern lava 
field, and fifteen times as large as the classical district of extinct volcanoes in Central France" 
(525) ; this mention of a small European prototype of a large American feature being one of 
the few of its kind in Gilbert's reports. 

A number of lava-capped plateaus and mesas are described, among the larger ones being 
those of Mount Taylor and Acoma (534, 554), the latter measuring 30 by 15 miles. Two ex- 
amples in far-advanced stages of erosion are illustrated by views and sections. One of these, 
in the valley of the San Jose, is a "lava cone on a pedestal of sandstone and shale. . . . What- 
ever sheet of basalt surrounded the cone has been undermined and destroyed up to its very 
base, where the increasing thickness of the cover has retarded the work." The other, near 


the Mount Taylor Plateau, is a steep-sided butte, which was recognized to be " the flue through 
which an eruption reached the surface. ... It is a cast in lava, of which the mold was the 
conduit of a volcano, now not only extinct but demolished. . . . The Cabezon and other 
similar pinnacles on the opposite [northern] side of the Taylor plateau" were similarly explained 
(534-536) . At a point where the Gila River has eroded a deep valley in lava beds, a view of 
one valley wall from the cliff top of the other revealed a cinder cone, 600 or S00 feet high, rest- 
ing on older flows and completely buried under later outpourings (538) . 

A delicate item of truly Gilbertian quality, an "illustration of the principle of rhythm 
in nature," remains to be mentioned. It is the occurrence of " wave-like heaps " of basalt frag- 
ments on the long and gentle slope beneath many mesa cliffs ; each heap represents a large slab 
of lava that has been detached from the cliff by undermining and has then slowly settled, 
"without notable horizontal slutting, as the subjacent material is eaten away by percolating 
waters. " When the heaps are of large size, a little swale with moister soil occurs behind each 
of them; the swales are sometimes cultivated by the Indians. As the size of the slabs, when 
they break off after undermining has progressed sufficiently, is fairly constant for a given sheet 
of lava, there arises " a rhythmic uniformity of result, as nearly perfect, perhaps, as that of the 
analogous waves of the sea" (537). 


The richness of the western field is well known. It incited Gilbert to discuss, briefly, it 
is true, various topics that lay somewhat aside from his main lines of study. The arid areas 
afforded abundant illustrations of "the efficiency of dry sand as an erosive agent, when borne 
by the wind," as had already been noted by earlier explorers, and Gdbert was thus led "to 
attach considerable importance to this agent of terrestrial denudation. . . . Such wearing 
cuts no canons, and leaves no grand monuments of the magnitude of its results, but it is never- 
theless a true denudation, applied to broad areas, and, where water is deficient, is no incon- 
siderable factor in the sculpture of the land" (83). Two instances of such scuplture may be 
here referred to because they both concern localities where other significant matters curiously 
enough received no consideration. In one instance attention is called to the conspicuous 
irregularity of the fanciful and grotesque forms into which certain cross-bedded cliff-making 
sandstones are wind-carved; but, as noted above, nothing is said either there or elsewhere about 
the possible origin of the cross-bedding in the sandstone by ancient aggradational wind action. 
In the other instance an account is given of the action of the wind in removing weak shales 
from beneath the Triassic sandstones of the Vermilion Cliffs, west of the junction of Paria Creek 
with the Colorado at Lees Ferry; but although this district is described in some detail in field 
notebooks, and is mentioned repeatedly in the first report (52, 67, 83, 84), nothing is said of the 
huge and disorderly landslides that are strewn for miles along the cliff base; but Powell and 
Dutton were equally inattentive to these tumultuous downfalls, perhaps because they are only 
subordinate details among the colossal cliffs, platforms, and canyons of this large-featured 

A more explicit treatment of some phases of wind erosion was given at the summer meeting 
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Hartford, in 1874, which 
Gilbert had the opportunity of attending because he did not go west that year and also because 
he was then attracted into New England for personal reasons. Although his paper was pub- 
lished only as an abstract, with a footnote intimating that its substance would " appear officially 
and more fully" in the Wheeler report, this intimation is not borne out in the pages of Volume 
III. Wind-borne sand was described as — 

a denuding agent worthy to be mentioned in the list with frost, and flood, and wave. ... It undermines 
cliffs; it scours mountain passes; and it reduces open plains. . . . The degradation of plains by the wind cannot 
be measured, because it leaves no such monuments as does denudation by water. Water is a leveller in the sense 
that it transfers material from higher places to lower; but, where it erodes, it . . . leaves ridges and islands, by 
which its results can be measured. The wind, on the contrary, works most diligently upon salients, and strives 
to smooth away every vestige of the surface it remodels. 

academy of sc IENCES] WHEELER SURVEY 47 

It is singular that no mention was made of the analogy between the channel bed on which 
denuding streams of water flow and the general surface of the land on which degrading currents 
of air blow; and also that not even Gilbert's philosophic mind seems then to have recognized 
that, given time, the "ridges and islands " left in the early stages of water erosion must disappear 
in the later stages, and leave the degraded surface as free from vestigial mountains as if it had 
been swept smooth by the broadly diligent wind. 

An example of that well-marked group of physiographic forms known as intermont basins 
was observed between certain members of the basin ranges near the head of the Gila River in 
southwestern New Mexico. "The building of the Tulerosa and Mimbres ranges separated the 
basin of the upper Gila from the lower valleys of the stream, and the way which the waters 
opened for their escape is a profound canon" through the first-named mountains. 

Before the cutting of the canon to its present depth that part of the basin which lies nearest the outlet was 
filled by erupted and transported materials to a great depth and a lake-like plain was produced, the proportions 
of which can still be grasped by a bird's-eye view. It was about fifteen miles by twenty-five in size, and sloped 
very gently toward the outlet. By the deepening of the draining canon, . . . the water-ways have been carried 
[carved?] below the floor of this plain, and a system of narrow gorges, 500 to 1,000 feet in depth, now traverse and 
exhibit the filling of the valley. The filling consists of basalt, tuff, and gravel, with nearly horizontal bed- 
ding. ... In some localities basalt has run into the intersecting gorges since the beginning of their excavation 

The fact that this basin of deformation was called a " valley" and that its branching gorges 
were characterized as "intersecting" shows that less progress was made in the terminology of 
land forms than in their explanation. 

Attention to small matters is indicated by the account of numerous low mounds at the 
eastern base of the Sierra Blanca, near the southern margin of the plateaus, at an altitude of 
7,000 feet; the mounds are "usually one or two rods broad and less than a foot high, and separated 
by interspaces several times as broad as themselves. . . . -The grass on the mounds is dis- 
tinguished ... by a deeper green. Viewed from a commanding position, the effect is singu- 
larly beautiful, the green spots dappling the plain like the figure of a carpet. . . . There is little 
question that they [the mounds] are vestiges of hummocks thrown up by prairie dogs, or other 
burrowing animals ' ' ; but as prairie dogs are not now found on the high plain, " if the mounds are 
the work of that species, they may point to a climate, in very recent time, of even greater 
warmth and aridity than the present" (540). 


How far Gilbert consciously understood the origin of monoclinal or subsequent valleys is not 
clear, although he makes repeated mention of them. For example, House Rock Valley "lies 
in the monoclinal" between the horizontal Carboniferous limestones of the upheaved Kaibab 
Plateau and the horizontal Triassic sandstones of the Vermilion Cliffs next to the east, the inter- 
vening monoclinal flexture being occupied by weak beds (53) ; again, a valley is later described 
"which, along the southern base of the Zuiii uplift, marks the place of the soft Triassic clays 
between the Carboniferous limestone of the main mountain and the Triassic sandstone" (533); 
and once more, a "broad flat valley" is said to be the topographic indication of the same clays 
near Nutria, on the west side of the Zuni uplift (553) . The southwestern border of the plateau 
province in Arizona, where the strata. of its broad, lowermost "terrace" are gently inclined to 
the northeast, is drained by several monoclinal valleys excavated along the weak strata between 
the Carboniferous limestones and the basal Tonto sandstone (60, 80) . A striking example was 
earlier described in the brief account of the Timpahute Range, an east-dipping faulted monocline 
in the Great Basin, in which " the quartzites at the west, and the limestones at the east, by their 
superior hardness, maintain parallel ridges, while the intervening shales have been denuded so as 
to form a valley within the range," opening southward (38); and similarly in the Santa Rita 
Range "the weathering of the shale has opened a valley between the outcrops of the limestones" 
which dip gently to the southwest (516). 


Although no general explanation is offered for the origin of these monoclinal valleys, it may be 
inferred from the context that their excavation by the normal action of degradational processes 
along the strike of weak strata between resistant underlying and overlying strata was so well 
understood by Gilbert that it was taken as a matter of course; nevertheless, the failure to make 
explicit statement of such origin and of the manner in which valleys and streams thus formed 
replace a preexistent drainage is regretable, for the recognition of an important class of valleys 
was thereby unduly delayed. The omission may be regarded as a result of the unfortunate but 
perhaps inevitable inattention to the work of foreign geologists; for Jukes had, 10 years before 
Gilbert's western work, very clearly explained certain monochnal valleys in southern Ireland as 
the result of the hcadward or retrogressive erosion in weak strata, "subsequent" to the erosion 
of the transverse valleys which they join. On the other hand, as Gilbert did not enter into the 
discussion of valley origin, he was not led into the error made by both Powell and Dutton of 
regarding manifestly subsequent valleys as the work of antecedent streams. And yet in the able 
account that Gilbert wrote of "The Colorado plateau province as a field for geological study," 
above cited, when he takes up the "Problem of inconsequent drainage," he mentions only 
antecedent and superimposed streams in addition to consequent streams, and gives no sugges- 
tion whatever that a third kind of "inconsequent" stream may exist. 


The physiographic interpretation of land forms is greatly aided by the recognition of three 
fundamental generalizations; first, that subaerial erosion will, if continued without interruption 
for a very long period of time, wear down any land mass, whatever its original structure, form, 
and height, to a surface of small relief; second, that the forms developed during the progress 
of uninterrupted erosion will exhibit a somewhat systematic sequence of changes; third, that 
the continuity of erosional work may be interrupted at any stage of its progress by an upheaval 
of the land mass concerned, whereupon a new period of deeper erosion will be begun. Although 
these generalizations had not been formulated at the time of Gilbert's service on the Wheeler 
survey, they have become well established since then, and all three of them are essential in 
reaching what is now regarded by those acquainted with the region that he studied as its true 
interpretation. It is therefore of general as well as of personal interest to inquire how far the 
above generalizations were either implicitly included or explicitly announced in Gilbert's early 

In undertaking this inquiry it is desirable to remember that, while the importance of subaerial 
erosion in the production of uneven land surfaces had come to be understood in a general way 
by the geologists of half a century ago, few if any of them realized that the continued action of 
erosion would in time extinguish the inequalities of form that it had previously produced. 
They knew that the erosion of valleys would leave intervalley hills, but they did not perceive 
that after the valley deepening had almost ceased the erosive processes would be chiefly expended 
upon the hills and directed to their very slow obliteration. Among British geologists about 
the middle of the nineteenth century, Lyell gave little attention to land sculpture, although 
his leading principle of uniformitarianism might have led him far beyond the erosion of mere 
valleys. Greenwood, a valiant advocate of the efficacy of "rain and rivers" (1857) in the 
erosion of valleys, marshaled his arguments chiefly against the earlier view, which then still 
found much acceptance, that valleys had been carved by marine currents; he failed completely 
to see that valley-excavating processes would in time consume the adjoining hills. Geikie (1868) 
recognized the possibility that plains of denudation might be produced not only by marine 
abrasion, as was then generally believed, but also by subaerial erosion; but he usually limited 
subaerial agencies to the excavation of open valleys, and still regarded waves and currents as 
the most effective agencies of planation. 

Among American geologists, Lesley, the leader during his earlier years of work on the 
Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, in explaining the relation of underground structure and surface 
form (1856), was a catastrophist who ascribed the carving of his open valleys and narrow water 
gaps to a vast ocean flood, which, rushing southward from the Arctic, worked "with infinite 


force and speed, and ceased forever"; for although he was then one of the first to recognize the 
important but negelected phenomenon of soil creep, it was not until 10 years later that he 
became a uniformitarian so far as to explain the excavation of valleys by slow erosion. On the 
other hand, Powell, earlier by a few years in the western field than Gilbert, but of the same date 
with him in the delayed publication of his first important report, was satisfactorily explicit 
regarding the possibilities of subaerial processes; his report on "Exploration of the Colorado 
River of the West" (1875) explained that "the first work of rain and rivers is to cut channels 
and divide the country into hills, and perhaps mountains, by many meandering grooves or 
watercourses, and when these have reached their local base levels, under the existing conditions, 
the lulls are washed down, but not entirely carried away" (204). The clear recognition here 
given to the natural sequence of valley erosion and hill degradation, as well as to the relation 
of both to "base level," marks the real opening of the modern epoch of rational physiography. 


Gilbert's early contributions to the problem of subaerial planation are chiefly as follows; 
An important approach to the first generalization noted at the beginning of the preceding 
section was made in his second report by formulating, in simple but sharply pointed phrases, 
two "laws of erosion" or "general principles everywhere manifested. The first is that soft 
material is worn more rapidly than hard and the second that high points are worn more rapidly 
than low — or, more strictly, that steep acclivities suffer more than gentle. The tendency of 
the first principle is to variety of surface, of the second, to uniformity; and the two are com- 
plementary" (554). The value of these two principles, which Gilbert himself characterized 
as "familiar" rather than as novel, was to him largely physiographic rather than geologic, for 
they were illustrated much more by examples of eroded forms than of erosional processes. It 
is especially significant in the present connection that explicit mention was made of the tendency 
of the second principle to bring about a uniformity of surface; that is, to produce plains of 
degradation. Moreover, the final clause regarding the complementary relation of the two 
principles should be interpreted to mean that the ridges or highlands of resistant rock which 
survive for a time between valleys or lowlands excavated on belts of weak rock in accordance 
with the first principle will later be themselves worn down to lowlands in accordance with the 
second principle. But unfortunately no examples of this kind were brought forward, and it 
may be questioned whether the readers of 50 years ago gathered, without the illumination that 
explicit examples would have given, the full meaning that is latent in the overterse final clause. 
If these principles are to-day regarded as elementary, that only shows how much progress has 
been made in the half century since they were formulated. Yet helpful as their early presenta- 
tion and illustration was, their value was lessened by the omission of direct statement as to 
the attitude in which a plain of degradation should stand with respect to the imaginary surface 
of control which physiographers, following Powell's lead, later came to know as the "baselevel 
of erosion." 

The tendency of erosional processes eventually to produce uniformity of surface had already 
been shown in Gilbert's first report to be realized over the vast extent of surface occupied by 
the lowest one of the great "terraces" or "benches" of the plateau province, across which the 
Colorado Canyon is trenched. This "terrace" measures about 130 by 300 miles, and its pro- 
duction by the removal of overlying strata, thousands of feet in thickness, involved the "immen- 
sity of denudation" (81), to which reference has already been made, although the principles 
involved in its planation were not then stated. In the second report several additional statements 
are found concerning realized or nearly realized surfaces of planation. All these surfaces are in 
areas of relatively weak rocks, yet they seem to show that their observer and describer under- 
stood that the final result of subaerial erosion acting upon highlands of any structure and of 
any original form must be a surface of faint relief; not only so, he must also have recognized 
that this final result was preceded by earlier stages characterized at first by narrow canyons 
and later by open valleys. Hence he must have been mentally aware of the second generali- 
zation of the three above stated, although he did not formulate it. Indeed, he had noted in 
bis first report "the well-recognized fact in the natural history of rivers that their first work 


of erosion, where they have rapid fall, is upon their beds, and that it is only when they have 
so far reduced their grades as greatly to reduce their transporting and cutting power, that they 
begin wearing their banks and widening their channels, so as to render flood-plains possible" 
(67); therefore it seems fair to interpret a later statement, that certain worn-down areas "have 
been denuded evenly, instead of being deeply scored along the chief lines of drainage" (554), 
as meaning that the early stage of deep scoring had been past before the late stage of even 
degradation was reached. Nevertheless Gilbert's statement of this aspect of the problem is 
not so clear as Powell's, quoted above. 


Besides the Carboniferous "terrace" or plateau just cited, the following examples of worn- 
down areas may be instanced, chiefly from the southern part of the plateau province, where a 
large part of the surface is occupied by strata of moderate or small resistance. Certain Cre- 
taceous areas in western New Mexico are described, above which stand the lava-capped tables 
of the Mount Taylor and Acoma Plateaus, "and from the entire surface of which it is demon- 
strated a thousand feet of rock have been razed" in the production of their present surf ace of 
small relief; and to this it is added that, when "standing upon the edge of one of these tables 
and viewing a broad stretch of country . . . one can appreciate the fact that erosion is the 
great agent in the production of all details of surface, and that the disposition and hardness of 
rocks are only modifying conditions" (554, 555). An account of the Zuni Mountains, which 
have already been cited as occupying an elongated dome of upheaval, and in which it is noted 
that "the antagonism and the concurrent result of the two laws of erosion are illustrated," is 
still more significant, although the manifest meaning of its lines constantly arouses the wish 
that the deeper meaning between them had been more fully written out. "On every side the 
strata dip away from the axis, and the soft [Mesozoic] formations that have been eroded from 
the dome now outcrop in a series of concentric elhptical belts" (563), the weakest members of 
which are shown in accompanying sections to have been worn down to faint relief. "If only 
the law of altitude were obeyed, (which would have been the case if the Paleozoic and Archaean 
rocks were no harder than the Mesozoic), there could be no mountain at all, and the uplift 
would be marked only by concentric annular outcrops of the several strata" (555). It is 
difficult to imagine that the writer of these lines, in which an explanation of the present form of 
the mountains was the first consideration, did not perceive that, given more time, the Paleozoic 
and Archaean rocks, resistant as they may be, would also be worn down low; and yet in the 
absence of a completed statement to that effect one must remain in some doubt as to how 
fully Gilbert had then solved the problem of subaerial planation. 

A passage in the chapter of the second report on the basin ranges tends to resolve this doubt 
in Gilbert's favor. The passage concerns the "sterile and remote" Pyramid Range in south- 
western New Mexico, composed of eruptive rocks traversed by quartz veins. "The whole 
range has an appearance of great antiquity, being reduced nearly to the level of the surrounding 
plain by an erosion, the present progress of which is of exceeding slowness. . . . The purest 
quartz veins, resisting the destructive agents by which the country rock is degraded, project 
above the ground surface in long, ragged walls"; but as the planation here accomplished is 
explained by "the easy disintegration of the ancient lava" (514), it hardly reaches the case of 
resistant rocks. The planation of such rocks is best exemplified, not in any surface forms of 
to-day, but in the ancient land surface of small relief on which, in both the plateau and the 
basin range provinces, the Paleozoic formations rest in strong unconformity. An example of 
such a surface in the southeastern part of the basin range province shows that, where the Archean 
and Paleozoic rocks are in contact, the pre-Paleozoic "degradation of the Archaean mountain 
was carried so far" as to produce "a plane and originally level [but now tilted] surface"; yet 
here an additional clause concerning the exposure of the ancient land "to the waves of the 
Paleozoic shore" harks back to the idea of marine abrasion (510). The account of the same 
great unconformity revealed deep in the Colorado Canyon has already been cited; it may be 
more confidently interpreted as recognizing the possibility of subaerial planation of resistant 
rocks, although no explicit statement to that effect was made. 



Regarding the third physiographic generalization mentioned above, it should be recalled 
that, at the time of Gilbert's early work, few if any geologists had discussed the second upheaval 
and deeper erosion of a region which had previously broadly degraded in consequence of a 
long-preceding first upheaval. Uplands of even skyline, but dissected by valleys, were then 
interpreted, if interpreted at all, as uplifted plains of marine denudation in their first period of 
subaerial erosion. An intermediate period of subaerial planation between two long-separated 
uplifts was not conceived; residual hills were regarded as unconsumed remnants of a first uplift. 
Even in Gilbert's descriptions of the plateau and the basin ranges provinces, no explicit state- 
ments concerning two uplifts separated by a long period of erosion are to be found; yet certain 
passages in the second report indicate that such a succession of events had been more or less 
consciously present in his mind. True, the immense denudation that followed the general 
uplift of the region and "reduced the plateaus to their present condition" (81) was not at the 
time of these early surveys understood by Gilbert — or by Powell either for that matter — to 
have been followed by a later uplift which permitted the much smaller erosional work seen in 
the Colorado Canyon, huge as the canyon is; Dutton appears to have been the first to have 
recognized the necessity of a twofold elevation. 

Yet Gilbert made the suggestion that the Aubrey Cliff, which "now rises from three to five 
miles back from the brink of the canon" in its western part — thus leaving the platform of inter- 
mediate height which Dutton later called the esplanade— "may be supposed to have retired 
to that position by slow waste during the excavation of the canon" (81); and if that were 
understood it would seem that the ten or twenty fold greater recession "by slow waste" of the 
Triassic and other cliffs to the north ought to have been referred to a precanyon period of erosion 
when the whole region stood lower; but no such conclusion is explicitly announced. Indeed, 
a statement made regarding the strong lateral retreat of the Triassic cliffs from the narrow cleft 
known as the Marble Canyon, cut by the Colorado in the resistant Carboniferous limestones 
east of the Kaibab (68), permits the belief that the above suggested conclusion had not been 
reached. Certainly a short statement already quoted in connection with notes on historical 
geology, to the effect that the plateau province has "been elevated, relatively to the adjacent 
portion of the Great Basin, not less than 4000 feet since the drainage of the great Tertiary lake" 
(60), and a similar but briefer statement that "the Plateau region . . . has been bodily up- 
lifted" (187), give no intimation of two movements of upheaval, separated by a long period of 
immense denudation. 

A clearer implication of the concept that two periods of erosion were separated by an up- 
heaval is made in an account of a district near Camp Apache in eastern Arizona, on the border- 
land of the plateau and basin range provinces. The broadly eroded edges of the Carboniferous 
and Triassic formations, inclining gently northeastward, are unconformably covered by some 
500 feet of gravel, and this is overspread by 70 feet of basalt. Post-basaltic erosion has exca- 
vated "a valley several miles broad and 1200 feet deep" (135). 

The evenness of the basalt sheets that spread over its [the gravel's] original surface, indicate that the forma- 
tion floored a plain, and suggest a relation of altitudes far different from the present. The region is now so 
elevated that its erosion is very rapid. Streams have sunk their channels to a depth of two thousand feet below 
the old plain, and carried the eroded material to the modern plain of the Lower Gila, which lies so little above 
the ocean level, that its slopes are slightly inclined, and its arroyos shallow" (172). 

An uplift after the formation of the gravel-covered and basalt-capped plain and before the 
erosion of the modern valleys is clearly implied. The quoted passage is further interesting in 
containing one of the few references to what would now be called the normal baselevel of erosion. 

Another passage in which a revival of erosion is implied concerns the Acoma and Mount 
Taylor Plateaus, already referred to. 

The Cretaceous field southwest of the Acoma plateau has been reduced nearly or perhaps quite a thousand 
feet since the eruption of the Acoma lava, but it has been reduced so evenly, that its surface is now as near level 
as that upon which the Acoma lava was spread. And the same may be said of the field north of the Mt. Taylor 
plateau, which has been degraded even a greater amount (554). 


The phrasing here employed would suggest that after a district had been worn down to a 
nearly level surface, its even degradation was continued to lower and lower levels. 


The idea of an uplift of the continental interior after the time of basin-range faulting is met 
in connection with the dissection of the intermont basin by the Gila headwaters, described in a 
preceding section. A phrase omitted from the quotation there made is here supplied: 

By the deepening of the draining canon, an excavation probably connected with a broad continental 
oscillation to which further allusion will be made in the sequel, the water ways have been carried below the 
floor of the plain (530). 

But unhappily a close scrutiny of the sequel finds no further reference to this important 
subject than is given in an account of other parts of the Gila River and of the so-called Gila 
conglomerate, as follows: The upper valleys of the Gila and its branches, declining southwest- 
ward from the clift southern rim of the plateaus, are occupied by an extensive deposit of con- 
glomerate, that slopes down to the gravel plains between the basin ranges, but unlike these 
low-level deposits, which are as a rule still accumulating, the conglomerate is now trenched by 
valleys to a depth of 1,000 or 1,500 feet. 

It is in its relation to the rivers that it [the conglomerate] is chiefly interesting; in the accumulation, and 
subsequent excavation of the beds, there is recorded a reversal of conditions, that may have a broad mean- 
ing. . . . There is no difficulty in comprehending the present action [of the rivers], for it is the usual habit of 
swift-flowing streams to cut their channels deeper; but to account for the period of accumulation there must be 
assumed some condition that has ceased to exist. Such a condition might be, either a barrier, somewhere below 
the region in question, determining the discharge of the water at a higher level than at present, or it might be a 
general depression of the region, in virtue of which the ocean (now three hundred miles away) became a virtual 
barrier. With either hypothesis, a change of more than 1,000 feet must be considered (540, 541). 

Here we find not only the intimation of a possible subrecent upheaval of the region, following 
a time of lower stand or "depression," but again a reference to the ocean as a "virtual barrier" 
to the erosion of valleys. But the ocean seems to have been in general so remote a contingency 
that it was seldom mentioned. A possible explanation of the valleys in the conglomerate as the 
result of a change of relation between load and stream power, due either to variation of climate 
or to deformation in the headwater region, is not considered. 


Although Gilbert adopted a systematic instead of a narrative order in the presentation of 
his results, he was writing only a report not a textbook, and therefore made no attempt to com- 
plete the scheme in which all his various items of observation might have been contained. 
Each item was reasonably explained, and in certain cases the explanation included some account 
of earlier and of later stages which preceded and followed the observed stage of physiographic 
evolution, thus introducing the idea of a systematic sequence in the sculpturing of land forms; 
but the fundamental principle here involved was not emphasized, perhaps because it was not 
perceived in its entirety. A few steps at a time seems to be the order of progress. The large 
steps which Gilbert took were in the direction of recognizing that every element of the surface 
of the lands is the product of some reasonable processes, and of holding the physiographer 
responsible for the elucidation of those processes. Gilbert's steps, like those taken by PoweU, 
were manifestly the forerunners of others which later generalized the relations of the various 
processes as applied to various structures in a more comprehensive evolutionary scheme; and 
it is for this reason that all later progress in physiography is so deeply indebted to the work 
of these pioneers in western exploration. 



The review of various features and problems of the plateau province, concerning which 
Gilbert's results have been practically undisputed, being now concluded, his discussion of the 
basin ranges, which led to a long controversy, niay be taken up. Two phases of this discussion 
deserve attention. One, of general scientific interest, is the share that Gilbert contributed 
to the conclusions later reached regarding the origin of the ranges; the other, of more personal 
interest, concerns the first statement of his contribution, as found in the Wheeler report. 
As to the final conclusions, certain general statements are made in an essay, upon which Gilbert 
was engaged at the time of his death; and as these should be borne in mind while their first 
outline and later evolution are considered in this and following sections, a brief summary of 
them may be here presented, as follows: The region of the basin ranges was deformed by com- 
pression about the close of Jurassic time; the mountains then formed were greatly eroded and 
for the most part degraded to small relief in Cretaceous and Tertiary time; the worn-down 
region of deformed rocks was then broken into great blocks by numerous, subparallel, generally 
north-south faults; and the fault blocks of deformed and degraded rocks were upheaved and 
diversely tilted by uplifting forces without significant lateral compression and probably with 
lateral extension. The higher parts of the upheaved blocks, now more or less eroded, con- 
stitute the basin ranges of to-day; the relatively depressed intervening areas constitute the 
intermont troughs or "valleys," which are more or less heavily aggraded with detritus from the 
ranges. Complications due to the extrusion of volcanic rocks are not here considered, but will 
be briefly referred to in a later section. In a few words, the mountains of post-Jurassic com- 
pression have been essentially obliterated, and the existing ranges are relatively modern fault- 
block fragments of the earlier, worn-down mountain region, upheaved by vertical or exten- 
sional forces and as a rule imperfectly degraded. 

Gilbert's original theory was much more simple: The region was broken into great north- 
south blocks on vertical fissures about the close of Jurassic time; the blocks were uneven, up- 
heaved and warped into monoclinal or moderately bent structures; and the higher blocks 
were gradually carved into the existing ranges, while the lower blocks were buried under the 
detritus eroded from the higher ones. But for certain members of the basin ranges in Utah 
and Nevada another simple theory had already been proposed by the geologists of the Fortieth 
Parallel survey; namely, that the existing mountains are the unconsumed remnants of much 
greater mountains that were produced by post-Jurassic compressional folding, the intermont 
depressions being regarded as chiefly the work of later erosion. Thus explained, the basin 
ranges would be classed as monogenetic, because only a single period of deformation was con- 
cerned in their production; but under Gilbert's original explanation also, as well as under a 
later combination of both theories, the existing mountains are monogenetic, because only a 
single though possibly a prolonged period of deformation was concerned in their production 
as visible topographic features. It is not the existing mountains, but the deformed rock struc- 
tures within the mountains that are potygenetic in Dana's sense of that term. Gilbert's theory 
as first proposed and as later modified will now be analyzed. 


It has already been pointed out that many of the more novel truths learned by Gilbert in 
the plateau province were physiographic in being concerned largely with the production and 
description of existing surface forms, rather than geologic in being concerned largely with the 
discussion of underground structures and the conditions of their production. The same may 
be said and with even greater emphasis regarding his work on the basin ranges; for the chief 



truth of his hasin-range theory resulted from the inclusion in it of a new and essentially physio- 
graphic principle of his own discovery. Those who had advanced the opposing theory were 
uninformed as to this principle and could therefore make small use of it; and disagreement 
necessarily followed. The leading characteristic of Gilbert's principle in its application to the 
basin-range problem was that it led him to take fuller and more reasonable account of surface 
features than was the habit of the time. He was not satisfied merely to ascribe the existing 
forms of the ranges to unspecified erosion, as was then the fashion; he sought to discover the 
conditions under which the observed forms could be systematically accounted for by the pro- 
gressive action of erosion upon definite structural masses; and as these sought-for conditions 
included not only the changing attitude of the structural masses, but also the passage of time, 
they naturally constituted, when discovered, essential contributions to the history of the moun- 
tains concerned. 

It is chiefly by reason of his new principle that Gilbert's work on the basin ranges occupies 
an important place in the history of earth science, and especially of its physiographic chapter. 
There was an earlier time when geographers took little or no account of the origin of mountains 
and other features that they described, and when it was the habit of geologists also to give little 
heed to surface forms and to occupy themselves chiefly with underground structures. Next 
followed a middle time when, geographers still remaining for the most part indifferent to the 
rational aspects of land sculpture, geologists at least recognized that surface forms are the result 
of erosion, although they seldom specified its amount or traced its action. This was truly an 
advance from a stage of greater indifference, but the advance did not suffice to provide 
thoroughgoing explanations for land forms of different kinds; and as to the progressive evolu- 
tion of land forms through a systematic sequence of changes by the work of erosional processes 
upon one structural mass or another, no such philosophical scheme was broached by the 
geologists of that physiographically medieval era; or as Gilbert would have said in character- 
istic western phrase: "You can't prove it by them." Then came a later time when physiogra- 
phers — that is, geologists with a geographical leaning, or geographers with a geological training — 
undertook, while accepting crustal structures without particular inquiry into the manner of their 
origin or deformation, to give special attention to the origin and description of all surface forms 
as resulting from various amounts of erosion by various kinds of erosional processes upon 
various sorts of structures; and eventually the erosional processes and the eroded forms 
were not only systematized as to their kinds and their limiting baselevels, but also as to 
their variations with the passage of time. Thus the evolutionary physiography of 
land forms has come to replace the old-fashioned empirical physical geography of the lands. 
Gilbert's contributions to this advance were invaluable; they "started a ferment in men's 
minds"; but they were not all made during his membership on the Wheeler survey. 


It is true that certain essential steps of the advance were not clearly apprehended, much 
less explicitly formulated, by Gilbert in his first studies in the West, even though their partial 
recognition furnished him with a new means of interpreting mountain history. Nevertheless, 
the evolution of rational physiography, as above outlined, was greatly promoted by the beginning 
that he then made; for as already intimated, his results imply that he more or less consciously 
possessed the knowledge and made the application of an important physiographic principle 
which, even to-day, is by no means so widely understood or so generally employed as it 
should be; namely, that every structural mass of the earth's crust must have a surface form 
which is subject to change by deformation and erosion; and consequently, that a physiographer 
is responsible for the explanatory description of the existing surface form of every crustal mass in 
terms of its latest deformation and its present stage of erosion, just as a geologist is responsible for 
the description of its underground structure in terms of its original accumulation and its later 
deformation; the geologist and the physiographer each being free, of course, to make whatever 
use of the facts and inferences in the other's special province that may be helpful in reaching 
his own object. 


In view of this principle, a physiographic description does not go far enough in merely 
saying that an observed land form results from the action of erosion, undefined in amount and 
stage, upon a structural mass, unspecified as to its surface form and attitude at the time of its 
last deformation or upheaval. It is necessary, if the description is to be clearly intelligible, to 
explain the observed or actual form by the systematic action of sculpturing agencies through a 
certain period of time upon a structural mass, the surface of which had a certain form in a 
a certain attitude at the beginning of the erosional period under consideration. In dealing 
with the upheaval or fracture of a crustal mass, a geologist might be satisfied to state the 
measure, date, and cause of the movement; but if such upheaval or fracture is to enter properly 
into a physiographic description, it must constitute the second member in a threefold sequence 
of treatment: The first member must explain the surface form that the crustal mass had acquired 
before it was deformed; the second member must then define the effect that the deformation 
had upon the predeformational surface form as well as upon the crustal mass; and the third 
member must state how far the predeformational forms have been destroyed and new forms 
have been introduced by later erosion. This explanation may seem so plain to those who are 
accustomed to employ the threefold sequence of treatment that it involves, as to be hardly 
worth announcing here; but unhappily this scheme of treatment is still unknown to or neglected 
by certain geologists — to say nothing of physiographers — who undertake to write physiographic 
descriptions; and as a consequence then descriptions are imperfectly intelligible. 


If Gilbert's first report is now examined with the principles and methods outlined in 
the preceding paragraphs in mind, it will prove interesting to search out the successive an- 
nouncements of his theoretical views on the origin of his mountains, even though the incom- 
pleteness of their statement may occasion surprise. It may be here explained, by way 
of introduction, that very little is to be found concerning the theoretical aspects of the basin- 
range problem in any of the three seasons' notebooks. Where the problem was touched 
upon at all in the field records, the treatment is either so brief or so vague as to give little 
indication of the many questions that it involves. For example, it was noted on September 
15, 1872, that the structure of a range near Beaver River in southwestern Utah led "to the 
opinion that the whole is in general a monoclinal uplift with Dip to the W. & composed of 
the quartzite & limestone of the Silurian. " An earlier and somewhat more explicit statement 
is made regarding the Fish Spring and House Ranges, nearer the Utah-Nevada boundary, 
where they are both treated under the latter name. The northern and smaller member, or Fish 
Spring Range, was recognized to have a westward dip with an east-facing escarpment, while 
the much longer southern member, or House Range, was described as having an eastward 
dip with a west-facing escarpment; the two monoclinal masses being on opposite sides of the 
nearly direct line on which the two escarpments fall. These facts led to an important con- 
clusion noted on August 25, 1872: 

The peculiar characters of the House Range suggest that it marks a N-S crack the western lip of which 
[Fish Spring Range] is uplifted North of Dry Pass [Sand Pass on the topographic map the Fish Springs quad- 
rangle] while the eastern lip [the House Range proper] is uplifted S of the pass. We could see yesterday that 
the two uplifts are not quite in line, but have an offset at Dry Pass. 

Furthermore, two months later Gilbert's party was in the plateau province and had 
followed the canyon of Kanab Creek southward to its junction with the canyon of the Colo- 
rado, where he found by the way, two of Major Powell's boats "& a great variety of tilings 
scattered about on the bank, " and where the structure and erosion of the plateau afforded 
matter for many pages of notes; and there an unexpected reference is made to the basin- 
range problem, showing that it was still borne in mind; on October 29, a diagram, here re- 
produced, is labelled: "An attempt to sketch the Fish Spring-House Range to illustrate its 
structure"; but that is all. The foreground member of the group presumably represents 
the Confusion Range on the South. Unfortunately the excellent device of adding a vertical 
section to the foreground, adopted a few years later by Holmes in his illustrations for Powell's 



[Memoirs National 
[Vol. XXI, 

Colorado River report, and by Gilbert himself in his block diagrams of Powell's Uinta Moun- 
tains and of his own Henry Mountains, was not here employed. 

Gilbert's published reports may be next examined. After introducing the term, basin 
ranges, for " all that system of short ridges separated by trough-like valleys which lie west of 

the Plateau system, without reference to 

its drainage conditions," and thus indi- 
cating that this "orographic province, 
which has its type in the Great Basin, 
... is not coincident with it" (22), he 
turns, before describing individual ranges, 
to a general consideration of their age or 
epoch of upheaval. This must lie for 
each range between "the age of the new- 
est rocks uplifted with it, and the age 
of the oldest rocks which rest unconform- 

Fig. 5. 

-Ideal diagram of Confusion, House, and Fish-spring Ranges; from Gil- 
bert's notebook, October 29, 1872 

ably upon them " (24) . Following this rule, the age of many ranges can be only vaguely denned. 
For example, those of southwestern Arizona consist of highly crystalline schists unconformably 
overlaid by Quaternary gravels ; hence for these "only the most indefinite idea of the epoch of up- 
heaval" is reached. Certain ranges standing near the plateaus and including deformed Paleozoic 
strata that rest unconformably upon Archaean rocks, are said " to have been first upheaved at some 
time anterior to the Carboniferous, and again at some time subsequent to the Carboniferous"; 
but this statement was misleading, for it is not to the ranges but to their rocks that it properly 
applies. However, in other ranges which include a fuller stratigraphic series, it was presumed that 
" their principal elevation was coeval with the first and chief elevation of the Wasatch Mountains 
and the Sierra Nevada, proved by Whitney and King to have occurred at the close of the Jurassic 
period" (24). It thus appears that no basin ranges are treated here as having a later epoch 
of upheaval than mid-Mesozoic; for while post-Eocene disturbances were detected in the Wa- 
satch Range and the plateaus farther east, nothing definite could be predicated "from the 
stratigraphical data" in hand concerning the extension of these relatively modern disturbances 
into the basin-range province. 

The structure of nearly a score of ranges — frequently called ridges — is then concisely de- 
scribed in less than as many pages, after which a one-page summary states that " the great majority 
of the ranges . . . exhibit in cross section but a single direction of dip," with or without fault- 
ing; these are called "simple and compound monoclinals" (40). But "anticlinals and synclinals 
also occur as subsidiary features within some ranges." Monoclinal escarpments or outcrop 
faces are mentioned, but without emphasizing their greater steepness than that of the opposite 
or dip slope of the mountain side. "A few most remarkable ranges present escarpments on both 
faces" (41). It is to be regretted that more details were not given. 


The effort is then made to discover the origin of the ranges, and it is here that the physio- 
graphic relation of structure, erosion, and form appears to have been utilized with most novel 
results. The form of the ranges is first used to show that they can not have been produced by 
the erosion of broadly corrugated structures. As Gilbert was already familiar with the features 
of the Pennsylvania Alleghenies, he wrote: 

I entered the field with the expectation of finding in the ridges of Nevada a like structure, and it was only 
with the accumulation of difficulties that I reluctantly abandoned the idea (41). 

The morphological principles latent in that highly significant confession deserved fuller 
exposition, for it suggests that Gilbert had more or less clearly in mind the method of threefold 
analysis above mentioned as essential to a proper explanation of land forms. In more expanded 
phrasing, his meaning must have been: The nearly level depositional surface of the Paleozoic 
strata in Pennsylvania before their folding was deformed into a series of great folds or corruga- 
tions by compression; but the deformation took place so long ago that contemporary and sub- 

Ao^ or scumcas] WHEELER SURVEY 57 

sequent erosion has completely destroyed the corrugated surface, and nothing now remains of 
the upheaved folds but the long, narrow ridges which precisely reveal the attitude of the most 
resistant strata, while the valleys and lowlands are worn down on the weaker intervening strata. 
It is only after understanding this threefold sequence of considerations that the full significance 
of Gilbert's next sentence can be measured; for he goes on to say: "It is impossible, by any 
hypothetical denudation, to formulate the Basin Ranges as remnants of a system of anticlinal 
and synclinal folds"; that is, a system of folds not traversed by dominant north-south faults. 
"The simple monoclinal may indeed be explained as the side of an anticlinal, by the harsh 
assumption that the remaining parts have been removed below the level of the adjacent valley 
[intermont trough], but the explanation will not apply to the compound monoclinal" (41). 

Unfortunately, these brief assertions were not supplemented by analytical exposition, and 
no justification was offered for calling the explanation of the simple monoclinal ranges as rem- 
nants of broad anticlinals — an explanation that had been tacitly accepted as satisfactory by 
some of Gilbert's contemporaries — a "harsh assumption." Other similarly brief assertions 
immediately follow. The erosion is not "conceivable that would carve Worthington moun- 
tain . . . from an anticlinal" (41), for this is a 15-mile range consisting of a narrow segment of 
nearly horizontal strata which outcrop in the steep slopes that limit it on both sides; and con- 
cerning the same remarkable range, it had already been noted, when its singular structure and 
form were described, that no erosion could be conceived of "that should have left this thin 
segment as the remnant of an inclined table or of a fold" (37). If this idea had been elaborated 
so far as to describe the form of a mountain that could have been produced by the erosion of 
an extensive table or fold, and if such a form had then been contrasted with that of the observed 
range, the argument might have been better understood. 

Other terse statements are found a page later: "Ridge [range] lines are more persistent 
than structures. In the same continuous ridge [range] are monoclinals with opposed dip"; 
that is, warped monoclinals; and other ranges are both "monoclinal and anticlinal" (42). 
The same comment may be made here as above; a whole volume of meaning is packed into 
these too short sentences, which even the illustrative examples next adduced did not suffice to 
make fully intelligible to geologists whose physiographic eyes had not been opened. In illus- 
tration of the important generalization that the ranges do not trend with the structure of their 
rocks, the section of Spring Mountain Range at Ivanpah in southern Nevada is selected : 

The mountain there shows an axis of granite, flanked on each side by limestone, but the trend of the 
anticlinal is oblique to that of the range and it quickly runs out, the granite giving place at the north to the 
eastern mass of limestone, which rises and, as an eastward dipping monoclinal, there constitutes the entire range, 
while the western limestone mass becomes, in the same manner, supreme at the south (42). 

The meaning here is evidently that, if this range were the eroded residual of an un faulted 
anticlinal fold, the granitic axis and the limestones on its two flanks ought to continue indefi- 
nitely along the strike of the fold; but that as " there is not on a grand scale that close dependence 
of form on durability that must maintain were the great features of the country carved by denud- 
ing agents" (41), some other explanation for the ranges than nonfaulted folding and sequential 
erosion must be sought for. 


The idea that the basin ranges are the eroded remnants of great anticlinal and synclinal 
folds was therefore dismissed; and after a concise generalization of the leading features of the 
ranges, Gilbert's own views are announced. 

To begin with the simplest generalization, the ranges are a system; not indeed formed at the same time, but 
exhibiting certain common characters, over a great area. They are parallel; they recur with some regu- 
larity of interval; they are of moderate dimensions. 

Then comes the new theory: 

The ridges [ranges] of the system occupy loci of upheaval and are not mere residua of denudation; the 
valleys of the system [the intermont troughs] are not valleys of erosion, but mere intervals between lines of maxi- 
mum uplift (41). The movements of the strata by which the ridges [ranges] have been produced have been in 

58 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [U ™ oia \vo?xxt 

chief part vertical along planes of fracture, and have not involved great horizontal compression. . . . The 
forces which have been concerned in the upheaval of the Basin ranges have manifested themselves at the surface 
as simple agents of uplift, acting in vertical, or nearly vertical planes (42). 

In little more than these phases was a new theory of mountain making first announced. 

Additional statements are given under "General considerations," on a later page, after 
a description of the moderately dislocated, north-south fault blocks in the plateau province. 
It is there again announced that the forces which produced the basin ranges acted "by nearly 
vertical upheaval; and that they were deep-seated," and it is then added that, as forces of the 
same kind displaced the plateau blocks, "a single short step brings us to the important con- 
clusion that the forces were identical (except in time and distribution) ; that the whole phenomena 
belong to one great system of mountain formation, of which the ranges exemplify advanced, 
and the plateau faults the initial, stages." It is therefore "impossible to overestimate the 
advantages of this field for the study of what may be called the embryology of mountain 
building. In it can be found differentiated the simplest initiatory phenomena, not obscured, 
but rather exposed by denudation" — that is, in the little-disturbed plateau blocks, the structure 
and displacements of which are so well brought to light by the transecting canyons — " and the 
process can bo followed from step to step, until the complicated results of successive defor- 
mations and erosions" — that is, in the basin ranges — " baffle analysis" (60, 61). The analogy of 
the northern plateau blocks to the ranges is especially indicated a few pages later: 

A portion of the valleys of the Plateau country, and especially those of the upper Sevier, are, like the 
troughs of the Range region, structural, and lie between the monoclinal ridges produced by the system of 
faults (67). 

Returning now to the earlier page, there soon follows an illuminating comparison which 
throws a much-needed fight on the mechanism of Gdbert's theory: 

In the Appalachians corrugation has been produced commonly by folding, exceptionally by faulting; in 
the Basin Ranges, commonly by faulting, exceptionally by flexure. The regular alternation of curved syn- 
clinals and anticlinals [in the former] is contrasted with rigid bodies of inclined strata, bounded by parallel 
faults [in the latter]. The former demand the assumption of great horizontal diminution of the space covered 
by the disturbed strata, and suggest lateral pressure as the immediate force concerned; the latter involve little 
horizontal diminution, and suggest the application of vertical pressure from below (61). 

The author recognizes that much is yet to be learned about the basin ranges and that it 
would therefore be premature "to attempt a reconciliation of these antithetical phenomena," 
but he — • 

cannot forbear a brief suggestion before leaving the subject. It is, that in the case of the Appalachians the pri- 
mary phenomena are superficial; and in that of the Basin Ranges they are deep-seated, the superficial being 
secondary; that such a force as has crowded together the strata of the Appalachians . . . has acted in the 
Ranges on some of the earth's crust beneath the immediate surface; and the upper strata, by continually adapting 
themselves, under gravity, to the inequalities of the lower, have assumed the forms we see. Such a hypothesis 
. . supposes that a ridge, created below, and slowly upheaving the superposed strata, would find them at one 
point coherent and flexible, and there produce an anticlinal; at another hard and rigid, and there uplift a frac- 
tured monoclinal (62). 

This explanation was regarded as according particularly well "with the persistence of ridges 
where structures are changed" (62) ; it plainly credits the vertical forces with deforming as well 
as upheaving the fault-block strata. 

Not only was a mechanical cause thus outlined for the upheavals, but indication was also 
given of their effect in deforming a preexistent surface and producing a new surface, the defining 
of which is the object of the second member in the threefold sequence of physiographic treatment. 
This was done very explicitly in a chapter contributed by Gilbert to Wheeler's progress report 
for 1872, in which a generalized cross section of the region "discounting denudation," represents 
a number of diversely deformed fault blocks, bounded by nearly vertical fault planes and un- 
evenly upheaved. 1 A more philosophical presentation of the same topic is given in the main 
report in the following sentence: 

1 Engineer Department, United States Army. Progress report upon geographical and geological explorations west of the one hundredth 
meridian, in 1872. . . . Washington, 1874, p. 50. 

academy of scimch] WHEELER SURVEY 59 

What may have been the original altitude of the ranges we have no means of knowing, but there is evidence, 
along the margin of the system, that their elevation was not all accomplished at once, and it is not impossible 
that progressive elevation and denudation, as they have opposed, have also measurably counterbalanced each 
other (63). 

No specific statement of the measure of upheaval is given, apparently for the good reason 
later noted that " all estimates of the magnitude of mountain movements are so involved with 
considerations of erosion, that it would avail little, even were the material at hand, to attempt a 
full presentation of individual examples" (126). Reference to the evidence for progressive 
upheaval above noted as provided by certain marginal ranges will be alluded to in a later 


Reference has already been made in the account of the Zufli dome to the somewhat 
reactionary nature of Gilbert's views regarding the origin of mountains by upheaval through 
the operation of deep-seated, vertical forces, instead of by compression through that more of 
superficial, horizontal forces. These views evidently apply even more fully in the case of the 
basin ranges, as the foregoing paragraphs have shown. Some additional passages may now 
be introduced to show that the deep-seated forces, of which the upheaved domes and fault 
blocks were taken to be the surf ace effects, were believed to have been closely associated, in the 
western part of the basin range province at least, with the deep-seated forces that produced the 
extensive volcanic eruptions of that region. After several pages descriptive of the lava over- 
flow in Nevada, which "over large areas have buried all other rock masses," the following 
generalizations are presented: 

A most important feature of these eruptions is their association with the ridges [ranges] of corrugation. 
The great majority of vents are along lines of upheaval. . . . The law that the distribution of lavas is in sym- 
pathy with the ridge [range] structure, rests on too broad a basis of facts to be vitiated by its exceptions. More 
than this, there seems reason to believe that uplift and extrusion are, in a certain degree, mutually complemen- 
tary, or equivalent. The highest ranges, as a rule, are (comparatively) non-volcanic, and those ranges, or 
portions of ranges, which exhibit the greatest eruptions are endowed with but low nuclei of other material. 
Where, in tracing a range, we find its crest exchanging non-volcanic rocks for volcanic, we do not find the latter 
heaped upon an undiminished ridge of the former, but rather replacing it, as it gradually or suddenly diminishes 
in height; and the case is strengthened by the consideration that, while the low, buried portion of the nucleus has 
been guarded by its mantle against the forces of. denudation, the higher part has been exposed to a continuous 
waste. ... It does not necessarily follow from the coincidence, in place, of uplift and eruption, that the sub- 
terranean loci of the action which has produced corrugation are identical with the volcanic sources. If, however, 
it be shown that along lines of disturbance there is an inverse quantitative relation between uplift and outflow, 
a strong argument is adduced, not merely for the identity in location, but for the absolute identity of the up- 
heaving and volcanic forces; for, if the two modes of mountain building are complementary actions, they must 
be regarded as co-ordinate manifestations of the same agency. 

These passages close with an illustration of the admirable candor which later became more 
and more a characteristic of Gilbert's style of presentation: 

It is by no means easy to demonstrate this interrelation of upheaval and eruption. My own confidence 
that it exists is derived from the comprehensive review of my notes, referring to about fifty of the Basin Ranges, 
and is a result of inspection rather than analysis. I know not how to present the material to the reader — without 
special pleading — so that it shall have the same force (125-126). 


An incautious phrase, quoted with its context near the end of the second preceding section 
to the effect that "the upper strata, by continually adapting themselves, under gravity, to 
the inequalities of the lower, have assumed the forms we see," might be mistaken to imply 
that the upheaved basin-range blocks still retained their surfaces and scarps of upheaval little 
changed, were it not that the work done by post-faulting erosion is elsewhere especially con- 
sidered. That such erosion was understood to be of prime importance in fashioning the exist- 
ing ranges is plainly shown by a later quotation in the same section. This essential factor 
had, furthermore, been already briefly touched upon in connection with an earlier statement 
20154°— 26 11 


concerning "loci of upheaval"'; for while the intennont valleys were taken to represent aggraded 
belts of relative depression, and hence the work of deposition rather than of erosion, it was 
clearly announced that "within the ranges there are indeed eroded valleys, and the details 
of relief show the inequality of erosion due to unequal resistance of the rocks" (41). More- 
over, it is later added that "since the close of the Jurassic period" the upheaved masses "have 
been subjected to the unceasing play of atmospheric eroding agents, wearing away their sum- 
mits, furrowing their flanks, and conveying their substance to the intervening valleys" (63). 
The aggradational forms there produced have already been noted. 

Evidence of the great volume of post-faulting erosion is further given by references to 
the vast amount of the detritus accumulated in the arid intermont troughs. "The principal 
deserts of the region are relatively depressed regions, marked by excessive accumulations of 
detritus, which have so filled the valleys [the troughs marking the less uplifted fault blocks] 
as to connect them in a continuous plain, beneath which the minor ranges are completely 
buried, and through which the peaks of the more lofty jut as islands" (65). Again, in describ- 
ing the lower-lying portion of the range region that is occupied by the desert of Great Salt 
Lake, it is noted that "the lowest part of the included depression has been filled with a sea 
of detritus, until some of its ranges are completely submerged and others protrude only insular 
buttes to mark where they are sunk. If these hidden mountains rise as high above their bases 
as do their neighbors on the rim of the basin, . . . the desert sediments . . . may have a 
maximum thickness of 5,000 or 6,000 feet" (65, 66). Yet great as the volume of eroded mate- 
rial thus seems to be, it was held that "erosion, which began in the Ranges and the Plateaus, 
as they were successively exposed to the atmosphere . . . has accomphshed only a small 
fraction of its task" (187). 


All the foregoing discussion of Gilbert's basin-range theory is based upon the report of his 
first two seasons of field work, 1871, 1872; for although the report is dated July, 1874, its main 
conclusions had been earlier formulated, as appears from the pages which he contributed to 
Wheeler's repoit of progress for 1872, already cited. Gilbert's second report is concisely 
phrased and does not generalize for the region as a whole. So far as the basin ranges are con- 
cerned, it considers only a few far southeastern examples, most of which have northwest-south- 
east trends. " The usual structure is monoclinal, demonstrably due to faulting in the Chiri- 
cahui and Pinal ranges, and presumably so in all the others" (517) ; and the faulting is of later 
date than the comparatively modern lavas of which certain monoclines are largely composed. 
Of the two ranges just mentioned, the first lies in the southeastern corner of Arizona; the sec- 
ond is farther northwest and is traversed at its middle by Salt River, in a notch, the present 
site of the famous Roosevelt Dam. Another example is the Gila Range, north of the first 
above named and east of the second; quartzite was seen at its southwestern base, but its greater 
mass is made of — 

trachytes and trachyte conglomerates, unevenly bedded and surmounted by basalt. These are all exhibited 
in section in the southwestern face, which is steep, while the opposite face is constituted by the upper lavas, 
which, dipping in that direction, are continuous to the Bonito river, five miles away. The range is at this 
point a monoclinal mass of bedded lavas, whose eruption took place before the dislocation which produced the 
ridge, and the same structure probably continues to the northwest for fifteen miles (514). 

The Mimbres Range, in southwestern New Mexico, more specifically described than most 
of the others, also affords significant structural elements; it consists largely of heavy lava beds, 
the uppermost of which is seen in a continuous sheet, wonderfully uniform in texture and habit, 
for 60 miles along the western slope, while Paleozoic rocks outcrop in the eastern slope. The 
whole mass was regarded as a monoclinal uplift with a fault along the eastern base, where the 
Paleozoic rocks are disclosed (519). If the Paleozoic rocks in this and in the Gila Range are 
more steeply deformed than the moderately inclined lava sheets, as is the case elsewhere in 
that district, and if the contact between the Paleozoic and the lavas is unconformable, as is 
elsewhere said to be the case, it might have been inferred that the first, presumably late Juras- 


sic, deformation of the region affected only the ancient sedimentary strata; that a long period 
of erosion then followed by which the deformed sedimentary strata were reduced to the moder- 
ate relief that they show beneath the lavas which eventually sealed them over; and that the 
monoclinal tilting, by which the basin-range structure was produced, was so recent as to be 
later than the lava outpourings. 

Had the geological history of these two ranges been thus worked out, it would probably 
have been found similar to that deciphered by Louderback 30 years later for the west Humboldt 
Range in northern Nevada; but unfortunately, the inferences above made, simple as they now 
seem, were not made in 1873, perhaps for the reason that Gilbert saw the Gila Range imper- 
fectly, and that he saw only the western lava-sheeted slope of the Mimbres Range; the occur- 
rence of Paleozoic rocks along the eastern base of this range was reported to him by other mem- 
bers of the survey. On a later page, the Natanes Plateau, a gently inclined mass capped with 
sanidin-dolerite and lying in the upper basin of the Gila, is provisionally "regarded as a mem- 
ber of the Basin Range system"; it has a southwest-facing escarpment about 1,500 feet in 
height and 25 miles in length, "unquestionably due to a fault ... of not less than 2,000 feet 
throw, . . . which has occurred since the eruption of the sanidin-dolerite. " This is the example 
already cited, in the scarp of which, "instead of the scalloped figure, made up of convex curves, 
that results when erosion controls, we have a straight line, interrupted only by angular embay- 
ments, where it is intersected by water-ways"; and it is the only example in which these char- 
acteristics of a slightly dissected fault scarp, in contrast to a retreating escarpment of erosion, 
are specifically stated (528). It thus appears that the results gained during the third field 
season, as presented in the second report, do not materially modify the conclusions announced 
in the first report; although, had it been possible to take full advantage of the structure that 
appears to characterize the Mimbres Range, important modifications of those conclusions 
might have been presented. 


The physiographic competency of Gilbert's basin-range theory, as stated chiefly in his 
first report, may be tested, as it has been in part already, by confronting its statement con- 
cerning the origin of the visible mountain forms with the requirements of the threefold sequence 
of physiographic treatment. It thus appears, first, that the preupheaval form for most of the 
region was, by implication, the smooth uppermost surface of its heavy sedimentary series; 
second, that the new forms introduced by deforming upheavals, denudation being "discounted" 
for the moment, would have been a system of huge north-south fault blocks, with inclined or 
warped upper surfaces, some standing higher, some lower; all the higher ones having nearly 
vertical fault-scarp sides; or, more truthfully, that the upheavals being regarded as slow and 
prolonged, so that much erosion went on during their progress, the warped upper surface and 
the scarped sides of the blocks would be continuously dissected as they were slowly raised; 
and third, that as to post-upheaval erosion so much has been accomplished, as just intimated, 
that the "details of relief show the inequality of erosion due to unequal resistance," although 
a great erosional task still remains to be completed. The leading feature of the theory, namely, 
the limitation of the ranges by faults on one side at least, was thus reasonably connected with 
the leading fact of their present form, namely, the discordance of their marginal lines with their 
structures. It is true that a demonstrated identification of the theoretical fault lines with the 
visible marginal lines was not systematically presented in the published discussion, but there 
can be no question that it was understood. 

On the other hand, the above extracts disclose a striking unlikeness between the geological 
elements of the basin-range theory in its original form and the form that it later assumed, 
largely through supplementary suggestions proposed by others and accepted by Gilbert. In 
the original theory, not only was the monoclinal tilting of the range strata thought to be caused 
by the vertical forces of upheaval, but also the anticlines and synclines which occur as subsidiary 
features in some of the ranges were believed to have been produced at the same time and by the 
same upheaving forces, or rather by gravity in combination with the upheaving forces. This 


singular conclusion was emphasized by the statement that corrugation, which was produced 
in the Appalachians chiefly by folding, was produced in the basin ranges chiefly by faulting. 
No hint was given of an earlier period of folding separated by a long erosion interval from a 
later period of faulting. The recognition of a long interval, but without mention of its erosional 
work, was made in 1878 by King, who, after referring to his previous description of the basin 
ranges as a "series of folds," and then crediting Powell and Gilbert — priority of naming being 
here given to the senior geologist rather than to the junior as author of the fault-block theory — 
with having "called attention to the abundant evidence of local vertical faults and the resultant 
dislocation into blocks," added: "Yet when we come to examine with greater detail the structure 
of the individual mountain ranges, it is seen that this vertical dislocation took place after the 
whole area was compressed into a great region of anticlinals with intermediate synclinals. In 
other words, it was a region of enormous and complicated folds, riven in later time by a vast 
series of vertical displacements, which have partly cleft the anticlinals down through their 
geological axes, and partly cut the old folds diagonally or perpendicularly to their axes." 2 King 
must have known that more or less erosion would have taken place between the times of folding 
and faulting, but he did not mention it specifically, probably because he, like many of the older 
geologists, was more interested in subsurface structure than in surface form. 


It was, then, the custom of the time that no special attention should be given to the erosion 
that must have taken place between the folding and the faulting, or to the forms produced by it. 
Yet the recognition of that essential phase of the problem had been previously announced by 
Powell, who briefly but clearly stated that, although the ranges of the Great Basin consist 
largely of Eozoic and Paleozoic rocks, their form and height show that they are of very late 
upheaval, the Great Basin before their upheaval having been "a comparatively low plain, 
constituting a general base level of erosion to which that region had been denuded in Mesozoic 
and early Tertiary time when it was an area of dry land." 3 A somewhat more explicit state- 
ment to the same effect was made by Dutton a few years later: 

The flexures of the Basin Range strata are not, so far as can be discovered, associated with the building of 
the existing mountains in such a manner as to justify the inference that the flexing and the rearing of the ranges 
are correlatively associated. On the contrary, the flexures are in the main older than the mountains, and the 
mountains were blocked out by faults from a platform [the rocks of] which had been plicated long before, and 
after the inequalities due to such pre-existing flexures had been nearly obliterated by erosion. 4 

The recognition thus given to a period of erosion between an earlier epoch of mountain 
making by folding and a later epoch of mountain making by faulting marks the beginning of a 
modern conception of mountains that has found wide application in later years; so wide, 
indeed, that it is now difficult to find any mountain range which exhibits forms due to folding 
and erosion alone, without a later period of upheaval and more erosion. Fundamental as this 
conception of two epochs of deformation separated by a long period of erosion is in the explana- 
tion of the basin ranges, it is manifestly not due to Gilbert. He, however, cites the extensions 
of his original theory proposed by King and Dutton — but not the extension proposed by Powell — 
in his posthumous essay and adds : 

The idea that the Great Basin district, corrugated by folding at the close of the Jurassic, had been reduced 
by erosion to a condition of low relief, aids the conception that the mountains of today were created by the 
later and disruptive deformation. It is distinctly Dutton's addition, although King had paved the way for it. 

Then, after noting the confirmatory evidence found by Russell in the young fault-block 
ranges of southern Oregon, he goes on: 

It is a remarkable fact that during the development of a theory as to the essential structure of the ranges, 
the observers [including himself] who reported on the existence of faults gave no adequate statement of the 
evidence on which their determinations were based. 

> Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel, I, 1878, 735. 

> Geology of the . . . Uinta Mountains, 1876, 32. 

* Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah, 1880, 47; also 7. 

acadkmt of sconces] WHEELER SURVEY 63 

Just why Powell's contribution to the basin-range problem was not quoted, and why 
Dutton alone was credited with the two-cycle origin of the ranges is not clear; nor is it immedi- 
ately manifest why Gilbert himself took no public part in the discussion which was for a time 
actively prosecuted among the geologists of the several governmental surveys in Washington. 
It is impossible to believe that he was not interested in the discussion, and that he was not 
personally acquainted with Powell's and Button's views before they were published; for the 
three men were closely associated during the very years when the discussion was at its height. 
Indeed, in spite of Gilbert's making no claim in his posthumous essay to any share of the new 
ideas which he there credited to King and Dutton, it is eminently possible that he had had a 
significant share in developing them, but that having had his own say in his report he left the 
announcement of the new ideas to his seniors. Such an interpretation of the case is much 
more consistent with the activity of his intellect and the generosity of his character than the 
supposition that he had dismissed the problem from his mind, or to imagine that, while carrying 
it in his mind, he made no contribution to it. Moreover, his silence was consistent with his 
known dislike of controversial discussions. For many years the basin ranges were mentioned 
in his reports only incidentally, when they were needed to make a setting for some other problem. 
For example, in a discussion, to be mentioned again in a later section, of the " origin of jointed 
structures " with especial relation to the jointing of the Bonneville clays, it was briefly announced 
that although there is evidence of post-Quaternary displacements in the region, the "movements 
were small and vertical, and the type of structure exhibited by all the surrounding mountains 
is one implying vertical displacement and no lateral compression." 5 Such a statement merely 
repeated what had been said before, without developing a new point of view. 


Fortunately, however, there is a brief statement published in 1S83 concerning the origin of 
the Sierra Nevada, which makes it clear that Gilbert had then become aware of the two-cycle 
development of that mountain range, and from this it may be fairly inferred that he had at the 
same time come to recognize the probability of a two-cycle development for the basin ranges 
also. This statement is to be found in a review 6 which he wrote of Whitney's " Climatic 
changes of later geological times," and to which further reference will be made in a later section. 
Whitney, following the geological philosophy generally accepted in his day, had assumed that 
the Sierras had been uplifted once for all in Middle Mesozoic time, and that their present relief 
represents simply the unconsumed residuum of the primitive uplift; Gilbert, on the other hand, 
interpreted the present Sierras as exhibiting the work of revived erosion following renewed 
uplift after the more or less complete degradation of their Mesozoic predecessors. He saw 
that the Sierran highland is an inclined plain; "its plateau character is not given by a contin- 
uous stratum of hard rock parallel to the general surface, but has been produced by the uniform 
erosion of a system of plicated strata. Such uniform erosion could only have been produced by 
streams flowing at a low angle"; and since the time when they flowed in that manner, the 
mountain mass has been uplifted with a slant to the west. The recency of the uplift is shown 
by its incompleteness, as attested by recent earthquake-making displacements along its eastern 
base. The same subject appears to have been further discussed under the title, "Stages of 
geologic history of the Sierra Nevada," before the Philosophical Society of Washington in 1887, 
but no adequate record of that communication is preserved. 


The deficiency of explanatory exposition in Gilbert's early accounts of the basin-range 
faults is not easy to understand, unless it may be accounted for by the difficulty that is always 
attendant upon completely thinking out all the elements involved in a new theory, and the 
associated difficulty of writing them all down in precise phrases. As to the difficulty of pre- 
cisely writing down his ideas, no one who is familiar with Gilbert's later reports would imagine 

8 Amer. Journ. Sci., Miv, 1S82, 50-53. 

8 Science, i, 18S3, 141-142, 169-173, 192-195. 


that he had ever been troubled about expressing nimself clearly; yet one of his associates on 
the Wheeler Survey records that he was at that time " not a ready writer," and that it was only 
"as a result of care and dfligent labor that he acquired the singularly simple and lucid style 
which later distinguished all his communications." As to the antecedent difficulty of com- 
pletely thinking out the various elements of a theory, that also would not be attributed to 
Gilbert by those who knew his power of exceptionally keen and clear analysis as displayed in 
later years; yet such analytical thinking appears to have been in this case a serious task in his 
earlier life. 

There is, nowever, another possible explanation of the deficiency of physiographic presenta- 
tion. The idea that the ranges were upheaved and more or less carved fault blocks may, after 
its invention, have appeared to its inventor so simple, so self-evident, that it hardly needed 
demonstration or explanation. He was only a young and little trained explorer; and if he had 
come upon this idea in his first field season in the West, or, better said, if the idea had so early 
in his western inexperience forced itself upon him in place of the incompetent theory that he 
had brought from the East, how could it fail to be accepted by other explorers ! He had surely 
talked it over with Powell, and Powell was at once convinced of its value and verity. Indeed 
how could anyone, on seeing the discordance between the trends of the mountain margins and 
the mountain structures, imagine that the ranges could be the erosional remnants of great 
folds ! How could any one fail to see that each range is a unit, sometimes truly a complex 
unit, of displacement along great fractures that are independent of the range structures! After 
the truth was once perceived and briefly stated, why spend time in expanding and expounding 
a matter so manifest ! 

And there is also a third possible explanation, the clew to which is found in a letter that 
Gdbert, after finishing his second report for Wheeler, wrote late in 1874 to Powell when about 
to join his survey of the Rocky Mountain region: 

My application for permission to publish some of my data (whether the official report had appeared or 
not) was negatived by General Humphreys [under whose direction, as chief of engineers, Wheeler conducted 
his survey], and I feel little ambition to write anything for publication with the uncertainty that would hang 
about the date of its appearance. 

Gilbert had enjoyed the satisfaction of prompt publication of his Maumee Valley study, 
which Newberry had approved in the liberally administered survey of Ohio; and the more 
rigid administration of the Wheeler survey under Army regulations was displeasing and dis- 
couraging to him. The report on even his first two seasons' field work had not then been printed ; 
and although it is dated July, 1874, there is reason to believe that it was essentially completed 
at a much earlier date. It is therefore probable, that under these conditions of formality and 
delay, the active-minded young scientist was not tempted to elaborate his theoretical views. 
That he could have done so had he wished to is sufficiently proved by the fullness and prompt- 
ness with which he completed a critical analysis of the Henry Mountains' problem three years 
later, when he enjoyed the favoring conditions offered by Powell's survey, as will be told below. 

Hence under any explanation, one must read between the lines if he would appreciate 
Gflbert's full physiographic meaning; but in thus attempting to discover the tacit basis of 
the written passages, one runs the risk that attends the composition of all commentaries; the 
risk of, at a later date, reading into an author's words a larger understanding than he had in 
mind when he wrote them. Nevertheless, some interpretative comment on the first statement 
of so interesting and important a problem as the origin of the basin ranges by so able and original 
an observer and thinker as Gilbert is permissible, even necessary, when the problem is reviewed 
in the light of nearly 50 following years ; and it has therefore been here undertaken particularly 
with regard to the physiographic aspects of his work. On that side, it may be confidently 
believed that his understanding was much greater than his presentation explicitly announced. 
If it be objected that, if this were true, he should have in his later writings made claim of the 
larger understanding that he had originally possessed, it may be confidently answered that, 
however much more he had known than he had said, he would have let his early reports stand 
at their face value; for, as already noted, the making of claims was not in his nature. 


As to the geological phases of his work, no warrant can be found for an interlineation to 
the effect that he recognized, even though he did not announce, two periods of Great Basin 
deformation and their separation by a long interval of erosion. His views on that side of the 
subject were definitely enough expressed, and they were, as he himself clearly acknowledged, 
defective. It is for this reason declared, at the opening of the present review of the basin- 
range problem, that the more novel truths he contributed to it were physiographic and not 
geologic. Yet, curiously enough, a clue to the overlooked elements of the theory was pre- 
sented near the eastern margin of the basin-range province in the Pahvan Range, which accord- 
ing to his first report should, "perhaps, be considered a southern continuation of the Oquirrh" 
Range, and which appears to be the example previously referred to without name, as affording 
evidence that the elevation of the ranges "was not all accomplished at once" (63). This 
range was described and figured as including in its western part a large underbody of deformed 
and deeply denuded Paleozoic rocks, the moderately uneven eastward slope of which is covered 
unconformably by Tertiary strata, dipping gently eastward; and from these occurrences the 
points made by King and by Powell and Dutton might have been inferred ; but no such infer- 
ences were made. 

Gilbert's theory of the basin ranges in its original form must therefore be regarded as 
seriously incomplete; so incomplete, indeed, that one may feel surprise at the importance it 
attained. But quite as remarkable as the incompleteness of the theory was the failure of his 
contemporaries to recognize its incompleteness. The strong objections that were urged 
against it by other observers were not advanced because certain essential elements were omitted, 
but because certain elements that it announced were believed to be wrong; and the theory 
that these objectors adopted was as incomplete as Gilbert's was. The fact is that both the 
theories of the basin ranges then current represented geological science as it was developed at 
that time; both were largely concerned with structure and little concerned with erosion. To- 
day erosion enters as an essential element in the explanation of the basin ranges, and no theory 
of their origin can be regarded as complete which does not give to this external process as full a 
measure of the attention due to it as is given to the internal deforming process. But this 
comment, so easily made half a century after the theory was propounded, could not have been 
made at the time of propounding the theory. Viewed in the light of its own epoch, the theory 
was an important step in geological progress, because it took account of the upheaval of indi- 
vidual mountain ranges without compression at a time when mountain ranges were believed 
to be the result of lateral compression. 

Gilbert's return to the basin-range problem in 1901 is described in a later section. 



Although Washington in the early seventies was by no means the scientific center that 
it has since become, it was already the residence of a good number of distinguished men of 
science holding Government positions, and in this respect it must have presented an enlivening 
contrast to the other cities that Gilbert knew; for Rochester and Columbus were at that time 
of small size and of somewhat rural quality, and even in metropolitan New York, science was 
then more hidden under trade and traffic than it was submerged beneath politics in the National 
Capital. Hence, after the young geologist, returning late in Ids twenty-eighth year from his 
first season of field work in the West, arrived in Washington near the end of January, 1872, 
and reported at Lieutenant Wheeler's office, 1813 F Street NW., he soon found opportunity 
for forming acquaintance with his scientific elders, among them Baird, Newcomb, Powell, 
Hayden, Meek, Hilgard, Harkness, Abbe, Dutton, and others whom he met and learned to know 
at meetings of the Philosophical Society, organized only a year before, and elsewhere. Judging 
by what followed in after years, it is not to be doubted that he made a good impression on all 
his seniors. Indeed, brief entries in his diaries record that on May 18, 1872, Gilbert himself 
spoke at one of these meetings on " Nev. and A. T." (Nevada and Arizona Territory); a year 
later he addressed the same society on "Weighing the Earth by Col. Canon," and in February, 
1874, he harked back to 1868 and gave the " G. & G. Soc," apparently a combination of 
geologists and geographers later organized separately, an account of "the Cohoes Cedars time 
data," as already noted. The entries in his diaries for this year and the next also indicate 
that a good number of evening calls were made on his new friends; and one of the earliest of 
them, Baird, then Secretary of the Smithsonian, invited him to establish his office in that 
institution, an invitation to which Wheeler naturally enough objected. Many days in the 
first months of 1872 are summarized with the single word, "Boning," at the top of the page, 
which presumably means "Working on field notes," for the manuscript of a preliminary report 
was completed March 17. In February the study of German was taken up, a subject in which 
progress does not appear to have been great; it was taken up again 12 years later, with no 
greater success. 

But lest it may be thought that the young man was altogether given over to the more serious 
aspects of life, some lines entered in his diary under date of March 28, 1872, and therefore after 
two months of elevating scientific associations, may be here quoted: "Afternoon Marvine and 
I threw ball near the market until stopped by the police. Evening heard Nillson in Faust 
from negroes' heaven. Music and acting was great." Then comes a note, " Steamed oysters are 
a trifle better than coagulated clams," which might rival the famous mystery of "chops and 
tomato sauce," were it not followed by an entry in the petty cash account habitually kept near 
the bottom of each daily record: "Std. oys. . . . 80," from which it appears that the evening 
must have been closed with a post-operatic revel. Evidently, geology was not all absorbing. 
Indeed in the following winter Gilbert and Howell took dancing lessons with a view to cultivating 
the social amenities to which neither of them seem previously to have paid much attention. 
Truly, that a hardy devotee of science' in the summer should in the winter not only carry his 
disorderly conduct so far that it had to be restrained by the public guardians of good order, 
but should even attempt to "trip the light fantastic toe" as a means of ingratiating himself 
in gentle company, is not what a reader of his sententious geological reports feels that he has 
a right to expect ! However, Gilbert's alma mater does not appear to have been disturbed 
either by hearing of or by foreseeing these pranks and dissipations, for in the summer of 1872 
the University of Rochester awarded him the degree of A. M. 

After the season of 1873 in the West, scientific comradeship had a fine illustration. Gilbert, 
Howell, and Henshaw returned from Salt Lake City to Washington by train together and 
decided on the way to establish winter quarters in common near their chief's office; and as 



Gilbert was the originator of the plan he was put in charge of the billeting. It may be doubted 
whether the memoir of any other academician will ever contain record of so daring an exploit 
as his, now to be narrated; indeed the "cheek" with which he had approached the Governor 
of Ohio three years before pales in comparison with the boldfaced seductiveness that he must 
have here displayed in the siege of several ladies much older than himself; for he had to make 
the round of the selected neighborhood, and call at each one of the more attractive-looking 
residences, none of which were of such quality as to set the sign, "Rooms to let," in a front 
window; and then having presented himself as ingratiatingly as possible to the lady of the 
house, inform her that he and two other young men of scientific occupations desired, if they 
should prove acceptable, to become lodgers under her roof. The astonishment not infrequently 
inclining to indignation that was exhibited by several of the matrons when thus interviewed 
by a total stranger without a letter of introduction formed the subject of successive reports 
of progress by the scout to his companions, and furnished them with much hilarity for several 
days. It surely speaks volumes for Gilbert's appearance and poise that not a single absolute 
refusal was encountered; but the lady who was finally chosen by the adventurers to be their 
hostess — her residence was the brick dwelling house still standing at the northeast corner of 
Eighteenth and G Streets — firmly stipulated that she must see the other partners also before 
agreeing to house the trio for the season. So, clad in their best raiment, they made a formal 
call, Gilbert presenting the other two; the arrangement was thereupon pronounced agreeable 
to all concerned, and so it continued until another field season opened. At the same time a 
boarding house was chosen on A Street between Sixth and Seventh, distant nearly 2 miles, 
with a view of securing exercise if not appetite by walking back and forth, rain or shine, twice 
a day. 

These good companions gave part of nearly every Sunday of their winter in Washington 
to cross-country walks, usually with invited company. A favorite district for their rambles 
ay beyond the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, where patches of primitive woodland then 
alternated with small farms; it stretched southward from the end of a street-car line that 
crossed an upstream bridge, to a line that returned by another bridge farther downstream. 
Another route of preference led across the Potomac at Georgetown and up the southwest bank 
of the river toward Great Falls as far as inclination prompted or as time permitted. Boating 
on the river was also a frequent diversion; time for that was found especially in the summer 
of 1874, which, unlike summers earlier and later, was mostly spent in Washington. For enter- 
tainment indoors, Gilbert enjoyed playing cards and excelled at euchre and whist; and he was 
particularly fond of inventing new and eccentric ways of playing old games. He often read 
aloud to his intimate friends, much to their pleasure, the book being chosen for entertainment 
rather than for information. Probably few who, in those years of long ago, knew Gilbert only 
on the scientific side realized his inner nature to be so emotional that if, while reading aloud, 
he came upon a pathetic passage, even his strong self-control could not wholly master tear 
ducts and vocal chords; his eyes would overflow and his voice would choke, so that he must 
hand the book to another to continue the story. For the same reason, while enjoying the theater, 
he avoided distressing melodramas, as he did not like to "make a spectacle of himself" in public. 

Gilbert was known among his Washington associates of this period as a man of cheerful 
and buoyant nature, of large vision and keen thought, modest in disposition, kind and courteous 
in behavior. His power of unbiased observation and unprejudiced discussion was recognized 
by his colleagues, who saw that he could attack a new problem with an open mind; that he 
never tried to prove a preconceived theory but only to find out the truth. Although engrossed 
in his work during working hours he was also sociably inclined, as has been told; and his 
friends, mostly of the "scientific set," greatly enjoyed his company; for he had, apart from a 
serious interest in serious matters, a lighter side that was shown in a cheerful manner, 
a fund of good stories and a jovial laugh. When he cared to express himself, he was 
simple, direct, unconventional, and outspoken; yet he had withal a quiet reserve that guarded 
him from saying too much, a reserve that later developed into a very gracious dignity. The 
even temper that had carried him through the many discomforts and difficulties of western 
field work was developed into a philosophy of self-control which taught him that anger was 


an unwise passion, not only unscientific and useless but detrimental; and he therefore did not 
allow himself to be angered. His power of will, thus shown in a small way, was hardly called 
upon to resist the greater temptations which beset many mortals, for they did not assail him. 
His was one of those happy dispositions that was pure-minded and honorable by nature. His 
good sense early ripened to wisdom and showed him the better paths of life, from which he 
never departed. 


It was probably not Gilbert's scientific acumen so much as the other side of his nature 
that made him an engaging companion in the social circles he frequented; unconventional 
circles, that had, be it noted, no relation to what even the Washington of those simpler days 
would have called "Society" with a large S. In any case he does not seem to have lacked 
agreeable partners at evening dances or on Sunday walks. His diary for 1874 contains the 
following brief entry among many others of less significance; January 10: "Met Fannie Porter"; 
and according to the best judgment of the few survivors of those years, this meeting probably 
took place at a dance at Powell's house, for the " Major, " an experienced ethnologist, regarded 
dancing a proper pastime for the human young, and dances at his house were not infrequent. 
Three other entries are correspondingly suggestive in view of subsequent events. Sunday 
January 25: "A long walk to Soldiers Home &c. with Miss Fannie Porter"; Sunday, February 
1: "P. M. with Miss Porter crossed the Long Bridge and returned via Arlington & George- 
town," Wednesday, February 4: "Called (PPC) on Miss Porter." The Long Bridge that 
was crossed over the Potomac would seem to have run in about the same direction as the Long 
Walk on Boston Common that was followed in equally acceptable, indeed accepting, company 
by Holmes's Autocrat of the Breakfast Table; for 10 months later, when Gilbert was in his 
thirty-first year, his associates in Washington, even the most intimate of them, were surprised 
by the announcement of Ins marriage to Fannie Porter at her home in Cambridge, Mass. 

Miss Porter was the younger sister of the wife of Gilbert's friend, Archibald Marvine, 
who was then a member of the Hayden survey and "resident in Washington ; and it must have 
been on the occasion of a visit of the younger sister to the elder that the meeting briefly recorded 
on January 10, the Sunday walks, and the leave-taking call on February 4 took place. Although 
Gilbert did not spend the Sundays of February and later months in solitude, he visited New 
England in the following summer; and on August 4 noted in his diary: "A search for Winthrop 
Sq. Hippodrome &c. Barnum. " The interpretation of the first entry is that Winthrop Square 
was the residence of Mrs. Porter and her daughter in Cambridge; and after that is known the 
second entry hardly needs elucidation. The next day's record is : " Phaeton AM. Fresh Pond 
PM. ", and between the leaves of the diary which inclose these dates there is still pressed a 
little three-leaved maple seedling, such as may to-day be gathered on the wooded slopes which 
border Fresh Pond on one side. Four days later the two young persons, not so very young 
either, but apparently suitor and suited, went to Winchendon, near the New Hampshire border, 
to visit Miss Porter's eldest sister, Mrs. James A. Whitman, there resident; and while still in 
that pleasant town the diary records on August 10: "A drive past the springs. Croquet. 
Under the Trees. A boat ride. " The next day return was made to Cambridge. Several 
days following were spent by the suitor alone in a gathering of scientists at Hartford, where 
the summer meeting of the American Association was held, as already told; and after that 
a fortnight was given to Rochester, when "Writing for the Tribune" on subjects unknown, 
took some of the mornings. Sunday, August 30, was enjoyed playing with the "Full Family 
at the Nutshell, The Intellectual Game," whatever that may have been; and the next day 
contains the entry: " Loomis-Gilbert. No Cards." Thus the brother briefly records the 
marriage of his sister. Washington was reached a few days later; and if questions arose there 
as to the cause of the month's absence, Hartford and Rochester must have fully answered 

Two months later, on Tuesday, November 10, 1874, Grove Karl Gilbert and Fanny 
Loretta Porter were married in Cambridge. The bride was the third daughter of Joseph Porter, 
jr., who had died 15 years before, and Susan Maria (Bent) Porter, who died December 21, 
1874, six weeks after her daughter's departure. The Porter family was well represented at 


the wedding; but the Gilberts were represented by the groom alone. The wedding journey 
was extended to Rochester where Thanksgiving Day was spent at the "Nutshell," and then 
the pair went to Washington for the winter. The other two of the three bachelor contubernals 
of the previous winter were invited, in the letters by which they were first informed of Gilbert's 
defection, to continue the plan of house partnership; but they, with a prudence as great as the 
generosity that had prompted the invitation, declined on the grounds, facetiously urged, that 
the fourth partner was a stranger to them, that they had not been consulted in choosing her, 
and that they could therefore assume no responsibility for the new enterprise; but they appear 
to have enjoyed the opportunity of frequent and friendly visits at the benedict's home. 

Washington was thereafter Gilbert's residence, except for a year, 1880-81, when, after 
the organization of the United States Geological Survey, he resided in Salt Lake City in charge 
of the division of the Great Basin. During the summer of 1875, which he spent in the high 
plateaus of Utah, as will be told below, his wife was with her relatives in Winchendon, Mass., 
where Gilbert rejoined her in mid-September, and where their first child, Betsy Bent Gilbert, 
was born on October 13. Shortly after returning to Washington a month later, boarding in 
the city was exchanged for housekeeping in Le Droit Park, a suburb frequented by survey 
members of that time. There, as before, Gilbert, always cordial and hospitable to his many 
friends, led a quiet and simple life. The diaries of this period contain occasional items which 
show that the exploring geologist could, when the time came for it, attend faithfully to domestic 
duties, perhaps all the more so because his means were restricted and his housekeeping was 
necessarily on a very moderate scale. Like many another young husband, he opened a set of 
books for double-entry accounts, but like very few others he continued to keep them regularly 
for over 40 years. His last balance was struck with much labor a short time before his death. 
In the Le Droit household the sums set aside for domestic expenses were charged to " Dame Dur- 
den" or "D. D.," but unlike some other scientific husbands, Gilbert did not allow all the house 
cares to fall on his wife so that he might be uninterrupted in his professional work. He took a 
good share of responsibilities, as is indicated by many entries in his diary; for example, one 
made shortly after the removal to Le Droit Park, which reads : " To-day we begin 3 pts. of cream 
and 3}4 qts. of milk." It may therefore be fairly inferred that milk bills and all other bills were 
closely scrutinized. He was devotedly fond of the little daughter, Bessie ; the affection that he 
felt is recalled by items in the journal. January 14, 1S76: "Bessie 13 lbs.," and a few days 
afterwards: "Rattle, 0.25." The following autumn when he was in the arid and empty plateau 
country, a notebook bears the entry: "Bessie a year old today." These little touches are sad 
reading in view of the heart-breaking grief that the father felt over the daughter's death six 
years later. 

During the winter of 1875-76, Gilbert was caused much anxiety by the fatal illness of his 
friend and brother-in-law, Archibald Marvine, "a conscientious, able, and vigorous geologist," 
who had spent the previous summer as a member of the Hayden survey in the mountains of 
Colorado; there, as Gilbert wrote in an obituary notice, a long season of "toil and privation in 
that wilderness of canons, crags, and peaks undermined his health." After his death, on 
March 2, Gilbert accompanied the widowed wife to the interment at Marvine's home in Auburn, 
N. Y.; and thereafter extended to her and her affairs in Washington a most brotherly care. 
Gilbert's first son, born December 6 of the same year, was given the name of this much esteemed 

With the increase of scientific opportunity that followed Gilbert's transfer from the 
Wheeler to the Powell survey, as told in the following section, he took a more active part in 
the intellectual life of Washington, and largely through the meetings of the Philosophical 
Society of that city contributed a good share of information concerning his western field of 
work to his fellow members. Among the topics that he treated are "Wind-drift erosion" in 
1875; "Landslips and lake basins" in 1876; "Drainage system of the Black Hills," "Recent 
history of Great Salt Lake," and the "Wasatch a growing mountain" in 1878; the "Kanab base 
fine and a proposed new system of base measurement," and "Air currents on mountains slopes" 
in 1879; and "Relations of Permian beds to the Aubrey limestone" in 1880. Unfortunately 
the printed record of these communications is very brief, but some of their subjects will be 
recognized as being fully set forth in his official reports. 



Gilbert's association with Powell was the greatest determining factor in his mature life. 
It lead him to broad opportunities which he greatly enjoyed and it imposed upon him heavy 
sacrifices which he loyally made. The two men first met in Washington in the late winter or 
spring of 1872, probably at a meeting of the Philosophical Society, and acquaintance was already 
well entered upon before they went west for the summer field work of that year. At the close 
of the season, when Gilbert on returning from the Plateau province was in Salt Lake City, 
he invited one of his nongeological associates on the Wheeler survey to call with him on the 
"Major," then in charge of the "Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain 
region," and on the way spoke of him in terms of high praise as a man whom it was a privilege 
to know. The visitors were cordially received and the conversation naturally turned to geo- 
logical problems, especially those of the region north of the Colorado Canyon, where both 
Powell and Gilbert had spent several previous months in field work. The third member of 
the party afterwards remarked to his companion upon Powell's extraordinary frankness in 
telling of his new results, which he imparted quite regardless of the fact that his visitors were 
members of what might be considered a rival survey; but it may be well believed that the 
frankness on Powell's part was in no small measure a response to his recognition of a fine sense 
of scientific honor in Gilbert. 

The cordial relation early established between the two men is well illustrated by a letter 
that Gilbert wrote to Powell from Fort Wingate, N. Mex., under date of July. 17, 1873, soon 
after arrival there at the opening of his third western campaign on the Wheeler survey: 

I reached here by buckboard four days ago and have been skirmishing in the neighborhood for a geological 
start. The lithological series is well exposed but I cannot find a fossil — except the Shinavav wood — between 
the Permo-carboniferous and the Cretaceous. . . . One day I spent on the dislocation that Newberry described. 
I think he and you, too, must have crossed it at Stinking spring on the Puerco of the Colorado Chiquito. A 
few miles further north the structure is perfectly exhibited — a regular flexed fault without the slightest fracture, 
and with a throw of 2500 feet to the west. From a high point I could see it for twenty-five miles at least. 

In closing he expressed the wish that Powell rather than himself should see the Indian 
village of Zuni. "You would make the visit profitable while I shall merely gratify idle curios- 
ity." Clearly the two geologists were on familiar terms with each other at this time, and the 
acquaintance so well begun rapidly grew into a close intellectual comradeship; witness the 
interchange of ideas about the Colorado Canyon and its problems, as noted above. In a few 
years the relation of the two men became like that of older and younger brothers who had 
complete trust in each other. 

The contrast between Powell and Wheeler must have had, on Gilbert's side, much to do 
with the intimate association that sprang up between the director of one survey and a subordi- 
nate on another; for while Gilbert's relations with his own chief were, so far as known, always 
friendly and pleasant, they could not, in view of Wheeler's ignorance of geology, have been a 
source of scientific inspiration, such as intercourse with Powell must have been from the first. 
Moreover, Gilbert was not only hampered in his geological work under Wheeler by its subordina- 
tion to the topographical objects of the survey, as has already been told; he chafed under its 
military cast and was annoyed by the many restrictions imposed upon its conduct by reason 
of rulings from military officials "higher up." Indeed, its chief himself was not free from 
embarrassment caused by these strict requirements. A quotation made above from one of 
Gilbert's letters explains how his wish for the early publication of his results was negatived by 
the Chief of Engineers — doubtless with entire propriety from the standpoint of an engineer in 
chief — and how little ambition he felt to write reports the publication of which would be post- 


poned to uncertain dates. Hence, after three field seasons under Wheeler and a fourth season 
of report writing in Washington, he gladly accepted the opportunity of taking up work under 
Powell. Wheeler, who had himself spoken freely of his admiration for Gilbert as a man and for 
his ability as a geologist, generously approved of the transfer and recognized that opportunity 
for fruitful results was likely to be thereby greatly augmented. This was very clearly the case. 
Gilbert's connection with the Wheeler survey closed on September 30, 1874. While he 
was in Rochester at the end of his wedding journey he wrote, on November 27 of the same year: 

My Dear Major: ... I am getting to be a little anxious to be at work — partly because it has eome to be 
more natural to me than play, and partly because I ought to be earning something. So I am going to Washing- 
ton in a few days with the intention — if you have not changed your mind — to begin work with you at once. 

On the very day, December 2, of his arrival at the National Capital, he formally joined 
the Powell survey, and remained a member of it until, five years later, the various separate 
surveys were merged in the United States Geological Survey. 

These two master minds were, from the first, admirably suited to work together, for where 
they were not alike one was in large measure complementary to the other. Powell had, in 
addition to his proved ability as an explorer, an extraordinary capacity for organization and 
administration, and after the establishment of the National survey he most successfully used 
this capacity in providing means for the prosecution of special studies by men like Gilbert — or 
as nearly like him as could be found; while Gilbert, caring little for directing the work of others 
but excelling in field work of his own, was still more excellent in the theoretical discussions to 
which his field observations led. Moreover, Gilbert became more and more deliberate as he 
gave an increasing share of attention and thought to research, seeking out all the possibilities 
of every theoretical explanation for observed phenomena, and thus testing the worth of every 
explanation that came to him from whatever source; and at the same time Powell, while turning 
more and more from research to administration, nevertheless still enjoyed the occasional 
exercise of his unusually speculative intellect in the solution of problems that his associates 
encountered; but he was well content to leave the closer definition of his suggested solutions to 
men of Gilbert's analytical power. More important still, these two men had entire confidence 
in each other; they cared little for personal priority or individual credit; in their generous de- 
votion to the search for scientific truth each gave the other free use of his every thought, asking 
no greater reward than that the thought might be of service. What Gilbert said of Powell at 
a memorial meeting in 1904 was equally true of himself: "Phenomenally fertile in ideas, he was 
absolutely free in their communication, with the result that many of his suggestions — the 
number of which can never be known — were unconsciously appropriated by his associates and 
incorporated in their published results." 

Gilbert must have been greatly refreshed and invigorated by the favorable conditions 
afforded on Powell's survey. From his former chief he could have had no helpful counsel on 
geological problems; the study of the basin ranges was surely not advanced toward its solution 
by any suggestions or criticisms from Wheeler; but stimulating and helpful counsel was received 
from his new chief at every turn. During the investigation of the Henry Mountains, the first 
problem upon which Gilbert reported for the "Survey of the Rocky Mountain region," each step 
in the discussion was submitted to Powell for criticism, and many of the criticisms thus received 
were accepted by Gilbert and embodied in his text. Little wonder that the scientific companion- 
ship of the two men endured, or that when, a few years later, the unified National survey came 
under Powell's direction, Gilbert as one of its leading geologists more than replaced the right 
hand which the director had lost in the War of the Rebellion 20 years before. 


Gilbert's first field season on the Powell survey was spent on the high plateaus of southern 
Utah and in the vast amphitheater of excavation to the east of them. Salt Lake City was 
reached on the outward journey on June 16, 1875, and on the homeward journey on September 
12. The huge, east-reaching plateau spurs, known as the Aquarius and Kaiparowits, as well 


as the great Water-pocket flexure in the lower land east of the plateau base, were examined in 
some detail; and as these features are among the finest of their kind in the known world, the 
season must have been of great profit; but no report was made upon it. That appears to have 
been reserved by Powell for Dutton, who spent the summers of 1875, 1876, and 1877 in the 
high plateau region, and whose excellent account of it was published in 1880. Gilbert's pub- 
lished results concern only the Henry Mountains, which, lying east of the high plateaus, were 
briefly examined in 1875, and more closely the following year, as will be told on a later page. 

During both these summers the change from the irksome restrictions under which Gilbert 
had been working on the Wheeler survey to the favoring conditions afforded on the Powell 
survey was greatly enjoyed. Under Wheeler, Gilbert's movements had been largely subordi- 
nated to those of an expedition, the chief object of which was topographical mapping; he had 
been hampered, not to say harassed, in his field work by military regulations, one of which is 
illustrated by the incident of the lost carbine in the Colorado Canyon in 1871, already told. 
Under Powell, he was given the freest possible opportunity to move, with a small party of 
which he was the head, over whatever route he selected; and his own geological studies were 
the main object in view. He could thus himself turn the pages of the great book he was reading, 
and ponder on each page as long as he wished. Evidently his transfer from a survey conducted 
by an Army officer under military regulations to a survey conducted by a civilian scientist 
under very free conditions was as salutary as the Army officer had predicted and as the civilian 
scientist had hoped. 

It is, however, not clear why Dutton and Gilbert were sent by Powell in the summer of 
1875 to examine the same field, thus introducing into a single survey the duplication of work 
that was complained of when committed by rival surveys. It may be that Gilbert, having 
already spent a good part of the summer of 1872 in the high plateaus, recognized their blocked 
structure to be in a measure intermediate between the broadly extended masses of essentially 
horizontal structure in the Colorado Plateau — the plateau trenched by the Colorado River in 
northern Arizona — -and the linear masses of deformed structures in the basin ranges; and that 
he wished to see the plateau blocks again in the hope that they would throw fight on the basin- 
range problem. In any case his visit of 1875 taught him much about the region, although a 
good share of his time was spent on the denuded area east of the lava-capped highlands. It 
is to be regretted that his results remain unpublished; but instead of writing a report on what 
he had learned in the summer, he spent at least a part of the following winter in working up 
illustrations for the Uinta Mountain report by Powell, who noted in its preface: "To Mr. 
Gilbert, I am indebted for great assistance in the preparation of the graphic representation 
employed." In the atlas accompanying this report, Gilbert is credited with Plate IV, a bird's- 
eye view or block diagram of a part of the Uinta uplift, showing the actual topography of the 
district in the foreground, and a stereogram of the imagined uplift, unworn, in the background; 
and this is believed to be one of the earliest published examples of a compound block diagram 
of such design. It is, therefore, one of the many novelties which geology and physiography 
owe to the ingenuity and good sense of this self-trained investigator. 

While Gilbert's notebooks, five in number, of the summer of 1875 on the high plateaus, 
show that he enjoyed much greater freedom in making records than had been possible under 
Wheeler, generalized descriptions are nevertheless rare. The pages are filled with detailed 
geological sections, explained by an abbreviated notation that is not always easily interpreted ; 
but intercalated among these are many items of special interest. An Inoceramus was found 
that measured 43 inches across; a worthy rival of the giant Tridacna in the South Seas of to-day. 
"Witch pinnacles," or slender columns of weak gravels capped by large bowlders, were figured 
as occurring on the retreating eastern slope of the Kaiparowits Plateau, and a curious note 
follows a near-by sketch of several of them : 

Opposite the point we climb is a red pinnacle 5 m. out in the valley as slender & as inclined & probably 
on as large a scale as the tower of Pisa. 


No other account of this natural leaning tower is known. Time was repeatedly taken for 
records of mountain and valley breezes, descending at night and ascending by day, and Gilbert 
later spoke on this subject before the Philosophical Society of Washington. A remarkable dis- 
cussion of the relation between the diurnal range of air temperature and the "barometric 
horary curve" was made on September 6; this evidently foreshadows a graphic discussion of the 
same problem in an address 10 years later, as will be told in due season. East of the plateaus the 
greatly denuded Water-pocket flexure — recorded in the notes under the name of "Escalante" — 
is described as of unsymmetrical anticlinal form, with steep dips on the east and very gentle 
dips on the west; its axis is slightly arched, so that the Vermilion sandstone, removed from the 
highest part of the flexure, overrides it in strong cliffs at points 30 miles apart north and south 
and these two crosswise cliffs are "connected by continuous (except for canons) escarpments 
in the two slopes of the fold, the NE standing under the steep fold slope & the SW standing from 
5 to 10 miles down the gentle fold slope. So there is a continuous cliff of erosion returning in 
itself & facing inward — the reverse of a mesa. Inside the Vermilion the Shinarump circles in 
the same way. I will call the upper of the cliffs 'The Circle Cliffs'." The phrase, "reverse 
of a mesa," is certainly felicitous. 

The faults and flexures between the various members of the high plateaus were examined 
with care, and the relative values of displacement and erosion in producing the existing relief 
was especially studied. One of the most dehberate records, written "on a crag overlooking the 
lake," July 8, 1875, relates to this problem: 

What was the origin of Fish Lake Valley? 1. Its walls are of trachyte. Are they massive eruptions over 
dikes — hills of eruption? No, for they exhibit in their escarpments a bedded structure & their slopes are too 
steep & too definitely angled at top ... 2. Is it the result of aqueous erosion? No, for it is too broad to 
have been cut from the trachyte since the age of the trachyte, and its side canons are disproportionally 
small ... 3. It is not the result of glacial erosion, for the glaciation of this region is but slight — entirely 
inadequate to the making or shaping of a great valley. 4th. It remains to suppose that since the trachyte epoch 
the floor of the valley has sunk (or the adjacent hills have risen) an amount equal to the present depth of the 
valley, plus the depth of its detrital filling, plus the loss of the uplands by waste* — an amount somewhere between 
2000 & 3000 ft. 

There was no "jumping at conclusions" in a study thus conducted. 


The most important observations made by Gilbert during his first season of field work 
under Powell concerned the Henry Mountains, which rise in an arid and relatively inaccessible 
region east of the Water-pocket flexure and north of the Colorado River. They were examined 
in the fortnight beginning August 19, 1875, and the structures then discovered proved to be of 
so great interest that the mountains were made the subject of a special investigation in the cam- 
paign of 1876, when two months of a field season that extended from early August to late 
November were devoted to them. Thus originated one of Gilbert's most famous studies. The 
mountains are conspicuous objects in the eastward prospect from the rim of the high plateaus, 
from which they are 30 miles or more distant ; and it is probable that their striking forms rising 
in the distance excited Gilbert's wish to look at them more closely. On the way across the 
intermediate barren country he had a distant sight of Navajo Mountain, south of the Colorado 
Canyon, and discovered that, like the Henry Mountains, it also has upturned strata around its 

On all its visible flanks, from NE around by N & W to SW, [it] is built of Trias rocks dipping away from 
its center. It is truly a volcanic cone of elevation. ... I measure 11° at the NE & 15° at the SW on the 
flanks — dips that would carry the Trias almost to its crest, but its crest is dark with lava. 

The novel structure of the Henry Mountains appears to have been recognized in the fort- 
night of their first examination, and the problem of their origin was then in part formulated; 
for on September 5, a question is recorded : 

By the way, how do the flexures of Ellsworth and Henry V [members of the group] & Navajo consist with 
the violence belonging to irruption & eruption. Can deeply buried strata be bent without the slowness of action 
necessary at the surface ? 


It will appear in the sequel that the answer to this question was most ingeniously worked 
out in the summer of 1876, when the facts of form and structure were carefully ascertained. 
In both years Gilbert had the services of W. II. Graves as topographer. The five notebooks of 
that second summer contain many sketches of the mountains, and it is evident from the numera- 
tion of prominent points and from comments concerning them that Gilbert also contributed 
largely to the work of topographic mapping. Indeed from Powell's report on the work of his 
survey for 1876, one might suppose that Gilbert was not accompanied by a topographer, but 
did all the work himself: 

A topographic survey of the Henry mountains was made [by Gilbert's party] in 1875, and a map constructed 
on a scale of 4 miles to the inch; but this being thought too small a scale to admit of correct representation of 
the details of the geology, Mr. Gilbert in addition to his geological work made [in 1876] a more detailed survey 
of the topography, carrying on a complete system of secondary triangulation and a connected plane table sketch 
over more than 1,000 square miles. The data collected are sufficient to make a topographic map of the Henry 
mountains on a scale of 2 miles to an inch. 

In any case Gilbert was much interested in the topographic work. On October 12, a 
rainy day spent in camp near the northernmost member of the mountain group, two pages were 
given to a calculation of "spherical excess," in order to determine whether allowance should be 
made for it in local triangulation; the result showed that "the excess of the whole polygon of 
triangulation is not greater than 5" and is quite inconsiderable as compared with the probable 
error of measurement of one angle, 1 minute." The many-sided competence which such an 
entry illustrates was characteristic of all Gilbert's work. 

The novelty of the structural features discovered 
in the Henry Mountains was so great as to compel close 
scrutiny before they were accepted as definitely de- 
termined even by their observer. It was indeed so 
great as to awaken doubts in the minds of distant 
readers as to the competence of a little-known geologist, 

as Gilbert then was, who should declare that rising Fi S- e.-Ideal section of a laccolith; from Gilbert's note- 
lavas could bend upward the strata into which they rose. 

Such an explanation recalled the discredited theory of "craters of elevation," which after 
strong advocacy by eminent geologists of an earlier generation had been gradually disproved 
and abandoned by the leading geologists of Gilbert's time. It was like a backward step to 
return to any such idea. But there was this difference: " Craters of elevation" were superficial 
phenomena; and the upturned strata of the Henry Mountains, although now visible at the 
surface, had become so only as the result of an enormous denudation; the upturning was a 
deep-seated phenomenon. Whatever uncertainty others may have felt on this point, Gilbert 
really proved his case beyond all possible doubt. Yet in spite of the large theoretical impor- 
tance of the structures thus made known, their region is so remote that, since Gilbert's visit, 
only one other geologist has given close study to this singular mountain group, and his report 
upon it is not yet published. So remote indeed is the district of the Henry Mountains from 
lines of ordinary travel that it is known in the surrounding region as a safety zone for those who 
wish to "avoid doing business with the sheriff." During the Great War, certain persons who 
were under suspicion of the Military Intelligence Division of the Army chose this very district 
as a refuge because of its inaccessibility and lonesomeness. After they had reached its seclusion 
they were visited by an officer disguised in his usual occupation of geologist, and so completely 
did their isolation render them harmless that they were let alone in their voluntary internment. 


The problem of the Henry Mountains must have been truly of an inspiring nature, for the 
report upon it was completed March 1, 1877, four months after Gilbert's return from the second 
season in the field. Its date of publication on the title-page is the same year, although by reason 
of delay in preparing certain plates, the report was not completed and distributed till 1879; 
a second edition was issued in 1880. Short as was the time given to its preparation, it is one 

20154°— 26 12 



[Memoirs National 
[Vol. XXI, 

of the most instructive reports ever issued. Gilbert's thoughts must have frequently turned, 
while he was still in the West, upon the form in which the report should be cast; and he was 
doubtless aided in such thoughts by an indifference to, not to say a dislike for the companion- 
ship of the usual run of camp helpers, with whom he had little or nothing in common. It 
appears to be in part at least for this reason that he formed the habit of setting out from camp 
early and returning late, thus securing an interval of 14 or 16 hours when he might be alone with 
his problems. But this does not mean that he was indifferent to camp work; he was well 
informed as to the duties of every man and beast in his outfit, and in this respect the apprentice- 
ship in the Wheeler survey served him well. He made definite arrangements at the outset 
of a field trip as to the distribution of work, and held every member of his party to a high stand- 
ard of performance. He very properly left the work of the camp to his men, not so that he 
should have no work to do himself, but because he had plenty of work of his own which his 
men could not possibly perform. 

Moreover, his field work was not by any means limited to observation. He constantly 
carried on a mental inquiry as to the meaning and interpretation of observed facts, and in 
certain problems much of the inquiry was written down in the field, as extracts to be quoted 
below from his notebooks will testify. His report is, however, not chiefly a transcript of his 
field records, cast in narrative form. Its first 50 pages contain an able-minded generalization of 
the facts of the Henry Mountains district ; and the second 50 are devoted to a keenly analytical 

■— -^>— -^--i> V-OJ-?" 

Fig. 9.— Mount Hillers, Henry Mountains; from Gilbert's notebook, 1876. 

inquiry as to the processes by which the facts of the district are best explained. When this is 
understood one must marvel at the rapidity with which the report was put into shape, all the 
more since the shape into which it was put represents the very best form of investigational 
procedure. Surely whatever were the difficulties its author had previously experienced in 
expressing his ideas in writing, he had now overcome them. 

As to the 50-page discussion of the processes of erosion which follows the 100-page account 
of the Henry Mountains, that is expanded from a more condensed statement of earlier prepara- 
tion which makes part of the illuminating and masterly article, already analyzed, entitled 
"The Colorado Plateau province as a field for geological study;" an article which appears to 
have been largely prompted by earlier observations in the plateau province as well as by the 
field work of 1876 on the high plateaus and their eastern margin, where the phenomena of erosion 
are displayed on a magnificent scale; but the expanded discussion contains many lessons from 
the Henry Mountains also. 

The illustrations of the report call for mention. They include, in addition to a good num- 
ber of smaller figures, 13 full-page views, chiefly of the laccolithic mountains, based on Gilbert's 
own pencil sketches in the field. The originals, while not possessing the exceptional artistic 
quality of Holmes's landscapes, give a good idea of the barren mountain forms; and they also 
show that, had he been given time enough in earlier years, Gilbert might have prepared many 
helpful outlines of the basin ranges for his Wheeler survey report, which as a matter of fact 
is almost without such illustration, most of its figures being sections. Some of the Henry 

Photograph by H. E. Gregory, U. S. Geological Survey 

tm - 



\ ''mF 


Photograph by G. R. Longwell, U. S. Geological Survey 

ac's? 1 * of sconces] POWELL'S SURVEY 77 

Mountains sketches, Figures 34, 39, 42, 48, 49, were redrawn in ink from Gilbert's originals by 
"F. S. D." (Dellenbaugh), who had been with Powell on the Colorado in 1871 and with Thomp- 
son in the Henry Mountains in 1872; a special red ink had to be used and the lines kept very 
thin for reproduction by a "photographic process" new at that time. Other sketches, Figures 
16, 27, 36, 43, 44, were more conventionally worked up as woodcuts in artisanlike fashion, 
with little appreciation of western scenery. Both styles of "copies" depart undesirably far 
from the originals; the woodcuts in particular, overloaded with monotonously uniform lines, 
give the impression of dark landscapes under a cloud-covered sky, altogether inappropriate for 
the arid plateau country. A few halftones, here reproduced from Gilbert's originals, show 
that very little "working up" was needed, for rough as his drawings were, every touch by 
which the original is "improved" by some one else than the observer himself is likely to intro- 
duce departures from nature. Special mention should be made of the frontispiece to the report, 
a block diagram in two sections, like the one prepared by Gilbert for Powell's Uinta Mountain 
report above noted; it shows Mount Ellsworth in the foreground, and a stereogram of its 
restored dome in the background, with indication of the strata involved on the right side of the 
block; this was evidently Gilbert's design, although it was drawn by some one else. 

Besides these pictorial views, the report includes two full-page photoplates of models and 
two of stereograms, which are of great value to the reader in aiding him to visualize the region 
treated. Their value in this respect was appreciated by able scholars in France, as Gilbert 
had the pleasure of knowing when he visited Paris in 1888. One of the models, reproduced on 
a scale of about 9 miles to an inch, represents an area of 76 by 80 miles, extending from the 
high plateaus on the west to the Colorado on the east, with the long Water-pocket flexure 
through the middle and the Henry Mountains between it and the river; this is based on "Topog- 
raphy by W. H. Graves," but as already noted Gilbert himself did much topographic field 
work in the way of plane-table surveys and barometer readings. The maker of this model is 
not named, but it is believed that Gilbert had much to do with it. The other model, repro- 
duced on a scale of a little more than 4 miles to an inch, represents the Henry Mountains alone, 
and was made "by G. K. Gilbert" ; this is repeated in another page plate with geological colors 
added. The stereograms, which appear to have been built up from the models, represent the 
deformed surface of a single geological stratum for the same two areas. Gilbert undoubtedly 
had help in the laborious construction of the originals, but even so, it is difficult to understand 
how they could have been designed and completed in the same four months that were occupied 
with the writing of the report. 

The rapidity with which this famous report was prepared and the keen analysis of the 
problems that it treated point to a fundamental change of conditions in Gilbert's scientific 
life, caused by his transfer from the Wheeler to the Powell survey. He rose immediately to 
the occasion; and it is characteristic of his conscientious nature that the satisfaction he felt 
in the great opportunity opened to liim by Powell took the form of gratefully recognizing its 
advantages and loyally accepting full responsibility for making the most of them. The pref- 
ace to his report reads: 

If these pages fail to give a correct account of the structure of the Henry Mountains the fault is mine and 
I have no excuse. In all the earlier exploration of the Rocky Mountain Region, as well as in much of the more 
recent surveys, the geologist has merely accompanied the geographer and has had no voice in the determination 
of either the route or the rate of travel. When the structure of a mountain was in doubt he was rarely able 
to visit the points which should resolve the doubt, but was compelled to turn regretfully away. Not so in the 
survey of the Henry Mountains. Geological exploration had shown that they were well disposed for examina- 
tion, and that they promised to give the key to a type of structure which was at best obscurely known; and I 
was sent by Professor Powell to make a study of them, without restriction as to my order or method. I was 
limited only in time, the snow stopping my work two months after it was begun. Two months would be far 
too short a period in which to survey a thousand square miles in Pennsylvania or Illinois, but among the Colo- 
rado Plateaus it proved sufficient. A few comprehensive views from mountain tops gave the general distribu- 
tion of the formations, and the remainder of the time was spent in the examination of the localities which best 
displayed the peculiar features of the structure. So thorough was the display and so satisfactory the examina- 
tion, that in preparing my report I have felt less than ever before the desire to revisit the field and prove my 
conclusions by more extended observation. 


Rapidly as the report was prepared, it still ranks to-day as a masterpiece of logical and 
geological analysis. Geologists of the younger generation who have encountered laccoliths 
chiefly on the pages of a textbook along with faults and unconformities, as parts of the stand- 
ard material of their science, will do well to make acquaintance with the original monograph 
in which the existence of these peculiar igneous structures was first demonstrated a little over 
40 years ago. Geologists of an older generation will also profit by turning again to the report 
which they must have first read with immature eyes, for a rereading of it will probably discover 
many ideas which their memory has not retained, and possibly not a few lessons which they 
did not clearly apprehend before. But quite apart from the content of the report, its method 
and its manner deserve attentive examination by anyone who is searching for a good example 
of scientific investigation, for it is a model of penetrating interpretation and candid exposition; 
and it may be particularly recommended to students of philosophy who, already familiar with 
the principles of logic in the abstract, wish to study a worthy example of then* application to a 
concrete scientific problem. If such students are partisans of the absolute school, they will of 
course condemn Gilbert's adoption of one set of speculations as the basis for another set, and 
they may even be amused by the credulity of geologists in general who so willingly accept even 
the later set of speculations as "conclusions''; but if they are of the pragmatic school, they 
will rejoice over the ingenuity with which Gilbert succeeded in revealing so many conditions 
and processes of the past on the basis of so short a study of the present. 


Gilbert learned the general structure of the Henry Mountains by "a few comprehensive 
views from the mountain tops," the highest of which rise some 5,000 feet above the surrounding 
surface, thus attaining altitudes of over 11,000 feet. This method of geological investigation 
may seem hasty if not superficial to an observer bred in a plant-covered region, but it will be 
accepted as satisfactory and convincing by an observer familiar with the frank confession 
made by the rocks of "a naked desert, soilless and almost plantless," as to their succession and 
attitude. The mountain group as a whole occupies a space measuring about 30 miles north- 
south by 10 miles east-west; and each of its 36 members represent a laccolith 1 or cisternlike 
mass of igneous rock, still more or less covered by the lower beds of the heavy series of strata 
beneath which it was originally intruded. The stratified rocks of the district are nearly hori- 
zontal, except where blistered up by the intrusions. Their total thickness from the upper 
Carboniferous into the mid- Cretaceous is about 7,000 feet; several thousand feet of Tertiary 
strata, still seen in the high plateaus on the west, are here wanting by reason of widespread 
erosion. The laccoliths consist of "trachyte" according to the terminology adopted by Gilbert; 
a rock that might now be called a " noncrystalline quartz monzonite porphyry." They occur 
chiefly at two levels or zones in a lower and a higher series of shales, each series between being 
1,000 feet or more in thickness, and the two being some 3,000 feet apart vertically. The mean 
diameter of 8 well-defined laccoliths in the lower zone is 2.6 miles; and of 10 in the upper zone, 
1.2 miles; their thickness is usually from a sixth to a quarter of their diameter; but one of 
them, Howell, has a diameter of 2,000 feet and a thickness of only 50 feet. The volume of the 
largest, Hillers, is estimated at 10 cubic miles. The arrangement of the different laccoliths is 
without discernible system, and they would "prove intractable in the hands of those geologists 
who draw parallel lines through groups of volcanic vents by way of showing their trend." 

At about the time of Gilbert's first work on these singular mountains, certain geologists, 
members of the Hayden survey, were studying other examples of a somewhat similar structure 
in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado; but they will not be especially referred to here, as the 
object of this memoir is biographical rather than geological. Even in the Henry Mountains, 
the outward or quaquaversal dips of the strata by which the laccoliths are now more or less 
enveloped had been recognized by two earlier explorers of that secluded region; one was 
Steward, a geologist of Powell's boat party down the Colorado in 1871; the other was Thomp- 
son, Powell's topographer, in 1872. But Gilbert was the first to detect the existence of hori- 

1 This form of the word, suggested by Dana, has generally replaced Gilbert's original spelling, laccolite, and is here adopted eieept in quotations 

academy o F sciences] POWELL 's SURVEY 79 

zontal strata beneath the heavy igneous masses, whereby to his astonishment their blisterlike 
structures were demonstrated. On this point he wrote: 

If the structure of the mountains be as novel to the reader as it was to the writer, and if it be as strongly 
opposed to his preconception of the manner in which igneous mountains are constituted, he may well question 
the conclusions in regard to it while they are unsustained by proof. I can only beg him to suspend his judgment 
until the whole case shall have been presented (p. 18). 

This presentation he then proceeds to make, not by narrating his personal experiences in 
the field, a plan which serves well enough in popular exposition, but, as he was addressing 
professional geologists, by at once setting forth the general conclusion that he finally reached 
as to the structure of laccoliths, and then marshaling the facts in systematic order as a means 
of showing how fully his general conclusion would take account of them, great as their variety 
appeared, and how necessary the adoption of the conclusion therefore was; or in his own words: 

The preliminary explanation of the type structure furnishes a complement of categories and terms by the 
aid of which the description of the details of observation, essentially tedious, is greatly abbreviated. 

The facts were marshaled in a very convincing procession: First, the up-domed strata, 
not yet sufficiently worn away to reveal the inferred cistern of igneous rock beneath; then a 
series of more and more unroofed igneous masses ; and finally those masses, which are not only 
completely stripped of their former cover, but are so far undermined around their borders as to 
give clear view of the undisturbed strata underlying them. 

The erosion of the mountains has given the utmost variety of exposure to the laccolites. In one place 
are seen only arching strata; in another, arching strata crossed by a few dikes; in another, arching strata 
filled by a net-work of dikes and sheets. Elsewhere a portion of the laccolite itself is bared, or one side is 
removed so as to exhibit a natural section. Here the sedimentary cover has all been removed, and the laccolite 
stands free, with its original form; there the hard trachyte itself has bee,n attacked by the elements and its form 
is changed. Somewhere, perhaps, the laccolite has been destroyed and only a dike remains to mark the fissure 
through which it was injected (21). 

It is thus evident that, although the general structure of the mountains had been quickly 
discovered by a few comprehensive views from mountain tops, their detailed structure had been 
learned by patient and close-range observation. 

Following the general statement, nine examples of domed strata are described in detail as 
more or less eroded, but not sufficiently so to reveal any igneous rocks; five, of domed strata 
intruded by dikes and sheets ; eight, of partly revealed igneous cores ; five, of cores well revealed 
on one side at least and there showing undisturbed strata beneath; two, of fully exposed lacco- 
lithic cores; and seven of partly demolished laccoliths; the last nine, like the preceding five, 
presumably exhibiting the underlying horizontal strata, although this significant item is not 
specified in the summarized statement. No example, however, was found in which the demoli- 
tion of the cistern mass was so far advanced as to reveal the expected feeding dike beneath it. 
It is then held that the type structure "accords with all the facts that have been observed and 
unites them into a consistent whole" (54). The existence of laccoliths was thus established, 
and at the same time the mountains that they now form were shown to result from intrusion 
and doming or up-arching of various dimensions, followed by erosion of various degrees. 

There can, therefore, be no question that Gilbert had abundant evidence for his conclusions 
as to the structure of laccoliths; and, structurally considered, they might be defined as masses of 
instrusive igneous rock, supplied through unseen chimneys beneath, roughly circular in plan, 
and having a domelike form, with gently curved top, steep-sloping sides, and flat floors, between 
undisturbed strata below and up-arched strata above. Even Mount Ellsworth, a large domed 
structure, one of the southernmost and least denuded of the group, in which overhead dikes are 
seen but no central laccolith is revealed, illustrates the immensity of the erosion involved in the 
production of the existing forms; for it is believed to have been originally covered with domed 
strata more than a mile in thickness. Regarding this fine example, Gilbert reports with charac- 
teristic frankness that although the laccolith itself is not exposed to view, he is convinced that 
it exists ; 

that the visible arching strata envelop it, that the visible forest of dikes join it, and that the visible faulted 
blocks of the upper mountain achieved their displacement while floated by the still liquid lava. The proof, how- 


ever, is not in the mountain itself, but depends on the association of the phenomena of curvature and dike and 
sheet with laccolites, in other mountains of the same group (27). 

The importance of progressive erosion in developing the mountain is alluded to again on 
a later page, where after explaining that the laccoliths of the higher zone are already well exposed 
in strong relief by the degradation of the surrounding strata, while those of the lower zone are not 
yet so prominent as they will be later, Gilbert gracefully added : 

In attaching to the least of the peaks the name of my friend Mr. Holmes, I am confident that I commemo- 
rate his attainment by a monument which will be more conspicuous to future generations and races than it is to 
the present (150). 


It is interesting to learn from the field notebooks of Gilbert's first season in the Henry 
Mountains that their true interpretation was very early forced upon his attention. He 
approached their southern members from the west, and on August 18, 1875, was on the great 
Water-pocket flexure near the point where Hoxie Creek, about 12 miles north of its junction 
with the Colorado, departs from the weaker strata of the flexure and cuts a singular horseshoe 
canyon in the harder beds of the western rise. He then noted, concerning the southernmost 
of the mountains, distant nearly 20 miles: "Ellsworth shows no volcanic colors but looks as 
though built of the valley rocks. In the region a [the summit part of an adjoined sketch] I 
can make out no dip but in the regions b & c [the southern and northern flanks] I measure dips 
of about 25°." The next day while still on the same great flexure he wrote: "I see Ellsworth 
better. On this [western] flank the dip is this way unmistakably. I can see the successive 
outcrops circling around it — red at base, then white — & the white probably caps the s ummi t." 
Thus the doming of the strata over the mountain top was detected. 

Gilbert and three of his party "slept out" that night, as explained the morning after: 
" Darkness overtook us & we barely made a water pocket in the descent when we were forced 
by the uncertainty of the way and by weariness to stop. At 4:15 this morning we started 
again & reached breakfast at 6:30." It was then briefly noted regarding two mountains north 
of Ellsworth: "Pennell and Hillers still look very volcanic"; this probably meant that their 
igneous rocks were better revealed than those of Ellsworth, not that they were of eruptive 
origin. Later in the day the basal features of Ellsworth were seen to be repeated in Hillers: 
"The hogbacks seem to trend in a curve around the mountain flank as far as they extend"; 
and the following day it was added: "The bending or swinging of the hogbacks about the 
mountain base is unmistakable." A part of the mountain next north of Ellsworth, called 
"Henry V" in the notes and later named Mount Holmes, was in view the next day, August 22: 
"It was just a tumor, cracked in the middle," the cracks being filled with dikes; and to this 
was added: "I am impressed with the idea that the dikes are radial, diminishing outwards. " 
The next day. the same mountain was described as of "bubble form . . . the strata being 
nearly level on top & the crests controlled by dikes, which are radial." Later on the same day 
the same mass was compared with others: "It is a low-angled bubble. Hillers is high-angled 
& Ellsworth strikes a mean." A significant generalization had already been recorded the day 
before regarding Hillers: "Only the Trias was lifted & the Carboniferous either lay below the 
seat of action or below a distributing reservoir"; thus the idea of a reservoir or cistern of igneous 
rocks on an undisturbed foundation is first announced. The idea was at that time presumably 
based more on the manifest arching of the Triassic strata, which were lifted but not intruded 
by the igneous mass, than on any observed occurrence of Carboniferous beds beneath the moun- 
tain here examined. Indeed, the horizontal underlying strata were imperfectly noted during 
the brief visit to the mountains in the summer of 1875, yet a small figure, here copied, is added 
in which the undisturbed underlying strata are clearly represented. Not until the following 
s umm er were the trachyte reservoirs given a special name, "Lacune"; and this was modified in 
the published report to "Laccolite," in which the root has the Greek rather than the Latin form. 

The mental processes of description, comparison, and generalization can find no better 
illustration than is offered in the first 50 pages of the Henry Mountains report; but it is well 
to recognize at the same time that these 50 pages also afford an admirable example of the 

Academy of Sciences] 
No. 5] 



essentially speculative nature of geological science; for various matters which are set forth as 
"the principle facts in regard to the laccolites" are in reality speculative inferences that far 
transcend the reach of observation ; indeed, they are nothing more than the thriving outgrowths 
of certain venturesome speculations of a century or more ago, which have been since then 
accredited and accepted as the veritable counterparts of invisible, unobservable facts in the 
vanished past. The production of the laccolithic rock masses by cooling from a state of fusion ; 
their ascent, while fused, from a deep source by unseen conduits; the upheaval of the covering 
strata as a result of the ascent; and the later removal of more or less of the covering strata by 
erosion — all these and various similar matters are evidently not visible facts of observation 
but only accepted concepts of speculation, yet so successfully fortified that they are properly 
taken, along with visible facts, as realities to be explained by other speculations. 

Only one of these speculative conclusions was regarded as in need of special inquiry for 
its justification; namely, that the laccolithic masses are really subterranean intrusions which 
blistered up the strata above them, and not ancient volcanic masses erupted upon the earlier- 
deposited, underlying strata and buried under the later-deposited overlying strata. To this 
inquiry, "the answer is not difficult." The laccoliths are subterranean intrusions; for this 
conclusion, which after it is reached is treated with entire geological propriety as a "fact," is 
supported to the point of demonstration by the standard scientific method of first deducing 


Fig. 10— The Western face of the Mornne lacolith 

contrasted groups of consequences from the two suggested possibilities of intrusion and extru- 
sion, and then impartially confronting the deduced consequences with appropriate items of 
observation; a method of proof that is truly simple enough; so simple that some readers may 
think it hardly worth mentioning here; yet it is doubtful whether the question at issue — the 
explanation of buried igneous masses as subsequent intrusions or contemporaneous extru- 
sions — had previously been treated in this way as fully by anyone else. Indeed, the failure 
of some of Gilbert's predecessors to apply this simple method in the investigation of buried 
igneous masses elsewhere delayed them in the attainment of safe interpretations. 


A metaphysically minded reader may object to the use above of such words as demonstra- 
tion and proof in connection with a method of inquiry that leads, as geologists very well know, 
to nothing more than a high order of probability, and even to that only on the pragmatic assump- 
tion that the present order of nature has endured all through the geological past ; but with this 
sort of objection to the interpretation of laccoliths and other geological phenomena we are not 
here concerned. More pertinent are the doubts that were expressed by certain distant scien- 
tists 30 or 40 years ago as to the geological validity of Gilbert's conclusions. For example, 
Reyer, of Vienna, apparently more guided by his own prepossessions than by Gilbert's evidence, 
contended that the Henry Mountains laccoliths must really be buried volcanoes and not sub- 
terranean intrusions. 2 Neumayr, deservedly regarded as one of the leading geologists of his 
time, inclined to the same view, but in deference to Gilbert's explicit statement of the reasons 

" Theoretische Geologie, 1888, 135, 136. 

82 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [MH " ora8 [vouxx£ 

for assigning the Henry Mountains masses an intrusive instead of an eruptive origin, constrained 
himself, though still incredulous and unconvinced, to announce that interpretation with the 
reservation that Gilbert's observations needed verification. 3 

More critically pertinent were the doubts expressed by the English geologist, Green, in 
Nature; for this reviewer, apparently familiar with large igneous intrusions that had broken 
and upheaved the strata through which they had risen and that had been explained as huge 
columnar, or blunt conelike masses extending with full or increasing diameter indefinitely 
downward, was skeptical as to the sufficiency of the reasons offered for the existence of a lim- 
iting undersurface at the base of the laccoliths. He wrote, "in no captious spirit," yet in some 
incredulity, questioning the "evidence by which the existence of these peculiarly shaped 
bodies of intrusive rock is supported. Mr. Gilbert has evidently seen enough to satisfy him- 
self on this point, and we are quite willing to put every confidence in the statements of so 
accurate and skilful an observer; at the same time we cannot help feeling some regret that he 
has not been a little more explicit in his description of the sections which lay open the charac- 
teristic form of the laccolite. The horizontal base and the undisturbed state of the underlying 
strata are the first points on which we wish to be thoroughly assured. . . . The views of the 
Marvine laccolite in Figs. 43 and 44, if we understand them aright, do not seem to be conclusive 
on the point of the horizontal base; but the evidence would have been more convincing if these 
plates had been explained at greater length in the text." 4 

It is true that Gilbert did not take pains to distinguish the igneous masses of the Henry 
Mountains from deep columnar intrusions, although, as is shown above, he distinguished them 
carefully enough from buried volcanoes. The evident reason for disregarding columnar intru- 
sions is that, while his published statements concerning the occurrence of horizontal strata 
underlying the laccoliths are as a rule not so emphatic or so conspicuous as to arrest the attention 
of a hurried reader, his field studies had so clearly discovered the presence of such strata, that 
the possibility of the downward extension of the igneous masses, except in inferred feeding 
dikes, was for him completely excluded. The field notebooks for the season of 1876 leave no 
doubt upon tins point. Some 25 pages of notes witten on the rainy October 12 were filled 
with a structural summary which included the following explicit statements : 

In the NE Butte [Jukes ?] none of the curved [overlying] strata are visible, the whole summit is trap. But 
the level beds below are visible on nearly every side. ... In 249 [Marvine?] every element of the type, except 
the supply dike or chimney, is clearly visible. At one end the upper strata complete the arch; at the other they 
have been completely removed and the trap can be seen resting on level strata. 

Three other examples of visible underlying beds are also instanced. A week earlier the 
general relation of the intrusions had been clearly generalized in the case of two mountains of 
complex structure: 

The general structure of Ellen and Pennell [in the northern and central parts of the group] is a system of 
bulge intrusions of trap compiled as irregularly as the secondary cones of a volcano. Successive jets of trap 
finding passage at diverse points ceased their upward movement at points equally diverse & spread in lenticular 
form, lifting the superior strata. 

And here the occurrence of undisturbed underlying strata is only implied instead of being 
explicitly stated. 

Explicit statements on this point in the published report are brief, as follows: As to the 
Steward laccolith, east of Hillers, " at one end it is bared quite to the base, and the sandstone 
floor on which it rests is brought to light" (33). Beneath the neighboring Howell laccolith, 
" the underlying strata, locally hardened to sandstone, lie level; the overlying curve downward to 
join them" (34, 35). The Sentinel Butte laccolith, north of Pennell, is "sapped by the yielding 
of its soft foundation" (38). Laccolith E "rests upon the Tununk sandstone" (41). The 
Shoulder laccolith overlies the Geikie, and a bed of "conglomerate runs under the one and over 
the other and separates them" (42). Under the Jukes laccolith, the northeasternmost of the 
group, "are five hundred feet of softer rock which constitutes its pedestal" (46). These state- 

» Erdgeschichte, 1887, i, 180. 

' A. H. G[reen). Nature, xii, 1879, 177-179. 


ments when thus brought together are clear enough, even though they do not always mention 
the attitude of the underlying strata; but in the original text they are scattered and almost lost 
among other matters. Moreover, in the published account of two other well-exposed laccohths 
the underlying strata are not mentioned: The Marvine, the northernmost of all, "stands forth 
on a pedestal, devoid of talus, naked and alone" (42) ; and as to the Scrope, northeast of Pennell, 
"the erosion of its matrix has left it a conspicuous crag" (47). Even in the generalized struc- 
tural summary above cited, the underlying strata are not given prominence; for besides the 20 
instances in which erosion is not yet deep enough to reveal the base of the laccolith, and the five 
instances in which one side of a laccolith has been eroded, "exposing the core of trachyte to its 
base and showing undisturbed strata beneath it," there are seven other instances which are next 
noted as having suffered a still greater erosion, but in connection with which nothing is said of 
the underlying strata. Silence here can not mean that the fundamental strata were not seen, 
but that they were so plainly seen as to have been taken as a matter of course. 

There can therefore be no question that Gilbert determined the general facts of laccolithic 
structure correctly. There may, however, be question whether certain igneous masses which 
have been in later years explained as laccoliths, after the laccolith idea had been generally 
accepted, are truly of that nature. For example, Hauthal describes two bold mountains, Payne 
and Fitzroy, in the southern Andes as laccoliths, and explicitly states that they have a partly 
eroded cover of Cretaceous strata; but he does not give explicit account of any underlying 
undisturbed strata. 5 It is quite possible that the conception of laccoliths has become so popular 
that masses of other nature have been called laccohths without sufficient assurance that they 
have a level base as well as a domed top. 

5 Mitteilungen iiber den heutigen Stand der geologiscben Erforschung Argentiniens. 9th Internal. Geol. Congress, Vienna, (1904), 1905, 



It is as true to-day as it was when Gilbert wrote in 1877 that, while larger bodies of intru- 
sive rocks occur elsewhere, no other examples so typical of simple laccolithic structure as the 
Henry Mountains have been described. Had his study not been carried further than the 
account of observed and inferred structures presented in the first 50 pages of the published 
report, summarized above, it would have been a valuable contribution to American geology; 
indeed to the geology of the world. But instead of stopping with existing structures, he under- 
took in the second 50 pages a penetrating discussion of the conditions under which the lacco- 
lithic intrusions of the Henry Mountains had taken place. His treatment of this problem is 
delightfully ingenious and open; the reader feels as if the author were inviting his company on 
a speculative excursion, in which all pertinent facts and suppositions are to be candidly ex- 
amined. The method of presentation is the very reverse of that obscurantist style, sup- 
posedly appropriate for popular scientific story-telling, in which the writer, as if assuming 
that the public can not understand geological reasoning, announces conclusions without giving 
grounds for them; or, still worse, puts the cart of conclusion before the horse of inference and 
even presents the cart as the pulling force, witness such a statement as: 

Geologists have discovered that the climate of the earth was, in a past stage of its history, much warmer 
and moister than now; therefore plants then grew luxuriantly and coal beds were formed of their remains. 

Gilbert's method was precisely the opposite of this, in that he always presented facts and 
inferences in proper order, left no points in obscurity, never glossed over a difficulty or stretched 
an argument, and never attempted to impose his views as if by authority. Indeed for purity 
and candor of reasoning, the chapter on the conditions of laccolithic intrusion as exhibited in 
the Henry Mountains has few parallels in geological literature. It is not to be expected that 
the chapter was complete or that its conclusions were so final that they should apply to laccoliths 
in regions of disordered structure; but the discussion unquestionably deserves high praise for 
its ingenuity in utilizing all pertinent and available knowledge. It will be here presented in 

The discussion opens with a review of the results reached concerning the structural features 
upon which the hypothesis that the Henry Mountain laccoliths are intrusions is based, and then 
adopts the hypothesis because it ' ' accords with all the facts that have been observed and unites 
them into a consistent whole" (54). Next, the intrusive rocks of the laccoliths are compared 
with the effusive volcanic lavas of the plateau province; the first are without exception acidic, 
while the others are basic, Dutton being here called in as a petrographic expert. It is not 
possible to combine the two phenomena of intrusion and extrusion as the result of the rise of 
one magma — Gilbert of course used the old term, lava — for "the acidic type if extruded at the 
surface would be an ordinary [not a porphyritic] trachyte; the basic type if crystallized under 
pressure would be classed with the greenstones. The basis for the generalization is exceedingly 
broad. ... In the Uinkaret Mountains [on the plateau north of the western part of the Grand 
canyon] Professor Powell has distinguished no less than one hundred and eighteen eruptive 
cones [all of them resting on horizontal strata which give no indication of being arched by 
underground laccoliths], and in the Henry Mountains I have enumerated thirty-six individual 
laccolites. In one locality basic lava has one hundred and eighteen times risen to the surface by 
channels more or less distinct, instead of opening chambers for itself below. In the other local- 
ity porphyritic trachyte has thirty-six times built laccolites instead of rising to the surface" (71). 


86 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoies [ vo A l t, £x a i l 


Now disregarding the source of the magma and its propelling force, the question arises: 
"Why is it that in some cases igneous rocks form volcanoes and in other cases laccolites?" 
Here successive suppositions are made with a view to simplifjnng the problem. It is first 
supposed that the solid rocks of the crust have no cohesion to impede either the vertical rise 
or the lateral spread of the fluid rocks. "The lava will then obey strictly the general law of 
hydrostatics, and assume the station which will give the lowest possible position to the center 
of gravity of the strata and the lava combined" (72). This conclusion appears to have been 
reached in the field, for a notebook record of September 20, 1876, concerning two contiguous 
intrusive sheets near Mount Pennell implies hydrostatic action in the brief statement: "I call 
the upper the newer because it was lighter in weight molten than the other cold." A part of 
the long summary written three weeks later on the rainy 12th of October gives a more general 
treatment of the same principle. It is evident that careful theoretical reflection recorded in 
view of the facts must have greatly expedited the preparation of the report in Washington. 

Inquiry is next made into the validity of the hydrostatic law when cohesion is considered. 
Gilbert recognizes that the strength of the crustal strata must of course modify the behavior 
of the rising magmas, and then frankly confesses, in a way that immediately begets confidence 
in his fairness: "I am at a loss to tell in what way it influences the selection by a lava flood of 
a subaerial or a subterranean bourne" (73). However, he concludes that the hydrostatic law 
is not wholly abrogated ; it is only modified by cohesion: "Light lavas will still tend to rise 
higher than heavy, however much the rising of all lavas may be hindered or favored" (74). 
The problem therefore really turns on whether the relative density of lavas and crust or the 
penetrability of the crust is the determining factor. "When resistance to penetration is the 
same in all directions, the relation of densities determines the stopping place of the rising lavas; 
but when the vertical and lateral resistances are unequal, their relation may be the determining 
condition." Hence, if penetrability were the controlling factor during an epoch of igneous 
activity, all kinds of magmas would rise to the surface where the crust is vertically penetrable 
and would be found together in volcanoes; while where the crust is not thus penetrable but is 
liftable, all kinds of magmas would fail to reach the surface and would be found associated in 
laccoliths. But, on the other hand, if density be in control, then certain lighter magmas would 
usually form volcanic masses and other heavier magmas would form laccoliths. 

In the actual case of the Henry Mountains the difficulty of penetrating and the ease of 
lifting the strata may have guided the intrusions into two shale horizons, as above noted, but 
these factors may not alone have been in control. When the constitution of the intrusive and 
effusive rocks of the plateau province is examined, "we find the entire weight of the evidence 
in favor of the assumption that conditions of density determine the structure. The coincidence 
of the laccolitic structure with a certain type of igneous rock is so persistent that we can not 
doubt that the rock contained in itself the condition which determined its behavior. We are 
then led to conclude that . . . the fulfillment of the general law of hydrostatics was not materi- 
ally modified by the rigidity and cohesion of the strata" (75). 

A test for this conclusion is next sought for in the densities of the rocks concerned, and 
thereupon an apparent contradiction is met; for in surface volcanoes, where the density of the 
rocks should be low, it is about 3; while in the subsurface laccoliths, where the density should 
be high, it is only from 2.6 to 2.9. Here, however, Gilbert added: "But in order that the 
laccolitic structure should have been determined by density, the acidic rock of the laccolites 
must have been heavier in its molten condition than the more basic rocks of the neighboring 
volcanoes" (75). Search was therefore made for information as to change of density when a 
rock passes from the molten to the solid condition, and citation was made of the results of 
experiments by Bischof, Del esse, and Mallet — much to the dissatisfaction of the last named; 1 
but the data thus gained were not considered pertinent, because all the experiments involve 
dry fusion, while "it is generally conceded that the fusion of lavas is hydrothermal." Sub- 

1 Nature, xiii, 1880, 265. 


sequent studies have confirmed this latter opinion, and given some support to the view that 
even if the solidified basic rocks of surface volcanoes are denser than the solidified acidic rocks 
of laccoliths, the molten basic rocks may, before they lost their included gases and vapors 
during eruption, have been less dense than the molten acidic rocks in their subterranean cis- 
terns. Hence the relation of densities now obtaining may be due in part at least to the loss of 
a good share of initial gases in the surface rocks. In other words, the contraction and density 
increase of the surf ace basic rocks in cooling at the time of their eruption may have been greater 
than that of the buried acidic rocks; but H is generally felt that Gilbert carried this principle 
too far. 

However, he cited "a fact of observation which tends to sustain the view that the laccolitic 
rocks of the Henry Mountains contracted less in cooling than the volcanic." Prismatic struc- 
ture is produced by contraction in cooling; and as it is absent in the Henry Mountain trachytes, 
their contraction must have been small; conversely, its presence in many basic volcanic rocks 
indicates that their contraction was relatively great. But if the hydrostatic law holds good, the 
acidic rocks of the subterranean laccoliths may have contracted by a considerable amount; for 
if those rocks really were, when molten, only slightly denser than the strata above them (2.3), 
then their volume when molten must have been about one-tenth greater than when solid ; and 
to this it may be added that, under the same hypothesis, the increase in density of surface 
volcanic rocks on passing from the molten to the solid state must have been greater still. Thus 
it is possible that if Gilbert's hydrostatic theory of laccolithic intrusion proves to be measure- 
ably true, it may, by means of a comparison of the densities of stratified rocks, laccoliths, and 
volcanoes, lead to a better determination of the density of both intrusive and extrusive igneous 
rocks when they were in a molten state and of their increase of density on solidifying, than is 
obtainable by experiment; for artificial conditions in the laboratory can hardly imitate natural 
conditions in a volcanic vent, much less those in an underground laccolithic reservoir. But it 
must be added at once that laccoliths later found in other parts of the Cordilleran region have 
varied compositions and are thought by their investigators to discredit Gilbert's view that 
density of magma was an important factor in the formation of laccoliths. Yet none of these 
investigators has published so critical an analysis of the factors of penetrability and density 
as Gilbert did. 


The physical conditions of intrusion being thus outlined, the mechanical changes that accom- 
panied the intrusions are examined. It should be here recalled that the average form of the 
Henry Mountains laccoliths is that of a low arched dome with a rapid marginal descent; and that 
the covering strata therefore rise in a steep-sided, flat-topped quaquaversal arch; also that, 
although the flat tops and the flexed sides of the arched beds are broken by radial fissures occupied 
by dikes, the flexed sides are not fractured on circumferential lines; hence the central covering 
strata must have been increased in radial measure by stretching during deformation. The 
stretching is explained as due to an extension or outward squeezing of the immediately overlying 
strata between the upward pressure of the intruding trachyte and the downward weight of the 
higher strata. An interesting corollary follows : Any fractures that were made in the arch must 
have been instantly filled with intrusive dikes, and no empty fissures were left to be slowly filled 
afterwards with mineral veins; is for this reason that the Henry Mountains have no 
attraction to the miner (83). 

The cause of the steep dips around the margin of the flat-topped laccolithic domes is next 
sought for; and it is particularly here that Gilbert's analysis of the problem has seldom been 
quoted, perhaps seldom understood, so fully as it deserves. It is probable that some of the 
masses are more flat-topped than others; if so, it is the typical flat-topped domes that are 
especially considered. It was conceived that when lateral movement of the rising magma 
began, a comparatively thin horizontal sheet was formed, which would be nearly circular if the 
ease of lifting the strata were about the same in all directions outward from the supplying 
c himn ey or neck. Consideration was then given to the distribution of pressure exerted by the 
intruding magma, the thickness of the overlying strata being constant. The total upward 


pressure exerted by a circular sheet will increase with its area, or with the square of its radius. 
Part of the upward pressure may be given to lifting the weight of the cover, and in a cover of 
constant thickness the weight will increase with the area of the sheet or the square of its radius, 
and hence with the upward pressure; the remainder of the upward pressure may be given to 
deforming the cover. Deformation by the formation of a vertical cylindrical fracture around 
the margin of the sheet is first considered, and allowance is afterwards made for deformation 
by flexure. The resistance to the making of a cylindrical fracture of the same diameter as 
the intrusive sheet will increase with the area of the fracture surface; that is, with the circum- 
ferential area of the cylinder; and this, in a cover of constant thickness, would increase only 
with the first power of the cylinder or the sheet radius. Hence, while the resistance to cylin- 
drical fracture will probably be greater than the available upward pressure of a small circular 
sheet in the early stage of horizontal intrusion, equality of the two forces will be reached later 
as the sheet increases in radius; and thereafter the direction of least resistance will be upward, 
and the reservoir will increase in vertical thickness instead of in horizontal diameter. 

An important generalization follows: "The laccolite in its formation is constantly solving 
the problem of 'least force,' and its form is the result" (91). " That is to say, at a given depth 
beneath the surface a laccolite of a certain circumference will be able to force upward the 
superjacent cylinder of rock, while a laccolite of a certain smaller circumference will be unable 
to lift its cover. Or, in other words, there is a limit in size beneath which a laccolite cannot be 
formed" (88). Therefore "when a lava forced upward through the strata reaches the level 
at which under the law of hydrostatic equilibrium it must stop, we may conceive that it ex- 
pands along some plane of bedding in a thin sheet, until its horizontal extent becomes so great 
that it overcomes the resistance offered by the rigidity of its cover, and it begins to uplift it. 
The direction of least resistance is now upward, and the reservoir of lava increases in depth 
[thickness] instead of in width. The area of a laccohte thus tends to remain at its minimum 
limit" (88, 89). But as the thickness of the laccolith increases, its .growing weight "is pro- 
gressively subtracted from the pressure [exerted by the rising magma] against its top, and 
this proceeds until the upward and lateral pressures become proportional to the resistances 
which severally oppose them. Further expansion is then both upward and outward" until, 
"when the sum of the weights of the cover and laccohte equals the total pressure of the in- 
trusive lava, uplift ceases, and the maximum depth or thickness is attained" (90, 91). 


A further consequence of this theoretical discussion is that the diameter of a Henry Moun- 
tains laccohte "is proportioned to its depth beneath the surface"; and this is susceptible of 
test by comparing the diameters of laccolites in the lower and upper zones of the Henry Moun- 
tains strata. The test gives remarkable confirmation to the theory; for not only is the mean 
diameter of 8 laccohths in the lower zone (2.6 miles) double the mean of 10 in the upper zone 
(1.2 miles), but in the upper zone, where their stratigraphic position is best determined, the 
highest laccolites are the smallest, and their size increases downward with some approach to 
regularity. " There is no laccolith of the upper zone so large as the smallest in the lower zone; 
and the mean diameter of those on the lower zone is double the mean of those on the upper. . . . 
The confirmation of the conclusion is as nearly perfect as could have been anticipated. There 
is no room to doubt that a relation exists between the diameters of laccolites and the depth of 
their intrusion" (92, 93). 

A most ingenious extension of the theory is finally made in estimating the original thickness 
of the covering strata: 

Having determined by observation the mean size of the laccolites in the upper and lower zones, as well as 
the interval [3,300 feet] which separates the two zones, and knowing approximately the law which binds the size 
of the laccolite to its depth of intrusion, we can compute the depth of intrusion of each zone. Our result will 
doubtless have a large probable error, but it will not be entirely without value (94). 


The result gained varies from 10,300 to 14,500 feet, according to the relation that is assumed 
to exist between the thickness of the cover and its resistance to flexure; and as the present 
cover of the upper zone averages only 3,500 feet in the thickness, the original cover, presumably 
Tertiary for the most part, must have lost from 7,000 to 11,000 feet of its thickness by post- 
intrusional erosion. As the lost strata are still present in the high plateaus to the west, and as 
independent geological evidence suggests their original extension over the Henry Mountains 
area, the calculated thickness of the original laccolith cover seems reasonable. 

Yet in spite of the plausibility of his argumentation, Gilbert did not insist upon the accept- 
ance of the results that it reached. He wrote: 

I am far from attaching great weight to this speculation in regard to the original depths of the laccolite 
covers. It is always hazardous to attempt the quantitative discussion of geological problems, for the reason 
that the conditions are apt to be both complex and imperfectly known; and in this case an uncertainty attaches 
to the law of relation, as well as to the quantities to which it is applied. Nevertheless after making every allow- 
ance there remains a presumption that the cover of the laccolites included some thousands of feet of Tertiary 
sediments (94). 

This is putting it mildly, to say the least. It would not be overstating the case to say that 
a Henry Mountains laccolith is not, as usually understood, simply an irresponsible mass of 
intrusive rock, but in view of Gilbert's well-conducted analysis it is a comparatively orderly and 
reasonable structure, the general position and dimensions of which appear to be explicable on 
mechanical principles. 


The largely inductive or empirical definition of a laccolith given at the end of an earlier 
section may now be replaced by an expanded genetic definition : A Henry Mountains laccolith 
is a mass of intrusive igneous rock which, supplied through an inferred chimney from a source 
of unknown depth, begins its expansion by spreading laterally in a horizontal fissure-plane, 
apparently in accordance with the hydrostatic law, at a level where, while still molten, its den- 
sity is less than the average density of the underlying and greater than that of the overlying 
strata. In spreading, the molten magma first assumes the form of a roughly circular sheet or 
disk of small thickness, but as the radius of the disk increases it attains a dimension at which 
the intrusive force of the magma is more economically applied to the thickening of its mass in 
domelike form by abruptly flexing up the strata around its margin and lifting up the strata 
above it, than to spreading farther and lifting up a larger total area of overlying strata with- 
out so much flexing. As marginal flexing takes place, the flexed strata are stretched by being 
squeezed between the upward pressure of the intruding magma and the downward weight of the 
higher strata. 

The limiting diameter at which the abrupt up-flexing of the marginal strata takes place 
increases with the depth at which the magma outspreads; the lower-lying laccoliths of the 
Henry Mountains have an average diameter of 2.6 miles under an estimated original cover 
nearly 3 miles thick; and the same figures for the higher-lying laccoliths are 1.2 and somewhat 
more than 2 miles. If the upward pressure of the magma is maintained, the laccolithic dome 
will gain in thickness by continuous or by successive intrusions until the total weight of the 
laccolith and its cover is greater than the upward pressure of the magma; when this stage is 
reached, the magma will seek another place of ascent and intrusion. The thickened form of the 
completed laccolith is not an indication that the magma was imperfectly fused at the time of its 
intrusion, but that it was constantly "solving the problem of 'least work' "; for its effective 
fusion is proved by the thinness of certain sheetlike laccoliths which did not thicken, as well as 
by the narrowness of the many dikes which appear to have been instantly shot into any fissures 
opened in the overlying beds. The formation of laccoliths, as thus explained, leads to the 
conclusion that they are not associated with volcanoes, beneath which, according to the hydro- 
static law, the rising magma should be in its molten state less dense than the rocks through 
which it rises, whatever its density may become after its gases have escaped and it has been 
cooled and solidified. 

90 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [toM ™ s rv<^xxt 

gilbert's theory not generally understood 

If the second 50 pages of the Henry Mountains report mean anything, they mean that 
Gilbert attached about as much importance to the highly theoretical inferences which they 
contain concerning the conditions and processes of laccolithic intrusion as he did to the simpler 
inductions presented in the first 50 pages concerning the actual structure of laccoliths. It 
therefore occasions some surprise to discover that many geologists, while accepting his induc- 
tions as to the structure of laccoliths and his inferences as to their subterranean intrusion, have 
given little heed to his speculations as to the processes of their origin, apart from the elementary 
item that intrusion actually took place. A further statement of this aspect of the problem is 
here undertaken, not so much with the purpose of advancing the understanding of a special 
geological problem, as with the desire to promote a fuller appreciation of Gilbert's thought 
upon it. 

We are not here concerned with the doubts frankly expressed by Green and Neumayr as 
to the verity of laccolithic intrusion, or with Reyer's erroneous preconception that the igneous 
masses of the Henry Mountains are extrusions; sufficient references to these authors have 
already been made. We are still less concerned with the unappreciative comment made by 
De Lapparent, who after spending several pages in combating the obsolete theory of craters of 
elevation, briefly discredits Gilbert's novel and valuable interpretation of laccoliths, because it 
involves intumescence, "pour F explication de laquelle on propose une hypothese depourvue 
jusqu'ici de toute verification directe"; 2 or with the careless misrepresentation made by Haug, 
who takes to himself the explanation by intrusion and intimates that Gilbert had advocated an 
eruptive origin: "On a suppose tout d'abord que le magma fluide s'etait precipite dans des 
creux preexistants, resultant du decollement des strates superieures, d'ou lenom de laccolithes 
que leur a donne Gilbert. Mais U est bien plus probable que le magma s'etait introduit entre 
deux couches en soulevant la couche superieure." 3 Misunderstandings of these kinds do not 
need special comment, for they are not likely to endure; but attention must be given to certain 
incomplete statements by other geologists who, wlule accepting the most manifest parts of 
Gilbert's theory, fail to do justice to its more delicate and ingenious elements. 

It is possible that some or all of these finer elements are debatable, for Gilbert himself 
recognized that his method of analysis included several assumptions and approximations; and 
20 years later, when he described a small laccolith in the plains of eastern Colorado, he referred 
to some of his earlier conclusions as only "tentative"; but they were nevertheless framed with 
good judgment and they were well grounded. Perhaps some of them are erroneous, although 
they have not yet been shown to be so; surely, until they are shown to be without value, they 
ought to be announced as inherent parts of Gilbert's views. There is no novelty in this 
principle of impartial geological exposition; our more important textbooks traditionally present 
both sides of other debatable questions; for example, the peculiar views of Semper, Rein, and 
Murray, although they were observers of no particular geological competence, are still fre- 
quently cited in paragraphs on the geological aspects of the coral-reef problem in standard 
textbooks. Surely Gilbert's views on the laccolithic problem merit at least as fair a considera- 
tion, for he was an exceptionally competent geological observer and thinker. 

Yet an admirable textbook, which deserves high rank by very reason of giving its readers 
the opinions of different observers on debated problems — for example, the opinions of the 
three observers just named in connection with the coral-reef problem — does scanty justice to 
Gilbert's theory of the origin of laccoliths, concerning which it is merely said: "Large bosses of 
trachytic lava have risen from beneath, but instead of finding their way to the surface, have 
spread out laterally and pushed up the overlying strata into a dome-shaped elevation." The 
student here finds nothing about the hydrostatic law in connection with the level of lateral 
intrusion, and nothing about the advantage that a large intruded sheet has over a small one 
in the production of a dome; but he does find in the next sentence a direct contradiction of 
Gilbert's views that laccoliths and volcanoes do not occur in close association, for the further 

» Traits de Geologie, 5th Ed. 1906, i, 409. 
• TraitS de Geologic, 1907, i, 276. 


statement is made that laccoliths should be " probably not uncommon in denuded volcanic 
districts." But no reasons are adduced for thus summarily setting aside Gilbert's well-supported 
induction to the contrary. In another excellent modern work, which usually gives alternative 
explanations a sufficiently full consideration, laccoliths are treated only in a brief statement under 
a general account of intrusions: "Sometimes the lava appears to have forced its way into the 
rocks, and sometimes to have lifted the upper beds and formed great subterranean layers or 
tumorlike aggregates, called bathyliths and laccoliths." Again, a responsible volume of still 
later date says nothing of Gilbert's views as to the condition of laccolithic intrusion, but pro- 
pounds a new explanation for laccolithic domes dependent on the rate of intrusion: "If the 
supply of material in the formation of an intrusive sheet is more rapid from below than can 
easily spread laterally, the strata above will be up-arched, as if by a hydrostatic press, and a 
thick lens of liquid rock will be produced, giving rise on solidification to a laccolith." 

If, instead of examining general textbooks of geology, attention is given to special reports 
and works on igneous structures, fuller statements concerning laccoliths are found, but none of 
them do justice to Gilbert's explanation of the intrusions in the Henry Mountains. A report 
on another laccolithic mountain group, in which many features of the Henry Mountains type 
are repeated, gives very little attention to the mechanical factors involved in the doming of the 
covering strata, yet concludes that "the controlling factors are shown to be the viscosity of the 
magma, the rate of injection, and the load of sediments and their plasticity, when in mass, 
under stresses"; but as Gilbert's analysis of the behavior of an essentially fluid magma is not 
explicitly discussed and shown to be wrong, it may be seriously questioned whether viscosity 
and rate of intrusion are really proved to have the leading values here ascribed to them. 
Again, a monographic volume on igneous rocks announces: "Among the special students of 
laccoliths the hypothesis prevails that great viscosity is an essential prerequisite in this mecha- 
nism" ; yet none of these students is shown to have published an analysis of the problem that 
in completeness at all approaches Gilbert's, nor have they especially considered the evidence 
that is found, as will be stated below, in the typical Henry Mountains laccoliths for the high 
effective fluidity of their magma at the time of its intrusion. Still another volume of mono- 
graphic quality concludes that the magma of laccoliths is driven upward until it reaches a 
horizon of easy fissuring, where it spreads laterally; thus incoherence of crustal rocks is tacitly 
postulated to be of greater importance than hydrostatic pressure, which is not considered; 
yet if this tacit postulate were true, no volcanoes could be built where the land surface, as in 
the high plateaus of Utah, consists of a heavy series of horizontal strata in which easily fissured 
members lie at a considerable depth. It is then added that the form which the spreading magma 
assumes is primarily a function of its viscosity; thus again the evidence for fluidity and the 
mechanical factors involved in the doming of overlying strata are left out of the discussion. 

These special reports therefore give little if any better understanding of Gilbert's views 
than is to be gained from the terser statements of standard textbooks. It is as if, with the 
recent discovery of a great variety of structures assumed by intrusive rocks, and still more with 
the recognition of the great variety of rocks found in intrusive structures, the attention of 
geologists had been directed chiefly to the existing structural complications of laccolithkke 
masses and to the manifold problems of their magnetic differentiation, and thus diverted from 
Gilbert's discussion of the conditions under which the simple and typical laccoliths of the 
Henry Mountains had been formed; and it is furthermore as if, at the same time, a wave of 
very imperfectly argued opinion in favor of viscosity as a determining factor in the origin of 
laccohths has been permitted to obscure the evidence against viscosity provided by the Henry 
Mountains as described hi Gilbert's eport. Possibly other laccolithic magmas were more vis- 
cous than those of his type examples; possibly a decrease of temperature in the rising magma has 
made it more viscous in the later than in the earlier stages of a laccolithic intrusion; but these 
possibilities should not be allowed to blur the evidence which the type examples give for fluidity. 

In any case it would certainly appear from the foregoing citations that no general agree- 
ment has yet been reached as to the origin of laccoliths, and that the conditions of their forma- 
20154°— 26 13 


tion are therefore still debatable. So long as the debate continues Gilbert's theory, which is 
much more penetratingly argued than any other yetpubhshed, merits fuller recognition than it 
has received. Three elements of his theory in particular deserve emphasis; the first concerns 
the value of the hydrostatic law as controlling the level at which a rising magma ceases to 
continue its ascent and begins to spread laterally; the second concerns the mechanical controls 
by which the laterally spreading magma is limited in diameter and led to assume a domelike 
form; the third concerns the influence that the depth of a laccolithic intrusion exerts upon its 
diameter. As two of these elements of the theory received a certain measure of consideration 
and yet were rejected in a critical review of Gilbert's report by a leading American geologist, 
attention may be called to the arguments there adduced. 

dana's alternative theory 

Shortly after the publication of Gilbert 's Henry Mountains report, Dana reviewed it and 
proposed an alternative explanation for laccoliths — an alternative that was favorably quoted 
by another writer on Rocky Mountain laccoliths 14 years later — as follows: 

With so powerful a forced movement in the lavas as the facts, if they are rightly interpreted, show to have 
existed, no other cause could be needed for a flow to the surface in the case of an open channel, or for a flow to 
any level in the strata at which a [vertical] fissure might terminate, and this is true whether the lava be light or 
heavy. 4 

This is unfortunately only a rough and ready method of settling the problem at issue, as 
compared with the deliberate analysis that characterizes Gilbert's discussion. It leaves the 
main question unsettled; namely, if an ascending magma has the force to act as it chooses, 
how will it choose to act ? Indeed, Dana 's solution is based on the tacit assumption that rock 
cohesion overcomes the hydrostatic law, and Gilbert 's reasons for adopting a contrary opinion 
are not adequately presented either in the review cited or in the later editions of the 
reviewer's Manual of Geology. Yet if Gilbert's reasons for his opinion are valid, it would 
follow that even if a column of somewhat dense laccolithic magma rose in an open fissure almost 
to the surface of the earth's crust, it- would still be easier for the magma to wedge its way later- 
ally between slightly coherent strata at a hydrostatically determined depth than to overflow 
at the surface. 

It is, of course, possible that Gilbert may have underrated the value of rock cohesion; 
and that a heavy magma ascending through a vertical fissure in a less dense but very solid 
granite might have to rise all the way to the surface instead of spreading laterally at a hydro- 
statically determined depth; or, on the other hand, that a very light magma might, instead of 
rising to the surface, spread laterally into a subterranean domelike cavity that was opened 
for it in very dense rocks by diastrophic forces which did not at the same time open a higher 
fissure; but until actual examples are found that appear to exemplify one or the other of these 
possibilities, it seems reasonable at least to announce the well analyzed reasons which led 
Gilbert to place a higher value on the hydrostatic law than on rock cohesion in his explanation 
of the actual laccoliths and volcanoes of the Colorado plateaus. 

In the meantime, it should be remembered that Gilbert himself did not by any means 
overlook the possibilities just suggested regarding the dominance of cohesion; for after briefly 
examining the relative values of densities and of penetrability, he concluded: "Since the con- 
dition of penetrability resides in the solid rock only, and the condition of density pertains to 
both solid and fluid, either condition might determine laccolites at certain stratigraphic hori- 
zons, while the latter only could discriminate certain lavas as intrusive and others as extrusive" 
(74). But inasmuch as he found that the lavas of the plateau region are, as a matter of fact, 
sharply discriminated between intrusions and extrusions, he was "led to conclude that the 
conditions which determined the results of igneous activity [for that region] were the relative 
densities of the intruding lavas and of the invaded strata; and that the fulfillment of the general 
law of hydrostatics was not materially modified by the rigidity and cohesion of the strata" 
(74, 75). Evidently enough, if he had found examples elsewhere in which relatively light 
intrusive rocks formed laccolithic masses in relatively dense strata, he would have placed a 

' Amer. Journ. Sci., iii, 1880, 24. 


higher value on cohesion than on density in the explanation of such occurrences, but even then 
he might still have very reasonably held to his original explanation for the Henry Mountains 

True, it has been proved that the erupted lavas in a certain district of the Yellowstone Park 
were supplied by the same magma that fed a number of underlying dikes and sheets, now laid 
bare by later erosion; but the sheets are not especially laccolithic in form, and moreover the 
disturbed structure of that region makes it possible that diastrophic forces as well as the pressure 
of the rising magma had to do with the opening of underground fissures for the deep-seated 
intrusions; and in such case these phenomena would fall into a different category from that 
which includes the typical laccoliths of the undisturbed Henry Mountains district. It is true 
also that Gilbert's explanation of his laccoliths in terms of the hydrostatic law requires, as he 
candidly stated, the assumption that the present relation of densities in laccolithic and volcanic 
rocks should have been reversed when those rocks were molten and before the volcanic rocks 
in particular had lost a large share of their originally included gases; and this assumption has 
not yet been verified. But if a thinker like Gdbert found value in the assumption, that is a 
good and sufficient reason for presenting it as a part of his theory of laccoliths; yet, such pres- 
entation is rarely if ever found. 


As to the second point — the control of the diameter and domelike form of laccoliths — Dana's 
explanation in his review is that, as the lighter magmas are the least fusible, viscosity becomes 
dominant in determining the form that they assume ; they are " easily chilled and thicken greatly 
in the upper part of narrow fissures or of volcanic conduits, and it is for this reason that they 
have so often made steep sided domes over subaerial vents." This point is somewhat more fully 
treated in the latest edition of his Manual : 

The thickness [of intrusions] depends somewhat on the fusibility of the rock, the more fusible kinds making 
extended masses or sheets, and the less fusible producing thicker and more bulging forms. . . . The breadth of 
the [laccolithic] mass is consequently only three to seven times greater than the height. 5 

Here the implication is clearly made that the magma of a laccolith begins to thicken ver- 
tically as soon as it turns to spread laterally, as if its viscosity were so great that its upward 
pressure could not be readdy turned into a lateral or horizontal pressure. But if a domelike 
form is thus early assumed, the sharp bending of the domed strata could be accomplished only 
at a great mechanical disadvantage, for in such case the strata above the dome would have to 
be strongly up-arched whde the laccolith is still small ; moreover, the strata over the center of 
a completed laccolith, which has a nearly flat-topped dome, are very little arched. Hence, on 
the assumption of a viscous magma which begins to thicken as it begins to spread, the strata 
over its center must be first up-arched and afterwards flattened again. Such a doing and undoing 
is conceivable, but it does not seem probable. 

Furthermore, the assumption of a viscous magma overlooks or sets aside the evidence that 
convinced Gdbert of the effective fluidity of the magma; more serious still, this explanation 
neglects the observed facts of the Henry Mountains which indicate that full-sized thin sheets 
were formed before their thickening into domelike masses was begun; and most unfortunately 
of all, it takes no adequate account of the mechanics of doming, and nowhere recognizes the 
pertinent principles that " the rigidity or strength of a body is measured by the square of its 
linear dimensions, whde its weight is measured by the cube," and that "a small laccolite [of 
fluid lava] can not lift its small cover, but a large laccolite can lift its correspondingly large 
cover" (97). Gdbert alone has considered these essential elements of the laccolith problem. 

Fortunately, however, Dana made a nearer approach to GUbert's view on the next page of 
his Manual: "As Mr. Gdbert states, the intrusion of the lava laterally into a chamber widened 
the area of pressure, and thus enabled it, on the principle of the hydrostatic press, to accomplish 
the lift by very slow steps of progress" ; but even this does not recognize the mechanical advantage 
that a sheet of large diameter has over a sheet of smaU diameter beneath a given thickness of 
cover in raising the overlying strata and thickening itself into a domelike mass; nor is recognition 
given to the remarkable confirmation for Gdbert's theory that is found in the increase of the 
diameters of laccoliths with depth. 

. , im~— 

I Manual of Geology, 4th ed., 1895, 301. 



The validity of Dana's assumption that viscosity is the cause of laccolithic doming may be 
next examined. As above noted, this assumption takes no account of the narrow dikes above 
the laccoliths and of the thin sheets around them, although both these classes of intrusions result 
from the immediate entrance of the laccolithic magma into cracks and splits that appear to have 
been produced by strains in the overlying strata, not at the first stage of sheetlike spreading 
but later, when the domelike form of the central mass was eventually assumed. Hence the 
magmas of the Henry Mountains laccoliths must have preserved their fluidity all through the 
period of their intrusion in the presence of the great superincumbent pressure under which they 
were intruded, even though the same magma might be somewhat viscous in surface eruptions. 
Moreover, serious mechanical difficulties are involved in the assumption that laccolithic intu- 
mescence went on pari passu with lateral spreading; for in that case it must be believed that 
the up-arching of a small area of overlying strata by the direct upward push of the fluid magma 
was easier than the radial extension of the magma in a thin sheet, as a result of a hydrostatic 
change in the direction of the push from vertical through the conduit to lateral between the 
inclosing strata. A magma must have been extremely viscous to act in this way. When it is 
recognized that the production of a small arched dome by upward magmatic pressure in a 
series of horizontal strata 2 miles thick is accomplished at a great mechanical disadvantage 
as compared to the production of a flat-topped dome of much larger horizontal radius in the 
same thickness of strata, and when it is remembered that the laccolithic magma behaved 
essentially like a fluid in filling all available cracks and splits, it ought to be understood that this 
same magma, when "solving the problem of least work," would have avoided the difficult 
task of producing a small arched dome and would have chosen the easier task of extending 
itself laterally in a thin sheet before beginning to thicken in a flat-topped dome. In other 
words, a magma which was fluid enough to form narrow dikes and thin sheets at a late stage 
of its intrusion, could not have been viscous enough at an early stage to persist in upward 
pressure when a lateral escape was opened; it must have then been mobile enough to change its 
upward pressure into a horizontal thrust at the level of laccolith formation. 


Finally, the facts recorded by Gilbert prove that in certain cases the laccolithic magma 
did actually begin its lateral movement by spreading horizontally between the strata in com- 
paratively thin sheets which caused small uplift, and that the formation of flat-topped domes 
was not undertaken until the sheets had acquired a considerable area. Of prime importance 
here is the evidence given by the Howell laccolith, which has a depth of only 50 feet in a breadth 
of over 2,000 feet; and yet even this sheetlike laccolith is critically distinguished from normal 
intrusive sheets by a sudden thinning at the margin: 

In place of the tapering wedge which usually terminates intrusive sheets, there is a blunt, rounded margin, 
and the lava scarcely diminishes in depth in approaching it. The underlying strata, locally hardened to sand- 
stones, lie level; the overlying curve downward to join them, and between the curved strata is interleaved [ex- 
terior to the laccolith] a curved lava-sheet. In all these characters the intrusive body is affiliated with the typical 
laccolites, and distinguished from the typical sheets (34, 35). 

Surely if a "curved lava sheet" could have been intruded exterior to the margin of a lac- 
colith, where the cooling of the magma must have been greatest, and yet could even there 
have had tapering edges and a much less maximum thickness than 50 feet, the intrusion of 
such a curved sheet contradicts the assumption that the magma of a laccolith, even at the center 
of its supply where it must have been hottest, was so stiffly viscous as to bend up the heavy 
overlying strata almost as much as it bent its own motion. 

Indeed, the possibility that the magma was viscous is hardly referred to in Gilbert's analysis; 
it is always described as a fluid which obeyed the hydrostatic law, and this conception was 
clearly not a gratuitous assumption but a well-reasoned conclusion, based on such facts and 
inferences as have just been presented. For example, in the final summary, entitled "History 
of the Laccolite," the explicit statement is made: 

academy of sconces] POWELL'S SURVEY 95 

The station of the laccolite being decided [namely, when lavas . . . reach the zone in which there is 
the least hydrostatic resistance to their accumulation], the first step in its formation is the intrusion along a 
parting of strata, of a thin sheet of lava, which spreads until it has an area adequate, on the principle of the 
hydrostatic press, to the deformation of the covering strata. ... So soon as the lava can up-arch the strata 
it does so, and the sheet becomes a laccolite (95). 

Twenty years later, Gilbert quoted another writer's view that viscosity is " an essential 
condition in the production of thick intrusive lenses," but added that "this theory encounters 
serious difficulty." 8 This appears to be the most explicit reference that he made to viscosity. 
In his judgment it did not seem to deserve consideration. 

It would, indeed, be extremely difficult to imagine that the upward flexing of the strata 
which cover the thin Howell laccolith began, as the assumption of a viscous magma demands, 
when the diameter of the spreading igneous mass was small, and that the flexing was then 
continued radially outward as the diameter increased; for that process of deformation would 
involve a progressive unflexing of the first-flexed central strata, in order that they should now 
lie flat on the upper surface of the intruded mass. Hence, thin as this laccolith is, its initial 
intrusion must have been thinner still; and the thickening to the present modest measure of 
50 feet, by which the upflexing of the marginal strata was caused, could not have been begun 
until the present diameter of the laccolith was reached. But it is not this exceptionally thin 
laccolith alone that furnishes evidence for the initial intrusion of thin sheets. Additional 
evidence is given by certain other laccoliths which "appear to be built up of distinct [igneous] 
layers." Even the thin Howell laccolith shows two such layers. 

The Peale. exhibits three layers with uneven partings of shale. The Sentinel shows two without visible 
interval. . . . The Pennell has a banded appearance but was not closely examined. ... It is probable that 
all the larger laccolites are composite, having been built up by the accession of a number of distinct intrusions (55) . 

Hence, as far as the Henry Mountains laccoliths are concerned, even if the magma were 
imperfectly fluid, it was fluid enough to spread in comparatively thin sheets of a considerable 
diameter before it began to thicken into domelike forms, either by its own intumescence or by 
the addition of new sheets. Viscosity may play a part in determining the form of other intrusive 
masses, especially when it is of a much higher degree than it can have been in the Henry Moun- 
tains laccoliths; and extreme fluidity as well as a relatively high density may have had to do 
with the great horizontal extension of certain thin intrusive sheets, such as the whin sill of 
northern England; but viscosity does not appear to have determined the doming of typical 
laccoliths. Gilbert evidently had good reasons for his conclusions in this problem. It must 
therefore be urged that whatever explanations may be offered for intrusions of various irregular 
forms in divers crustal structures, the explanation that Gilbert presented in the middle chapters 
of his report for the intrusion of the typical laccoliths of the Henry Mountains into the undis- 
turbed strata of southeastern Utah takes fuller account of all attendant conditions and is more 
critically and convincingly analyzed than any of its successors. The explanation may not be 
right in every particidar, but it has not yet been shown to be wrong for the laccoliths that it 
treated. It may be suggested that rate of intrusion, a factor to which Gilbert gave little atten- 
tion, may nevertheless have been of importance in determining the form assumed by the intruded 
magma. A very slow intrusion might gain a horizontal dimension much greater than the 
limited diameter of Gilbert's theory, and a very rapid intrusion might break the covering strata 
and enter therein irregularly. 

If the foregoing pages appear at first reading to be devoted more largely to the discussion 
of a peculiar geological problem than is appropriate in a biographical memoir, let it be under- 
stood that they have really been devoted to an exposition of the care with which the analysis 
of a new problem was conducted by an eminent geologist. Whatever value his analytical 
explanation of laccoliths may have in making known the true nature of the Henry Mountains, 
an understanding of the explanation is indispensable if one would know the true nature of its 
inventor. Indeed, the middle chapter of the Henry Mountains report possesses, to a degree 
that is almost or quite without rival, that clearness of treatment which became a pronounced 
characteristic of all Gilbert's later papers, and which gave him the rank of a leader among 

« Journal of Geology, IV, 1886, 821. 


American geologists. Even if that chapter has not been fully appreciated by later writers, it 
not only taught many early readers a most instructive lesson in physical geology but gave 
them their first introduction to a personality by which their own work was to be profoundly 

It may perhaps be asked why Gilbert did not himself continue the discussion of the laccolith 
problem as new examples of such structures were reported in various parts of the United States 
and elsewhere by observers who appear to have given very scanty attention to his ideas. His 
indifference may have been due in part to the increasingly petrographic aspect assumed by the 
problem as others treated it, for petrography does not appear to have attracted him; but it 
was probably due in larger part to a feeling that, as he had had his say, he preferred to turn his 
attention to other subjects and therefore left his laccoliths to work out their own destiny. In 
any case, when he was in England in 1888 and was approached by a young geologist there who 
was working on some British examples of laccolithic structures and who was anxious to talk them 
over with the original discoverer of laccoliths, the problem seemed to have lost its interest for 
him; for "he professed to have been so much occupied with other things since his Henry Moun- 
tains work that he had forgotten all about it," much to the disappointment of the young inquirer. 
This recalls his f orgetf ulness about his new interpretation of Adirondack history, as told above. 



It is safe to say that the chapter on "Land sculpture," occupying the last 50 pages of the 
Henry Mountains report, has been more generally read and apprehended than the preceding 
chapter of similar length on the conditions of laccolithic intrusion. The discussion of the 
laccolithic problem possessed, in view of the frequent use that it made of algebraic equations, 
a mathematical turn which was unattractive to many readers, and it moreover had, in view of 
the rarity of well-defined laccoliths, little relation to the experience of most geologists. On 
the other hand, the discussion of land sculpture, although penetratingly analytical, was sim- 
pler in its manner of presentation and was also of universal application. More important still, 
it was a timely chapter, for, although published less than a half century ago, it appeared at 
an epoch when only a good beginning had been made toward recognizing the operation of slow- 
acting erosional processes, not simply in furnishing detritus for marine deposition, as Lyell 
and other uniformitarian strati graph ers had taught, but also in the shaping of the surface of 
the land from which the detritus was taken, as American observers were teaching. Gilbert 
was still several years later of the opinion that the rational treatment of land forms should be 
brought to the attention of geological readers and observers, for he wrote in a preliminary report 
on Lake Bonneville: "We are unaccustomed to think of the ordinary forms of land as a work 
of sculpture, but that is none the less their origin." J The sculpturing work of erosion there- 
fore needed at that time precisely the kind of deliberative elaboration that it received in the 
Henry Mountains report. 

Powell's Exploration of the Colorado Eiver of the West and his Geology of the Eastern 
Part of the Uinta Mountains, both of which were issued shortly before the Henry Mountains 
report, had contributed valiantly toward opening the way for Gilbert's elaborate discussion of 
land sculpture, for they emphasize the conviction previously announced by Newberry that 
even the greatest of chasms was wholly the work of ordinary erosional processes. They also 
explained that the downward erosion of an " antecedent " river may be faster than the upward 
heave of a mountain range athwart its path, and they introduced, along with the excellent 
term "base level," the general principle that the long-continued action of weather and streams 
must eventually reduce any still-standing land mass, however extensive, elevated, and resistant 
it may be, to a lowland sloping very gently to the shore of its adjoining sea. Powell summar- 
ized this geological philosophy in two striking sentences: "Mountains cannot long remain 
mountains; they are ephemeral topographic forms. Geologically all existing mountains are 
recent; the ancient mountains are gone." (Uinta Mountains, 196.) He also gave some con- 
sideration to the processes by which the waves of the earth's surface, raised at a time of crustal 
storm, are slowly flattened down during a long period of crustal calm, but his analysis of this 
problem was in several respects less detailed than Gilbert's. However, Powell's explanatory 
discussions directed attention to the problems of degradation and sculpture and placed the 
scientific public in the attitude of asking for "more." Gilbert's, chapter on "Land sculpture" 
therefore found ready attention from a large circle of readers who were eagerly waiting for 
further instruction on the subject that it treated. 

It is nearly always the case that an essay such as this one of Gilbert's, clear as may be the 
treatment of its problems, gives no indication of the circumstances which prompted its com- 
position. They are revealed, however, in a letter that Gilbert wrote to a distant correspondent 
nearly 30 years later, in September, 1905. He then explained: 

My youth was passed and my early geologic studies were made [he would have called them "geological" 
at the time of their making] in a glaciated region. When I afterward studied the mountains of the Great Basin 

>U. S. Qeol. Survey, 2d Ann. Ept., 1881, 83. 


where evidence of glaciation is not ordinarily seen, I was impressed with the topographic types because they 
differed from those that I was familiar with, and I was led to study the causes of their development and write 
an analysis of land sculpture by weathering and streams. 

The increased understanding that he reached of glacial sculpture in his home district after 
he had gained an understanding of the normal processes and products of land sculpture in the 
West is alluded to in a later section. 

The famous chapter on "Land sculpture," which is expanded from a briefer statement of 
the same problem in the essay on the " Colorado plateau province as a field for geological study," 
above analyzed, offers an illustration of Gilbert's manner of thought that is both pleasing and 
edifying; and it is particularly with reference to the revelation of his inner nature thus afforded 
that the chapter is here reviewed. It exemplifies a principle which he announced later, that in 
the teaching of a science more attention should be given to its philosophy than to its material 
content; for having recognized that an understanding of sculpturing processes would lead to the 
understanding of sculptured forms, he expounded the philosophy of the elementary processes 
of erosion as well as philosophy of the evolution of land forms, and set forth both doctrines in 
the most genial and competent manner, thus elevating them to the grade of serious studies. 
For example, as to processes one may learn, under the heading of "Transportation and com- 
minution," just why it is that a river which is carrying a maximum load of detritus of varied 
texture will, when its velocity is diminished, not decrease its load by laying down a fraction of 
detritus of all textures, but by laying down only the coarsest detritus; or, in more general terms, 
why it is that when a river is accelerated it will successively select coarser and coarser detritus 
to take up; while when it is retarded, it will select first the coarsest and then successively the 
less and less coarse detritus to be laid down (107). Similarly, clear explanation is offered on 
sufficient physical grounds for the fact that "in any river system which is fully supplied with 
material for transportation [as a river system usually is at time of flood] and which has attained 
a condition of equal action [at present often denoted by the term, grade, which Gilbert himself 
later introduced], the declivity of the smaller streams is greater than that of the larger" (114). 
These facts were, 50 years ago, already familiar enough as matters of observation, yet few 
students of earth science then — -and perhaps now also, for that matter — concerned themselves 
with a critical analysis of the causes of the facts. Hence, to find their causes logically analyzed 
was a gratification to the mind of many a reader; and the gratification thus excited was soon 
transmuted into gratitude toward the author of the analyses. 

It was the same with the discussion of land forms as the result of erosional or sculpturing 
processes upon crustal masses. Many matters that were familiar enough as facts of occurrence 
were systematically formulated, greatly to the advantage of the study of the physical geogra- 
phy — or the "physiography," as it was later called — of the lands. Following Powell's lead in 
his Colorado River report, it was shown in the first place that the rock structure of a land mass 
is a fundamental factor in the determination of its sculptured form ; and here was given the 
warrant, if indeed warrant were needed, for the introduction of "structure" as the first term 
in the explanatory description of land forms by those physiographers to whom a rational 
treatment of their subject is preferred over an empirical treatment. It was next shown that, 
supplementary to the "law of structure" is the "law of divides," according to which a 
homogeneous mass will come to have its steepest slopes at the stream headwaters and its gen- 
tlest slopes at their mouths. Under these two laws, "the features of the earth are 

carved The distribution of hard and soft rocks or the geological structure, and the 

distribution of drainage lines and water-sheds, are coefficient conditions on which depend the 
sculpture of the lands. . . . The relative importance of the two conditions is especially 
affected by climate, and the influence of this factor is so great that it may claim rank as a 
third condition of sculpture" (116, 117). In this way Gilbert made approach to certain matters 
of detail, the explanation of which not only exemplified the unexpected interaction of several 
additional factors, but also illustrated the importance which comparatively small topographic 
features had for this master of observation and analysis. No wonder that his discussion, 
clear, logical, judicious, timely, "soon became the great classic among students of geomor- 



The detailed features to be discussed under "Sculpture and climate" were the sharp crests 
of certain summits as contrasted with the rounded crests of other summits of similar structure 
in the Henry Mountains; and the contrast was shown to depend initially on altitude; for 
altitude increases rainfall, rainfall increases vegetation, and vegetation increases the retention 
of weathered detritus. Hence the lower crests, where rainfall is small and vegetation is lack- 
ing, are sharp; while the higher crests, on which rainfall is somewhat more plentiful and 
vegetation is encouraged, are soil cloaked and round. This was one of the topics which was 
well thought out in the field; for it was noted on October 27, 1876, under the heading, "Moun- 
tain sculpture & climate": 

The mts which lift the largest masses highest get most moisture. This stimulates vegetation & thereby 
aids disintegration (weathering) & hinders transportation. The result is a smoothness of slope & contour as 
compared with lower, smaller mts. In general, the other conditions of erosion being the same, aridity tends to 
ruggedness, to canons, to pinnacles. 

The report next takes up a discussion of bad-land forms carved in homogenous soft rocks, 
where the law of divides leads to the expectation that the minutely subdivided crests shoidd 
have angular cross profiles; but it was noted that as a matter of fact the profiles just over the 
crests are round. 

Evidently some factor has been overlooked in the analysis, — a factor which in the main is less important 
than the flow of water, but which asserts its existence at those points where the flow of water is exceedingly 
small, and is there supreme (123). 

It is curious to read here that "some factor has been overlooked," in view of an explanatory 
entry in a field notebook on the same date with the extract last quoted. The entry concerns 
"any process which penetrates from the surface of a solid," and opens with the statement: 
"I think I have solved the problem of the rounding of the crests of the bad-land ridges"; 
then after a page of general considerations it reads.: " Where the surface is convex there is 
greater penetration than where it is plane; and where it is concave, these is less. ... It is 
under this action that angular blocks of crystalline rocks (& others) become round by simple 
weathering, without attrition." A significant application of this principle follows: 

Now what is the action which penetrates in the case of bad-lands? It is weathering. It is the action of 
water in dissolving, in decomposing, in expanding (either with or without frost) the shale & thus disintegrating 
it and preparing it for transportation. Thus in badlands, transportation and corrasion are tending to produce 
angular forms & weathering opposes their production. The action of weathering is most potent where the 
deviations from a plane is greatest [that is, along the convex crest of a divide]. Angularity is greatest where 
erosion is most rapid [that is, along the sharply incised channel of a rain-water rill]. 

This explanation would seem sufficient to most students of land forms; but perhaps Gil- 
bert's failure explicitly to recognize "soil creep" as an effect of weathering — a process which 
Lesley had recognized and explained 20 years before — left hhn dissatisfied with it. In any 
case he certainly showed great conscientiousness if, after getting so "warm," he still felt that 
the rounding on the crests of bad-land divides needed further examination. He returned to 
this subject 30 years later in an article on " The convexity of hilltops," 2 and explained it fully on 
the basis of observations made on the uplands of the Sierra Nevada. He might have at the 
same time adduced examples of extremely sharp crests in the plant-covered ridges of certain 
volcanic islands in the tropical seas, like Oahu and Tahiti, where the rainfall is so heavy that its 
action is far in excess of soil creep; as a result the slopes on the two sides of a ridge increase in 
steepness upward until they meet in an extraordinarily acute edge, and thus warrant the "law 
of divides" fully. But Gilbert's experience even in the wettest parts of the Henry Mountains 
and the high plateaus was with only a moderate rainfall; so moderate that instead of producing 
acute-edged ridges like those of the tropical islands just mentioned, it favored the production 
of rounded crests and summits in the manner stated in the first paragraph of this section. 

' Journ. Geol., xvii, 1909, 344-350. 

100 GEOVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [UEilol *\xoTxxi, 


Several other topics are treated so effectively and withal so pleasingly that they deserve 
statement in brief form. "Planation" is explained as the result of lateral shifting by a stream 
which has reduced its slope to so low a declivity that its capacity for transporting load is bal- 
anced by the load it receives to be transported; it then swings from side to side, beveling off 
the underlying strata whatever their attitude in a gently inclined plain; plains of this kind, 
veneered with laccohthic gravels, being frequently seen around the Henry Mountains. An 
explanation of the structure of flood plains is added which merits attention: In consequence 
of the lateral shifting of a balanced stream, " every part of the valley which it has crossed in 
its shiftings comes to be covered by a deposit which does not rise above the highest level of 
the water. . . . The deposit is of nearly uniform depth, descending no lower than the bottom 
of the water channel, and it rests upon a tolerably even surface of the rock or other material 
which is corraded by the stream" (127). A corollary of this explanation gives correction to 
an error earlier made by an eminent American geologist, who supposed that "river terraces 
in general are the records of sedimentation, when in fact they record the stages of a progressive 
corrasion. . . . There is a kindred error . . . involved in the assumption that the streams 
which occupied the upper and broader flood-plains of a [terraced] valley were greater than 
those which succeeded them. ... Of the same order is the mistake, occasionally made, of 
ignoring the excavation which a stream has performed, and assuming that when the upper 
terraces were made the valley was as open as at present, and the volume of flowing water was 
great enough to fill it." A diagram is introduced showing Gilbert's own idea of valley-side 
flights of terraces, each step being carpeted with a flood-plain deposit lying on an eroded sur- 
face of the mass in which the cutting and depositing river excavated its terraced valley; and 
here the comment is added: "The pre-existent material in the region of the Henry mountains 
is always rock in situ, but in the Northern States it often includes glacial drift, modified or 
unmodified" (132, 133). It surely required an unusual capacity for seeing and t hinkin g to 
develop ideas so novel and so just as these. 

In connection with the wandering of streams down the radial slopes of their alluvial cones, 
reference is made to Blake's early observations regardmg the effect of the Colorado delta in 
cutting off the upper end of the Gulf of California, the severed end of the gulf having been later 
evaporated to dryness so that its depressed floor now forms the Colorado desert. 

Its bottom, which is lower than the surface of the ocean, is strewn with the remains of the life its waters 
sustained, and its beaches are patiently awaiting the cycle of change which is slowly but surely preparing to 
restore to them their parent waters (135). 

This passage is quoted here in order to introduce an item of 15 years later date, predestined 
by the intimacy that was formed between Gilbert and Powell in the Henry Mountains epoch. 
In 1905 when the misbehaving Colorado River was turning part of its flood waters into the 
depressed desert, as if striving to verify Gilbert's prediction, he confessed to a friend his share 
in the authorship of an article, written in Washington in 1891 and published over Powell's 
name, on a part of the desert known as the Salton Sink. The confession explains the circum- 
stances of attending the composition of the article as follows: 

Powell sent for me one afternoon and said he had been asked to write on the Salton Sea; he had already 
written twice and could not write again without repeating; he could not turn the invitation over to me because 
the publishers wanted his name; if I would write he would share the spoils with me. I had my stenographer 
come to my house and dictated the article that evening. [Let the reader note that survey time was not infringed 
upon]. Powell added two paragraphs next morning and it went off before night. My share was fifty dollars, 
which made me happy. I have just reread the article . . . and it seems to me to check up by modern history 
remarkably well. Of course it is Powell's article, so far as any references in print are concerned — and I think 
I wrote it with exceptional freedom because he instead of I was to be responsible. 

If any punctilious readers feel a bit scandalized by this performance of a man so irreproach- 
able as Gilbert, let them remember the pious fraud perpetrated by the equally impeccable 
William James. He was one evening attending to the illustrations of a lecture at Harvard on 
a physiological subject by a visiting professor from Johns Hopkins; a lever touching the pulse 

academy o F Sciences] POWELL'S SURVEY 101 

of some small animal was to be magnified by projection upon tbe lantern screen so as to exhibit 
heart beats to the audience. Unfortunately, something interfered with the mechanism at the 
critical moment and the lever shadow remained stationary, until James himself gave it a series 
of gentle periodic touches, whereupon the words of the lecturer were admirably verified by the 
pulsating shadow; and as James remarked afterwards, "The audience was entirely satisfied." 
So, it may be assumed, was the reading public in the other case. 


Of much greater importance than these small matters is the law of the interdependence 
of drainage lines, which is certainly one of the most beautiful of Gilbert's generalizations. 
Given "the tendency to equality of action, or to the establishment of a dynamic equilibrium" 
in the streams of a well-dissected land surface, it must come to pass that every valley-side slope 
will be — 

a member of a series, receiving the water and the waste of the slope above it, and discharging its own water 
and waste upon the slope below. If one member of the series is eroded with exceptional rapidity, two things 
immediately result: first, the member above has its level of discharge lowered, and its rate of erosion is thereby 
increased; and second, the member below, being clogged by an exceptional load of detritus, has its rate of erosion 
diminished. The acceleration above and the retardation below, diminish the declivity of the member in which 
the disturbance originated; and as the declivity is reduced the rate of erosion is likewise reduced. But the 
effect does not stop here. The disturbance which has been transferred from one member of the series to the 
two which adjoin it, is by them transmitted to others, and does not cease until it has reached the confines of 
the drainage basin. For in each basin all lines of drainage unite in a main line, and a disturbance upon any 
line is communicated through it to the main line and thence to every tributary. And as any member of the 
system may influence all the others, so each member is influenced by every other. There is an interdependence 
throughout the system (124). 

How alive, how organic a landscape becomes when the truth of this extraordinary principle 
is realized. How infinite the patience of the processes by which the orderly interdependence of 
slope lines is established. And when once established, how persistent is the interdependence 
in the further progress of degradation, as long as no crustal or climatic disturbance intervenes. 

As if to illustrate the manner in which the interdependence of drainage lines is evolved, 
several pages are devoted to classifying streams according to their origin and to explaining the 
changes that they and their divides afterwards suffer by reason of reactions between external 
erosion and internal structure. Many examples of such changes are taken from the Henry 
Mountains district. It was indeed from these pages that most American students of land 
sculpture gained their first introduction to the fascinating problem of river "abstraction" or 
capture, a subdivision of the rational treatment of rivers that has been much advanced in later 
years, largely because of the great impulse that Gilbert gave to it. It should therefore be under- 
stood that his analysis of the conditions by which river courses are established in their initial 
stage and by which they are diverted or shifted in their later stages of development, although 
incomplete, shows that he apprehended even more fully than Powell the responsibility of the 
physiographer to give a reasonable account of drainage systems, as well as of land forms. Physi- 
ographers were soon united in feeling their great indebtedness to him and in striving to learn 
and to apply the principles that he taught. 


It is instructive to trace Gilbert's progress in the matter of stream terminology. Attention 
has already been called in the review of his early Maumee Valley study to the fact that he 
considered the origin of stream courses as a problem for investigation; he there explicitly noted 
that "the smaller streams follow and indicate the slopes," and that the larger ones are guided 
by the morainic ridges; but he proposed no genetic name for streams of this kind. Again, it 
has been noted in the review of his two reports for the Wheeler survey, that he there, while 
using such a term as monoclinal valley appropriately enough, employed no systematic series of 
descriptive or genetic terms to indicate the origin of river and valley courses. The same is 

102 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoirs [vol™xi; 

true of the first 50 pages of the Henry Mountains report, in which the manifestly consequent 
radial drainage of certain laccolithic domes is described without any genetic term by which to 
name it: 

The drainage of Mount Ellsworth is from the center of the dome outward. A half dozen drainage-lines 
originate in the high crests and pass outward through the zone of upturned strata. Lower down the interspaces 
are divided by others, and when they reach the circling escarpment of the Vermilion sandstone their number 
is fifteen (25, 26). 

It might perhaps be inferred from Gilbert's failure to introduce here a systematic termi- 
nology for stream courses of different kinds, that terminology did not greatly interest him; yet 
some years later he spoke with much satisfaction of the advantage that had come from his 
invention of the term "laccolite." Indeed, even for streams, he used a systematic terminology 
when it came fully to his attention; for in the final chapter on "Land sculpture," Powell's terms, 
consequent, antecedent, and superimposed are adopted, and it is then concisely said: 

The drainage of the Henry Mountains is consequent on the laccolitic displacements. . . . The drainage 
system of Mount Ellsworth is more purely consequent than any other with which I am acquainted (144, 145). 

Again, the drainage of the greater arch of Mount Holmes, which still preserves its covering 
strata, is described as "consequent upon the structure"; that is, on the dip of the up-arched 
strata; and the successive stages of its development are pleasingly outlined: 

When it was first lifted it became a drainage center because it was an eminence; and afterwards it remained 
an eminence because it was a drainage center. When in the progress of denudation its dikes were exposed, their 
hardness checked the wear of the summit and its eminence became more pronounced (147). 

Gilbert's final adoption of "consequent" and its associates of Latin origin in the sense above 
indicated was evidently the result of conference with Powell, by whom they had been announced 
two years before in his Colorado River report. It is of interest to note in this connection that, 
of the two sets of terms which Powell introduced, one of Greek derivation, embodying an empi- 
rical relation of streams to structures, and the other of Latin derivation, indicating a genetic 
relation of streams to structures, Gilbert, familiar with both, preferred the latter. His famil- 
iarity with the first set is shown in a notebook entry of September 20, 1876, a year after the Colo- 
rado River report was published. During an ascent of one of the laccolithic mountains on that 
date it was recorded that the horses were left at a certain point, beyond which the party " trav- 
eled all the way cataclinal, the dip being 7° by guess & our course inclining 20°"; but excepting 
"monoclinal," the other terms of this set were not elsewhere employed. As to the terms of the 
other set, they appear to have been familiar at least a year earlier, for a note under date of 
July 12, 1875, uses both " antecedent" and " superimposed." In view of this it is surprising that 
" consequent" was used the same year in a sense altogether different from that which Powell had 
given to it, as the following narrative account will show. 


It will be remembered that Gilbert first approached the Henry Mountains in the summer 
of 1875 from the west, and that on the way he crossed the greatly degraded east-dipping mono- 
cline of the long Waterpocket flexure, which trends about north and south. In the northern 
part of its length the flexure is traversed by the east-flowing headwaters of Dirty Devil River, 
which in its farther course flows around the mountains on the north and east to the Colorado; 
but the southernmost 30 miles of the flexure are followed by a continuous longitudinal valley, 
excavated along a belt of weak shales between the rising roll of underlying sandstones on the 
west and the escarpment of overlying sandstones on the east. This valley which Gilbert 
describes in his report as the longest monoclinal drainage line with which he is acquainted — 

here bears the name of Waterpocket cafion . . . The upper part of the canon is dry except in time of rain, but the 
lower carries a perpetual stream known as Hoxie Creek [which flows directly to the Colorado]. Whatever may 
have been the original meanderings of the latter they are now restrained, and it is limited to the narrow belt in 
which the shale outcrops. As the cafion is worn deeper the channel steadily shifts its position down the slope of 
the underlying . . . sandstone, and carves away the shale. But there is one exceptional point where it has not 


done this. When the bottom of the canon was a thousand feet higher the creek failed, at a place where the dip of 
the strata was comparatively small, to shift its channel as it deepened it, and began to cut its way into the mas- 
sive [underlying] sandstone [on the west]. Having once entered the hard rock it could not retreat but sank 
deeper and deeper, carving a narrow gorge through which it still runs making a [3-mile] detour from the main 
valley (137, 138). 

The main monoclinal valley has been weathered and washed out along the streamless inter- 
vening space to almost the same depth as farther north and south where the creek runs. Such 
is the origin of the little Horseshoe Canyon, figured in an upstream or northward view on page 138 
of the report. 

Now if the drainage of this flexure were stated in accordance with the present terminology 
of stream and valley lines, the headwater branches of the Dirty Devil where they cross the 
flexure would, like the radial streams of Mount Ellsworth, be called consequent; and Hoxie 
Creek, manifestly developed by the headward erosion of a branch of the Colorado along the belt 
of weak shales in the great flexure, would be called subsequent, except that its detour through 
Horseshoe Canyon might be described as having been locally superposed by planation during 
a time of wandering in a late stage of a former cycle of erosion — probably the cycle that preceded 
the current cycle of canyon incision. But Gilbert did not use these terms. The terminology 
that he employed is best understood by reviewing the earlier stages in his treatment of stream 
and valley lines. 

His first stage is found in the Wheeler reports, where certain valleys that follow the strike 
of weak strata were in some cases at least given the empirical or structural name of monoclinal 
valleys, as has been already told. A second stage was reached after he joined the Powell survey, 
when, curiously enough, he used "consequent" in a peculiar sense in a notebook, under date of 
August 18, 1875; after giving a brief account of Horseshoe Canyon and another but smaller 
detour of Hoxie Creek he wrote : 

It is a strange watercourse, consequent (following a mono) for most of its course, but inconsequent in two 

That is, he regarded the main course of the creek as " consequent " not upon the initial slope 
of the great flexure but upon the monoclinal belt of weak shale laid bare between the overlying 
and underlying sandstones; and the two detours were regarded as "inconsequent" because 
they departed from the monocline. Such a terminology was perfectly consistent within itself; 
but it was peculiar in leaving its first term without explanation, although an explanation for its 
second term — superposition by planation — was suggested in the final report. 

A third stage of treatment in terminology exhibits progession in certain respects, and 
retrogression in another. It is found in the Henry Mountains report, where Powell's terms 
are adopted as already noted. Here "consequent" is employed, as quotations given above 
clearly show, for streams that still follow courses originally determined by the initial slope of 
a deformed land surface, like that of a laccolithic arch or a monoclinal flexure, and this was a 
forward step ; but singularly enough no term is introduced to express the other relation between 
stream and structure previously attached to "consequent" in its notebook meaning, and this 
was a backward step. Thus while Gilbert did not commit the positive error made by Powell 
earlier and by Dutton later of naming a monoclinal stream like Hoxie Creek "antecedent," 
he unfortunately overlooked the descriptive use of "subsequent" in an account of the erosional 
origin of monoclinal streams by Jukes 15 years before, and he committed the negative error 
of not inventing any other genetic name for streams and valleys of this class. The reason for 
this omission appears to be that subsequent streams like Hoxie Creek had not run across his 
path frequently enough to hold his attention upon them. It is true that the subsequent .mono- 
clinal ridges and divides, the converse of subsequent monoclinal valleys and streams, which 
encircle a number of the Henry Mountains domes, were seen, described, explained, and named, 
but the little subsequent valleys between the ridges and the domes were not especially con- 
sidered, as will appear from the following passages in the report. 



In association with the above citation concerning the radial streams of Mount Ellsworth, 
Gilbert wrote: 

It is usually the case, where the strata which incline against the flank of a mountain are eroded, that the 
softer are excavated the more rapidly, while the harder are left standing in ridges; and an alternation of beds 
suitable for the formation of a ridge occurs here. One of the upturned beds is the massive Vermilion Cliff sand- 
stone, and beneath it are the shales of the Shinarump group. By the yielding of the shales the sandstone is 
left prominent, and it circles the mountain in a monoclinal ridge. But the ridge is of a peculiar character, and 
really has no title to the name except in the homology of its structure with that of the typical monoclinal ridge. 
It lacks the continuity which is implied by the term "ridge." 

Then follows the passage already quoted regarding the 15 radial streams, after which it 
is added: 

Each of these cuts the ridge to its base, and the effect of the whole is to reduce it to a row of sandstone 
points circling about the mountain. Each point of the sandstone lies against the foot of a mountain spur, as 
though it had been built for a retaining wall to resist the outthrust of the spur. Borrowing a name from the 
analogy, I shall call these elementary ridges revet-crags, and speak of the spurs which bear them as being revetted 

Evidently, the little subsequent valleys which head against each other in short pairs behind 
the prominent revet crags were not conspicuous enough to be worth naming. 

The same conditions obtained around Mount Pennell, although the ridge is there more 



The Gate sandstone has been worn away nearly to the foot of the slope, and forms a monoclinal ridge circling 
about the base. The ridge is interrupted by a number of waterways, and it sends salients well up upon the flank, 
but it is too continuous to be regarded as a mere line of revetments (36, 37). 

Yet nothing is here said of the monoclinal valleys that the successive arcs of the encircling 
ridge inclose. Although all such monoclinal valleys were understood to be excavated along 
belts of inclined shales, it was not explicitly stated that their excavation was accomplished 
by the headward erosion of wet-weather branches of the radial streams; nor was it noted that 
each radial stream therefore has a pair of such branches mouthing opposite each other, and 
that each monoclinal depression back of a revet crag has a pair of such branches heading against 
each other. 

It thus seems that the failure to give more explicit consideration to the short monoclinal 
subsequent valleys around the Henry Mountains domes led also to leaving Hoxie Creek and its 
30-mile monoclinal valley unexplained; both when it was earlier called "consequent" and 
when it was later bereft of a genetic name. And yet its explanation was unconsciously pre- 
pared for in two well-considered statements; one regarding the tendency of waterways to 
follow weak belts, and the other regarding the processes by which this tendency is realized. 
As to the first it is said: 

In a region of inclined strata there is a tendency on the part of streams which traverse soft beds to continue 
therein, and there is a tendency to eliminate drainage lines from hard beds. 

However/ — 

The tendency of waterways to escape from hard strata and to abide in soft, and their tendency to follow 
the strike of soft strata and to cross hard at right angles, are tendencies only and do not always prevail (135, 137). 

The second statement concerns the process by which streams are developed along mono- 
clinal belts of weak strata, and for which full explanation is given under the discussion of the 
instability of divides, where it is shown that: 

In homogeneous material, and with equal quantities of water, the rate of erosion of two slopes depends on 
their declivities. The steeper is degraded the faster. It is evident that when the two slopes are upon opposite 
sides of a divide the more rapid wearing of the steeper carries the divide toward the side of the gentler. The 
action ceases and the divide becomes stationary only when the profile of the divide has been rendered sym- 
metric. ... It results also that if one of the waterways is corraded more rapidly than the other the divide 
moves steadily toward the latter, and eventually, if the process continues, reaches it. When this occurs, the 
stream with the higher valley abandons the lower part of its course and joins its water to that of the lower 

academy of sconces] POWELL'S SURVEY 105 

stream. . . . There is one case which is specially noteworthy on account of its relation to the principles of 
sculpture. ... If in the course of time one of the [two parallel] streams encounters a peculiarly hard mass of 
rock while the other does not . . . the unobstructed stream will outstrip it [the obstructed stream], will encroach 
upon its valley, and will at last abstract it. . . . Thus by abstraction as well as by monoclinal shifting, streams 
are eliminated from hard rocks (140, 141). 


Yet although both tendency and process were thus explicitly treated in general terms, 
they appear to have reference chiefly to the case of equal streams in horizontal structures, 
especially in bad-land areas. Nevertheless the principles involved apply very closely to the 
case of parallel streams of unequal size that flow square across an inclined series of hard and 
soft strata, such as is exposed in the great Waterpocket flexure; for here the Dirty Devil head- 
waters represent the obstructed stream and the Colorado the unobstructed stream in Gilbert's 
supposed example; the divide between the two will be locally homogeneous in each belt of 
rocks and therefore subject to competitive erosion and shifting; but the shifting of the divide 
between the two streams will be most rapid and therefore most conspicuous in the weakest 
belts. Hence the streams of the Dirty Devil group and the Colorado may be regarded as 
constituting an actual case of competitive parallel streams, in so far as the Waterpocket flexure 
is concerned; and the fact that they cross it in opposite directions, the first with and the 
second against the dijp of the flexure, only gives the greater advantage to the latter. 

When this great flexure was upwarped with a maximum displacement of 7,000 feet, a host of 
small consequent streams must have run eastward down its slope ; but the Colorado was perhaps 
strong enough to run against it then as it does now. In due time a part of the divide between the 
deeply incised west-flowing Colorado and the next adjoining small east-flowing consequent stream 
on the north, much less deeply incised, must have lain across the belt of weak shales along which 
the present Waterpocket Canyon is excavated ; and as the divide was there in homogeneous ma- 
terial but much steeper on the southern or Colorado side, it must have been rapidly carried north- 
ward far enough to ' ' abstract " or divert the headwaters of the small consequent. Thereupon the 
divide between the first and second consequent streams, which had previously been essentially 
symmetrical, would become strongly unsymmetrical, by reason of the steep descent of the 
diverted first consequent in its southward subsequent course along the weak shale belt to the Colo- 
rado ; hence this divide would in its turn be carried northward until the second consequent was 
diverted; and so on, as far as the asymmetry of the divide continued. The Colorado would con- 
tinually gain, and the streams of the Dirty Devil group would as continually lose. The shale 
valley is longitudinal in relation to the trends of the neighboring ridges, monoclinal in relation to 
the great flexure that determines it, and subsequent in relation to its origin as compared with 
that of the transverse consequent valleys. Preparatory to every capture this valley would 
slowly increase in length by headward erosion. At the time of each capture, the area of the shale- 
valley drainage would be suddenly enlarged by a lassolike looping of its divide around the head- 
waters of the captured consequent, and the volume of the capturing stream would be at the same 
time suddenly increased. Thus the Waterpocket Canyon, as the actual shale valley of the 
flexure is called, and its stream, Hoxie Creek, must have been developed in true subsequent 
fashion. It may be added, however, that substantially the whole of their present length would 
appear to have been gained in an earlier cycle of erosion, preceding the present cycle of deep 
canyon incision; for Hoxie Creek must have been well established before its horseshoe detour 
could have been cut; yet the process of headward erosion is presumably still continued, for the 
waters of the next-to-be-captured consequent stream must now make a circuit of about 100 
miles, around the northern and eastern side of the Henry Mountains by the Dirty Devil and 
along their southern side by the Colorado, before reaching the mouth of the direct 30-mile sub- 
sequent valley which Hoxie Creek follows. 

When the problem is thus envisaged with the aid of hindsight, it is difficult to understand why 
Gilbert did not have the foresight to see through it. Its essential features, as far as they involve 
matters of fact, were all well known to him, for they are beautifully illustrated on the relief map 
of the region, Plate 1 of his report. Over a score of small consequent headwaters are shown to be 


still gathered in by the roundabout Dirty Devil and therefore yet to be diverted to the more 
direct subsequent course of Hoxie Creek. Gilbert must surely have been familiar with these 
details, for he had not only been much concerned in making the model from which the relief 
map was photographed, but he had previously crossed the Waterpocket flexure four times in 
different parts of its length. His first sight of it was when going eastward in August, 1875, when 
he learned to know Hoxie Creek and its horseshoe detour, as detailed in the report and described 
in abstract here. He next saw the flexure when he was returning westward some 40 miles farther 
north; his notes of September 1 record that the larger branches of the Dirty Devil there cross the 
monoclinal valley of the shale belt and cut square through the sandstone escarpment on the east; 
and that the shale valley, although continuous as a depression for a good number of miles, "is 
not a line of drainage except for short washes"; these short washes evidently being pairs of em- 
bryonic subsequent streams as now understood. The two crossings of 1876 did not yield new 
facts, but they must have made the facts previously noted more f amiliar. Nevertheless, in spite 
of the knowledge thus gained, in spite of the clear statement of the principle that streams tend 
to avoid hard strata and to abide in weak strata, announced just before the description of Hoxie 
Creek above quoted, and in spite of the clear explanation on a later page of the processes by which 
divides are shifted, no application of the principle and the processes to the facts was made in this 
particular case ; Hoxie Creek, a typical example of a subsequent stream, was therefore left without 
physiographic explanation and without genetic name. 

And yet it can not be doubted that Gilbert carried the problem of land sculpture as far 
forward as he could. His analysis of the processes concerned was carefully conducted; his 
treatment of the resulting land forms was deliberate and critical. If he did not immediately 
reach an understanding of subsequent streams and valleys, it must be that that subdivision of 
the natural history of rivers could not be successfully treated even by his penetrating intellect 
at the time of his writing. It is of course to be regretted that neither he nor Powell nor any 
other of his contemporaries was aware that, as has already been intimated, the problem had 
been successfully solved by Jukes 15 years before in his account of certain streams in southern 
Ireland, and it may be believed that if Gilbert had had what are called "the advantages" of 
more thorough collegiate instruction in the erosional chapters of dynamical geology, as that 
very physiographic subject was understood in his time, his reports would have had a greater 
number of footnote references to Jukes and other European authors than are now to be found 
in them. It is, however, also possible that such instruction in dynamical geology as was available 
in the sixties might have clogged his inquiring mind with conservative prepossessions, and that 
he might have been thus impeded rather than aided when he had to interpret new phenomena 
in a new field. But instead of vainly speculating on this might-have-been aspect of the matter, 
it is more profitable to learn a lesson from the actual facts ; namely, the absence of a competent 
explanation and of a genetic name for subsequent valleys. The chief lesson here is that progress 
in physiographic terminology, which goes with progress in physiographic interpretation, is, 
like progress in general, not accomplished all at once even by a Gilbert, for it is an evolutionary 
process; and on the other hand, that such progress is not made by minute and imperceptible 
increments but per saltum, for the advance that Gilbert made over his predecessors was notably 
great; and finally, that successive leaps of progress are separated by pauses of no progress; for 
the advance made in the Henry Mountains report was not immediately continued either by its 
author or by anyone else. This lesson is reenforced by the next. 


Inasmuch as Gdbert's adoption of Powell's river-course terminology had manifestly been 
furthered by intercourse between the two men in Washington, it is truly remarkable that 
Powell's invaluable term, "baselevel" — now preferably written as a single word, "baselevel" — 
was not also taken over, for it was conspicuously introduced and employed in Powell's Colorado 
River report; yet it occurs nowhere in Gilbert's Henry Mountains volume. The phrase "base 
plane of erosion" is used in a field note under date of July 20, 1875, but not in the report: One 
may search for the term, baselevel, in vain all through the discussion of erosional processes, 

academy 0F scENcas] POWELL'S SURVEY 107 

under such headings as declivity, transportation, and balanced action. Indeed, even the idea 
that underlies the term is mentioned only in connection with river mouths, and curiously 
enough it is usually the mouths of branch rivers in trunk rivers that are referred to, and not 
the mouths of trunk rivers in the sea. The latter relation is stated once and empirically in 
connection with the general problem of the upstream increase of river grade. 

If we follow a stream from its mouth upward and pass successively the mouths of its tributaries, we find its 
volume gradually less and less, and its grade steeper and steeper, until finally at its head we reach the steepest 
grade of all (116). 

Farther on the problem is more locally treated in connection with the drainage of the 
Henry Mountains: 

The streams which flow down them are limited in their rate of degradation at both ends. At their sources, 
erosion is opposed by the hardness of the rocks. ... At their mouths, they discharge into the Colorado and 
the Dirty Devil, and cannot sink their channels more rapidly than do those rivers (175). 

Gilbert's whole discussion of land sculpture is a "fresh-water" discussion, and Powell's 
discussion was very much the same. 

The reason for this would appear to be that both Powell and Gilbert lived and worked 
within a broad continental area, and not along its ocean borders. Although both of them 
greatly advanced the physiographic problem of land sculpture in their early reports, neither of 
them then discussed the action of the waves on shore lines. Gilbert later gave truly enough a 
most illuminating account of lake shores, as will be told below; but he never gave much atten- 
tion to continental coasts; and Powell's only concern with oceanic shore lines was of a per- 
functory kind in one of the short-lived "National Geographic Monographs." The progress 
of physiography in continental America is therefore just the reverse of its progress in insular 
Great Britain; for there, on a land fragment where, as one may say, it is hardly possible to 
escape the sound of the surf, the work of rivers was relatively neglected and the sculpture of 
inland escarpments as well as the excavation of interior lowlands was long attributed to marine 
action; while here, in a continent so broad that the very existence of an ocean may be forgotten 
while the problems of the vast interior are considered, the importance of river action was more 
fully recognized, and naturally enough the action of ocean waves on continental coasts at the 
same time was relatively overlooked. 

The absence of the important physiographic factor, time, from Gilbert's reports is more 
perplexing. He must have known perfectly well that the existing conditions of drainage 
systems as well as the existing forms of the land surface are the product of erosional processes 
acting upon structural masses through longer or shorter periods of time; yet his account of 
streams and of land forms is much more concerned with their existing status than with their 
evolutionary development from an earlier or initial status into the present status. It is only 
by reading between the lines that the idea of systematic change with the passage time is to be 
gathered, and even then but incompletely. The passage about stream volumes and grades 
quoted in the second preceding paragraph concerns only a maturely developed river system; 
nevertheless the law of increasing steepness upstream is, without qualification, said to apply 
"to every tributary and even to the slopes over which the freshly fallen rain flows in a sheet 
before it is gathered into rills. The nearer the watershed or divide the steeper the slope; 
the farther away the less the slope" (116). Yet this evidently holds good only for ready-made, 
full-grown drainage systems, neither young nor old. It is true that the need of much erosional 
work in the production of a systematic increase of river grade from mouth to source is intimated 
a few lines later, when it is said that such an arrangement "is purely a matter of sculpture, the 
uplifts from which mountains are carved rarely if ever assuming this form"; but the idea of 
development here intimated is not fully carried out. Consideration of the time factor is excep- 
tional all through the chapter on "Land sculpture." Even the possibility that rivers may 
grow old and that mountains may be worn down is presented only as an unrealizable tendency: 

It is evident that if steep slopes are worn more rapidly than gentle, the tendency is to abolish all differences 
of slope and produce uniformity. The law of uniform slope thus opposes diversity of topography, and if not 
complemented by other laws, would reduce all drainage basins to plains. 
20154°— 26 14 

108 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [M ™ olR \voZ l xxi, 

But the possibility of such reduction is at once denied: The law of uniform slope "is never 
free to work out its full results; for it demands a uniformity of conditions which nowhere exists" 

It is chiefly in connection with the balanced action of maturely graded rivers, as they 
would to-day be described, that the evolution of drainage systems and of the associated land 
forms is most directly intimated. One there finds statements like the following : 

As the soft rocks are worn away the hard are left prominent. The differentiation continues until an equi- 
librium is reached through the law of declivities. When the ratio of erosive action as dependent on declivities 
becomes equal to the ratio of resistances as dependent on rock character, there is equality of action (115, 116). 

Yet the time element is not specifically treated here. Even the beautiful generalization 
concerning the interdependence of slopes is introduced abruptly, although it is a condition 
which is only reached after an immense amount of preparatory work has been accomplished; 
for it involves not only the degradation of every cascade in all the streams, but also the oblitera- 
tion of every outcropping ledge on all the interstream slopes. The introduction is : 

The tendency to equality of action, or to the establishment of a dynamic equilibrium, has already been 
pointed out in the discussion of the principles of erosion and of sculpture, but one of its most important results 
has not been noticed (123). 

Interdependence of slopes being thus presented only as the result of a tendency, the reader 
gains little understanding of the many changes through which the tendency has been realized. 

The failure to give fuller consideration to the time element and to the changes of action and 
of form that go with it occasionally leads to minor errors. Thus it is announced under the law 
of structure: 

Erosion is most rapid where the resistance is least, and hence as the soft rocks are worn away the hard 
are left prominent (115, 116). 

Yet this statement evidently applies only in the early stages of erosional degradation, 
while the weaker structures are j 7 et to be worn down. It is reversed in the later stages, after 
the weaker structures have been worn down; for then, during the remainder of an uninterrupted 
cycle of erosion, the prominences composed of the harder strata will be worn down faster than 
the surface of the depressions already degraded on the weak strata; hence in these later stages 
erosion is not most rapid where rock resistance is least. True, the eventual degradation of 
hard-rock prominences will be much slower in the later stages of a cycle than the preliminary 
degradation of the belts of weak strata was in the early stages, but it will be faster than the 
contemporary degradation of the weak strata. Again, under "planation" it is stated that 
the "downward wear [of streams] ceases when the load equals the capacity for transportation" 
(126); and this overlooks the long continuation of a very slow "downward wear" through the 
late maturity and old age of a drainage system, as the result of an equally long continued and 
correspondingly slow decrease of "load" from its maximum value at the time of full maturity. 
Revival of erosion by renewal of uplift is also omitted from this discussion as it was from the 
Wheeler reports 


But the reader may ask, if not exclaim : Why point out these shortcomings in a study that 
had so many excellencies? The answer is: Partly to reinforce the lesson of the preceding 
section that progress is not made all at once; but even more to spur on those discouraged 
physiographers of to-day who seem to fear that their science is now completely developed, and 
that no new progress is to be expected. The same fear might have been expressed with as 
much justice when the Henry Mountains report came out, for Gilbert surely carried the formu- 
lation of physiographic laws as far as he could in the final chapter of that memorable volume; 
and his readers of that time might have regarded his contributions as a final, beyond which no 
further advance was to be expected. Yet as a matter of fact even his lesser followers have 
gradually built higher on the firm foundations that he then laid; and if their superstructure 
seems to any of them a new finality, that is only because no new Gilbert has yet arisen to show 
them where to build next. 


In the meantime, the progress made in the half century past should surely encourage our 
physiographers as they march into the future. Let them glory in the remembrance that, 
under the leadership of our western explorers, and especially under the inspiration of the 
philosophical observer who pointed out the way in which the slopes of the land must gradually 
organize themselves in a relation of interdependence under the laws of structure and of divides, 
an American school of physiography and hence of geography came to be developed. This 
school was a natural outgrowth of the impulse toward new methods of thought given by the 
exploration of a region in which underground structure and surface form were manifestly 
related. If the more recent progress of this school be less rapid than its earlier progress, that 
is only because the young geographers who entered the subject from the physiographic side 
have so seldom carried their work far forward into the human and economic aspects of the 
science; just as those who later entered it from the historic or economic sides have as a rule 
failed to apprehend the full meaning of its physiographic basis. The future development of 
scientific geography in America, the earlier stages of which profited so greatly from Gilbert's 
physiographic leadership, will depend largely on the completeness with which the whole 
breadth of the science is cultivated from whichever side it is entered. 



Gilbert's report on the Henry Mountains is one of the smallest volumes issued by any of 
the governmental surveys of its period, but its contents sufficed to give him a leading position 
among his associates. His future career as a geologist was assured. Yet for two years after 
the Henry Mountains report was issued, while he was still a member of the Powell survey, 
Gilbert's attention was largely turned from the analysis of geological problems, in which his 
native capacity delighted as much as it excelled, and directed to matters of an altogether dif- 
ferent nature. The season of 1877, from July to October, inclusive, was spent in northern 
Utah with an outfit of two men, four horses, and a wagon studying the classification of lands 
and the possibilities of irrigation. His estimates were based, as Powell very properly wrote, 
"on the experience of the [chiefly Mormon] farmers of the district, who have practised irriga- 
tion for 30 years, and have given it a greater development than can be found elsewhere in the 
United States." 

At the beginning of the season's field work on this new subject Gilbert wrote to his chief: 
I will make the circle of the Jordan valley and in it develop the alphabet of my inquiry. 

Various topics are reported upon in other letters; thus, shortly after reaching Salt Lake 
City in July, mention is made of a personal call, which was presumably suggested by Powell as 
an aid to work in the Mormon settlements: 

I have just seen Brigham Young who has not been in. the city until today. It was just after his dinner 
and he felt happy. We had a nice talk of half or three-quarters of an hour and Cannon was instructed to write 
me the letter I want — to be signed by Young. There were a dozen present, half of whom were Church Digni- 
taries, and I found in a few minutes that I was talking only nominally to Brigham, but really to his advisers. 
They talked to the point and appreciated what I was at, but he strayed as badly as Dr. Hayden. He told me 
to "tell Major Powell that if he thinks I have done anything which should prevent his calling on me, he must 
come and see me and I will prove to him that I have not." He has had a great desire to see you ever since he 
learned that a piece of bacon which Fremont threw awav and which the wolves failed to find has been recently 
discovered in a petrified condition. 

Young died later in the summer and Gilbert attended his funeral. 
Other letters bore more directly upon irrigation : 

There is a new agricultural development which may modify the classification of land. Lucerne, if once 
rooted, will grow, it is claimed, without irrigation and give each year one crop of one or two tons to the acre. 
If that is the case then a small stream carried in successive years to different tracts may establish meadows over 
a much larger area than it can permanently irrigate, and it will be proper to count as agricultural land all the 
arable land with suitable climate to which water may be carried with little reference to the quantity of water 
available. I will look into it. 

Later experience did not support this hopeful expectation. A letter dated July 18 in 
Tooele Valley, southwest of Salt Lake City, tells of good progress and adds a personal item: 

The gauging of streams, the study of beaches, and the study of recent faults go well together and make 
the greater part of my field work. I have finished Jordan, Cedar, Rush, and Tooele valleys, and for these 
valleys came at about the right time for the measurement of the w-ater. The greatest demand for water is now 
or last week, when small grains want their last watering and corn its first or second. ... I have a good outfit 
and everything goes well. Have read King's Catastrophism address ' and planned half a dozen controversial 
papers while I was reading. Perhaps Uniformitarianism is overdone in geology, but King is certainly "out" 
in the opposite direction at several points. I wonder if "massive eruptions" are not laccoliths distorted by 
pre-existent faults. 

i Clarence King. Catastrophism and Evolution (an address at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University), Amer. Nat , xi, 1877, 449-470. 



It would appear from the last sentence that the possibility of the guidance of unsymmotrical 
laccolithic intrusions by faults, which has been recently suggested as an explanation for all 
such bodies, had by no means been overlooked by Gilbert, but that its apphcation to the typical 
laccoliths of the Henry Mountains, which was included in the recent suggestion would not have 
been acceptable to him. Later in the same season he wrote to his chief from Kanab, in southern 
Utah: "I am anxious to hear all about the Nat. Acad, and the consolidation of surveys," thus 
showing that he was apprised of the movement made by Powell toward abolishing the separate 
departmental surveys and uniting all geological work of the Government in one organization, 
as was done two years later. 

The results of the season's field work in 1877 are embodied in two chapters that Gilbert 
prepared for Powell's Lands of the Arid Region (1879). One gives a methodical account of the 
"irrigable lands of the Salt Lake drainage system"; the other discusses the water supply of the 
same area in an analytical manner thoroughly characteristic of its author. It is to be doubted 
whether any other discussion of this subject in more recent years, extended as it may now be by 
longer records of rainfall and of stream flow, is so complete as Gilbert's in the way of examining 
every item of cause, every step in argument. His discussion is based on recorded variations in 
lake level and area for the 30 years following the time of Mormon settlement in 1847, on measure- 
ments of certain streams, and on various general considerations, among which the human 
agencies of farming, grazing, and tree cutting are prominent. A rise of lake surface as the result 
of an upheaving deformation of the lake bottom is definitely excluded, because any resulting 
tendency to increase of area would be counteracted by increased evaporation, unless a change 
toward moister climate occurred at the same time. Human agencies are not accepted as affect- 
ing precipitation, in spite of the widespread popular opinion to that effect; but they are thought 
to diminish evaporation and to increase snow melting and run-off by small amounts, and thus 
possibly to increase stream inflow into the lake more than it had been decreased by evaporation. 
The chief cause of lake increase was provisionally held to be climatic. The increase of lake area 
between the surveys by Stansbury at a seasonal low-water stage in 1850 and by King at a seasonal 
high-water stage in 1869, when the lake covered 1,750 and 2,166 square miles, respectively, is 
interpreted to represent an increase of 17 per cent from a mean stage of 1,820 square miles at the 
earlier date to one of 2,125 square miles at the later date; and the areal increase of 17 per cent is 
estimated to represent a 10 per cent increase of rainfall. It is then concluded that while "the 
hypothesis which ascribes the rise of the lake to a change of climate should be regarded as 
tenable ... it can claim no more than a provisional acceptance." A test of this hypothesis 
to-day is made difficult if not impossible, because the great shrinkage of lake area in recent 
years, usually ascribed to an increase in irrigation, has rendered the lake next to useless as a 
gauge of climatic change. 


The field season of 1878, lasting from July to December, was given to a task that few 
geologists would have felt themselves capable of executing: Nothing less than designing and 
executing a system of triangulation as the basis for a topographic survey of the plateau province, 
covering a part of the high plateaus in the north, the Colorado plateaus on both sides of the 
Grand Canyon farther south, and some of the adjacent basin ranges. The field party included, 
besides Gilbert in charge, Renshawe, Bodfish, Hillers, and a number of others. The geodetic 
work involved the connection of two base lines previously measured, one at Gunnison near the 
western base of the Wasatch Mountains, about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City, the other at 
Kanab, as much farther south still and close to the southern boundary of Utah; also the 
remeasurement of the latter base by an ingenious apparatus of Gilbert's own design, constructed 
under his personal supervision. A letter to the "Major" written before the party was sub- 
divided, told of "having all the new boys drilled in barometric work," running levels to connect 
barometric stations, and setting up "aparejoes" or pack saddles and half converting a skeptical 
member of the party to their utility; then of sending off one division of the party with wagon 
and pack train southward to cross the Colorado below the mouth of the Grand Canyon and 


there to turn eastward over the southern plateau to Moencopie on the line of the Echo Cliffs 
monochne; another with a 4-mule supply wagon to Kanab; and a third, of which Gilbert was a 
member, with pack train to set up signals on selected mountain tops, " the geodetic points of the 
main chain of triangles," and thence to Kanab, Moencopie, San Francisco Mountain, and back 
to Salt Lake City. Gilbert probably enjoyed this work, for it led him again over a region which 
he knew fairly well from previous campaigns, and which richly repays many visits; and more- 
over it called for an ingenious application of his mathematical capacity to field problems. But 
it led to no published report. 

Lest some readers shoidd fail to apprehend the manner in which the practical execution of a 
geodetic task departs from the theory of geodesy as presented in a textbook, an extract may be 
made from one of Gilbert's later letters to Powell, written at Kanab, October 18, 1878, regarding 
W , who was in charge of a side party 

I am afraid he is in trouble. He let go one of the men I sent with him and hired in his place a man whom 
we know to be a horse thief just escaped from the sheriff. I have sent an Oraibe Indian to warn him, but fear 
he will be too late. I start myself in the morning. . . . Shall write you from Moencopie. 

The promised letter from the last-named point was sent two weeks later : 

I have not yet seen W . He is not very far away and I have sent a scout after him. He lost no 

horses by the thief in his employ, but on the contrary, likedhim exceedingly and was much annoyed at my letter 
of warning. 

The saying, "You never can tell," might have originated with this incident. 


One of Gilbert's most aberrant interests concerned the principles involved in the determina- 
tion of altitudes by means of barometric observations, a method which was much more exten- 
sively used in the earlier years of governmental topographic surveys than it has been in later 
years after the running of many lines of accurate levels and the geodetic determination of 
many stations by the Coast and Geodetic Survey as well as by the Geological Survey in nearly 
all parts of the country. Barometric measurement of altitudes was, however, an important 
element in Gilbert's scheme of triangulation in the summer of 187S, as is shown by his mention 
of drill in barometric observation in a letter above quoted. Indeed, the subject of barometric 
hypsometry as a problem of atmospheric physics must have occupied his attention for several 
years, judging from various entries in his notebooks. One of the most significant was made 
during the first season on the Powell survey. He wrote, September 6, 1875, while in the high 

A barometric station on Musinia Plateau & another in Castle Valley would make a fine couple for an 
hourly scientific set. At the same time a set of vertical reciprocal angles would test refraction & check the 
determination of altitude. 

Three days later a supposed relation of the double daily curve of atmospheric pressure to 
the expansion and compression of the lower air associated with the single daily curve of tem- 
perature was outlined in a series of tersely stated interrogative propositions : 

While the temperature curve is convex upward, the horary [barometric] curve must be descending; while 
it is concave, ascending (?). The horary curve is highest when the increase of rate of expansion is most rapid; 
hence when the temperature curve is concave upward & has the smallest radius of curvature (?). Which of 
these two propositions is correct? Is the horary curve a first, or a second differential of the temperature curve? 
If the second proposition be true, then the radii of curvature of the two curves change signs through ra at the 
same time. In any case the horary curve of the barometer is the true datum from which to determine the mean 
temperature curve of the air column used in hypsometry. ... If one curve is a differential of another, then 
the integral curve will have a max. or min. for every point in which the dif. crosses the axis & for no other 
points. ... It is probable that the hypsometric (as distinguished from the superficial) maximum of temperature 
occurs only 2 or 3 hours before sunset — or later than that directly indicated by thermometer. 

It is not likely that a similar series of propositions is to be found in the notebooks of any 
other geologist on or off the survey staffs of those days or of any other days 

114 GROVE KAEL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoies [V N o A l!xx£ 

Gilbert himself recorded many barometer readings in connection with his notes on struc- 
ture and topography in the Henry Mountains and elsewhere, and it is to be presumed that they 
were utilized in calculating the thickness of stratified formations as well as in determining alti- 
tudes and constructing topographic maps. But he appears, judging from a passage on "Office 
work" in Powell's report for 1876-77, to have been troubled by errors in readings recorded at 
base stations by his assistants. The report states that — 

Mr. Gilbert has made a critical examination and discussion of the barometric observations extending through 
the previous years of the work, for the purpose of determining the range of error, and of detecting as far as possi- 
ble the source thereof. The result of this examination tended to show that one of the principal sources of error 
was inaccuracy in reading and recording, and for the purpose of eliminating these, [he] suggested a number of 
checks, of which the most important was the reading and recording of the two verniers of the Green barometer 
instead of a single one. The interval between the tyvo verniers is of such length that their fractional readings 
are always different, and it is practically impossible to repeat the same, error. 

The chief outcome of Gilbert's attention to this subject is a remarkable essay, "A new 
method of measuring heights by means of the barometer," the preparation of which must have 
demanded much thought and labor during the later years of his connection with the Powell 
survey; it is published in the first annual report of the national survey (the second of the series) 
after Powell became its director. It made what musicians might call a prompt "attack" by 
the immediate announcement of the essence of the plan in the very first paragraph : 

The change proposed in this paper is of a radical nature. Since the time of Laplace the formula he 
developed has formed the groundwork of all investigation and practice. ... It is here proposed to abandon 
it entirely for the greater part of hypsometric work and to substitute a new formula involving none of his con- 
stants and having but a single element in common. The new element abandons both psychrometer and ther- 
mometer and employs the barometer alone (405). 

The novelty of the method consisted, first, in the use of three barometers, two at stations 
of known altitude, as near to each other horizontally and as far separated vertically as possible, 
and the third at a point the altitude of which is to be determined; and, second, in the omission, 
as above noted, of all factors dependent on air temperature and moisture. 

The essay as a whole is very carefully prepared. After the many complicating factors of 
the general problem are set forth, the new solution is first briefly stated with gratifying direct- 
ness and then demonstrated with mathematical elaboration. The solution is in essence as 
follows: Given two stations, A and B, the altitudes of which are known, and a third station, C, 
the altitude of which is to be determined. Assume the air to be dry and of uniform temperature 
at 32°, and compute the altitudes B-A and C-A by the usual formula, thus gaining approximate 
results. Then solve the proportion in which the first three terms are known: 
Approximate B-A : true B-A :: approximate C-A : true C-A 

The value of the new solution was tested by comparing its results with those obtained by 
other methods at various places where the necessary observations were available; a series of 
tables is added to facilitate the calculations necessary in practical work. 

The whole essay shows an immense amount of conscientious labor. It closes with a beau- 
tiful "graphic table" for the ready determination of a small correction dependent on two 
"arguments," which serve as abscissas and ordinates for the correction values represented by 
a series of curves. Gilbert's comment on this handy device shows the exceptional breadth of 
his treatment: 

The graphic table is in some sense an experiment. The idea, indeed, is not novel, but it has not been 
widely applied. It appears to the writer that a similar plan might advantageously be adopted for the tabula- 
tion of factors dependent on two arguments, whenever the arguments are large as compared with the tabulated 
factor; or rather, whenever the number of digits used to express each argument is large as compared with the 
number of digits used to express the dependent factor. 

Two comments of a rather mournful turn must be made on this exceptionally ingenious 
essay. First, it appears from a chapter on the work of other hypsometricians near the close of 
the essay, in which Gilbert refers to himself only in the third person, as if to make the statement 
more impersonal, that his method was not so novel as he had at first supposed. The new 
solution "was first advanced by the writer at a meeting of the Philosophical Society of Wash- 

ac^emv 0F sciences] POWELL'S SURVEY 115 

ington in May, 1877, 2 at which time he supposed it to be novel. He has since learned that he 
was antedated in publication by no less than two hypsometers, while it is probable that a third 
also anticipated him in the conception of the idea. Nevertheless the announcement of his 
method was not devoid of novelty, for he differed radically from his predecessors in his manner 
of developing and applying the idea" (548). Second, the expense attendant upon the mainte- 
nance of two base stations and the rapid extension of lines of level and chains of triangles shortly 
after Gilbert's essay was published worked against the adoption of his method. The labor that 
he put into it has been hardly repaid by the few measurements of altitude in which it has been 
employed. Twenty years later he wrote of this work: 

The discussion . . . has been complimented, but the "new method" never got itself used. 

Reference may be made at once to a return to one phase of these barometric studies in 
Gilbert's second address as president of the Society of American Naturalists in 1886, when he 
gave a closely argued discussion on "Special processes of research," with particular reference to 
graphic devices. Among various other problems, that of the diurnal variation of the barometer 
was taken up, and Espy, the early American meteorologist who gained after death the renown 
that he should have had while living, is credited with the idea which, judging by the notes 
quoted above, Gilbert himself appears to have reached independently while he was in the high 
plateaus of Utah in 1875; namely, that the double diurnal curve of total atmospheric pressure 
is a reaction from the single diurnal curve of lower atmospheric temperature. The idea is then 
tested with negative results, for while it appears satisfactory for certain regions, it fails in other 
regions. Thus Gilbert was led to revise the hypothesis and to conclude that "the relation of 
the temperature oscillation to the pressure oscillation is less simple than the one suggested by 
Espy." 3 In case other investigators take up this elusive problem, it should be noted that 
Gilbert's assumption of a constant rate of terrestrial radiation to outer space may probably be 
modified to advantage; for such radiation should vary between the wide limits of equality to 
indirect and weak insolation at the time of the early morning temperature minimum and equality 
to direct and strong insolation at the time of the early afternoon temperature maximum. It 
may be added that Gilbert's "special processes of research" differed about as greatly from the 
research processes usually employed by the body of naturalists whom he addressed, as his 
hypsometric method differed from the methods of geological research usually employed by the 
many readers who resorted for information and inspiration to the remarkable series of essays, 
published along with his barometric essay, in the annual reports of the national survey; but if 
the geologists and naturalists who naturally have their own methods of investigation wish 
really to know the Gilbert whom they all delighted to honor, they must study his methods of 
investigation in all their variety and in all their breadth and depth. 


A report on the " Geology and resources of the Black Hills of Dakota," published by the 
Powell survey in 1880 under the apparent authorship of Henry Newton and W. P. Jenney, 
and including several supplements by experts on various subjects, deserves mention here because 
it exhibits two of Gilbert's well-marked, one might say most strongly marked, characteristics — 
generosity and acumen — for although a bibliographer, guided by the title-page only, would 
not give him credit as even part author of the volume, a biographer guided by the preface and 
the text must not fail to recognize his large share in the preparation of its first 220 pages, or 
nearly half of the whole. The story of the report is one of tragic interest. During the decades 
following the middle of the nineteenth century the Black Hills served for some 50,000 Sioux 
Indians as a cherished resort; indeed, some of them thought of it as a "final refuge" after their 
removal from farther east; but as gold was discovered in the hills in 1874 a fuller knowledge 
of their geology and resources was called for than several hasty reconnaissances of earlier years 

1 Bull. Phi], Soc. Washington, ii, 1877, 131-132. 
8 Amer. Journ. Sci., xixiii, 1887, 452-473; see 472. 


had supplied. An exploring expedition was therefore planned in 1875; and as its object was 
related "specially to the right and interests of the Sioux Indians," it was placed under the 
Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Interior Department — thus adding still another independent 
survey to a list of such organizations that was already too long. Jenney was appointed geolo- 
gist in charge and one of his assistants was Newton, whose name has already been mentioned 
as a member of the Ohio Geological Survey during Gilbert's association with it. The expedition 
set out over the plains from Cheyenne, Wyo., in May, 1875, with two companies of Infantry 
and six of Cavalry, 400 men in all, and 75 wagons, and returned there in October. 

Jenney promptly prepared a report on mineral resources, which was published in 1876 and 
republished in the volume here considered. Newton also prepared a report at once, and spent 
a considerable sum of his own money on it, but when presented to Congress for publication it 
encountered "a selfish and heartless opposition . . . springing from the fear that it would 
betray the inaccuracy of previously published descriptions of the geology of the region"; such 
was Newberry's view, expressed in a biographical sketch of his former student and associate 
at the beginning of the volume, of the rivalry and jealousy felt at that time by one governmental 
survey for another. By reason of the delay thus caused Newton returned to the Black Hills 
in 1877 to revise and extend his previous work, and especially to settle certain questions that 
had arisen while he was engaged upon his report; and while there he died of typhoid fever at 
the age of 32 years. His manuscript, chiefly in the form of a first draft, was left incomplete, 
with much erasure and interlineation. Its revision for publication was intrusted to Gilbert, 
who " therefore felt called upon to put himself, in a certain sense, in the place of the author, 
and make such emendation of form as seemed necessary to harmonize the whole." He "freely 
modified the language" in such ways as he conceived the author might have done had he sur- 
vived ; but except for a correction regarding the source of placer gold, the substance was care- 
fully preserved. 

There was, however, a section of the report on the "Structure and age of the Black Hills," 
indicated by title in Newton's table of contents but unwritten; and the whole of this section 
was therefore composed by the editor. "All the data are Newton's, and so are all the principal 
deductions except those derived from the drainage system"; these are Gilbert's and they 
are truly Gilbertian in their directness and lucidity. The main body of the report is a straight- 
forward account of the geological formations involved, beginning with the Archean and ending 
with the Tertiary and volcanic rocks; and it is worth noting that Gilbert, who in his own 
reports had followed the rule in text and in tabular statement of beginning with the younger 
or higher formations and ending with the older or lower, here appears to have followed Newton's 
preference of beginning with the oldest formations and proceeding in time sequence, even to 
the point of tabulating some of the detailed sections upside down. 


The 20-page section that Gilbert wrote is essentially a discussion of physiographic geology. 
Although it still bears Newton's title, "Structure and Age of the Black Hills," its first sentence 
reads : 

It remains to consider the origin of the topographic forms which constitute the Hills. How and when 
did the plateaus, and peaks, and cliffs, and canons, and valleys that make up its topography come into exist- 
ence? The answer to the question is, in general terms, that the rocks were uplifted, and that being uplifted 
they were by the processes of erosion worn away and carved into the forms we have seen (203). 

A restoration of the original uplift, as if unworn, was first attempted; thus reconstructed, 
it would have been a flat-topped dome, like the Uinta Moimtains or the Kaibab Plateau, of 
oval outline, 70 by 40 miles in diameter, 6,600 feet above the surrounding plains, with lateral 
slopes having declivities of from 15° to 90°, and with a total volume of 4,200 cubic miles. The 
ideal form was, however, not realized, because much erosion must have been accomplished 
during its progress, and because "upon no plausible theory of mountains can it be supposed 
that their birth-labor is other than exceedingly slow. The earthquake is but the passing pang 
that records a unit of progress; it is only by the combination of many such units, separated 

Academy of Sciences] POWELL'S SURVEY 117 

often by wide intervals of time, that the great result is accomplished" (210). If Gilbert thought 
it desirable in 1880 to write in a manner that seems to-day so elementary, it must be that 
physiographic geology has made great progress between then and now. 

In consequence of long-continued erosion, partly during, partly after, the time of uplift, 
the ideal flat-topped dome has been greatly denuded and so far unroofed over an excentric area 
of 60 by 25 mdes in its eastern half as to expose beneath the cover of the bedded rocks, originally 
nearly hah a mile in thickness, the nearly vertical quartzites and schists of the Archean, trending 
northward or northwestward and including lenticular masses of intrusive granite. In this 
unroofed area the resistant quartzites form "abrupt, dike-like ridges . . . bristling suddenly 
in peaks" (52, 58), the granites form ridges, peaks, and pinnacles; and slates are excavated 
in valleys, some of which are wide enough to constitute "beautiful expanses of treeless and 
well grassed parks" (56). It may be noted in passing that these ridges and valleys afford 
a fine illustration of what has later come to be called topographic discordance with respect 
to the scarped edges of resistant overlying limestones. A further consequence of the long- 
continued erosion is that a series of weak "Red beds," 540 feet thick, lying in an inclined 
position around the margin of the dome, are now excavated in a "Red valley," known to the 
Indians as the "Race-course," from 1 to 3 miles wide, which runs conformably between the 
stripped slope of the underlying limestones, 650 feet thick, and an encircling monoclinal ridge 
of resistant sandstones, 300 feet thick. 

The first of the two chief factors which determine mountain form, namely, the rock struc- 
ture of the mass, having been sufficiently treated, attention is turned to the second factor, 
namely, the arrangement of drainage lines. Here Gilbert's treatment of stream development 
is much the same as it was in the Henry Mountains report. Distinction is made between 
the creeks which flow radially outward from the hills on the one hand, and, on the other hand, 
the two chief rivers of the district, both branches of the Cheyenne, which flow eastward across 
the southern and northern ends of the domed strata. The creeks are first described empirically, 
with relation to the dip of the domed strata; they are called cataclinal, following Powell's termi- 
nology. They are then described genetically with relation to their origin, and called conse- 
quent. Taken together, they are held to "afford a rare example of consequent drainage"; 
the encircling monoclinal ridge is cut by them 27 times. The two rivers, running somewhat 
irregularly into and out from the encircling monoclinal ridge at the two ends of the dome, 
are not classed as antecedent, as they might at first appear to be, but as superimposed, because 
the White River beds, the uppermost of the plains strata, are found to lie unconformably on 
the next lower strata, and to contain a bed of quartz pebbles at their base, derived from the 
Archean rocks of the hills ; hence it is inferred that all the doming and much of the erosion were 
accomplished before the deposition of the White River beds ; that those beds were spread uncon- 
formably over the worn-down margin of the domed strata; and that the two rivers took conse- 
quent courses on the unconformable cover; and later, as their valleys were incised, found them- 
selves by superimposition more or less astride of the monoclinal sandstone ridge as it came 
into relief. The creeks of the unroofed Archean area might also have been classed as super- 
imposed, as they transect the quartzite ridges in sharp-cut canyons with precipitous walls (59). 
It is interesting to note that, in connection with the unconformable deposition of the White 
River beds, the phrase, "base level of erosion" appears to have been used by Gilbert for the 
first time. His chapter closes with a large generalization regarding the work of the consequent 
streams : 

The canons they have cut, and which appeal to our eyes as marvellous monuments of their industry, are 
the least of their results. Since their labor began they have demolished and removed one half of the entire 
mass of the uplift. Modest and feeble as they seem, it is their ambition patiently to toil on until no vestige of 
the Hills remains (222). 

In two respects, Gilbert's analysis of the drainage of the Black Hills calls for extension. 
First, as with the little pairs of short subsequent valleys back of the "revet crags" of the 
Henry Mountains, so with the somewhat better developed pairs of subsequent valleys that, as 
branches from the radial consequents, are extended along the weak "Red Beds" around the 


Black Hills, they are given no special name, although they are manifestly neither consequent, 
antecedent, nor superimposed. The same is true of the longitudinal and presumably subse- 
quent valleys that follow the weak schists between the quartzite ridges of the unroofed Archean 
area. Perhaps it is because most of these manifestly subsequent valleys have no streams that 
they were given no systematic names. Second, mention is made of the disagreement between 
the crest of the original dome, which as structurally restored lay near its eastern side, and the 
present divide between the east-flowing and west-flowing consequent creeks, which lies 15 or 
20 miles farther west. This is explained as the result of a displacement of the line of maxi- 
mum uplift from its original position, as if the creeks were consequent upon the first uplift and, 
thus being located antecedent to the later and more eastward uplift, held their courses across it. 

When the displacement began its summit was necessarily a divide or water-shed, from which the water 
flowed in all directions. In the absence of any disturbing cause this water-shed would remain as steadfast as 
the drainage lines all through the period of denudation. Knowing of no disturbing cause, we may assume that 
the existing water-shed in the Hills holds the same position as the original water-shed, and marks, therefore, 
the position of the summit of the uplift at the time of its inception. ... It would appear that the portion of 
the uplift which took the lead at the start was afterward overtaken and exceeded by another portion, so that 
the present summit or axis of upheaval is not the original axis of upheaval (217, 218). 

This conclusion appears to overlook the principle, announced in the Henry Mountains 
report, that steep slopes are eroded more rapidly than gentle slopes; and that an unsymmetri- 
cal divide between two streams must therefore be slowly pushed from its steeper slope toward 
its gentler slope. In a word, the shifting of divides by headwater erosion is not here considered; 
it is not mentioned even in connection with the statement that "in a few cases, [radial conse- 
quent] streams of considerable size have so far shifted their courses as to form unions with 
each other before escaping from the foot-hills, but such instances are rare"; nor is any special 
attention given to the longitudinal stream courses in the Red Valley by which such unions 
appear to have been effected. Here, as before, the moral to be drawn is plainly that, great as 
were the contributions which Gilbert made to the rational treatment of land sculpture, the 
subject was so little developed in his earlier years that even he did not develop it fully. 


During the two-year period of these divers occupations, Powell's survey would appear to 
have been conducted in a very personal manner, if one may judge by certain entries in Gilbert's 
diaries. One for February 2, 1878, reads: "Powell still owes, unpaid salary, $217.50"; and 
three weeks later: "Major Powell requests me to wait until May 1st before receiving more of 
my pay. I have now received all of my salary for 1877 except $5.00 and none for 1878. " The 
survey must indeed have been in a peculiar financial condition if it had to leave unpaid a bal- 
ance of $5 due to a valued member, who surely thereafter deserved to be called a trusting as 
well as a trusted friend of the director. It is possible that these irregularities, not to say un- 
certainties, of payment prompted Gilbert at least to consider a change to university work, for 
in his diary for 1879 a summary for the year previous, during which he had reached his 35th 
year of age, includes the following record: "Visited Providence, R. I., to talk about Profes- 
sorship, Mar. 25-27. " In view of the diversion of a large share of his attention a few years 
later from research to administration, it is open to question whether geology did not suffer 
more by his retention of a place in Government service than by his nonacceptance of a univer- 
sity position. He would have made a delightfully inspiring teacher, for his Hnppy manner 
when speaking at geological meetings in Washington was already exerting a strong influence 
over younger men, who were quick to recognize his mastery of geological philosophy; and he 
had moreover an extraordinary capacity for making difficult subjects easy by analyzing the 
successive steps and stating each one separately and clearly, so that it could be surmounted 
with facility. Surely no professor in the land would have presented his science more objec- 
tively, none would have attacked his problems in a more calm and dispassionate spirit, none 
would have presented conclusions more free from personal bias. But had he taken up uni- 
versity work he ought to have had a research professorship; and it does not appear that such 
a position was opened to him. 



The rivalry of several national geological surveys in the seventies was not creditable to the 
departmental organization of our Government. King's Fortieth Parallel survey was for a time 
one of the competitors, but as its field work was completed in 1873, it did not thereafter duplicate 
the work of other surveys. There remained the Hayden, the Powell, and the Wheeler surveys, 
which fought it out to a finish. By good fortune, a brief statement by Gilbert describing the 
climax reached in 1877 is to be found in an account of the later organized National Survey which 
he contributed to Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia for 1885: 

The duplication of plans, and the rivalries associated with it, were recognized by Congress as seriously 
prejudicial to a work which all desired to see carried forward. Various proposals were entertained from time 
to time to abolish all but one of the organizations, and to give that one exclusive possession of the field, and, 
though none of these prevailed, the corps were greatly embarrassed by the uncertainty of their tenure. Each 
was seriously tempted to make haste in publication, at the expense of thoroughness, so as to enable Congress 
and the public to appreciate that work was actually being performed by it; and each was restrained by similar 
considerations from 'the formation of far-sighted, economic plans for its future work. 

It was at this stage of the game that the National Academy of Sciences was called upon 
to suggest a way out: " Congress doubting its own ability to select from the three [surveys] the 
one best qualified to conduct the entire work finally appealed to the National Academy of 
Sciences, the official adviser of the Government in scientific matters" ; the academy recommended 
the abolition of the then existing surveys and the creation of a single United States Geological 
Survey under the Interior Department. The recommendation was adopted in 1879, and since 
then the national development of geological science has gone on apace. 

Gilbert was one of six members of the earlier surveys who were appointed to the new one 
with the title of "geologist"' at a salary of $4,000 a year. It may be added that his salary 
always remained at that figure, except during the three years, 1SS9-1892, of his service as 
"chief geologist," when it was raised to $4,250, and except also during certain later years after 
his health had failed, when he worked intermittently on a $13 per diem basis. For the first 
two years of the organization, 1879-1881, when Clarence King, previously in charge of the 
Fortieth Parallel survey, was director, and when the field of work was the "public domain" 
which lay for the most part beyond the Mississippi, only an administrative office was maintained 
in Washington, while four field divisions were established elsewhere in charge of Emmons, with 
headquarters at Denver; Dutton and Gilbert, both at Salt Lake City; and Hague, at San 
Francisco. Gilbert's division was known as the division of the Great Basin, and Lake Bonne- 
ville, the abandoned shore fines of which he had come to know in the course of his work in Utah 
under Wheeler and Powell, was his first subject of special investigation; his work upon it is 
described in the next chapter. His own explanation of this assignment, made a few years later, 
was as follows: "At the time of the organization of the survey, it chanced that there was in 
possession of the writer a considerable body of unpublished material bearing upon Lake Bonne- 
ville, and that lake was therefore selected as the first individual subject of study" in the Great 
Basin province, with the expectation that other extinct lakes would be taken up later. But in 
the spring of 1881-, Powell, succeeding King, abolished the several district divisions and created 
divisions by subjects, namely, the divisions of topography, general geology and economic 
geology, coordinate with the divisions of paleontology, physics, and chemistry; thereafter 
geographical divisions were used only as subordinate to subject divisions. 

This change in organization is also referred to in Gilbert's account of the National Survey 
mentioned above. After describing the district subdivisions that King introduced, he goes on: 



It was soon found, however, that although the districts were exceedingly large, each of them was too small 
for the satisfactory conduct of the most important investigations instituted within it. The demands of the work 
led to a practical abandonment of the lines of demarcation. It was also found that the attention of the geologist 
in charge of each division was so distracted by the variety of work he was called upon to supervise that his 
personal studies were greatly hampered. The junior assistants, exempt from the cares of administration, were 
able to push their special investigations far in advance of the complementary work undertaken by their chiefs 
and senior colleagues. The talents and acquirements that rendered the work of an individual most desirable, 
led, by qualifying him to direct the work of others, to a great diminution of personal accomplishment. The 
original subdivision of the work by geographic areas has therefore been in large part abandoned, and for it there 
has gradually been substituted a system in which the primary basis of subdivision is the nature of the work to 
be performed, and in which the body of the work placed under the direction of one assistant is not so large that 
his administrative duties make serious encroachments upon his time. 


It was probably with this happy idea of agreeably combining a moderate amount of 
administrative responsibility with a larger amount of individual scientific work that early in 
1881, Powell called Gilbert from Salt Lake City to Washington, nominally "to complete his 
report on Lake Bonneville," and on that date therefore Gilbert's service began as Powell's 
closest adviser in a great and worthy task ; but unhappily his share in that task, as well as in its 
extensions on which Powell from time to time embarked, soon required him to withdraw from 
work in the Cordilleran region; for although at about that date the work of the survey was 
carried beyond the "public domain" to which it was at first limited and extended into the older 
States, there was no corresponding increase in the appropriations. Western work already 
entered upon was sacrificed to a greater or less degree to new work in the East. The investigation 
of all the Pleistocene lakes of the Great Basin, as at first planned under King, had gone pretty 
far, for Gilbert reported soon after his return to Washington that, besides the three larger 
Plsistocene lakes, 25 of the smaller ones had been explored, although "it is probable that a still 
larger number remain to be examined;" l but no special account of the 25 smaller ones has been 
published. Under Powell the investigation of only the three larger lakes, Bonneville, Lahontan, 
and Mono, on which study was either begun or well advanced, was continued, and " the examina- 
tion of the more southerly valleys . . . the study of the brines and saline deposits, and the 
elaborate measurement of post-Pleiocene displacements" were indefinitely postponed. The 
survey as a whole was doubtless stronger under the new director than it had been before, but 
Gilbert's opportunity for personal research along lines that he wished to continue was greatly 
curtailed. In his case at least, administrative duties soon made very serious encroachments 
upon his time. Who can say whether the net result for the science of geology was a profit or a 
loss? From the date of Gilbert's return to Washington in 1881, he was continually in close 
relations with Powell, who consulted him on matters of every kind, and he continually exerted a 
wise influence on the conduct of affairs during the formative period of the survey's history. 
From that time on, his own work suffered greatly from interruptions and distractions, and an 
important share of his thought was represented in the plans and assignments announced in 
administrative reports over the director's name instead of over his own. Like other loyal 
members of the survey, ho recognized that the work of subordinates in a great governmental 
institution must go frequently, necessarily, and properly to the credit of those "higher up," 
and he uttered no word of complaint at the personal sacrifices thus called for. 


An illustration of this subordination of personal credit to institutional advantage appears in 
the first annual report of the new director, the second of the series, for the year, 1880-81, which 
contains an elaborate discussion of the use of colors on geological maps; the general choice of 
colors there presented may well be credited to Powell, but the careful elaboration of the details 
was probably the work of Gilbert. He showed himself indeed so competent in many tasks that 
he was more and more called upon to guide tilings aright; and his own work suffered in conse- 

» U. S Geol. Survey, Bull. 11, 1884, 9. 

academy of scbnces] jj g GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 121 

quence. His intention on returning to Washington was at once to complete the work on Lake 
Bonneville, but he was continually distracted by "various minor duties," as is shown by brief 
paragraphs in successive administrative records. Thus in the third annual report of the survey, 
1881-82, Gilbert states that a part of his time has been occupied with (1) maps and engravings 
of the Lake Bonneville report; (2) the manuscript of the report; (3) the report on Lake Lahontan 
by Russell; (4) the literature of the Great Basin and of other continental basins; and (5) baro- 
metric hypsometry. As to the third of these tasks, Gilbert explains that the "Sketch of the 
geological history of Lake Lahontan," published on pages 195 to 235 of the same annual volume, 
was written by Russell in camp, but that at Russell's request " the paper was revised and edited 
by me, so that I share with him the responsibility of many of the details." In spite of the work 
implied in the five tasks above named, a significant postscript shows that they were often subor- 
dinated to other duties: "My own time has largely been occupied by various minor duties con- 
nected with the general work of the office." The fourth annual report, 1882-83, tells a similar 
story: "My own time has been largely devoted to duties of a general nature connected with 
administrative work of the central office." Hence the report on Bonneville, for the completion 
of which Gilbert was nominally ordered back to Washington, was continually delayed. 

A western journey in the summer of 1883 must have been a welcome interruption of office 
work. Russell being at that time still engaged in studies that had been planned by the division 
of the Great Basin, Gilbert went out to see how the work was progressing. He left Washington 
early in June, spent a few weeks in the Bonneville area where certain supplementary observa- 
tions were needed for his own report, and then after meeting Russell at Mono Lake, on the 
desert side of the Sierra Nevada near the mid-eastern boundary of California, went farther south 
to examine the geology of the Inyo earthquake district in Owens Valley. It may be inferred 
that special attention was given during the stop at Mono Lake to the great moraines of ancient 
Sierran glaciers and the deposits left by the expanded predecessor of the present lake; for the 
single example of a moraine that reaches the Bonneville shore lines does not clearly exhibit its 
relations to the lake deposits. Five days were afterwards spent in the mountains, where Mount 
Lyell was climbed; a few statements then made concerning forms of glacial origin will be 
quoted in connection with Gilbert's work in the Sierra Nevada, 20 years later. 

On the return journey some days were again spent at and near Salt Lake City; and nearly 
a week was given for no recorded reason to a district in eastern Utah, where the Rio Grande 
Western Railway runs not far south of the great escarpment of the Book Cliffs, between the 
Green and Grand Rivers, which there approach each other on their way to unite in the Colorado. 
This must have been the occasion when Gilbert learned that the summits of the Henry Moun- 
tains, about 80 miles away to the southwest, are visible from a rise of ground a short distance 
to one side of the railway line ; for eight years later, when the excursion party of the International 
Geological Congress that had been in session at Washington was making its western circuit, 
Gilbert had the excursion train stopped in the desert not far from Green River crossing while 
he led a small number of the more active members a rapid march to the view point and back. 

The work of the following winter is stated in the fifth annual report of the survey, 1883-84, 
at first in indirect, third-person style : 

The writer has continued the preparation of his long-delayed memoir on Lake Bonneville, and has specially 
arranged a chapter of it, "The topographic features of lake shores," for publication in this volume. A portion 
of his time has been occupied with the discussion of the influence of terrestrial rotation on the character of river 
valleys and with the elaboration of a plan for the subject bibliography of geologic literature. 

And then, in reporting to the director the suspension of the Salt Lake City office he adds, 
not a petulant complaint but, as if his feelings could not be wholly suppressed, a patient regret 
in the more courageous first-person style : 

While I recognize fully the considerations which led to the closing of this investigation of the Great Basin, 
and while the wisdom of your decision is unquestioned, I yet find myself unable to lay the work aside without 
the tribute of regret and the expression of a hope that it may some day be resumed by another if not by myself. 

Thus saying farewell to it, he points out three lines of further inquiry : The brines of the 
Great Basin and their products, an economic problem; the records of extinct lakes in the 
southern part of the basin, a climatic problem; and the deformation of the Bonneville floor as 


if because of the withdrawal of the lake water, a problem that would to-day be called isostatic. 
Curiously enough, the basin-range problem is not here specified. Over a year later, after the 
geology of the Appalachians had become his chief concern, he again referred to the problem of 
his preference and his regret on abandoning it, when discussing the post-Bonneville deformation 
of the Great Salt Lake Desert in an address, analyzed below, before the Society of American 
Naturalists. The real lesson of this part of Gilbert's life is that of loyal sacrifice: Powell needed 
his counsel in the conduct of a great undertaking, and he therefore gave up the work that he 
most enjoyed and stood faithfully by his chief. 

Although this recital necessarily has a melancholy tinge, it should not be understood that 
Gilbert was unhappy in his return to Washington. He was devotedly attached to Powell, 
personally as well as scientifically, and was always ready to serve and to aid him. The satis- 
faction of renewing with "the Major" the close relations that had been previously established 
during five years of membership on the Powell survey must have been some compensation for 
giving up Bonneville, and the satisfaction must have been increased by his recognition of the 
many ways in which his chief's nature could be complemented by his own. Powell, although a 
thoughtful observer, enjoyed and excelled in administration; after his first brilliant work in 
western exploration, he gave most of his attention for the rest of his life to problems of organiza- 
tion; the establishment of the Bureau of American Ethnology and of the national Geological 
Survey were his great accomplishments in this direction. On the other hand, Gilbert, while fully 
competent to administer the responsibilities laid upon him as chief of a survey division, excelled 
his senior as a philosophical geologist, and must have been of immense service to the senior 
in the discussion and settlement of the numerous technical and scientific problems that arose 
as the survey expanded. He not only had a logical mind that led him to just conclusions, but 
also the happy faculty of presenting his conclusions in a manner that greatly promoted their 
acceptance; and for both reasons his opinions were greatly respected among his associates. 
All things considered, he must have found much in Washington to make up for his abandonment 
of the great investigational field of the West. In any case, when the director called him to the 
East, he dutifully put aside a cherished plan of further work in the Great Basin, and with self- 
denying devotion took up the tasks that were assigned to him. 


Life includes small events among the greater ones; great organizations have smaller ones 
included within them. Hence it must be recorded that shortly after Gilbert's return from Salt 
Lake City to Washington in 1881, a notable little institution had its beginning within the 
survey under his leadership. It should be recalled in this connection that the survey included 
at its outset two very unlike groups of geologists ; a smaller group which preferred and was rich 
enough to afford the metropolitan luxuries of a conventional civilization; and a larger group, 
the members of which were of limited means and were perhaps for that reason more at home in 
the cosmic freedom of simple surroundings. It need hardly be explained that Gilbert and his 
western associates, Johnson, Russell, and McGee, were members of the latter group; but it 
needs to be told that this quartette gave daily expression to their preference for simple living 
by eating a frugal noon meal together in one of the survey rooms, their gathering naturally 
being baptized after the scene of their previous explorations, the "Great Basin mess." This 
institution endured for a generation, and like other enduring things it had an evolutionary 
development. Its career included an early hon^rule period and a later caterer-controlled 
period. In the first, each cenobite used to take his turn, week by week, at bringing in a basket 
carried on his arm a home-prepared lunch for the favored four. Wooden plates and paper 
napkins sufficed at first, as they«could be burned when the meal was over; but a coffee pot with 
china cups and saucers was an early innovation. The success of the mess was such that new 
members were added from time to time, the formalities of election or rejection being brief but 
emphatic and effective. In time the numbers became so large that the caterer-controlled period 
set in, and lunch was eventually served by a professional expert in a room hired for the purpose 
across the street from the survey building. 

academy of sciences] n g> GEO LOGICAL SURVEY 123 

The history of the Great Basin mess is inseparably associated with that of the survey itself, 
of which it was for 30 years a characteristic though sectional feature ; and for the most of that time 
Gilbert was, when in Washington, the leading spirit as well as the senior member. How genial 
was his smile of welcome; how jovial were his stories and how joyous the laugh that left his 
friends happier for having been with him! His letters to members absent in the field frequently 
contained references to the mess and its fortunes. It was locally known for the good fellowship 
that the members enjoyed together, and it was widely renowned for the pleasure that an invi- 
tation to sit in with members gave to many a geological visitor in Washington. Melancholy 
indeed was the fate of such a visitor if, invited to the mess one year, he was not invited the year 
following when he was again in the Capital City. But that was the fate of few, for the mess 
was truly hospitable; its visitors, numbering two or three a week, counted up to a total of many 
hundreds. They included such men as Hermann Credner, E. D. Cope, G. M. Dawson, James 
Hall, Joseph Leconte, Emm, de Margerie, O. C. Marsh, Raphael Pumpelly, N. S. Shaler, and 
other geological personages. It may be well believed that the visitors were sometimes amused 
if not amazed at the wide range of personal and pungent remarks by which the lunch was 
flavored; wagers on the outcome of elections and congressional measures were frequent, the 
stakes usually being some choice dish of dessert. On one occasion, a member tabulated the 
qualities of the others, and rated Gilbert as zero in cheek, combativeness, diplomacy, verbosity, 
and vanity, but 100 in honesty and caution. It is not to be denied that good fellowship some- 
times detained the mess members around the table after the end of the noon hour, thus endanger- 
ing their good repute in the director's office; but as to that, it is credibly reported that a critic 
of the survey one day, seeing the director and his chief adviser playing tenpins in an alley near 
the office, snapped a photograph of them with a clock in the background, its hands pointing to 
a mid-afternoon hour, in evidence of the way in which leading geologists wasted their time. 

With increase of membership and change to the caterer-controlled period, the mess outgrew 
its original simplicity, and none of its later arrangements compare in primitiveness to those of 
its first years. The little company of four then sometimes sat on rolls of bedding around a 
packing box, as if to keep up the pleasant impression of lunching in a Great Basin camp. On 
one occasion when they were thus grouped, Gilbert, vividly recounting a rare instance of hori- 
zontal refraction in the desert, became so absorbed in his narration that he tossed a well-picked 
chicken bone over his shoulder, as if the party were really seated in the sagebrush wilderness ; 
and the bone haply struck an office messenger who entered the door at that very moment to 
summon the narrator to the presence of the director; the messenger returned forthwith, reporting 
that he had '"tracted Mr. Gilbert's 'tention." Of such are the joyous memories of long-gone 
years still current among the surviving few! 
20154°— 26 15 


gilbert's first assignment on the national survey 

It has already been noted that, when the consolidated national survey was organized 
in 1879 under the direction of Clarence King, Gilbert was assigned the study of Lake Bonne- 
ville, with headquarters in Salt Lake City. For reasons that are not explicitly stated, but which 
were probably connected with the completion of certain tasks that had been begun under 
Powell's survey, he remained in the East through the summer of 1879, spending part of the 
time with his family at Winchendon, Mass., and did not reach his western field until October. 
Then, as if to make up for a late start, he continued field work until stopped by stress of weather 
in the middle of January, 1880. Willard D. Johnson, a young topographer of exceptionally 
fine spirit, who thought much about the origin of the land forms that he surveyed, was Gil- 
bert's first assistant, and was charged with making maps of critical localities. The intimacy 
thus begun between the two men was continued through many years of close relations. Gilbert 
went back to Washington in February, gave up his house in Le Droit Park in June, and then 
returned to Salt Lake City with his family, establishing his residence there and renting office 
rooms for his staff. I. C. Russell was chief assistant during the field season of 1880, and was 
later assigned under Gilbert's direction to the study of certain other extinct lakes, especially 
Lahontan, farther west in the Great Basin. McGee and others were members of the field 
parties from time to time. 

Thus it appeared that Gilbert was to remain indefinitely in the West, and he began to 
establish personal relations with the Salt Lake community; for in January, 1881, he lectured 
on Lake Bonneville in "Independence Hall." But his own view of the situation was other- 
wise; he had written to King regarding his Bonneville studies on November 16, 1880: 

... I have no occasion to take the field again in person, but begin the preparation of my report upon the 
subject. For the present I can work to best advantage here, but when the field notes of the season, both my 
own and my assistants, have been elaborated and when the map drawing is well in hand so that it can be com- 
pleted without my supervision, it appears to me desirable that I go to New York and Washington, so that I 
can have better library facilities and so that I can initiate the preparation of engravings for illustration. 

It must therefore have been a satisfaction to him, in some respects at least, that, when 
King relinquished the directorship of the survey and Powell was appointed to it in March, 
1881, his presence was needed at the central office "on duty supposed to be temporary," 
but which proved to be long lasting; so he returned to Washington in April and his family 
followed in June ; and there, after the long delays referred to above, the Bonneville report was 
eventually completed. 


It is interesting to trace Gilbert's progress in detecting the essential elements of the Bonne- 
ville problem. The abandoned shore lines of the ancient lake had been known in a general 
way for many years before he reached the Great Basin in 1871. His first season there with 
the Wheeler survey was mostly spent to the west and south of the Bonneville area; but during 
the second season he saw much of the shore lines, and on August 10, 1872, when the extinct 
lake was still unnamed, the following exceptionally dehberate entry was made in one of his note- 
books : " Theory, that the great lake whose bed we are travelling is a phase of the glacial epoch "; 
the leading word, "Theory," being inclosed in a penciled rectangle, as if to guard against 
mistaking the inference it introduces for a record of fact. Two days later, when some large 
piedmont gravel fans must have been in sight with the beach lines engraved upon them, the 
following significant notes were added : 

On the Mt. ["Goshoot" or Gosiute"] NW I can count 11 terraces. The gravel slopes made since the lake 

are a small item compared with those made before. The lake episode is in the history of these valleys a very 

recent one. 



Hence, if the lake episode were both recent and brief, a long nonlacustrine period must 
have gone before it. In the Wheeler report, the prelacustrine, lacustrine, and postlacustrine 
intervals are given as roughly proportional to 50, 10, and 1. It was evidently during the pre- 
lacustrine period that the great amount of intermont aggradation, mentioned above in the 
account of the basin ranges, must have taken place. 

Singularly enough, the warping of the Bonneville shore lines appears to have been detected 
in the summer of 1872 about a month earlier than the date of the above notes, when the wave- 
cut benches on the Oquirrh Range, 15 or 20 miles to the west, were in sight from the corre- 
sponding benches on the flanks of the Wasatch Range near Salt Lake City. A first record is 
here corrected by a second. The first reads: 

My impression is that the upper beach is continuous & level and only depressed in the distance by the 
curvature [of the earth]. 

But later in the same day, after levels had been sighted across the depression between the 
two ranges and earth curvature and refraction had been allowed for, it was noted : 

From this it appears that the beach near Camp Douglass [not far from Salt Lake City] is 76.5 ft higher 
than on the Oquirrh Range. The distance may have been a little underestimated & the refraction overesti- 
mated. The allowance for refraction — V7 of that for curvature — may apply only at sea level. 

Later measurements reduced the difference of altitude to a smaller measure, and closer 
study of the ground discovered a 50-foot post-Bonneville fault along the base of the Wasatch 
which had to be allowed for; but a difference of 22 feet still remained to be explained by warp- 
ing. A problem of crustal warping was thus opened, to which Gilbert later devoted much 
thought and from which he turned aside with regret when other duties held him in the East. 

A special phase of this same problem is alluded to in the Wheeler report, in which the name, 
Bonneville, was first proposed for the extinct lake. After an account of the desert plain on which 
the shallow water sheet of the present Great Salt Lake lies, attention was called to the position 
of the lake on the eastern part of the plain as giving " evidence of the novelty of the present 
relation of altitudes of different portions of the plain, which is far from an equilibrium. Nearly 
the whole present increment [of detritus] to the desert floor comes from beyond [east of] the 
Wasatch Mountains, and is deposited ... on the eastern margin of the lake. Since the lake 
has no outlet, but parts with its surplus by evaporation, its area rather than its level tends to 
constancy" — a very neat point, that — "and as the eastern shore increases, the water will rise, 
pari 2)assu, and encroach on the western " (66). The eccentric position of the present lake was 
evidently taken to indicate a recent warping of the area near the mountains, whereby the aggra- 
dation of that part of the basin floor had been in part counteracted. Reference was made on a 
later page to the probable deformation of the Bonneville beach, which was thought to be 300 
feet higher in a southern arm than farther northeast; and it was noted that if future observation 
confirms these inferences, the deformed beaches "will have special interest as the record, in the 
middle of the continent, of undulations of the solid earth, produced at so late a geological date 
that we may presume them identical with changes now transpiring" (93). This topic was fully 
discussed in the final statement of the Bonneville problem and was made the subject of an 
important address on scientific method in 1885, as will be told below. 


An overflow for certain stages of Lake Bonneville was early inferred because of the long 
maintenance of its surface at certain levels, as indicated by the strongest shore fines (Wheeler, 
III, 90) ; and a northward outlet was suspected by various observers from what was known of 
the general "lay of the land." This aspect of the problem had evidently been talked over with 
Powell; for at the opening of the second season of field work on the Powell survey, Gilbert 
appears to have been authorized to make a northward detour from Salt Lake City in search of 
the suspected point of Bonneville overflow, before crossing the mountains and plateaus to the 
east of the city on the way to the Henry Mountains, which were his main object of study that 
year. The outlet was thus in August, 1876, proved to be, as Bradley of the Hayden survey had 

academy of sciences) jj g GEO LOGICAL SURVEY 127 

in 1872 suggested that it might be, at Red Rock Pass on the flat floor of Cache Valley, adjoining 
the Port Neuf Range of southern Idaho. The floor of the pass was reached on August 16 and 
was described in a notebook as "so flat that it is a marsh with a growth of wire grass and sedge" 
for 7 miles. 

The red rock is only one of a number that are here exceptionally bared, in testimony to the stream that 
washed them in degrading this pass. Above the beach level the rock exposures are inconspicuous. If there 
was a current through here when the lake was at its full height, it must have continued until the outlet was 
deepened several hundred feet. There is no evidence yet of the direction of flow but there will be evidence if the 
beach is found not to continue to the north. 

Later in the day, after an advance to a point which commanded a broad northward view, 
a cautious note was added : 

I can neither affirm nor deny beaches, but I think they are absent. The valley northward should exhibit 
them as well as that at the south if it ever had them. . . . On the whole it is extremely probable that an outlet 
(and the last outlet) of Lake Bonneville was here. 

In explanation of the outlet, as discussed in the field notes, the hypothesis was at first 
entertained that the highest or Bonneville beaches as they came to be called, were related to 
an outlet at some other point, from which it was transferred to Red Rock Pass by a crustal 
tilting; but a second hypothesis was framed the same day, according to which the lingering of 
the lake at its highest level, as indicated by the great Bonneville beaches, was explained by a 
small excess of the gradually increasing water supply over evaporation, so that the resulting 
volume of discharge would be so small that the outlet must be for a time very slowly degraded; 
but as the water supply increased more definitely and the outflow gained in volume, its channel 
would be rapidly degraded to the present level of the pass; then a decrease of supply, while 
still permitting a small volume of overflow, would practically be unable to accomplish further 
degradation; thus the lake would be held for a considerable period at the pass level and per- 
mitted to form the strong Provo beaches. A different interpretation was given later, when more 
value was attached to the resistance of the rocks encountered in the bed of the outflow channel 
or pass, as a cause for the Provo level being so long maintained. 

During the following year, while Gilbert was working on irrigation problems he gave atten- 
tion also to the ancient shore lines, and resolved the doubts felt at the beginning of the previous 
season concerning the Red Rock outlet; he wrote to Powell from Ogden, Utah, under date of 
October 9, 1877: 

I should like to go by rail to Humboldt Wells and thence by horse down Steptoe Valley, to settle the last 
question about the outlet of Lake Bonneville. I have this year seen the whole northern border of the lake and 
have made sure that the only northern outlet was through Cache Valley. That outlet I have revisited and 
studied with more care than before, and I now think its phenomena all consistent with the hypothesis that there 
was no other outlet. Still I should like to go to Steptoe and make sure. 

But this desired excursion was not made until two or three years later. 

The establishment of Red Rock Pass as the outlet of Lake Bonneville was announced by 
Gilbert in the spring of 1878 in a short article ' which led him into more of a controversy than 
he engaged in at any other time in his life. His claim of discovery was after the fashion of the 
time disputed by Peale, of the Hayden survey, who asserted in an article 3 bearing the same 
title as Gilbert's that the real outlet lay in a more open valley about 45 miles farther north, 
where the original level of overflow was higher than Red Rock Pass, and higher indeed than the 
highest of the Bonneville shore lines. Gilbert did not reply until two years later, after he had 
revisited the localities and satisfied himself on three essential points : The error of Peale's deter- 
mination of certain stream terraces as lake shore terraces; the vastly greater age of the more 
northern open valley, which Peale had taken to be the outlet, than of the comparatively narrow 
and recent incision at Red Rock; and the absence of shore lines in the intermediate basin. The 
controversy went no further; there was no place left for altercation. A characteristic passage 
may be quoted from Gilbert's closing article: 

1 The Ancient Outlet of Great Salt Lake. Amer. Jour. Sci., XV, 1878, 250-259. 
' Amer. Jour. Sci., XV, 1878, 439-444. 


A careful reexamination of the locality has convinced me that I was in error [as to the place of the outlet], 
and has led me to assign it a position two miles north of Red Rock. Dr. Peale placed it about 45 miles north 
of Red Rock, so that my new determination is nearer to his than my old was. 3 

Not a few less magnanimous geologists would have phrased this conclusion: 
My old determination was much nearer to the true location than his was! 
But perhaps there was a touch of mischievousness in Gilbert's magnanimity. 


It was by these successive advances in the earlier years of Gilbert's western work on the 
Wheeler and the Powell surveys that approach was made to an explanation of the Bonneville 
problem which seemed compulsory; but thus far only a single humid period of lake expansion 
had been recognized. In view of the great interest of the problem and of Gilbert's acknowl- 
edged mastery of it, its further study was naturally given a leading place in a main division 
of the national survey as soon as it was organized, as has already been noted. Progress was then 
made more rapidly. 

Evidence of the occurrence of two humid epochs of lake expansion separated by an arid 
epoch of lake contraction or extinction was discovered during the first season's work for the 
national survey in the winter of 1879-80; and was briefly referred to in Gilbert's first formal 
report to King, dated at Salt Lake City, October 1, 1880, when an account of the lake-floor 
sediments included the following passage: 

It was already known that they consisted of marls and clays and sands, but no considerable section had 
been measured, and no constant order of sequence had been observed. It was ascertained last winter that the 
marls invariably overlie the clays and form a relatively thin deposit. At one locality a beach gravel was found 
immediately beneath them, and in such relation as to demonstrate that a very low stage of water had inter- 
vened between two high stages. This is a capital discovery, proving, as it does, that the humid epoch was 
interrupted by an epoch of dryness. 

The similarity of Bonneville and Lahontan histories, next announced, although not con- 
firmed in all respects by later investigations, must have furnished pleasant writing to the 
geologist at the Salt Lake headquarters and agreeable reading for the two-year director in the 
Washington office: 

The discovery [of a dry epoch between the two humid Bonneville epochs] confirms in a most gratifying man- 
ner an independent conclusion of Mr. King's. Reasoning entirely from mineralogical facts and the necessary 
conditions of chemical reaction, that geologist was led to conclude that Lake La Hontan, the contemporary 
and [western] neighbor of Lake Bonneville, was first flooded for a long period, without overflow, and then, after 
an interval of desiccation, was refilled for a shorter period during which there was a discharge. The history of 
Lake Bonneville is based purely on stratigraphic and topographic data, and is identical in every determined 
particular. The basin was flooded for a long period represented by ninety feet of clay; there was then a des- 
iccation, shown by intercalated shore deposits; and there was finally a second flood stage, represented by fifteen 
feet of marl. The fact of overflow is proved by the discovery of the channel of discharge, and it has been shown 
that the second epoch of flooding was accompanied by overflow. Whether the first epoch was similarly char- 
acterized has not been ascertained, but it is a significant fact that the deposits thrown down during those two 
epochs have a marked difference of composition. If a relation can be established between the clay and marl 
as indicative of continence and overflow respectively, the parallel will be absolutely complete. 4 

The ingenious hypothesis by which the anticipated relation was established in the follow- 
ing year is noted below. 

In the meantime a letter to King, dated a month and a half after the official report, above 
cited, announced two important advances. First. "The evidence of a long dry epoch inter- 
jected near the end of the Bonneville epoch is no longer restricted to a single locality nor to 
a single phenomenon " ; that is, in addition to the discovery of new low-lying sections in which 
gravels were found between the lake-floor clays and marls, certain high-level deposits were 
found, against which the later-formed beaches lay unconformably; and these deposits were 
therefore taken to represent the littoral phase of the lake-floor clays that were laid down during 
the earlier humid epoch, just as the apposed beaches represented the littoral phase of the lake- 
floor marls laid down during the later humid epoch. 

> The Outlet of Lake Bonneville. Amer. Jour. Sei., XIX, 1880, 341-349. 
' First Annual Report, U. S. Oeol. Survey, Washington, 1880, 23-26. 

academy of 8CIENCH] n s GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 129 

Second. " The idea that the accented beaches lying between the Prove- and Bonneville 
levels were formed by the lingering of the water during its fall from the Bonneville level to the 
Provo is completely exploded. Those intermediate beaches were formed in ascending order — 
the lowest first, the highest last — and all of them are older than the Bonneville beach." This 
important conclusion was based on sections in which it was seen that the higher members of 
the intermediate beaches were successively superposed upon the lower ones, while the lower- 
lying Provo beach was apposed upon or built forward from the sublacustrine slope of the lowest 
intermediate beach; and all of these beaches except the highest ones were found, at one place 
or another, to rest upon previously formed deposits which were taken, as above noted, to rep- 
resent the littoral phase of the lake-floor clays formed during the earlier humid epoch. 

A third topic of equal interest was not carried to so satisfactory a conclusion; this was 
the relation of the Lake Bonneville to the glacial period, concerning which Gilbert's theoretical 
surmise of August, 1872, has already been quoted. Analogy pointed strongly to the syn- 
chronism of these two similarly complex manifestations of past climatic changes, but the only 
locality at which glacial and lacustrine deposits were found in contact — namely, where the 
beautiful lateral and terminal moraines of Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range 
a few miles south of Salt Lake City, advances across the belt of lacustrine shore lines — 
"failed ... to yield crucial evidence for which search was made, and practically afforded no 
contribution to the subject." 5 A more confident opinion was reached later, when the evidenca 
furnished by moraines in the Mono Lake basin at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada, and 
that furnished by the depauperization of molluscan fossils confirmed "the presumption derived 
from the recency and exceptional nature of the lakes and glaciers, that the two phenomena 
were coordinate and synchronous results of the same climatic change." " 


Another matter which remains to be considered may be regarded as having received one 
of the most venturesome and most purely hypothetical interpretations that Gilbert ever pub- 
lished. It concerns the relation already alluded to between the lacustrine clays and marls as 
indicative of lake continence and lake overflow, respectively, a relation which Gilbert felt would, 
if it were established, render the parallel between Bonneville and Lahontan "absolutely com- 
plete." To appreciate the offered interpretation it must be understood that the Bonneville 
clays and marls did not differ greatly in composition, but that one merely contained more argil- 
laceous and lees calcareous material than the other; and that both deposits might therefore be 
regarded as having been supplied by land-derived detritus of the same constitution, provided 
that a reason could be found for distributing the different constituents of the detritus in dif- 
ferent proportions in the off-shore lake waters of the two humid epochs. It must also be noted 
that sedimentation experiments were made with the lake-floor clays, which indicated a five- 
fold more rapid settling in fresh water taken from an inflowing stream of to-day — City Creek 
at Salt Lake City — than in brine taken from the present lake. Whether the settling was due 
to a chemical reaction between the salts of the brine and certain salts dissolved in the streams 
that washed the sediments into the ancient lake — like the reaction employed for the clarifica- 
tion of certain turbid rivers for city water supply, the Mississippi water at St. Louis, for ex- 
ample — does not appear; but the result is peculiar in view of the generally accepted experimental 
conclusion that the salt of sea water- accelerates sedimentation. In this connection reference 
may be made at once to the final monograph, in which it is said that the water of Bear Creek, 
which enters the basin farther north than City Creek, precipitated clayey sediments as rapidly 
as the brine of Great Salt Lake; thus rendering the conclusion previously reached somewhat 
uncertain. Citation may also be made here of a footnote in the final monograph which states, 
in view of sedimentation experiments that had been made by various observers and that came 
to Gilbert's attention in Washington: "It is not to be supposed that the sodium chloride and 
other constituents of the Salt Lake brine retard the precipitation of sediments," but " that they 
promote it less than the mineral constituents of City creek water." 

* Second Ann. Kept. U. S. Geol Survey, 1881, 189. 
» Monogr. I, 1890, 315. 


With the conclusions of his experiments in mind, Gilbert made a number of hypothetical 
assumptions of greater or less plausibility in explanation of the supposed relation of lake con- 
tinence to the deposition of the heavy clays, and of lake overflow to the deposition of the thin 
marls. The assumptions may be presented in two groups. Those of the first group concerned 
the composition of the lake in its earlier and later epochs of expansion: The lake waters in the 
earlier humid period having no outlet must have been saline; during the intermediate epoch 
the lake must have been evaporated to dryness and the resulting salt beds were buried under 
inwashed detritus; and the lake of the later epoch must have contained fresh water because it 
failed to redissolve the buried salts of its predecessor and because its own stages of no overflow 
were so short compared to its stage of overflow that its waters could not become saline. It 
may be interpolated that good support for the possibility of this group of assumptions was 
later found by Russell in his studies of the Lahontan area. The assumptions of the second 
group concerned the effects of lake-water composition on the deposition of inwashed sediments 
and are that : the processes of sedimentation must have been delayed by the salinity of the earlier 
Bonneville waters ; and hence that a large share of its inwashed sediments must have been swept 
offshore into the body of the lake before they settled to the bottom, where they formed the 
relatively thick lake-floor clays; but that sedimentation must have been accelerated by the 
fresh water of the second lake, and hence the clays must then have settled nearer the shore and 
a larger proportion of calcareous material must be found in the relatively thin lake-floor maris. 
Conversely, the shore deposits of the later lake should show relatively heavier clay deposits 
than those of the earlier lake; but this consequence of the hypothetical assumptions can not 
be tested, because of the prevalent coarseness of the deposits near the shore in both the earlier 
and the later lakes. 

The hypothesis, as thus elaborated, explained very well the facts that it was made to explain, 
but it did little more; it embodied, however, a group of inferred consequences — the buried salt 
beds and their shroud of sediments laid down in the arid epoch — the actual occurrence of which 
would give strong support to the hypothesis if they could be discovered by borings in the lake 
floor; but they have not yet been discovered. Even the gravels intercalated between the clays 
and the marls were not found at a less altitude than some 200 feet above the present lake ; and 
borings later made in the Lahontan sediments failed to discover any purely saline precipitates ; 
hence it must be inferred that if complete dessication took place, the inwash of muddy detritus 
during the arid period rendered the precipitates impure beyond the point of identification. 
Certain parts of the Bonneville history therefore remained unproved. 

It may be well understood that so logical a thinker as Gilbert recognized the unproved 
elements of his hypothesis, for directly after announcing the above-stated explanation of the 
clays and marls he added: 

On the whole, the theory that the lake became fresh by desiccation finds too little positive support to entitle 
it to unreserved acceptance, but it is contradicted by no single known fact, and may therefore be considered 
to hold the position of a plausible working hypothesis. 7 

It is, indeed, not improbable that many readers of the Bonneville monograph came to have 
a greater measure of confidence in this "plausible" chapter of the lake history than Gilbert 
had himself; for when he finally summarized "the general history of Bonneville oscillations" 
and confidently announced the occurrence of the yellow clays and the white marls of the two 
lacustrine epochs as well as the complete desiccation of the lake waters during the intermediate 
arid epoch, he added that he was "practically without information" as to the degree of des- 
iccation attained in the arid epoch, and he qualified the explanation by which the clays and the 
marls were differentiated with the halting phrase: "If it be true that the water was so con- 
stituted . . ." 8 But in spite of these guarded phrases, a computation, which "under this 
postulate indicates that the first high-water epoch was not less than five times as long as the 
second," was given graphic representation by a curve; and it is very probable that the un- 
qualified character of such representation, taken with the ease of apprehending its intended 

I Contributions to tho history of Lake Bonneville. 2d Ann. Rep. U. S. Geol. Survey, 1881, 169-200; see p. 180. 
« Monogr. 1. 1S90, 260, 261. 

academy op scences] n s GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY 131 

meaning as compared with that of an explanatory text, have contributed to give a greater 
measure of certainty to the published interpretation of Bonneville history, as it is generally 
understood among geological readers, than Gilbert himself, with his exceptional capacity for 
balanced judgment, actually intended. 


Progress in the discovery and the interpretation of the facts concerning Lake Bonneville 
having now been outlined, an account may be given of the reports in which the history of the 
lake was published. It should be here noted that field work had been substantially completed 
in 1S80, for on November 16 of that year Gilbert wrote to King from Salt Lake City: 

The data for a final map of Lake Bonneville are now complete. Every part of the peripheral coast has 
been seen by some member of the party, and all the principal islands have been determined. The altitude of 
the highest water-line has been measured by spirit level at five new points and a good series of barometric obser- 
vations has been made for its determination in the southernmost Escalante region. _ The difference of altitude 
between Bonneville and Provo beaches has been measured by spirit level at twelve points. Local maps have 
been made of seven different groups of wave-formed bars and at each of these a measured profile has been made 
for the purpose of exhibiting the inter-relations of the strongest water-marks of the series. The comparative 
study of these profiles is believed to have an important bearing on the question of the origin of certain of the 

The time for office work and report writing had thus been reached. Yet so many and so 
absorbing were the distractions by which Gilbert's attention was turned from the Bonneville 
problem after his return to Washington in 1881 that 10 full years elapsed between the com- 
pletion of field work and the appearance of the famous Bonneville monograph. 

The contents of the monograph were foreshadowed by several preliminary statements. 
The earliest was in Gilbert's first administrative report to King, dated at Salt Lake City, Octo- 
ber 1, 1880, and was so attractively phrased as to awake an expectant interest in the fuller 
statement that was to follow. Two paragraphs from it may be quoted: 

The Great Salt Lake Desert and a congeries of valleys connected with it were filled with water at a period 
so recent that the vestiges of the flood are little impaired at the present time. The sea cliffs that were covered 
by the dash of the ancient waves are sea cliffs still, though they stand a thousand feet above the present level 
of Great Salt Lake. The bars and beaches of sand and gravel that were built by the ancient currents are fur- 
rowed here and there by the rains that have since fallen on them, but they are furrowed only, and not de- 
stroyed; and the imagination is not strained to fill the gaps and restore their full contours. The fine silt that 
settled quietly in the deeper waters still forms the floors of the valleys. To the geologist accustomed to speak 
familiarly of millions of years, it is the veriest yesterday when all these things were wrought; nor can any one 
who stands on the quartzite shingle of one of the old beaches, and contemplates the rounded pebbles, gleaming 
with the self-same polish they received when the surf laid over them, fail to be impressed by the freshness of 
the record. 

There is a topography of the land and a topography of the water. The forms of the land are sculptured 
by the beating of the rain and by the flow of rills, and creeks, and rivers, and they have peculiar characters 
accordant with their origin. The forms of the beds of lakes and oceans, and especially the forms of shores, are 
sculptured by the sway of waves and currents, and are distinguished by characters equally peculiar. All the 
hills and mountains above the shore line of Lake Bonneville bear witness of the play of subaerial agents, while 
below that line the slopes betray their subaqueous shaping. There is a trenchant line between them, and their 
peculiarities are beautifully contrasted. A careful inspection, however, shows that subaqueous characters are 
superimposed on subaerial characters. The forms belonging to the dry land are continued down past the shore 
line, and the sculpture of the lake has been superficially impressed on them without entirely obliterating them. 
It is thus made evident that before the epoch of the lake, the land it covered was dry, just as it is now. The 
lake had a beginning as well as an end. It came, it lingered long enough to make an unmistakable record, and 
then it departed as it came. 

The expectations excited by the brief summary from which the preceding paragraphs are 
quoted were well satisfied by the longer account published under the title, " Contributions to 
the history of Lake Bonneville," in the first one 8 of the many handsome and instructive annual 
reports by which Powell's administration of the survey was characterized. The treatment here 
given to the problem is concise and direct rather than argumentative, and thus places its read- 
ers promptly in possession of the essential elements of Bonneville history. The succession of 

' 2d Ann. Rep. U. S. Geol. Survey, 1881, 169-200. 

132 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS tM " M0IB8 [ v I i A "att 

events was made clear by a diagram and explanatory text, in which the whole story was epito- 
mized: After a very long prelacustrine arid period, during which a great erosion of the sur- 
rounding mountains was accomplished and large piedmont alluvial fans were formed, came the 
first lacustrine epoch of relatively long duration and moderate humidity, causing a rise of the 
lake to a high level but without overflow for its waters, which therefore remained saline; the 
shore deposits of this epoch are not now decipherable, but the bottom deposits are represented 
by 90 feet of yellow clay; then came an intermediate arid period causing the disappearance of 
the lake, the deposition of its salts, and their burial under inwashed sediments; next, the second 
lacustrine epoch, of shorter duration and more pronounced humidity, causing the gradual rise 
of the lake and the formation of an ascending series of superposed shore terraces until the 
Bonneville level was reached, 90 feet above the highest record of the first humid epoch ; there- 
upon overflow took place at Red Rock Pass, and the outlet channel was rapidly cut down in 
the weak material first met, but when the lake had been lowered 365 feet a body of resistant 
limestone was encountered in the channel bed and further lowering was practically arrested; 
the lake then long remained at the level where the strong Provo beaches were formed, until the 
desiccating climate of the present postlacustrine epoch set in and the great sheet of water was 
reduced to about its present small dimensions. Thus the results of long-continued field studies 
and of much reflection upon them were simply and compactly summarized. 

In the illustrations of this report the abandoned shore lines of Lake Bonneville were for 
the first time revealed to distant readers in all their marvelous magnitude and distinctness. 
One plate, however — a woodcut which appears to have been misinterpreted by the engraver — 
is curiously erroneous in representing a large pre-Bonneville alluvial fan with its apex built 
up against the mountain slope a little to one side of the valley from which its detritus is de- 
rived, leaving the other side of the valley too far removed and exposed to too low a level. A 
late chapter treats the relation of lake history to mountain building and presents a most edi- 
fying discussion of catastrophic and uniformitarian views; it was here the belief was expresssed 
that " the Wasatch range, the greatest mountain mass of Utah, has recently increased in height 
and presumably is still growing." Reference to this chapter will be made again in a later dis- 
cussion of the basin ranges. 


A chapter from the final Monograph of Lake Bonneville on " The topographic features of 
lake shores" was printed in advance in the fifth annual report of the survey (1884), and gave 
delight as well as information to many readers; it furthermore made clear Gilbert's predomi- 
nant interest in physiography as contrasted to historical geology, and it developed in abundant 
detail the thesis earlier stated in the Powell-like phrase: "There is a topography of the land 
and a topography of the water." All manner of lake-shore forms were described and explained 
with a fullness and a clearness that were both satisfying and gratifying, and that contributed 
greatly to confirm the awakening conception of land sculpture as a worth-while study to which 
geographers as well as geologists must give heed. The treatment throughout was thoroughly 
Gilbertian in its breadth and deliberation, especially in the pages devoted to the discrimination 
of lake-shore features from imitative features of other origins. 

Two peculiar features, the V terrace and the V bar, for which, the text states, "no satis- 
factory explanation has been reached," were really better understood than that phrase would 
imply; for although the cause of the eddying currents to which they may with much confi- 
dence be ascribed was not discovered, the responsibility of such currents for the V-like forms 
appears to have been clearly understood, witness the statement: 

The formative currents must have diverged from the shore at one or both the landward angles of the terrace, 
but the condition determining this divergence does not appear. 

Yet although a reasonable origin was thus found for these peculiar forms as well as for 
all others by which normal lake shores — that is, shores of lakes that have not been excavated 
by glacial action — are characterized, they are all treated as ready-made products; the earlier 

academy of science] n g GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 133 

stages of development through which they must have passed as well as the later stages 
through which they would have passed, had the shore processes continued to act for a longer 
period, are as a rule not emphasized ; the treatment was explanatory but not evolutionary. 

In one respect the treatment of lake-shore processes is particularly instructive as illustrat- 
ing the rightful place of violent agencies in uniformitarian geology; namely, the relation of 
storms to the production of shore features. This is introduced by reference to the action of 
river floods. After an explanation of the manner in which a running stream does its work, 
it is shown that a flood gives to a stream — 

a transporting power scarcely to be compared with [that is, immensely greater than] that of the same stream 
at its low stage, and it gives to the exceptional flood a power greatly in excess of the normal annual flood. Not 
only is it true that the work accomplished in a few days during the height of the chief flood of the year is greater 
than all that is accomplished during the remainder of the year, but it may even be true that the effect of the 
maximum flood of the decade or generation or century surpasses the effects of all minor floods. ... In 
littoral transportation the great storm bears the same relation to the minor storm and to the fair weather breeze. 
The waves created by the great storm not only lift more detritus from each unit of the littoral zone, but they 
act on a broader zone and they are competent to move larger masses. ... It follows that the habit of the 
shore .... is determined by and adjusted to the great storm. I 


It had been planned that the first monograph of the national survey should be an account 
of the Comstock lode at Virginia City, Nev., by Clarence King; but when that versatile geolo- 
gist gave up the direction of the survey and turned his attention more to business affairs, he 
appears to have given up the monograph also, and the first number of the series was thereupon 
reserved for Gilbert's report on Lake Bonneville. But so greatly was his work upon it delayed 
by office duties, as will be told on following pages, that it had been preceded, when at last 
published in 1890, by 15 other monographs, among which was Russell's Lahontan. Its con- 
tents have been sufficiently indicated by the preceding account of the observations and infer- 
ences which it summarizes, so that no abstract of it is here necessary; but it may be charac- 
terized as a whole. It represents, in the first place, Gilbert's most important, longest-continued 
and fullest published investigation. His early Wheeler reports were fragmentary in various 
respects; although the problems then encountered were numerous and novel, the field observa- 
tions had been hurried and the conditions of publication were not attractive. The Henry 
Mountains report for the Powell survey, although a satisfying effort to its author, represented 
a relatively brief period of field study in Utah and an extraordinarily short period of writing 
in Washington. Studies of Niagara and the Great Lakes, to be reviewed on later pages, were 
continued intermittently for a good number of years, and were reported upon in several admi- 
rable papers, but the whole of that fine story was never brought together in a single volume. 
Of two later efforts made by Gilbert to return to the study of the basin ranges, the first, in 
1901, was almost fruitless as far as publication is concerned, and the second, undertaken shortly 
before his death, is represented only by an unfinished essay. Between the two efforts he did 
a remarkable piece of work on the distribution of mining debris in California, which almost 
rivaled his work in the Great Basin. The Bonneville monograph is the greater study; it is 
Gilbert's masterpiece. 

In the second place the Bonneville report is by far the most thorough study of a large 
quarternary lake in a now arid region that has yet been made in any part of the world, and 
as such it sets a high standard up to which any later studies must attempt to rise. It is delib- 
erate, thorough, compendious, both as to the record of observed facts and as to their theoretical 
interpretation. In some cases the discussion is almost too deliberate, as Gilbert hi m self seems 
to have sensed. He wrote in June, 1888, to a correspondent: 

In my Bonneville report I am discussing the correlation of the lake history with the ice [glacial] history in 
a very full and I fear in a somewhat labored way. I try to bring up all the convergent lines of evidence and 
leave no stone unturned. 

But be this as it may, the discussion of successive stages of Bonneville history expresses 
the extraordinary balance of mental judgments in which Gilbert was, as has been well said, 


probably unsurpassed by any geologist of bis time, or, as may be better said, never surpassed 
by any geologist of any time, for no geologist was ever bis superior in tbat faculty, so invaluable 
in bis bigbly speculative science. His power of analysis, as bere represented, is admirably 
patient and impartial, and his style of exposition is so clear that the reader, overlooking in 
the lucid text the laborious search for the facts in a half or wholly desert region and the many 
tentative and alternative interpretations of preliminary study, is almost tempted to regard his 
final conclusions as obvious. The earlier pages of this chapter, in which the gradual growth 
of the conclusions is sketched, may lead to a better understanding of the years of work that 
they involved. 

The illustrations of the monograph, many of them from expressive drawings by the unrivaled 
hand of Holmes, add greatly to the value of the text. They bring out sharply the prevalent 
simplicity and uniformity of the well-carved basin-range slopes above the highest lake level, 
as the result of normal subaerial erosion at so far advanced a stage of dissection that differences 
of rock structure are for the most part masked under a well-graded though thin sheet of creeping 
waste, and they thus show the striking contrast between the slanting and divergent profiles 
above the Bonneville shore fine and the level and parallel fines of lake beaches on the lower 
slopes. The map that accompanies the volume profits from the experience of the artist and 
the lithographer on the corresponding map in Russell's previously issued report on Lake Lahon- 
tan; that was good, but the Bonneville map is still better in its colors and its expression of rehef. 

The delay in the appearance of the monograph was therefore in some respects advantageous, 
for it not only permitted the utilization of certain results gained by Russell in his study of 
Lake Lahontan, the field on which work was begun after that on Bonneville was completed; 
it also insured the seasoning of all explanatory discussions. But in another respect the delay 
in the appearance of the Bonneville monograph was disadvantageous. It followed so many 
excellent predecessors that reviewers, accustomed to a high standard of the survey volumes 
and already fairly well informed on Bonneville history by earlier partial reports, rarely gave 
the merited attention to the volume when it finally came out. Thus a writer in Nature, after 
briefly transcribing an outline of Bonneville history, concludes with not even half a loaf of com- 
mendation, but with what can only be called a peroratorical sandwich composed of a layer of 
sincere praise between two slices of plain speaking, the upper slice intimating that the author 
is sometimes too wordy and the lower slice complimenting especially the artists and the printer: 

The author errs occasionally on the side of prolixity, but he brings together so much valuable information 
that the book will be indispensable to all who wish to study the history and phenomena of lakes and inland 
seas. We lay it down with a deep sense of gratitude to him for the loving labour which he has evidently bestowed 
on this memoir, and will only add that, high as the standard already attained by the American Geological Survey 
may be, this monograph, especially in the work of the printer and in the number, interest and excellence of the 
illustrations, more than attains to it. 

Two comments by Gilbert himself may close this chapter. He wrote to a friend in March, 
1891, shortly after the monograph had appeared: 

I have been interrupted by a reporter. ■ He interviewed me today on Lake Bonneville and came in this 
evening with his report for me to revise. He says that he has sold it to the N. Y. Tribune and it will probably 
be telegraphed tonight to appear in tomorrow's (Thursday's) paper. It strikes me as very comic that what I 
found out years ago should be sent to N. Y. by telegraph instead of mailing the MS. But the reporter never 
heard of it beforfe, nor have the readers of the Tribune. 

One can imagine the merry chuckle of the writer as he penned those lines. 
A quarter century later Gilbert wrote to his son in the West: 
Have been reading my Bonneville report and find I have forgotten a lot of things I knew when I wrote it 

Many readers would say the same thing after the lapse of 25 years, for they also have 
probably "forgotten a lot of things" that they understood when they read the great monograph, 
but they will never forget the monograph itself, and in particular those who received a copy 
of it, with their name written on a flyleaf in Gilbert's own hand, will never forget the pleasure 
they had in receiving it. Its publication was a great event in the history of American geological 



The decade, 1881-1890, was marked by an increase of Gilbert's scientific relations in many 
directions; he was, so to speak, "discovered" by the scientists of the country during this 
period, and they were not slow to show their appreciation of his fine qualities. As in the pre- 
vious decade, he was a frequent speaker at the meetings of the Philosophical Society of Wash- 
ington, which he served as secretary from 1883 to 1886, as vice president from 1887 to,1891, 
and as president in 1892, when he delivered a notable address to which reference will be made 
in the account of that period. The subjects that he presented before this society were as a rule 
of a general nature; they included a "Graphic table for computation," in 1880; the "Response 
of terrestrial climate to secular variations of solar radiation," in 1883; the "Diversion of water 
courses by the rotation of the earth" (mentioned again below); the "Problem of the knight's 
tour" and a "Concrete problem in hydrostatics," in 1884; "Graphic methods of research" 
(probably an abstract of his second presidential address before the Society of American Natural- 
ists as noted below); "Statistics of the society since its foundation" and "Stages of geologic 
history of the Sierra Nevada," in 1887; and the "Soaring of birds," in 1888. The last subject 
had very likely been suggested by observations during a voyage across the Atlantic and 
back in the summer of that year; that his treatment of it was not superficial may be judged 
from the following extract: 

After a discussion of various qualifying factors, it was stated that when the orbit of the bird [soaring with 
outstretched wings] is circular, and lies in an inclined plane rising toward the wind, and when the horizontal 
velocity of the air diminishes uniformly from the highest point to the lowest point of the orbit, the velocity 
gained by the bird in making the circuit is equivalent to the differential velocity of the highest and lowest layers 
of air traversed, multiplied by k into the cosine of the angle of inclination of the plane of the orbit. 1 

a review of Whitney's "climatic changes" 

The subjects of two others of the above communications, "Response of terrestrial climate 
to secular variations of solar radiation" and "Stages of geologic history of the Sierra Nevada," 
both very briefly abstracted in the society's Bulletin, appear to have been treated more fully 
in a critical, not to say controversial, review of Whitney's "Climatic changes of later geological 
times," 2 a review that deserves reading still to-day, as well because of its closely reasoned 
quality as because of the corrections it provides for certain very questionable conclusions 
announced in that work. Whitney's leading idea was that a progressive weakening of solar 
radiation through geological time was responsible for the climatic changes by which former 
glaciers had been diminished and former lakes had been desiccated. Gilbert took issue with 
the principle here invoked, and argued that each increment of 4^° C. in mean annual tempera- 
ture in the past as a result of stronger solar radiation would not only cause increased precipita- 
tion, but woidd also "double the conjoint power of evaporation and melting to remove precipi- 
tated snow"; that the glacial period must therefore have had a lower temperature than now; 
and that the postglacial desiccation of certain lakes in arid interior regions had resulted from a 
rise, not from a fall of temperature. 

Excessive aridity, therefore, as well as excessive humidity, is caused by solar heat; and every increment 
of solar radiation tends to magnify the contrast between moist regions and dry regions, making the moist moister 
and the dry drier. 

1 Science, rii, 1888, 267, 268. 

> Science, i, 1883, 141-142, 169-173, 192-195. 


136 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoies [ vol!xxi': 

The reasons adduced in support of the important principle involved in this quotation 
merit careful examination in the original review, which then proceeds to correct another error. 
Whitney had explained the auriferous gravels on the western flanks of the Sierra Nevada in 
California, where he had been for several years State geologist, as the deposits of larger rivers 
during a former time of higher temperature and greater rainfall, and had also explained the 
narrow canyons by which the gravel-covered uplands are now trenched as the work of the 
diminished successors of the former larger rivers. Gilbert reversed this explanation, arguing 
that, had the Sierran highlands remained unchanged in attitude, as Whitney assumed, the 
change from deposition to erosion would indicate an increase, not a decrease, of river volume; 
but he goes on to show that the attitude of the Sierran highlands has not been unchanged, and 
explains that their present altitude has been lately acquired by slanting uplift after they had 
been reduced to low relief in a former period of erosion; this part of the review has already 
been referred to in connection with Gilbert's views on the basin ranges. 

The review closes with the nearest approach to severity of treatment that is to be found 
in any of Gilbert's writings. 

If a rise of temperature is not favorable to glaciation, if a fall of temperature does not make deserts drier 
and if river terraces are not indicative of waning precipitation, it might seem that our author's theory is badly 
off; but the case is not hopeless. The paleontologic evidence, and the doctrine of the dissipation of solar energy 
remain; and if he will now devote himself to the investigation cf the glaciers that are known to have recently 
increased, to the dry countries in which civilization and wealth have supplanted barbarism and poverty, and 
to the rivers that are engaged in filling up the valleys they once excavated, he may yet find in recent history the 
evidence that he seeks of secular change. 

The competent handling of meteorological problems in the discussion abstracted above 
shows not only a wide range of reading on Gilbert's part, but, what is much more important, 
a deep penetration of thought. This quality is shown again in an attempt to calculate the 
percentage of correctness of tornado predictions that were made a year later; but the article 3 
when published contained so many typographical errors that Gilbert lost all interest in it. On 
the other hand, the severity, not to say asperity, of treatment found in the last quotation from 
the review of Whitney's volume is altogether exceptional in Gilbert's writings. His usual 
form may be fairly characterized in the terms in which he described a volume of essays that he 
admired : 

The style is peculiarly genial and entertaining — a merit unfortunately rare in the writings of modern geolo- 
gists. ... In the whole collection there is nothing polemic, nor anything that could even be called contro- 
versial. Attention is never directed to an error, except as the merest incident to pointing out that which is 
true. No words are given to the censure of others, but many to their praise.* 


The American Society of Naturalists made him its president for two successive years; 
his first address before them, given in Boston in December, 1885, was a notable deliverance 
and brought him so admiring an acquaintance of many biologists who had previously known 
him little more than by name, that they immediately elected him president for a second term. 
The address, the subject of which was "The inculcation of scientific method by example," 
is reviewed in a special section below. His address the following year on "special processes 
of research" has already been alluded to. 

In the early months of 1884, Gilbert took up the study of German, but did not carry it 
far. He attempted French after returning from a trip abroad in 1888 but did not continue it 
long. In the summer of 1884 he attended the Montreal meeting of the British Association 
for the Advancement of Science, the first colonial meeting of that important body, and presented 
a plan for a subject bibliography of North American geology. His presence 10 years earlier 
at the Hartford meeting of the American Association of similar name, which he commonly 
abbreviated to "A 3 S" in his notes, has already been told. No record is found of his presence 

» Amer. Meteorol. Journal, 1884, 166-172. 

< Review o( Qeikie's "Geological sketches at home and abroad." Nature, ivii, 1885, 237. 

academy of sciences] SCIENTIFIC RELATIONS 137 

at its later meetings until 1885, when he acted as secretary of section E, geology and geography, 
at Indianapolis, gave an account of the old shore line of Lake Ontario, and reported the sectional 
proceedings anonymously in Science. He attended the Buffalo meeting of the Association the 
next year, and spoke on " Niagara Falls as a time measure," a subject which he afterward devel- 
oped in a remarkable measure, as will be told below ; it may be noted that in an anonymous report 
in Science of that year (viii, 1886, 205) he was misrepresented as giving a more definite age for 
the faUs than he intended. In 1887 he was chairman of section E at the New York meeting 
of the association, and read an address on the work of the International Congress of Geology 
especially concerning the nomenclature of time periods, their stratigraphic subdivisions, and a 
color scheme for their representation on geological maps; all these subjects having received 
much consideration from him as Powell's leading scientific adviser in Washington, and the last 
of them being treated in the New York address in much the same manner as in Powell's first 
report as director of the survey, above alluded to. 

This address closed with such excellent counsel as to the duties and limitations of the 
International Geological Congress, that it is here quoted: 

The proper function of the Congress is the establishment of common means of expressing the facts of geology. 
It should not meddle with the facts themselves. It may regulate the art of the geologist, but it must not at- 
tempt to regulate his science. Its proper field of work lies in the determination of questions of technology; 
it is a trespasser if it undertakes the determination of questions of science. It may decree terms, but it must 
not decree opinions. 

During one of the sessions of this meeting most of those present were well satisfied by a 
pertinent parliamentary ruling of the chairman. In the course of a discussion in which Powell 
had taken part, a member whose manner had only too frequently disturbed scientific gather- 
ings replied to Powell directly, addressing him by name; he was promptly called to order by 
Gilbert who, rapping on the table, said as sharply as he ever spoke: "The speaker will please 
address the Chan"; and the disturbing member had at least the sense and the grace to accept 
the reproof, saying at once to the chairman, "You are perfectly right, sir," and governing him- 
self accordingly for the remainder of the debate. 

Although Powell as president of the association attended the meeting at Cleveland in 
1888, Gilbert was held in Washington by administrative work. On the other hand, in the sum- 
mer of 1889 Gilbert attended the meeting of the association at Toronto and performed the 
difficult duty of reading for Powell, who was then the retiring president but who was unable to 
be present on account of new duties in connection with irrigation and reclamation of western 
lands, an address surcharged with Powellian mannerisms on the " Evolution of music from dance 
to symphony." It must have been a curious experience for those of the audience who knew 
Gdbert's own simple manner of presentation, to hear him repeating, as a means of giving emphasis 
to principles with which he had no personal concern, the redundant series of exuberant, rhapsodic 
assertions and the surfeit of quaintly phrased illustrations which, particularly in this address, 
characterized his chief's extravagant style; but the real Gilbert and his exceptional capacity 
in scientific exposition were manifested in a public lecture on a subject that was a favorite theme 
of his own for the next 10 years, the history of Niagara River, which he was then interpreting in 
a truly marvelous manner; this address is outlined in a later section. 


Gilbert was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1883, at the age of 
40 years, and was a frequent attendant at the spring meetings in Washington thereafter. His 
first communication to the academy was made in 1884, and concerned the effect of the earth's 
relation in deflecting river courses, 5 an old subject to which he contributed a helpful step not 
previously noted, by showing that it is not the whole current of a river that will suffer deflec- 
tion so much as the fastest or medial current; and that for rivers in the Northern Hemisphere 
this current, already displaced by centrifugal force toward the concave banks of a meandering 
stream, will be in consequence of the earth's rotation alternately a little more pressed against 

» The sufficiency of terrestrial rotation for the deflection of streams. Amer. Journ. Sci., xivii, 1884, 427-432. 

138 GROVE KARL GILBERT— DAVIS [Memoir ^™xi; 

the concave banks on the right and a little withdrawn from concave banks on the left; and thus 
a right-handed shift for the whole course should bo gradually effected. He calculated that 
for the Mississippi "the selective tendency [to deflect the thread of maximum velocity] to- 
ward the right bank is . . . nearly nine per cent greater than toward the left." To test his 
views he sent an experienced observer to Long Island, to examine the valleys there which E. 
Lewis had described in 1877 as exhibiting unsymmetrical cross profiles due to the deflective 
force of the earth's rotation; and the results thus secured were briefly summarized: 

The south side of Long Island is a plain of remarkable evenness, descending with gentle inclination from the 
morainic ridge of the interior to the Atlantic Ocean. It is crossed by a great number of small streams which 
have excavated shallow valleys in the homogenous modified drift of the plain. Each of these little valleys ia 
limited on the west or right side by a bluff from 10 to 20 feet high, while its gentle slope on the left side merges 
imperceptibly with the plain. The stream iD each case follows closely the bluff at the right. There seems to 
be no room for reasonable doubt that these peculiar features are, as believed by Mr. Lewis, the result of ter- 
restrial rotation. 

Although he quoted Buff as according "a more important influence to the prevailing 
winds than to the rotation of the earth," he seemed to dissent from that view; and said with more 
definiteness than usual in announcing a scientific conclusion: "It is my present intention to 
maintain the sufficiency of the cause" — the deflective force arising from the earth's rotation — 
for the deflection of rivers. Yet it has been later shown by a study of detailed maps of the 
Lower Mississippi on which the river course is shown at the time of two surveys separated by 
an interval of about 13 years, that the displacement of the later course with respect to the 
earlier is clearly to the east or left, as if because of the winds prevailing, and not to the west or 
right, as the earth's rotation would have it. It may therefore be inferred that the wind ex- 
ercises a stronger effect on large rivers than on small streams; but it does not follow that no 
other control than the earth's rotation has determined the asymmetry of the valleys eroded 
by small streams of Long Island. The slant of rain in west winds may be important there. 


Another communication was made to the academy in 1886, on the "Age of theEquus fauna," 
a subject which is treated in the ninth chapter of the Bonneville monograph, later issued, and 
which may surprise some readers by the suggestion it gives that Gilbert was making an excursion 
into paleontology; but as a matter of fact his chief object appears to have been to teach a lesson 
that he thought paleontologists ought to learn from physiography. 

The need of the lesson arose as follows : Few fossils had been found in the Bonneville beds, 
but the deposits of a smaller and not distant extinct lake had been discovered to contain a rich 
assemblage of mammalian fossils, to which the name Equus fauna had been given, and for 
which a Pliocene date was given by a leading vertebrate paleontologist of the time. But 
Gilbert was persuaded by the freshness of the Bonneville shore fines that they could not be 
Pliocene, and by the freshness of the deposits in the other smaller basin that they must be 
substantially contemporary with the Bonneville deposits; the latter opinion was held with all 
the more confidence because the deposits in each basin implied a former moist climatic period 
which must have been contemporaneous in the two districts. He therefore undertook an 
examination of the principles of correlation by which the Equus fauna had been and should be 
dated, and showed that for the case in hand the resemblance of fossil forms, in America and 
Europe, in view of which the American fauna had been made the equivalent of the European 
Pliocene, was a less trustworthy guide than the physical contrasts between the surface features 
of the formation that contain the American fauna and those of the European Pliocene, and that 
in view of these contrasts the two formations should be regarded as of different ages; for while 
the original limits of the latter are to-day hardly identifiable and their original surface is obsolete 
or obsolescent, the shore lines of the former are fresh and their original surface is unworn. 
Hence, in spite of the paleontological argument, Gilbert maintained that the Equus fauna, like 
the Bonneville deposits, should be classed as Pleistocene and referred to the later half of the 
later Glacial epoch. 

academy of sciences] SCIENTIFIC RELATIONS 139 

This conclusion was enforced by the statement of an elementary physiographic principle, 
which Gilbert seemed to feel had been insufficiently considered by paleontologists: 

When a surface shaped by some other agent than the atmosphere ... is exposed to atmospheric agencies, 
its sculpture begins. For a long time its original features continue to be the characteristic ones, but they eventu- 
ally become subordinate and finally disappear. The original forms are at first new and fresh, then old, worn, 
and hard to discover; and finally the fact that they once existed can be known only from the internal structure 
of the deposits to which they belonged. 

It is striking testimony to the recency with which the rational study of land forms had then 
been entered upon to find that principles so simple as these were deemed important enough by 
so profound a student of geological philosophy as Gilbert, as to warrant their presentation at a 
National Academy meeting! The annual report of the academy notes that Gilbert's paper was 
discussed by Cope, Marsh, Powell, and Gill; but no record is preserved of their scintillating 
remarks, nor of the measure of acceptance given by the paleontological three of the four to 
Gilbert's physiographic lesson. 


During the first 10 years of Gilbert's residence in Washington as a member of the national 
survey, he was so occupied with the duties of his office that he seldom had leisure to write out 
in full the substance of the communications made at meetings of scientific societies; even the 
results of his field work in western New York were inadequately published, as will appear in the 
sections devoted to the problems there investigated; it is therefore not surprising that he seldom 
found time for the preparation of independent articles for scientific journals. One of the few 
subjects that he treated in this way was the origin of joints, with particular relation to those 
that he had seen in the Bonneville clays. 6 His discussion of this topic is objectively a useful 
contribution to a difficult problem, but it is here of greater interest as an illustration of his capac- 
ity and his habit, one might almost say, his preference for maintaining a suspended judgment 
in matters regarding which any shade of doubt remained. He described the facts and then 
examined the explanations that had been proposed for them: 

If the considerations here adduced have weight, then neither hypothesis [shrinking or compression] is satis- 
factory, and the problem is an open one. It is certainly hard to correlate the parallelipipedons into which the 
clays of the Salt Lake desert are divided with the polygonal prisms normally arising from shrinkage; and it is 
especially hard to admit that the clays have been subjected since their deposition to coercive pressures from two 
independent directions. In my judgment it is proper to conclude, first, that the joints are not due to shrinkage, 
and second, that the theory which regards them as identical with slat}' cleavage and ascribes both to compression 
is untenable. If pressure and compression suffice for the explanation of slaty cleavage, then jointed structure is 
something distinct from cleavage and needs an independent explanation. If joints and cleavage are merely 
diverse expressions of the same general structure, then the theory of slaty cleavage which has been so widely 
received fails to comprehend all the facts and needs to be revised. 

It may be added that while this problem was in Gilbert's mind, his few diagrams of basin- 
range structures represented their inferred marginal faults by vertical fines, this being the graphic 
expression of his belief that their uplift resulted from vertical displacement without lateral 
compression; and that it was from this indirect argument he excluded compression from all share 
in the production of joints in the Bonneville clays. It was not until a number of years later 
that he came upon certain features of the range fronts which indicate a slanting attitude of the 
master fault planes, and it would seem that the oblique displacement of the mountain blocks 
on such faults might well occasion a considerable amount of compression in the surface parts of 
the blocks at least; but it is hardly possible that the small amount of oblique displacement in 
post-Bonneville time could compress the clays sufficiently to joint them. 


It is sad to have to relate that during this period of growing scientific relations Gilbert's 
home life was clouded by a heavy affliction. For two years after returning from Salt Lake City 
his family had no fixed residence in Washington, and it was during this unsettled period that 

• Postglacial joints. Amer. Journ. Sci., ixiii, 1882, 25-27. On the origin of jointed structure. Ibid., uiv, 1882, 50-53; xivii, 1884, 47-49. 
20154°— 26 16 


to his profound grief his little daughter, Bessie, whom he "loved more than anyone else in the 
world," died of diphtheria, May 8, 1883, in her seventh year. A short time afterwards the 
father, mother, and aunt were attacked by the same disease, then so much dreaded, but all 
recovered. Gilbert's recovery must have been slow, for a burden of grief at the loss of his 
daughter weighed upon him. He went to Virginia the following summer for a month's rest 
alone in the country. It was probably to this painful period that he alluded, when talking 
years afterwards with a friend to whom he confided many intimate matters, as a time in which 
he had "fought out" certain questions of inmost religious belief; but on such subjects he rarely 
spoke to anyone. 

A touching allusion to the death of the little daughter is found in one of his letters written 
many years later to his elder son. He briefly mentions seeing "a quiet little girl of Bessie's 
age," thus showing that she remained a child in his memory, although she would then, if living, 
have been a middle-aged woman. It is always so when the young die; more fortunate than 
the Sibyl who escaped death at the heavy cost of growing very, very old, children on dying 
preserve a long-lasting youth in the hearts of their parents. A still later memorial of the sad 
summer of 1883 was found in Gilbert's will, a paragraph of which read: 

I bequeath to Emma Dean Powell, widow of the late John W. Powell, the sum of one thousand dollars 
in loving remembrance of her great kindness to me and mine in time of need. 

The cause of this bequest appears to be that, the time of Bessie Gilbert 's fatal illness being 
before the modern era of professional nursing, the care of the little sufferer was shared by 
members and friends of the family. Her father watched by her bedside untd loss of sleep 
made him distrust Ms capacity to give her proper attention, and Major Powell's wife was one 
of those who relieved him when he was exhausted. 

It was at a somewhat earlier date that the prolonged ill health of Gilbert's wife began. 
Its first impairment, attributed to coal-gas poisoning which affected all the family, but the 
mother most severely, was not so serious as to interfere greatly with the usual course of home 
life; this was indeed stabilized in October, 1883, by the purchase of a house, 1424 Corcoran 
Street. As the father's salary, even when supplemented by the installments of an inheritance 
which his wife had received from her mother, was not greatly in excess of the family expenses, 
a good part of the cost of the house was left on mortgage; but the mortgage was steadily reduced 
by annual payments and canceled in 1886. This house continued to be Gilbert's residence 
until his wife's death, 16 years later, although in the meantime the family was much divided 
by reason of the father's absences on field work, the mother's illness which sometimes neces- 
sitated her withdrawal to a convalescent hospital, and the boys' attendance at boarding school. 
The Corcoran Street house was nevertheless a preferred gathering ground for the neighborhood 
playmates of the two boys when they were at home, for despite her illness the boys' mother 
always made the "crowd" welcome. One of them, who still recalls with gratitude the good 
times he enjoyed there, imagines that the bill for ginger snaps and milk on which the "crowd" 
was often regaled must have been enormous. 

Each year during the heat of the summer, when Gilbert was absent for longer or shorter 
periods, Mrs. Gilbert and her sons usually went out of town; to a Virginia village, in 1881; to 
Asbury Park, N. J., in 1S84 and 1885; to Hamilton, Md., in 1886; to Mount Desert, Me., in 
1887; and to Rye Beach, N. H, in 1888. In the spring of 1887, Gilbert took up bicycle riding, 
for which the smooth streets of Washington were well adapted ; and a number of entries in his 
pocket diary of that year record the hiring of a "Sociable," or two-seated bicycle, on which he 
and his wife rode together. 

Such was Gilbert's thrift that during the same year in which he finished paying for his 
house, he made also the last payments on a life insurance policy for $9,000, and yet saved $780 
at the end of the year. Nevertheless, the margin of income over expenses was frequently 
narrow; for although a little over $1,000 was saved in one year of exceptional economy, the 
savings of the next year were reduced to $80 by the cost of repairs on the Corcoran Street house; 
and a trip to Europe in 1888 left a balance of only $55 at the close of that year. These items 

academ, of sciences] SCIENTIFIC RELATIONS 141 

are recorded here in order that future historians and economists may know the conditions of 
life imposed in the latter part of the nineteenth century by the richest country in the world 
on one of the ablest men in its service. It may be added that in 1889 the Corcoran Street 
house was painted; that event being here chronicled, not because of its intrinsic importance, 
but because it serves to introduce a characteristic passage from one of Gilbert's letters to an 
intimate correspondent: 

I have had my house painted a pale green-gray and the trimmings a deep but rather quiet green — window 
sashes red. I know it is all right, first because I got Mr. Gill, one of our [Survey] artists, to tell me what colors 
to use, second because it looks all right. If someone tells you you are happy and if you feel happy, why of course 
you are happy. 

After mention of other members of the family, the letter continued: "The old man is still 
serenely bobbing upwardly." 

Gilbert had great need of his serenity, for his wife's health had changed from bad to worse 
and in time reached the stage of chronic invalidism. As she could give little care to the house- 
hold, the two boys spent a large part of each year with their uncle at Rochester or at boarding 
schools and summer camps; the "old man" was much alone. Although he gave every care and 
made every effort to restore his wife to health, she never recovered her strength. His devoted 
attention during the long period of her invalidism excited the admiration as well as the sympathy 
of his associates. Even when oppressed by care and grief, his patience was untiring, his 
though tf ulness unfailing; and as far as the outside world could see his serenity was preserved 
unruffled. Indeed, so buoyant was his nature and so well was he sustained at time of trouble 
by a courageous and cheerful philosophy, that in spite of the disappointment caused by the 
transfer of his work from the Great Basin to the Appalachians, and in spite of the distractions 
caused by home cares, his life always seemed to be joyous. 


The Sixth Annual Report of the National Survey for 1884-85 announced that Gilbert, then 
a little over 40 years of age, had been placed in charge of the division of Appalachian geology, 
but the next year he was relieved of its Archean rocks. Gilbert commented on the task thus 
assigned to him as differing from his previous work "not only in its character but in the fact that 
it already possesses a copious literature." It may be doubted whether the resulting necessity 
of looking up all the fragmental studies of his many predecessors made the Appalachian field 
attractive to his original and independent mind. However, he accepted the duty and reported 
for 1885-86 that a comprehensive subject-bibliography of Appalachian geology had been begun, 
and that under his direction some 6,000 bibliographic cards had been prepared; the next year 
the number of cards reached 11,000. A later consequence following from this particular man- 
ifestation of Gilbert's all-round capacity was his appointment in 1891 as the American member 
of an international commission, under the chairmanship of de Margerie of Paris, to prepare a 
bibliography of geological bibliographies, which was published in 1896, as noted below. In the 
meantime, the completion of the Bonneville report was still delayed. 

Appalachian field work was begun in the second half of 1S84, when Gilbert spent a fortnight 
of August in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. It is significant that 
his observations there were not stratigraphic, but had "special reference to the terrace system 
of the mountain valleys," a distinctly physiographic problem. Three weeks were given some- 
what later to similar studies in New England and eastern New York; and from this it may be 
inferred that the chief of the Appalachian division expected to gather a larger volume of novel 
results by the application of new methods of physiographic interpretation, learned in the West, 
to this long-studied eastern region, than could be gained in the same amount of time from a 
revision of its stratigraphy. The physiographic nature of his interest in the Appalachians was 
further emphasized in his administrative chapter of the annual report for 1885-86, in which it 
was announced that he reserved for his own study the "evidence of elevation and subsidence 
existing in the topography of the entire district." But although his intention thus appears to 
have been all-embracing at first, his published work on the modern or physiographic phase of 


Appalachian history is almost Wholly limited to the region of the lower Great Lakes, where his 
field work began in the summer of 1885, as will be narrated below. Regarding the physiography 
of the remainder of his eastern field, his associates and disciples, inspired in the next following 
years as much unconsciously as consciously by his suggestive teachings, published far more than 
he did ; yet he was so generous as to congratulate them on their work. He wrote to a corre- 
spondent in July, 1891: 

When I was called east to take charge of the Appalachian division, the part of work I reserved for myself 
was the correlation of the coastal plain formations and unconformities with the baselevels of the Appalachians; 
but I never got fairly at it, and so and have cut in ahead of me. As I do not believe in the estab- 
lishment of scientific preserves, I have no complaints to make, and only a shade of regret that I am not in it; 
otherwise I am proud of the way the work is being done. 

As to the Paleozoic geology of the Appalachians, Gilbert appears never to have exercised 
more than a supervising control. He retained charge of the division for five years, and visited 
his field parties in the Southern States on several occasions, but the actual field work was done 
by his assistants. The first of these, appointed in 1S85, were Russell and Wdlis, who like their 
chief had previously worked in the West; they were assigned to the study of several transverse 
sections widely spaced from Maryland to Alabama. Hayes, Keith, Geiger, and Darton were 
added in 1S87, and in that year the transverse sections were completed and areal work was 
begun. Along with this, Gilbert proposed the preparation of a soil map of the Appalachian 
belt, but the proposal was not realized. Much of his own work was still, as reported to Powell 
in the ninth annual, 1887-88, turned to a variety of small tasks: 

My attention in Washington has been directed largely to administrative details under your immediate 
direction, but I have also spent some time upon the long deferred report on the history of Lake Bonneville, now 
nearly ready for the press. 

His share in Appalachian work was therefore more in the way of advice and inspiration 
than performance. That he left to his associates, to whom he opened wide opportunity and 
gave full responsibility and full credit, and from whom he therefore received the most loyal 
service; for there is nothing that binds a junior to his senior so much as to be trusted. 

As areal work soon advanced at such a rate that paleontological correlation could not 
keep pace with it, a serious problem arose, for which an expedient solution was announced in 
the tenth annual, 1888-89; the field parties were "compelled to define and map formations as 
local masses"; or, as stated more fully a year later in the eleventh annual, "formations rather 
than names should be mapped; that is to say, the actual distributions afforded by the strati- 
graphy of the given area are to be represented on the map in preference to distinctions belong- 
ing to the stratigraphic succession of other areas. " In consequence of these instructions the 
field geologists had to introduce a large number of new names for locally recognizable groups 
of strata which could not be accurately assigned to the standard subdivisions of the geological 
scale, previously established chiefly with reference to those in New York. This decision, which 
had Powell's full approval but which was undoubtedly formulated by Gilbert, has been adversely 
criticized by those who desired to see what they regarded as a more scientific method ol progress 
in the national survey; but the reason, not to say the necessity, for the decision is fairly mani- 
fest in the case of a survey that depends for its continued existence on annual appropriations 
from a Congress not always interested in the expenditure of large sums of money lor scientific 
purposes. The funds available each year truly might have been so apportioned that the area 
mapped according to visible formations by the field geologists should not have been extended 
faster than fossils could have been searchingly collected from each of the formations on the 
ground and studiously compared with the standard collections of the National Museum and 
elsewhere, so that, theoretically at least, a single set of time names might be applied to all 
areas ; but on such a plan the progress of the geological map, the preparation of which was the 
survey's prime duty, would have been so slow as to endanger the continuation of congressional 
appropriations. Hence the available funds were so apportioned that areal work should advance 
rapidly enough to make what might be congressionally considered a good showing for the funds 

academy of sciences] SCIENTIFIC RELATIONS 143 

expended. The practical exigency was met in a practical way, and as a result the effectively 
mapped Appalachian area increased rapidly. A number of years later, when paleontological 
studies were more advanced, they were given greater application. 

While the work of the Appalachian division was in successful progress, a new task of large 
importance was laid upon its chief. The growth of the survey necessitated that descriptions 
of all formations belonging under the chief divisions of the geological time scale in every part 
of the United States should be gathered from the countless articles and reports in which they 
were recorded, comprehensively reviewed, and summarized in standard form for ready reference. 
Hence a series of bulletins, called " Correlation Papers," were begun by various authors under 
Gilbert's supervision, as will be further told below. But in spite of these added duties, he 
reported on July 1, 1889: 

The monograph of Lake Bonneville is now complete in manuscript, and will be transmitted in a few days. 

It might be thought that he would have thereupon turned his attention more closely to 
the Appalachian field, but a very different fate awaited him. The direction of work on the 
Appalachians was handed over to Willis, and Gilbert was appointed to the new office of "chief 
geologist" in order to relieve Powell of administrative details; as a result he was withdrawn 
from nearly all his own studies and held in Washington for three years even more closely than 



Gilbert's first presidential address 

Gilbert's election in 1884 as president of the Society of American Naturalists — the first 
scientific society to discover that he was made of presidential timber — placed upon him the duty 
of preparing an address that should be acceptable to scientists of both the indoor and the 
outdoor kind. It may be inferred that in casting about for a subject to his mind, he recalled 
a passage he had written during the year of his presidency in a review of Geikie's " Geological 
sketches at home and abroad," which runs as follows: Two of the sketches were selected for 
particular mention ; one — 

describes a journey to central France, undertaken for the purpose of studying the extinct volcanoes of that 
region as an aid to the imagination in restoring the condition of Scotland during the Carboniferous period; 
and another describes a journey to Norway with the parallel purpose of rendering vivid the mental restoration 
of Scotland in Glacial times. These two are perhaps the most instructive of the collection, for besides making 
definite additions to the geological history of Scotland, they present admirable illustrations of one of the most 
valuable methods of scientific investigation. The principles which distinguish modern scientific research are 
not easily communicated by precept, and it is by no means certain that they have yet been correctly formulated. 
However it may be in the future it is certain that in the past they have been imparted, and for the present 
they must be imparted, from master to pupil chiefly by example; and whoever in publishing the result of a 
scientific inquiry sets forth at the same time the process by which it was attained contributes doubly to the 
cause of science. 1 

The principle stated in the last sentence was exemplified in his presidential address. 

The meeting of the naturalists was held in Boston in December, 1885, and there Gilbert 
came for the first time into acquaintance with a good number of biologists. He not only de- 
lighted them by his fine presence, but his presidential address on " The inculcation of scientific 
method by example" was at once recognized as so masterful a production that he was forthwith 
reelected as president of the society for a second year. The address 2 has ever since held a high 
place among American scientific essays and still merits attentive study by every geologist who 
has not read it ; indeed it deserves rerea