From July to September 1890 John Muir and his friends toured Glacier Bay. Dr. Henry Platt Cushing did the meteorological, geologic and botanical studies on the trip. He was a prominent geologist who taught at Western Reserve University . He was joined by his collegue Dr. Henry Fielding Reid of the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, Ohio. (Today these two universities are combined to be Case Western Reserve University).
Their students were:
Comfort Avery Adams, who had just graduated from Western University with a degree in mechanical engineering and later taught at Harvard for 45 years in electrical engineering.
R.L. Casement of Plainesville, Ohio.
Mr. James H. McBride later physician at CalTech.
John F. Morse (presumably taking the photo) who later was a physician in San Francisco, but died at the age of 40 in 1898 there.
In 1890 Muir’s health was poor and he suffered from snow blindness. He expressed irritation with the “stream of tourists habitually snapping their Kodaks and asking naive questions, and with the haste at which they ceased gazing at glaciers whenever a dinner bell sounded.” However, like many tourists today, Muir returned to Glacier Bay in 1899. All of his friends later had glaciers named for them.
Mt Blackburn about 10 miles from the base of Muir Glacier apparently “erupted” on April 10, 1902. A geologist, J.C. McFarland who happened to be nearby stated:
“On April 11 at about 7:30 in the morning the air about me became oppressive with a distinct and uncommon silence. In my wanderings through different wilds I had become used to many strange freaks of nature, but this one appalled me. I was in a rough mountainous country, I should judge about 10 miles from the base of Mount Blackburn, in Southeastern Alaska, not far from the starting point of a glacier called Muir Glacier. Suddenly the earth beneath my foot shook, a low rumbling sound accompanied the quaking. I glanced up at Mount Blackburn. Instantly it seemed as though the peak had opened; a cloud of ashes and smoke shot out into the air several hundred feet, and then there seemed to flow from the opening in the top a stream of dirty stuff mixed with large and small boulders. This continued only for about ten minutes then ceased as suddenly as it had begun.
It was three days after many perilous attempts before I succeeded in reaching the base of the mountain. Then I discovered that the country for miles around had been affected. The small undergrowth of the trees had been entirely covered. This stuff which poured from the top of the mountain was not even warm, but seemed to consist purely of dust rocks and other substances. As far as I can discover this mountain had never been considered of a volcanic nature.”
The official story is that the last time Mt Blackburn erupted was 3-5 million years ago. The 1902 incident was probably just a geologic burp.
New York Times, June 3, 1902
Henry Sarvant was born in 1860 in New York. Immigrating to Tacoma in 1889, he had a long and varied life, working as a pioneer Tacoma civil engineer as well as serving for several terms as mayor of the town of Steilacoom. He made many trips to Mt. Rainier and made the first extensive surveys of the region. According to records kept by Mr. Longmire, on an expedition made in August 1892 with Mr. J. K. Samble, Sarvant was one of the first 11 people to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier. He led P. B. Trump’s party on several of the early climbs to the summit. He also worked for the Washington Geological Survey party of Mt. Rainier, and he named many of the lakes, glaciers, and peaks in the park. Later on, a series of glaciers on the northeast slope was named after him. Here he is pictured on a glacier on Mt. Rainier in 1896.
In 1897 Sarvant traveled to the Klondike region, where he worked as a surveyor and located a successful mine, earning enough gold to fund his later business and farming ventures. He followed one of the more popular routes through Dyea and over the Chilkoot Pass. It was not easy-during the winter months heavy snow and ice made the trip dangerous and difficult, and in the fall and spring travelers had to contend with thick, unending mud. He was also a photographer of the Gold Rush. Sarvant’s Klondike photographs were taken between August 1897 and November 1901. They chronicle his trip up to the Klondike at the beginning of the Gold Rush through Dyea and over the Chilkoot Pass to Dawson.
He died on this day, March 9, 1940 in Yakima Washington.
Univ. of Wash. library online.