California. Geological Survey

Alternative names

Hide Profile

The California Geological Survey was created by the state legislature in 1860 and lasted until 1874. Soon after the bill’s passing, Josiah Dwight Whitney of Massachusetts was appointed to the position of state geologist and given the responsibility of directing a four-year geological survey of the state. It was further recommended that a "full and scientific description" of the state's "rocks, fossils, soils, and minerals, and of its botanical and zoological productions” be produced. Joining Whitney on the survey were his two assistants William H. Brewer and William Ashburn, Clarence King as a volunteer reconnaissance geologist, and mining engineer James T. Gardiner. Brewer, who also served as First Assistant to Whitney, was the head botanist from 1860 to 1864 and “the first to botanize to any considerable extent in the high Sierras.” Brewer left the survey in 1864, returning to the eastern United States to make arrangements for the compilation of the botanical report, which was published in 1876 through the effort of private funds donated by citizens of San Francisco. During the seasons of 1866 and 1867, Henry N, Bolander replaced Brewer as the head field botanist on the expedition, while several other naturalists collected specimens in various locations throughout California. Whitney also recruited topographer and mining engineer Charles Frederick Hoffman in March of 1861. The group began the survey in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, where they spent the winter. They journeyed up and down the California interior exploring the Sierra Nevada mountain range, for which the highest peak is now named after Whitney. Other sites where fossils and botanical specimens were collected included; Clear Lake, the San Joaquin River, Yosemite Valley, and the area near Mount Shasta.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: CorporateBody : Description : rid_13_eid_EACE0013

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Blake, William Phipps person
correspondedWith Brewer, W. H. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sierra Nevada
United States
San Bernardino Mountains
San Joaquin
Shasta, Mount
Smithsonian Exchange

Corporate Body



Ark ID: w69q91cm

SNAC ID: 6755939