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Harriman Expedition Retraced



The 1899 Expedition
The 1899


Original Participants

Brief Chronology

Science Aboard the Elder
Aboard the

History of Exploration
Exploration &

Development Along Alaska's Coast
Growth Along Alaska's Coast

Alaska Native Communities


Trevor Kincaid

1872 - 1970

Trevor Kincaid

Trevor Kincaid
Trevor Kincaid was set to graduate from the University of Washington in 1899 when he was chosen as the entomologist for the Harriman Expedition. He later wrote that "as the George W. Elder left the dock my classmates were lining up to receive their diplomas." For the young man, it was truly a voyage of discovery. As an insect specialist, he assumed that the icy coast would yield but few discoveries, but he learned that "the presence of a glacier does not necessarily mean the absence of life." One species he collected and described was the "glacier worm," familiar to Alaskan Natives, but largely unknown to the scientific community. The worm lives within the glacier, surrounding itself with a chemical anti-freeze that allows it to move though the ice. It feeds on the abundant organic matter frozen into the glacier itself.

The 1899 trip was not Kincaid's first visit to Alaska. Two years earlier he had visited the Prifilofs and Unalaska. With Harriman, he decided to skip those two stops. He and several others opted for a ten day camping trip on Popof Island.

Ultimately, his collection comprised 8000 specimens representing 1,001 species, 344 of which had been unknown to science. These were distributed to specialists throughout the country for evaluation and report. One specimen, a beautiful metallic beetle found in Farragut Bay, was later named Nebris kincaidi, in his honor.




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