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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


William Trelease

1857 - 1945

William Trelease

William Trelease. Source: Missouri Botanical Garden.
William Trelease was born in Mount Vernon, New York in 1857. In his teens he was briefly apprenticed in a machine shop, but in 1877 he decided to enter Cornell College and study the natural sciences. After Cornell, he taught at the University of Wisconsin, and planned to study bacteriology there; but when he was offered the director's job at the St. Louis Botanical Garden, he accepted. It was an ideal position for Trelease, a gifted botanist with a genius for classifying plants. He directed the 75 acre garden for 23 years, during which time he identified and named 2500 species and varieties of flora. Trelease's botanical interests were broad: he published a paper on the giant cactus of Mexico in the same year that he published his findings about coastal species in Alaska. He studied apple scab, leaf blight, nematodes.

While on the Elder, he worked with the others involved in botany, collecting specimens, but tending to play second fiddle to Muir, Gilbert and the other, more talkative, scientists. He was first and foremost a scientist, not a story-teller.

After the expedition, he returned to St. Louis, and eventually taught at the University of Illinois. His work includes hundreds of scholarly papers, but Trelease was not solely an academic. He published a small, inexpensive set of guides for the everyday gardener, that remain, to this day, a value for anyone who wishes to graft an apple tree, or identify and avoid poison ivy in the winter. Trelease died in 1945.




For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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