Books  General Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel 

California's Frontier Naturalists

By: Richard G Beidleman

484 pages, B/w figs

University of California Press

Hardback | Feb 2006 | #159133 | ISBN: 0520230108
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NHBS Price: £36.95 $49/€41 approx

About this book

This book chronicles the fascinating story of the enthusiastic, stalwart, and talented naturalists who were drawn to California's spectacular natural bounty over the decades from 1786, when the La Perouse Expedition arrived at Monterey, to the Death Valley expedition in 1890-91, the proclaimed "end" of the American frontier. Richard G. Beidleman's engaging and marvelously detailed narrative describes these botanists, zoologists, geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, and ethnologists as they camped under stars and faced blizzards, made discoveries and amassed collections, kept journals and lost valuables, sketched flowers and landscapes, recorded comets and native languages. He weaves together the stories of their lives, their demanding fieldwork, their contributions to science, and their exciting adventures against the backdrop of California and world history.

California's Frontier Naturalists covers all the major expeditions to California as well as individual and institutional explorations, introducing naturalists who accompanied boundary surveys, joined federal railroad parties, traveled with river topographical expeditions, accompanied troops involved with the Mexican War, and made up California's own geological survey. Among these early naturalists are famous names - David Douglas, Thomas Nuttall, John Charles Fremont, William Brewer - as well as those who are less well-known, including Paolo Botta, Richard Hinds, and Sara Lemmon.

In California's Frontier Naturalists, Richard Beidleman has eloquently chronicled the history of explorations and discovery that revealed the grand legacy of California's biodiversity. More than just a series of scholarly essays about naturalists, collections, and species, this book provides lively insight into the motivation that lured diverse naturalists to California's 'natural cornucopia', their personalities, their remarkable experiences, and their lasting contributions. - Dieter Wilken, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden"


List of Illustrations; Preface; Prelude; Captain Cook; The Cornucopia of California; Part I: The Oceanic Expeditions; Part II: The Early Peripatetic Naturalists; Part III: The Overland Expeditions and Their Naturalists; Part IV: Iron Horses and River Steamers: The 1850s Surveys; Part V: The California Geological Survey; Part VI: Institutions and Naturalists; Part VII: The Postwar Naturalists; Postlude: The End of California's "Frontier"; The Death Valley Expedition, 1890-1891; The Lingering California Frontier; Selected References; Index.

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Richard G. Beidleman is Professor Emeritus of Biology at The Colorado College, and Research Associate at the University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley. He is coauthor, with L.H. Beidleman and B.E. Willard, of Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park (2000), and, with R.R. Beidleman and L.H. Beidleman, of Annotated Bibliography of Colorado Vertebrate Zoology, 1776 - 1995 (2000).

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