Saturday, September 21, 2013

The science of appearance: phenology

Phenology is the scientific study of periodic biological phenomena, such as leafing, flowering, fruiting, breeding, migration and mutualistic interactions, in relation to climatic conditions and changing weather pattern [1-4]. Whereas many branches of natural sciences strongly rely on laboratory work and planned experiments, phenology is mainly done by outdoor observation, phenomena capturing and computational analysis. Kayri Havens and Sandra Henderson explain the term phenology in an American Scientist feature article about citizen science—past and present—as follows [3]:

Phenology literally means “the science of appearance.” The word was coined just a few years after [Henry David] Thoreau made his phenological observations, from the Greek phaino (to show or appear) and logos (to study). Phenology measures life cycle events, phenophases, in all living things. Plant phenophases are associated with leafing, flowering, and fruiting: first leaf, first flower and last flower, among others.

An inspiring aspect of phenology is that this multidisciplinary branch of science brings together professionals and amateurs with all kinds of interests and backgrounds, including trained scientists, educators, students, members of government and non-profit organizations as well as other citizens: together they participate—largely via Internet—in citizen science, also referred to as crowd-sourced science or networked science. For instance, the USA National Phenology Network (USA NPN) coordinates efforts of  researchers, students and volunteers with the goal to monitor the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes [4].

A variety of specific phenology projects have been established by a citizen science approach in North America and Europe: BudBurst [3], North American Bird Phenology Program, NatureWatch (Canada), Nature's Calendar (United Kingdom), (Ireland), Observatoire des Saison (France), Aktion Apfelblütenland (apple blossom initiative, Germany), Meteoschweiz (Switzerland) and Popek (Slovenia).

It is interesting to note that phenology projects are so much country-based, although by their very nature one would expect an organizational approach relying more on landscape type and vegetation zone.

Keywords: biology, climatology, ecology, citizen science, phenology programs and portals, Greek language.

References and more to explore
[1] The Free Dictionary: phenology [].
[2] Merriam Webster: phenology [].
[3]  K. Havens and S. Henderson: Citizen Science Takes Root. Am. Sci. Sept.-Oct. 2013, 101 (5), 378-385 [].
[4] The USA National Phenology Network [].

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lassen Volcanic's Loomis Museum named for Mae Loomis, daughter of photographer Benjamin Franklin Loomis

The historic Loomis Museum is located at the northwest entrance of the Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is also named Loomis Visitor Center. Together with the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the southwest entrance, the Loomis Museum belongs to the landmark buildings along the Lassen Park Road, which connects the two museums by winding through the park and providing access to interesting sites and trailheads including those for Kings Creek Falls, Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak.

The Loomis Museum—originally called Mae Loomis Memorial Museum—is named for Mae Loomis, the daughter of Estella and Benjamin Franklin Loomis: the museum premises were the home of Estella and Benjamin, who donated it to Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1929 and named it in honor of their daughter, Louisa Mae, who died at age 20 during an an influenza epidemic in 1920 [1].

Today, the family name “Loomis” is mostly associated with Mae's father (shown in portrait), a native of Illinois, who came to Tehama County in the early 1860s and established a logging and lumber business in the Manzanita Lake region [1,2]. B. F. Loomis chronicled eruptions of Lassen Peak, a plug dome volcano, between 1914 and 1921. An interpretive panel summarizes the Loomis Legacy:
The enthusiasm, talent, and dedication of Benjamin F. Loomis helped bring a national park into existence. His legacy started with the photographs he took, which today still spark understanding and awe of Lassen Park's historic eruptive events. In 1926 he published the Pictorial History of the Lassen Volcano, to “give the sightseer a clearer idea of what has occurred.” And in 1927, in memory of their daughter, he and his wife Estella built the Mae Loomis Memorial Museum and Seismographic Station [...] to showcase Benjamin's photographic records and monitor ongoing volcanic activity. 
The panel further mentions that the Loomises retained the right to live on the museum premises, built an art shop there and spent their summers selling photographs and assisting visitors to the volcanic landscape. Mr. Loomis died in 1935 and Mrs. Loomis in 1953.

During the summer months, the Loomis Museum offers ranger-led programs, videos and exhibits related to Lassen Peaks's eruption history and Lassen Park's geology, including rock specimen such as the Bumpass Hell sulfurous andesite and Sulphur Works quartz-pyrite pseudomorph.

Keywords: traveling, history, photography, documentation, renaming, volcanic activity.

References and more to explore
[1] Dottie Smith: Travelin'n in Time: Images of eruption made name for Benjamin Loomis. October 28, 2010 [].
[2] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; page 67.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lassen Volcanic's Kings Creek and its waterfalls named for the King family of Shasta County

A waterfall in Lassen Volcanic National Park: Kings Creek Falls
The Kings Creek cascades and waterfalls belong, like the geothermal Bumpass Hell area and the  Lassen Peak Summit, to the most popular sightseeing and hiking destinations in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. King is a very common name. All the Lassen Park landmarks with this name derive their designation from local residents and relatives: the King family including James, Jane and their son Oscar

Not much is known about the King family. They are figures of northern California's ranching history, as Tim I. Purdy tells us [1]:

Ranching interests also [in addition to mining interests] played a role in the region's early history. In the summer of 1860, Hiram Rawson of Red Bluff had 2,000 sheep grazing at nearby Battle Creek Meadows. Other livestock operators, primarily from Shasta and Tehama counties, found the region suitable for summer pasture. Among least known of these individuals were Shasta County residents James and Jane King, whose son Oscar was born in 1879 in the meadows that today bears the family's name. Information concerning their activities is marginal, in part because they never formally claimed or obtained a land patent to this property. Besides the meadows, a creek and a waterfall were named for them.

In a 2009 Red Bluff Daily News column, Jean Barton also referred to Tim I. Purdy's book “Lassen Volcanic” (and to his book “Lake Almanor”) [2]. She compared appearances of park sites, which she was visiting in 2009, with how she remembered them from earlier visits. Jean mentions the marginal information concerning the King's activities and writes about some of the King's contemporaries, who in their own way were going to make a living around Lassen Peak in the late 19th century.  

Keywords: history, genealogy, geography, place naming; Kings Meadows, Kings Creek, Kings Creek Falls.

References and more to explore
[1] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; page 58.
[2] Jean Barton: The old and the new at Lassen Park. Red Bluff Daily News - Opinion, Aug. 22, 2009 [].

Friday, September 6, 2013

Northern California's Lassen Peak named for Peter Lassen, a Danish blacksmith and pioneer

Peter Lassen (1800-1859), a Danish blacksmith, came to California in 1840 just before before the onset of the gold rush [1-3]. Then, California was still “ruled” by Indians, Russians and Mexicans.  Lassen obtained the required Mexican citizenship to purchase land near the confluence of the Sacramento River and Deer Creek in today's Tehama County. He established the Bosuejo Ranch (meaning “wooded ranch” in Spanish), which also became known as Lassen's Rancho. He developed this site into Benton City with adobe buildings, a blacksmith shop and a store [2]. The recruitment of new settlers for this community from the east led to the exploration of novel routes over the mountain ranges into California. Towering Lassen Peak was and is a notable landmark seen from various sections of these emigrant trails.  

Being such a prominent mountain near Peter Lassen's property holdings, it does not come as a surprise that this volcano—now the eminent landmark and climber's attraction of Lassen Volcanic National Park—became finally named for the Danish-Mexican blacksmith-rancher. However, Lassen Peak's naming history is much more involved and colorful (wordful), what has been wittingly recounted by Tim I. Purdy [3]:

Lassen Peak is the most pronounced feature in the park. In 1827 it was the venerable mountain man Jedediah Smith who first named the peak Saint Joseph's Mountain, and for years it was referred to as such. Others, not knowing Smith's name for the mountain, called it Snow Butte. The Native Americans also had their own designation for the peak. By the early 1850s it was being referred to as Lassen's Butte, for the Danish entrepreneur of the region. Some individuals, however, not knowing the correct spelling of Lassen, called it “Lawson's Butte.” Over the ensuing decades it became known as Mount Lassen, and is still commonly referred to that way. When the mountain came into national prominence during its notable eruptions of 1914-15, it prompted the United States Board of Geographic Names to resolve the name issue. On June 2, 1915, the board officially named it Lassen Peak. But not everyone embraced the official designation. For example in 1917, when the peak had another eruption, E. W. Hayden of Susanville's Lassen Advocate wrote, “Old Mount Lassen (we'll call it Mount, if we want to) had another tremendous eruption of steam, smoke and ashes on Wednesday, and the display is regarded as one of the greatest since it came back as a volcano.”

The Maidu designation for the peak is Kohm Yah-mah-nee—the phrase after which the new visitor center at Lassen Volcanic's southern park entrance is named [4]. Here are the names for Lassen Peak again, listed roughly in chronological order of their coining: Kohm Yah-mah-nee, Saint Joseph's Mountain, Snow Butte, Lassen's Butte, Lawson's Butte, Mount Lassen, Lassen Peak

As a prototype of the western frontiersman, Peter Lassen is not only the namesake of the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range, but of many other geographical landmarks and regions including Lassen Emigrant Trail, Lassen County and Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen Volcanic includes more scenic places with an interesting naming history such as Lake Helen and Bumpass Hell.

Keywords: eponym, place name, geography, history, historic vocabulary; emigration, immigration, settling.

References and more to explore
[1] Franklin D. Scott: Peter Lassen: Danish Pioneer of California. Southern California Quarterly Summer 1981, 63 (2), pp. 113-136 [Preview].
[2] Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide: Peter Lassen's Grave (No. 565 California Historical Landmark) [].
[3] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; pp. 37-41.
[4] Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide: Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center [].

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lake Helen in Lassen Volcanic named after the first white woman who ascended Lassen Peak

Lake Helen, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lake Helen is an alpine tarn in the Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. This small lake is located northwest of the Lassen Park Road between the trailhead for Bumpass' mishap area and the trailhead for Lassen Peak (seen in the background of the photo above), said to be the world's largest plug dome volcano. Lassen Peak was scaled by surveying parties and tourist groups in the second half of the 19th century. One such group consisted of Pierson B. Reading, Kendall Bumpass, S. S. Thomas, and Aurelius and Helen Brodt, who climbed the mountain in late August 1864 [1]. Helen Tanner Brodt (1838-1908) became the first white woman to see the lake that was named for her and also the first woman making it onto Lassen's top [1-3].

In 1863, Mrs. Brodt moved from New York City, where she had been trained in art, to Red Bluff west of Lassen Peak. She lived as a painter and art teacher in Red Bluff, taught art in Oakland and exhibited her art at the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 [3].

Any person with an artistic instinct and a longing for nature must want to conquer the wild Lassen landscape by painting, hiking and sightseeing. Helen's husband Aurelius mentions the naming of Lake Helen in a letter to his mother. Tim I. Purdy has the story [1]: 

On August 28, they [the group] made the ascent to the top of the peak. Two weeks later, the Brodts journeyed to Susanville, where Aurelius Brodt wrote to his mother about his journey in the mountains, “Last week Helen and myself climbed and stood upon the very top of Lassen Peak, 11,000 feet above the level of the ocean. It was a thrilling adventure-we walked over ice and snow that had probably been there for centuries-we found a crater in active operation, sending up vast clouds of sulphurous steam making a deafening roar similar to an immense steam engine [Bumpass Hell]. We found a beautiful little lake near the top of the mountain which was named Lake Helen after my wife, she being the first woman that had ever seen it, also her name and date Aug. 28, 1864 is inscribed on the side of a large rock on the very peak, she being the first woman that ever ascended the peak.

Obviously, the lake name received approval. The 2013 Lassen park map gives an elevation for the summit of Lassen Peak that is somewhat below 11,000 feet:  10,457 feet (3,187 meter). We need to remember that the group climbed the volcano many years before its eruptions between 1914 and 1917. The ocean level has changed, too. I am not sure how accurate the elevation of Lake Helen and Lassen Peak was known at the time of Helen's and Aurelius' adventure.  

Keywords: eponym, place name, geography, history, summit climbing.

References and more to explore
[1] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; pp. 48-49.
[2] Tracy Salcedo-Chourré: Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park. Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut, 2001; page 37.
[3] Women Artists of Mount Shasta: 1860s-1930s [].

Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic named after Kendall Vanhook Bumpass

Bumpass Hell is a hydrothermal area in Lassen Volcanic, short for Lassen Volcanic National Park. This steaming, smelling, white-yellow crustscape of hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles and sulfur precipitations is named after ill-fated cowboy-prospector Kendall Vanhook Bumpass (1809-1885), who lost a leg here, while guiding a visitor to what he and his partner Pierson Reading had claimed on September 10, 1864, for mining purposes [1-3]. An on-site interpretive panel describes that event, originally published in the Red Bluff Independent newspaper:

Our guide [Mr. K. V. Bumpass], after cautioning us to be careful where we stepped, that the surface was treacherous, suddenly concluded with Virgil that the “descent to Hell was easy” for stepping upon a slight inequality in the ground he broke through the crust and plunged his leg into the boiling mud beneath, which clinging to his limb burned him severely. If our guide had been a profane man I think he would have cursed a little; as it was, I think his silence was owing to his inability to do the subject justice....
Editor, Red Bluff Independent, 1865

Tim I. Purdy has this version of the mishap [1]:

In September 1865, Bumpass acted as a tour guide for Watson Chalmers, publisher of the Red Bluff Independent. Upon arriving at Bumpass' mining claim, Chalmers wrote, “On turning the ridge all the wonders of hell were suddenly before us and the descent into hell was easy.” Bumpass warned Chalmers to be cautious while walking around the boiling mud pots, for the ground was not as stable as it appeared. Alas, that was exactly what happened to Bumpass on this visit, as one leg broke through the crust into the boiling mud. For relief, there was a nearby snowbank wherein Bumpass, using a handkerchief, wrapped his leg with the snow.

Bumpass Hell became a tourist attraction. Today, visitors of this hazard zone are guided over its thin, brittle and slippery ground via boardwalks to and between the bubbling pools and roaring holes. Warning signs such as the one below try to raise sightseers' awareness—so they will avoid Bumpass' fate and, instead, stay well in hell.

Mr. Bumpass, by the way, never came back to the fateful field to develop his mining claim.

Note: K. V. Bumpass' name is occasionally written with an uppercase H: Kendall VanHook Bumpass

Keywords: eponym, place name, geography, curiosity, incautiousness, accident, unfortunate experience, leg amputation.

References and more to explore
[1] Tim I. Purdy: Lassen Volcanic. Lahontan Images, Susanville, California, 2009; pages 48 and 53-54.
[2] Dottie Smith: Travelin' in Time: The scary wonder of Bumpass'. June 13, 2013 [].
[3] Wild Ink Press: {bumpass hell.} October 17, 2011 [].