Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘geology’

I really need to get out more. I mean out around campus. Despite having worked at Amherst for over a decade, I somehow never heard about the boulder sitting on the south side of the Octagon until recently. On the occasions I’ve gone past it, I’m sure I didn’t notice it.

A large bowlder and friends

A large bowlder and friends

This may seem like a minor offense – it is, after all, just a rock on campus, right? But knowing the history of the College is mandatory in the archives. It’s our raison d’être. We seek to know everything about our turf, and then to make it possible for others to know it too.

So when I heard about this boulder, I immediately reached into my bag of paranoias: surely I alone was ignorant of the facts surrounding the boulder. I would have to hide my ignorance from my colleagues. My stomach churned.

But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps other people don’t know about the rock either. On the assumption, therefore, that my reader may also be ignorant of the facts, let me set them down here with the few relevant documents that remain to us.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Photograph of the “Orinoco” train wreck, August 5, 1893. B.K. Emerson Papers.

In August of 1893, there was a terrible accident on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad. The Springfield Republican reported that the Chicago-bound express, the “Orinoco,” jumped the track and ran into the engine of a local freight train. Three sleeper cars were wrecked and nearly 30 people were killed or injured. Among the dead, The Republican reported, was Professor Benjamin Kendall Emerson, a prominent geologist and beloved teacher at Amherst College. The paper published a moving and thorough obituary of Professor Emerson attached to the report of the wreck, lamenting that the “ending of a career so full of usefulness, of high enthusiasm and solid achievement is all sadness and unavailing regret.”

Headline from the Springfield Republican, August 7, 1893.

It was “characteristically vigorous” of Benjamin K. Emerson, wrote Horatio Smith in 1932, “that he should outlive his own obituary by forty years.”* Though injured in the accident, Emerson did not die and was back in Amherst within the month.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Pdf of the Oration by Story Hebard, Class of 1828

Here is a fun manuscript I ran across recently in our Historical Manuscripts Collection. It is an oration given by student Story Hebard (Class of 1828) on August 27th, 1828 on the topic of “The Temperature of the Interior of the Earth”. Professor Edward Hitchcock (later president of the College from 1845-1854), a noted geologist, had given a copy, in French, of the 1827 Essay on the Temperature of the Interior of the Earth by L. Cordier to the Junior class at Amherst (a mere 40 students), who were so taken with it that they promptly translated it into English and at the urging of Professor Hitchcock had it published in 1828. Hebard’s oration summarizes the extensive research and conclusions drawn by Cordier and adds the numerous additional theories of the student translators that are shared in published essay in the “Note to the Translation.” I find this a fascinating view into cutting edge science in the early 19th century, with its mixture of hard data, enduring discoveries and utter crack-pottery. Of particular interest are the efforts to support biblical veracity using science, a priority for Hitchcock and many other scientists of his day (see Hitchcock’s Religion of Geology).

(more…)

Read Full Post »