Legendary geologist, explorer – 2007
Whitney (1819-1896) was the rare mix of outdoorsman and scientist, a member of the first climbing party to summit the highest point in the continental U.S., 14,497-foot “Mount Whitney.”
As an outdoorsman, Whitney took part in the Brewer Expedition, in which a team of scientists surveyed 14,000 miles, on foot or horseback, and climbed every significant mountain in the state. Their survey covered not only geology and geography, but also botany, zoology and paleontology.
As a scientist, Whitney was legendary. He was appointed the state geologist for California in 1860 and was credited with determining that Lake Tahoe was created by a collapse of fault zones. The largest glacier on Mount Shasta also was named after Whitney.