Exploring Central Oregon resources
Professor Israel Cook Russell led an expedition through Central Oregon in 1905 to study the geology and water resources of the region for the U.S. Geological Survey. It was one of his last exploration reconnaissance trips.
He was born in Garrattsville, New York, on Dec. 10, 1852. He graduated from the University of New York in 1872 and later studied at the Columbia School of Mines and served as assistant professor at the school from 1875 to1877. In 1878, he became assistant geologist on the U.S. geological and geographical survey west of the 100th meridian. Russell also became one of the founders of the National Geographic Society in 1888. He led the first expedition sponsored by the society.
Russell led expeditions to Alaska studying glaciers and geological formations. Later, he led reconnaissance expeditions to various regions of the Great Basin, including south Central Oregon, the Snake River Plains of Idaho and Central Washington. His last reconnaissance expedition resulted in his publication, "Preliminary Report of the Geology and Water Resources of Central Oregon."
He and his team traveled expensively through Central Oregon from the High Desert to the Cascade Mountains. Although it was not a detailed study of the region, his notes and publication vividly describe the geology and geography of the region. It is a fascinating look at the region as it appeared just after the turn of the 20th century.
Most of his travel was by horseback and pack mules. A photographer accompanied the team, and his publication contains many early photos of now well-known landmarks of Central Oregon. The publication is considered a classic monogram of the region.
Shortly after publication of his report on Central Oregon, Professor Russell died on May 1, 1906, at the age of 53. He was buried in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His explorations and reports significantly added to the geology and geography of many regions of the United States.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.