This past July, David Smith, retired Visual Communications Specialist with UCMP’s Education & Public Outreach unit, retraced the route of Annie Alexander’s 1901 Fossil Lake Expedition to south-central Oregon. His guide was a scrapbook in the UCMP Archives containing some 120 photographs with short, day-by-day descriptions of the expedition’s activities.
He was accompanied by his wife, Colleen Whitney, UCMP’s first staff webmaster (2000-2004), and friend, Kirk Hastings, a retiree from the California Digital Library, a unit within the UC Office of the President (UCOP). In 2017 David and Kirk retraced Annie’s 1905 Saurian Expedition to the West Humboldt Mountains of Nevada.
The three originally planned to follow in Annie’s footsteps (or more correctly, wagon ruts) in September 2020 but the arrival of COVID forced a cancellation. They had to cancel again a year later because of the enormous Bootleg Fire. This year, they left early (July 5) and returned before any major fires broke out.
Annie’s expedition set out from Montague, just east of Yreka, in northern California. It headed east across the southern Cascades, skirted the eastern shore of Lower Klamath Lake, and entered Oregon south of Merrill. It worked its way over to Lakeview, passing through Olene, Dairy, Beatty, and Bly. From Lakeview, Annie and crew went north over the mountains to Clover Flat, staying well west of today’s US-395 and OR-31. Then it was up to Paisley and along the western shore of Summer Lake to the western shore of Silver Lake (now dry and not even showing as a lake in Google Maps). From there, the expedition traveled northeast up to Christmas and Fossil Lakes. At the latter it collected about 300 pounds of fossils. Its mission accomplished, the expedition headed west across today’s Fremont-Winema National Forest to visit Crater Lake, one year before it became a National Park. It lingered there for about 13 days, then spent a few days fishing near the northwest end of Upper Klamath Lake before returning to Montague via Klamath Falls and the Klamath River canyon.
David, Colleen, and Kirk covered the route in 11 days; Annie’s expedition took 76 days, departing Montague on May 30 and returning August 13. David is writing up a feature which he hopes to have posted on the UCMP website. It will include many maps, photos from the expedition scrapbook, and David’s own photos, plus several “then and now” photo pairings. Read David’s original study of the 1901 Fossil Lake Expedition, now in need of some editing, on the UCMP website.