Scientist of the Day - Amos Eaton
Amos Eaton, an American geologist, was born May 17, 1776. Eaton was a co-founder (with Stephen van Rensselaer) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and he taught there until his death in 1842. In 1818, Eaton published An Index to the Geology of the Northern States (third image), which contains a large folding geological section, showing the rock formations from Boston to the Hudson River (first image). It is, we believe, the first geological section of any part of North America. One of the prominent features of this woodcut is the word "Granite" spelled out in large letters at the bottom, indicating the bedrock below most of New England (second image).
Three decades after Eaton died, in 1874, a group of alumni and admirers erected a monument at the site of Eaton's grave. It is a huge, 11-ton cube of Maine granite, 5 feet on a side, and it is hard to think of a more appropriate choice for an Eaton memorial stone (fourth image).
The archives at RPI has an engraved portrait of Eaton (fifth image), one of the few contemporary portraits of any kind that survives. We have both the first and second (1820) editions of Eaton’s Index in our Library.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to email@example.com.