Scientist of the Day - John Strong Newberry
John Strong Newberry, an American geologist, was born Dec. 22, 1822. Newberry was a member of several Army expeditions that explored the American southwest in the 1850s. He was the geologist on the Ives expedition of 1857, which navigated up the Colorado River from its mouth, on a steamboat that had been built in Philadelphia, shipped to California, and reassembled on site. The next year, he joined the Macomb expedition, which went north from Santa Fe and explored southwestern Colorado. Newberry was a competent artist, and he sketched various landmarks along the way, which were later used as the basis for tinted lithographs in the printed Report. We show four of these above. One of the sites they saw was a volcanic plug sticking up out of the desert in northwestern New Mexico. Newberry called it “The Needles” and made a sketch. Today, we call it Shiprock (see first image above). This may be the first drawing ever made of this dramatic formation by an Easterner. We displayed it in our 2004 exhibition, Science Goes West, an exhibition that is not available online. The other lithographs show Abiquiu peak in New Mexico (second image), the head of Labyrinth Creek canyon in Colorado (third image), and the Lower San Juan river in Utah (fourth image)
Because of the intervention of the War, the Macomb report was not printed until 1876, long after it could have been of use to explorers like John Wesley Powell and George Wheeler.
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