Natural History Science: Cotopoxi and the Sierra Nevada Mountains


The volcano was well-known in the United States and its activity was followed closely on the east coast. Interest in it caused Americans to wonder about the mountains on the west coast.

Clarence King saw the most famous version of Cotopoxi in New York and decided to go to California to look for the Cotopaxi of the West, which he believed might be Mount Shasta. When he got there, he took a job with the California Geological Society, which included the original survey of Yosemite. After running his own national geological surveys, he became the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Frederic Edwin Church, Cotopoxi, 1855, National Collection of Fine Arts