Paper No. 24-0
WILLIAM PHIPPS BLAKE: PRACTICING GEOLOGY IN THE 19TH CENTURY
TESTA, Stephen M., Testa Environmental Corporation, 19814 Jesus Maria Road, Mokelumne Hill, CA 95245, stesta@goldrush.com.

William Phipps Blake (1826-1910) is best known as one of the geologists associated with the Pacific Railroad Survey of the Far West (1853-1856), and as a mining geologist and consultant. Blake's overall contributions to the geologic profession are commonly undervalued for several reasons. Blake was unassuming and non-aggrandizing, and he consistently acknowledged the works of others. The extent of his works and activities were broad and diversed. He was well-known domestically and internationally, and published several books and over 200 abstracts and papers. His work took him to over 15 states, five countries and three continents. His opposition to J. D. Whitney on several leading issues opened him to Whitney's personal criticism. In addition, several inaccuracies in the literature regarding Blake's character and activities have been misleading. Blake was well-versed in chemistry from his studies at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale, and the mechanical arts through family ties. In a period when employment as a geologist was in its infancy, Blake's early professional opportunities were derived from relationships formed at Yale, and through Spencer Baird. He would make his mark in several areas while employed as a chemist, mineralogist and collector, government geologist, journal editor and proprietor, mining engineer and consultant (both in the private sector and for the governments of the U.S. and Japan), educator, administrator for various international expositions, and territorial geologist of AZ. His association with every international exposition during his professional life also provided a unique opportunity for Blake to travel and serve as one of America's first geological ambassadors. The diversity and depth of Blake's involvement in the geological sciences in the latter half of the 19th Century were shared by other contemporaries, however, few exceeded Blake's ability to provide opinions and advice not only on technical issues, but on practical matters of general interest to local residents, promotors and developers, and governments, with an emphasis toward future growth and development. Blake's unique background allowed him to maintain a strong belief in applied science with practical usefulness throughout his 60 years of professional life.

GSA Annual Meeting, November 5-8, 2001
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 24
Geobiography: Life Histories of Geologists as a Way to Understand How Science Operates
Hynes Convention Center: 206
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Monday, November 5, 2001
 

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