North-Central Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (24–25 April 2008)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:40 PM


THOMAS, Sabina F., Dept. of Biology & Geology, Baldwin-Wallace College, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, OH 44017-2088, HANNIBAL, Joseph T., Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767 and NOLL, Michael G., Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA 31698,

Maximilian, Prince of Wied (1782–1867), ranks among the greatest explorer-naturalists of the first half of the 19th century. He visited North America from 1832 to 1834, chronicling his journey in the 2-volume Reise in das innere Nord-America. English versions of the Reise omitted many observations dealing with natural history. For example, most of his observations on the flora of Akron, Ohio's Summit Lake, a tamarack-bog, were excised. We have retranslated the original German version of this work, and have consulted copies of Maximilian's hand-written Tagebuch, which contains some additional observations not included in the Reise.

Maximilian made a number of observations along canals in the east and midwest, including Pennsylvania's Lehigh and New York's Erie Canals. His account of his trip along the Ohio Canal (now known as the Ohio & Erie Canal) stands out from other accounts of trips along this canal because of its very early date, its coverage of the entire length of the canal only 20 months after its opening, its observations on natural history, and its social and cultural commentary. Maximilian described many plants and animals, but also noted outcrops and the use of waterpower along the Ohio Canal for sawing stone (the Buena Vista sandstone). He gives the color (whitish-gray) of this stone, allowing it to be confidently identified, in his Tagebuch. He illustrated a tipple (loading device) at Newcastle, Ohio, noting that coal was dumped onto the bank of the canal. The Tagebuch also includes a diagram of the Cleveland harbor with measurements, indicating that Maximilian paced out the Harbor pier, and depicted the sand buildup on the leeward side of the harbor structure.

Maximilian's views were remarkably modern in many respects. He decried the destruction of Native American earthworks by the Euroamericans; he also was among the strongest critics of deforestation as practiced on the frontier.