Henry Larcom Abbot Papers, 1853-1943  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Abbot, Henry Larcom
Henry Larcom Abbot Papers
1853-1943 (inclusive)
1855 (bulk)
.5 cubic feet (1 document case)
Collection Number
The collection consists of survey field notes, journals and letters.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Henry Larcom Abbot was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1831. The descendent of Revolutionary War veterans, he graduated from West Point in 1854, joining the Army Topographical Engineers soon after. He was part of the Pacific Railroad Survey led by Lieut. R.S. Williamson, exploring routes in California and Oregon in 1855-56. He next investigated flood control and channel improvement on the Mississippi River. During the Civil War he was wounded at Bull Run, and eventually received seven brevets, ending as major-general of volunteers. After the war Abbot was placed in charge of the engineer battalion and established the Army's Engineer School of Application in New York. He became an authority on high explosives and, following his retirement from the Army in 1895, became involved in the building of the Panama Canal. He was a member of the engineer board, and actively championed a lock canal over the sea level design favored by others. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1927 at age 96.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of letters Abbot wrote to his parents in 1855, journals kept during his survey work of 1855-1856 in California and Oregon, and various books of field notes and celestial observations taken for the survey. Also included is an address given at the 1943 launching of the Liberty ship, Henry L. Abbot.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Sections of Abbot's journals were published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, volume 33, March and June 1932 in an article by Robert W. Sawyer. The article was reissued the same year under the title Henry Larcom Abbot and the Pacific railroad surveys in Oregon, 1855.

The finished report was published by the War Department in 1857 as Report of Lieut. Henry L. Abbot, Corps of Topographical Engineers upon explorations for a railroad route, from the Sacramento Valley to the Columbia River, made by Lieut. R.S. Williamson, Corps of Topographical Engineers, assisted by Lieut. Henry L. Abbot, Corps of Topographical Engineers.

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any publication use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Henry Larcom Abbot Papers, Mss 94, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 Letters 1855
2 Address by Robert W. Sawyer at the launching of the Henry L. Abbot 1943
3 Journal, vol. 1 1855 May 30 to July 1
4 Journal, vol. 2 1855 July 2 to July10
5 Journal, vol. 3 1855 July 10 to 1856 April
6 Map of 1855 survey routes 1932
7 Abstract of disbursements 1857
8 Field book, Deschutes Valley and Cascade Mountains 1855 September-October
9 Photographs of maps from Field Book, Deschutes Valley and Cascade Mountains 1855 September-October
10 Field notebook: Barometric computations 1853
11 2 field notebooks
Latitude by circummemridian altitudes, 1855, Time by equal altitudes, 1855
12 2 field notebooks
Latitude by Polaris, 1855-1870, Time by single altitudes, 1855

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Pacific railroads -- Explorations and surveys.
  • Surveys -- Oregon
  • Personal Names :
  • Abbot, Henry Larcom (creator)
  • Sawyer, Robert W.
  • Corporate Names :
  • United States. Army. Corps of Topographical Engineers
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Financial records
  • Maps
  • Notebooks
  • Personal correspondence
  • Speeches