Museum presentation explores: how many Shastas?
On Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m., Bill Miesse will give a presentation at Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum entitled, “Two Mount Shastas.” Miesse will show how dozens of regional maps from the 1820s through the 1850s seem to show that southern Oregon’s Rogue River and nearby Mt. McLoughlin were named Shasta River and Mt. Shasta.
Miesse has recently been cited in the magazine “Scientific American” for his research skills, which brought to light the fact that Mt. Shasta did not erupt in 1786, as most books say.
At the Sept. 26 presentation, Miesse will reveal his investigations about early maps of this area.
“Many early maps show that the ‘Shasty’ River was the name of the Rogue River,” Miesse said. “This is a most unusual situation, because the Oregon ‘Shasty’ river is quite far from its namesake, California’s ‘Shasty’ mountain.
In order to make sense of why this happened, Miesse will explain the explorations of Hudson’s Bay explorer Peter Skene Ogden, Alexander Roderick McLeod and others.
“Ogden, for example, led about 130 persons and 100 or more horses for 10 months through the Klamath Lake and Rogue River regions in 1827,” Miesse said. “In his daily reports, Ogden gives some surprisingly thoughtful explanations of why he used the native American tribal name of ‘Sastise’ and he also gives some startling descriptions of the reasons for his naming of the Pit River (from which the early California Mt. Shasta name of ‘Pit Mountain’ was derived).
“The maps of the 1830s and 1840s are full of interesting features and names,” Miesse continued. “We will look at the first maps that use names like Mt. Siskiyou, Rascally River, Mt. McLoughlin, McLeod River (later called McCloud River), and more.
Most surprising of all, Miesse said, the exact spelling of ‘Shasta’ didn’t happen, in writing or on maps, until 1850. In that year, the State of California used that spelling to name the Shasta mountain and Shasta county in its legal documents, Miesse said.
“My purpose is to show how names and geographical concepts have changed over time,” Miesse added. “So, to bring the presentation up-to-date, we will also look at some of the most modern maps of Mt. Shasta, including the amazing LIDAR maps of the recent decades. But, even modern maps are full of contradictions. As an example, we will look at the official estimated heights of the summit of Mt. Shasta. Among these modern measurements are 14,134 feet (USGS 2019 topo maps), 14,162 feet (USFS 2019 topo maps), 14,164 feet (LIDAR survey of 2010), and 14,179 feet (National Geodetic Survey 2019 data sheet). Which one is right? Who knows? It’s the mapmaker’s dilemma to choose.”
This event is part of a series of talks about this area and the suggested $5 donation is a fundraiser for Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum. The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization with an all-volunteer staff that installs new exhibits to share the stories of the Mount Shasta area for its community members and visitors. It is located at 1 North Old Stage Road.
Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum hours for September are Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In October, the museum will be open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.