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Mount Shasta was the focus of a field survey conducted during the summer and early fall of 1898 by the United States Biological Survey led by C. Hart Merriam. The entry from Bill Miesse’s well-written "Mount Shasta: An Annotated Bibliography" contains many entries (9) of C. Hart Merriam's work, but Entry 1247 is a nice overview of the Expedition. It reads as follows:

C. Hart Merriam The survey group, led by Merriam (shown at right), made its initial camp at Wagon Camp on the south slope of the mountain. The first job was to make a preliminary reconnaissance of the entire mountain. On the fourth morning of the circumambulation they climbed to 10,000 feet and encountered the great canyon on the west flank of Shastina. This canyon, Merriam wrote, "I named Diller Canyon, in honor of J. S. Diller of the U. S. Geological Survey, in recognition of his admirable researches on the geology of Shasta."

Mount Shasta from the Northwest
Mount Shasta from the Northwest, showing great snowbank in head of Diller Canyon

After the preliminary reconnaissance the group made a base camp in a grove of black alpine hemlocks near the head of the west branch of Squaw Creek, close to and just east of the upper end of Red Butte. From here temporary camps were established at Panther Creek, Mud Creek, Clear Creek, Ash Creek, Sisson, Squaw Creek Valley, McCloud Valley, Shasta Valley, and Little Shasta Valley. Merriam describes the forest fires he encountered on the mountain in 1898.

Wagon Camp
Wagon Camp
Figure 1 from Results of a Biological Survey of Mount Shasta

C. Hart Merriam is well-known for his formulation of the Life Zone concept. In this study he presents one of the earliest applications of his concept that a gain in height on a mountain is similar to traveling north in latitude. Merriam divided Mount Shasta theoretically into five zones of study: The Upper Sonoran Zone; Transition Zone; Canadian Zone; Hudsonian Zone; Alpine Zone. Note that William Bridge Cooke would later dispute the existence of a true Alpine zone on Mt. Shasta. Merriam correlated each zone on Mount Shasta with the zone's corresponding species of birds, mammals and plants.

Life Zones on Mount Shasta
Figure 30 from Results of a Biological Survey of Mount Shasta

Illustrations by famous wildlife artists E. T. Seton, L. A. Fuertes, W. J. Fenn, and J. L. Ridgeway are used extensively for the bird and mammal chapters. Three different forest types on Mount Shasta are discussed and illustrated by photographs: Yellow Pine belt; Shasta Fir belt; and White-bark Pine belt. The book also contains five full page photographic plates of Mount Shasta, three of them from photographs by J. S. Diller. [MS 169]

Tongue of Dwarf Whitebark Pines at Extreme Upper Limit of Timberline
Tongue of Dwarf Whitebark Pines at Extreme Upper Limit of Timberline
Photo by J. S. Diller

A dozen categories of common birds and mammals have been selected from Merriam's work to present in the following pages. The drawings that accompany the Birds section are from L.A. Fuertes work printed in the published results of the Survey. Drawings from the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States (1899) by Florence Merriam Bailey, sister of C. Hart Merriam, are also included. Many of the diagrams in this book are also by Fuertes. Color images of Fuertes' work are from the United States Fish and Wildlife's online Fuertes Art Collection at Bird illustrations by Jacob Bates Abbott and R. Bruce Horsfall are from Birds of the Pacific Coast by Willard Ayres Eliot (1923). The scientific and common names provided by Merriam have been checked against the National Audubon Society's Names of North American Birds available at If the scientific or common name has changed, it is noted in brackets following the name cited by Merriam.

Animal images are from the Results of a Biological Survey of Mount Shasta, California, the work of W.J. Fenn in California Mammals by Frank Stephens, and photographs of the College of the Siskiyous' Life Science department specimens (Harton 2001). The scientific names for mammals provided by Merriam were cross-referenced with California Mammals (Jameson and Peeters, 1988) and the Smithsonian Institution's Mammal Species of the World database at If the scientific name has changed or there are additional common names, it is noted in brackets following the name cited by Merriam. Please note that most images link to a larger image.

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