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The Naming of Alaska

Explorers: "T"


These biographies are from Marcus Baker's monumental Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, published in 1902 by the United States Geological Survey. It detailed the origin of thousands of geographical place names in the Territory of Alaska, and provided brief biographies of about 120 of the people who had given the names described.
Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-J | K | L | M | N | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z

Tebenkof, 1831-1850

    Capt. Mikhail Dmitrievich Tebenkof was director of the Russian American Company and governor of Russian America during 1845-1850. As early as 1831 he was in Norton sound, and in that year discovered the bay that now bears his name. (Lutke, Partie nautique, p. 220.) In 1833 he surveyed and mapped it. His map is reproduced by Lutke. In 1835 he was in St. Petersburg, and on August 5 of that year sailed in command of the Russian American Company's ship Elena from Cronstadt for Sitka, where he arrived via Cape Horn on April 16, 1836. He appears to have remained in the colonies thence forward till the close of his term as director, and then returned to Russia. To him more than to any other Russian are we indebted for geographic knowledge of the Alaskan coast. Himself a surveyor and interested in surveying, he gave much attention to improving charts of the coast in the interest of the company. In 1848 and 1849 there was compiled, drawn up, and engraved at Sitka his Atlas of the North west Coast of America. This atlas of 39 maps shows the entire coast line of North America from Bering strait to Lower California, with adjacent islands and parts of the Siberian coast. It embodies the results of the various surveys made by Russian naval officers, officers of the Russian American Company, etc. The maps were engraved at Sitka by Terentief, a creole, and for the most part are dated 1849. It is probable that they were dated from time to time during 1848 to 1850 as engraved and afterwards put together as an atlas in 1852. With it was issued by Tebenkof a little book of Notes and Explanations. There appear to be two editions of this book of Notes, both very rare, at least in the United States. In the making of this dictionary, Tebenkof's atlas has been consulted more than any other single work.


Thomas, 1887-1888

    Lieut. Commander Charles M. Thomas, U. S. N., succeeded Lieut. Commander Snow in command of the Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer Patterson on April 30, 1887, and remained in command till relieved by Mansfield on April 1, 1889. During the season of 1887, which began at Port Simpson on May 21 and ended there on October 13, his party surveyed and mapped in whole or in part Frederick sound, Duncan canal, Brown cove, Thomas bay, Farragut bay, and Portage bay. In the following season, which began on April 27, 1888, he made surveys till June 26 in the vicinity of Taku inlet, in this time mapping Taku harbor, Limestone inlet, Port Snettisham, and Oliver inlet. Between July 3 and October 14, 1888, Thomas made surveys asked for by the Department of State in and about Portland canal. For an account of his work see Coast and Geodetic Survey Reports, 1888, pp. 73-76; 1889, pp. 78-82, and Coast Survey charts 704, 733, and 8227.


Tikhmenief, 1861-1863

    P. Tikhmenief has been called the historian of the Russian American Company. He published in Russian a work in two volumes, the first dated 1861, the second 1863, entitled Historical Review of the Russian American Company. This is a useful work, compiled from original sources, and gives information on Alaskan matters not to be found elsewhere.


Topham, 1888

    Mr. Harold W. Topham and his brother Edwin, of London, with George Broka of Brussels, and William Williams of Now York, left Sitka on a little schooner on July 3, 1888, and went to Mount St. Elias for the purpose of climbing it. They reached an altitude of 11,460 feet and then turned back. Topham read an account of this trip before the Royal Geographical Society on April 8, 1889. This account, with a map, was published in the Society's proceedings in July, 1889, Vol. XI, pp. 424-435. See also the National Geographic Magazine, 1890, Vol. III, pp. 73-74.


Turner, 1889-1891

    Mr. John Henry Turner, Assistant in the Coast and Geodetic Survey, was engaged on the Alaskan boundary survey from June, 1889, to July, 1891. In the summer of 1889, with Mr. McGrath, he ascended the Yukon river to Fort Yukon, where the party divided. On August 12 Turner began his journey up the Porcupine river to the boundary. On the 19th he landed at the site of an abandoned camp near the one hundred and forty-first meridian, and there began the building of quarters for officers and men and the erection of an observatory. This camp was named Camp Colonna. Longitude was determined by moon-culmination observations in March and April, 1890.
    On March 27, 1890, he set out upon a sledge journey from Camp Colonna northward to the Arctic ocean, where he arrived on April 8. The next day he started back, and reached Camp Colonna on April 17. Later he left Camp Colonna, descended the Porcupine and Yukon rivers, and proceeded to St. Michael, Norton sound, where he was compelled to remain until July, 1891, when he departed for Washington. He returned to Alaska in 1892 on boundary work, but owing to ill health was obliged to give it up. During his stay in Alaska he made a valuable collection of bird and animal skins, which he presented to the University of California. The expenses of this collection he bore personally. He died in Washington on June 13, 1893. An account of his work was published in the National Geographic Magazine in 1893, Vol. IV, pp. 189-197; see also Coast and Geodetic Survey Report 1890-1891, Part I, pp. 86-88.




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