In Famous Footsteps

By Lauren Amundson

From Lowell Observatory’s earliest days, staff kept guestbooks to record the names of the many visitors who came to Mars Hill. These guestbooks are now preserved in the observatory’s archives, and they provide a fascinating glimpse of the astronomers, scientists, dignitaries, and others who made the trek to Lowell Observatory.

The first book contains entries from 1894 to 1938. Astronomers and scientists from other institutions make up a significant number of the visitors. Some of the more well-known guests included Edward Emerson Barnard, Bart Bok, William Wallace Campbell, John C. Duncan, Arthur Stanley Eddington, Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, Edwin Hubble, Jan Oort, Henry Norris Russell, J.S. Plaskett, William W. Coblentz, and Samuel Boothroyd.

The signatures of politicians, authors, publishers, and other dignitaries also fill the guestbook’s pages. Author Zane Grey (Riders of the Purple Sage) visited on April 24, 1913 and wrote in the comments, “A privilege to be cherished.”

Poet Carl Sandburg signed the guestbook on January 28, 1932, “Wandering minstrel who needs to know more of the stars.”

Other famous visitors included businessman and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst (May 15, 1907); United States Senator Henry Fountain Ashurst (April 26, 1931); author William Tyler Olcott (December 8, 1929); and Dwight B. Heard, founder of the Heard Museum in Phoenix (August 29, 1924).

Our next project is to digitize this guestbook in its entirety and make it available online.