A.E. in AZ

By Lauren Amundson

Our newest virtual exhibit is Traversing the Arizona Territory: A.E. Douglass’ 1894 Expedition to Establish Lowell Observatory. We used ArcGIS StoryMaps to trace Douglass’ trip from Tombstone to Flagstaff as he conducted site tests for Percival Lowell’s observatory. Douglass traveled by train and stagecoach through the Arizona Territory. He started in Tombstone and then visited Tucson, Tempe, Prescott, and Flagstaff. Along the way, he sent letters, telegrams, and postcards to Lowell with updates about the weather, observing conditions, geography, and local features.

Map of the Arizona Territory used by Douglass on his trip

The exhibit features a wealth of primary sources from our collections. Letters, photographs, maps, and drawings illustrate the story of Douglass’ expedition, beginning with the instructions he received from astronomer William Pickering the week before his departure from Massachusetts. The roughly two-month trip resulted in Lowell choosing Flagstaff on April 16, 1894 with the simple phrase “Flagstaff it is.”

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