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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Eliot Blackwelder

Dr. Blackwelder was born in Chicago on June 4, 1880. As a boy he displayed an inquisitive and orderly mind and a love of the natural world. He developed a keen interest in entomology, assembling a collection of more than 6000 specimens of butterflies and beetles. An early enthusiasm for ornithology gained him membership in the American Ornithological Union at the age of 15, and this interest in bird life remained strong throughout his life. Even when he was confined to bed during the last few years, a bird feeder outside his window enabled him to keep contact with his "little friends".

He became a full professor at the age of 30, before obtaining his doctor's degree from Chicago in 1914. During the early stages of his career he spent most summers in field work with the U.S. Geological Survey, on assignments that took him to many parts of the western United States and to Alaska.

He wrote many papers, some of which have become classics, on the origin and evolution of desert landscapes, and demonstrated the former presence of lakes in some of the now arid basins of southeastern California and western Nevada. His meticulous glacial studies in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada provided the basic framework for all subsequent investigations.

Outside the fields of his major work, Dr. Blackwelder's inquisitive mind led him to productive study of many other geological subjects. He was one of the first geologists to study and endorse an impact origin for the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Eliot Blackwelder Died January 14, 1969 at the age of 88. He had been ill for several years with Parkinson's disease.

To learn more about Eliot Blackwelder and to read the complete biography please visit: Stanford Historical Society


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