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Mike Collins
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Mike Collins
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PostFri Jan 17, 2003 6:54 am 
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I have always been curious about this man. Principally because two peaks are named for him one mile apart near Snoqualmie Pass, namely Abiel and Tinkham. He was a civil engineer assigned to work with the Northern Pacific Railroad Exploration (often referred to as USPRR) done between April 1853 and Sept 1854. He worked under the direction of Isaac Stevens who as a military man took orders and corresponded with then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Mr. Tinkham was a civilian though and the taking of orders from a military man make temperments as uneven as the terrain at times. This burr in the saddle continued past the end of the mission however. Yesterday I ferreted out an interesting letter from the National Archives along Sand Point Way. The three page handwritten letter (typewriters were yet to be invented) was composed by A.W. Tinkham to another member of the survey team, Capt.  Humphreys. He was in Washington and in charge of the Topographical Engineers. The letter expresses surprise that Tinkham is not credited sufficiently in the final report. Fully 16 pages of the 100 submitted by Stevens were taken word for word from Tinkham's writings. The geologist who accompanied the trip had similar regrets and also wrote a letter complaining. But the one who draws the map has the last laugh as Abiel and Tinkham scrape the sky and call out for peakbaggers to visit offering some retribution for the literary injustice of yesteryear.
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salish
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PostFri Jan 17, 2003 6:46 pm 
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Mike,

This is fascinating stuff.  As usual, you have ferreted out some very interesting information. I know of the USPRR because of the mapping of the Yakima River and "discovery" of much plant & animal life along the Yakima up to present day Lake Kechellus (sp?).  The Yakima has always been near & dear to my heart and I've fished it from it's source down to Roza Dam. Anyway, I think this expedition might have been led under the command of George Mcclellan, of civil war fame (or infamy). He was a very controversial figure in his military career.  Or could he have led a separate expedition along the same course at the same time, unrelated to Stevens? However you slice it, it's very interesting stuff. My understanding is that the expedition's plotting of the rail bed and river led the way for the subsequent maneuvering of Kittitas Valley landowners (and others) in terms of water rights and irrigation, which led to the development of the area. Based somewhat on the  original expeditions work, the Teaneway River, Taneum Creek, and other streams were diverted for farmers in the Kittitas Valley. I guess this is pretty dry stuff (no pun intended) but since I fish the river quite a bit and grew up camping in the area, I always find it interesting.

Thanks for the post.
Cliff
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Mike Collins
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PostSat Jan 18, 2003 8:16 pm 
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Isaac Stevens met George McClellan during the war with Mexico in 1845-46 where they fought together in the Corps of Engineers. Tinkham met Stevens at Fort Knox where he operated as his Chief Assistant. The USPRR (northern exploration) was conducted by two parties. One was an advance team in the western section lead by Cpt. McClellan. It was sent from St. Louis by riverboat to embark on the land portion at Fort Union, close to the present day border of Montana and North Dakota. Stevens along with Tinkham started the eastern portion of the exploration at Camp Pierce, nine miles north of St. Paul. McClellan surveyed Naches Pass and Yakima Pass (he erroneously thought it was Snoqualmie Pass). He did not go west of the passes though as his orders did not say to do that. Tinkham was the first to go through the pass to Puget Sound. Tinkham borrowed some of the measurements made by McClellan but they differed on snowpack. McClellan thought the winter snows at the pass would be twenty feet deep whereas Tinkham thought the amount was more like six feet.  A useful book for this material is "Isaac I. Stevens; Young Man in a Hurry" by Kent D. Richards. The notes made by Tinkham show he pronounced the lake as "kitch a lus". It is an ironic twist of fate that Isaac Stevens also fought alongside Robert E. Lee in what he called a "band of brothers" in the war with Mexico. Isaac Stevens died at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run in Chantilly, Virginia on Sept 1, 1862 fighting troops under the command of Robert E. Lee. Isaac's son, Hazard, was wounded in the same battle. After the war he returned to Washington to support his widowed mother. Hazard was in the first party to climb Mt. Rainier.
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salish
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PostSun Jan 19, 2003 11:29 am 
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Thanks again, Mike. I used to know a heck of a lot more about our state history, but I've forgotten a lot. I think I need to start hanging out with my cuz more often, who teaches Washington State history at the high school level. I didn't even know there were two separate expeditions over the pass. These people were all shakers and movers and I'm sure a time line would show many of them progressing from one coup to another.

Here's another ironic twist of fate for you: Issac Stevens presided over the 1855 Hellgate Treaty, which resulted in my tribe (Montana Salish) turning over all of western Montana to the United States, for the reservation north of Missoula. Some of our tribe were not happy with the treaty or Stevens and we had our own Trail of Tears under U.S. Army armed guard. Seven years later, my great-great Grandfather (on the white side of the family) fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run on 9/1/62 against Issac Stevens - my g-g-grandfather was a confederate soldier, and was also wounded in that battle. It sure was a small world back then smile.gif

Cliff
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