Expedition near the 32nd to 35th Parallels along the Pacific Coast led by Lt. Robert S. Williamson (1853, 1855)

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The expedition’s primary purpose was to find a route for the transcontinental railroad. Lt. Robert S. Williamson commanded one of six major expeditions in search for the route. The majority of the expeditions traveled westward, but Williamson traveled northward to explore potential passes through the mountain ranges of the Pacific. The first expedition left in 1853, and Williamson explored the region in coordination with Lt. Parke. Explorations continued in 1855, when Williamson, assisted by H.L. Abbott, traversed California and Oregon. John S. Newberry joined the Williamson expedition in 1855 as an assistant surgeon, geologist, and botanist. Cooper’s expedition report was published in 1857 and contained sections on geology and mammals, as well as botany. Additional Sources: Stevenson, John J. “John Strong Newberry.” American Geologist 12 (July 1893): 1-25. White, Charles A. Biographical Memoir of John Strong Newberry. Washington, D.C.: Judd and Detweiler, Inc, 1907.


  • Albright, George Leslie. Official Explorations for Pacific Railroads, 1853-1855. Berkley: University of California Press, 1921.
  • Goetzmann, W.H. Army Exploration in the American West. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959.
  • Newberry, John S. Botanical Report. Washington D.C.: War Department, 1857.

Date Range

1853 - 1855


  • Geology
  • Mammalogy
  • Plants
  • Botany


  • Oregon
  • United States
  • California


Expedition name