Corwin Expedition, 1881

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The Corwin was a steamer belonging to the US Treasury Department that sailed the waters of Alaska protecting US interests at sea-otter hunting grounds. For its June 1881 voyage it was charged with making inquiries into the fate of the three vessels and rendering appropriate aid. The Corwin was sent out partly as a relief expedition for the Jeannette and two missing whaling vessels, Mount Wallaston and Vigilant. Jeannette, commanded by Commander George W. De Long, had sailed to the Bering Strait in 1879 to explore the Arctic Ocean, but went missing. Corwin was commanded by Captain C. L. Hooper, and the cruise went to the Arctic Ocean along Northwest Alaska. By Hooper’s invitation, John Muir accompanied the voyage. Muir studied and wrote about the glaciation of the region and its vegetation. He collected plants at many locations on the coasts of Alaska and Siberia, and on St. Lawrence, Wrangell, and Herald Islands. Major collections sites included Golovnin Bay, Kotzebue Sound, Cape Thompson, Cape Wankarem, and Plover Bay. Other participants of the expedition included zoologist Edward W. Nelson, who documented and collected examples of regional flora and fauna, including but not limited to birds at Diomedes Island and seals at Wrangell Island.


  • Muir, John; Badè, William Frederic (1917). The Cruise of the Corwin. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved from
  • Muir, John (1918). Some botanical notes from the cruise of the Corwin. Torreya, Vol. 18, No. 10 (October, 1918), pp. 197-210. Retrieved from

Date Range

1881 - 1881


  • Animals
  • Geology
  • Zoology
  • Birds
  • Plants
  • Botany
  • Ornithology


  • Wrangell Island
  • United States
  • Kotzebue Sound
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Cape Thompson
  • Alaska
  • Golovnin Bay


Expedition name