SAO Mount Whitney Shelter Erected

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In 1909, using a grant from the Thomas George Hodgkins Fund, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory erected a shelter atop Mount Whitney, California, for astrophysical researchers. Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906) had been at the site in 1881 and deemed it the best location in the country for meteorological and atmospheric observations. SAO Director Charles Greeley Abbot began observations at the site in 1909 and secured the construction of the stone building. Abbot worked with W. W. Campbell, director of the Lick Observatory, in completing the field station.


  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) b. 1872
  • Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906
  • Campbell, W. W
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Field stations
  • Hodgkins Fund and Medal


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Images of the site are located in the Charles Greeley Abbot Papers, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7006, Box 187, Folder 3.
  • Abbot, Charles G., "A Shelter for Observers on Mount Whitney," Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, No. 1886, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1910, pp. 499-506, with plates 65 and 66.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1909, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910, pp. 12-13, 30-31, 64-66, and plates 3-5.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1910, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1911, pp. 16-17, 37-38, 73-76, and 99.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Observatories
  • Astrophysics
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  • Secretaries
  • Solar collectors
  • Construction (Buildings)
  • Astronomy


Whitney, Mount (Calif.)

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