SAO Shelter, Mt. Whitney, California

ID: 27205 or MAH-27205

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1909

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7005, Box 187, Folder: 3

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact
Download IIIF ManifestRequest permissionsDownload image Print


This negative number contains two photographs on it. The top is construction of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's shelter on Mount Whitney, California. Donkeys carrying people and supplies are in front of the house. The bottom of the photograph is the completed observing shelter as seen from a distance which shows it on top of a steep, sloping, and ragged rock mountain.


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


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The top half of the picture (construction of the building with the donkeys) had a copy print made and is neg # 78-6565. There is note above the bottom picture that it was for "Annals Astrophysical Observatory, Volume III. Plate V." 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 (1906-1918) Charles Greeley Abbot, later 5th Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1928-1944, 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. Lick Observatory is part of the University of California Observatories of the University of California on Mt. Hamilton, CA.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7005, Box 187, Folder: 3

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Mountains
  • Construction
  • Observatories
  • Landscapes
  • Animals
  • Astrophysics
  • Atmosphere
  • Observing stations
  • Mt. Whitney, California
  • Observing (field) stations
  • Astronomy
  • Meteorology
  • Donkeys
  • Atmosphere--Research
  • Mountains--California


  • Whitney, Mount (Calif.)
  • California


  • Photographic print
  • Landscape

ID Number

27205 or MAH-27205

Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Landscape; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

View Full Record