Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 4 (1977).


Copyright 1977 by the Authors; used by permission of the NAS


At this bicentennial time, it is appropriate to reflect not only upon geological progress, but also to consider the future.

Historically, many themes could be developed, such as has been done recently by Challinor (1971). British geology also was just beginning in 1796 when James Mackay, a Scot in the employ of the Spanish, made perhaps the earliest geological observation in what is now Nebraska. Soon after, by 1812, the Yellowstone Expedition line of forts was planned for the western frontier of the United States, along the Missouri River border; only two forts were established. One of these was Fort Atkinson (1820), the largest and farthest outpost. Geological descriptions multiplied thereafter. By 1863, the period of initial geological exploration ended with the work of Jules Marcou along the Missouri River. He was the last of the French explorers, bringing to an end three centuries of effort (beginning with Coronado, for the Spanish, in 1541).