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The Naming of Alaska

Explorers: "R"

These biographies are from Marcus Baker's monumental Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, published in 1902 by the United States Geological Survey. It detailed the origin of thousands of geographical place names in the Territory of Alaska, and provided brief biographies of about 120 of the people who had given the names described.
Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-J | K | L | M | N | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z

Ray, 1881-1883

    Early in the eighties the leading nations of the world undertook simultaneous exploration of the North Polar regions. The plan was for each participating nation to establish as far north as practicable a station for meteorologic and magnetic observations and to maintain it for three years. In this work the United States participated by establishing two stations, one under Gen. Adolphus Washington Greely, U. S. A., at Lady Franklin bay, the other under Capt. Patrick Henry Ray, U. S. A., at Point Barrow, Alaska. With Ray, as observers, assistants, etc., were, among others, John Murdoch, Middleton Smith, Edward Perry Herendeen, and Sergie Smolianinof, a Russian, who is called in the records A. C. Dark. Smolianinof died in Washington on February 11, 1901.
    The party sailed from San Francisco on July 18, 1881, on the schooner Golden Fleece and reached Point Barrow on September 8. Here a permanent station was established and maintained till August 27, 1883. On the 29th the party sailed away on the schooner Leo, reached San Francisco on October 7, and was disbanded on the 15th. Between March 28 and April 7, 1883, Ray made a sledge journey into the interior, and he published a map resulting from this exploration. Ray's report with accompanying papers was published in 1885 as House of Representatives Ex. Doc. No. 44, Forty-eighth Congress, second session.

Raymond, 1869

    Capt. (now Lieut. Col.) Charles Walker Raymond, United States Engineers, was in 1869 directed to go to Fort Yukon and determine its geographic position. At that time there was doubt in some minds whether Fort Yukon was in British or American territory. Raymond went up the river in the summer of 1869, found that the fort was in American territory, and made a report on the work assigned him, entitled Report of a Reconnaissance of the Yukon River, Alaska Territory, July to September, 1869. This was published in 1871 as Senate Ex. Doc. No. 12, Forty-second Congress, first session. The map of the river accompanying this report is the one cited in this dictionary. The map was also issued separately.

Reid, 1890-1892

    Prof. Harry Fielding Reid, formerly of the Case School of Applied Sciences at Cleveland, Ohio, and now of Johns Hopkins University, visited Muir glacier in the summer of 1890 and made a study of it and the surrounding region. He returned to it again in 1892 and made further studies there. An account of the work of 1890, accompanied by sketch maps, was published in the National Geographic Magazine in 1892, Vol. IV, pp. 19-84. Later studies were published in 1896 in the Sixteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Part I, pp. 415-461. The map results are incorporated in map No. 3095 of the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Rohn, 1899

    In the summer of 1899 Mr. Oscar Rohn, who was attached to a military exploring expedition under the command of Capt. W. F. Abercrombie, had charge of a detachment which explored the region south and east of Mount Wrangell. A preliminary report on this work was submitted to the War Department and a later and fuller report to the Geological Survey. The last is published in the Twenty-first Annual Report of the Geological Survey, Part II, pp. 393-400.

Russell, 1889-1891

    Prof. Israel Cook Russell, then of the United States Geological Survey, visited the Yukon valley in 1889 and the Mount St. Elias region in 1890. In the latter year be explored Malaspina glacier and Yakutat bay under the auspices of the National Geographic Society and the United States Geologieal Survey. This work he continued in 1891. For an account of the work of 1890, see National Geographic Magazine, Vol. III, pp. 53-203; and for that of 1891 see Thirteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Part II, pp. 1-91.

Russian American Company, 1799-1867

    The Russian American Company was chartered on June 8, 1799, for twenty years. On September 23, 1821, its charter was renewed for twenty years. In 1844 it was again renewed for twenty years, to date from January 1, 1842. The unchartered company after 1862 continued, on sufferance, till the purchase of Alaska by the United States, in 1867. Much geographic information was gathered and published by officers of the company. Information cited in this dictionary is credited to such officers when known, but otherwise to the company. The principal reference to the company's results are to a map of Baranof island contained in its report for 1849.


    In this dictionary there are a considerable number of names accredited to the Russians without being more specific. This was unavoidable because more specific information was lacking. The names so accredited come chiefly from charts issued by the Russian Hydrographic Department. Between 1844 and 1854 a dozen (more or less) charts of northwest America, Bering sea, and the Arctic were issued as parts of a Pacific ocean series and subsequently given now numbers.
    The principal charts in this series, with their dates of publication, current numbers, and the old Pacific ocean series numbers, are as follows:

Date Number Old number
1844 1345 ---
1847 1378 9
1847 1379 8
1848 1396 10
1848 1397 10
1848 1400 7
1849 1425 9
1849 1427 5
1850 1441 10b
1851 1454 4
1852 1455 6
1853 1493 10d
1853 1494 10c
1854 1495 13

Rynda Party, 1863

    Russian naval officers on board the corvette Rynda in 1863 visited Wrangell and the Stikine river and made surveys there, especially of the Stikine. The surveyors were Butirkin and Kadin. Prof. William P. Blake, of New Haven, was also a member of the party and published an account of the work done and results obtained, in the American Journal of Science, New Haven, July, 1867, vol. 44, pp. 96-101; also in House of Representatives Ex. Doc. No. 177, part 2, Fortieth Congress, second session. The Russian Hydrographic Department in 1867 published a chart of the Stikine resulting from this survey.