Smithsonian Institution Shelter

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Smithsonian Institution Shelter
Smithsonian Hut Whitney.jpg
The Smithsonian Institution Shelter, against the backdrop of the Sierra.
Smithsonian Institution Shelter is located in California
Smithsonian Institution Shelter
Nearest city Lone Pine, California
Coordinates 36°34′43″N 118°17′32″W / 36.57861°N 118.29222°W / 36.57861; -118.29222Coordinates: 36°34′43″N 118°17′32″W / 36.57861°N 118.29222°W / 36.57861; -118.29222
Built 1909
Architect Arch,Speiden & Speiden
Architectural style No Style Listed (Rustic architecture)
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 77000119
Added to NRHP March 08, 1977[1]

The Smithsonian Institution Shelter, also known as the Mount Whitney Summit Shelter, was built in 1909 on the summit plateau of Mount Whitney, in the Sierra Nevada within Sequoia National Park, in California.

History[edit]

The shelter at the summit was proposed after Byrd Surby, a U.S. Fisheries employee, was struck and killed by lightning on the summit in 1904. The shelter was built to house scientists who used the 14,505-foot summit to study high-altitude phenomena in the time before sustained high-altitude flight was possible.

In 1909 the site was used by Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory director Charles Greeley Abbot to conduct spectroscopic observations of Mars to investigate the existence of water on the planet. Other studies included observations of cosmic rays and nocturnal radiation.[2][3]

Although the structure was built in part as a shelter from storms, hikers are now warned against seeking shelter there during lightning storms.

Landmark[edit]

Gustave F. Marsh, the builder of the summit trail, built the shelter with funding from the Smithsonian Institution, with assistance from the Lick Observatory. The mortared granite shelter comprises three rooms in a line with windows in each and doors in the north and south rooms. The roof is corrugated metal on a steel truss frame.[4]

The site has been considered for National Historic Landmark status, but has not been recommended for submission yet.[5] However, in 1977 the Smithsonian Institution Shelter was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ "SAO Mount Whitney Shelter Erected". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. 2008-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Mt. Whitney's Early Days". Mount Whitney History. Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. 2008-12-09. 
  4. ^ "Smithsonian Institution Shelter". List of Classified Structures. National Park Service. 2008-12-09. 
  5. ^ "National Register Sites considered but not recommended for designation as National Historic Landmarks". National Historic Landmarks: Astronomy and Astrophysics,Other Sites. National Park Service. 2008-12-09.