George Wheeler (explorer)

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George Wheeler
Portrait by Alice Pike Barney
Born George Montague Wheeler
(1842-10-09)October 9, 1842
Grafton, Massachusetts, USA
Died May 3, 1905(1905-05-03) (aged 62)
New York, New York, USA
Nationality American
Alma mater West Point
Known for Exploration of the American West
Scientific career
Fields explorer and cartographer
Institutions United States Geological Survey

George Montague Wheeler (October 9, 1842 – May 3, 1905) was an American pioneering explorer and cartographer, leader of the Wheeler Survey, one of the major surveys of the western United States in the late nineteenth century. He graduated from West Point in 1866, ranked sixth in his class, and he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers. His first exploration was in 1869, when Wheeler was 27 years old, and on the staff of the Commanding General of the Department of California of the US Army.

In 1872, the US Congress authorized an ambitious plan to map the portion of the United States west of the 100th meridian at a scale of 8 miles to the inch. This plan necessitated what became known as the Wheeler Survey, lasting until 1879, when the survey, along with the King and Powell Surveys, were terminated and their work was reorganized as the United States Geological Survey.

Wheeler was promoted to captain in 1879. In 1881 he represented the United States at the Third International Geographical Congress and Exhibition in Venice, Italy. He entered semi-retirement in 1883 but continued to write scientific reports until his full retirement from the army in 1888 at the rank of major. He died in New York City in 1905.[1]

Wheeler Peak in Nevada (part of the Great Basin National Park), Wheeler Peak in New Mexico (the state high point), and the scenic Wheeler Geologic Area in southern Colorado are named for George Wheeler.



  1. ^ Wheeler's Photographic Survey of the American West. Dover Press, 1983. p. vii0 ISBN 0486244660

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