story illustration by Monica Vachula

Orra and Edward took many trains and various other types of transportation during their journey. Cuts through hilly terrain gave them a view of the geology they were passing over, delighting this geological couple. Painting by Monica Vachula.

A Geological Pilgrimage

The Hitchcocks Tour Europe in 1850

Edward Hitchcock's contributions to geology took place at a time of world-changing revolutions in transportation and communication: photography, steam power, printing, telegraphy, and more. People, books, packages, and ideas crisscrossed America and the Atlantic Ocean in public lyceum lectures, personal correspondence, newspapers and magazines, scientific journals, and, increasingly, face-to-face contact—and Edward and Orra Hitchcock were right in the thick of things. For their years of striving and achievement, Amherst College, through the generosity of a board member, rewarded the Hitchcocks with a trip to Britain and Europe. It was a working vacation, true, but that is the only kind that such a dedicated, curious, productive couple would consent to take.

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