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Portrait by Alice Pike Barney
George Montague Wheeler
October 9, 1842
|Died||May 3, 1905
New York, New York, USA
|Alma mater||West Point|
|Known for||Exploration of the American West|
|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.
Wheeler was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the son of John Wheeler and Miriam P. Daniels. He graduated from West Point in 1866, ranked sixth in his class, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers. He first served in California from 1866 to 1871. In 1869 General Edward O. C. Ord sent him on a reconnaissance through the eastern Nevada.
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.
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.
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