Matthes, Francois; Geologic History of the Yosemite Valley. USGS Prof. Paper 160, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1st edition, 1930. Quarto, pp. vi, 137, 52 plates some folded panoramic views, and folded maps, several colored, 38 text figures.
The work is complete and in the original tan title wraps. The binding is tight and very clean, text, plates and maps are pristine. A near fine copy of the 1st edition.
François Émile Matthes (1874 – 1948) was an American geologist and an expert in topographic mapping, glaciers, and climate change. He immigrated to America from Switzerland at a young age. Matthes mapped remote areas of the American West for the USGS. His maps coincided with the development of those areas into national parks. Matthes is best remembered for his work in Yosemite which resolved a debate about formation of the Yosemite Valley.
On June 1, 1895, Matthes started his first job as an instrument man and draftsman for the city engineer's office of Rutland, VT. One year later, he joined the USGS as an instrument person, and after passing the federal Civil Service examination, he advanced in grade to assistant topographer and finally senior topographer and carried out numerous field assignments in the western United States. Matthes was to remain with the USGS for the next fifty-one years until his retirement.
Matthes had written a series of geological essays about the Yosemite Valley which he had contributed to the Sierra Club Bulletin. On July 1, 1913 the Geological survey moved Matthes from the Topographic to the Geographic Branch. His first assignment in the Geographic Branch and main focus over the next sixteen years was to determine the origin of the Yosemite Valley. This was a specific request to the USGS from the Sierra Club. A formation controversy raged over Whitney's block-fault hypothesis and Muir's belief that glaciers were largely responsible for the valley’s formation. In the fall of 1930, Matthes' report "Geologic History of the Yosemite Valley" resolved the debate. Matthes provides a detailed analysis of the region and provides the details needed to prove the glacial origin of Yosemite Valley. His study became a classic. "Occasionally in the history of science there appears a work so excellent, so comprehensive, that it becomes immediately a classic”. Demand for this title exceeded any previous USGS Professional Paper and a first printing edition is coveted by collectors.