GSOC History Archives


The Geological Society of the Oregon Country (GSOC) is an organization with a long and rich history. The Society was organized in 1935 with Dr. Edwin T. Hodge, geology professor at the University of Oregon, as its first president. Dr. Hodge made special trips to Portland to conduct classes in the fundamentals of geology. Many of these students became charter members of the Society. 

Over the years GSOC has functioned as both a society for professional geologists and a society for geological enthusiasts and also as a social club. Nowadays professional societies such as the Geological Society of America serve professional geologists in the area, and GSOC serves as a vehicle for professionals to educate the public. GSOC has maintained close ties with many university professors in the Oregon higher education system as well as professional geologists working privately and for government agencies in the area. 

During its history, The Geological Newsletter has published the doings of the society. Several articles from the archives have been adapted into this history series to portray the legacy of the organization. Please enjoy them and learn.


Possibly some of the newer members of the Geological Society of the Oregon Country ponder on the significance of the name applied to our Society, organized in, and holding its meetings in Portland. Every member should know the origin of this name and the meaning of its application to our group. 

At the meetings held in the spring of 1935 to prepare a constitution and by-laws for the Society, considerable discussion developed in connection with choosing a name. Suggestions were numerous. The name finally chosen was that suggested by Dr. E. T. Hodge who gave such logical arguments that his suggestion was adopted unanimously by the committee. In effect, Dr. Hodge pointed out that, aside from Coast streams, the old Oregon Territory which comprised the present states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and small parts of Montana and Wyoming, coincided with the limits of the Columbia River Drainage area within the United States, and contained .the great Columbia basalt flows, the Cascades, the picture geology east of the Cascades, and the western slopes of the Continental Divide. It presented opportunity to study the geology of the Northwest in the vastness of the actions which produced the physiography of the region. 

With respect to the use of the word "Country" instead of territory, that too was founded upon excellent logic The territorial claims of the United States upon the Pacific Northwest were based upon the explorations of Lewis and Clark in 1806-7. By a treaty with England in 1846, the northern boundary was finally placed at the 49th parallel. The southern boundary was, of course, the 42nd parallel forming the northern boundary of what is now the states of California, Nevada, and Utah at that time under the sovereignty of Mexico where it remained until the close of the Mexican War in 1848. Since the western boundary to the Louisiana Purchase contiguous to this area was along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, this line of demarcation formed the eastern boundary of the Oregon Territory. This vast area was popularly referred to in the parlance of the day as the "Oregon Country", as indeed it was. It is not only a political province, it is also a logical economic entity. 

Passing time to the extent of ten years justifies the selection of the name. The years ahead of the Society possess great potentialities in study and exploration. 

F. L. Davis, reprinted from the January 25, 1945 issue of The Geological Newsletter


Dr. Edwin T. Hodge - August 1949

Dr. Edwin T. Hodge - August 1949

"Dr. Edwin T. Hodge, professor of geology at Oregon State University until his retirement, was found dead at his home at 2915 N. W. Luray Terrace on November 7. After cremation, his ashes were dispersed on the Skyline West Hills. He was the husband of the late Lydia Herrick Hodge, artist, educator and executive secretary of the Oregon Ceramic Studio, now known as the Contemporary Crafts Gallery. Her death occurred at 74 on September 17, 1960. Dr. Hodge was 81 on July 12. 

On April 18, 1935, the Geological Society of the Oregon Country was formed from the nucleus of 100 students from the geology classes taught by Dr. Hodge at the Portland Extension Center of the University of Oregon. This society promotes the awareness of geological knowledge for its membership which is open to all interested persons. Dr. Hodge was the first and sixteenth president of the society, and the membership has continued to grow during its 35 year life. 

In an address to the society in 1945, Dr. Hodge stated, "It is my dream that this society sponsor a museum that will become the Smithsonian of the West." Dr. John Cyprian Stevens was appointed as the society's museum director and in 1946 OMSI was born. While his dream has taken on the form of technological push-button Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the spark of its beginning is a tribute to Dr. Hodge. 

Oregonians are especially indebted to this eminent geologist for his many publications, especially: "The Geology of North Central Oregon," "The Geology of the Lower Columbia River," and "Mount Multnomah -- Ancient Ancestor of the Three Sisters." One of his signal contributions to economic geology is his 16 volume summary of the natural resources of the Pacific North West. These reports on the sources for iron ores, manganese, magnesia, silica, limestone, and clay have been used extensively by the electrochemical and electrometallurgical industries of the Northwest. 

His record of employment includes being President of the British Bureau of Mines; Professor of Geology, University of Oregon and Oregon State University since 1920; Consultant to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers 1932 -42 during which time he located the site for the Bonneville Dam, gave it its name, and supervised the foundation work. He was consulting geologist for the Round Butte Dam and Reservoir, and held many other executive positions on the staff of municipalities, state highway commissions, mining companies and surveys. 

Internationally he was requested to make geological investigations in Uganda, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Belgian Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Japan, China, Manchuria, Philippines, Malay States, and all states of the United States including Alaska. This survey of the world for its minerals resulted in a 10 Volume report which is now housed in the historical files of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers library. 

Dr. Hodge was a member of many professional organizations and learned societies and held many honorary positions. He was Fellow and Life Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, President of the British Columbia Chamber of Mines; Fellow, Geological Society of America; Fellow, American Geographical Society; Fellow, Seismological Society of America; member International Geological Congress; member American Ceramic Society; and honorary member as well as founding president of the Geological Society of the Oregon Country. 

Survivors of Dr. and Mrs. Edwin T. Hodge are a niece, Mrs. Marion Walker and her daughter Suzanne Walker. 

Friends who wish to contribute a Memorial Fund for Dr. Hodge may send their gifts to the Geological Society of the Oregon Country, in care of OMSI at 4500 S. W. Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon. "

Viola L. Oberson, reprinted from the December 1970 issue of The Geological Newsletter 


"Things worthy of remembrance, also a record of such things."

Photo of    The Two Islands    showing the photo of author and Oregon historical figure Thomas Condon.

Photo of The Two Islands showing the photo of author and Oregon historical figure Thomas Condon.

The book The Two Islands by Thomas Condon was published in 1902. Condon was the first scientific investigator of the fossils of the John Day area. In 1872, Condon became Oregon's first state geologist while teaching geology at Pacific University. When the University of Oregon was founded in 1876, he was appointed its first professor of geology. Condon's book The Two Islands was the foundation for the study of Oregon's historical geology. The book is passed on to the incoming president of GSOC each year with the understanding that it must be read or at least signed.

Past Presidents Carol Hasenberg and Ray Crowe make light with the GSOC pickaxe and gavel during the 2000 GSOC banquet.

Past Presidents Carol Hasenberg and Ray Crowe make light with the GSOC pickaxe and gavel during the 2000 GSOC banquet.

The GSOC pickaxe was presented to President Fred Miller in 1965 and is passed on to incoming presidents. It is in pristine condition and has never been used by diggers or miners.

The GSOC gavel was presented to the Society by E. N. Bates, who had it made from the wood of the Glenesslin, a full rigged steel sailing ship that foundered and sank at the base of Neahkahnie Mountain in 1913. The gavel was first used by outgoing president, H. Bruce Schminky during his welcoming remarks at the banquet May 28, 1943.

Photo of the GSOC pickaxe and    The Two Islands    taken during the 2010 GSOC banquet.

Photo of the GSOC pickaxe and The Two Islands taken during the 2010 GSOC banquet.

Photo of the GSOC gavel taken during the 2010 GSOC banquet.

Photo of the GSOC gavel taken during the 2010 GSOC banquet.

Gavel article by GSOC Historian Rosemary Kenney, reprinted from the April 2004 issue of The Geological Newsletter.


The GSOC plaque has graced this part of Mt. Tabor Park for over half a century.

The GSOC plaque has graced this part of Mt. Tabor Park for over half a century.

Many of you might not be aware of the bronze plaque that was set in Mt. Tabor park in Portland by GSOC in 1952. The plaque is located near the northwest corner of the main parking area of the park. It is also adjacent to the amphitheater located in the cinder cone at the park. Here are three articles from The Geological Newsletter that tell the story of its design and placement: 

Article 1: July 1952 issue of The Geological Newsletter: 


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Sometime before August 26, 1952, the Bureau of Parks and Recreation has agreed to let us dedicate a brass plaque to be placed in the crater of Mt. Tabor Park at one of their evening programs in Volcano Theatre. 

We are anxious to hear immediately from our interested membership and especially our geologists giving their ideas of what should appear on this plaque that would be the most informative to the public of Mt. Tabor's history and origin. 

Sit down RIGHT NOW - draw up a rough draft of what your ideas are and mail them to our plaque inscription chairman, Mr. F. W. Libbey, State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, 1069 State office Building, 1400 S.W. 5th Avenue, Portland 1, Oregon, so that it arrives in his hands not later than July 15th. 

Article 2: September 1952 issue of The Geological Newsletter: 


"Perfect picnicking weather ushered in our 1952 Annual Picnic at Mt. Tabor Park on the evening of August 8. It was a warm, balmy evening when a goodly number of G.S.O.C. members met for the usual hot cafeteria style" dinner which proved as usual its great popularity. There was much shuffling of plates and cups and going back for seconds, refills of coffee and finally, a gathering like bees 'round a honey jar for the pies, cakes, and melon at the dessert table. 

Following dinner, President Stone called the group together for a long anticipated event, the unveiling of the bronze plaque which is reported elsewhere in this issue. 

Then to "Volcano Theatre" which many had seen for the first time since its being rebuilt, for the usual stunts, singing, etc. The Park Department has done itself proud in remaking this theatre area -built from lava rock of the volcano it is artistic, beautifu1, and functional. We suspect that Mt. Tabor Park foreman, Mr. Sam Allen, who as usual was on hand to see that everything went smoothly, has had something to do with the successful rebuilding of the area. Also, we like to think that we Geesockers may have had apart - at least in suggesting the suitability of the area for entertainment purposes, for we've been presenting our stunts, skits, etc., there for many years. 

With President Norris Stone emceeing, a lot of wishing started among the audience -- accompanied on the piano by Miss Mary Davenport. It was revealing to know that apparently many of our GSOC group have been harboring long-suppressed desires for varied accomplishments such as to be a fossil by the sea," "an ancient oredon," "a little three-toed horse," and others. In addition to Mary and President Stone, Johanna Simon, Ken Phillips, Lon Hancock, Eddie and May Bush by, and a quartet consisting of Gregg Davis, Gene Hampton, John Wheeler, and Dick Walker sang out lustily just what they "wished they wuz." 

Emcee Stone next announced the title of the skit -"Sabotage in the Ochocos." He later corrected it to Sabbath in the Ochocos," but after seeing the skit, we think he was right the first time. 

Mr. Edward Clark as Pete Huckleberry and Glenna Teeters as his wife, Mehitabel, got their roadway paved, even though it caused Trip Leader Bruce Schminky no end of embarrassment. The long line of female members who lined up er a --for photographs by Leo Simon, who carelessly let his sign get blown down (wind erosion), were Mrs. Bruce Schminky, Mary Lou Oberson, Mrs. Edward Clark , Estella Connor, Mrs. Toralf Erickson and daughters Judy and Joan, and Aunt Minnie, played by Mr. James Galt in the absence of the original, Leonard M. Buoy. 

Mrs. Albert Keen , general chairman , and her committee and R. F. Wilbur, entertainment chairman, are to be congratulated on a very successful and entertaining evening." 

J.E. (Editors Note: J.E. is Jane Erickson, The Geological Newsletter Editor at that time.) 

Article 3: September 1952 issue of The Geological Newsletter: 


"Those of us members who attended the annual picnic at Mt. Tabor Park Friday evening, August 8, witnessed with a great deal of pride the fulfillment of a long-felt wish -- the unveiling of a bronze plaque at the crater of Mt. Tabor, a gift of our Society to the people of Portland. 

After being called to the area by President Norris Stone, the group heard a short talk by Dr. J. C. Stevens on the geology of the crater and surrounding area. Dr. Stevens then unveiled the plaque which stands at the east end of the picnic area facing the roadway through the park. 

Mr. F. W. Libbey, chairman of the inscription committee, had asked for and received various suggestions from members of the Society as to wording of the inscription. After consulting with various geologists and members, the following was decided upon: 

"Through the fiery throat of this volcano exploded glowing cinders which, cooling, formed the ground on which you now stand. Younger than the hundreds of volcanoes which poured out their lavas in the foothills of Mt. Hood, this cinder cone has withstood the ravages of time to become Mt. Tabor. It now stands peacefully in the City of Roses, the only major city in the United States that has a volcano within its borders. 

"This tablet was installed by the Geological Society
of the Oregon Country August 8, 1952. " 

President Stone, Dr. Stevens, Mr. Libbey, and others who worked with them toward accomplishment of this installation are to be greatly commended for their efforts. We will feel justifiable pride in the years to came over this plaque at the site of Mt. Tabor's volcano."

J .E. 

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