Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COLVIN, Verplanck, topographical engineer, born in Albany, New York, 4 January, 1847. He was educated at private schools, and then at the Albany academy, where he excelled in scientific branches. In 1864 he entered the law-office of his father in Albany, and subsequently was admitted to the bar, meanwhile continuing his interest in the sciences, especially chemistry. He delivered part of a free course of lectures given in the geological hall, and was led in 1865 to make his first expedition into the Adirondack wilderness. Until 1872 he continued to spend his summers in exploration, while his winters were occupied in the practice of his profession and in study. During the summer of 1869 he made the ascent of Nt. Marcy, and in 1870 the first ascent of Mt. Seward. In 1872 he applied to the legislature for aid, and in consequence the Adirondack survey was instituted, with himself as superintendent. His work during that year included the discovery of Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds, the most elevated lake spring and source of the Hudson river. Each year during the summer months he directs surveying parties engaged in field-work throughout the Adirondack region, and determinations of the altitudes of most of the important, mountains have been made under his supervision. He was appointed in 1873 one of the commissioners of state parks to report upon the expediency of setting apart the whole Adirondack region as a state forest reserve, and subsequently exerted his influence toward the passage of a bill on this subject. In 1883 he was appointed superintendent of the New York state land survey. Mr. Colvin is a member of numerous scientific societies, and has been president of the department of physical science in the Albany institute. About 1881 he delivered at Hamilton College a series of lectures of geodesy, surveying, and topographical engineering. Besides occasional articles in the magazines, he has written a series of reports on the surveys, which are published by the state.
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