Alaska Artists: Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh

lonely caribou in Alakan Nature

As conservationists and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we created Alaskan Nature to  provide educational information about the flora and fauna of the great state of Alaska. With both our written information and our stunning photos, Alaskan Nature hopes to inspire people in appreciating and understand the true beauty of Alaska Nature.

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh was an early artist and topographer of the American West. He served as an assistant topographer with Major John Wesley Powell's second expedition of the Colorado River from 1871-1873. An explorer of the American West at an early age, he was a member of an expedition that discovered the last unknown river in the United States, the Escalante River and the previously undiscovered Henry Mountains

Born in McConnelsville, Ohio, in 1853, Frederick Dellenbaugh became interested in landscape painting and map-making at an early age. At eighteen, he was skilled enough to be chosen for the second Powell expedition down the Colorado River.

On the expedition he served as both artist and as assistant map-maker, and he began his life-long habit of keeping a daily journal of his travels. The expedition embarked at Green River, Wyoming, and passed the winter of 1871-72 at Kanab, Utah. In the spring and summer of 1872, Dellenbaugh explored north of Kanab through Potato Valley and helped discover the Escalante River. The expedition continued on to the Aquarius Plateau and the Henry Mountains and traveled through the Upper Grand Canyon until Powell called a halt at Kanab Creek due to dangerous currents.

After his return from the Colorado River expedition, Dellenbaugh began to concentrate on his art. His formal art training commenced in New York in 1873, and he later studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich and the Academie Julian in Paris. Today, Dellenbaugh is known more for his writing and exploring than as a great artist.

In 1899, Frederick Dellenbaugh served as artist on E. H. Harriman's expedition to Alaska and Siberia. Dellenbaugh was a seasoned traveler when he joined the Harriman Expedition in 1899, but his journals and letters show that he was truly excited to be setting out on this trip. He wrote his fellow artist, R. Swain Gifford, before the trip even started, saying that he was delighted at the opportunity to work in Alaska.

Several of his paintings from the trip were used as illustration for the first two volumes published after the Harriman Expedition. He made hundreds more, pencil drawings, oil sketches, even photographs that show his intense interest in the shape and color of the landscape he saw. Even his most formal paintings show evidence of his early experience in surveying and mapping the land. In later years he continued to travel, served as librarian to the National Geographic Society, and founded the Explorer's Club.

Frederick Dellenbaugh spent the summer of 1903 painting Zion Canyon. These paintings were exhibited in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair where spectators could not believe such a place was real. In the January, 1904 edition of Scribner’s Magazine, Dellenbaugh introduced the nation to Zion Canyon with these words: "One hardly knows just how to think of it. Never before has such a naked mountain of rock entered into our minds! Without a shred of disguise its transcendent form rises preeminent. There is almost nothing to compare to it. Niagara has the beauty of energy; the Grand Canyon, of immensity; the Yellowstone, of singularity; the Yosemite, of altitude; the ocean, of power; this Great Temple, of eternity—”

Dellenbaugh's paintings and the Scribner’s article contributed to President William Howard Taft's proclamation creating Mukuntuweap National Monument on July 31, 1909. In 1919, Congress changed the name and established Zion National Park. 

Johnny AculiakEdwin Tappan Adney| George Twok Aden AhgupukAlvin Eli Amason| Saradell Ard|   Belmore Browne| Vincent ColyerJules Bernard DahlagerLockwood De Forest| Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh| William Franklin Draper| | Henry Wood Elliott| John Fehringer| Claire Fejes| Louis Agassiz Fuertes| Magnus Colcord Heurlin| Norman Jackson| Rockwell Kent| Sydney Mortimer Laurence| Fred Machetanz| Marvin Mangus| Milo Minock| James Kivetoruk Moses| Rie MunozJoseph Henry Sharp| James Everett Stuart| John Webber| Kesler Woodward|


Frederick Dellenbaugh painting of the western United States

Frederick Dellenbaugh nature painting

Alaska's Tribes:

Below is a full list of the different Alaska Native cultures. Within each culture are many different tribes.

Learn more about Alaskan tribes

Aleut Athabascan Eyak
Haida Inuit Tlingit
Tsimshian Yupik