Morton J. Elrod Walks with Rifle on Mount McDonald, Late 19th Century
March 30, 2021
Morton J. Elrod, pictured here on top of Mt. McDonald with a rifle and wearing a decidedly dashing mountaineering outfit, was the kind of true renaissance man that did a lot to shape the earlier days of our state.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1863, Elrod eventually received both an MA and an MS before becoming an ecologist and accepting a position as a professor at the University of Montana in 1896. He taught biology as well as photography, in which he would maintain a lifelong interest. He would also establish the Flathead Lake Biological Station in 1899, the second oldest biological station in the United States, which remains in operation to this day.
In addition to science and photography, Elrod also wrote poetry and works of philosophy and history.
In this photograph, he strides, rifle slung over his shoulder, through the Mission Mountains in the Northwest part of the state. There is no certain date for the photograph, but given his apparent age we would estimate it to be late 19th century.
His work in ecology and biology would result in his having two speices of land-mollusks named after him (Oreohelix elrodi and Stagnicola elrodi), and one of his protegees, Harold Urey, would go on to win the Nobel prize, discover the element deuterium, and be instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb.