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Doctor Collects Arctic Specimens for Charles Darwin

In the early 1900’s, intellectuals, scientists and prominent visitors seeking information on Southwest Oregon knew to visit Dr. Walter Haydon in Marshfield, Ore.  Haydon was born in England in 1854, studied medicine and nutrition in London and took lessons in carpentry and metal work for his future travels.

Haydon once told the Oregon Journal that he spent a year in Russia and Europe and another year aboard an ocean voyage to the Arctic, where he cared for the health of 80 crewmen and collected specimens.

Haydon traveled for six years in the Northwest Territories by dog team, snowshoe or canoe, collecting butterflies and plants for evolutionist Charles Darwin, who Haydon said, “was anxious to study the variations in animal and plant life due to climatic conditions.”

As a photographer, Haydon prepared his own wet plates and chemicals. A Front Street fire destroyed his collections and photographic plates. Years later, a brother found a secondhand book in London that contained photographs Haydon had sent to a friend in England.

Haydon told Fred Lockley of the Oregon Journal, “You can imagine how much pleasure I had in looking over the photography I had made nearly 50 years earlier.”

Source: Gulick, Bill. “Roadside History of Oregon.” Mountain Press Publishing Company. Missoula, Montana. 1916. Pp. 138-139. Print

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.