During the spring and summer of 1899, a wealthy individual named Edward Henry Harriman organized an expedition to explore the plant and animal life of Alaska.
Among its many accomplishments, The Harriman Alaska Expedition discovered a vast fjord in the northern section of Prince William Sound. There are many glaciers in this sound, and they line up – one after another – in a never-ending display of enormous rivers of ice.
The explorers wanted a continuity of imagery for the new glaciers, and decided that the names of prominent institutions of higher learning would provide an excellent linkage. The inlet from which all these aqueous marvels can be seen came to be known as the College Fjord.
The first of the newly discovered glaciers were named after schools represented on the expedition – Harvard and Amherst. They were followed by other elite colleges – some of which had helped to fund the adventure – Yale, Barnard, BrynMawr, Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. Columbia and Dartmouth also have glacier namesakes, but they are not located in College Fjord. Conspicuous by its absence is a Princeton Glacier.
The first picture above is of the Harvard Glacier that covers over 100,000 acres of the Chugach National Forest. It is the second largest glacier in Prince William Sound and is located at the end of the College Fjord. It is 1.5 miles wide and about 300 feet high at the point where it calves icebergs into the water.
The appearance of the glaciers changes with the time of day and weather. Another of the photos above was taken about 6 a.m. when daybreak was magically painting the natural surroundings in dreamlike hues and interesting shadows.
The Harvard Glacier is the northernmost point visited by the cruise ships sailing the Inside Passage of Alaska. Another popular route takes passengers to Glacier Bay. Either destination is equally inspiring.
Because the members of The Harriman Expedition took hundreds of photos of glaciers, Mr. Harriman is credited with providing significant visual comparisons of how the great glaciers have changed over the course of the last century.
Click on these related titles for information about cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska and some of the interesting ports of call.
Ketchikan: First Port of Call on the Inside Passage of Alaska
Sitka: Considered the Most Beautiful Port along Alaska’s Inside Passage
Skagway: The Northernmost Port of the Alaska Inside Passage
Cruise from Vancouver to the Inside Passage of Alaska
Cruise Vacation Bargains are Everywhere – It’s Time to Get Aboard