Henry Lathom Abbot

By Steve Lent, Museum Historian

Henry Larcom Abbot co-led an expedition through Central Oregon commissioned by Congress to determine potential railroad routes from the Columbia River to California. Abbot was born in Beverly, Massachusetts on August 13, 1831. He attended West Point and graduated 2nd in his class with a degree in military engineering in 1854. He was commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on July 1, 1854, U.S. Topographical Engineers.

He was assigned as an assistant to 1st Lieutenant R.S. Williamson for the Pacific Railroad Surveys on October 1, 1854. The expedition was conducted for two years covering Central Oregon from the Klamath Basin to Fort Dalles. The expedition divided near Black Butte and Williamson led a group west tot eh Willamette Valley and Abbot took over command of the expedition continuing north to the Columbia. This was Abbot's first assignment upon graduating from West Point. It is interesting to note that two other recent graduates of West Point were assigned as escorts, Lt. Phil Sheridan and Lt. George Crook. The final report on the expedition provided information on railroad routes that were later adopted. Abbot Butte, Abbot Creek and Camp Abbot were named for him.

His next assignment was to harbor and flood control on the Mississippi River. He married Mary Everett in 1857. In 1861 he was called to service during the Civil War and in 1864 attained the brevet rank of Major General of Volunteers. He was wounded at the battle of Bull Run. After the war he served as a military engineer until his retirement as a colonel on August 13, 1895. On April 23, 1904 he was appointed Brigadier General, U.S.A., retired.

After his retirement he continued to work as a consultant for the Army and private enterprise for several years including serving on the engineering board of the Panama Canal construction. His wife died in 1871. Mr. Abbot died on October 1, 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is one of 158 names of people important to Oregon=s history that are painted in the House and Senate chambers of the Oregon State Capitol.