FORMER RESIDENT TAKES NEW TRAIL:
BLANCHE TRASK
acknolwedged by
ERNEST WINDLE
November, 1916
Catalina Islander Newspaper
Avalon, California

"Word has been received here that Mrs. Blanche Trask, after a lingering illness, passed away on November 11, in a San Francisco Hospital. The funeral services were held November 14, and later disposed of. Mrs. Trask was the mother of Miss Caroline B. Trask. Miss Trask's many Avalon aquaintenances and friends desire to offer their sympathy and condolence."

"For many years Mrs. Trask was a resident of Avalon, beloved of all. Much scientific data relative to Island history, now on record, is the work of Mrs. Trask. As a botanist, and writer of special articles on early settlers of the Channel Islands, she won a wide and honorable reputation. For months at a time she camped on the different islands, braving untold hardships, to study the habits of the Indians. Recently a valuable collection of Indian relics, gathered by her, was sent to Stanford University. During the fire last year the remainder of her historical and botanical collections of scientific specimens were destroyed. It is said that Mrs. Trask grieved very much over this great loss."


OBSERVATIONS OF A 21st CENTURY NATURALIST
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000

Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915 (spanning 20 Years). Her winter home was located adjacent to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located.

Blanche Trask also explored some of the desert mountains of the west, such as the San Jacinto Mountains, Colorado Desert, Death Valley, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Yellowstone. Many people have acknowledged her contritubitions over the last 100 years. Scientists, in particular, have noted her contributions, but as you can see from the above passages by Ernest Windle, a publisher and editor of Catalina Island's only newspaper, also respected her. In addition, Ernest Windle shows us that "many Avalon aquaintenances and friends" respected her. In Ernest Windle's book on the history of Catalina, there are also several quotes that refer to Blanche Trask.

We learn that a sizable archaeological collection is presumably archived at Stanford University. Research is needed to verify this possibility of finding further notes and letters by Blanche Trask. In addition, it may be fruitful to locate Caroline B. Trask memorabilia. It should be noted that Escondido Harbor is today the location of the Wrigley Insitute of Environmental Science near the Isthmus. USC manages the Institute.

Six months after Blanche Trask passed away, Alice Eastwood, who attended the funeral and a friend and scientific colleague of Blanche Trask came for a field visit to Catalina. It was apparently Alice Eastwood's last visit, a "kind of good-bye to Blanche," and were ashes distributed on Catalina? Did Alice travel to Catalina to visit people who would have known Blanche Trask? Would these field journals still be archived at the California Academy of Sciences?

Blanche Trask appreciated the desert landscapes of the southwest, as noted in her letters to Willis Jepson, but the California Channel Islands were her "sense of place." Indeed, the Channel Islands have a "desert feel" to them, if one spends some time on them. The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island.

The above narrative was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek, for educational and inspirational purposes in the hope of someday adding the last three "southern" islands (San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Catalina) to the five islands that already make up Channel Islands National Park. Both Blanche Trask and Alice Eastwood would whole-heartedly approve of a "All Eight Channel Islands" National Park. It is only fitting that these three "southern" islands be added to the "name-sake" of the National Park. If not, I propose that we change the National Park name to more accurately reflect truth: "Five Channel Islands-Minus Three National Park." My point is that this "great" National Park is not complete ("greater") as the current name would suggest. The northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel), all four together, are a much greater distance from Santa Barbara Island than the three in question. These three "southern" islands are not far from Santa Barbara Island, which, by the way, already is in the National Park. Each of the three "southern" islands is roughly 20 miles from Santa Barbara Island but in different compass directions. San Clemente is "South," San Nicolas is "West," and Santa Catalina is "East."




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