November 22, 1911
Djibouti, formerly of French Somaliland, is strategically located near a busy shipping lane between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It was the port of entry for many early 20th-century adventurers, and the hot, arid landscape became their first glimpse of the African continent.
November 27, 1911
Dire Daoua (Dire Dawa)
After the Imperial Railway Company’s completion of a line originating in Djibouti, the first train arrived in Dire Daoua in 1902. Easier access to Ethiopia’s interior turned a barren landscape into a rapidly growing trading hub, and economic opportunities drew a diversified mix of ethnicities, languages, and religions.
December 20, 1911
Sadi Malka (Melka Sede)
After leaving the railroad at Dire Daoua, Frick and Mearns continued on another 200 miles to Adis Abeba, while other members of the party established a base camp at Sadi Malka, near the Hawash River. Following a circuitous route the two explorers eventually returned over a month later by way of Ankober. This camp became home for several weeks, and the porters who carried all the equipment and food supplies were expert in rapidly transforming tents and folding furniture into relatively comfortable living quarters.
December 27, 1911
Adis Abeba (Addis Ababa)
The capital of Ethiopia, located in the foothills of the Endoto Mountains, was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II. He is largely credited with the early development of the country, building bridges, roads, and a railway extending from the French port of Djibouti to the capital city. Frick’s party visited Menelik to pay their respects, bringing gifts to obtain the ruler’s goodwill and help smooth the expedition’s passage through the country.
January 23, 1912
In the Annals of Carnegie Museum, Frick (1914) named thirteen new taxa of murid rodents from Ethiopia including a new subspecies, Epimys rufidorsalis ankoberensis, collected at 7,500 feet above sea level at Ankober. It is now considered to be Stenocelphalemys albipes, the Ethiopian white-footed narrow-headed rat.
February 4, 1912
Hawash River (Awash River)
The Awash River is the second largest river in Ethiopia, stretching some 750 miles through a deep cleft in the central highlands. In 1894 an iron bridge was built to cross the steep river gorge where the current town of Awash is located. Under the direction of Emperor Menelik it was notable as one of the rare bridges in the entire country. Meant to be an improvement over an old wooden structure, it was, nevertheless, said to be of shaky construction and was only open when the river was too deep to ford.
February 17 - 28, 1912
Chilalo Mountains and Arussi Plateau (Arsi Kifle Hager)
Another of the thirteen new taxa of murid rodents from Ethiopia named by Frick (1914) was collected on February 18, 1911, at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Chilalo Mountains. The current range of Stenocephalemys albocaudata, the Ethiopian white-tailed narrow-headed rat, is restricted to the high altitude moorlands of the Bale and Arsi mountain ranges, southeastern Ethiopia.
March 2, 1912
Cofali-Malke area (Kofele-Malche)
The eastern black-and-white Colobus is found throughout the 1911-12 expedition route in forests, Acacia woodlands, bamboo stands and thickets. Colobus monkeys have a specialized digestive system that allows them to subsist on leaves and mostly unripened fruit, a diet that most other monkeys would avoid. This allows Colobus to travel less, live a more arboreal lifestyle and in higher densities than other primates that depend on a fruit and insect diet.
March 20 - 26, 1912
North Lake Abaya (Lake Abaya) - South Lake Abaya (Lake Chamo)
Lake Abaya is the largest of a chain of lakes stretching south-westwards in the central Ethiopian Rift Valley. Just to the south, separated by a thin strip of land, Lake Chamo receives Abaya’s overflow in years of heavy rainfall. Fish, crocodiles, and hippos populate the waters, and the fertile country surrounding the lakes is rich in wildlife and provides an especially important habitat for birds. The area is now part of Ethiopia’s Nechisar National Park.
March 27 - May 24, 1912
Gardula - Gato River
Frick’s party collected a female Rufous Elephant Shrew on April 12, 1912 at an elevation of 4000 F. The diurnal species is found in Acacia bushlands. It is one of only a few elephant shrew species that does not live in burrows or nests and is frequently seen running along trails where fire resistant vegetation provides shelter.
May 19, 1912
Bodessa - Sagon River (Budessa Chera - Segen River)
Edgar Mearns’ field journal for this date says that he left the “Kormali Village and traveled to Bodessa on a stream of the same name. It was a long march up to Bodessa at the edge of a great canyon hollowed out by floods of the Sagon River with many small tributaries during the rainy season.” The expedition spent an extended period in this region and, among other species, they collected four Vervet monkeys. The presence of these monkeys indicates that the route included forest habitat.
June 7, 1912
The expedition was delayed at Tertale while pack mules were exchanged for camels. Donkeys and mules were often part of a safari’s caravan, both as pack animals and for riding, but camels were much better suited for the desert terrain the party would travel through as they made their way south into Kenya. These “ships of the desert” required very little water, carried enormous loads, and could withstand extreme temperatures.
June 26, 1912
Hor (North Horr)
Mearns’ field journal calls Hor (or Hora) an “oasis in a big desert.” It was reached after more than 24 hours of travel from the last camp on the Ballal River. Collecting occurred along the way including Cape Hare whose preferred habitat is dry, open savannas and deserts. The skins and skulls were prepared for the museum but hares most likely represented a welcome addition of fresh meat for members of the expedition whenever they were encountered.
July 5, 1912
Lake Rudolf (Lake Turkana)
Mearns’ field journal states that they “marched 8 miles to Lake Rudolf and then southward for several hours,” camping just north of British troops under the command of Captain Wellon. The next day they marched another 4 hours before camping beside the Lake. The expedition experienced very high winds in this vicinity but managed to collect a small series of Rock Hyraxes here.
July 20, 1912
Endoto Mountains (Ndoto Mountains)
The African Buffalo is a savanna species and is never far from a source of water. A single skull was brought back to the museum following the 1911-12 expedition from just north of the Endoto Mountains. The male and female exhibited in the Hall of African Wildlife were collected by Frick on his 1909-10 expedition.
July 31, 1912
Guaso Nyiro River (Ewaso Ng’iro River)
Mearns’ journal indicates that the field party worked in this vicinity for a number of days, “camped across a great lava flow on the edge of a smooth plain. [They were] disturbed by a lion that roused the camels.” Frick collected a female Black Rhino at this locality during his 1909-10 expedition.
August 9, 1912
A single specimen of the Ochre Bush Squirrel, also known as the Kenyan Tree Squirrel, was collected at this locality by Edgar Mearns while hunting for birds. This species prefers wooded valleys that follow the course of rivers where they can find old trees with large enough holes for nesting.
August 23, 1912
Tana River-Ithanga Hills-Thika River
Mearns’ field journal describes how their route “followed the river almost all the way, mostly through heavy grass or on hippo trails.” In December 1909, Frick collected this Hippopotamus skull along the Thika River. Whenever they are killed, Hippos provide a significant amount of fresh meat for the local people.
August 30, 1912
Lying at the edge of the Athi Plains and bounded by three rivers full of crocodiles and hippos, Juja Farm was in the midst of prime hunting grounds. The owner, American William N. McMillan, was renowned for his hospitality, and his shooting preserve provided all the comforts, even luxuries, of home, including electric lights, running water, and an ice plant.
September 1, 1912
Mearns’ field journal states that “they were never out of sight of game in abundance” near this locality, including Grant’s and Thomson’s Gazelles, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Giraffe, and a few Impala. “There were wild dogs and wart hogs in camp.” Frick collected a male and female Impala near this locality during his 1909-10 expedition.
September 3, 1912
The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi was founded as a rail depot in 1899 and became a stopping point for big game hunters traveling by way of the Uganda Railway. Outfitters in town could arrange for supplies and porters for those about to embark on safari, and for hunters who arrived after spending months in bush country it was a welcome oasis of civilization. As the travelers’ needs for goods and services grew, the town became more European and many Britons, especially, settled in its picturesque suburbs.
September 10, 1912
Uganda Railway, North of Voi
Although traveling by rail, the expedition stopped north of Voi and obtained a Duiker, a species not previously collected during the trip. In 1910 at this locality, Frick collected a Giraffe which became the first taxidermy mount of a Giraffe to be exhibited in North America. It remains on exhibit as part of the Hall of African Wildlife.
September 16, 1912
Situated on an island, Mombasa has a centuries’ old history as a trading center, dealing in gold, copper, spices, and ivory. Now a major port city, it is the starting point of the Uganda Railway which began construction in 1896. A network of smaller rails was employed as a means for getting from one part of town to another. The ghary system used man-powered awning covered trolley cars that ran on two-foot wide tracks.