(Photograph courtesy of Bentley Historical Collection, University of Michigan)
Douglass Houghton, Class of 1829
Douglass Houghton, who was named assistant professor of chemistry and natural history at Rensselaer following his graduation, was destined to become one of the great pioneers of geological and mining sciences in the country. He served in numerous scientific capacities during his brief lifetime, including medical doctor.
At Amos Eatons recommendation, he was invited by the Michigan legislature to lecture on chemistry, botany, and geology. His success was immediate and he was appointed Michigans first state geologist at age 28. Houghtons efforts led to the discovery of deposits of salt, copper, and iron in the state, with enormous impact on the states young economy.
His work on a thorough survey of the wild lands of the U.S., approved by Congress, was cut short when he drowned in a storm on Lake Superior.
A city, a county, and a lake honor his name in Michigan.