|Nicolletia, Hole-in-the-sand Plant. Van Loon photo.
Nicollet's Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River From Astronomical and Barometrical Observations was the first accurate map of the region. As the title indicates, he relied heavily on instruments—at that time a novel approach, especially the use of barometry to determine elevation. This was a map years ahead of its time.
Decades later, GK Warren of the Corps of Topographical Engineers referred to Nicollet's map as "one of the greatest contributions ever made to American geography." He suggested Nicollet would have become head of the Corps if had he lived longer.
|North end of the Coteau des Prairies from Nicollet's map. Hachure lines show
relief. The entire map—high-resolution and zoomable—is available here.
|Joseph Nicollet, date unknown. Source.
|Nicollet Tower west of Sisseton. From the top, the views are wonderful.
|Frémont's Nicolletia collection, the type specimen. New York Botanical Garden.
|Zooming in on packet contents—dried flowers and other fragments.
|Nicolletia is a tough desert plant with spines and slightly succulent foliage. Van Loon photo.
|A classic composite; what looks like one flower is a head with both ray and disc flowers. Sheriff Woody photo.
|When sand collects around the base of the plant, it appears to rise from below the surface, hence the name Hole-in-the-sand Plant. But Nicolletia is easier to say and to me, more appealing.