Notable Oregonians: Thomas Condon - Geologist, Paleontologist

Thomas Condon in bowler hat
Thomas Condon, 1822-1907. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Thomas Condon was born in Cork County, Ireland and immigrated to New York City in 1833. After attending grade school and college, he taught for some years before graduating from Auburn Theological Seminary in New York in 1852. He traveled around Cape Horn to Portland, Oregon where he was ordained as a Congregational minister in 1853. Condon served as pastor at St. Helens in 1853, Forest Grove in 1854, Albany from 1855 to 1861, and The Dalles from 1862 to 1870.
Beginning in 1865 while living in The Dalles, he was the first scientific investigator of the fossils of the John Day area. In 1872, Condon became Oregon's first state geologist while teaching geology at Pacific University. When the University of Oregon was founded in 1876, he was appointed its first professor of geology and continued as professor and chair of Natural Sciences until 1907.
Condon's book The Two Islands was the foundation for the study of Oregon's historical geology. In later life he was called "Oregon's Grand Old Man of Science." Most of Thomas Condon's fossil collections can be found at the University of Oregon and Pacific University. Among other things, Condon Hall at the University of Oregon and the primary visitor center at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument are named for him. The town of Condon in Gilliam County is named after his nephew.
(Sources: | Dictionary of Oregon History)
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