The Megatherium Club, Early Smithsonian Explorers

The Megatherium Club was an informal group of young naturalists who made the Castle their temporary home in between expeditions to the outer reaches of the United States, or who otherwise worked or visited the relatively new Smithsonian Institution in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The Club's history includes tales of sack races, beer-drinking, and serenading the daughters of the Smithsonian’s Secretary, Joseph Henry. The Club's name is coined after the Megatherium, at the time a recently discovered extinct genus (Megatherium) of very large, sloth-like, plant-eating animals, whose remains have been found in the Pleistocene Epoch of America.