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Crude map of Elk Lake region, drawn by Julius Chambers. He called the lake "Lake Dolly Varden", a Dickensian name he also gave to the canoe he used on the trip.
While on sick leave on June 4, 1872, Chambers discovered Elk Lake adjoining Lake Itasca in Clearwater County, Minnesota, in the Lake District of Northwestern Minnesota. He declared it to be the ultimate origin of the Mississippi River.[Note 2] For this discovery, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. This led to a series of newspaper articles and the book The Mississippi River and Its Wonderful Valley (1910).[Note 3]
Julius Chambers in 1872
Later in 1872, he returned to work and undertook a journalistic investigation of Bloomingdale Asylum, having himself committed with the help of some of his friends and the city editor. His intent was to obtain information about alleged abuse of inmates. After ten days, his collaborators on the project had him released. When articles and accounts of the experience were published in the Tribune, it led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration of the institution and, eventually, to a change in the lunacy laws.[Note 4] This later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its People (1876). From this time onward, Chambers was frequently invited to speak on the rights of the mentally ill and the need for proper facilities for their accommodation, care and treatment.
New York Herald
In 1873, he joined the staff of the New York Herald and in his fifteen years at the newspaper occupied nearly every one of its editorial desks. In 1887, his editor-in-chief sent him to Paris to launch the Paris Herald.
In 1890, Pulitzer, Chambers, et al. were indicted for posthumous criminal libel against Alexander T. Stewart for accusing him of "a dark and secret crime", as the man who "invited guests to meet his mistresses at his table", and as "a pirate of the dry goods ocean." The charges were dismissed by the court. This sort of criminal action was common at the time and both Pulitzer and Chambers were indicted in a number of cases, in some of which they were acquitted, in others convicted.
Chambers also wrote a column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, from 1904 onwards, called "Walks and Talks" and he continued to write it for the rest of his life.
He continued his travel writing and lectured in journalism at Cornell University from 1903 to 1904, and at New York University in 1910.
In addition to his works of fiction, he published over a hundred short stories and had two plays produced in New York, both comedies. His final book, the posthumously published News Hunting on Three Continents (1921), has been generally accepted as an autobiographical account of his career even though many of the chapters are in fact lightly revised versions of fictional stories he wrote over the years.
Chambers was married twice. For years he was a member of the Lotos Club, New York.
A Mad World and Its People (1876) a.k.a. A Mad World and Its Inhabitants, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London
On a Margin (1884) The story of a hopeless patriot, Ford, Howard & Hulbert, New York
Lovers Four and Maidens Five (1886) A story of the Allegheny Mountains, Porter & Coates
Missing (1896) A Romance of the Sargasso Sea, The Transatlantic Publishing Company
A Happy Month in Jamaica (1900) F. Presbrey Co.
The Destiny of Doris (1901) A travel-story of three continents, Continental Publishing Company, New York
Seven, Seven, Seven – City (1903) A Tale of the Telephone, featuring female sleuth Mrs. Edith Marchmont
When Money Talked (1904) Serialized in The Gateway: (Part 1) (Part 2)
Seeing New York (1908) a brief historical guide and souvenir of America's greatest city
The Book of New York (1912) Forty years' recollections of the American metropolis
Montreal (1915) Old, New, Entertaining, Convincing, Fascinating (contributing editor)
News Hunting on Three Continents (1921) Mitchell Kennerley, New York
The Rascal Club (1897) F. Tennyson Neely, New York.
"The Chivalry of the Press" The Arena Vol.4 (June, 1891
"Little Stories of Journalism" in The Reader (1904)
"Woman:The Line of Progress" (1910) in The Forum, Volume 44
"Why Germany Went to War, General Conversion to the Racial Doctrines of Professor Fichte" in The Gateway, a magazine of patriotic service, Volume XXXI (1918)
There is disparity about an unused first name. The Americana Vol.4 (1911) calls him Charles Julius Chambers,Dictionary of American Biography (1936) and The Delta Kappa Epsilon Quarterly (1893)  call him James Julius Chambers. Regardless of the correct name, he used neither one in practice, nor an initial in its place.
^Other white men including (William Morrison 1803, Schoolcraft 1832, and Nicollet 1836) preceded him there, but had not identified its role as such, because at the time of their visits, Elk Lake had been part of Lake Itasca, from which it was believed to have been subsequently separated by natural causes. (See reference "The Glazier Fiasco")
^The following notice appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on July 17, 1872,
"Julius Chambers, who undertook to paddle his canoe Dolly Varden from Lake Itaska to New Orleans, reached Quincy, Illinois, yesterday and shipped his canoe to St. Louis on the steamer Rob Roy."
^The following notice appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 30, 1877,
"The lady whose suit against the Bloomingdale Asylum was mentioned in the Eagle on Wednesday is Mrs. James O. Norton. Mrs. Norton has been indefatigable for the past year to have her experiences of asylum life made known to the public, with a view toward ameliorating the condition of those suffering in them, and has decided that the course she has pursued is the best.
She has put her case in the hands of Mr. John D. Townsend, of New York, whose name is associated with the exposures made several years ago by Julius Chambers, and he doubtless will secure a legal victory for this worthy lady"
^ abcdefghDictionary of American Biography (1936) Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
^ abcTucher, Andie, "Why Journalism History Matters: The Gaffe, the 'Stuff,' and the Historical Imagination," American Journalism vol. 31, no. 4, December 2014, pp. 432-444
^ abLeonard, John W.; Marquis, Albert Nelson (1899). Who's who in America. Marquis Who's Who. p. 122. Retrieved 2013.
^Flower, Benjamin Orange (1891). The Arena. Arena Publishing Company. Retrieved 2013.
^Lorettus Sutton Metcalf; Walter Hines Page; Joseph Mayer Rice; Frederic Taber Cooper; Mitchell Kennerley; Arthur Hooley; Edwin Wildman; George Henry Payne; Henry Goddard Leach (1910). The Forum. Forum Print. Company. p. 724. Retrieved 2013.