The One-Armed Geologist Whose Daring Colorado River Descent Made the Grand Canyon Famous
John Wesley Powell's Expedition Opened the West. He Then Devoted His Life to Protecting It
In May 1869, ten men climbed into four small, wooden rowboats to attempt what no one had dared before: descend the Colorado River through the unknown, frightening confines of the Grand Canyon. The leading explorer of the day, John C. Frémont, called it a suicide mission.
But no one could dissuade the expedition’s leader, scientist and Civil War hero John Wesley Powell, from exploring the last largely unexplored section of continental America, a 100-by-300-mile swathe of labyrinthian canyon land of the high Colorado Plateau—and finishing what Lewis and Clark had …