Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

What started as a scientific expedition through the last uncharted territory of the continental United States turned out to be a harrowing adventure for John Wesley Powell and nine other men who set out to explore the Colorado River in 1869. Their story, recounted from Powell’s journals, is as exciting today as it was when first published in 1874. Photos & line drawing

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    Christopher

    I often find myself in despair over three things: (1) that I shall never again view Breaking Bad with fresh eyes; (2) the discovery of an empty milk carton after pouring a bowl of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs; and (3) that there is no part of the world left to discover and explore.

    There are very few people who can truthfully write: “We are now ready to start on our way down the Great Unknown.” (And it should be explicated to the reader that I am intensely envious of anyone who can claim knowled

    There are very few people who can truthfully write: “We are now ready to start on our way down the Great Unknown.” (And it should be explicated to the reader that I am intensely envious of anyone who can claim knowledge of the otherwise unknown.) Indeed, “unknown” is a ubiquitous word in this book. As the title implies, this book is John Wesley Powell’s matter of fact record of his exploratory mission down the Colorado River, a region previously untouched by white men.

    Bearded, grizzled, and singly armed (old Civil War wound), Powell and a crew of nine men set out in May, 1869 from Green River, Wyoming. With four boats between them and enough food to last them ten months, they travelled downstream, in search of whatever they might find. Powell was a faithful recording angel, transcribing the landscape into his (assumedly) large, ruled, black hardcover Moleskine notebook. He took copious photographs of canyon walls, Pueblo dwellings, standing rocks, et cetera. There were close calls in the white water rapids, peaceful encounters with Indians, but mostly the journey was full of beauty and awe.

    For that reason, Powell’s account may not be a riveting one for readers. This is not an “adventure” book in the Robert Louis Stevenson/Alexandre Dumas sense. There is little action or intensity. As for me, however, in reading I was transported entirely to a time, place and situation for which I would give any of my limbs to experience. Gladly would I strike off this arm to teleport into this book. Imagine us, John Wesley Powell and James Christopher Winters, two arms between the two of us, mirror images of each other, embarking on our journey into the Great Unknown.
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