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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, August 30, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, sustainability, art and design, environment, adventure , climate change

                                                   John Wesley Powell (credit: USGS)

August 30, 2019 has been declared John Wesley Powell Day. The one-armed Civil War veteran set off 150 years ago to explore the Green and Colorado Rivers and the Grand Canyon. The Department of Interior has decided to recognize the accomplishment of the nearly 900-mile expedition that began in May 1869 at Green River, Wyoming. Powell's expedition began with several wooden boats to investigate the unknown Colorado River basin and its rapids. His expedition was the first documented exploration of the canyon. Powell later undertook further explorations for the US Geological Survey and captured the first photographs of the landscapes and environment inside the Grand Canyon, now one of the most visited US national parks.


   John Wesley Powell boats (credit: Grand Canyon NP)        John Wesley Powell with Paiute Chief (credit: public domain)

Powell's journals provided great insights on the arid western environments of the United States. He spoke eloquently about the Colorado River, the need for water conservation, and protection for the Canyon. He was very prescient to the risks of over-exploitation of the natural resources.

"Grand Canyon is a land of song. Mountains of music swell in the rivers, hills of music billow in the creeks, and meadows of music murmur in the rills that ripple over the rocks. Altogether it is a symphony of multitudinous melodies. All this is the music of waters."

In 1883, Powell would remark to a meeting of early irrigators: "you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land", but he was largely ignored.



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