In 1869 Powell a Civil War hero
who lost his arm at the battle of Shiloh set off into the unknown. He would be the first white man to run the
Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
It must have been a fearsome prospect.
Back in 1869 the river ran wild and free, unfettered by damns that
drained its ferocious power. The rapids
deep below the canyon walls would have roared, the sound carrying back to the
expedition as a challenge. Powell’s goal
was to explore the Canyon and map this last uncharted bit of the west. It is an amazing journey.
It was May of 1869 when a Civil War veteran and nine other men descended with four boats into a branch of the Colorado River for what they believed would be a ten-month excursion through the last unmapped territory of the continental United States. Three months and one thousand miles later, six emaciated men in two boats emerged in the open waters of the Virgin River. They had survived famine, Indian attacks, mutiny, and some of the most dangerous rapids known to man. Their story, recounted by John Wesley Powell in his journals, remains as fresh and exciting today as it did in 1874 when it first appeared in serial form in Scribner's magazine.