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´╗┐Title: The Romance of the Colorado River - The Story of its Discovery in 1840, with an Account of the Later Explorations, and with Special Reference to the Voyages of Powell through the Line of the Great Canyons
Author: Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

Member of the United States Colorado River Expedition of 1871 and 1872

NOTE: List of the maps, graphs, photos, and paintings scanned from The
Romance of the Colorado River by Dellenbaugh. Fewer than half of the
pictures in the book were scanned to accompany the etext.

Page/.jpg file number Description

000front. Frontpiece. Looking Up the Bright Angel Trail. Moran.

000glyph. Tail-piece of Preface. Sketch of a picture-writing.

000xvii. The Steamer "Undine."

00prefmap. Preface. Map showing Relation of the Canyons of the Green and
Colorado to the Surrounding Country.

015. Alarcon's Ships Struggling With the Great Bore of the

026. The Colorado at the Junction of the Gila.

030. Cocopa Tule Raft.

037. Map. The Grand-Marble Canyon Region.

041. The "Hole in the Wall" near Fort Defiance, Arizona.

041. opp. Relief Map of the Grand Canyon Region.

043. Looking Down Upon Glen Canyon.

052. Gray's Peak, Torrey's Peak.

055. Outline Sketch of the Grand Canyon from Point Sublime.

057. Profile of the Colorado Through the Grand Canyon.

079. Across the House Tops of Zuni.

081. Ruin Called Casa Grande, Arizona.

083. In the Grand Canyon. Kolb Expedition 1911.

093. In the Moki Town of Mishongnuvi, Arizona.

095. The Canyon of the Little Colorado.

098. A Zuni Home.

099. The Governors of Zuni.

101. Pai Ute Girls, Southern Utah, Carrying Water.

109. Map. Green River through the Uinta Mountains 1871

113. Ashley Falls, Red Canyon, Green River, inset with Ashley's rock

129. A Portage in the Canyon of Lodore.

137. Las Vegas, Southern Nevada, on the Old Spanish Trail, 1876.

159. Robinson's Landing, mouth of the Colorado river.

161. The Steamer Explorer in which Lieut. Ives in 1858 Ascended the
Colorado to Foot of Black Canyon.

163. Looking Down on the Grand Canyon from the Mouth of the Kanab.

178. A Glen of Glen Canyon.

180. In Cataract Canyon.

185. John Wesley Powell, about 1876.

195. Red Canyon--Green River. Upper portion. Looking up stream.

197. Canyon of Lodore--Upper part of Disaster Falls.

201. Canyon of Lodore. Looking down at Triplet Falls.

203. Echo Rock on Right, from which Echo Rock Takes its Name.

205. The Canyon of Desolation--Sumner's Amphitheatre.

206. The Canyon of Desolation--Low Water.

214. The Crags at Millecrag Bend, foot of Cataract Canyon.

215. The Music Temple Alcove, Glen Canyon.

217. The Depths of the Grand Canyon at Sunset.

219. The Grand canyon. The "Sockdologer" Rapid.

223. In the Midst of a Grand Canyon Rapid.

225. The Grand canyon--Granite Buttresses.

229. The Basket Maker. Old woman of the Kaibab Pai Utes.

231. Brother Belder's--Virgen City. A typical frontier Mormon home.

242. Ready for the Start, U.S. Colorado River Expedition, Green River,
Wyoming, 1871.

243. Portraits of all but Two Members of the Boat Party of the U.S.
Colorado River Expedition of 1871.

267. A Halt for Observations.

275. The Butte of the Cross, between Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons.

285. Cataract Canyon, Right-hand Wall Near Lower End.

289. Glen Canyon Wall.

290. Glen Canyon.

302. The Crew of the "Trilobite."

308. Major Powell and a Pai Ute. Southern Utah, 1872.

315. Major Powell in the field, 1872.

321. Marble Canyon.

326. F.S. Dellenbaugh, 1872. The exploring costume.

329. Running the Sockdologer, Grand Canyon.

333. What May Happen Anytime. Boat punctured.

335. A Capsize in the Grand Canyon.

345. In Marble Canyon.

352. One of the Julien Inscriptions. D. Julien--1863--3 Mai.

360. The Grand Canyon. In the First Granite Gorge.

365. Looking up the Grand Canyon, at the Foot of Toroweap, Uinkaret
Division, 1875.

366. The Grand Canyon--Lava Falls.

367. On the Bright Angel Trail.

374. John Wesley Powell. 1834-1902. 1901 portrait.

388. Appendix. The canyons, valleys, and mouths of principal tributaries
of the Colorado, in order, page 1.

389. Appendix. The canyons, valleys, and mouths of principal tributaries
of the Colorado, in order, page 2.

392. In the Grand Canyon Opposite Shinumo Creek.

The Romance of the Colorado River: The Story of its Discovery in 1840,
with an Account of the Later Explorations, and with Special Reference to
the Voyages of Powell through the Line of the Great Canyons.

     "No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms:
     This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
     For the fiend's glowing hoof----"

To my friends and comrades of the Colorado River Expedition of 1871 and
1872 in grateful remembrance.


Early in 1871, when Major Powell* was preparing for his second descent
through the canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers, he was besieged
by men eager to accompany him; some even offered to pay well for the
privilege. It was for me, therefore, a piece of great good fortune when,
after an interview in Chicago with the eminent explorer, he decided to
add me to his small party. I was very young at the time, but muscular
and healthy, and familiar with the handling of small boats. The Major
remarked that in the business before us it was not so much age and
strength that were needed as "nerve," and he evidently believed I
had enough of this to carry me through. Certainly in the two-years,
continuous work on the river and in the adjacent country I had some
opportunity to develop this desirable quality. I shall never cease to
feel grateful to him for the confidence reposed in me. It gave me one of
the unique experiences of my life,--an experience which, on exactly the
same lines, can never be repeated within our borders. Now, these thirty
years after, I review that experience with satisfaction and pleasure,
recalling, with deep affection, the kind and generous companions of that
wild and memorable journey. No party of men thrown together, without
external contact for months at a time, could have been more harmonious;
and never once did any member of that party show the white feather.
I desire to acknowledge here, also, my indebtedness to Prof. A. H.
Thompson, Major Powell's associate in his second expedition, for many

    * I use the title Major for the reason that he was so widely known
for so long a period by it. He was a volunteer officer during the Civil
War, holding the rank of Colonel at the end. The title Major, then, has
no military significance in this connection.

When his report to Congress was published, Major Powell, perhaps for the
sake of dramatic unity, concluded to omit mention of the personnel of
the second expedition, awarding credit, for all that was accomplished,
to the men of his first wonderful voyage of 1869. And these men surely
deserved all that could be bestowed on them. They had, under the
Major's clear-sighted guidance and cool judgment, performed one of the
distinguished feats of history. They had faced unknown dangers. They
had determined that the forbidding torrent could be mastered. But it has
always seemed to me that the men of the second party, who made the
same journey, who mapped and explored the river and much of the country
roundabout, doing a large amount of difficult work in the scientific
line, should have been accorded some recognition. The absence of this
has sometimes been embarrassing for the reason that when statements of
members of the second party were referred to the official report, their
names were found missing from the list. This inclined to produce an
unfavourable impression concerning these individuals. In order to
provide in my own case against any unpleasant circumstance owing to
this omission, I wrote to Major Powell on the subject and received the
following highly satisfactory answer:

Washington, D. C., January 18, 1888.

My Dear Dellenbaugh: Replying to your note of the 14th instant, it gives
me great pleasure to state that you were a member of my second party of
exploration down the Colorado, during the years 1871 and 1872, that you
occupied a place in my own boat and rendered valuable services to the
expedition, and that it was with regret on my part that your connection
with the Survey ceased. Yours cordially, J. W. Powell.

Recently, when I informed him of my intention to publish this volume, he
very kindly wrote as follows:

Washington, January 6, 1902.

Dear Dellenbaugh: I am pleased to hear that you are engaged in writing
a book on the Colorado Canyon. I hope that you will put on record the
second trip and the gentlemen who were members of that expedition. No
other trip has been made since that time, though many have tried to
follow us. One party, that headed by Mr. Stanton, went through the Grand
Canyon on its second attempt, but many persons have lost their lives in
attempting to follow us through the whole length of the canyons. I
shall be very glad to write a short introduction to your book. Yours
cordially, J. W. Powell.

In complying with this request to put on record the second expedition
and the gentlemen who composed it, I feel all the greater pleasure,
because, at the same time, I seem to be fulfilling a duty towards my old
comrades. The reader is referred to Chapter XIV., and to pages 368-9 for
later data on descents. Notwithstanding these the canyons remain almost
terra incognita for each new navigator. There have been some who appear
to be inclined to withhold from Major Powell the full credit which is
his for solving the great problem of the Southwest, and who, therefore,
make much of the flimsy story of White, and even assume on faint
evidence that others fathomed the mystery even before White. There is,
in my opinion, no ground for such assumptions. Several trappers, like
Pattie and Carson, had gained a considerable knowledge of the general
course and character of the river as early as 1830, but to Major Powell
and his two parties undoubtedly belongs the high honour of being the
first to explore and explain the truth about it and its extraordinary
canyon environment. If danger, difficulty, and disaster mean romance,
then assuredly the Colorado of the West is entitled to first rank, for
seldom has any human being touched its borderland even, without some
bitter or fatal experience. Never is the Colorado twice alike, and each
new experience is different from the last. Once acknowledge this and
the dangers, however, and approach it in a humble and reverent spirit,
albeit firmly, and death need seldom be the penalty of a voyage on its
restless waters.

I have endeavoured to present the history of the river, and immediate
environment, so far as I have been able to learn it, but within the
limits of a single volume of this size much must necessarily be omitted.
Reference to the admirable works of Powell, Gilbert, and Button will
give the reader full information concerning the geology and topography;
Garces, by Elliott Coues, gives the story of the friars; and the
excellent memoir of Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West,
will give a complete understanding of the travels and exploits of the
real pioneers of the Rocky Mountain country. I differ with this author,
however, as to the wise and commendable nature of the early trappers'
dealings with the natives, and this will be explained in the pages on
that subject. He also says in his preface that "no feature of western
geography was ever discovered by government explorers after 1840." While
this is correct in the main, it gives an erroneous impression so far
as the canyons of the Colorado are concerned. These canyons were
"discovered," as mentioned above, by some of the trappers, but their
interior character was not known, except in the vaguest way, so that the
discovery was much like discovering a range of mountains on the horizon
and not entering beyond the foothills.

For the titles of works of reference, of the narratives of trappers,
etc., I refer to the works of H. H. Bancroft; to Warren's Memoirs, vol.
i. Pacific Railroad reports; and to the first volume of Lieut. Geo.
M. Wheeler's report on Explorations West of the 100th Meridian. The
trappers and prospectors who had some experience on the Green and the
Colorado have left either no records or very incomplete ones. It seems
tolerably certain, however, that no experience of importance has escaped
notice. So far as attempts at descent are concerned, they invariably met
with speedy disaster and were given up.

In writing the Spanish and other foreign proper names I have in no case
translated, because such translations result in needless confusion. To
translate "Rio del Tizon" as Firebrand River is making another name of
it. Few would recognise the Colorado River under the title of Red River,
as used, for example, in Pattie's narrative. While Colorado means red,
it is quite another matter as a NAME. Nor do I approve of hyphenating
native words, as is so frequently done. It is no easier to understand
Mis-sis-sip-pi than Mississippi. My thanks are due to Mr. Thomas Moran,
the distinguished painter, for the admirable sketch from nature he has
so kindly permitted a reproduction of for a frontispiece. Mr. Moran has
been identified as a painter of the Grand Canyon ever since 1873, when
he went there with one of Powell's parties and made sketches from the
end of the Kaibab Plateau which afterwards resulted in the splendid
picture of the Grand Canyon now owned by the Government.

I am indebted to Prof. A. H. Thompson for the use of his river diary
as a check upon my own, and also for many photographs now difficult
to obtain; and to Dr. G. K. Gilbert, Mr. E. E. Howell, Dr. T. Mitchell
Prudden, and Mr. Delancy Gill for the use of special photographs. Other
debts in this line I acknowledge in each instance and hence will not
repeat here. I had hoped to have an opportunity of again reading over
the diary which "Jack" Sumner kept on the first Powell expedition, and
which I have not seen since the time of the second expedition, but the
serious illness of Major Powell prevented my requesting the use of it.
F. S. Dellenbaugh. New York, October, 1902.

NOTE.--Since the last edition of this work was published, the inquiries
of Mr. Robert Brewster Stanton have brought to light among some
forgotten papers of Major Powell's at the Bureau of Ethnology in
Washington the diary of Jack Sumner and also that of Major Powell
himself. Both begin at the mouth of the Uinta River.

Major Powell, because of his one-armed condition, had the only
life-preserver. The preserver was rubber of the inflating type and is
in the Smithsonian Institution, presented by Mr. Stanton who obtained it
from one of the survivors in 1907.


otherwise stated journeys were on horseback.)

1871--By boat from the Union Pacific Railway crossing of Green River,
down the Green and Colorado to the mouth of the Paria, Lee's Ferry.
Numerous side trips on foot. Lee's Ferry to House Rock Valley, and
across north end of the Kaibab Plateau to the village of Kanab.

1872--Kanab to House Rock Valley and Paria Plateau. To Kanab. To
southern part of Kaibab Plateau. To Kanab via Shinumo Canyon and Kanab
Canyon. To Pipe Spring. To the Uinkaret Mountains and the Grand Canyon
at the foot of the Toroweap Valley. To Berry Spring near St. George,
along the edge of the Hurricane Ledge. To the Uinkaret Mountains via
Diamond Butte. To the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the foot of the
Toroweap. To Berry Spring via Diamond Butte and along the foot of the
Hurricane Ledge. To St. George. To the Virgen Mountains and summit of
Mt. Bangs. To Kanab via St. George. To the Aquarius Plateau via Potato
Valley. To and across the Henry Mountains. To the Colorado at the mouth
of Fremont River. By boat to the mouth of the Paria. To Kanab and return
across the Kaibab. By boat down the Colorado to the mouth of the Kanab.
To Kanab via the Kanab Canyon. To the Uinkaret Mountains. To Kanab via
Pipe Spring.

1873--To Salt Lake City, via Long Valley and the Sevier River.

1875--To terminus of Utah Southern Railway, about at Spanish Forks, by
rail. To Kanab via Sevier River and Upper Kanab. To the Kaibab Plateau,
De Motte Park, and the rim of the Grand Canyon. To the bottom of the
Grand Canyon via Shinumo and Kanab Canyons. To Kanab via Kanab Canyon.
To the Uinkaret Mountains via Pipe Spring and the Wild Band Pockets. To
the Grand Canyon at the foot of the Toroweap.

1876--To St. George across the Uinkaret Plateau. To Las Vegas, Nevada,
via Beaver Dam, Virgen River, the Muddy, and the desert. To St.
George, by the desert and the old "St. Joe" road across the Beaver Dam
Mountains. To the rim of the Grand Canyon, via Hidden Spring, the
Copper Mine, and Mt. Dellenbaugh. To a red paint cave on the side of
the canyon, about twenty-five hundred feet down. To St. George via same
route. To Ivanpah, California, via the old desert road, the Muddy, Las
Vegas, and Good Spring. To St. George via same route. To Kanab via Short
Creek and Pipe Spring. To the Uinkaret Mountains via Pipe Spring and
Antelope Valley. Across to the Shewits Plateau and to Ambush Waterpocket
south of Mt. Dellenbaugh.* To the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the
east side of the Shewits Plateau. To St. George via Mt. Dellenbaugh and
Hidden Spring. To Kanab via Berry Spring and Pipe Spring. To Salt Lake
City via Upper Kanab and the Sevier Valley.

This waterpocket, which is a very large one, has, so far as I am aware,
never had an English name and I do not know the Amerind one. I have
called it "Ambush" because it was the place where three of Powell's men
were shot by the Shewits in 1869. See also pp. 229-30.

1884-5--By rail to Ft. Wingate, New Mexico. By rail to Flagstaff. To
Flagstaff via circuit of, and summit of, San Francisco Mountain and the
Turkey Tanks. By rail to the Needles, California. By rail to Manuelito,
New Mexico. To Ft. Defiance. By buckboard to Keam's Canyon. To the East
Mesa of the Moki. To Keam's Canyon. By buckboard via Pueblo, Colorado,
to Ft. Defiance. To the San Juan River at the "Four Corners," via
Lukachukai Pass and the summit of the Carisso Mountains. To Ft. Defiance
via the crest of the Tunicha Plateau. By buckboard to Keam's and to the
East Mesa of the Moki. To Mishongnuvi and back. By waggon to Keam's.
To Oraibe via Tewa. To Keam's via Shimopavi and Tewa. To Holbrook by

1899--By rail west across Green River Valley. By rail down Price River,
east across Gunnison Valley, up Grand River, and over the Continental

1903--By rail to Salt Lake. By rail to Modena. By horse up the Virgen
River to the narrows of Mukoontuweap. Thence via Rockville and Short
Creek to Pipe Springs and Kanab. Thence to De Motte Park, Bright Angel
Spring, and Greenland Point at the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab Plateau.
Thence to Kanab, Panquitch, and Marysvale. Thence by rail to Salt Lake.

1907--By rail to Grand Canyon, Arizona. By horse to Bass Camp, to the
bottom of the Grand Canyon, opposite Shinumo Creek, to Habasu Canyon, to
Grand Canyon Station, and to Grand View. By rail to the Needles.


CHAPTER I. The Secret of the Gulf--Ulloa, 1539, One of the Captains of
Cortes, Almost Solves it, but Turns Back without Discovering--Alarcon,
1540, Conquers

CHAPTER II. The Unknown River--Alarcon Ascends it Eighty-five Leagues
and Names it the Rio de Buena Guia--Melchior Diaz Arrives at its Banks
Later and Calls it the Rio del Tizon--Cardenas Discovers the Grand

CHAPTER III. The Grand Canyon--Character of the Colorado River--The
Water-Gods; Erosion and Corrasion--The Natives and their Highways--The
"Green River Valley" of the Old Trappers--The Strange Vegetation and
Some Singular Animals

CHAPTER IV. Onate, 1604, Crosses Arizona to the Colorado--A Remarkable
Ancient Ruin Discovered by Padre Kino, 1694--Padre Garces Sees the Grand
Canyon and Visits Oraibi, 1776--The Great Entrada of Padre Escalante
across Green River to Utah Lake, 1776--Death of Garces Ends the Entrada
Period, 1781.

CHAPTER V. Breaking the Wilderness--Wanderings of the Trappers and Fur
Traders--General Ashley in Green River Valley, 1824--Pattie along the
Grand Canyon, 1826--Lieutenant Hardy, R.N., in a Schooner on the Lower
Colorado, 1826--Jedediah Smith, Salt Lake to San Gabriel, 1826--Pattie
on the Lower Colorado in Canoes, 1827-28

CHAPTER VI. Fremont, the Pathfinder--Ownership of the Colorado--The
Road of the Gold Seekers--First United States Military Post, 1849--Steam
Navigation--Captain Johnson Goes to the Head of Black Canyon

CHAPTER VII. Lieutenant Ives Explores to Fortification Rock--By Trail to
Diamond Creek, Havasupai Canyon, and the Moki Towns--Macomb Fails in
an Attempt to Reach the Mouth of Grand River--James White's Masterful

CHAPTER VIII. The One-armed Knight--A Bold Attack on the Canyons--Powell
and His Men--The Wonderful Voyage--Mighty Walls and Roaring
Rapids--Capsizes and Catastrophes

CHAPTER IX. A Canyon of Cataracts--The Imperial Chasm--Short Rations--A
Split in the Party--Separation--Fate of the Howlands and Dunn--The
Monster Vanquished

CHAPTER X. Powell's Second Attack on the Colorado--Green River City--Red
Canyon and a Capsize--The Grave of Hook--The Gate of Lodore--Cliff of
the Harp--Triplet Falls and Hell's Half-Mile--A Rest in Echo Park

CHAPTER XI. An Island Park and a Split Mountain--The White River
Runaways--Powell Goes to Salt Lake--Failure to Get Rations to the Dirty
Devil--On the Rocks in Desolation--Natural Windows--An Ancient House--On
the Back of the Dragon at Last--Cataracts and Cataracts in the Wonderful
Cataract Canyon--A Lost Pack-Train--Naming the Echo Peaks

CHAPTER XII. Into the Jaws of the Dragon--A Useless Experiment--Wheeler
Reaches Diamond Creek Going Up-stream--The Hurricane Ledge--Something
about Names--A Trip from Kanab through Unknown Country to the Mouth of
the Dirty Devil

CHAPTER XIII. A Canyon through Marble-Multitudinous Rapids--Running the
Sockdologer--A Difficult Portage, Rising Water, and a Trap--The Dean
Upside Down--A Close Shave--Whirlpools and Fountains--The Kanab Canyon
and the End of the Voyage

CHAPTER XIV. A Railway Proposed through the Canyons--The Brown Party,
1889, Undertakes the Survey--Frail Boats and Disasters--The Dragon
Claims Three--Collapse of the Expedition--Stanton Tries the Feat Again,
1889-90--A Fall and a Broken Leg--Success of Stanton--The Dragon Still



{photo p. xvii} The Steamer "Undine." Wrecked while trying to ascend
a rapid on Grand River above Moab. Photograph by R. G. Leonard. His
experience on this river ran through a period of some 20 years from
about 1892. He died in the autumn of 1913. Every year he built one or
more boats trying to improve on each. The Stone model (see cut, page
129) was the final outcome. The usual high-water mark at Bright Angel
Trail is 45 feet higher than the usual low-water mark. Stanton measured
the greatest declivity in Cataract Canyon and found it to be 55 feet in
two miles. The total fall in Cataract Canyon he made 355 feet. With a
fall per mile of 27 1/2 feet. Cataract holds the record for declivity,
though this is only for two miles, while in the Granite Falls section of
the Grand Canyon there is a fall of 21 feet per mile for ten miles.



The Secret of the Gulf--Ulloa, 1539, One of the Captains of Cortes,
Almost Solves it, but Turns Back without Discovering--Alarcon, 1540,

In every country the great, rivers have presented attractive pathways
for interior exploration--gateways for settlement. Eventually they have
grown to be highroads where the rich cargoes of development, profiting
by favouring tides, floated to the outer world. Man, during all his
wanderings in the struggle for subsistence, has universally found
them his friends and allies. They have yielded to him as a conquering
stranger; they have at last become for him foster-parents. Their verdant
banks have sheltered and protected him; their skies have smiled upon his
crops. With grateful memories, therefore, is clothed for us the sound
of such river names as Thames, Danube, Hudson, Mississippi. Through
the centuries their kindly waters have borne down ancestral argosies of
profit without number, establishing thus the wealth and happiness of the
people. Well have rivers been termed the "Arteries of Commerce"; well,
also, may they be considered the binding links of civilisation.

Then, by contrast, it is all the more remarkable to meet with one great
river which is none of these helpful things, but which, on the contrary,
is a veritable dragon, loud in its dangerous lair, defiant, fierce,
opposing utility everywhere, refusing absolutely to be bridled
by Commerce, perpetuating a wilderness, prohibiting mankind's
encroachments, and in its immediate tide presenting a formidable host
of snarling waters whose angry roar, reverberating wildly league after
league between giant rock-walls carved through the bowels of the earth,
heralds the impossibility of human conquest and smothers hope. From the
tiny rivulets of its snowy birth to the ferocious tidal bore where
it dies in the sea, it wages a ceaseless battle as sublime as it is
terrible and unique. Such is the great Colorado River of the West,
rising amidst the fountains of the beautiful Wind River Mountains of
Wyoming, where also are brought forth the gentler Columbia and the
mighty, far-reaching Missouri. Whirling down ten thousand feet in some
two thousand miles, it meets the hot level of the Red Sea, once the Sea
of Cortes, now the Gulf of California, in tumult and turmoil. In this
long run it is cliff bound nine-tenths of the way, and the whole country
drained by it and its tributaries has been wrought by the waters and
winds of ages into multitudinous plateaus and canyons. The canyons of
its tributaries often rival in grandeur those of the main stream itself,
and the tributaries receive other canyons equally magnificent, so that
we see here a stupendous system of gorges and tributary gorges, which,
even now bewildering, were to the early pioneer practically prohibitory.
Water is the master sculptor in this weird, wonderful land, yet one
could there die easily of thirst. Notwithstanding the gigantic work
accomplished, water, except on the river, is scarce. Often for months
the soil of the valleys and plains never feels rain; even dew is
unknown. In this arid region much of the vegetation is set with thorns,
and some of the animals are made to match the vegetation. A knowledge
of this forbidding area, now robbed of some of its old terrors by the
facilities in transportation, has been finally gained only by a long
series of persistent efforts, attended by dangers, privations, reverses,
discouragements, and disasters innumerable. The Amerind,* the red man,
roamed its wild valleys. Some tribes built stone houses whose ruins are
now found overlooking its waters, even in the depths of the Grand
Canyon itself, or in the cliffs along the more accessible tributaries,
cultivating in the bottoms their crops. Lands were also tilled along the
extreme lower reaches, where the great rock-walls fall back and alluvial
soils border the stream. Here and there the Amerind also crossed it,
when occasion required, on the great intertribal highways which are
found in all districts, but it was neither one thing nor another to him.

    *This name is a substitute for the misnomer "Indian." Its use avoids

So the river rolled on through its solemn canyons in primeval freedom,
unvexed by the tampering and meddling of man. The Spaniards, after the
picturesque conquest of the luckless Aztecs, were eagerly searching for
new fields of profitable battle, and then they dreamed of finding among
the mysteries of the alluring northland, stretching so far away into the
Unknown, a repetition of towns as populous, as wealthy in pure gold, as
those of the valley of Mexico whose despoiled treasures had fired the
cupidity of Europe and had crammed the strong boxes of the Spanish king.
And there might be towns even richer! Who could say? An Amerind named
Tejo, who belonged to Guzman when he was president of New Spain, that
is, about 1530, told of journeys he had made with his father, when a
boy, to trade in the far north where he saw very large villages like
Mexico, especially seven large towns full of silver-workers, forty days'
journey through the wilderness. This welcome story was fuel to the fire.
Guzman organised a party and started for these wonderful seven cities,
but numerous difficulties prevented the fulfilment of his plans, and
caused a halt after traversing but a small portion of the distance.
Cortes had now also returned from a visit to Spain, and he and Guzman
were at the point of the sword. Then shortly arrived from the north
(1536), after incredible wanderings between the Mississippi and the Rio
Grande, that man of wonderful endurance, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca,*
with his surviving companions, Dorantes, Maldonado, and Estevan. The
latter, a negro, was afterwards very prominent by his connection with
the fatal expedition sent out under the Friar Marcos to investigate the
north country. The negro, if not the other men, gave a highly colored
account of the lands they had traversed, and especially of what they
had heard, so that more fuel was added to the fire, and the desire to
explore the mysteries burned into execution. Cortes, harassed by his
numerous enemies in Mexico and Spain, determined on a new effort
to carry out his cherished plan of reaping further glories in the
fascinating regions of the north so full of possibilities. There
consequently sailed from Acapulco, July 8, 1539, a fleet of three
vessels under Francisco de Ulloa. Cortes was prevented by circumstances
from going with this expedition. After many difficulties Ulloa at length
found himself at the very head of the Sea of Cortes in shallow water.

    * For a full account of the experiences of Alvar Nunez, see the
translation of Buckingham Smith. Also Bandolier, Contributions to the
History of the Southwestern Portions of the United States.

"And thus sailing [he writes] we always found more shallow water, and
the sea thick, black, and very muddy, and came at length into five
fathom water; and seeing this we determined to pass over to the land
which we had seen on the other side, and here likewise we found as
little depth or less, whereupon we rode all night in five fathom water,
and we perceived the sea to run with so great a rage into the land
that it was a thing much to be marveled at; and with the like fury it
returned back again with the ebb, during which time we found eleven
fathom water, and the flood and ebb continued from five to six hours.
The next day the captain and the pilot went up to the ship's top and saw
all the land full of sand in a great round compass and joining itself
with the other shore; and it was so low that whereas we were a league
from the same we could not discern it, and it seemed there was an inlet
of the mouths of certain lakes, whereby the sea went in and out. There
were divers opinions amongst us, and some thought that that current
entered into these lakes, and also that some great river there might be
the cause thereof."*

    * From Hakluyt's Voyages. The spelling has been modernised.

This seems to have been the very first visit of Europeans to the mouth
of the Colorado, but as Ulloa did not see the river, and only surmised
that there might be one there, it cannot be considered in any way a
discovery. It has been supposed by some that Friar Juan de la Asumpcion,
in 1538, might have reached the Colorado in his deep river which he
could not cross, but this river was more likely a branch of the Yaqui,
for the friar was told that ten days beyond, to the north, there was
another larger river settled by many people, whose houses had three
stories, and whose villages were enclosed. This describes the Rio Grande
and its southern settlements perfectly, so that, had he been on the
Colorado, or even the Gila, the Rio Grande could not have been described
as "ten days to the north." Ulloa took possession formally, according to
Spanish custom, and then sailed southward again. Though he had not found
the great river, he had determined one important geographical point:
that Lower California was not, as had been supposed, an island, but
was a peninsula; nevertheless for a full century thereafter it was
considered an island. Had Ulloa followed up the rush of the current he
would have been the discoverer of the Colorado River, but in spite
of his marvelling at the fury of it he did not seem to consider an
investigation worth while; or he may have been afraid of wrecking his
ships. His inertia left it for a bolder man, who was soon in his wake.
But the intrepid soul of Cortes must have been sorely disappointed at
the meagre results of this, his last expedition, which had cost him a
large sum, and compelled the pawning of his wife's jewels. The discovery
of the mouth of a great river would have bestowed on this voyage a more
romantic importance, and would consequently have been somewhat healing
to his injured pride, if not to his depleted purse; but his sun was
setting. This voyage of Ulloa was its last expiring ray. With an
artistic adjustment to the situation that seems remarkable, Ulloa, after
turning the end of the peninsula and sailing up the Lower Californian
coast, sent home one solitary vessel, and vanished then forever.
Financially wrecked, and exasperated to the last degree by the slights
and indignities of his enemies and of the Mendoza government, Cortes
left for Spain early in 1540 with the hope of retrieving his power by
appearing in person before the monarch. As in the case of Columbus,
scant satisfaction was his, and the end was that the gallant captain,
whose romantic career in the New World seems like a fairy tale, never
again saw the scene of his conquests.

Mendoza, the new viceroy of New Spain, a man of fine character but
utterly without sympathy for Cortes, and who was instrumental in
bringing about his downfall, now determined on an expedition of great
magnitude: an expedition that should proceed by both land and water
to the wonderful Seven Cities of Cibola, believed to be rich beyond
computation. The negro Estevan had lately been sent back to the
marvelous northland he so glowingly described, guiding Marcos, the
Franciscan monk of Savoyard birth, who was to investigate carefully, as
far as possible, the glories recounted and speedily report. They were in
the north about the same time (summer of 1539) that Ulloa was sailing
up the Sea of Cortes. The negro, who had by arrangement proceeded there
some days in advance of Marcos, was killed at the first Pueblo village,
and Marcos, afraid of his life, and before he had seen anything of the
wonderful cities except a frightened glimpse from a distant hill, beat
a precipitate retreat to New Galicia, the province just north of New
Spain, and of which Francis Vasquez de Coronado had recently been made
governor. Here he astonished Coronado with a description of the vast
wealth and beauty of the Seven Cities of Cibola, a description that
does credit to his powers of imagination. Coronado lost no time in
accompanying Marcos to Mexico, where a conference with Mendoza resulted
in the promotion of the monk, and the immediate organisation of the
great expedition mentioned. Coronado was made general of the land
forces, and Hernando de Alarcon was placed in charge of the ships.
Having a land march to make Coronado, started in February, 1540, while
Alarcon sailed in May. Coronado proceeded to San Miguel de Culiacan,
the last settlement toward the north, near the coast, whence he took a
direction slightly east of north.

Alarcon, with his ships the San Pedro and the Santa Catalina, laid a
course for the haven of Sant Iago. They were caught in a severe storm
which so greatly frightened the men on the Santa Catalina, "more afraid
than was need," remarks Alarcon, that they cast overboard nine pieces of
ordnance, two anchors, one cable, and "many other things as needful
for the enterprise wherein we went as the ship itself." At Sant Iago he
repaired his losses, took on stores and some members of his company,
and sailed for Aguaiauall, the seaport of San Miguel de Culiacan, where
Coronado was to turn his back on the outposts of civilisation. The
general had already gone when Alarcon arrived, but they expected to hold
communication with each other, if not actually to meet, farther on;
and it seems from this that they must have felt confidence in finding
a river by which Alarcon might sail into the interior. As early as 1531
there were vague reports of a large river, the mouth of which was closed
by the Amerinds living there by means of a huge cable stretched across
from side to side. There may also have been other rumours of a large
river besides the surmises of the Ulloa party. At any rate, Alarcon
and Coronado fully expected to be in touch much of the time. This
expectation appears absurd to us now when we understand the geography,
but there was nothing out of the way about the supposition at that
time. As it happened, the two divisions never met, nor were they able to
communicate even once. So far as rendering Coronado any assistance was
concerned, Alarcon might as well have been on the coast of Africa. The
farther they proceeded the farther apart they were, but Alarcon kept a
constant and faithful lookout for the other party the whole time, never
losing an opportunity to inquire its whereabouts.

Coronado had left a well-provisioned ship, the San Gabriel, at
Aguaiauall, for Alarcon to bring along. These supplies were for the use
of the army when the two parties should meet in the north from time to
time. Alarcon added the vessel to his fleet and proceeded along up
the coast, keeping as near the land as the water would permit, and
constantly on the lookout for signals from the other party, or for
Amerinds who might be able to give information concerning the position
of the general. Thus, at last, he came to the very head of the gulf
where Ulloa had wondered at the rush of waters and had turned away
without investigation. "And when we were come," he says, "to the flats
and shoals from whence the aforesaid fleet returned, it seemed to me, as
to the rest, that we had the firm land before us, and that those shoals
were so perilous and fearful that it was a thing to be considered
whether with our skiffs we could enter in among them: and the pilots and
the rest of the company would have had us do as Captain Ulloa did,
and have returned back again." But Alarcon was not of a retreating
disposition; the fierce Colorado had now met its first conqueror.
It must be remembered, for Ulloa's sake, that there was not the same
incentive for him to risk his ships and the lives of his men in an
attempt to examine the shoals and currents of this dangerous place.
Alarcon was looking for and expecting to meet Coronado at any time.
He knew that Coronado was depending on the supplies carried by the San
Gabriel, and it would have been rank cowardice on the part of Alarcon
to have backed out at the first difficulty. But he had no intention of
retiring from the contest, for he says:

"But because your Lordship commanded me that I should bring you the
secret of that gulf, I resolved that although I had known I should have
lost the ships, I would not have ceased for anything to have seen the
head thereof, and therefore I commanded Nicolas Zamorano, Pilot Major,
and Dominico del Castello that each of them should take a boat, and lead
in their hands, and run in among those shoals, to see if they could find
out a channel whereby the ships might enter in; to whom it seemed that
the ships might sail up higher (although with great travail and danger),
and in this sort I and he began to follow our way which they had taken,
and within a short while after we found ourselves fast on the sands
with all our three ships, in such sort that one could not help another,
neither could the boats succour us because the current was so great that
it was impossible for one of us to come to another. Whereupon we were
in such great jeopardy that the deck of the Admiral was oftentimes under
water; and if a great surge of the sea had not come and driven our ship
right up and gave her leave, as it were, to breathe awhile, we had there
been drowned; and likewise the other two ships found themselves in very
great hazard, yet because they were lesser and drew less water their
danger was not so great as ours. Now it pleased God upon the return
of the flood that the ships came on float, and so we went forward.
And although the company would have returned back, yet for all this
I determined to go forward and to pursue our attempted voyage. And we
passed forward with much ado, turning our stems now this way, now that
way, to seek and find the channel. And it pleased God that after this
sort we came to the very bottom of the bay, where we found a very mighty
river, which ran with so great fury of a stream, that we could hardly
sail against it."

Here, then, began the acquaintance between the European and the river
now known as the Colorado of the West. The experience of Alarcon was
immediately typical of much that was to follow in the centuries of
endeavour to arrive at an intimate knowledge of this savage torrent.


The Unknown River--Alarcon Ascends it Eighty-five Leagues and Names
it the Rio de Buena Guia--Melchior Diaz Arrives at its Banks Later and
Calls it the Rio del Tizon--Cardenas Discovers the Grand Canyon.

Having triumphed over the fierce tidal bore which renders the mouth of
the Colorado dangerous, Alarcon secured a safe anchorage for his vessels
and began immediate preparations for following up the river into
the distant interior, both to gain a knowledge of it and to seek for
information of the position of Coronado. Leaving one of his small boats
for the use of those who remained in charge of the ships, he took the
other two, and, placing in them some light cannon, prepared them as
well as he could for any emergency that might be encountered. His
party consisted of twenty soldiers, sailors, and helpers, besides his
treasurer, Rodrigo Maldonado, and Gaspar de Castilleia, comptroller.
Alarcon possessed the qualities of a successful explorer. He was bold
yet cautious, determined but not reckless, with safe judgment and quick
adaptability. His first command was that, no matter what happened in
case of meeting with natives, all his company were to remain silent and
inactive. With this wise provision, which kept the control in his own
hands, the party left the ships behind on Thursday, August 26th* (1540),
apparently the same day as the arrival. The current was so strong that
the men were obliged to tow the boats from the bank, rendering progress
slow and difficult, but nevertheless they were able, before night
and fatigue compelled a halt, to advance about six leagues. Though
constantly on the lookout for natives in the wide barren stretches
of lowland on each side of the river, none were seen till early next
morning, when, soon after starting, a number of huts were discovered
near the river bank. The occupants rushed forth in great excitement at
the sudden appearance of these singular-looking people in their equally
singular boats, and no wonder! Years and the ages had slipped away and
never yet had any people but their own kind appeared on their horizon.
Opposition was the natural impulse, and they signed for the Spaniards to
go back, threatening attack. The effect of this on Alarcon was a command
to anchor the boats out of reach in the middle of the river, though the
rapidly augmenting numbers of the people on the shore soon inspired the
others of the expedition with a desire to beat a retreat towards the
ships. Alarcon, however, was not of this mind. The natives were, of
course, armed only with the bow-and-arrow and similar primitive weapons,
while the Spaniards, though few in number, possessed the advantage
of firearms, of which the natives had no comprehension whatever. The
interpreter, being a native from down the coast, understood not a word
of this language, but the presence among the strangers of one of their
own kind somewhat pacified the natives, and Alarcon did all he could
by signs to express his peaceful intentions, throwing his arms to
the bottom of the boat and putting his foot on them, at the same time
ordering the boats to be placed nearer shore. After much manoeuvring
they finally brought about some trifling intercourse and then proceeded
up the river, the natives following along the shore. Repeatedly they
signalled for the Spaniards to land, but Alarcon, fearful of treachery,
declined, and spent the night in the middle of the stream. Nor was the
appearance of the natives reassuring, for they had their faces hideously
painted, some all over and others only half, while still others carried
painted masks before them. In their nostrils they wore pendants, and
their ears were pierced with holes wherein they hung bones and shells.
Their only clothing was a sort of girdle around the waist.

    * Hakluyt gives "25th," but it is a misprint, as this Thursday in
1540 was the 26th.

Gradually, intercourse increased, and presents of trinkets seemed to
incline all the natives in Alarcon's favour. At length he discovered
that they reverenced the sun, and without compunction he proclaimed that
he came from that orb. This deception served him well. Henceforth
no service was too great for the natives to perform for these sacred
beings. Everything was placed at their disposal. Alarcon's word was
their law. They relieved the men entirely of the wearisome task of
towing the boats, striving with each other for the privilege. Without
this help it would have been impossible for Alarcon to have proceeded
far up the river, and he fully appreciated this, though the chief reward
bestowed on the helpers and all the natives was crosses made of sticks
and of paper. These, he informed them by signs, were precious, and
he distributed them in large numbers. The morning after he proclaimed
himself as coming from the sun, many swam out to where the boat was
anchored, contending for the privilege of securing the rope with which
the boat was towed. "And we gave it to them," says Alarcon, "with a good
will, thanking God for the good provision which He gave us to go up the

The interpreter frequently addressed the natives as he went forward, and
at last, on Tuesday night, a man was discovered who understood him. This
man was taken into the boat, and Alarcon, always true his trust, asked
him whether he had seen or heard of any people in the country like
himself, hoping to secure some clue to Coronado. "He answered me no,
saying that he had some time heard of old men that very far from that
country, there were other white men, and with beards like us, and that
he knew nothing else. I asked him also whether he knew a place called
Cibola and a river called Totonteac, and he answered me no."

Coronado meanwhile had arrived at Cibola on July 7th (or 10th) and had
therefore been among the villages of the Rio Grande del Norte nearly two
months. The route to these towns from the lower Colorado, that is, by
the great intertribal highway of southern Arizona, followed the Gila
River, destined afterwards to be traversed by the wandering trappers,
by the weary gold-seeker bound for California, and finally, for a
considerable distance, by the steam locomotive. But it was an unknown
quantity at the time of Alarcon's visit, so far as white men were
concerned. Farther up, Alarcon met with another man who understood his
interpreter, and this man said he had been to Cibola, or Cevola,* as
Alarcon writes it, and that it was a month's journey, "by a path that
went along that river." Alarcon must now have been about at the mouth of
the Gila, and the river referred to was, of course, the Gila. This man
described the towns of Cibola as all who had seen them described them;
that is, large towns of three- or four-storey houses, with windows
on the sides,** and encompassed by walls some seven or eight feet in
height. The pueblos of the Rio Grande valley were well known in every
direction and for long distances. The Apaches, harassing the villagers
on every side, and having themselves a wide range, alone carried the
knowledge of them to the four winds. In every tribe, too, there are born
travellers who constantly visit distant regions, bringing back detailed
descriptions of their adventures and the sights beheld, with which to
regale an admiring crowd during the winter evenings. Their descriptions
are usually fairly accurate from the standpoint of their own
understanding. In this case the native gave a good description of the
Cibola towns, and the Tusayan people had meanwhile given Cardenas a
description of these very natives on the lower Colorado. A day or two
later Alarcon received further information of Cibola, and this informant
told about a chief who had four green earthen plates like Alarcon's,
except in color, and also a dog like Alarcon's, as well as other things,
which a black man had brought into the country. This black man was
Estevan, who had been killed about a year before. The news of this man
and his execution had travelled rapidly, showing frequent intercourse
with the pueblos beyond the mountains. Still farther on he met another
man who had been at Cibola, and who also told him of a great river in
which there were crocodiles. This was the Mississippi, of course, and
the crocodiles were alligators. As Alarcon had never seen an alligator
he took the description to mean crocodile. A little farther and he heard
of the negro Estevan again and the reason why the Cibolans had killed
him, which was to prevent the Spaniards, whom he described, from finding
their way into the Cibola country. This man also described the bison and
a people who lived in painted tents in summer and in winter in houses of
wood two or three storeys high. And thus the expedition continued up the
river, inquiring as they went on all subjects. On September 6th the old
man who had been a particular friend and interpreter was called on shore
by the natives, and there was immediately an animated discussion which
Alarcon discovered related to himself. Information had come from Cibola
that there were there men like these Spaniards who said they were
Christians. These had been warlike, and it was proposed to kill all of
Alarcon's party to prevent the others from gaining a knowledge of this
country. But the old man declared Alarcon to be the son of the sun
and took his part. Finally it was decided to ask him whether he were a
Christian or the son of the sun. Alarcon pretended great wonder at men
like himself being at Cibola, but they assured him it was true, as two
men who had come from there reported that they had beards and guns and
swords just the same. Alarcon still insisted that he was the son of the
sun. They said the men at Cibola said the same, to which Alarcon replied
that it might well be, and if so they need have no fear, for the sons of
the sun would be his brothers and would treat them as he had done. This
seemed to pacify them. He inquired now how far it was to Cibola, and
they answered ten days through an uninhabited country, with no account
of the rest of the way because it was inhabited.

    * The old Spaniards used "v" and "b" interchangeably, so that Cibola
and Cevola would be pronounced the same. Other letters were used in the
same loose way.

    ** Windows on the sides of the houses, NOT of the WALLS, as one
writer has put it. The villages of the lower part of New Mexico had
these walls of circumvallation, but to the northward such walls appear
to have been rare.

Alarcon was now more than ever desirous of informing Coronado of his
whereabouts, and tried to persuade some of his men to go to Cibola with
a message, promising fine rewards. Only one, a negro slave, and he with
reluctance, offered to attempt the journey. Alarcon tried to get the old
man to give him guides and provisions, but without success, as the old
man seemed to desire to induce Alarcon to help them fight their battles
with the Cumanas, saying, if he would end this war, he could have their
company to Cibola. Alarcon was determined to go, and sent a man back to
the ships to inform those there of his purpose, but he changed his mind
soon after, concluding to go to the ships himself and return, leaving
there his sick, and rearranging his company. The man who had been sent
to the ships overland was overtaken and brought back by the natives, but
was obliged to remain with them till Alarcon came up again. The descent
from here was made in two and a half days, though it had taken fifteen
to come up. Arriving at the ships all was found to have gone well except
a few minor accidents, and, directing repairs to be made, Alarcon turned
about and started up-river once more, first calling the whole company
together, telling them what he had learned of Cibola, and that, as
Coronado might now have been informed by natives of his presence, he
hoped to find means of reaching him. There was much objection to this
plan, but he proceeded to carry it out, taking all three boats this
time, loaded with "wares of exchange, with corn and other seeds, with
hens and cocks of Castile." This region he called the Province of
Campanna de la Cruz, and he left orders for the building of an oratory
or chapel to be named the Chapel of Our Lady de la Buena Guia. The river
he called the Rio de Buena Guia (good guidance) from the motto on the
viceroy Mendoza's coat of arms. It was Tuesday, the 14th of September,
when he started, taking with him Nicolas Zamorano, chief pilot, to
record the latitudes. He soon arrived again among the Quicomas,* and
then among the Coamas, where he found his man who had been left behind
on the first trip. This man had been so well treated that he was
entirely content to remain till the party should come back down the
river. This was the highest point reached on the first visit. Everywhere
the people were treasuring the crosses which had been given them,
kneeling before them at sunrise. Alarcon kept on up the river till he
"entered between certain very high mountains, through which this river
passeth with a straight channel, and the boats went up against the
stream very hardly for want of men to draw the same." From this it
may be inferred that the Coamas did not strive with each other for the
privilege of towing the boats of these children of the sun as those
below had done. Now an enchanter from the Cumanas tried to destroy the
party by setting magic reeds in the water on both sides, but the spell
failed and the explorers went on to the home of the old man who had been
so good a friend and guide to them. At this, Alarcon's farthest point,
he caused a very high cross to be erected, on which words were carved
to the effect that he had reached the place, so that if Coronado's
men chanced to come that way they might see it. Nothing is said about
burying letters, yet Diaz later mentions finding letters buried at the
foot of a tree, apparently nearer the sea. Deciding that he could not at
this time accomplish his purpose of opening communication with the army,
Alarcon concluded to return to the ships, but with the intention of
trying once more. The second day after starting down he arrived at the
place where the Spaniard had remained. He told him that he had gone
"above thirty leagues into the country" beyond. It had taken him,
before, two and a half days to reach the river mouth from here, so that
it seems he was about four days going down from his farthest point.
Roughly estimating his progress at six miles an hour for twelve hours a
day, in four days the distance covered would be about 288 miles. He says
he went up eighty-five leagues (this would be fifty-five the first time
and thirty more the second), which, counting in Mexican leagues of two
and three quarter miles each, gives a distance of 233 3/4 miles, or
about one hundred miles above the mouth of the Gila. This stream he does
not mention. He may have taken it for a mere bayou, but it appears to
be certain that he passed beyond it. He says Ulloa was mistaken by two
degrees as to his northernmost point, and that he sailed four degrees
beyond him. The meaning of this may be that he went four degrees beyond
Ulloa's false reckoning, or actually two degrees above the shoals where
Ulloa turned back. This would take him to the 34th parallel, and would
coincide with his eighty-five leagues, and also with the position of
the first mountains met with in going up the river, the Chocolate
range. Alarcon was not so inexperienced that he would have represented
eighty-five leagues on the course of the river as equalling four degrees
of latitude. Had he gone to the 36th degree he would have passed through
Black Canyon, and this is so extraordinary a feature that he could not
have failed to note it specially. When Alarcon arrived at the ships
again, he evidently had strong reason for abandoning his intention of
returning for another attempt to communicate with Coronado, and he set
sail for home. Another document says the torredo was destroying the
ships, and this is very probable. He coasted down the gulf, landing
frequently, and going long distances into the interior searching for
news of Coronado, but he learned nothing beyond what he heard on the

    * The tribes and bands spoken of by Alarcon cannot be identified, but
these Quicomas, or Quicamas, were doubtless the same as the Quiquimas
mentioned by Kino, 1701, and Garces, 1775. They were probably of Yuman
stock. The Cumanas were possibly Mohaves.

While he was striving to find a way of reaching the main body of
the expedition, which during this time was complacently robbing the
Puebloans on the Rio Grande, two officers of that expedition were
marching through the wilderness endeavouring to find him, and a third
was travelling toward the Grand Canyon. One of these was Don Rodrigo
Maldonado, thus bearing exactly the same name as one of Alarcon's
officers; another was Captain Melchior Diaz, and the third Don Lopez
de Cardenas, who distinguished himself on the Rio Grande by particular
brutality toward the villagers. Don Rodrigo went in search of the ships
down the river to the coast from the valley of Corazones, but obtained
no information of them, though he met with giant natives and brought
back with him one very tall man as a specimen. The main army of Coronado
had not yet gone from this valley of Corazones, where the settlement
called San Hieronimo had been established, and the best man in it
reached only to the chest of this native giant.

The army moved on to another valley, where a halt was made to await
orders from the general. At length, about the middle of September,
Melchior Diaz came back from Cibola, with dispatches, accompanied by
Juan Gallegos, who bore a message for the viceroy. In their company also
was the miserable Friar Marcos, pursuing his dismal return to New Spain
by direction of the general, who considered it unsafe for him to remain
with the army now that the glorious bubble of his imagination had been
exploded. Melchior Diaz was an excellent officer, and already had an
experience in this northern region extending over some four years. It
was he, also, who had been sent, the previous November, as far as the
place called Chichilticalli, in an attempt to verify the friar's tale,
and had reported that the natives were good for nothing except to make
into Christians. The main army, which was in command of Don Tristan
de Arellano, in accordance with the orders received from Coronado, now
advanced toward Cibola. Maldonado, who had been to the coast, went with
it. Diaz retained eighty men, part of whom were to defend the settlement
of San Hieronimo, and twenty-five were to accompany him on his
expedition in search of Alarcon. He started north and then went west,
following native guides for 150 leagues (412 1/2 miles) in all, and at
length reached a country inhabited by giant natives who, in order to
keep warm in the chill autumn air, carried about with them a firebrand.
From this circumstance, Diaz called the large river he found here the
Rio del Tizon. This was the Buena Guia of Alarcon. The natives were
prodigiously strong, one man being able to lift and carry with ease on
his head a heavy log which six of the soldiers could not transport to
the camp. Here Diaz heard that boats had come up the river to a point
three days' journey below, and he went there to find out about it,
doubtless expecting to get on the track of Alarcon. But the latter had
departed from the mouth of the river at least two or three weeks before;
one writer says two months.* The same writer states that Diaz reached
the river thirty leagues above the mouth, and that Alarcon went as
far again above. This coincides very well with Alarcon's estimate of
eighty-five leagues, for Diaz did not follow the windings of the stream
as Alarcon was forced to do with his boats. At the place down the river,
Diaz found a tree bearing an inscription: "Alarcon reached this point;
there are letters at the foot of this tree." Alarcon does not, as before
noted, mention burying letters, and these were found at the foot of
a tree, so that Diaz evidently failed to reach the cross erected at
Alarcon's highest point.

    * Relacion del Suceso. Alarcon must have reached his highest point
about October 5th or 6th, and the ships on the return about the 10th.
Diaz probably arrived at the river about November 1st.

Diaz now proceeded up the river again, looking for a place where he
could safely cross to explore the country on the opposite side. After
ascending from the spot where he found the letters for five or six days,
he concluded they could cross by means of rafts. In the construction of
these rafts he invited the help of the natives of the neighbourhood. He
was probably up near the Chocolate Mountains and the Cumanas, who were
hostile to Alarcon, and whose sorcerer had attempted to destroy him
by means of the magic reeds. They had been merely waiting for an
opportunity to attack Diaz, and they perceived their chance in this
assistance in crossing the river. They readily agreed to help make the
rafts, and even to assist in the crossing. But while the work was in
progress a soldier who had gone out from the camp was surprised to
observe a large number of them stealing off to a mountain on the other
side. When he reported this, Diaz caused one of the natives to be
secured, without the others being aware of it. He was tortured till
he confessed that the plan was to begin the attack when some of the
Spaniards were across the river, some in the water, and the others
on the near bank. Thus separated they believed they could easily be
destroyed. The native, as a reward for this valuable confession, was
secretly killed, and that night, with a heavy weight tied to him, was
cast into the deep water. But the others evidently suspected the trick,
for the next day they showered arrows upon the camp. The Spaniards
pursued them and by means of their superior arms soon drove them into
the mountains. Diaz was then able to cross without molestation, his
faithful Amerind allies of another tribe assisting.

Alarcon had conveyed in his letters the nature of the gulf and coast,
so Diaz struck westward to see what he could find in that direction. The
country was desolate and forbidding, in places the sand being like hot
ashes and the earth trembling. Four days of this satisfied them, and
the captain concluded to return to San Hieronimo. The subsequent fate
of Diaz is another illustration of how a man may go the world round,
escaping many great dangers, and then be annihilated by a simple
accident that would seem impossible. A dog belonging to the camp pursued
the little flock of sheep that had been driven along to supply the men
with meat, and Diaz on his horse dashed toward it, at the same time
hurling a spear. The spear stuck up in the ground instead of striking
the dog, and the butt penetrated the captain's abdomen, inflicting,
under the conditions, a mortal wound. The men could do nothing for him
except to carry him along, which for twenty days they did, fighting
hostile natives all the time. Then he died. On the 18th of January
they arrived without their leader at the settlement from which they had
started some three months before.

Cardenas with twelve men had meanwhile gone from Cibola to a place
called Tusayan, or Tucano, situated some twenty or twenty-five leagues
north-westerly from Cibola, from whence he was to strike out toward
the great river these natives had described to Don Pedro de Tobar, who
recently had paid them a visit, and incidentally shot a few of them
to invite submission. Cardenas was kindly received by the people of
Tusayan, who readily supplied him with guides. Having lived in the
country for centuries, they of course knew it and the many trails very
well. They knew the highway down the Gila to the Colorado, and they told
Cardenas about the tall natives living in the lower part of it, the same
whom Alarcon and Diaz had met. In the direction in which Cardenas was to
go they said it was twenty days' journey through an unpopulated country,
when people would again be met with. After the party had travelled
for twenty days they arrived at a great canyon of the Colorado River,
apparently not having met with the people mentioned. If Cardenas started
from the Moki towns, as has generally been believed, where would he have
arrived by a journey of twenty days, when an able-bodied man can easily
walk to the brink of Marble Canyon from there in three or four days? Why
did the guides, if they belonged in the Moki towns, conduct Cardenas so
far to show him a river which was so near? The solution seems to be that
he started from some locality other than the present Moki towns. That is
to say, there has been an error, and these Moki towns are not Tusayan.
Where Cardenas reached the great canyon the river came from the
NORTH-EAST and turned to the SOUTH-SOUTH-WEST. There are but two places
where the canyoned river in Arizona conforms to this course, one at
Lee's Ferry, and the other the stretch from Diamond Creek to the
Kanab Canyon. The walls being low at Lee's Ferry, that locality may be
excluded, for where Cardenas first looked into the canyon it was so deep
that the river appeared like a brook, though the natives declared it to
be half a league wide. Three of the most agile men, after the party had
followed along the rim for three days hunting for a favourable place,
tried to descend to the water, but were unable to go more than one-third
of the way. Yet from the place they reached, the stream looked very
large, and buttes that from above seemed no higher than a man were found
to be taller than the great tower of Seville. There can be no doubt that
this was the gorge we now call the Grand Canyon. No other answers the
description. Cardenas said the width at the top, that is, the "outer"
gorge with its broken edge, was three or four leagues or more in an air
line.* This is the case at both great bends of the river. The point he
reached has usually been put, without definite reason, at about opposite
Bright Angel River, say near the letter "L" of the word "Colorado"
on the relief map, page 41 op., but here the river comes from the
SOUTH-EAST and turns to the NORTH-WEST, directly the reverse of what
Cardenas observed. The actual place then must have been about midway
of the stretch referred to, that is, near the letter "A" of the word
"Canon" on the relief map. Where he started from to arrive at this part
of the canyon cannot be discussed here for want of space, but the writer
believes the place was some three hundred miles south-east, say near
Four Peaks on the new Mexican line.** Cardenas was, therefore, guided
along the southerly edge of the great Colorado Plateau, through
the superb Coconino Forest, where he had wood, water, and grass in
abundance. The locality he reached was very dry, and they were obliged
to go each night a long distance back from the brink to procure water.
For this reason, Cardenas gave up trying to follow the canyon, and
returned again, by way of Tusayan, to Cibola, passing on the way a
waterfall, which possibly was in the Havasupai (Cataract) Canyon.
Castaneda, the chief chronicler of the Coronado expedition, says the
river Cardenas found was the Tizon, "much nearer its source than where
Melchior Diaz crossed it," thus showing that its identity was well
surmised, if not understood, at that time. Nothing, however, was
known of its upper course; at least there is no evidence of any such
knowledge, though the natives had doubtless given the Spaniards some
information regarding it. The special record of the Cardenas expedition
was kept by one Pedro de Sotomayor, but it has apparently never been
seen in modern times. It is probably in the archives of Spain or Mexico,
and its discovery would throw needed light on the location of Tusayan
and the course Cardenas followed.*** The distance of this whole region
from a convenient base of supplies, and its repellent character,
prevented further operations at this period, and when these explorers
traced their disappointed way homeward, the Colorado was not seen again
by white men for over half a century; and it was more than two hundred
years before European eyes again looked upon the Grand Canyon.

    * "A las barrancas del rio que puestos a el bado [lado?] de ellas
parecia al otro bordo que auia mas de tres o quatro leguas por el
ayre."--Castaneda, in Winship's monograph. Fourteenth Ann. Rep. Bureau
of Ethnology, p. 429.

    ** For the author's views on Coronado's route see the Bulletin of the
American Geographical Society, December, 1897. Those views have been
confirmed by later study, the only change being the shifting of Cibola
from the Florida Mountains north-westerly to the region of the Gila. See
map p. 115, Breaking the Wilderness.

    *** It may be noted here with reference to the location of Cibola,
Tiguex, Tusayan, etc., that too much heretofore has been ASSUMED. The
explanations presented are often very lame and unsatisfactory when
critically examined. So many writers are now committed to the errors, on
this subject that it will be a hard matter to arrive at the truth.

Coronado proceeded eastward to about the western line of Missouri,
and, finding colonisation anywhere in the regions visited out of the
question, he returned in 1542 to Mexico, with his entire army excepting
a couple of padres.


The Grand Canyon--Character of the Colorado River--The Water-Gods;
Erosion and Corrosion--The Natives and their Highways--The "Green River
Valley" of the Old Trappers--The Strange Vegetation and Some Singular

The stupendous chasm known as the Grand Canyon, discovered by
Cardenas in the autumn of 1540, is the most remarkable feature of this
extraordinary river, and at the same time is one of the marvels of
the world. Though discovered so long ago that we make friends with the
conquistadores when we approach its history, it remained, with the other
canyons of the river, a problem for 329 years thereafter, that is, till
1869. Discovery does not mean knowledge, and knowledge does not mean
publicity. In the case of this gorge, with its immense length and
countless tributary chasms, the view Cardenas obtained was akin to
a dog's discovery of the moon. It has practically been several times
re-discovered. Indeed, each person who first looks into the abyss has
a sensation of being a discoverer, for the scene is so weird and lonely
and so incomprehensible in its novelty that one feels that it could
never have been viewed before. And it IS rather a discovery for each
individual, because no amount of verbal or pictorial description can
ever fully prepare the spectator for, the sublime reality. Even when
one becomes familiar with the incomparable spectacle it never ceases to
astonish. A recent writer has well said: "The sublimity of the Pyramids
is endurable, but at the rim of the Grand Canyon we feel outdone."*
Outdone is exactly the right word. Nowhere else can man's insignificance
be so burned into his soul as here, where his ingenuity and power count
for naught.

    * Harriet Monroe, Atlantic Monthly, June, 1902.

Cardenas, after all, was only one of the discoverers. He was merely the
first WHITE man who saw it. When was it that the first MAN recoiled from
the edge of that then actually unknown masterpiece of the Water-gods,
who so persistently plied their tools in the forgotten ages? He was
the real discoverer and he will never be known. As applied to new
countries--new to our race--the term "unknown" is relative. Each fresh
explorer considers his the deed that shall permanently be recorded, no
matter who has gone before, and the Patties and the Jedediah Smiths are
forgotten. In these later years some who have dared the terrors of the
merciless river in the Grand Canyon spoke of it as the "Great Unknown,"
forgetting the deed of Powell; and when Lieutenant Wheeler laboriously
succeeded in dragging his boats up to the mouth of Diamond Creek, he
said: "NOW the exploration is completed." HE forgot the deed of Powell.
A recent writer mentions the north-western corner of Arizona as a
"mysterious wilderness."* He forgot that it was thoroughly explored
years ago. Wilderness it may be, if that means sparsely settled, but
mysterious?--no. It is all known and on record.

    * Ray Stannard Baker, Century Magazine, May, 1902.

The Grand Canyon may be likened to an inverted mountain range. Imagine
a great mountain chain cast upside down in plaster. Then all the former
ridges and spurs of the range become tributary canyons and gulches
running back twenty or thirty miles into the surrounding country,
growing shallower and shallower as the distance increases from the
central core, just as the great spurs and ridges of a mountain range,
descending, melt finally into the plain. Often there are parts where
the central gorge is narrow and precipitous, just as a mountain range
frequently possesses mighty precipices. But it is an error to think of
great canyons as mere slits in the ground, dark and gloomy, like a deep
well from whose depths stars may be sighted at midday. Minor canyons
sometimes approach this character, as, for example, the canyon of the
upper Virgen, called Parunuweap, fifteen hundred feet deep and no more
than twenty to thirty feet wide, with vertical walls, but I have never
been in a canyon from which stars were visible in daylight, nor have I
ever known anyone who had. The light is about the same as that at the
bottom of a narrow street flanked by very high buildings. The walls
may sometimes be gloomy from their colour, or may seem so from the
circumstances under which one views them, but aside from the fact that
any deep, shut-in valley or canyon may become oppressive, there is
nothing specially gloomy about a deep canyon. The sun usually falls more
or less in every canyon, no matter how narrow or deep. It may fall to
the very bottom most of the day, or only for an hour or two, depending
on the trend of the canyon with reference to the sun's course. At the
bottom of the Kanab where it joins the Grand, the sunlight in November
remains in the bottom just two hours, but outside in the main gorge the
time is very much longer.

The walls of a great canyon, and usually a small one, are terraced;
seldom are they wholly vertical for their entire height, though
occasionally they may approach this condition on one side or the other,
and more rarely on both sides at once, depending on the geological
formations of the locality. Owing to the immense height of the walls
of such canyons as those on the Colorado, the cliffs frequently appear
perpendicular when they are far from it, just as a mountain peak often
seems to tower over one's head when in reality it may be a considerable
distance off. In the nature of the formation and development of canyons,
they could not long retain continuous vertical walls. What Powell calls
the "recession of cliffs" comes into play. The erosive and corrasive
power of water being the chief land sculptors, it is evident that there
will be a continual wearing down of the faces of the bounding cliffs.
The softer beds will be cut away faster than the harder, and where these
underlie the harder the latter will be undermined and fall. Every canyon
is always widening at its top and sides, through the action of rain,
frost, and wind, as well as deepening through the action of its
flowing stream. EROSION is this power which carves away the cliffs,
and CORRASION the one which saws at the bottom, the latter term, in
geological nomenclature, meaning the cutting power of running water.*
This cutting power varies according to the declivity and the amount of
sediment carried in suspension. It is plain that a stream having great
declivity will be able to carry more sediment than one having little,
and in a barren country would always be highly charged with sand, which
would cut and scour the bed of the channel like a grindstone. As Dutton
says, a river cuts, however, only its own width, the rest of a canyon
being the "work of the forces of erosion, the wind, frost, and rain."
That is why we have canyons. The powers of erosion are far slower than
those of corrasion, especially in an arid region, because they are
intermittent. Where rocks take a polish, as in Marble Canyon, the
scouring and polishing work of corrasion is seen in the shining bright
surface as far as the water rises. This all belongs to the romance of
the Water-gods, those marvellous land sculptors.

    * The introduction of this subject may seem unnecessary to the
general reader, but no just comprehension of this river can be reached
without some knowledge of the forces creating its chasms.

To produce canyons like those of the Colorado, peculiar and unusual
conditions are necessary. There must exist a vast region lying high
above sea-level. This region must be arid. Out of it must rise separated
mountain masses to such heights that they shall be well watered.
These most elevated regions alone having abundant rain and snowfall,
torrential streams are generated and poured down upon the arid wastes,
where they persistently scour their beds, ploughing deep channels below
the level of their surroundings. The perpendicularity of the walls of
these channels, or canyons as they are called, depends on the volume and
continuity of the flowing stream, on the aridity of the country through
which they are cut, and on the rock-formation. A fierce and continuous
torrent, where the rainfall is at the minimum, will so speedily outrival
the forces of erosion that the canyon will have vertical walls. An
example is seen in those frequent "mud" canyons found in arid regions,
where some brook, having its source in highlands, cuts a channel through
clay or dry earth with vertical sides, that stand for years. As long as
the surface of the adjacent lands is undisturbed, it acts like a roof,
throwing off the water that falls upon it into the main stream.* Thus
the foundations of these walls are not assailed from BEHIND, which is
their weakest point. If the land surface is broken up, permitting the
rains to soak in and saturate the clay or earth, the whole mass becomes
softened and will speedily fall and slide out into the canyon.** The
sides of all canyons in an arid region are more or less protected in the
same way. That is, the rains fall suddenly, rarely continuously for any
length of time, and are collected and conducted away immediately, not
having a chance to enter the ground. Homogeneous sandstone preserves its
perpendicularity better than other rocks, one reason being that it does
not invite percolation, and usually offers, for a considerable distance
on each side of the canyon, barren and impervious surfaces to the rains.
Where strata rest on exposed softer beds, these are undermined from the
front, and in this way recession is brought about.

    * Just as wheat flour getting wet on the surface protects the portion
below from dampness. The rainfall is often so slight, also, that a
surface is unchanged for years. I once saw some wagon tracks that were
made by our party three years before. From peculiar circumstances I was
able to identify them.

    ** Robert Brewster Stanton explained this very clearly in his
investigations for the Canadian Pacific Railway into the causes of
land-slides on that line.

In the basin of the Colorado are found in perfection all the
extraordinary conditions that are needed to bring forth mammoth canyons.
The headwaters of all the important tributaries are INVARIABLY IN THE
HIGHEST REGIONS and at a long distance from their mouths, so that the
flood waters have many miles of opportunity to run a race with
the comparatively feeble erosive forces of desert lands. The main
stream-courses are thus in the lower arid regions and in sedimentary
formations, while their water-supply comes from far away. The deepest
gorges, therefore, will be found where the rainfall is least, unless
diminishing altitude interferes. Thus the greatest gorge of the whole
basin, the Grand Canyon, is the one farthest from the sources of supply,
and in the driest area, but one, of the whole drainage system. It ends
abruptly with the termination of the high arid plateau which made it
possible, but had this plateau extended farther, the Grand Canyon would
also have extended a similar distance. It is plain then that the cutting
of these canyons depends on the amount of water (snow is included) which
may fall in the high mountains, the canyons themselves being in
the drier districts. It is also clear that if, by some chance, the
precipitation of the high sources should increase, the corrasion of the
stream-beds in the canyons would likewise increase and outrun with still
greater ease the erosion of their immediate surroundings. On the other
hand, if the precipitation in the arid surroundings should increase, the
wearing down of the side walls would for a time--till covered by debris
and vegetation--go on more rapidly till, instead of Canyons of the
Colorado River type, there would be deep, sharp valleys, or wide
valleys, according to the amount of difference between the precipitation
of the low lands and the high. Where the two were nearly the same,
that is, a balance of precipitation,* the slopes might be rounded and
verdure-clad, though this would depend on the AMOUNT of precipitation.
On lower Snake River a change seems to be going on. The former
canyon-cliffs are covered by debris and vegetation, but in places
the old dry cliff-lines can be discerned beneath like a skeleton.
The precipitation there has not been great enough to destroy the old
lines--only enough to mask them.

    * There could be a balance of precipitation and still very little
snow- or rainfall, or they might be very great.

The "inner gorge" of the Grand Canyon appears to have been cut far more
rapidly than the outer one, and at a much later period; were this not
the case there would be no inner gorge. It is a singular fact that some
side canyons, the Kanab, for example, while now possessing no running
water, or at best a puny rivulet, and depending for their corrasion on
intermittent floods, meet on equal terms the great Colorado, the giant
that never for a second ceases its ferocious attack. Admitting that the
sharper declivity of the Kanab would enhance its power of corrasion,
nevertheless we should expect to see it approach the Grand Canyon by
leaps and bounds, like the Havasupai farther down, but, on the contrary,
there are parts that appear to be at a standstill in corrasion, or even
filling up, and its floor is a regular descent, except for the last
three or four miles where the canyon is clogged by huge rocks that
seem to have fallen from above. The maximum height of its present
flood-waters is about six feet, proved by a fern-covered calcareous
deposit, projecting some fifteen feet, caused by a spring (Shower-Bath
Spring) on the side of the wall, seven or eight miles above the mouth,
which is never permitted by the floods to build nearer the floor of
the canyon. A suspicion arises, on contemplating some of these apparent
discrepancies, that the prevailing conditions of corrasion are not
what they were at some earlier period, when they were such that it was
rendered more rapid and violent; that there was perhaps an epoch when
these deep-cut tributary canyons carried perennial streams, and when
the volume of the Colorado itself was many times greater, possessing a
multiplied corrasive power, while the adjacent areas were about as arid
as now. At such a time, perhaps, the Colorado performed the main work of
the inner gorge, the Kanab, and similar affluents, their deep now rather
evenly graded canyons. Such an increase of volume, if we suppose the
aridity to remain as now, could have come about only by an increase of
precipitation on the mountain summits. During the Glacial Epoch, the
Rocky Mountain summits were considerably glaciated, the amount varying
according to altitude and latitude. The general topography of the
Colorado River was about as it is to-day, and the rainfall in the
valleys probably nearly the same, or at least only a little greater. In
other words, the conditions were those of to-day intensified. In summer,
then, the amount of water seeking outlet by these drainage channels
to the sea was enormously multiplied, and the corrasive power
was correspondingly augmented. When the ice caps finally began to
permanently diminish, the summer floods were doubtless terrific. The
waters of the Colorado now rise in the Grand Canyon, on the melting of
the snows in the distant mountains, from forty to one hundred feet;
the rise must then have amounted to from one hundred to four hundred or
more. The Kanab heads in two very high regions--the Pink Cliffs and the
Kaibab. Though probably not high enough to be heavily glaciated they
were high enough to receive an increased snowfall and to hold it, or a
portion of it, over from one year to another. Thus the canyons having
their origin on these high regions would be given perennial streams,
with torrential floods each summer, compared with which anything that
now comes down the Kanab would be a mere rivulet. The summit of the
Kaibab is covered with peculiar pocket-like basins having no apparent
outlets. These were possibly glacial sinks, conducting away some of the
surplus water from the melting snow and ice by subterranean channels. It
seems probable, therefore, that glacial flood-waters were an important
factor in the formation of the canyons of the Colorado. If this
supposition is correct it would account, at least in a measure, for that
distinct impression of arrested activity one receives from the present
conditions obtaining there.*

    * Some canyon floors, where there is no permanent large stream,
appear to have altogether ceased descending. Dutton says of those which
drain the Terrace Plateaus: "Many of them are actually filling up,
the floods being unable to carry away all the sand and clay which the
infrequent rains wash into them."--Tertiary History, p. 50. See also pp.
196 and 228 Ib.

The drainage at the edges of most canyons is back and away from the
gorge itself. The reason is that the rains cannot flow evenly over a
canyon brink, owing to irregularities of surface, and once an irregular
drainage is established, the water seeks the easiest road. A side canyon
is formed, draining a certain area. Another is formed elsewhere, and
another, and so on till all drainage is through these tributaries and
away from the brink, by more or less circuitous channels to the main
stream. This backward drainage leaves the immediate brink, or "rim,"
till the last, in its work of erosion and corrasion, and the rim
consequently is left higher than the region away from it. This effect
of a backward drainage is very plain on both sides of the Grand Canyon,
though it is somewhat assisted, on the north at least, by the backward
dip of the strata. It may be modified by other conditions, so that it
would not always be the case.

The basin of the Colorado, excepting that part below the mouth of the
Virgen and a portion among the "parks" of the western slope of the
Rocky Mountain range, is almost entirely a plateau region. Some of the
plateaus are very dry; others rise above the arid zone and are well
watered. The latter are called the "High Plateaus." They reach an
altitude of eleven thousand feet above the sea. They are east of the
Great Basin, and with the other plateaus form an area called by Powell
"The Plateau Province." Eastward still the plateaus merge into the
"parks." The High Plateaus, as a topographical feature, are a southern
continuation of the Wasatch Mountains. They terminate on the south in
the Markagunt, the Paunsagunt, and the Aquarius Plateaus. The extreme
southern extremities of the two former are composed of mighty precipices
of columnarly eroded limestone called the Pink Cliffs. Here is the
beginning of the Terrace Plateaus, likewise bounded by vertical, barren
cliffs. Between the High Plateaus and the parks, the plateaus may be
called, for convenience, Mesa Plateaus, as they are generally outlined
by vertical cliffs. This is the case also south of the end of the High
Plateaus where, stepping down the great terraces, we arrive at the
region immediately adjacent to the Grand Canyon, composed of four
plateaus, three of them of mesa character, the Shewits, Uinkaret, Kanab,
and Kaibab; and up at the head of Marble Canyon a fifth, the Paria,
while still farther to the north-eastward is the Kaiparowitz. The edges
of these Mesa Plateaus, precipitous cliffs, stretch for many miles
across the arid land like mountain ranges split asunder. This region,
lying between the High Plateaus, the Grand Wash, the Henry Mountains,
and the Colorado, is perhaps the most fascinating of all the basin. The
relief map at page 41 gives the larger part of it. In the basin there
are also great mountain masses, the fountainheads of the waters which
have carved the canyons. These are Uinta, Zuni, San Francisco, Henry,
Pine Valley, Uinkaret, Beaver Dam, Virgen, Navajo, La Sal, and others,
some reaching an altitude of more than twelve thousand feet. The highest
peaks of these, and of course those of the Continental Divide on the
east, which furnish a large proportion of the water of the Colorado,
and the Wind River Mountains on the extreme north, have snow-banks
throughout the summer. To show how dependent the Colorado is on the high
peaks for its flood-waters, I will mention that it is not till the snows
of these high altitudes are fiercely attacked by the sun in May and June
that the river has its annual great rise. It would take only a slight
lowering of the mean annual temperature now to furnish these peaks with
ice caps. The rainfall in the lower arid regions is from three to ten
inches, increasing northward to fifteen and twenty-five. On the peaks,
of course, it is much greater. Almost any climate can be had, from the
hot arid to the wet frigid. On the lower stretches, from Mohave down,
the thermometer in summer stands around 112 degrees F. a great deal of
the time, and reaches 118 degrees F. Yet Dr. Coues said he felt it no
more than he did the summer heat of New York or Washington.* In winter
the temperature at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is very mild, and
flowers bloom most of the time. One November I descended from the
snow-covered top of the Kaibab to the Grand Canyon at the mouth of the
Kanab, where I was able to bathe in the open air with entire comfort.

    * I was at the Needles one summer for a brief time, and the air
seemed very oppressive to me.

There are six chief topographical features, canyons, cliffs, valleys,
mesa plateaus, high plateaus, mountains. There are two grand divisions:
the lowland or desert, below the Virgen, and the plateau, but the
topography of the immediate river course separates itself into four
parts, the Green River Valley, the canyon, the valley-canyon, and the
alluvial. The canyon part is the longest, occupying about two-thirds of
the whole, or about 1200 miles. It is cut mainly through the plateaus.
The last of these southward is the Colorado, a vast upheaval reaching
from the lower end of the Grand Canyon south-east to about where the
34th parallel crosses the western line of New Mexico. Lieutenant Wheeler
several times claims the honour of naming it (1868-71), but the name
occurs on Lieutenant Ives's map of 1858. This plateau breaks sharply
along its south-west line to the lowland district, and on its
north-westerly edge slopes to the Little Colorado. It bears a noble pine
forest, and from its summit rise to over 12,000 feet the volcanic peaks
of the San Francisco Mountains. Its northern edge is the Grand Canyon,
which separates it from its kindred on the other side. These and the
Colorado Plateau rise to from 6000 to 8000 feet above sea-level, and
it is through this huge mass that the river has ground out the Grand
Canyon, by corrading its bed down tremendously, the bottom at the end
being only 840 feet above the sea, whereas the start at the mouth of
the Little Colorado is 2690. Yet here it is already 3500 feet below the
surface at the end of Marble Canyon, which, separated only by the deep
canyon of the Little Colorado, is practically a northward continuation
of the Grand Canyon itself. As the river runs, the Grand Canyon is 217
1/2 miles long. To this may be added the 65 1/2 miles of Marble,
giving a continuous chasm of 283 miles, the longest, deepest, and most
difficult of passage in every direction of any canyon in the world. The
depth begins with a couple of hundred feet at Lee's Ferry (mouth of the
Paria), the head of Marble Canyon, and steadily deepens to some 3500
feet near the Little Colorado, where the sudden uplift of the Kaibab
lends about 2000 feet more to the already magnificent gorge. Along the
end of the Kaibab the walls, for a long distance, reach their greatest
height, about 6000 feet, but the other side is considerably lower than
the north all the way through. At the mouth of the Kanab the altitude of
the river-bed is 1800 feet above the sea, showing a fall in the interval
of 890 feet. The greatest declivity is about 210 feet in 10 miles, in
what is termed the Kaibab division, extending from a point 10 miles
below the Little Colorado to a point 58 miles farther down. Here the
smooth stretches of river are long, the rapids short and violent. Here,
also, is the "granite," making the walls sombre, as the colour is slaty
to black. At the mouth of Diamond Creek the river is still 1300 feet
higher than the sea, giving a fall of 500 feet from the Kanab. There is
another descent of 460 feet to the Grand Wash, and then 149 to the mouth
of the Virgen. Next to the Kaibab division of the Grand Canyon, the
greatest declivity occurs in the Uinta region, in the Canyon of Lodore.
The profile of the river in these two districts is approximately given
on page 57. The average depth of the Grand Canyon is about 4000 feet.
Its width at the top varies from 4 1/2 to 12 miles. This is the extreme
outer cliff-line. The inner gorge is much narrower, at the Toroweap
being only about 3500 feet. The river varies in width from 500 or 600
feet to 75 or 100. In this canyon is water-power enough to run the
machinery of the world, and there is as much more in the canyons above.

Joining Marble Canyon on the north is Glen, 149 miles long, from the
Paria to Fremont River. It has but one rapid of consequence. At high
water, with the exception of this rapid, the tide sweeps smoothly and
swiftly down with a majestic flow. The walls are homogeneous sandstone,
in places absolutely perpendicular for about a thousand feet. I have
stood on the brink and dropped a stone into the river. The highest walls
are 1600 feet. Next is Narrow Canyon, about 9 miles long, 1300 feet
deep, and no rapids. It is hardly more than the finish of Cataract, a
superb gorge about 40 miles long with a depth of 2700 feet, often nearly
vertical. The rapids here are many and violent, the total fall being
about 450 feet. At its head is the mouth of the Grand River. The
altitude of the junction is 3860 feet.* Following up the Green, we have
first Stillwater, then Labyrinth Canyon, much alike, the first 42 3/4
and the second 62 1/2 miles in length. The walls of sandstone are 1300
feet. Their names well describe them, though the stillwater of the first
is very swift and straight. There are no rapids in either. All these
canyon names, from Green River Valley to the Grand Wash, were applied by
Powell. Between Labyrinth and the next canyon, Gray, so called from the
colour of its walls, 2000 feet high, is Gunnison Valley, where the river
may first be easily crossed. Here the unfortunate Captain Gunnison, in
1853, passed over on his way to his doom, and here, too, the Old Spanish
Trail led the traveller in former days toward Los Angeles. The Denver
and Rio Grande Western Railway has taken advantage of the same place to
cross. The 36 miles of Gray are hardly more than a continuation of the
Canyon of Desolation's 97 miles. Desolation is a fine chasm, whose walls
are 2400 feet. The view on page 206 gives an excellent idea of their
average character. The mouth of the Uinta River, not far above its head,
is 4670 feet above the sea, while Gunnison Valley is 4083, showing a
descent for the river, in Desolation and Gray, together of 587 feet.
Desolation is full of rapids, some of them bad. Wonsits Valley, which
succeeds Desolation, is the longest of the few valleys, being about 87
miles, with a width of 6 or 8 miles. There is a considerable amount of
arable land, and along the river bank large groves of cottonwood trees.
The river course is winding, the current sluggish, the width being 600
to 800 feet. At the head of this valley is Split-Mountain Canyon, 8
miles long, with ragged, craggy walls 2700 feet high. It contains a
number of medium rapids. Island Park separates it from Whirlpool Canyon.
It is a charming little valley, full of islands, a mere expansion of the
walls, 9 miles long,--9 miles of rainbow, for the surrounding rocks and
marls are of every hue. Whirlpool, 2400 feet deep, is about 14 miles in
length and contains a number of rapids, but the whirlpools depend on the
stage of water. Then comes the beautiful little Echo Park, really only
the head of Whirlpool. Its name is derived from a wonderful echo of ten
words returned from the smooth wall seen in the cut on page 203. It is
only a mile long with walls of 600 feet. At its head enter the Yampa
River and Canyon, which mark the foot of Lodore, the most striking
gorge, next to the Grand Canyon, on the whole river. Lodore is only 20
miles long, but it is 20 miles of concentrated water-power energy and
grandeur, the fall being about 400 feet, the walls 2700. Never for
a moment does it relax its assault, and the voyager on its restless,
relentless tide, especially at high water, is kept on the alert. The
waters indeed come rushing down with fearful impetuosity, recalling to
Powell the poem of Southey, on the Lodore he knew, hence the name. The
beginning of the gorge is at the foot of Brown's Park through what is
called the Gate of Lodore, an abrupt gash in the Uinta Mountains 2000
feet deep. In viewing this entrance the ordinary spectator is at a
loss to comprehend how the stream could have begun its attack upon
this precipitous ridge. The theory that the river was there before the
upheaval formed the mountain does not entirely satisfy, for it would
seem in that case that the canyon walls would long ago have become much
more broken down than they are. But the walls have a strikingly fresh
look, as if formed recently, compared with the time of the original
upheaval. It seems possible that there may have been in this region some
great lake which lifted the waters up to the top of the ridge to begin
their work of corrasion. Such lakes did exist; but lack of space forbids
the further pursuit of this discussion here.

    * The character of the Grand River is similar to that of the Green,
but the canyons above the mouth of the Dolores are not so long nor so
deep. The river also carries less water.

Brown's Park, originally called Brown's Hole, after one of the early
trappers, is a fine valley about 35 miles long and 5 or 6 miles wide. It
is, like the few other valleys, an expansion of the canyon walls.
There is considerable arable land, and the place possesses a remarkable
climate. Though its general level is so high, around 5500 feet, it
receives hardly any snow, and for this reason was long a favourite place
for wintering cattle on the drive from Texas to California. It was a
great rendezvous, also, for the early trappers and traders, and here
stood Fort Davy Crockett, in those days famous. It was one of those
necessary places of refuge and meeting, established when the trappers
were pursuing their extermination of the beaver, which once were so
numerous in all the Western country. The river enters this park from
the solitudes of Red Canyon, a splendid chasm, 25 miles long, 2500 feet
deep, and abounding in plunging waters. The name is from the colour
of the sandstone walls. Above it are three short canyons, Kingfisher,
Horseshoe, and Flaming Gorge, aggregating about 10 miles. There are
there no rapids worth mentioning, but the scenic beauty is entrancing.
The walls are from 1200 to 1600 feet, in places extremely precipitous.
Flaming Gorge, with walls 1300 feet, is particularly distinguished
by being the beginning of the long series of close canyons. The river
enters suddenly from Green River Valley, repeating on a smaller scale
the conditions at the entrance to Lodore. From here on up to the Wind
River Range the stream is flanked by occasional cliffs and buttes, but
the country is comparatively open, and the many tributaries often have
fine grassy bottoms. This was the locality of the great rendezvous of
the period from 1825 to 1835, and even later.

Green River Valley is an elevated region, from six thousand to seven
thousand feet above sea. It stretches from the Wind River Mountains on
the north to the Uintas on the south, and is bounded westwardly by
the Wyoming Range, and on the east merges into the Laramie Plains. The
drainage exit is through the Uintas, as noted, by means of the canyons
heading at Flaming Gorge. There are here opportunities for extensive
farming by irrigation. The only other chance for agriculture on the
river, except Wonsits Valley, Brown's Park, and a few minor places, is
below Black Canyon, in the stretches I have called the alluvial and the
canyon-valley divisions. In the latter short canyons separate extensive
valleys with wide alluvial bottoms capable of high cultivation, though
often subject to overflow. Almost anything will grow there. Vast groves
of cottonwood and mesquite exist. In the alluvial division, the last
stretch of the river, from the Gila down, cotton and sugar cane would
probably grow. This is the only division where the water of the river
can be extensively diverted. At the mouth of the Gila an old emigrant
road to California crossed, and another here in this Green River Valley.
A third route of travel was by way of Gunnison's Crossing; and a fourth,
though this was seldom traversed, was by the Crossing of the Fathers,
some thirty-five miles above the present Lee's Ferry. In Green River
Valley, Bonneville built his Fort Nonsense, and the region was for many
years the best known of any place beyond the mountains. The routes of
trappers and prospectors frequently followed aid native trails, which
crossed and recrossed the country in every direction, except where the
canyons of the Green and Colorado were approached, when few lines of
traverse were open across, and none along the course of the water.

On the headwaters of Green River lived the Crows, who called it the
Seedskedee Agie or Prairie Hen River. The Snakes and Utes living farther
down called it the Bitter-root. Fremont called it the Rio Verde of the
Spaniards, but apparently without good authority. It was also spoken
of as Spanish River, from the report that Spaniards occupied its lower
valleys. Colorado was also one of its names, and this is what it should
have remained. The commonest appellation was Green, supposed to have
been derived from a trapper of that name. Just when the term "Colorado"
was first applied to the lower river is not now known. It bore
several names, but finally Colorado took first place because of its
appropriateness. Both the walls and the water are usually red, though
the name is undoubtedly derived from the colour of the water. Green
River is frequently as red as any river could be. After a storm in the
headwaters of Vermilion Creek I have seen the Green a positively bright

The Arapahos were said to range into Brown's Park; the Utes were all
along the Wonsits Valley and below it on both sides of the river. Then
came the Navajos, ranging up to the San Juan and above.* On the north
side, below the San Juan, were the various bands of Pai Utes, while
on the south were the Puebloan tribes, with the Apaches, Suppais,
Wallapais, etc., while still below came the Mohaves, Cocopas, and Yumas,
with, on the Gila, the Pimas, Papagos, and Maricopas. The 250,000 square
miles of the basin were variously apportioned amongst these tribes, but
their territorial claims were usually well defined.

    * For notes on the distribution of tribes see the Seventh Ann. Rep,
Bu. Ethnology; Wheeler's Report, vol. i.; Report of Lieut. Ives, Works
of H. H. Bancroft, and Garces, by Elliott Coues.

The vegetation of the area, especially that of the lower half, possesses
singular characteristics quite in keeping with the extraordinary
topography. Here flourishes the cactus, that rose of the desert, its
lovely blossoms red, yellow, and white, illuminating in spring the arid
wastes. The soft green of its stems and the multiplicity of its forms
and species, are a constant delight. It writhes and struggles across the
hot earth, or spreads out silver-spined branches into a tree-like
bush, or, in the great pitahaya, rises in fierce dignity like a monitor
against the deep blue sky. And the yuccas are quite as beautiful, with
their tall central rods so richly crowned with bell-like blossoms, the
fantastic Clistoyucca arborescens, or Joshua tree, being more in harmony
with the archaic landscape than any other plant there. As the traveller
crosses one of the open forests of this tree, which is often twenty-five
feet high, the more distant ones appear to beckon like some uncanny
desert octopus yearning to draw him within reach of those scrawny arms.
The blossom of this monstrous growth is a revelation, so unexpected is
it. A group as large as one's head, pure white, on the extremity of a
dagger-covered bough, it is like an angel amidst bayonets. The pitahaya,
often more than thirty feet high and twelve to twenty-four inches
diameter, is a fit companion for the Joshua, with an equally startling

"To go out on the desert... and meet these cacti is like whispering into
the ear of the Sphinx, and listening at her locked lips,... and to go
out in April and see them suddenly abloom is as though the lips of the
Sphinx should part and utter solemn words. A bunch of white flowers at
the tip of the obelisk, flowers springing white and wonderful out
of this dead, gaunt, prickly thing--is not that Nature's consummate
miracle, a symbol of resurrection more profound than the lily of the

    * Harriet Monroe, Atlantic Monthly, June, 1902.

Then there is the glorious ocotillo, waving its long, slender wands
from the ground-centre, each green with its myriad little lance-shaped
leaves, and bursting at the end into a scarlet flame of blossoms
dazzling in the burning sunlight. Near by springs up the Barrel cactus,
a forbidding column no one dares touch. A little farther is the "yant"
of the Pai Ute, with leaves fringed with teeth like its kind, the
Agaves. This is a source of food for the native, who roasts the
asparagus-like tip starting up in the spring, and he also takes the
whole head, and, trimming off the outer leaves, bakes it in pits,
whereby it is full of sweetness like thick molasses. The inner pulp is
dried in sheets and laid away. Near by, the Pinyon tree in the autumn
sheds its delicious nuts by the bushel, and meanwhile there are many
full, nutritious grass seeds, the kind called "ak" by the Pai Utes
almost equalling wheat in the size of its kernel. In the lowlands grows
the stolid mesquite tree, more underground than above, whose roots
furnish excellent firewood,--albeit they must be broken up with a sledge
hammer, for no axe will stand the impact. Near it may be seen huge
bunches of grass (or perhaps straw would describe it better), which
the white man gathers for hay with a huge hoe. Then there is the
ever-present, friendly sage-brush, miniature oak trees, with branch and
trunk, so beautiful. It grows, as a rule, about two feet high, but I
have seen it higher than my head; that is, at least six feet. Beneath
its spreading shade in the south lurks the Gila Monster, terrible
in name at any rate, a fearful object to look upon, a remnant of
antediluvian times, a huge, clumsy, two-foot lizard. The horned toad is
quite as forbidding in appearance, but he is a harmless little thing.
Here we are in the rattlesnake's paradise. Nine species are found along
the Mexican border; and no wonder. The country seems made for them,--the
rocks, cliffs, canyons, pitahayas, Joshuas, and all the rest of it.
Notwithstanding their venom they have beauty, and when one is seen
at the bottom of some lonely, unfrequented canyon, tail buzzing, head
erect, and defiant, glistening eyes, a man feels like apologising for
the intrusion. Above in the limpid sunlight floats the great eagle,
deadly enemy of the rattlesnake; from a near-by bush the exquisite song
of the mocking-bird trills out, and far up the rocks the hoof-strokes
of the mountain sheep strike with a rattle of stones that seems music in
the crystal air. Yonder the wild turkey calls from the pine trees, or
we hark to the whir of the grouse or the pine-hen. Noisy magpies startle
the silence of the northern districts, and the sage-hen and the
rabbit everywhere break the solitude of your walk. Turn up a stone and
sometimes you see a revengeful scorpion: anon the huge tarantula comes
forth to look at the camp-fire. As one sits resting on a barren ledge,
the little swifts come out to make his acquaintance. Whistle softly and
a bright-coated fellow will run up even upon your shoulder to show his
appreciation of the Swan Song. Antelope dart scornfully away across
the open plains, and the little coyote halts in his course to turn the
inquisitive gaze of his pretty bright eyes upon this new animal crossing
his path. The timber wolf, not satisfied with staring, follows, perhaps,
as if enjoying company, at the same time occasionally licking his chaps.
When the sun goes down his long-drawn bark rolls out into the clear
winter sky like a song to the evening star, rendering the blaze of the
camp-fire all the more comfortable. Under the moonlight the sharper bark
of the coyote swells a chorus from the cliffs, and the rich note of the
night-storm is accentuated by the long screech of the puma prowling on
the heights. In daylight his brother, the wild-cat, reminds one of Tabby
at home by the fireside. There is the lynx, too, among the rocks; and
on the higher planes the deer, elk, and bear have their homes. In Green
River Valley once roamed thousands of bison. The more arid districts
have the fewest large animals, and conversely the more humid the most,
though in the latter districts the fauna and flora approach that of the
eastern part of the continent, while as the former are approached the
difference grows wider and wider, till in the southern lowlands there is
no resemblance to eastern types at all. Once the streams everywhere had
thousands of happy beaver, with their homes in the river banks, or in
waters deepened by their clever dams. Otter, too, were there. The larger
rivers are not favourable for fish on account of the vast amount of
sediment, but in the smaller, especially in the mountain streams, trout
were abundant. In Green River occurs a salmon-trout attaining a length
of at least four feet. This is also found in the Colorado proper, where
another fish, with a humpback, is to be caught. I do not know the name
of this, but imagine it the same as has in latter days been called

All over the region the rocks are seamed by mineral veins. Some of these
have already poured forth millions of dollars, while others await a
discoverer. On the river itself gold is found in the sands; and the
small alluvial bottoms that occur in Glen Canyon, and a few gravel bars
in the Grand, have been somewhat profitably worked, though necessarily
on a small scale. The granite walls of the Grand Canyon bear innumerable
veins, but as prospecting is there so difficult it will be many a long
year before the best are found. The search for mineral veins has done
much to make the farther parts known, just as the earlier search for
beaver took white men for the first time into the fastnesses of the
great mountains, and earlier the effort to save the souls of the natives
marked their main trails into the wilderness.

This sketch of the Basin of the Colorado is most inadequate, but the
scope of this volume prevents amplification in this direction. These few
pages, however, will better enable the reader to comprehend the labours
of the padres, the trappers, and the explorers, some account of whose
doings is presented in the following chapters.*

    * In connection with the subject of erosion and corrasion the reader
is advised to study the following works, which are the standards: The
Exploration of the Colorado of the West, and the Geology of the Uinta
Mountains, by J. W. Powell; The Henry Mountains, by G. K. Gilbert; The
Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah, and The Tertiary History of the
Grand Canyon District, by C. E. Dutton.


Onate, 1604, Crosses Arizona to the Colorado--A Remarkable Ancient Ruin
Discovered by Padre Kino, 1694--Padre Garces Sees the Grand Canyon and
Visits Oraibi, 1776--The Great Entrada of Padre Escalante across Green
River to Utah Lake, 1776--Death of Garces Ends the Entrada Period, 1781.

In the historical development of the Basin of the Colorado four, chief
epochs are apparent. The discovery of the river, as already outlined
in previous chapters, is the first; second, the entradas of the padres;
third, the wanderings of the trappers; and fourth, the expeditions of
the explorers. These epochs are replete with interesting and romantic
incidents, new discoveries; starvations; battles; massacres; lonely,
dangerous journeys, etc., which can only be touched upon in a volume of
the present size. Dr. Coues placed the diary of Garces, one of the chief
actors of this great four-act life-drama, in accessible shape, and
had not his lamented death interfered he would have put students under
further obligation to him.

Preliminary to the entradas of the padres, Don Antonio de Espejo, in
1583, went from the Rio Grande to Moki and westward to a mountain,
probably one of the San Francisco group, but he did not see the
Colorado. Twenty-one years elapsed before a white man again ventured
into this region. In 1604, Don Juan de Onate, the wealthy governor of
New Mexico, determined to cross from his headquarters at the village
of San Juan on the Rio Grande, by this route to the South Sea, and,
accompanied by thirty soldiers and two padres, he set forth, passing
west by way of the pueblo of Zuni, and probably not seeing at that time
the celebrated Inscription Rock,* for, though his name is said to be
first of European marks, the date is 1606. From Zuni he went to the Moki
towns, then five in number, and possibly somewhat south of the
present place. Beyond Moki ten leagues, they crossed a stream flowing
north-westerly, which was called Colorado from the colour of its
water,--the first use of the name so far traced. This was what we now
call the Little Colorado. They understood it to discharge into the South
Sea (Pacific), and probably Onate took it for the very headwaters of the
Buena Guia which Alarcon had discovered over sixty years before. As yet
no white man had been north of Moki in the Basin of the Colorado, and
the only source of information concerning the far northern region was
the natives, who were not always understood, however honestly they might
try to convey a knowledge of the country.

    * This is a quadrangular mass of sandstone about a mile long,
thirty-five miles east of Zuni. On its base at the eastern end are a
number of native and European inscriptions, the oldest, of the European
dates according to Simpson, being 1606, recording a visit by Onate. The
rock, or, more properly, mesa, is also called the Morro. Chas. F. Lummis
has also written on this subject.

Skirting the southern edge of the beautiful San Francisco Mountain
region, through the superb forest of pine trees, Onate finally descended
from the Colorado Plateau to the headwaters of the Verde, where he met a
tribe called Cruzados, because they wore little crosses from the hair of
the forehead, a relic, no doubt, of the time when Alarcon had so
freely distributed these emblems among the tribes he encountered on the
Colorado, friends probably of these Cruzados. The latter reported the
sea twenty days distant by way of a small river running into a greater,
which flowed to the salt water. The small river was Bill Williams Fork,
and on striking it Onate began to see the remarkable pitahaya adorning
the landscape with its tall, stately columns; and all the strange
lowland vegetation followed. The San Andreas, as he called this stream,
later named Santa Maria by Garces, he followed down to the large river
into which it emptied, the Colorado, which he called the Rio Grande
de Buena Esperanza, or River of Good Hope, evidently deciding that
it merited a more distinguished title than had been awarded it at the
supposed headwaters. He appears to have well understood what river
this was, and we wonder why he gave it a new name when it had already
received two. Sometimes in new lands explorers like to have their own
way. They went down the Colorado, after a party had examined the river
a little above the mouth of the Bill Williams Fork, meeting with various
bands of friendly natives, among whom we recognise the Mohaves and the
Cocopas. Not far below where Onate reached the Esperanza he entered the
Great Colorado Valley and soon crossed the highest point attained by
Alarcon in 1340, probably near the upper end of the valley. He now
doubled Alarcon's and presently also Melchior Diaz's paths, and arrived
at the mouth of the river on the 25th of January, 1605, the first white
man in over sixty years. A large harbour which struck his fancy was
named in honour of the saint's day, Puerto de la Conversion de San
Pablo, for the sun seldom went down without a Spaniard of those days
thus propitiating a saint. We are more prone to honour the devil in
these matters. The Gila they called Rio del Nombre de Jesus, a name
never used again. So it often happens with names bestowed by explorers.
The ones they regard most highly vanish, while some they apply
thoughtlessly adhere forever.

All the tribes of this region, being familiar with the Californian
coast, described it in a way that caused Onate to believe that the
gulf was the South Sea, extending indefinitely beyond the mouth of the
Colorado northwards, and thus the persistent error that Lower California
was an island received further confirmation. Without going across to the
sea beyond the mountains, which would have dispelled the error, Onate
returned to the Rio Grande by the outward route, suffering so greatly
for food that the party were forced to eat some of their horses, a
source of relief often resorted to in future days in this arid country.
A few years after Onate's expedition Zalvidar (1618), with Padre Jiminez
and forty-seven soldiers, went out to Moki, and from there fifteen
leagues to the Rio de Buena Esperanza, but they evidently encountered
Marble Canyon, and soon returned.

Another name closely linked with the early history of the Colorado is
that of Padre Eusibio Francisco Kino,* an Austrian by birth and a member
of the Jesuit order. This indefatigable enthusiast travelled back
and forth, time and again, over the whole of northern Sonora and the
southern half of Arizona, then comprised in Pimeria Alta, the upper
land of the Pimas, and Papagueria, the land of the Papagos. His base
of operations was a mission he established in Sonora; the mission of
Dolores, founded in 1687. For some thirty years Kino laboured in this
field with tireless energy, flinching before no danger or difficulty.
He was the first white man to see the extraordinary ruin called Casa
Grande, near the present town of Florence, and on the occasion of his
first visit he took advantage of the structure to say mass within its
thick adobe walls. This is probably the most remarkable ancient building
within the limits of the United States, For a long time it was called
the House of Montezuma, though, of course, Montezuma never heard of it.
A similar ruin, called Casas Grandes, exists in Sonora. The construction
is what is called cajon, that is, adobe clay rammed into a box or frame,
which is lifted for each successive course as the work advances. In the
dry air of that region such walls become extremely hard, and will endure
for ages if the foundations are not sapped.** Kino paid a second visit
to the ruin of Casa Grande in 1697, this time accompanied by Captain
Juan Mateo Mange, an officer detailed with his command to escort the
padres on their perilous journeys.

    * The name is written Kuhn, Kuhne, Quino, and in several other ways.
Humboldt used Kuhn, and either this or Kuhne is probably the correct
form, but long usage gives preference to Kino.

    ** See The North Americans of Yesterday, by F. S. Dellenbaugh, p. 234;
and for complete details see papers by Cosmos Mindeleff, Thirteenth An.
Rep, Bu. Eth. and Fifteenth An. Rep. Bu, Eth.; also Font's description
in Coues's Garces, p. 93.

The method of the authorities was to establish a military post, called
a presidio, at some convenient point, from which protection would be
extended to several missions. The soldiers in the field wore a sort of
buckskin armour, with a double-visored helmet and a leathern buckler
on the left arm. Kino was as often without as with the guardianship
of these warriors, and seems to have had very little trouble with the
natives. The Apaches, then and always, were the worst of all, In
his numerous entradas he explored the region of his labours pretty
thoroughly, reaching, in 1698, a hill from which he saw how the gulf
ended at the mouth of the Colorado; and the following year he was again
down the Gila, which he called Rio de los Apostoles, to the Colorado,
now blessed with a fourth name, the Rio de los Martires. "Buena Guia"
"del Tizon," "Esperanza," and "los Martires," all in about a century and
a half, and still the great Dragon of Waters was not only untamed hut
unknown. Kino kept up his endeavours to inaugurate somewhere a religious
centre, but without success. The San Dionisio marked on his map at
the mouth of the Gila was only the name he gave a Yuma village at that
point, and was never anything more. On November 21, 1701, Kino reached
a point only one day's journey above the sea, where he crossed the river
on a raft, but he made no attempt to go to the mouth. At last, however,
on March 7, 1702, he actually set foot on the barren sands where the
waters, gathered from a hundred mountain peaks of the far interior,
are hurled against the sea-tide, the first white visitor since Onate,
ninety-eight years before. Visits of Europeans to this region were then
counted by centuries and half-centuries, yet on the far Atlantic shore
of the continent they were swarming in the cradle of the giant that
should ultimately rule from sea to sea, annihilating the desert. But
even the desert has its charms. One seems to inhale fresh vitality from
its unpeopled immensity. I never could understand why a desert is not
generally considered beautiful; the kind, at least, we have in the
South-west, with all the cacti, the yucca, and the other flowering
plants unfamiliar to European or Eastern eyes, and the lines of coloured
cliffs and the deep canyons. There is far more beauty and variety of
colour than in the summer meadow-stretches and hills of the Atlantic
States. So the good Padre Kino, after all, was perhaps to be
congratulated on having those thirty years, interesting years, before
the wilds could be made commonplace.

Arizona did not seem to yield kindly to the civilisers; indeed, it was
like the Colorado River, repellent and unbreakable. The padres crossed
it and recrossed it on the southwestern corner, but they made no
impression. After Kino's death in 1711 there was a lull in the entradas
to the Colorado, though Ugarte, coming up along the eastern coast
of Lower California, sailed to the mouth of the river in July, 1721.
Twenty-four years later (1744) Padre Jacobo Sedelmair went down the Gila
from Casa Grande to the great bend, and from there cut across to the
Colorado at about the mouth of Bill Williams Fork, but his journey
was no more fruitful than those of his predecessors in the last two
centuries. It seems extraordinary in these days that men could traverse
a country, even so infrequently, during two whole centuries and yet know
almost nothing about it. Two years after Sedelmair touched the Colorado,
Fernando Consag, looking for mission sites, came up the gulf to its
mouth, and when he had sailed away there was another long interval
before the river was again visited by Europeans. This time it was over
a quarter of a century, but the activity then begun was far greater than
ever before, and the two padres who now became the foremost characters
in the drama that so slowly moved upon the mighty and diversified stage
of the South-west, were quite the equals in tireless energy of the
Jesuit Kino. These two padres were Garces and Escalante, more closely
associated with the history of the Basin of the Colorado than any one
who had gone before. Francisco Garces, as well as Escalante, was of the
Franciscan order, and this order, superseding the Jesuit, was making
settlements, 1769-70, at San Diego and Monterey, as well as taking a
prominent part in those already long established on the Rio Grande.
There was no overland connection between the California missions and
those of Sonora and the Rio Grande, and the desire to explore routes
for such communication was one of the incentives of both Garces and
Escalante, in their long entradas. But it seemed to be the habit of
those days, either never to seek information as to what had previously
been accomplished, or to forget it, for the expedition of Onate might as
well never have been made so far as its effect on succeeding travels was
concerned. He had crossed Arizona by the very best route, yet Escalante,
172 years afterward, goes searching for one by way of Utah Lake! Coming
from the west, the Moki Towns were ever the objective point, for
they were well known and offered a refuge in the midst of the general
desolation. Garces had his headquarters at the mission of San Xavier del
Bac, or Bac, as it was commonly called, nine miles south of the present
town of Tucson. Here Kino had begun a church in 1699, and at a later
period another better one was started near by. This was finished in 1797
and to-day stands the finest monument in the South-west of the epoch
of the padres. It is a really beautiful specimen of the Mexico-Spanish
church architecture of that time. No better testimony could there be
of the indefatigable spiritual energy of the padres than this artistic
structure standing now amidst a few adobe houses, and once completely
abandoned to the elements. Such a building should never be permitted to
perish, and it well merits government protection. Its striking contrast
to Casa Grande, the massive relic of an unknown time, standing but a few
leagues distant, will always render this region of exceptional interest
to the artist, the archaeologist, and the general traveller.

From Bac, under the protection of the presidio of Tubac, some thirty
miles farther south, later transferred (1776) to the present Tucson,
Garces carried on his work. He made five great entradas from the time of
his arrival in June, 1768. The first was in that same year, the second
in 1770, but in these he did not reach the Colorado, and we will pass
them by. In the third, 1771, he went down the Gila to the Colorado and
descended the latter stream along its banks perhaps to the mouth. On the
fourth, 1774, he went with Captain Anza to the Colorado and farther on
to the mission of San Gabriel in California, near Los Angeles, and in
his fifth, and most important one, 1775-76, he again accompanied Captain
Anza, who was bound for the present site of San Francisco, there to
establish a mission. Padre Font was Anza's chaplain, and with Garces's
aid later made a map of the country.* At Yuma Garces left the Anza
party, went down to the mouth of the Colorado, and then up along the
river to Mohave, and after another trip out to San Gabriel, he started
on the most important part of all his journeys, from Mohave to the Moki
Towns, the objective point of all entradas eastward from the Colorado.
The importance attached at that time to the towns of the Moki probably
seems absurd to the reader, but it must not be forgotten that the Moki
were cultivators of the soil and always held a store of food-stuffs in
reserve. They were also builders of very comfortable houses, as I can
testify from personal experience. Thus they assumed a prominence, amidst
the desolation of the early centuries, of which the railway in the
nineteenth speedily robbed them.

    * Font says of Garces: "He seems just like an Indian himself...
and though the food of the Indians is as nasty and disgusting as their
dirty selves the padre eats it with great gusto." Dr. Coues had planned
to publish a translation of Font's important diary. See Garces, by
Elliot Coues, p. 172, Font meant his remark as praise.

Garces, like most of his kind, was an enthusiast on the subject of
saving the souls of the natives. "It made him sick at heart," says
Coues, "to see so many of them going to hell for lack of the three drops
of water he would sprinkle over them if only they would let him do it."
With this idea ever in mind he toiled up and down the lower Colorado,
and received assistance from a Yuma chief called Captain Palma. Once
when he came up the river to Yuma, where he had left Padre Eisarc, the
report the latter gave was so encouraging that Garces exclaims: "I gave
a thousand thanks to God to hear them sing psalms divine that the padre
had taught them." He further declared that Captain Palma would put to
the blush for observing the forms of piety, "many veteran Christians,
by the reverence and humility with which he assisted at the holy
sacrifice." But alas for the padre's fond hopes!

The Yumas called the Colorado Javill or Hahweel according to Garces; and
he also says the name Colorado was given because, as the whole country
is coloured, its waters are tinged in the month of April, when the snows
are melting, but that they are not always red, which is exactly the
case. The name is also said to be a translation of the Piman title
"buqui aquimuti."

Leaving Mohave June 4, 1776, Garces struck eastward across Arizona,
guided by some Wallapais, but with no white companion. These people had
told him about the distance to Moki and the nature of the intervening
region. Heading Diamond Creek* on his mule, Garces made for the romantic
retreat of the Havasupais in the canyon of Cataract Creek, a tributary
from the south of the Grand Canyon. He was the first white man, so far
as known, to visit this place, and in reaching it he passed near the rim
of the great gorge, though he did not then see it. This was the region
of the Aubrey cliffs and the place in all probability where Cardenas
approached the Grand Canyon, 236 years before. Garces arrived among the
Havasupai or Jabesua, as he called them, by following a trail down their
canyon that made his head swim, and was impassable to his mule, which
was taken in by another route. At one place a ladder was even necessary
to complete the 2000 feet of descent to the settlement, where a clear
creek suddenly breaks from the rocks, and, rapid and blue, sweeps away
down 2000 or more feet to the Colorado, falling in its course at one
point over a precipice in three cataracts aggregating 250 feet, from
which it takes its name. Here are about 400 acres of arable land along
the creek, on which the natives raise corn, beans, squashes, peaches,
apricots, sunflowers, etc. There are now about 200 of these people, and
they are of Yuman stock. Garces was well treated and rested here five

    * This name, by the way, has no connection with the notorious
"Arizona" diamond swindle of more recent years. It bore this name in
Ives's time and the swindle was much later--1872. The alleged diamond
field also was not in Arizona at all, but in north-western Colorado.

Soon after leaving this retreat he "halted at the sight of the most
profound canones which ever onward continue, and within these flows the
Rio Colorado."

"There is seen [he continues] a very great Sierra which in the distance
looks blue, and there runs from the southeast to the north-west a pass
open to the very base, as if the sierra were cut artificially to give
entrance to the Rio Colorado into these lands. I named this singular
pass Puerto de Bucareli,* and though to all appearances would not seem
to be great the difficulty of reaching thereunto, I considered this to
be impossible in consequence of the difficult canones which intervened.
From this position said pass bore east northeast."

    * After the viceroy.

The padre is standing in admiration before the long line of the Kaibab
seen as a great sierra from this position on the south-east, and as the
land on the south rises toward the rim it probably appeared to him as if
the sierra were really a continuation of the San Francisco Mountains on
his right, and was cut in twain by the great gorge of the river. From
his standpoint he looked up Marble Canyon, and all the directions he
mentions are exactly correct. They saw smokes on the north, which his
guides said were made by the Payuches (Pai Utes) living on the other
side. The Kaivavitz band of Pai Utes in summer occupy their lands on the
summit of the Kaibab, hunting deer and camping in the lovely open glades
surrounded by splendid forest. This same day his guides pointed out some
tracks of Yabipai Tejua, who go this way to see and trade with their
friends, "those who live, as already said, on the other side of the Rio
Colorado." It was one of the intertribal highways. Just where it crossed
the canyon is hard to say. There were several old trails, and one came
down from the north, reaching the river a few miles below the Little
Colorado, but where it came out on the south side I do not know. There
was once another trail which came from the north down the canyon of
Kanab Creek and found a way across to the Coconinos or Havasupai; at
least Jacob Hamblin told me he was so informed by the Pai Utes. The
"Hance" trail, I believe, was built on the line of an old native one,
and probably this was the one the Yabipais were heading for.

    * Jacob Hamblin, whom I knew very well, was the "Leather-stocking" of
Utah--a man who knew the Amerinds of Utah and northern Arizona better
than any one who ever lived.

Garces had a good understanding of the topography, for he says when
he reached the Rio Jaquesila de San Pedro, as he called the Little
Colorado, that it joined the main stream just above his Puerto de
Bucareli. Coues thought it probable that Cardenas on his way to the
Grand Canyon, followed from Moki the same trail Garces is now taking to
reach that place, and that therefore the first view Cardenas had of the
canyon was from near the same place as that of Garces--that is, he saw
the Puerto de Bucareli. This is hardly probable, as Garces was only five
days reaching Moki from here, and Cardenas travelled twenty from Tusayan
to the canyon. As I pointed out on a previous page, so far as the data
go, Cardenas reached the Grand Canyon opposite the east side of the
Shewits plateau.

Of the Little Colorado Garces said: "The bed of this river as far as the
confluence is a trough of solid rock, very profound, and wide about a
stone's throw." That this was an accurate statement the view on page 95
amply proves. Indeed, the accuracy of most of these early Spaniards, as
to topography, direction, etc., is extraordinary. As a rule where they
are apparently wrong it is ourselves who are mistaken, and if we fully
understand their meaning we find them to be correct. Garces found his
way down to the Little Colorado by means of a side canyon and got
out again on the other side in the same way. Finally, on July 2nd, he
arrived at the pueblo of Oraibi, his objective point, and when he and
his tired mule had climbed up on the mesa which bears the town, the
women and children lined the housetops to get a glimpse of the singular

Spaniards were something of a novelty, though by no means unheard of,
just as even I was something of a novelty when I visited Oraibi
one hundred years after the Padre Garces, because the Oraibis never
encouraged white visitors.* The first missions were established among
the Moki in 1629, when Benavides was custodian of the Rio Grande
district, and included Zuni and Moki in his field. Three padres were
then installed at Awatuwi, one of the towns, on the mesa east of what is
now called the "East" Mesa. Four were at work amongst the various towns
at the time of the Pueblo uprising in 1680, and as one began his labours
at Oraibi as early as 1650, a priest was not an unknown object to the
older people. All the missionaries having been killed in 1680, and
Awatuwi, where a fresh installation was made, having been annihilated in
1700 by the Moki, for three-quarters of a century they had seen few if
any Spaniards. Therefore the women and children were full of curiosity.
Padre Escalante had been here from Zuni the year before, looking over
the situation with a view to bringing all the Moki once more within the
fold. At that time Escalante also tried to go on to what he called the
Rio de los Cosninos, the Colorado, but he was unable to accomplish his
purpose. Had he once had a view of the Grand Canyon it would undoubtedly
have saved him a good many miles of weary travel in his northern entrada
of this same year that Garces reached Oraibi.

    * A year or two after my visit, James Stevenson, of the Bureau of
Ethnology, was driven away from Oraibi. Thomas Keam and he then went
there with a force of Navajos and compelled the surrender of the
chiefs who had been most obnoxious. They took them to Ream's Canyon and
confined them on bread and water till they apologised.

Garces was not permitted to enter the house where his Yabipai guide
intended to stop, and he therefore made his way to a corner formed by a
jutting wall, and there unsaddled his faithful mule, which the Yabipai
took to a sheep corral. The padre remained in his corner, gathering a
few scattered corn-stalks from the street, with which he made a fire
and cooked a little atole. All day long the people came in succession to
stare at him. I can testify to the sullen unfriendliness of the Oraibi,
and I have seen few places I have left with greater pleasure than that
I felt when, in 1885, I rode away from this town. Garces was not able to
make a favourable impression, and after, considering the feasibility of
going on to Zuni, and deciding against it, he thought he would visit the
other towns with a hope of being better received, but a few yells from
some herders sent him back to his Yabipai guide and several friendly
Zunis at Oraibi, where he occupied his corner again. In the morning
he perceived a multitude approaching, some bedecked with paint and
feathers, and when four of these came forward and ordered him to leave
he held up his crucifix and assured them of his desire to do good to
them. They made wry faces and cried "No, no," so that he called for his
mule and departed, smiling upon them as he went. He returned by the same
route. It was the 4th of July when Garces was expelled by the Oraibis,
a declaration of independence on their part which they have maintained
down to the present day. That other Declaration of Independence was made
on this same day on the far Atlantic coast. The Colonies were engaged in
their battle for freedom, but no sound of that strife then reached New
Mexico, yet its portent was great for that region where, three-quarters
of a century later, the flag of the Great Republic should float
triumphant over all, Garces reached the Colorado once more on July 25th,
his arduous journey absolutely fruitless so far as missionary work was
concerned. He arrived at his mission of Bac September 17, 1776.

On July 29, 1776, another even greater entrada was begun at Santa Fe by
the Fray Padre Francisco Silvestre Velez Escalade,* in his search for a
route to Monterey, unaware that Garces had just traversed, next to
that of Onate, the most practicable short route to be found. Garces had
written to Escalante, ministro doctrinero of Zuni, a letter from Oraibi,
but as the ministro had already departed for Santa Fe, leaving Fray
Mariano Rosate in charge at Zuni, the letter probably did not reach him
till his return. The northern country, notwithstanding several small
entradas and the considerable one of Juan Maria Ribera in 1761, who went
as far as Gunnison River, was still a terra incognita, and the distance
to the Pacific was also an uncertain quantity. Escalante believed a
better road existed to Monterey by way of the north than by the middle
route, and a further incentive to journey that way was probably the
rumours of large towns in that direction, the same will-o'-the-wisp
the Spaniards for nearly three centuries had been vainly pursuing. The
authorities had urged two expeditions to Alta California, to establish
communication; Garces and Captain Anza had carried out one, and now
Escalante was to execute the other.

    * H. H. Bancroft gives a map of the route as he understands it,
History of the Pacific States, p. 35, vol. xxv., also a condensation
of the diary. Philip Harry gives a condensation in Simpson's Report,
Appendix R., p. 489. Some river names have been shifted since Harry
wrote. What we call the Grand, upper part, was then the Blue.

Besides the ministro Escalante, there were in the party eight persons,
Padre Francisco Dominguez, Juan Pedro Cisneros, alcalde of Zuni,
Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, capitain miliciano of Sante Fe, Don Juan Lain,
and four other soldiers. Lain had been with Ribera and was therefore
official guide. They went from Sante Fe by way of Abiquiu and the Chama
River to the San Juan about where it first meets the north line of New
Mexico, and thence across the several tributaries to the head of the
Dolores River, which they descended for eleven days. I am at a loss to
exactly follow the route, not having been able to consult either the
copy or the original of Escalante's diary. The party made its way across
Grand River, the Book Plateau, White River, and finally to the Green,
called the San Buenaventura, which was forded, apparently near the foot
of Split-Mountain Canyon. Here they killed one of the bisons which were
numerous in the valley. Following the course of the river down some ten
leagues, they went up the Uinta and finally crossed the Wasatch, coming
down the western side evidently by way of what is now known as Spanish
Fork, to Utah Lake, then called by the natives Timpanogos. Here they
heard of a greater lake to the north, but instead of seeking it they
turned their course south-westerly in what they considered the direction
of Monterey through the Sevier River Valley, the Sevier being called the
Santa Isabel, and kept down along the western edge of the High Plateaus.
It being by this time the 7th of October, Escalante concludes that it
will be impossible to reach Monterey before winter sets in and persuades
his companions that the best thing to do is to strike for the Moki
towns. They cast lots to determine this, and the decision is for Moki.
Evidently he thought this would be an easy road. When he was at Moki
the year before, had he not failed to go to the Colorado he would have
better understood the nature of the undertaking he now set for his

Going on southward past what is now Parowan, they came to the headwaters
of a branch of the Virgen, in Cedar Valley, and this they followed down
to the main stream which they left flowing south-westerly. The place
where they turned from it was probably about at Toquerville.* They were
now trying to make their general course south-east. Could I but see the
original I certainly could identify the route from here on, having been
over the region so often. As Escalante was obtaining what information
he could from the natives, it seems to me that his first course
"south-east" was to Pipe Spring along the foot of the Vermilion Cliffs,
then his "north-east" was up toward Kanab and through Nine-Mile Valley
to the head of the Kaibab, where a trail led him over to House Rock
Valley, on his "south-east" tack, skirting the Vermilion Cliffs again.
But they lost it and struck the river at Marble Canyon, through a
misunderstanding of the course of the trail, which bore easterly and
then northerly around the base of the cliffs to what is now Lee's Ferry,
where there was an ancient crossing. Another trail goes (or did go)
across the north end of the Paria Plateau and divides, one branch coming
down the high cliffs about three miles up the Paria from the mouth, by
a dizzy and zig-zag path, and the other keeping on to the south-east and
striking the river at the very point for which Escalante was evidently
now searching. Perhaps the Pai Utes had told him of this trail as well
as the one he tried to follow, which would have taken him to the Lee's
Ferry crossing about thirty-five miles below. He seems to have reached
the brink of Marble Canyon, perhaps half-way between the Paria and the
Little Colorado,** and followed up-stream first north and then (beyond
Paria) north-east, hunting for a ford. Twice he succeeded in descending
to the water, but both times was unable to cross. They had now become so
reduced in food that they were obliged to eat some of their horses. With
great difficulty they climbed over the cliffs, and at the end of twelve
days from their first arrival at the river they found the ford, which
ever since has been called El Vado de los Padres. This was the 8th of
November, 1776. The entrance to the river from the west, the side of
their approach, is through a small canyon in the homogeneous sandstone,
no more than ten feet wide. The course is then about half a mile down
the middle of the river over a long bar or shoal to the opposite side,
where the exit is made upon a rocky slope. It is a most difficult ford.
The trail through the water at the low stage, when, only, fording is
possible, is marked by piles of large stones. There is no ford at the
Lee's Ferry crossing.

    * From here to the California mission of San Gabriel would hardly
have been as difficult as the route taken, excepting perhaps the matter
of water, and little if any further than the distance to Santa Fe, but
the Pai Utes could give him no information of the distance to the sea.

    ** There was an old crossing near there, also.

From this Crossing-of-the-Fathers, just above where the river enters
Arizona, to the Moki Towns Escalante had a plain trail, and a much
simpler topography, and had no difficulty in arriving there. The
remainder of his road, from Moki to Zuni and around to Santa Fe, was
one he had travelled before, and the party soon completed the circuit
of more than 1500 miles mainly through unknown country, one of the most
remarkable explorations ever carried out in the West. It is sometimes
stated that Escalante crossed the Grand Canyon, but, as is perfectly
plain from the data, he did not; in fact, he could not have done it with

Garces was not yet finished with his labours on the lower Colorado, and
we will return to him. The authorities had decided to establish there
two nondescript settlements, a sort of cross between mission, pueblo,
and presidio. Captain Palma, the Yuma chief, whose devotions and piety
had so delighted the good Father, was eager to have missions started,
and constantly importuned the government to grant them. Garces,
therefore, went to Yuma again in 1779 to prepare the way, and in 1780
two of the hybrid affairs were inaugurated, one at what is now Fort
Yuma, called Puerto de la Purisima Concepcion, after the little canyon
hard by, so named by Garces previously, a canyon fifty feet deep and a
thousand feet long; the other, about eight miles down, called San Pedro
y San Pablo de Bicuner. There were four padres; Garces and Barraneche
at the upper station, and Diaz and Moreno at the lower. Each place
had eight or ten soldiers, a few colonists, and a few labourers. The
Spaniards were obliged to appropriate some of the best lands to till for
the support of the missions, and this, together with the general poverty
of the establishments when he had expected something fine, disgusted
Palma and exasperated him and the other Yumas. In June, 1781, Captain
Moncada, lieutenant-governor of Lower California, arrived with soldiers
and recruits en route for California settlements, and encamped opposite
Yuma. After some of these people had been sent forward or back as the
plans demanded, Moncada remained at the camp with a few of his soldiers.
No one suspected the tornado which was brewing. All the life of the
camp, of the missions, and of the Yumas went on with the same apparent
smoothness, but it was only a delusion suddenly and horribly dispelled
on the fateful 17th of July. Without a sign preliminary to the execution
of their wrath, Captain Palma and all his band threw piety to the winds,
and annihilated with clubs Moncada's camp and most of the men in the two
missions. Garces and his assistant, Barraneche, were at first spared.
Even the conscience of Talma hesitated to murder the good and amiable
Garces, who had never been to him and his people anything but a kind
and generous friend, but the rabble declared these two were the worst
of all, and under this pressure Palma yielded. It was the last terrible
scene of this act in the life-drama we are following. The lights were
out, the curtain down. Military expeditions were sent to avenge the
massacre, but they might as well have chased the stars. The missions on
the Colorado were ended. Never again was an attempt made to found one.
The desert relapsed into its former complete subjection to the native
tribes, and the indifferent Colorado swept on to the conflict with
the sea-waves as if neither white man nor Amerind had ever touched its
waters. Nearly half a century passed before the face of a white man was
again seen at the mouth of the river, and all the toil of Kino, Garces,
and the rest was apparently as completely wasted as if they had tried to
stop the flow of the Colorado with a broom.


Breaking the Wilderness--Wanderings of the Trappers and Fur
Traders--General Ashley in Green River Valley, 1824--Pattie along the
Grand Canyon, 1826--Lieut. Hardy, R.N., in a Schooner on the Lower
Colorado, 1826--Jedediah Smith, Salt Lake to San Gabriel, 1826--Pattie
on the Lower Colorado in Canoes, 1827-28.

As the "sweet Afton" of old gently flowing among its green braes
compares with the fierce Colorado, so do those earnest padres who so
faithfully tried to plant their cross in the waste places, as sketched
in the chapter just closed with the martyrdom of Garces, compare with
the new set of actors that now appear, as the development of this drama
of the wilderness continues. The former fitted well into the strange
scenery; they became apart of it; they fraternised with the various
tribes native to the land, and all things together went forward with
pictorial harmony. They were like a few mellow figures blended skilfully
into the deep tones of an ancient canvas. But now the turbulent spirit
of the raging river itself pervades the new-comers who march imperiously
upon the mighty stage with the heavy tread of the conqueror, out of
tune with the soft old melody; temporising with nothing; with a heedless
stroke, like the remorseless hand of Fate, obliterating all obstacles
to their progress. Not theirs the desire to save natives from perdition;
rather to annihilate them speedily as useless relics of a bygone time.
They are savages among savages; quite as interesting and delightful in
their way as the older occupants of the soil. It became in reality the
conflict of the old and the new, and then was set the standard by which
the native tribes have ever since been measured and dealt with.

The inevitable was simply coming to pass: one more act in the world-play
of continental subjugation to the European. The United States, born in
privation and blood, were growing into a nation eager for expansion,
and by 1815 they had already ventured beyond the Mississippi, having
purchased from France all territory north of Red River, the Arkansas,
and the 42nd parallel, as far as the unsettled British boundary and the
disputed region of Oregon. Naturally, then, Americans wanted to know
what was to be found in this vast tract unknown to them, and when a few
bold spirits pushed out to the great mountains it was discovered that
fur-bearing animals existed in multitude. In the trapping of these and
the trading in their pelts a huge industry sprang up. In this trade
future millionaires laid their foundations.

The beaver were then the most profitable of all, and they were the most
abundant. The pelts were estimated by "packs," each of which consisted
of about eighty skins, weighing one hundred pounds, and worth in the
mountains from three hundred to five hundred dollars. The profits were
thus speedy and very great. In the search for the richest rewards the
trapper continually pushed farther and farther away from the "States,"
encroaching at length on the territory claimed by Spain, a claim to be
soon (1821) adopted by the new-born Mexican Republic. Trespassing on the
tribal rights of Blackfoot, Sioux, Ute, or any other did not enter
into any one's mind as something to be considered. Thus, rough-shod the
trapper broke the wilderness, fathomed its secret places, traversed its
trails and passes, marking them with his own blood and more vividly with
that of the natives. Incidentally, by right of their discoveries and
occupation of the wilderness, much of it became by the law of nations a
part of the lands of the United States, though still nominally claimed
by Mexico. Two years after the return of the famous Lewis-and-Clark
expedition, Andrew Henry "discovered" South Pass (1808), and led his
party through it into the Green River* Valley. His discovery consisted,
like many others of the time, in following up the bison trails and the
highways of the natives. The latter, of course, knew every foot of the
whole country; each tribe its own special lands and more or less into
and across those of its neighbours.

    * The name Green River was used as early as 1824, and was probably
derived from the name of the early trapper. Till about 1835 it was
usually called by the Crow name, Seedskeedee.

By the time the third decade of the nineteenth century was fairly begun
the trappers were crossing in considerable numbers from the headwaters
of the Missouri and the Platte into the valley of the Colorado and the
Columbia, and as early as 1824 one of the most brilliant figures of
this epoch, General Ashley,* having previously organised a fur-trading
company in St. Louis, then the centre of all Western commerce, had
established himself in Green River Valley with a large band of
expert trappers which included now famous names like Henry, Bridger,
Fitzpatrick, Green, Sublet, and Beckwourth. Provo (or Provost) was
already encamped in Brown's Hole. One of Ashley's principal camps
was what they called the "rendezvous" (there were a great many
French-Canadians engaged in the fur business, and hence numerous French
words were in common use among the trappers of the period), just above
"The Suck," on Green River. This Suck was at the entrance to Flaming
Gorge, as it has since been named. Beckwourth says of this: "The
current, at a small distance from our camp, became exceedingly rapid,
and drew toward the centre from each shore." The river here narrows
suddenly and attacks a high ridge. Doubling around a point to the left
and then as suddenly to the right, the swift water or "Suck" slackens
up in the quieter reach of Flaming Gorge. In their journeys after
beaver the Ashley party had been able to go into this gorge and the two
following ones, Horseshoe and Kingfisher, and had doubtless trapped in
them. Here were many beaver, and Ashley drew the inference that as
many existed below in the deeper canyon. Though he had discovered the
dangerous character of the river he decided to build boats and set forth
on the current in order to trap the canyon, the length of which he did
not know and underestimated. A purpose of reaching St. Louis by this
route has been attributed to Ashley, but as Hunt and others some years
before understood this to be a stream on whose lower waters Spaniards
lived, Ashley doubtless had the same information, and from that he would
have known that it was no practicable route to St. Louis. Beckwourth,
who relates the story of the trip,** makes no suggestion of any far-off
destination, nor does he say they took their packs along, as they would
have done if going to a commercial centre. It seems to have been purely
a trapping expedition, and was probably the very first attempt to
navigate Green River. They took along few provisions, expecting to find
beaver plentiful to the end of the canyon, but after a few miles the
beaver were absent, and, having preserved none of the meat, the party
began to suffer for food. They were six days without eating, and, the
high precipitous walls running ever on and on, they became disheartened,
or, in Western phrase, "demoralised," and proposed to cast lots to find
which should make food for the others, a proposition which horrified
Ashley, and he begged them to hold out longer, assuring them that the
walls must soon break and enable them to escape. They had not expected
so long a gorge. Red Canyon is twenty-five miles and, with the three
above, the unbroken canyon is about thirty-five miles. Under
the circumstances the canyon seemed interminable and the cliffs
insurmountable. The latter grow more precipitous toward the lower end,
and scaling would be a difficult feat for a man well fed and strong,
though well-nigh hopeless for any weakened by lack of proper food. At
last, however, an opening appeared. Here they discovered Provo encamped
with an abundance of provisions, so their troubles were quickly over.
The opening they had arrived at was probably Brown's Hole. There is only
one other place that might be called an opening, and this is a small
park-like break on the right side of the river, not far above Brown's
Hole, formerly called Little Brown's Hole and also Ashley Park. The
Ashley men would have had a hard climb to get out of this place, and
it is not probable that Provo would have climbed into it, as no beaver
existed there. It seems positive, then, that Ashley came to Provo in
Brown's Hole. Thus he did not "make his perillous way through Brown's
Hole," as one author says, because he ended his journey with the
beginning of that peaceful park. They lost two of their boats and
several guns in Red Canyon, and Ashley left there a mark to identify the
time of his passage. He wrote his name and the date, 1825, on a large
rock above a sharp fall, which was (later, 1869,) named in his honour.
I saw this inscription in 1871 and made a careful copy of it, which is
given here. See also the illustration of Ashley Falls on page 113. The
location of it is just west of C in the words "Red Canon" on the map,
page 109. In the canyon of Lodore, at the foot of Disaster Falls, we
found some wreckage in the sand, a bake-oven, tin plates, knives, etc.,
which Powell first saw in 1869, but these could not have belonged to
Ashley's party, for plainly Ashley did not enter Lodore at all. It was
evidently from some later expedition which probably started from Brown's
Park, in the days of Fort Davy Crockett.

    * Wm. Henry Ashley, born in Virginia, 1778; went to Missouri 1802;
general of militia; elected first governor 1820; went into fur trade
1822 with Andrew Henry; elected to Congress 1831; twice re-elected;
continued in office till March 4, 1837.--Chittenden.

    ** Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, edited by T. D.
Bonner. Beckwourth was always called "Beckwith" in the mountains, but
this was probably only a perversion of the original, though Chittenden
seems to think he only assumed the former spelling on publishing his

Provo had plenty of horses, and Ashley and his men joined him going out
to Salt Lake, where Provo had come from.

The year following Ashley's attempt to trap Green River was a most
eventful one in the history of the Colorado. Time appeared to be ripe
for great journeys. The Mexicans outside of California were more amiably
inclined, and granted privileges to trappers in New Mexico. Two men who
were among the first to push their way into New Mexico were James O.
Pattie and his father, and the narrative of their experiences as told by
the younger Pattie is one of the most thrilling and interesting books
of Western adventure ever published.* They had trapped on the Gila, or
"Helay," as they called it in 1825, and the next year they went
back there with a party, trapping the Gila and its tributaries with
gratifying success.** Working their way down the Gila, they eventually
reached its junction with what they called Red River, the Great
Colorado. Following up the Colorado, probably the first white men
to travel here since the time of Garces, they rode through a camp of
Coco-Maricopas, who ran frightened away, and the Pattie party, passing
them by as if they were mere chaff, camped four miles farther on, where
they were visited by about one hundred, "all painted red in token of
amity." Farther up they entered the Mohave country. When they met some
of the inhabitants they "marched directly through their village, the
women and children screaming and hiding themselves in their huts." Three
miles above, the Patties camped, and a number of the Mohaves soon came
to see them. They did not like the looks of the chief, who made signs
that he wanted a horse as payment for the privilege of trapping in his
domain. As the trappers recognised no rights on the part of the natives,
they peremptorily refused, whereat the chief drew himself erect with
a stern and fierce air and sent an arrow into a tree, at the same time
"raising his hand to his mouth and making their peculiar yell." The
captain of the Pattie band replied by taking his gun and shooting the
arrow in two. Driven out of the camp the following day, the chief shot
a horse as he rode past it and was himself instantly pierced with four
rifle balls.

    * The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie, of Kentucky, etc.,
edited by Timothy Flint. Cincinnati, E. H. Flint, 1833. There is a copy
in the Astor Library, New York.

    * There were two classes of trappers, the free and those in the
employ of some company. The Patties belonged to the former class.

A band of his followers, armed, of course, with only bows and arrows,
next day made a concerted attack, but were cut down by the rifles and
fine marksmanship of the Americans. As these Mohaves had been good
friends to Garces, and afterwards treated Americans well till they were
instigated by the Spaniards to fight, it is probable that a somewhat
more conciliatory approach might have avoided the trouble this party

Farther up they reached the "Shuenas," who had apparently never before
heard the report of a gun, and on the 25th of March they arrived at what
we now call Bill Williams Fork. A party was sent up this stream to
trap. As they did not return next day according to the plan, scouts
were dispatched, who found the bodies cut to pieces and spitted before a
great fire.

On the 28th of March they came to a place on the river where "the
mountains shut in so close upon its shores that we were compelled to
climb a mountain and travel along the aclivity, the river still in
sight, and at an immense depth beneath us." This was probably Black
Canyon; they are the first white men on record to reach it. They now
took a remarkable journey of fourteen days, but unfortunately little
detail is given, probably because Pattie's editor considered a cut
across the country of little importance. They travelled, they thought,
one hundred leagues along these canyons, with the "river bluffs on the
opposite shore never more than a mile" from them.* Thus they evidently
did not see the Grand Canyon at its widest part. By April 10th they
arrived "where the river emerges from these horrid mountains, which so
cage it up as to deprive all human beings of the ability to descend
to its banks and make use of its waters. No mortal has the power of
describing the pleasure I felt when I could once more reach the banks
of the river." They had suffered for food on this journey, but now they
were again in a beaver country and also killed plenty of elk, the skins
of which they dressed for clothing. They had made the first extended
trip on record along the Grand Canyon and the other canyons of the
Colorado, but whether they passed up by the north or the south I am
unable to determine. My impression is that they passed by the north, as
they would otherwise have met with the Havasupai in their Canyon, with
the Little Colorado, and with the Moki. They would also have struck the
San Juan, but the first stream mentioned as coming in is from the north,
which they reached three days after arriving at the place where they
could get to the water. Three days after leaving this they met a large
body of Shoshones. They appear now to be somewhere on Grand River. They
had a brush with the Shoshones, whom they defeated, and then compelled
the women to exchange six scalps of Frenchmen whom the Shoshones had
killed on the headwaters of the Platte, for scalps of members of their
own party of whom the Patties had killed eight; They also took from them
all the stolen beaver-skins, five mules, and their dried buffalo meat.
After this interchange of civilities the trappers went on to where the
river forked again, neither fork being more than twenty-five or thirty
yards wide. The right-hand-fork pursued a north-east course, and
following it four days brought them (probably in Middle Park) to a large
village of the "Nabahoes." Of these they inquired as to the pass over
the mountains (Continental Divide) and were informed they must follow
the left-hand fork, which they accordingly did, and on the thirty-first
day of May, 1826, came to the gap, which they traversed, by following
the buffalo trails through the snow, in six days. Then they descended
to the Platte, and went on north to the Yellowstone, making in all
a traverse of the whole Rocky Mountain region probably never since
surpassed, and certainly never before approached. A few months later a
lieutenant of the British Navy, R. W. H. Hardy, travelling in Mexico,
chartered in the port of Guaymas a twenty-five-ton schooner, the Bruja
or Sea Witch, and sailed up the Gulf of California. Encountering a good
deal of trouble in high winds and shoals he finally reached a vein
of reddish water which he surmised came from "Red River," and at two
o'clock of the same day he saw an opening ahead which he took to be
the mouth of the river. An hour later all doubt was dispelled, and by
half-past six he came to anchor for the night at the entrance, believing
the tide to be at nearly low water. "In the middle of the night," he
says, "I was awakened by the dew and the noise of jackals. I took this
opportunity of examining the lead which had been left hanging alongside,
to see what water we had. What was my astonishment to find only a foot
and a half. The crew was sound asleep. Not even the sentinel was able
to keep his eyes open." They got off without damage at the rise of the
tide, but the next day misfortune awaited the schooner. The helmsman
neglecting his duty for a moment as they were working up the stream, the
vessel lost headway, and the fierce current immediately swept her, stern
foremost, into the bank and broke the rudder. After much labour the
Bruja was finally again placed in the stream, where they waited
for slack water, expecting then to ship the rudder. "But in the Rio
Colorado," he declares with italics, "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SLACK
WATER. Before the ebb has finished running the flood commences, boiling
up full eighteen inches above the surface and roaring like the rapids
of Canada." Had he known what we now know he might have found a simile
nearer his position at the moment. Finding he could make no further
progress with the a schooner, he took a small boat and continued his
voyage in it, though not for any great distance, as he returned to the
vessel at night. Five or six thousand Yumas were seen, but they were
entirely friendly. He thought the mouth of the Gila was below his
stranded vessel, but he was mistaken in this, for it was in reality
a great many miles farther up. What he took for the Gila was the main
Colorado itself, and what he thought was the Colorado was only a bayou
or flood-water channel. It being midsummer the river was at flood. The
bayou is still called the False or Hardy's Colorado.

    * "It is perhaps this very long and formidable range of mountains,"
says Pattie, "which has caused that this country of Red River has not
been more explored," p. 98.

After eight days of waiting they at last got their rudder shipped, the
vessel on the tide, and went back down the stream, one of the Yuma women
swimming after them till taken on board. She was landed at the first
opportunity. The interpreter told Hardy his was the first vessel that
had ever visited the river, and that they took it for a large bird. The
lieutenant was evidently not posted on the history of the region, and
the Yuma was excusable for not having a memory that went back eighty
years.* Hardy gave some of the names that still hold on that part of the
river, like Howard's Reach, where his Bruja was stranded, Montague and
Gore Islands, etc.

    * Fernando Consag entered the river, 1746, looking for mission sites,
and two centuries before that was Alarcon.

The same month that Hardy sailed away from the mouth of the Colorado,
August, 1826, Jedediah Smith started from Salt Lake (the 22d), passed
south by Ashley's or Utah Lake, and, keeping down the west side of
the Wasatch and the High Plateaus, reached the Virgen River near the
south-western corner of Utah. This he called Adams River in honour of
the President of the United States. Following it south-west through the
Pai Ute country for twelve days he came to its junction with what he
called the Seedskeedee, knowing it to be the same stream so called in
the north. This was the Colorado. Proceeding down the Colorado to
the Mohaves he was kindly received by them and remained some time
recuperating his stock. It may seem strange that the Mohaves should be
so perverse, killing one set of trappers and treating another like old
friends, but the secret of the difference on this occasion, perhaps,
lay in the difference of approach. Jedediah Smith was a sort of
reincarnation of the old padres, and of all the trappers the only one
apparently who allowed piety or humanitarianism to sway his will. His
piety was universally known. It was not an affectation, but a genuine
religion which he carried about with him into the fastnesses of the
mountains. Leaving the Mohaves he crossed the desert to the Californian
coast, where he afterwards had trouble with the authorities, who seemed
to bear a grudge against all American trappers, and who seized every
opportunity to maltreat and rob them. This, however, did not prevent
Smith from returning again after a visit to the northern rendezvous.
But while crossing the Colorado, the Mohaves, who had meanwhile been
instigated to harass Americans by the Spaniards (so it is said),
attacked the expedition, killing ten men and capturing everything. Smith
escaped to be afterwards killed on the Cimarron by the Comanches.

Pattie and his father again entered the Gila country in the autumn of
1827, with permission from the governor of New Mexico to trap. After
they had gone down the Gila a considerable distance the party split up,
each band going in different directions, and after numerous adventures
the Patties and their adherents arrived at the Colorado, where their
horses were stampeded by the tribe living at the mouth of the Gila,
the "Umeas." They were left without a single animal, a most serious
predicament in a wild country. The elder Pattie counselled pursuit on
foot to recapture the horses or die in the attempt. But the effort was
fruitless. They then made their way back to their camp, devoured their
last morsel of meat, placed their guns on a raft, and swam the river
to annihilate the village they saw on the opposite bank. The Yumas,
however, had anticipated this move, and the trappers found there only
one poor old man, whom they spared. Setting fire to every hut in the
village, except that of the old man, they had the small satisfaction of
watching them burn. There was now no hope either of regaining the horses
or of fighting the Yumas, so they devoted their attention, to building
canoes for the purpose of escaping by descending the Colorado. For this
they possessed tools, trappers often having occasion to use a canoe in
the prosecution of their work. They soon had finished eight, dugouts
undoubtedly, though Pattie does not say so, and they already had one
which Pattie had made on the Gila. Uniting these by platforms in pairs
they embarked upon them with all their furs and traps, leaving their
saddles hidden on the bank.

On the 9th of December (1827)* they started, probably the first
navigators of this part of the river since Alarcon, 287 years before.
That night they set forty traps and were rewarded with thirty-six
beaver. Such good luck decided them to travel slowly with the current,
about four miles an hour, "and trap the river clear." The stream was
about two hundred to three hundred yards wide, with bottoms extending
back from six to ten miles, giving good camp-grounds all along. With
abundance of fat beaver meat and so many pelts added to their store
they forgot their misfortunes and began to count on reaching the Spanish
settlements they thought existed near the mouth of the river. Sometimes
their traps yielded as many as sixty beaver in a night, and finally they
were obliged to halt and make another canoe. So they went slowly down,
occasionally killing a couple of hostile natives, or deer, panthers,
foxes, or wild-cats. One animal is described as like an African leopard,
the first they had ever seen. At length they came to a tribe much
shorter of stature than the Yumas, and friendly. These were probably
Cocopas. Not a patch of clothing existed in the whole band, and Pattie's
men gave the women some old shirts, intimating, as well as they could,
that they ought to wear some covering. These people were well formed,
and many of the women had exceptionally fine figures if the judgment of
the trappers can be trusted in this respect. When a gun was fired
they either fell prostrate or ran away, so little did they know about
firearms. The chief had a feast of young dog prepared for his guests,
who partook of it with reluctance. All communication was by signs, and
when the chief imitated the beating of surf and drew a cow and a sheep
in the sand, pointing west, they thought they were at last nearing the
longed-for Spanish settlements, and went on their way joyfully. Little
did they imagine that the settlements the chief described were far off
on the Californian coast.

    * The reader may think I introduce too many year-dates but I have
found most books so lacking in this regard that I prefer to err on the
other side.

The new year, 1828, came in and still they were going down the river,
taking many beaver. As a New Year's greeting a shower of arrows from a
new tribe, the Pipis, fell amongst them. The trappers killed six of them
at one volley, and the rest ran away, leaving twenty-three beautiful
longbows behind. The only clothing the dead men had on was snail-shells
fastened to the ends of their long locks of hair. The trappers now began
to seek more anxiously for the mythical settlements. "A great many times
each day," says Pattie, "we bring our crafts to the shore and go out to
see if we cannot discover the tracks of horses and cattle." On the 18th
they thought some inundated river entering was the cause of a slackening
of the current, and finally they began to rig oars, thinking they would
now be obliged to work to get on down-stream, but presently, to their
surprise, the current doubled its rate and they were going along at six
miles an hour. None of them had ever had any experience with tides, and
they therefore failed to fathom the real cause of these singular changes
of speed. Suddenly, as they were descending, people of the same tribe
they had fired on stood on the shore and shouted, making signs for them
to land, that their boats would be capsized, but, thinking it a scheme
for robbery and murder, they kept on, though they refrained from
shooting. Late in the evening they landed, making their camp on a low
point where the canoes with their rich cargoes were tied to some trees.
Pattie's father took the first watch, and in the night, hearing a
roaring noise that he thought indicated a sudden storm, he roused his
companions, and all was prepared for a heavy rain, when, instead, to
their great consternation, the camp was inundated by "a high ridge of
water over which came the sea current combing down like water over a
mill-dam." The canoes were almost capsized, but this catastrophe was
averted by rapid and good management. Even in the darkness, in the face
of a danger unexpected and unknown, the trappers never for an instant
lost their coolness and quick judgment, which was so often their
salvation. Paddling the canoes under the trees, they clung to the
branches, but when the tide went out the boats were all high and dry.
At last the day dawned bright and fair, enabling them to see what had
happened, and when the tide once more returned, they got the canoes out
of the trap. They now proceeded with the ebb tide, stopping with the
beginning of the flood, constantly on the lookout for the Spanish
settlements, and not till the 28th, when they saw before them such a
commotion of waters that their small craft would be instantly engulfed,
and wide sandy stretches, perfectly barren, all round, did they realise
what a mistake they had made.

"The fierce billows," says Pattie, "shut us in from below, the river
current from above, and murderous savages on either hand on the shore.
We had a rich cargo of furs, a little independence for each one of us
could we have disposed of them among the Spanish people whom we expected
to have found here. There were no such settlements. Every side on
which we looked offered an array of danger, famine, or death. In this
predicament what were furs to us." In order to escape they worked
their way back up the river as far as they could by rowing, poling, and
towing, but on February 10th they met a great rise which put a stop to
progress. They now abandoned the canoes, buried the furs in deep
pits, and headed for the coast settlements of California. After many
vicissitudes, which I am unable to relate here, they finally arrived,
completely worn out, at the Spanish mission of St. Catherine. Now they
believed their troubles were over, and that after recuperating they
could go back, bring in their furs, dispose of them handsomely, and reap
the reward of all their privation and toil. Not so, however. Indeed,
the worst of their trials was now to come. Before they comprehended the
intention the Spanish official had seized their rifles and the men
were locked up with only the commonest fare to relieve their suffering.
Cruelty followed cruelty, but they believed it was the mistake of the
minor officers, and appealed to the general in charge at San Diego,
expecting an order from him for release. Instead of this they were
marched under guard to San Diego, where each was confined in a separate
room, frustrating their plan to recapture their arms and fight their way
out. Pattie's father presently became ill, and no amount of entreaty was
sufficient to gain permission for the son to see him even for a moment.
He died in his cell. After much argument and the intercession of some of
the minor officers, Pattie was permitted liberty long enough to attend
the funeral. At last the men were allowed to go back for the furs, which
no doubt the wily general intended to confiscate, Pattie himself being
retained as a hostage. But the furs had been ruined by a rise of the
river. Smallpox then began to rage on the coast, and through this fact
Pattie finally gained his freedom. Having with him a quantity of vaccine
virus, he was able to barter skill in vaccinating the populace for
liberty, though it was tardily and grudgingly granted. He was able, at
length, to get away from California, and returned, broken in health
and penniless, by way of the City of Mexico, to his old home near
Cincinnati, after six years of extraordinary travel through the wildest
portions of the Rocky Mountain region and the extreme Southwest.

In the year 1826, an afterwards famous personage appeared in the valley
of the Colorado, on the Gila branch, being no less than Kit Carson,*
one of the greatest scouts and trappers of all. At this time he was but
seventeen years old, though in sagacity, knowledge, and skill soon the
equal of any trapper in the field. In 1827, Ewing Young, another noted
trapper, having been driven away from the Gila by the natives, organised
a company of forty men to go back and punish them, which meant to kill
all they could see, innocent or guilty. Carson was one of this party.
They succeeded in killing fifteen of the offenders, after which slight
diversion they went on down the stream, trapping it as they went, but
finally, running short of provisions, they had to eat horses. Arriving
among the Mohaves, they obtained food from them, and proceeded across
to San Gabriel Mission, to which place after trapping up the Sacramento
Valley, they again returned, in season to assist the Spaniards to reduce
the natives around the settlement to submission. This was accomplished
by the simple method of killing one-third of them.

    * Life of Kit Carson, by Charles Burdett. There are several Lives by
other biographers.

Limited space prohibits my recounting the exploits of even the smaller
part of the trappers of this period, but with what follows I believe
the reader will possess a sufficient picture of the life of the Rocky
Mountain Trapper at this time.* A trail from Santa Fe to California was
opened by way of what is now Gunnison Valley on Green River, and thence
west by about the same route that Jedediah Smith followed, that is, down
the Virgen River, by William Wolfskill who went out by this route to
Los Angeles, in 1830.** There were trappers now in every part of the
wilderness, excepting always the canyons of the Green and Colorado,
which were given a wide berth as their forbidding character became
better known; and as time went on the stories of those who had here
and there looked into the angry depths, or had essayed a tilt with the
furious rapids at one or two northern points, were enlarged upon, and,
like all unknown things, the terrors became magnified.

    * The reader is referred for exact details to the admirable work by
H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West.

    ** H. H. Bancroft says 1831-2.

It was in 1832 that Captain Bonneville entered Green River Valley, but
as his exploits belong more properly to the valley of the Columbia, I
shall not attempt to mention any of them here, referring the reader to
the delightful account by Washington Irving.

In May, 1839, a traveller who was a careful observer, Thomas J. Farnham,
went from New Mexico across the mountains to Brown's Hole en route for
Oregon, and a portion of his narrative* is of deep interest in this
connection, because his guide, Kelly, gave him some account of the Green
and Colorado, which reflects the amount of real knowledge then possessed
concerning the canyon-river.

    * Travels in the Great Western Prairies, the Anahuac and Rocky
Mountains, and in the Oregon Territory, by Thomas J. Farnham. There is a
copy in the library of Columbia University, New York.

"The Grand unites with the Seedskeedee or Green River to form the
Colorado of the West. From the junction of these branches the Colorado
has a general course from the north-east to the south-west of seven
hundred miles to the head of the Gulf of California. Four hundred of
this seven hundred miles is an almost unbroken chasm of kenyon, with
perpendicular sides hundreds of feet in height, at the bottom of which
the waters rush over continuous cascades. This kenyon terminates thirty
[should be three hundred] miles above the gulf. To this point the river
is navigable. The country on each side of its whole course is a rolling
desert of loose brown earth, on which the rains and the dews never fall.
A few years since, two Catholic missionaries and their servants on their
way from the mountains to California, attempted to descend the Colorado.
They have never been seen since the morning they commenced their fatal

"A party of trappers and others made a strong boat and manned it well
with the determination of floating down the river to take beaver that
they supposed lived along its banks. But they found themselves in such
danger after entering the kenyon that with might and main they thrust
their trembling boat ashore and succeeded in leaping upon the crags and
lightening it before it was swallowed in the dashing torrent."

They had a difficult time in getting out of the canyon, but finally,
by means of ropes and by digging steps with their rifle barrels, they
reached the open country and made their way back to the starting-point.
This was, possibly, the expedition which was wrecked in Lodore, after
Ashley's Red Canyon trip. I have not succeeded in finding any other
account that would fit that place. Arriving at Fort Davy Crockett, in
Brown's Park, he describes it as "a hollow square of one-storey log
cabins, with roofs and floor of mud. Around these we found the conical
skin lodges of the squaws of the white trappers who were away on their
fall hunt, and also the lodges of a few Snake Indians who had preceded
their tribe to this their winter haunt. Here also were the lodges of Mr.
Robinson, a trader, who usually stations himself here to traffic with
the Indians and white trappers. His skin lodge was his warehouse, and
buffalo robes spread on the ground his counter, on which he displayed
his butcher knives, hatchets, powder, lead, fish-hooks, and whiskey.
In exchange for these articles he received beaver skins from trappers,
money from travellers, and horses from the Indians. Thus, as one would
believe, Mr. Robinson drives a very snug little business. And, indeed,
when all the independent trappers are driven by the appearance of winter
into this delightful retreat, and the whole Snake village, two thousand
or three thousand strong, impelled by the same necessity, pitch their
lodges around the fort and the dances and merrymakings of a long winter
are thoroughly commenced, there is no want of customers."

With this happy picture of frontier luxury in the trapper period I will
close the scene. Unwittingly, but no less thoroughly, the trappers had
accomplished a mission: they had opened the gates of the wilderness.
Two-thirds of these intrepid spirits had left their bones on the field,
but theirs had been the privilege of seeing the priscan glory of the

Note.--Near the emigrant crossing of Green River, in Wyoming, early in
1849, a party bound for California discovered an old scow ferry-boat,
twelve feet long and about six feet wide, with two oars. Deciding to
complete their journey by water they embarked. Later they built canoes.
They were: William Lewis Manly (aged 29); M. S. McMahon; Charles and
Joseph Hazelrig; Richard Field; Alfred Watson; and John Rogers. Manly's
account appears entirely truthful. He tells of canyons, rapids, etc.,
till near the mouth of Uinta River they met the Ute chief Walker (Wakar)
who explained by signs that the fury of the river below was worse than
above, and all but two gave up. These two, McMahon and Field, stopped
with the Utes, intending to continue. The others went to Salt Lake.
Wakar (whom McMahon calls "the generous old chief") repeated his
warnings. Field lost courage, and finally McMahon also abandoned the
desire. Manly's story (first published in the Santa Clara Valley Weekly)
is given in his book Death Valley in '49. The volume was edited by the
late Henry L. Brainard, head of the San Jose, California, company which,
in 1894, published it. It was Mr. Brainard who secured the story from
Manly for the Weekly. Mrs. Brainard says of Manly: "He was one of the
dearest old men; kind, loving, gentle, as one seldom meets in this
world. It was a pleasure to meet and know him. His character was
unblemished." At one place which I identify as lower Disaster Falls,
Canyon of Lodore, they came to a deserted camp, "a skiff and some heavy
cooking utensils, with a notice posted on an alder [box-elder] tree,
saying that they had found the river route impracticable... and were
about to start overland to Salt Lake." Manly took down the signed names
of this party but his diary was later lost by fire. Apparently the
cooking utensils, etc., were the same we saw twenty-two years later at
that place and thought were wreckage (see p. 255). Manly died February
5, 1903, and is buried at Merced, California.


Fremont, the Pathfinder--Ownership of the Colorado--The Road of the
Gold Seekers--First United States Military Post, 1849--Steam
Navigation--Captain Johnson Goes to the Head of Black Canyon.

The great Western wilderness was now no longer "unknown" to white men.
By the year 1840 the American had traversed it throughout, excepting the
canyons of the Colorado, which yet remained, at least below the mouth
of Grand River, almost as much of a problem as before the fur trade
was born. Like some antediluvian monster the wild torrent stretched a
foaming barrier miles on miles from the mountains of the north to the
seas of the south, fortified in a rock-bound lair, roaring defiance at
conquistadore, padre, and trapper alike.

Till now the trappers and fur companies had been the chief travellers
through this strange, weird land, but as the fourth decade of the
century fairly opens, a new kind of pioneer appears suddenly on the
field; a pioneer with motives totally different from those of the
preceding explorers. Proselyting or profit had been heretofore the
main spurs to ambition, but the commanding figure which we now observe
scanning, from the majestic heights of the Wind River range, the
labyrinthian maze of unlocated, unrecorded mountains, valleys, rivers,
and canyons, rolling far and away to the surf of the Pacific, is imbued
with a broader purpose. His mission is to know. The immediately previous
elements drifted across the scene like rifle-smoke on the morning
breeze, making no more impression on the world's knowledge. They
recorded little, and, so far as information was concerned, they might
almost as well never have set foot in the wilderness. But the new man
records everything: the wind, the cold, the clouds, the trees, the
grass, the mice, the men, the worms, the birds, etc., to the end of
his time and his ability. He is the real explorer, the advance guard of
those many expeditions which followed and whose labours form the fourth
division of our subject. Fremont is the name, since that time called
"Pathfinder," though, of course, the paths he followed had often before
been travelled by the redoubtable trapper, whose knowledge, like that of
the native, was personal only. Indeed, he was guided in his journeys
by several men now quite as famous as himself--Kit Carson, Fitzpatrick,
Walker, and Godey. But the field was still new to the world and to
science. Quite appropriately, one of the highest peaks from which the
Colorado draws its first waters, is now distinguished by the name of
the earliest scientific observer to enter its basin. Fremont came up the
North Platte and the Sweetwater branch, crossing (1842) from that
stream by the South Pass thirty-four years after Andrew Henry had first
traversed it, over to the headwaters of the Colorado. The ascent to
South Pass is very gradual, and there is no gorge or defile. The total
width is about twenty miles. A day or two later Fremont climbed out of
the valley on the flank of the Wind River Mountains. "We had reached a
very elevated point," he says; "and in the valley below and among the
hills were a number of lakes at different levels; some two or three
hundred feet above others, with which they communicated by foaming
torrents. Even to our great height the roar of the cataracts came up,
and we could see them leaping down in lines of snowy foam." Thus are
the rills and the rivulets from the summits collected in these beautiful
alpine lakes to give birth to the Colorado in white cascades, typical,
at the very fountainhead, of the turbulence of the waters which have
rent for themselves a trough of rock to the gulf.* Springing from these
clear pools and seething falls, shadowed by sombre pines and granite
crags, its course is run through plunging rapids to the final assault
on the sea, where wide sand-barrens and desolation prevail. Fremont
understood this from his guides and says: "Lower down, from Brown's
Hole to the southward, the river runs through lofty chasms, walled in by
precipices of red rock." The descent

"of the Colorado is but little known, and that little derived from vague
report. Three hundred miles of its lower part, as it approaches the Gulf
of California, is reported to be smooth and tranquil; but its upper part
is manifestly broken into many falls and rapids. From many descriptions
of trappers it is probable that in its foaming course among its lofty
precipices, it presents many scenes of wild grandeur; and though
offering many temptations, and often discussed, no trappers have yet
been found bold enough to undertake a voyage which has so certain a
prospect of fatal termination."

    * These mountains, as the glacial accumulations began to permanently
diminish, must have annually sent a long-continued huge flood of water
down the rivers heading there.

He was mistaken about the trappers, not having ventured, for, as we have
seen, there are traces of at least three parties: that of Ashley, that
of the missionaries mentioned by Farnham, the trappers also mentioned
by him, and the one indicated by the wreckage discovered in Lodore by
Powell's expeditions, though the latter and that mentioned by Farnham
are possibly the same.

The fur trade, which up to about 1835 was principally in beaver skins,
had now somewhat changed, and buffalo robes were the chief article of
traffic. But the buffalo were also beginning to diminish. They were no
longer found on the western slope of the mountains, and no wonder, as
the fur companies ANNUALLY gathered in about ninety thousand marketable
skins during the ten years ending with 1842, yet it was only those
animals killed in the cold months whose pelts were suitable for the fur
business. The largest number of buffalo were killed in the summer months
for other purposes; therefore one is not surprised that they were soon
exterminated in the Colorado River Valley, where they never were as
numerous as on the plains, and apparently never went west of the mouth
of White River.

Fremont went over to the California region, returning through Nevada by
way of the Spanish Trail, past Las Vegas (see cut, page 137), and up the
Virgen, which he called the most dreary river he had ever seen, till he
reached the point where Escalante had turned east. From here he followed
Escalante's trail back to Utah Lake, passing through Mountain Meadows
(1844), afterward the scene of the terrible massacre of emigrants by a
body of Mormons under John D. Lee.* His route was full of interesting
adventures, but it is not possible to give details here.** Passing over
the Wasatch by way of Spanish Fork, he again entered the valley of the
Colorado on the head-waters of the Uinta, pausing briefly at Roubidoux's
Fort on Uinta River. Soon after he left, the fort and its occupants were
annihilated by the Utes. Crossing Ashley Fork he climbed on the trail
high up the mountain, where he had "a view of the river below shut up
amongst rugged mountains;" Whirlpool Canyon and the Canyon of Lodore.
Descending then to Brown's Hole, he crossed the river in a skin boat,
and camped just above Vermilion Creek, opposite the remains of an "old
fort," which was doubtless Fort Davy Crockett. "Here the river enters
between lofty precipices of red rock" (now the Gate of Lodore), "and the
country below is said to assume a very rugged character; the river and
its affluents passing through canons which forbid all access to the
water." After journeying to the head of the Platte, and south through
the Parks, he went east by the Arkansas, and came again in 1845 to cross
the Green a little farther south on his way to California.

    * For an account of this unfortunate affair see The Rocky Mountain
Saints, chapter xliii., by T. B. H. Stenhouse. I knew Lee. Personally
he was an agreeable man, and to me he disclaimed responsibility in this

    ** See Fremont and '49 by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

By this time the relations between the United States and Mexico were at
the point of rupture, and in 1846 Kearny's forces moved on New Mexico
and California, the Mormon Battalion marking out a waggon-road down the
Gila. Fremont, being in California, took an active part (1846) in the
capture of the region, but the story of that episode does not belong
here, and may be found in any history of California. The same year
in which the formal treaty of peace was signed (1848) another event
occurred which was destined to have a vast influence on the whole
country and lead streams of emigrants to the new Dorado across the
broad wastes of the Colorado Valley; gold in enormous quantities was
discovered on Sutler's California ranch. There were three chief routes
from the "States" across the wilderness of the Colorado River basin:
one down the Gila to the Yuma country, another by South Pass and so on
around Salt Lake and down the Humboldt, and the third also by South Pass
and Salt Lake and thence south, by Mountain Meadows and west by the
Old Spanish Trail. On the northern road Jim Bridger had, in 1843,
established a trading post on Ham's Fork of Black's Fork of Green River,
and this now was a welcome stopping-place for many of the emigrants,*
while on the southern trail a temporary ferry was established at
the mouth of the Gila by Lieut. Cave J. Coutts, who had arrived in
September, 1849, commanding an escort for some boundary surveyors under
Lieutenant Whipple. For a couple of months he rendered great assistance
to the stream of weary emigrants, who had reached this point on their
long journey to the Golden Country of their dreams. A flatboat, built
on the shore of Lake Michigan, and there fitted with wheels so that it
could be used as a waggon on land, was launched on the Gila at the
Pima villages and came safely down to the Colorado, bearing its owners.
Coutts is said to have purchased this boat and used it till he left,
which was not long after. The junction now began to be a busy place. The
United States troops came and went, occupying the site of Coutt's
Camp Calhoun, which Major Heintzelman, November, 1850, called Camp
Independence. In March, 1851, he re-established his command on the spot
where the futile Spanish mission of Garces's time had stood, and this
was named Fort Yuma. It was abandoned again in the autumn of the year,
as had been done with the camps of the previous seasons, but when
Heintzelman returned in the spring of 1852 he made it a permanent
military post.

    * Brigham Young and his followers crossed to the Salt Lake Valley in

Meanwhile a gang of freebooters, who left Texas in 1849, found their
way to this point and acquired or established a ferry two or three miles
below the old mission site. Their settlement was called Fort Defiance in
contempt for the Yumas. They were led by one Doctor Craig. They robbed
the Yumas of their wives and dominated the region as they pleased.
Captain Hobbs,* a mountaineer who was at Yuma in 1851, says:

"The attack which wiped out this miserable band was planned by two young
Mexicans, who had attempted to cross the ferry with their wives, and had
them taken from them and detained by the Texans. The Mexicans went down
the river and the desperadoes supposed they had gone their way and left
their wives in their hands. But they only went far enough to find the
chief of the tribe who had suffered so horribly at the hands of this
gang, and arrange for an attack on their common enemy."

    * Wild Life in the Far West, by Captain James Hobbs.

By this plan twenty-three out of the twenty-five whites, including the
master scoundrel himself. Dr. Craig, were destroyed with little loss to
the attacking party. Hobbs calls this the best thing the Yumas ever did.
It took place only a month before Hobbs reached the ferry, and only
two or three days before one of the periodical returns of United States
troops, this time a company of dragoons under Captain Hooper, probably
belonging to Heintzelman's command. To him the two escaped desperadoes
came with a complaint against the Yumas, but the captain was posted and
he put the men in irons to be transported to California for trial. The
Yumas now established a ferry by using an old army-waggon box which
they made water-tight, as the Craig Ferry had suffered the fate of its
owners. Hobbs employed the Yumas to take his party over, the horses
swimming, and the arrangement seems to have worked very well.

According to Hobbs, the first steamboat came up the river while he
was there, frightening the Yumas so that they ran for their lives,
exclaiming the devil was coming, blowing fire and smoke out of his nose,
and kicking back with his feet in the water. It was the stern-wheel
steamboat Yuma, and this is the only mention of it I can find. It had
supplies for the troops, but what became of it afterward I do not know.
This was evidently before the coming of the Uncle Sam, usually credited
with being the first steamboat on the Colorado, which did not arrive
till a year after the reconnaissance of the river mouth by Lieutenant
Derby of the Topographical Engineers, for the War Department, seeking a
route for the water transportation of supplies to Fort Yuma, now
ordered to be a permanent military establishment. He came up the river
a considerable distance, in the topsail schooner Invincible and made
a further advance in his small boats. The only guide he had to the
navigation of the river was Hardy's book, referred to in a previous
chapter, which assisted him a good deal. He arrived at the mouth
December 23, 1850. "The land," he says, "was plainly discernible on both
coasts of the gulf, on the California side bold and mountainous, but on
the Mexican low and sandy." There could, therefore, never, have been any
doubt in the minds of any of those who had previously reached this point
as to the character of Lower California. The Invincible sailed daily up
the river with the flood tide, anchoring during the ebb, and they got on
very well till the night of January 1, 1851, when the vessel grounded at
the ebb,

"swung round on her heel, and, thumping violently, was carried by the
tide (dragging her anchor) some two or three miles, grounding finally
upon the shoal of Gull Island. At flood tide sail was made on her as
soon as she floated, and we succeeded in getting her back into the
channel. As the vessel grounded at every ebb tide and on the return
of the water was violently swung around, thumping on her bottom and
swinging on her anchor, I began to see that it would be neither prudent,
or in fact possible, to ascend the river much higher, and we accordingly
commenced making preparations for a boating expedition."*

    * Reconnaissance of the Gulf of California and the Colorado River
made in 1850-51, by Lieut. G. H. Derby. Ex. Doc, 81, 32nd Congress, 1st
Session, Senate.

The ebb tide ran at the rate of five and a half miles an hour, and the
next day they saw, as it was running out, the "bore," or tidal wave,
booming in to meet and overwhelm it.

"A bank of water some four feet in height, extending clear across the
river, was seen approaching us with equal velocity; this huge comber
wave came steadily onward, occasionally breaking as it rushed over
shoals of Gull and Pelican islands; passing the vessel, which it swung
around on its course, it continued up the river. The phenomenon was of
daily occurrence until about the time of neap tides."

At Howard's Point the vessel was anchored while the party continued the
exploration in the small boat. The Cocopas whom they met were entirely
friendly. These people wore no clothing beyond the breechcloth, and were
plastered from head to foot with mud. The width of the river varied
from two hundred yards to half a mile. At one place they passed a Cocopa
village, near which lay an old scow made from waggon-boxes which
had floated down from the ferry at Yuma. On the 13th they met Major
Heintzelman coming down-stream, and as he had taken field notes Derby
considered it unnecessary for him to proceed, and they went back in
company to the ship, arriving there the same afternoon. The vessel was
then worked three miles farther up, where her cargo was discharged to be
taken by teams to the fort. Heintzelman was accompanied by a Dr. Ogden
and a Mr. Henchelwood, "proprietors of the ferry." The Craig gang had
been destroyed earlier this year, and these men had probably established
a new ferry. While lying at this berth, the vessel was roughly tumbled
about by the tidal wave, till she broke from her anchor and drifted
rapidly up-stream. This was the highest and most powerful spring tide,
and the situation was full of peril. The captain, Wilcox, calmly took
the helm himself, steered toward the bank and ordered his men to leap to
the ground from the jib-boom, carrying the kedge anchor. By this means
the mad rush of the vessel was stopped, and by the use of logs and
cables she was kept a safe distance from the bank. When the stores were
finally landed they turned gratefully but apprehensively toward the sea,
which they happily reached again without serious mishap.

A little later this same year (1851) George A. Johnson came to the mouth
of the river on the schooner Sierra Nevada with further supplies for the
fort, including lumber for the construction of flatboats with which to
go up to the post. Johnson afterwards ran steamers on the river for a
number of years, but he was not the first to attempt steam-navigation
here, that honour resting with Turnbull who built the Uncle Sam.

Many of the emigrants, dreaming of ease and prosperity as they trudged
their long course across the desolation of the South-west, never lived
to touch the golden sands of wonderful California, but expired by the
way, often at the hands of the Apache or of some other cutthroat tribe.
One of the saddest cases was that of Royse Oatman, who, en route with
his large family, was massacred (1851) on the spot now known as Oatman's
Flat, not far below the great bend of the Gila. His son, left for dead,
revived and escaped. Two daughters were carried off and afterwards
sold to the Mohaves, among whom one died and the other was restored
by purchase to freedom (1856) by Henry Grinnell, and was sent to her
brother's home in Los Angeles.* Another characteristic example is
related by Hobbs, lit the desert beyond Yuma,

"we came upon the remains of an emigrant train, which a month previous
had attempted to cross this desert in going from the United States
to California. While passing over the desert they had been met by
a sand-storm and lost the road by the sand blowing over it, and had
wandered off into the hills. They had finally got back into the road;
but by that time they were worn out, and they perished of fatigue and

    * For the full story see Capture of the Oatman Girls, by R. B.

They had passed the watering-place, a small pool, and as they had
already been two or three days without water, the mistake was fatal.
They had lightened their loads by casting off goods, but it was useless.
A squad of soldiers was sent out from Fort Yuma to bury the bodies, of
which eight were women and children and nine were men. The desert has no
compassion on the human intruder, and he who ventures there must count
only on his own resources.

The crossing of Green River was also difficult, except at low water, on
account of the depth and force of the current. Sometimes the emigrants
utilised a waggon-box as a boat, and the Mormons, who passed in 1847,
established a ferry. Later others operated ferries, and the valley vied
with Yuma in the matter of human activity. Fort Bridger was a place
for rest and repairs, for there was a primitive blacksmith forge and
carpenter shop. Here lived Bridger with his dark-skinned wife, chosen
from a native tribe, and Vasquez, also a famous hunter. The fort
was simply a few log cabins arranged in a hollow square protected by
palisades, through which was a gateway closed by timber doors. Simple
though it was, its value to the emigrant so far away from any settlement
can hardly be appreciated by any who have never journeyed through such a
wilderness as still existed beyond the Missouri. Could we pause here
and observe the caravans bound toward the sunset, we could hardly find
anywhere a more interesting study. There were the Californian emigrant,
and the Mormon with his wives and their push-carts, there were the
trapper and the trader, and there were the bands of natives sometimes
friendly, sometimes hovering about a caravan like a pack of hungry
wolves. There is now barely an echo of this hard period, and that echo
smothered by the rush of the express train as it dashes in an hour
or two so heedlessly across the stretches that occupied the forgotten
emigrant days or weeks. In the search for a route for the railway much
exploration was accomplished, and these expeditions, together with those
in connection with the Mexican boundary survey, added greatly to the
accumulating knowledge of the desolation enveloping the Colorado and its

The treaty of 1848 made the Gila the southern boundary, but the Gadsden
Purchase placed it farther south, as now marked. A number of expeditions
concerned in this and railway surveys traversed Arizona in the early
fifties under Whipple, Sitgreaves, Emory, and others, and the country
began to be scientifically known outside of the canyons and their
surroundings. John R. Bartlett was appointed Boundary Commissioner,
and he spent considerable time along the Gila and southwards and on the
lower Colorado in 1852 to 1854.* A few weeks before he arrived at Fort
Yuma eight of the soldiers there had a battle with the Yumas and the
eight were all killed. After this Heintzelman fought them with so much
vigour that they finally came in, begging for peace. Bartlett's first
view of the Colorado was in the early morning at a point twelve miles
below the fort. "It was much swollen, and rushed by with great velocity,
washing away the banks and carrying with it numberless snags and trees."
Never is the Colorado tranquil. As they followed up the stream they
suddenly found the road washed away, and were obliged to cut a new path
through the underbrush. This proved a long task, so with the pack-mules
he pushed on, leaving the waggons to come later. Antoine Leroux was the
guide. When they reached the place he had selected for a camp and had
unpacked the mules, it was found that the water could not be approached
because of the abruptness of the washed-out bank, so they were compelled
to saddle again and go on toward the fort, though they had been riding
since one o'clock in the morning.

    * Personal Narrative of Exploration, by John Russell Bartlett.

They were finally stopped altogether by a bayou and had to wait for a
boat from the fort with which to cross it. When they came finally to
the crossing of the river itself to the Arizona side they had a slow and
difficult time of it. Sometimes the scow they used failed to reach the
landing-place on the other side and the strong current would then sweep
it two or three miles down the river before the men could get it to the
shore. The next operation would be to tow it back to some low place,
where the animals on it could be put ashore. This is a sample of the
difficulties always encountered in crossing when the river was at flood.
From Yuma looking northward the river can be traced for about fifteen
miles before it is lost in the mountains. See cut on page 26. Bartlett
desired to explore scientifically down to the mouth, but the government
failed to grant him the privilege. He and Major Emory were not on good
terms and there was a great deal of friction about all the boundary
work, arising chiefly from the appointment of a civilian commissioner.
Bartlett mentions Leroux's "late journey down the Colorado," on which
occasion he met with some Cosninos, but just where he started from is
not stated, though it was certainly no higher up than the mouth of the
Grand Wash.

In 1852 the steamer Uncle Sam was brought out on a schooner from San
Francisco and put together at the mouth of the river, but after a few
months she most strangely went to the bottom, while her owner, Turnbull,
was on the way from San Francisco with new machinery for her. Turnbull
came in the schooner General Patterson, which was bearing stores for the
fort. When the Patterson arrived at the mouth of the Colorado, she was
able to sail easily up the river for thirty-three miles because Turnbull
was met by some of his men who had been left here to take soundings,
and for the first time a vessel was sailing with some knowledge of the
channel. The river, however, was unusually high, which was an advantage.
The wide flatlands on both sides were inundated to a distance of fifteen
miles. The current ran at a seven- or eight-mile rate and was loaded
with floating snags and tree-trunks to repel the invader. In proceeding
in a small boat to the fort, Turnbull, in a distance of 120 miles, found
but two dry spots on the bank where he could camp.

A new steamer was soon afloat on this fickle and impetuous tide, the
General Jesup, owned by Captain Johnson, who had now had three or four
years' experience in this navigation had been awarded the contract for
transporting the supplies from the mouth, to the fort. His new boat,
however, exploded seven months later, and it seemed as if the Fates had
joined with the treacherous river to prevent successful steam navigation
here. But Johnson would not give up. Before twelve months had passed he
was stemming the turbulent flood with another steamer, the Colorado,
a stern-wheeler, 120 feet long. As if propitiated by the compliment
of having its name bestowed on this craft, the river treated it fairly
well, and it seems to have survived to a good old age. The Jesup was
soon repaired.

The northern part of Arizona was crossed by Captain Sitgreaves, in
1851, about on the trail of Garces, reaching the Colorado in the Mohave
Valley, and following the river down to Fort Yuma. In 1854, another
government expedition under Lieutenant Whipple, with Lieutenant Ives as
chief assistant, explored along the 35th parallel for a railway route,
and when they arrived on the Colorado at the mouth of Bill Williams
Fork, they followed up the river, through the beautiful Mohave Valley
to a point some eight miles above the present railway (A. & P.) bridge,
where they crossed. Their experience was interesting. Lieutenant Ives
directed the operations, using for a ferry-boat a singular combination:
an old rubber pontoon, with the box from a spring waggon attached to the
top of it for a receptacle for the goods. This was arranged at night.
In the morning the pontoon was found in a state of collapse and the
waggon-box filled with water, but the concern was resuscitated by the
skill of Ives, and soon all was ready for crossing. Swimmers carried a
long rope to an island midway, while another was retained on the shore.
By means of these the boat was pulled back and forth. The first trip was
entirely successful, but on the second attempt the affair was, by the
weight of the ropes, upset in midstream.

"During the excitement attending this misfortune, we were advised by an
Indian messenger that another great chief was about to pay us a visit.
Turning around, we beheld quite an interesting spectacle. Approaching
was the dignitary referred to, lance in hand, and apparelled in official
robes. The latter consisted of a blanket thrown gracefully around him,
and a magnificent head-dress of black plumage covering his head and
shoulders, and hanging down his back in a streamer, nearly to the
ground. His pace was slow, his eyes cast downward, and his whole
demeanour expressive of formal solemnity. Upon his right hand was the
interpreter, upon his left a boy acting as page, and following was a
long procession of his warriors, attended by a crowd of men, women, and

Compliments and presents were exchanged and all was well. Meanwhile the
men who had been capsized with the boat were struggling to disentangle
themselves from the waggon-box, and when freed they gained support on
the rope till the entire combination was pulled back to the shore. The
whole party were finally on the island and then used the same tactics in
crossing the other deeper channel. Here they upset the ferry three
times and two persons came near being drowned. The Mohaves, who are
good swimmers, rendered prompt and efficient assistance in saving the
floating wreckage. They were also supplied with their kind of raft, made
of bundles of rushes tied together with willow twigs (see cut on page
30), which they handled dexterously. Such rafts were and are in use all
the way from here to the gulf. By night the expedition was safe on the
western bank, the mules having swum over, and the flock of sheep, being
ferried in the boat. Several sheep were drowned, and these, with two
live ones and a couple of blankets, were conferred on those Mohaves
who had helped in the crossing. The landing-place was a field of
young wheat, which was much damaged. The lieutenant willingly paid the
moderate charge the owner made for this, and there was no trouble; all
the intercourse was perfectly amicable. But had he been imbued with the
trapper spirit he would probably have answered the request for payment
with a fatal bullet, and then would have followed a stampede of the
stock, ambush, and all the rest which embroiders the history of the
trappers with such violently romantic colour.

Two or three years after the Whipple expedition, a waggon-road was
surveyed (1837) along the 35th parallel by E. F. Beale. He returned to
the Colorado January 23, 1858, about twelve miles north of Whipple's
Crossing. He had camped, several miles back from the Colorado, and
starting early met his clerk F. E. Kerlin returning from the river
whither he had been sent to prepare the boat. The clerk had a "joyful
surprise" in news that the steamboat General Jesup, Captain George A.
Johnson, was at the crossing and waiting to convey the party across.
Soon after the arrival of Beale's party the steamboat came up to the
bank, and taking on the men, baggage, and camels landed them on the
opposite or eastern side.* The mules were compelled to swim over. Then
the General Jesup continued down stream "towards Fort Yuma, 350 miles
below." Johnson had with him Lieut. James White, 3d U. S. Artillery,
fifteen soldiers and "as many rugged mountain men" as escort. He had
succeeded in navigating with the General Jesup as far up the river as
El Dorado Canyon, about sixty-eight miles below the mouth of the
Virgin--that is, he had gone clear through Black Canyon and thus holds
the record for the first ascent of the Colorado with a steamboat to the
limit of steamboat navigation. This feat he executed with the avowed
purpose of "getting ahead" of Lieutenant Ives who had arrived December
1, 1857, at Robinson's Landing at the mouth of the river, bringing an
iron steamboat (as described in the next chapter) under orders from the
War Department to explore the Colorado as far as possible.

    * Beale used camels on this expedition and considered them a success.

Johnson had been aware of his presence and intentions having been sent
down from Fort Yuma with two steamboats to transport certain supplies
from the vessel which brought Lieutenant Ives. He had reached the
schooner December 17th. On January 2, 1858, he left Fort Yuma on his
northward run knowing that Ives could not follow him until the steamboat
brought in sections could be completed.

Ives had entirely ignored Johnson, as well as Johnson's skill
in navigating this river, and also his powerful steamboats. The
appropriation under which Ives was working was one which had originally
been made for Johnson, after a visit of his to Washington, but from
several causes it had been switched over to the War Department. Captain
Johnson, therefore, was determined to rob Ives of the glory of being the
first to take a steamboat to the head of navigation, and he did it with
a steamboat much larger than that of Ives which failed to pass Black
Canyon. The General Jesup, named after the quarter-master general of
the Army, was 108 feet long, 28 feet beam, and drew 2 feet, 6 inches
of water. She had exploded in August, 1854, but had been thoroughly
repaired. On this down trip from the head of steamboat navigation she
met with another accident, running on "a large rolling stone and sinking
just above Chimney Peak" some eighteen miles from Yuma. She was raised
by the Colorado and towed down to the Fort.*

    * See Wagon Road from Fort Defiance to the Colorado River--Edward F.
Beale, 35th Congress, 2d Session, House of Representatives, Document,
124, Washington, 1858. Also Handbook to Arizona, pp. 247-48, R. J.
Hinton, 1878. The information as to Johnson's application for an
appropriation to explore the Colorado was given me by Mr. Robert
Brewster Stanton. Johnson also related the story of his "getting ahead"
of Ives, to Mr. Stanton, who now has the written statement as well. I
communicated with Johnson in 1904, requesting some data, but he declined
to give it on the ground that he intended himself to publish the story
of his exploits. Since then unfortunately he has died.


Lieutenant Ives Explores to Fortification Rock--By Trail to Diamond
Creek, Havasupai Canyon, and the Moki Towns--Macomb Fails in an Attempt
to Reach the Mouth of Grand River--James White's Masterful Fabrication.

Steam navigation on the Colorado was now successfully established, and
when Lieutenant Ives was planning the exploration of the river there
were already upon it two powerful steamers exactly adapted, through
experience of previous disasters, to the peculiar dangers of these
waters, while Johnson, the chief owner and pilot, had become an expert
in handling a steamboat amid the unusual conditions. He had succeeded in
making a truce with the dragon. And he had secured the friendship of the
tribes of Amerinds living along the banks; his men and his property were
safe anywhere; his steamers often carried jolly bands of Cocopas or
of Yumas from place to place. In arranging a government expedition to
explore to the farthest point practicable for steamboats, the sensible
course would have been to advise with Johnson and to charter his staunch
steamer Colorado, together with himself, thus gaining at the very outset
an immense double advantage: a boat perfectly modelled for the demands
to be made upon it, and a guide entirely familiar with the tricks of
the perfidious waters. Especially important would this have been because
Lieutenant Ives, who was instructed to direct this work, was ordered to
accomplish it at the lowest and worst stage of the stream. Ives had been
Whipple's chief assistant in 1853-54, and therefore well understood the
situation. But he states that the company was "unable to spare a boat
except for a compensation beyond the limits of the appropriation." As a
boat was spared, however, for the less important matter of going far
up the river to ferry Beale across, it would appear that either the
negotiations were not conducted in a proper spirit, or that Ives rather
preferred a boat of his own. The cost of building in Philadelphia the
boat he used, and sending her in sections to San Francisco, and thence
to the Colorado, must have been very great. The steamer was ordered June
1, 1857, and had to be at the mouth of the Colorado by December 1st of
the same year. After a trial on the Delaware, a mill-pond compared with
the Colorado, she was hastily shipped, with all her defects, by way
of Panama, there being no time to make any changes. The chief trouble
discovered was radical, being a structural weakness of the hull. To,
in a measure, offset this, timbers and bolts were obtained in San
Francisco, the timbers to be attached to the OUTSIDE of the hull on
putting the sections together, there being no room within. It requires
little understanding of naval architecture to perceive that a great
handicap was thus imposed on the little vessel. Yet Lieutenant Ives
says, on the trial trip she was "found satisfactory"! By November 1st,
the party was on board the schooner Monterey, bound for the head of the
Gulf. Though the vessel was loaded down with supplies for Fort Yuma,
room was made for the Ives expedition and they arrived, passing through
a heavy gale in the gulf, at Robinson's Landing on November 30th. The
schooner was anchored over a shoal, and was soon aground, as the fierce
tide ran out, a circumstance that enabled her to stay there and stem the
torrent. A deep booming sound was presently heard, growing louder and
nearer, and

"in half an hour a great wave several feet in height, could be
distinctly seen flashing and sparkling in the moonlight, extending from
one bank to the other and advancing swiftly upon us. While it was only a
few hundred yards distant, the ebb tide continued to flow by at the rate
of three miles an hour. A point of land and an exposed bar close under
our lee broke the wave into several long swells, and as these met the
ebb the broad sheet around us boiled up and foamed like the surface of
a cauldron, and then, with scarcely a moment of slack water, the whole
went whirling by in the opposite direction. In a few moments the low
rollers had passed the islands and united again in a single bank of
water, which swept up the narrowing channel with the thunder of a

This was the great tidal bore once more, which, at the occurrence of the
spring tides, makes the entrance of the river extremely dangerous. It
is due to the narrowing of the Gulf of California forcing the tides
into close quarters, and its violence is augmented by collision with the
equally furious current of the Colorado. The battle between this tidal
wave and the Colorado continues for many miles, till at last the sea
tide gradually loses its power and succumbs to the flood of the river.*
The latter falls at the mouth, according to Ives, about thirty feet in
a few hours after the ebb begins. The shallower the water as the tide
rushes in against the ebb, the angrier the wave becomes, sometimes
reaching a height of ten or twelve feet.

    * The tide ascends thirty-seven miles. Lowest stage of water about
three feet, average six feet, and highest about twenty feet.

At Robinson's Landing, a mere mud flat, a camp was established and
preparations made for the voyage to the extreme limit of navigation.
The parts of the steamer were put ashore and a suitable spot selected
whereon to set her up. The high tides were over for a month, and the
mud began to dry, enabling the party to pitch their tents. It was an
uncomfortable spot for expedition headquarters, but the best that could
be had, as the Monterey was not permitted by her owners to venture
farther up the river. But this delay, discomfort, and difficulty, to say
nothing of expense, might have been avoided could a contract have been
made with the existing steamboat company. As the bank on which the boat
was to be reconstructed was not likely to be overflowed more than a foot
by the next high tide, a month later, an excavation was made wherein to
build the steamer that she might certainly come afloat at the desired
time. Sixty holes had to be made in the iron plates so that the four
stiffening timbers could be attached to the bottom to prevent the craft
from breaking in two under the extra-heavy boiler. Inside, cross timbers
were also added to resist the strain. On, December 17th, two steamers
appeared from the fort, in command, respectively, of Johnson and Wilcox,
to transport the army supplies to their destination. Robinson, after
whom the landing was called because he had a cabin there, was with the
steamboats, and, as he knew the river, especially as far as Yuma, Ives
engaged him for pilot.

By the end of the month, the Explorer, as the Ives boat was named, was
ready for the expected high tide. She was fifty-four feet long over all,
not quite half the length of Johnson's Colorado. Amidships she was open,
but the bow was decked, and at the stern was a cabin, seven by eight
feet, the top of which formed an outlook. For armament, she was supplied
on the bow with a four-pound howitzer, though this weapon was not likely
to be of much service. When the anticipated flood arrived on the night
of December 30th, steam was turned on at the critical moment, the
engines worked the stern-wheel, and Lieutenant Ives had the satisfaction
of seeing the Explorer, under the bright moonlight, slowly back out of
the pit which had been her cradle into the swirling, seething current.
As the tide continued to rise, Ives feared the whole flat would soon be
inundated, so everything belonging to the expedition was stowed on board
till the Explorer's gunwales were no more than six inches above
the surface. Through this circumstance, the expedition came near a
disastrous end the next night, when the steamer proceeded up the
river on the flood tide. A squall was met and the boat shipped water
alarmingly, but fortunately the wind died away as quickly as it had
come up. The Explorer was saved, and the journey was continued over the
swiftly gliding torrent.

As they went on after this in daylight, some Cocopas they met grinned
rather contemptuously, and called this the "chiquito steamboat." A
considerable amount of stores was left on the bank in their care, to
be picked up by Captain Wilcox, who, going down on one of the fort
steamers, had passed the Explorer, and offered to take these extra
stores to the fort on his return. They were placed with the Cocopas by
his direction, an arrangement that better describes the relations of the
steamboat people and the natives than anything that could be said about
them. The fuel used was wood, of which there was great abundance along
the shore, the hard, fine-grained mesquite making a particularly hot
fire. The routine of advance was to place a man with a sounding-pole
at the bow, while Robinson, the pilot, had his post on the deck of the
cabin, but the sounding was more for record purposes than to assist
Robinson, who was usually able to predict exactly when the water would
shoal or deepen. Later, Ives says: "If the ascent of the river is
accomplished, it will be due to his skill and good management." Besides
the ordinary shifting of the sands by the restless, current, there was
another factor occasionally to guard against. This was earthquakes.
Sometimes they might change the depth of water on the lower river in the
twinkling of an eye. On one occasion, a schooner lying in a deep part
was found suddenly aground in three feet of water, with no other warning
than a rumble and a shock. Heintzelman, in one of his reconnoissances,
discovered the adjacent land full of cracks, through which oozed streams
of sulphurous water, mud, and sand, and Diaz, in 1540, came to banks of
"hot ashes" which it was impossible to cross, the whole ground trembling
beneath his feet. At low water, even in the lower reaches of the river,
a boat is liable to run aground often, and has to be backed off to try
her fortune in another place. The bottom, however, is soft, the current
strong, so no harm is done and the rush of water helps to cut the boat
loose. One does not easily comprehend how sensitive a pilot becomes to
every tremor of the hull in this sort of navigation. The quality of the
boat's vibration speaks to his nerves in a distinct language, and the
suck of the wheel emphasises the communication.

The Explorer at length arrived at Yuma. Here the remainder of the
party, including Dr. Newberry, having come across country, joined the
expedition, and further preparations were made for the more difficult
task above. The craft was lightened as far as possible, but at the best
she still drew two and one-half feet, while the timbers bolted to the
bottom were a great detriment, catching on snags and ploughing into the
mud of the shoals. There were twenty-four men to be carried, besides all
the baggage that must be taken, even though a pack-train was to leave,
after the departure of the boat, to transport extra supplies to the end
of the voyage, wherever that might be. It is not easy to understand why
so large a party was necessary. Some few miles above Yuma they came
to the first range of mountains that closes in on the water, suddenly
entering a narrow pass several hundred feet deep. Seven miles farther
on, they went through a small canyon where another range is severed.
This was called Purple Hill Pass, while the first one was named
Explorer's Pass, after the steamer. The first approach to a real canyon
was encountered a short distance above. Emerging from this, called
Canebrake, from some canes growing along the sides, the Explorer ran
aground, resting there for two hours. They had now passed through the
Chocolate Mountains, the same range that Alarcon mentions, and as he
records no other he probably went no farther up than the basin Ives is
now entering, the Great Colorado Valley. Alarcon doubtless proceeded to
the upper part of this valley, about to latitude thirty-four, where
he raised the cross to mark the spot. Two miles above the head of the
canyon, the power of the Explorer was matched against a stiff current
that came swirling around the base of a perpendicular rock one hundred
feet high. With the steam pressure then on, she was not equal to the
encounter and made no advance, whereupon she was headed for a steep
bank to allow the men to leap ashore with a line and tow her beyond the
opposition. Above, the current was milder, but the river spread out
to such an extent that progress was exceedingly difficult, and Ives
expresses a fear that this might prove the head of navigation, yet
he must then have been aware (and certainly was when he published his
report) that Johnson at that very moment was far beyond this with a
steamer larger than the one he was on. It was now January 17, 1858,
and it was on January 23d, that Johnson was at the point where Beale
intended to cross. The steamer was used as a ferry and then left the
same day for Yuma. Captain Johnson with his steamboat had been to the
head of navigation. Ives and Johnson must now pass each other before the
end of this month of December, and the meeting of the two steamers took
place somewhere in this Colorado Valley, for, under date of January
31st, Ives says: "Lieutenant Tipton took advantage of an opportunity
afforded a few days ago, by our meeting Captain Johnson, with Lieutenant
White and party returning to the fort, and went back with them in order
to bring up the pack-train." He does not mention, however, that Johnson
was piloting a steamboat larger than the Explorer. Indeed, I have been
told that he failed to reply to Johnson's salute. Slowly they worked
their way up, and on up, toward their final goal, though the water was
exceptionally low. At last reaching Bill Williams Fork, Ives, who had
seen it at the time he was with Whipple about four years earlier,
could not at first find it, though, on the former occasion, in the
same season, it had been a stream thirty feet wide. It was now a feeble
rivulet, the old mouth being filled up and overgrown with willows.
Approaching Mohave Canyon, a rapid was encountered, necessitating the
carrying forward of an anchor, from which a line was brought to the bow,
and this being kept taut, with the boat under full steam the obstruction
was surmounted without damage. This was the common method of procedure
at rapids. This canyon, Ives, says was a "scene of such imposing
grandeur as he had never before witnessed," yet it is only a harbinger
of the greater sublimity extending along the water above for a thousand
miles. Mohave Canyon and The Needles soon were left behind, and they
were steaming through the beautiful Mohave Valley, where the patient
footsteps of the padres and the restless tramp of the trappers had
so long ago passed and been forgotten. Probably not one of that party
remembered that Pattie on horseback had covered this same field over
thirty years before, or that rare old Garces guided his tired mule
along these very banks a full half century ahead of Pattie. To-day,
the comfortable traveller on the railway, crossing the river near The
Needles, has also forgotten these things and Lieutenant Ives as well.

Many Cocopas, Yumas, Mohaves, and Chemehuevis were met with since the
trip began, but there had been no trouble with any of them. Ives now
began to inquire for a former guide of Whipple's, whom he pleasantly
remembered and whose name was Ireteba. Fortunately, he soon came across
him and engaged his services. Ireteba was a Mohave, but possessed one of
those fine natures found in every clime and colour. He was always true
and intelligent, and of great service to the expedition. The Explorer
pushed on, encountering many difficulties, some due to the unfortunate
timbers on the bottom, which often became wedged in rocks, besides
increasing the draught by about six inches, a serious matter at this
extremely low stage of water. "It is probable," says Ives, "that there
is not one season in ten when even the Explorer would encounter one
fourth of the difficulty that she has during the unprecedentedly low
stage of water." At one rapid, after the boat by hard labour had been
brought to the crest, the line broke and she at once fell back, bumping
over the rocks and finally lodging amidst a mass so firmly that it
required half the next day to pull her out. The second attempt to
surmount the rapid was successful, and they were then rewarded by a
fierce gale from the north, detaining them twenty-four hours, filling
everything with sand, and dragging the steamboat from her moorings to
cast her again upon the rocks. When, at last, they could go on they came
after a short time to a canyon deeper and grander than any they had
yet seen, called Black Canyon, because it is cut through the Black
Mountains. Ives was uncertain, at the moment, whether this was the
entrance to what was called Big Canyon (Grand Canyon) or not. The
Explorer by this time had passed through a number of rapids and the
crew were growing expert at this sort of work, so that another rapid a
hundred yards below the mouth of the canyon was easily conquered. The
current becoming slack, the steamer went gaily on toward the narrow
gateway, where, "flanked by walls many hundreds of feet in height,
rising perpendicularly out of the water, the Colorado emerged from the
bowels of the range." Suddenly the boat stopped with a crash. The bow
had squarely met a sunken rock. The men forward were knocked completely
overboard, those on the after-deck were thrown below, the boiler was
jammed out of place, the steampipe was doubled up, the wheelhouse
torn away, and numerous minor damages were sustained. The Explorer had
discovered her head of navigation! They thought she was about to sink,
but luckily she had struck in such a way that no hole was made and they
were able by means of lines and the skiff to tow her to a sandbank
for repairs. Here the engineer, Carroll, and Captain Robinson devoted
themselves to making her again serviceable, while, with the skiff, Ives
and two companions continued on up the deep gorge. Though this was the
end of the upward journey, so far as the Explorer was concerned, Johnson
with his steamboat had managed to go clear through this canyon.

Rations were at a low stage, consisting entirely, for the past three
weeks, of corn and beans, purchased from the natives, but even on this
diet without salt the skiff party, worked its way steadily upward over
many rapids through the superb chasm. "No description," says Ives, "can
convey an idea of the varied and majestic grandeur of this peerless
waterway. Wherever the river makes a turn, the entire panorama changes,
and one startling novelty after another appears and disappears with
bewildering rapidity." I commend these pages of Lieutenant Ives, and, in
fact, his whole report, to all who delight in word-painting of natural
scenery, for the lieutenant certainly handled his pen as well as he did
his sword.* Emerging from the solemn depths of Black Canyon (twenty-five
miles long) he and his small party passed Fortification Rock and
continued on two miles up the river to an insignificant little stream
coming in from the north, which he surmised might be the Virgen, though
he hardly thought it could be, and it was not. It was Vegas Wash. This
was his highest point. Turning about, he descended to the steamboat
camp and called that place the head of navigation, not that he did not
believe a steamer might ascend, light, through Black Canyon, but he
considered it impracticable. Running now down-stream in the Explorer,
the expected pack-train was encountered at the foot of Pyramid Canyon,
and a welcome addition was made to the supplies.

    * It may be of interest to state that Lieutenant Ives became an
officer in the Confederate Army, and was killed in one of the battles of
the Civil War.

The steamboat was now sent back to the fort and Ives prepared for a land
journey, which led him eastward over much the same route that Garces
had traversed so long ago on his march to Oraibi. Ireteba was his guide.
They went to the mouth of Diamond Creek, where they had their first view
of the Grand Canyon, or Big Canyon, as they called it, of which Ireteba
had before given them some description. The illustrations given in
Ives's report of both Black and Grand Canyons are a libel on these
magnificent wonder-places, and in no way compare with the lieutenant's
admirable pen-pictures. Crossing the Colorado Plateau (which another
explorer ten or twelve years later claims the honour of naming,
forgetting that Ives uses the name in his report), they visited the
Havasupai in their deep canyon home, just as Garces had done, and then
proceeded to the towns of the Moki. Ives was deeply impressed by the
repellant nature of the great canyon and the surroundings, and remarks:
"It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater
portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited
and undisturbed." Late in the same year that Lieutenant Ives made
his interesting and valuable exploration, another military post was
established on the Colorado, and called Fort Mohave, just about where
the California line intersects the stream. Lower down, Colorado City had
been laid out several years before (1854) under amusing circumstances.
The Yuma ferry at that time was operated by a German, thrifty after
his kind, and on the lookout for a "good thing." A party of indigent
prospectors, returning from the survey of a mine in Mexico, reached the
Arizona bank with no money to pay for the crossing, and hit upon the
ingenious plan of surveying a town site here and trading lots to the
German for a passage. Boldly commencing operations, the sight of the
work going on soon brought the ferryman over to investigate, and when he
saw the map under construction he fell headlong into the scheme, which
would, as they assured him, necessitate a steam ferry.* The result was
the immediate sale of a portion of the town to him and the exchange of
a lot for the necessary transportation to the opposite bank. Afterwards,
these parties did what they could to establish the reality of the
project, but up to date it has not been noted as a metropolis, and the
floods of 1861-2 undermined its feeble strength. Another name for it was
Arizona City.

    * Across America and Asia, by Raphael Pumpelly, p. 60. The portion of
this admirable work relating to the vicinity of the Colorado River will
be found of great interest in this connection.

The year following the Ives expedition, Captain Macomb (1859) was
sent to examine the junction of the Green and Grand rivers. For a
considerable distance he followed, from Santa Fe, almost the same
trail that Escalante had travelled eighty-three years previously. Dr.
Newberry, the eminent geologist who had been with Ives, was one of
this party, and he has given an interesting account of the journey. The
region lying immediately around the place they had set out for is one of
the most formidable in all the valley of the Colorado. Looking about one
there, from the summit of the canyon walls, it seems an impossibility
for anything without the power of flight to approach the spot except
by way of the river channels. Macomb and Newberry succeeded in forcing
their way to within about six miles of the junction, there to be
completely baffled and turned back. Arriving finally at the brink of the
canyon of Grand River, Newberry says:

"On every side we were surrounded by columns, pinnacles, and castles
of fantastic shapes, which limited our view, and by impassable canons,
which restricted our movements. South of us, about a mile distant, rose
one of the castle-like buttes, which I have mentioned, and to which,
though with difficulty, we made our way. This butte was composed of
alternate layers of chocolate-colored sandstone and shale about one
thousand feet in height; its sides nearly perpendicular, but most
curiously ornamented with columns and pilasters, porticos and
colonnades, cornices and battlements, flanked here and there with tall
outstanding towers, and crowned with spires so slender that it seemed
as though a breath of air would suffice to topple them from their
foundations. To accomplish the object for which we had come so far, it
seemed necessary that we should ascend this butte. The day was perfectly
clear and intensely hot, the mercury standing at 92 degrees in the
shade, and the red sandstone, out of which the landscape was carved,
glowed in the heat of the burning sunshine. Stripping off nearly all
our clothing, we made the attempt, and, after two hours of most arduous
labor, succeeded in reaching the summit. The view which there burst
upon us was such as amply repaid us for all our toil. It baffles

He goes on to say that, while the great canyon, meaning the Grand
Canyon, with its gigantic cliffs, presents grander scenes, they have
less variety and beauty of detail than this. They were here able to see
over an area of some fifty miles diameter, where, hemmed in by lines of
lofty step-like mesas, a great basin lay before them as on a map. There
was no vegetation, "nothing but bare and barren rocks of rich and
varied colours shimmering in the sunlight. Scattered over the plain were
thousands of the fantastically formed buttes to which I have referred...
pyramids, domes, towers, columns, spires of every conceivable form
and size." There were also multitudes of canyons, ramifying in every
direction, "deep, dark, and ragged, impassable to everything but the
winged bird." At the nearest point was the canyon of the Grand, while
four miles to the south another great gorge was discerned joining it,
which their Amerind guides pronounced to be that of Green River. Finding
it utterly impossible for them to reach this place, they returned.

Thus, after all these years of endeavour, the mighty Colorado foamed
away amidst this terrible environment as if no human element yet existed
in the world. And as it continued to baffle all attempts to probe its
deeper mysteries, the dread of it and the fear of it grew and grew, till
he who suggested that a man might pass through the bewildering chasms
and live, was regarded as light-headed. Then came the awful war of the
Rebellion, and for several years little thought was bestowed on the

    * The troops that were so foolishly and feebly sent against the
Mormons in 1857 had some experience in Green River Valley, but it was
not directly connected with this story and I will not introduce an
account of it here.

Some few prospectors for mineral veins began investigations in the
neighbourhood of the lower part of the Grand Canyon, and the gorge was
entered from below, about 1864, by O. D. Gass and three other men. I met
Gass at his home at Las Vegas (see cut, page 137) in 1875, but I did not
then know he had been in the canyon and did not hear his story. It
was not till 1866 that any one tried again to navigate the river above
Mohave. In that year Captain Rodgers, who for four years had been on the
lower Colorado, took the steamboat Esmeralda, ninety-seven feet long and
drawing three and one-half feet of water, up as far as Callville, near
the mouth of the Virgen, which was several miles beyond the highest
point attained by Ives in his skiff, but little, if any, farther than
Johnson had gone with his steamboat. He ascended the most difficult
place, Roaring Rapids in Black Canyon, in seven minutes, and was of the
opinion that it could as easily be surmounted at any stage of water,
except perhaps during the spring rise. It does not matter much now, for
it is not likely that any steam craft will soon again have occasion to
traverse that canyon. The completion of the railways was a death blow to
steam navigation on the Colorado, yet, in the future, when the fertile
bottoms are brought under cultivation, small steamboats will probably be
utilised for local transportation.

The journey of the Esmeralda added nothing to what was already known.
The following year, 1867, a man was picked up at Callville, in an
exhausted and famishing condition, by a frontiersman named Hardy. When
he had been revived he told his story. It was that he had come on a raft
through the Grand Canyon above, and all the canyons antecedent to
that back to a point on Grand River. The story was apparently
straightforward, and it was fully accepted. At last, it was thought, a
human being has passed through this Valley of the Shadow of Death and
lived to tell of its terrors. Hardy took him down to Fort Mohave, where
he met Dr. Parry,* who recorded his whole story, drawn out by many
questions, and believed it. This was not surprising; for, no man ever
yet having accomplished what White claimed to have done, there was no
way of checking the points, of his tale. "Now, at last," remarks Dr.
Parry, "we have a perfectly authentic account, from an intelligent
source, from a man who actually traversed its formidable depths, and
who, fortunately for science, still lives to detail his trustworthy
observations of this remarkable voyage." The doctor was too confiding.
Had I the space I would give here the whole of White's story, for it
is one of the best bits of fiction I have ever read. He had obtained
somehow a general smattering of the character of the river, but as there
were trappers still living, Kit Carson, for example, who possessed a
great deal of information about it, this was not a difficult matter. But
that he had no exact knowledge of any part of the river above the lower
end of the Grand Canyon, is apparent to one who is familiar with
the ground, and the many discrepancies brand the whole story as a
fabrication. In the language of the frontier, he "pitched a yarn," and
it took beautifully. Hardy, whom I met in Arizona a good many years
ago, told me he believed the man told the truth, but his belief was
apparently based only on the condition White was in when rescued. That
he was nearly dead is true, but that is about all of his yarn that is.
White was thirty-two years old, and from Kenosha, Wisconsin. He said
that, with two others, he was prospecting in Southwestern Colorado in
the summer of that year, 1867, when, on Grand River, they were attacked
by the Utes. Baker, the leader, fell mortally wounded. Of course, White
and the other man, Strole, stood by their leader, in the teeth of the
enemy's fire, till he expired. What would the story have been without
this example of devotion and fortitude? Then, holding the pursuers in
check, they slowly retreated down the side canyon they were in to the
main gorge, where they discovered an abundance of driftwood, and decided
to make a raft with which to escape. This raft consisted of three
sticks of cottonwood about ten feet long and eight inches diameter, tied
together with lariats. They had abandoned their horses above, bringing
only their arms, ammunition, and some food. Waiting for midnight to come
so that their pursuers might not discover their intention, they seized
their poles and, under the waning moon, cast off, and were soon on the
tempestuous tide, rushing through the yawning chasm. "Through the long
night they clung to the raft as it dashed against half-concealed rocks,
or whirled about like a plaything in some eddy." When daylight came they
landed; as they had a smoother current and less rugged banks, though
the canyon walls appeared to have increased in height. They strengthened
their raft and went on. In the afternoon, after having floated about
thirty miles from the starting point they reached the junction of the
Grand and Green. So far all is well, but here he makes his first break,
as he had no conception of the actual character of the rivers at the
junction. He says the canyon now far surpassed that of either of the
forming streams, which is not so. For five or six miles below the
junction there is little change, yet he describes the walls as being
four thousand feet high, an altitude never attained in Cataract Canyon
at all, the highest being somewhat under three thousand, while at the
junction they are only thirteen hundred. Then he goes on to say that
detached pinnacles appeared to rise "one above the other," for one
thousand feet more, giving an altitude here of five thousand feet,
clearly an impression in his mind of the lower end of the Grand Canyon,
which he had doubtless become somewhat familiar with in some prospecting
trip. He fancied the "Great Canyon" began at the junction of the Grand
and Green, and he did not appreciate the distance that intervened
between Callville and that point. They tied up at night and travelled
in the day. No mention is made of the terrific rapids which roar in
Cataract Canyon, but he speaks of the "grey sandstone walls" the lower
portion smooth from the action of floods. There exist some greyish
walls; but most are red except in the granite gorges of the Grand
Canyon, where, for a thousand feet, they are black. Below the junction,
forty miles, they came to the mouth of the San Juan! Yet Cataract Canyon
and Narrow together, the first canyons of the Colorado proper, are fifty
miles long and the San Juan comes in at least seventy-five miles below
their end. The walls of the San Juan he describes as being as high as
those of the Colorado, which he has just been talking about, that is,
five thousand feet, yet for these seventy-five miles he would have
actually been passing between walls of about one thousand feet. He says
he could not escape here because the waters of the San Juan were so
violent they filled its canyon from bank to bank. In reality, he could
have made his way out of the canyon (Glen Canyon) in a great many places
in the long distance between the foot of Narrow Canyon and the San Juan.
There is nothing difficult about it. But not knowing this, and nobody
else knowing it at that time, the yarn went very well. Also, below the
San Juan, as far as Lee's Ferry, there are numerous opportunities to
leave the canyon; and there, are a great many attractive bottoms all the
way through sunny Glen Canyon, where landings could have been made in a
bona fide journey, and birds snared; anything rather than to go drifting
along day after day toward dangers unknown. "At every bend of the river
it seemed as if they were descending deeper into the earth, and that the
walls were coming closer together above them, shutting out the narrow
belt of sky, thickening the black shadows, and redoubling the echoes
that went up from the foaming waters," all of which is nonsense. They
were not yet, even taking their own, or rather his own, calculations,
near the Grand Canyon, and the whole one hundred and forty-nine miles of
Glen Canyon are simply charming; altogether delightful. One can paddle
along in any sort of craft, can leave the river in many places, and in
general enjoy himself. I have been over the stretch twice, once at low
water and again at high, so I speak from abundant experience. Naively
he remarks, "as yet they had seen no natural bridge spanning the chasm
above them, nor had fall or cataract prevented their safe advance!" Yet
they are supposed to have passed through the forty-one miles of Cataract
Canyon's turmoil, which I venture to say no man could ever forget. They
had been only four days getting to a point below the San Juan, simply
drifting; that is about two hundred miles, or some fifty miles a
daylight day. Around three o'clock on the fourth day they heard the deep
roar as of a waterfall in front of them.

    * Parry's first record of White's story is in Report of Surveys for a
Railway across the Continent by Wm. J. Palmer, 1868. Dr. C. C. Parry was
assistant geologist of the Survey.

"They felt the raft agitated, then whirled along with frightful
rapidity towards a wall that seemed to bar all further progress. As they
approached the cliff the river made a sharp bend, around which the raft
swept, disclosing to them, in a long vista, the water lashed into foam,
as it poured through a narrow precipitous gorge, caused by huge masses
of rock detached from the main walls. There was no time to think. The
logs strained as if they would break their fastenings. The waves dashed
around the men, and the raft was buried in the seething waters. White
clung to the logs with the grip of death. His comrade stood up for an
instant with the pole in his hands, as if to guide the raft from the
rocks against which it was plunging; but he had scarcely straightened
before the raft seemed to leap down a chasm and, amid the deafening roar
of waters, White heard a shriek that thrilled him to the heart, and,
looking around, saw, through the mist and spray, the form of his comrade
tossed for an instant on the water, then sinking out of sight in a

On the fifth day White lashed himself to the raft. He then describes a
succession of rapids, passing which with great difficulty he reached a
stream that he afterward learned was the Little Colorado. He said the
canyon was like that of the San Juan, but they are totally different.
The current of this stream swept across that of the Colorado, "causing
in a black chasm on the opposite bank a large and dangerous whirlpool."
He could not avoid this and was swept by the cross current into this
awful place, which, to relieve the reader's anxiety, I hasten to add,
does not exist. There is no whirlpool whatever at the mouth of the
Little Colorado, nor any other danger. But White now felt that further
exertion was useless, and amidst the "gurgling" waters closed his eyes
for some minutes, when, feeling a strange swinging sensation, he opened
them and found that he was circling round the whirlpool, sometimes close
to the terrible vortex, etc. He thought he fainted. He was nothing if
not dramatic. When he recovered it was night. Then for the first time he
thought of prayer. "I spoke as if from my very soul, and said: 'Oh, God,
if there is a way out of this fearful place, show it to me, take me to
it.'" His narrator says White's voice here became husky and his features
quivered. "I was still looking up with my hands clasped when I felt a
different movement of the raft and turning to look at the whirlpool
it was some distance behind (he could see it in the night!), and I was
floating on the smoothest current I had yet seen in the canyon." The
current was now very slow and he found that the rapids were past. The
terrible mythical whirlpool at the innocent mouth of the Little Colorado
was the end of the turmoil, though he said the canyon went on, the
course of the river being exceedingly crooked, and shut in by precipices
of white sand rock! There is no white "sand-rock" in the Grand Canyon.
All through this terrific gorge wherein the river falls some eighteen
hundred feet, White found a slow current and his troubles from rapids
were over! For 217 miles of the worst piece of river in the world, he
found no difficulty. The gloom and lack of food alone oppressed him,
and he thought of plunging from the raft, but lacked the courage. Had
he really entered the Grand Canyon his raft would have been speedily
reduced to toothpicks and he would not have had the choice of remaining
upon it. Finally, he reached a bank upon which some mesquite bushes
grew, and he devoured the green pods. Then sailing on in a sort of
stupor he was roused by voices and saw some Yampais, who gave him meat
and roasted mesquite beans. Proceeding, he heard voices again and a dash
of oars. It was Hardy and at last White was saved!

We have seen various actors passing before us in this drama, but I
doubt if any of them have been more picturesque than this champion
prevaricator. But he had related a splendid yarn. What it was intended
to obscure would probably be quite as interesting as what he told. Just
where he entered upon the river is of course impossible to decide, but
that he never came through the Grand Canyon is as certain as anything
can be. His story reveals an absolute ignorance of the river and its
walls throughout the whole course he pretended to have traversed.

NOTE.--Mr. R. B. Stanton in 1907 discovered that White was alive in New
Mexico. With a stenographer Mr. Stanton visited him and concludes that
White was not responsible for the tale, and that Parry's imagination
filled in the details. Mr. Stanton proves absolutely that White never
went through the Grand Canyon and that his route was from the foot of
the Grand Canyon to Callville.


The One-armed Knight--A Bold Attack on the Canyons--Powell and His
Men--The Wonderful Voyage--Mighty Walls and Roaring Rapids--Capsizes and

When the Civil War was finally over, the wilds of the Far West again
called in seductive voice to the adventurous and the scientific. The
fur-trade as an absorbing industry was dead, but mining, prospecting,
ranching, and scientific exploring took its place. Among the naturalists
who crossed the Rocky Mountains for purposes of investigation,
fascinated by the broad, inviting field, was a one-armed soldier, a
former officer of volunteers in the Union Army. His right forearm had
remained on the battlefield of Shiloh, but when a strong head is on
the shoulders a missing arm makes little difference, and so it was with
Major Powell. In the summer of 1867, when he was examining Middle Park,
Colorado, with a small party, he happened to explore a moderate canyon
on Grand River just below what was known as Middle Park Hot Springs, and
became enthused with a desire to fathom the Great Mystery. Consequently,
he returned the next year, made his way to the banks of White River,
about 120 miles above its mouth, and there erected cabins, with the
intention of remaining through the snow season till the following spring
should once again unlock the frost-gates of the range. There being
now no bison trails hard-beaten into the snow, it was a more difficult
undertaking to cross, except in summer. Mrs. Powell was with the party.

During this winter of 1868-69, Powell made several important journeys
in connection with his purpose of exploring the great walled river; one
was down toward the south as far as Grand River; a second followed White
River to its junction with the Green, and a third went northward around
the eastern base of the Uinta Mountains, skirting the gorges afterward
named Lodore, Whirlpool, Red Canyon, etc. In these travels he formed his
plans for an attempt to fully explore, by means of a boat voyage, the
remarkable string of chasms which for more than three centuries had
defied examination. He decided that the starting point must be where the
Union Pacific Railway had just been thrown across Green River, and that
the only chance for success was to continue on the torrential flood till
either he should arrive at the end of the great canyons near the mouth
of the Rio Virgen or should himself be vanquished in the endeavour. It
was to be a match of human skill and muscle against rocks and cataracts,
shut in from the outer world, always face to face with the Shadow of
Death. It was to be a duel to the finish between the mysterious torrent
on the one side and a little group of valiant men on the other. Never
had plumed knight of old a more dreadful antagonist. Like the Sleeping
Beauty, this strange Problem lay in the midst of an enchanted land
guarded by the wizard Aridity and those wonderful water-gods Erosion
and Corrasion, waiting for the knight-errant brave, who should break the
spell and vanquish the demon in his lair. No ordinary man was equal to
this difficult task, which demanded not alone courage of the highest
order, but combined with this courage a master-mind and the strategic
skill of a general. But there comes a time for everything. The moment
for shattering this mystery had apparently arrived and the mortal who
was to achieve this wonderful feat enters upon the scene with the quiet
nerve and perfect confidence of a master. He realised the gravity of the
proposition and therein rested his strength. He knew no ordinary boat
could hope to live in the turmoil of waters that lashed themselves to
fury among the rocks and against the towering and continuous cliffs; and
he knew the party must be self-supporting in every sense of the term,
depending on nothing but their own powers and what they could carry

The universal dread of the Colorado and its gorges had by this time
considerably augmented. The public imagination pictured the roaring
flood ploughing its dismal channel through dark subterranean galleries
where human life would not be worth a single drop of tossing spray; or
leaping at a bound over precipices beside which the seething plunge of
Niagara was but a toy. No one could deny these weird tales. No one knew.
But Powell was fortified by Science, and he surmised that nowhere would
he encounter any obstruction which his ingenuity could not surmount.

I remember one morning, on the second voyage, when we had made an early
start and the night-gloom still lingered in the depths of Marble Canyon
as we bore down on a particularly narrow place where the river turned
a sharp bend to disappear between walls vertical at the water, into a
deep-blue haze, it seemed to me that ANYTHING might be found there,
and looking up from my seat in the bow of our boat into the gallant
explorer's face, I said: "Major, what would you have done on the first
trip if just beyond that bend you had come upon a fall like Niagara?"
He regarded me a moment with his penetrating gaze, and then answered:
"I don't know." Perhaps he thought that what we now would find there was
enough for the moment.

Captain Mansfield, reporting to the Secretary of War, wrote in his
letter of December 10, 1867: "Above Callville for several hundred
miles the river is entirely unknown." He recommended Callville as the
starting-place for exploration, and a small steamer for the work, with
skiffs and canvass boats for continuing beyond the steam-navigation
limit; but Captain Rodgers, who had gone with the steamboat Esmeralda up
through Black Canyon, thought the great canyon should be entered above
Callville after the fall of water in the spring, and his was more nearly
a correct idea. The War Department continued, however, to butt against
the wrong end, even after the success of the other way had been
demonstrated. Some Mormons, who did not know, reported the two hundred
miles above Callville to be better than the one hundred below. The two
hundred miles above contain some of the most dangerous portions of the
river. Colonel Williamson stated in March, 1868, that he could obtain
no information of importance with regard to the "Big" canyon except
that contained in Dr. Parry's account of White's alleged journey, which
journey, as I have pointed out, was a myth.

"If that report be reliable," he says, "it is evident that in the high
or middle stage of the river a strongly built boat can come down the
canon with safety. Before reading that report I had an idea that it
would be a very dangerous experiment to attempt to go down this canon in
a boat of any kind, because I feared there were falls, in going down,
in which a boat might be upset or even dashed to pieces. As it is, now
I believe there are no falls, and I am inclined to think the best way is
to start above and descend."

During these efforts of the regular army officers to secure information
as to the possibility of exploring the great canyons, Powell approached
the problem from an entirely different direction, and his quick and
accurate perception told him that to go down with the tide was the one
and only way. He was not a rich man; and expeditions require funds, but
this was no more of a bar to his purpose than the lack of an arm. His
father was a Methodist clergyman of good old stock, vigorous of mind
and body, clear-sighted, and never daunted. My immediate impression in
meeting the father, even in his old age, was of immense mental and moral
strength, resolution, and fortitude. These qualities he bequeathed to
his children, and it was a fine inheritance. Major Powell, therefore,
had his ancestry largely to thank for the intellect and the courage with
which he approached this difficult problem.

Funds for the proposed expedition were furnished by the State
Institutions of Illinois and the Chicago Academy of Science; none by
the general Government, so that this was in no way a Government matter,
except that Congress passed a joint-resolution authorising him to draw
rations for twelve men from western army posts. Early in the spring of
1869, after returning from the rambles along Green River of the previous
winter, Powell went to Chicago and engaged a competent builder to
construct four strong boats after his suggestions. Three of these were
of oak, twenty-one feet long, and one of light pine, sixteen feet long,
the latter intended as an advance boat, to be quickly handled in the
face of sudden danger. At the bow and stern of each was a water-tight
compartment, in which supplies and instruments could be packed, and
they would yet give buoyancy to the boats when they would be filled
with water by the breaking waves of the rapids. Amidships the boats were
open, and here also goods, guns, etc., were stowed away. Each had a long
rope, to use in lowering past the most dangerous places. Unlike all the
explorations on the lower course of the river, this expedition would
require no lines for towing. These four little craft, which were to
be the main reliance of the daring men composing the party, were
transported free of charge, together with the men who were from the
country east of the mountains, to Green River Station, Wyoming, by the
courtesy of the officials of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy, and
the Union Pacific railways, who took a deep interest in the proposed
descent. The names given to the boats were, for the small one, Emma
Dean, the pilot boat (after Mrs. Powell), Kitty Clyde's Sister, Maid of
the Canyon, and No-Name. The members of the party, together with their
disposition in the boats at starting, were as follows: John Wesley
Powell, John C. Sumner, William H. Dunn--the Emma Dean; Walter H.
Powell, G. Y. Bradley--Kitty Clyde's Sister; O. G. Howland, Seneca
Howland, Frank Goodman--the No-Name; William R. Hawkins, Andrew
Hall--Maid of the Canyon.

Powell, as noted, had been a volunteer officer in the Civil War. After
that he was connected with the Wesleyan University at Bloomington,
Illinois, and with the Normal University at Normal, in the same state.
Sumner, generally known as Jack Sumner, had also been a soldier in the
late war. He was fair-haired and delicate-looking, but with a strong
constitution. Dunn had been a hunter and trapper. Walter Powell was
Major Powell's youngest brother. He had been in the late war and had
there suffered cruelly by capture and imprisonment. Bradley was an
orderly sergeant of regulars, had served in the late war, and resigned
from the army to join this party. O. G. Howland had been a printer.
Seneca Howland was his younger brother. Goodman was a young Englishman.
Hawkins had been a soldier in the late war, and Andrew Hall was a Scotch
boy nineteen years old.

The spring was chosen for the beginning of the voyage because the Green
then is at flood and there would be less trouble about floating the
boats through the shoal places and amongst the rocks. The river in some
respects is safer at a lower stage of water, but the work is harder.
This, however, was not known then, and Powell had to take his chances at
the flood. On May 24, 1869, the boats were manned and soon were carried
out of sight of the haphazard group of houses which at that time
constituted this frontier settlement of Green River. They were heavily
laden, for ten months' rations were carried, as Powell expected when
winter came to be obliged to halt and make a permanent camp till spring.
He calculated the river might be filled with ice. It has since been
ascertained, however, that the Colorado proper rarely has any ice in it.
I remember once hearing that a great many years ago it was frozen over
in the neighbourhood of Lee's Ferry, where for a little distance the
current is not rapid. Powell was providing for every contingency he
could think of, and trouble with ice was a possible one. But even
without ice the water in winter is so cold that, as men who make the
descent must continually be saturated by the breaking waves and by the
necessity of frequently jumping overboard in avoiding rocks, the
danger of pneumonia is really greater than that from wreck. They had
an abundance of warm clothing for winter, plenty of ammunition, two or
three dozen traps, tools of various kinds, nails, screws; etc. In
the line of scientific instruments there were two sextants, four
chronometers, a number of barometers, thermometers, compasses, etc. With
the exception of the Emma Dean, which had on board only instruments and
clothing, the boats were loaded in such a way that if one should be lost
the expedition would still possess a variety of articles and food.

The first day they met with the usual number of minor accidents, such as
a starting expedition of this kind is seldom free from, like breaking an
oar, running on a shoal, and so on, but all went very well, and when the
evening came an early camp was made, and Powell climbed up and away from
the river to survey the situation.

"Standing on a high point," he says, "I can look off in every direction
over a vast landscape with salient rocks and cliffs glittering in the
evening sun. Dark shadows are settling in the valleys and gulches, and
the heights are made higher, and the depths deeper by the glamour and
witchery of light and shade. Away to the south, the Uinta mountains
stretch in a long line; high peaks thrust into the sky, and snow-fields
glittering like lakes of molten silver; and pine forests in sombre
green; and rosy clouds playing around the borders of huge black masses;
and heights and clouds and mountains and snow-fields and forests and
rock-lands are blended into one grand view."

This was the country before him. The Uinta Mountains, stretching their
picturesque and mighty barrier across the determined course of the
river, produce the first series of superb canyons on the threshold of
which Powell and his daring band were now setting foot. On the third day
they were at Henry's Fork, in the neighbourhood of that first camp in
this locality made by Ashley in 1825, and of his start in the experiment
in canyon running which so nearly terminated his brilliant career. The
"Suck," noted for its danger among the early trappers, was easily passed
and Powell makes no mention of it. So far as I can ascertain there were
two records kept on this expedition, one by Powell on strips of brown
paper, and the other by Jack Sumner on foolscap. The latter, comprised
in some six or eight pages, was the more complete, I believe, and is now
in Washington. I have not seen it since 1871, when we were in the habit
of daily reading its thrilling pages to find out what we might next
expect in our descent. If any other diary or journal was kept by the men
of this expedition I have not heard of it.

The first rapid is in Horseshoe Canyon, and it was no obstacle, being
small and docile, but when they had gone through the next canyon, named
Kingfisher, they found themselves at the beginning of a new and closer,
deeper gorge, Red Canyon, where the waters first begin to exhibit their
grim intention. Here they encountered real rapids, the boats often
dashing along at railroad speed, the waves fiercely breaking over them,
and bailing becoming an imperative accomplishment. The attempt of a Ute
to run through this canyon was described in picturesque terms by one
of the tribe. "Rocks, heap, heap, high," he said; "water go hoowoogh,
hoowoogh; water-pony heap buck; water catch um; no see um Injun any
more! no see um squaw any more! no see um papoose any more!" and thus
begins and ends the only history of native navigation on this upper
river I ever heard of.

After considerable hard work the party reached a particularly sharp,
though not very high, fall, announced before arrival by a loud and angry
roar. Here a portage was deemed wise, and the goods were carried up over
the huge broken rocks and so on down to a point well below the foot
of the drop, where the cargoes were again restored to the boats, which
meanwhile had been lowered by lines. It was here that the name of Ashley
and a year date were found inscribed on a rock. Of this I made a careful
copy in 1871, which is given on page 112. The second figure could,
of course, be only an 8, and the fourth was plainly a 5. The third,
however, was obscure, and Powell was uncertain whether it was a 3 or a
5. It could have been nothing but a 2, because, as we have seen, it was
in the twenties of the last century that Ashley operated in this region;
and it was in 1825 that he made the Red Canyon journey. At the date
which a 3 would make he was a Congressman, and he was never in the Far
West again. Running on through Red Canyon with exhilarating velocity,
but without any serious drawback, the party came out into the tranquil
Brown's Hole, henceforth called Brown's Park. At the foot of this,
without any preliminaries, they were literally swept into the heart
of the mountains, for it is here that the river so suddenly rends the
massive formations in twain and speeds away toward the sea between
wonderful precipices of red sandstone, churning itself to ivory in the
headlong rush. This was named the Canyon of Lodore at the suggestion of
one of the men. The work of safely proceeding down the torrent now grew
far more difficult. Rapids were numerous and the descent in most of them
very great. The boats had to be handled with extra caution. The method
of travelling was for Powell to go ahead in the Emma Dean to examine the
nature of each rapid before the other boats should come down to it. If
he saw a clear chute he ran through and signalled "come on," but if he
thought it too risky he signalled "land," and the place was examined as
well as he was able from the shore. If this investigation showed a great
many dangerous rocks, or any other dangerous element, a portage was
made, or the boats were let down along the edge by lines without taking
out the cargoes. In this careful way they were getting along very well,
when one day they came to a particularly threatening place. Powell
immediately perceived the danger, and, landing, signalled the other
boats to do likewise. Unfortunately, the warning came too late for the
No-Name, which was drawn into a sag, a sort of hollow lying just above
the rapid, to clutch the unwary and drive them over the fall to certain
destruction. Powell for a moment had given his attention to the last
boat, and as he turned again and hurried along to discover the fortune
of the No-Name, which was plunging down, without hope of escape, toward
the frightful descent, he was just in time to see her strike a rock
and, rebounding, careen so that the open compartment filled with water.
Sweeping on down now with railway speed, broadside on, she again struck
a few yards below and was broken completely in two, the three men being
tossed into the foaming flood. They were able to gain some support
by clinging to the main part of the boat, which still held together.
Drifting on swiftly over a few hundred yards more to a second rapid full
of large boulders, the doomed craft struck a third time and was entirely
demolished, the men and the fragments being carried then out of sight.
Powell climbed as rapidly as possible over the huge fallen rocks, which
here lie along the shore he was on, and presently he was able to get a
view of his men. Goodman was in a whirlpool below a great rock; reaching
this he clung to it. Howland had been washed upon a low rocky island,
which at this stage of water was some feet above the current, and Seneca
Howland also had gained this place. Howland extended a long pole to
Goodman and by means of it pulled him to the island, where all were safe
for the time being. Several hundred yards farther down, the river took
another and more violent fall, rendering the situation exceedingly
hazardous. A boat allowed to get a trifle too far towards this descent
would be treated as the No-Name had been served higher up, and the
expedition could not afford to lose a second boat with its contents. The
water in these rapids beats furiously against the foot of the opposite
vertical cliff, and if a boat in either place should by chance get
too far over towards this right-hand wall it would be dashed to pieces
there, even could it escape the rocks of the main channel. The problem
was how to rescue the men from the island and not destroy another boat
in doing it. Finally, the Emma Dean was brought down, and Jack Sumner
undertook to reach the island in her. Keeping well up stream, as near
the first fall as he could, a few bold strokes enabled him to land near
the lower end. Then, all together, they pulled the boat to the very
head of the island and beyond that as far as they could stand up in
the water. Here one man sat on a rock and held the boat steady till the
others were in perfect readiness to pull with all their power, when he
gave a shove and, clinging on, climbed in while the oarsmen put their
muscle to the test. The shore was safely attained, and Powell writes:
"We are as glad to shake hands with them as though they had been on a
voyage around the world, and wrecked on a distant coast." This disaster
was most serious, even though the men were saved, for, besides the loss
of the craft itself, all the barometers by some miscalculation were on
the No-Name. They were able to make camp on the shore and survey the
situation. "No sleep comes to me in all those dark hours," writes
Powell. To meet with such a reverse at so early a stage was very
discouraging, but Powell had counted on disaster, and, as he was never
given to repining, as soon as breakfast was eaten the next morning he
cast about for a way to rescue the barometers which were in a part of
the wreck that had lodged among some rocks a half mile below. Sumner and
Dunn volunteered to try to reach the place with the small boat, and they
succeeded. When they returned, a loud cheer went up from those on shore,
and Powell was much impressed with this exhibition of deep interest in
the safety of the scientific instruments, but he soon discovered that
the cheer was in celebration of the rescue of a three-gallon keg of
whiskey that had been smuggled along without his knowledge and happened
to be on the ill-fated No-Name.

It required a good deal of work to complete the portage around the
double fall so that night again compelled them to camp near its spray,
this time on a sand bank at the foot of the lower descent. Here, half
buried in the gravel of the beach, some objects were discovered
which revealed the fact that some other party had suffered a similar
disastrous experience. These were an iron bake-oven, several tin plates,
fragments of a boat, and other indications of a wreck at this place long
years before. In his report, Powell ascribes this wreck to Ashley, but
this is a mistake, for Ashley seems never to have entered this canyon,
ending his voyage, as I have previously stated, when he reached Brown's
Park. This wreckage then was from some other and later party. Powell
also states that Ashley and one other survivor succeeded in reaching
Salt Lake, where they were fed and clothed by the Mormons and employed
on the Temple foundation until they had earned enough to enable them to
leave the country. These men could not have been Ashley and a companion,
for several reasons: one cited above; another that the Mormons had not
yet settled at Salt Lake in Ashley's day; and a third, that Ashley was
a wealthy and distinguished man, and would not have required pecuniary
help. The disaster recorded by the bake-oven, etc., must then have
occurred after 1847, the year the Mormons went into the Salt Lake
Valley. Possibly it may have been the party mentioned by Farnham in
1839, though this would not be true if the men found Mormons at Salt
Lake. An old mountaineer, named Baker, once told Powell of a party of
men starting down the river and named Ashley as one, and this story,
which referred undoubtedly to the real Ashley party, became confused
with some other wherein the survivors probably did strike for Salt
Lake and were helped by the Mormons.* At any rate, the rapids which
had wrecked the earlier party and swallowed up the No-Name were
appropriately called Disaster Falls.

    *Should any reader have knowledge of the men who were wrecked in
Lodore between the time of Ashley and Powell, the author would be glad
to hear of it.

The river descends throughout Lodore with great rapidity and every day
brought with it hard work and narrow escapes. Sometimes the danger
was of a novel and unexpected character, as on June 16th, when the
dry willows around camp caught fire. Powell had started for a climb
of investigation and looking down on the camp he perceived a sudden
tremendous activity without being able for some moments to discover the
cause. So rapidly did the fire spread that there was no escape except by
the boats. Some had their clothing burned and their hair singed, while
Bradley even had his ears scorched. The cook in his haste stumbled with
his arms full of culinary utensils, and the load disappeared beneath the
waters, ever on the alert to swallow up man, boat, or beast. Just below
the camp was a rapid and, casting off, they were forced to run this
without stopping to examine it. No harm was done to the boats, and they
landed at the first opportunity. When the fire had burned out they
went back along the rocks to pick up what had been left behind and was
unconsumed. On the same day, as the men were in the act of lowering
a boat by lines, she broke away and started on an independent run.
Fortunately, she soon became entangled in an eddy, where she halted long
enough to permit them to hurry down the small boat and recapture her.
Sometimes the channel was beset with innumerable great rocks, amidst
which the river seethed and boiled in a manner sufficient to terrify
any boatmen, but, luckily, they were able to work their way cautiously
along, and without further disaster they came, on the 17th of June, to
a place where the walls broke away and they emerged into a beautiful
park-like widening of the canyon with bounding cliffs only about 600
feet high near the river. After the continuous cliffs of from 2000 to
2500 feet this place seemed like open country. Once more they camped in
a quiet place at the mouth of a river entering through a deep canyon on
the left or east side. It was the Yampa, sometimes called Bear River.
After a side trip of several hours up this canyon they started again on
the descent and, skirting the smooth perpendicular wall which forms the
west side of Echo Park, they turned a corner and found themselves in a
new gorge, which, on account of many whirlpools existing at that
stage of water, was called Whirlpool Canyon. The run through this was
accomplished with great rapidity, as there were no serious obstacles,
and in two days the expedition emerged into another expansion of the
walls, where the tired men had a brief respite before they perceived the
rocks, again closing in on the water.

Here a deer was brought in by one of the men, and, as they killed a
mountain sheep farther up, they had not suffered for fresh meat. The
entrance to the next canyon was very abrupt, and they were soon whirling
along on a swift current. Though there were many rapids, landings were
easy, and there was plenty of standing room everywhere, so that in two
days they had the pleasure of pulling out of this Split Mountain Canyon
into the Wonsits Valley, the longest opening in the whole line of
canyons. Thus far, no Amerinds had been seen, not even signs of them,
but here they found some tipi poles and the dead embers of a camp-fire,
showing that other human beings besides themselves had traversed the
lands now about them. Pushing ahead over the sluggish waters of the
river in this valley, they were not long in arriving at the mouth of the
Uinta River, where Powell and two others walked out to the Ute Agency,
about forty miles distant up the Uinta. One of the crew of the wrecked
No-Name, Frank Goodman, here decided that he had seen all the canyons
his education required and took his departure. This was not unwelcome
to Powell, for the boats were still heavily loaded and the three men
who had composed the crew of the wrecked boat were no longer actually
required. Starting again, they arrived, not far below the mouth of
the Uinta, at an island where a small crop had been planted by a
"squaw-man,"* who had visited Powell's camp the previous winter. On
that occasion he had disclosed his intention of tilling this place and
invited Powell to help himself when he passed there in his boats. The
man was not at the farm, and nothing was ripe, but Hall suggested that
potato-tops make good "greens." A quantity was therefore secured, and,
at the noon stop, cooked and eaten, with the obvious result that all
were violently sick. Luckily, the sickness was brief, and they were able
to proceed by the middle of the afternoon. Often, the longing, by men
living on bacon and beans, for something fresh in the vegetable line,
leads to foolish experiments.

    * A white man married to a squaw, and living with the tribe.

This Wonsits Valley soon came to an end and once more the rocks closed
in, forming a canyon lacking the vegetation that had accompanied the
cliffs along the river above. Because of this general barren appearance
the gorge was called the Canyon of Desolation. On July 11th, they
approached a rapid which seemed at first glance no more difficult to
run than many they had successfully dashed through. The leading boat
by Powell's direction pulled, into it, but this move was no sooner made
than he perceived that at the bottom the river turned sharply to the
left and the waters were piled against the foot of the cliff in an
alarming manner. An effort was made to land, but as they had shortly
before broken one oar and lost another, the two remaining were not
sufficient to propel the boat with force enough to reach the desired
point. At the same time, a huge wave striking the boat turned it
instantly upside down and cast Powell some distance away. He succeeded
in reaching her side, and there found Sumner and Dunn clinging. When
quiet water was again entered they attempted to right the craft, and
in doing this Dunn lost his hold and went under, though at the critical
moment, as he came up, Sumner succeeded in grasping him and drawing
him to the boat. By this time, they had drifted a long way down and saw
another rapid approaching. By swimming desperately, they avoided being
carried into this in their awkward plight, and, towing the boat after
them, landed none too soon on a pile of driftwood on the bank. A gun,
some barometers, and other articles that were in the open compartment,
were lost, though one roll of blankets had been caught and saved by
Powell as it drifted by. Building a large fire on the shore, they
dried their clothing, while out of one of the logs they manufactured
much-needed oars.

Fortified by these, they ran several bad rapids the following day. In
one, Bradley was knocked overboard, but, his foot catching under the
seat, he was dragged head down through the water till the worst of the
fall was passed, when one of the other men managed to haul him in. Just
below this, they emerged again into an expansion of the walls, leaving
the ninety-seven miles of Desolation behind. But another mile brought
the rocks back once more, and the thirty-six miles of Gray Canyon must
be passed before they came to Gunnison Valley. Beyond this, walls of
sandstone about one thousand feet high hemmed the river in for some
sixty miles, but the stream was not dangerous and the party moved
on quickly, though the absence of rapids and swift water made rowing
obligatory. At the foot of this gorge, called from its winding
character, Labyrinth Canyon, there was a brief expansion before the next
walls closed upon them. These were closer than any seen above, but the
river, though swift, had no dangerous element, so that progress was safe
and easy, and in a trifle over forty miles they came to the mouth of a
river almost as large as the Green, flowing in a canyon of similar depth
and character. This was Grand River. At last they had reached the
place where these two streams unite, thirteen hundred feet below the
surrounding country; the mysterious Junction which, so far as the
records go, Macomb and all white men before had failed to find.
Therefore when Powell and his band floated down till the waters of the
Green mingled with those of the Grand they were perhaps the first white
men ever to arrive at the spot. The Colorado proper was now before them.
It was the mystery of mysteries.


A Canyon of Cataracts--The Imperial Chasm--Short Rations--A Split in
the Party--Separation--Fate of the Howlands and Dunn--The Monster

Powell's winter of investigation had probably given him a good idea of
what kind of rapids might be expected in the formations composing the
canyons as far as the mouth of Grand River, but he now had confronting
him water which for aught he could tell might indulge in plunges of a
hundred feet or more at one time, between absolutely vertical walls.
And the aspect of the surroundings at the junction of the Green and
the Grand is not reassuring. It is a barren and dismal place, with no
footing but a few sand-banks that are being constantly cut away and
reformed by the whirling current, except on their higher levels where a
few scrawny hackberry trees and weeds find room to continue a precarious
existence. To get out of or into this locality either by climbing the
cliffs or by navigating the rivers is a difficult feat, and to trust
oneself to the current blindly rushing down toward the sea is even
worse, more especially so on the occasion of this first descent when all
beyond was a complete blank. But the party faced the future bravely and
cheerfully. They climbed out at two points on tours of inspection of the
country above, while some took the opportunity to overhaul the supply
of rations, which, having been so often wet, was seriously damaged.
The flour was musty and full of hard lumps. To eliminate the lumps,
therefore, they screened it with a piece of mosquito netting for a
sieve; at the same time they eliminated more than two hundred pounds of
the precious freight and threw this away, a foolish proceeding, for by
proper cooking it might have been utilised for food. Together with the
losses by the wreck of the No-Name and other mishaps, and with what
had been consumed, their food-supply was now reduced from the original
ten-months' amount to a two-months' quantity, though they had not
yet been on the way quite sixty days; that is, they had used up eight
months' supplies in two months, including a mountain sheep and a deer
the hunters had brought down, and they were barely more than half-way
to the end of the journey. At this alarming rate they would be starving
long before they saw the walls of the Grand Canyon break away.

Nevertheless no thought of pursuing any course but the one planned
occurred to them, and on July 21st they cast off from the sand-banks and
were carried rapidly down on the swift torrent of the Great Colorado.
They had not gone far before plenty hard work was furnished, in the
shape of two portages were necessary to pass particularly dangerous
places, and numerous bad rapids to run. In the afternoon the Emma Dean,
in attempting to navigate one of the more favourable-looking foaming
descents, was swamped, pitching Powell and the others headlong into the
roaring flood. They were fortunately able to cling to the boat till they
floated into more tranquil waters, where they managed to climb on board,
signalling the other boats to land before the plunge. This they could
do, and the boats were brought down by a portage, which took all the
rest of the day. The approach of darkness compelled a halt for the
night on some rocks where they had barely room enough to lie down. Three
much-needed oars had been lost with the capsize of the Dean. These were
sadly missed in the rough water that surrounded them the following day,
so at the first large pile of driftwood they made a landing and secured
a cottonwood log for oar-timber. While the oars were making, Powell and
his brother climbed up to where some pinyon trees were seen growing,
and collected a quantity of gum with which to calk the leaky boats.
They needed all the preparation possible, for the rapids now came ever
thicker, ever faster, and more violent. The walls also grew in altitude
from the thirteen hundred feet of the Junction to fifteen hundred feet,
then to eighteen hundred feet, nearly vertical in places.

An examination of the barometric record was now made to see how much
they had by this time descended toward sea-level, and, by comparison,
about what might be expected in the river below. The conclusion was
that though great descents were still ahead, if the fall should be
distributed in rapids and short drops, as it had been above, and not
concentrated great plunges, they would meet with success. But there in
always remained the possibility of arriving on the brink of some high
fall where no footing on either side could be obtained, and where a
fierce current would prohibit a return. In such a case the exploration
would have ended then and there. The newspapers before this time had
printed a story of the expedition's collapse. The outer world supposed
that Powell and all his men but one had been destroyed, though A. H.
Thompson wrote to the Chicago Inter-Ocean, which first published it,
showing its absurdity. Mrs. Powell heard the story at her father's home
in Detroit and she pronounced it a fabrication, for she had received a
letter subsequent to the date given for the destruction of the party.
She also had faith in her husband's judgment, caution, and good sense,
so she refused to accept the tale at all, which was circulated by a man
who had started from Green River Station, and who, by "pitching" this
picturesque yarn, secured the sympathy and the purses of the passengers
on an east-bound Union Pacific train. He told how Powell and all the men
but himself had been suddenly swallowed up in an awful place, dark and
gloomy and full of fearful whirlpools, called Brown's Hole. From the
shore, where he alone had remained, he had despairingly witnessed the
party disappear in a mighty whirlpool never to rise again. But he made
a mistake, so far as Mrs. Powell was concerned, in naming the spot. She
knew very well that there was no danger whatever in Brown's Hole, and
that the river in this pretty park was the quietest on the whole course.
But for its inventor the yarn had fulfilled its purpose, and he found
himself east of the Mississippi, where he wanted to be, with a pocket
full of dollars. A week or two after the story appeared letters were
received from Powell via the Uinta Agency. These positively proved the
falsity of the tale.

On the fourth day in Cataract Canyon three portages were compulsory at
the very outset to pass safely over a stretch where the waters tumbled
seventy-five feet in three quarters of a mile, and at the end of this
three quarters of a mile they camped again, worn out by the severe toil.
Rapids now came with even greater frequency, between walls more than two
thousand feet high and often nearly vertical from the water. On the 27th
a flock of mountain sheep was discovered on the rocks not more than one
hundred feet above their heads. The game did not see the hunters, who
landed quickly in a convenient cove, and two fat sheep were added to the
rapidly diminishing larder. On the next day they were startled by
the sudden closing in of the walls, till the canyon, now nearly three
thousand feet deep, became very narrow, with the river filling the chasm
from one blank cliff to the other. The water was also swift and the
canyon winding, so that it was not possible to see ahead. Powell was
much disturbed lest they should run upon some impassable fall, but
luckily in about a mile and a half they emerged again into a more broken
gorge without having had the least difficulty. He justly remarks that
after it was done it seemed a simple thing to run through such a place,
but the first doing of it was fraught with keen anxiety. In the late
afternoon of this same day, they came to the end of the forty-one miles
of Cataract Canyon, marked by a deep canyon-valley entering from the
left at a sharp bend where millions of crags, pinnacles, and towers
studded the summit of the right-hand wall, now again thirteen hundred
feet high. It was called Millecrag Bend, either then, or on the second
expedition. A new canyon immediately formed; a narrow, straight canyon,
with walls terraced above and vertical below. The thirteen hundred feet
of altitude speedily diminished and in nine miles the voyagers were at
the end. Low walls again began, forming the head of the next canyon of
the series. Presently they arrived at the mouth of a river flowing in
from the right, or west. The pilot boat ran up into this stream, and
as the water of the Colorado had been particularly muddy, the men were
eager to discover clear, sparkling affluents and springs. One behind
shouted, "How is she, Jack?" and Jack sententiously replied, "Oh,
she's a dirty devil!" and by this title the river was long called, and
probably is still so known in that region, though on the maps it
was afterwards changed by Powell to Fremont River, in honour of the

They were now in the beginning of what has since been called Glen
Canyon. Powell at first gave the name of Mound to the upper half, and
Monument to the lower, but after 1871 Glen was substituted for the
whole. On July 31st they passed the mouth of the San Juan, which enters
through a canyon similar to that of the main river, about a thousand
feet deep. They tried to climb out near this point, but failed to
accomplish it. The next day they made camp in one of the peculiar
alcoves or glens from which the canyon is named, worn by the waters into
the homogeneous sandstone composing the walls. This particular glen is a
beautiful spot. The wide entrance contains a number of cottonwood trees,
and passing these one finds himself in a huge cavern some five hundred
feet wide and two hundred feet high, with a narrow slit leading up to
the sky, and extending back far beyond the limits of the glen. The men
found this a delightful place. They sang songs, and their voices sounded
so well that they bestowed upon the cavern the name of Music Temple.
It now holds a special interest because three of them, O. G. Rowland,
Seneca Howland, and William Dunn, carved their names on a smooth face
of rock, and it forms their eternal monument, for these three never saw
civilisation again.

For 149 miles the easy waters of Glen Canyon bore them along, and by
August 4th they had passed the Crossing of the Fathers, or Ute Ford,
as it was called in that country before its identification as the point
where Escalante crossed, and were at the mouth of the Paria, since 1873
better known as Lee's Ferry. They had now before them the grandest of
all the gorges, though only two hundred feet deep at the beginning; but
they had not proceeded far into it before the walls ran rapidly up
while the river ran rapidly down. Numerous falls appeared, one following
another in quick succession, necessitating portages and much hard work.
When Powell managed to climb out on the 7th, the walls had grown to
twenty-three hundred feet. They soon increased to about thirty-five
hundred feet, often vertical on one or the other side at the water, and
even in the upper portions extremely precipitous. By the 10th they had
reached the mouth of the Little Colorado, where White's imagination had
pictured the greatest terror of the whole river, and the end of all the
dangerous part. The walls of this tributary are, as is usually the case,
the same as those of the main gorge, but the stream itself was small,
muddy, and saline. Powell walked up it three or four miles, having no
trouble in crossing it by wading when desirable. He called the new gorge
now before him, really only a continuation of the one ending with the
canyon of the Little Colorado, the "Great Unknown," and a party
some twenty years later, emulating the early Spaniards in the art of
forgetting, called it the same, but it was the Great Unknown only once,
and that was when Powell on this occasion first faced the sublime,
unfathomed depths that here lay in his course. Only one month's rations
remained as a reliance in this terrible passage. Powell says: "We have
an unknown distance yet to run; an unknown river yet to explore. What
falls there are we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know
not; what walk rise over the river, we know not.... The men talk as
cheerfully as ever; jests are bandied about freely this morning; but to
me the cheer is sombre and the jests are ghastly." With anxiety and much
misgiving they drifted on between mile-high cliffs, rising terrace on
terrace to the very sky itself. Even now, when the dangers are known and
tested, no man lives who can enter the great chasm for a voyage to the
other end without feeling anxiety as to the result, and the more anxiety
he feels, the more probability there is that he will pass the barriers
safely. Running rapids and passing falls by portages and let-downs,
they met no formidable obstacle till August 14th, when they ran into a
granite formation, the "First Granite Gorge." While the gorge was wide
above, it grew narrower as the river level was approached, till the
walls were closer than anywhere farther up; and they were ragged and
serrated. They had noticed that hard rocks had produced bad river, and
soft rocks smooth water; now they were in a series of rocks harder than
any before encountered. There was absolutely no way of telling what the
waters might do in such a formation, which ran up till a thousand feet
of it stood above their heads, supporting more than four thousand feet
more of sedimentary rocks, making a grand total of between five thousand
and six thousand feet. The same day on which they entered the granite
they arrived, after running, and portaging around, several bad rapids,
at a terrific fall, announced by a loud roar like the steady boom of
Niagara, reverberating back and forth from wall to wall, and filling the
whole gorge with its ominous note. The river was beaten to a solid sheet
of reeling foam for a third of a mile. There was but one choice, but one
path for the boats, and that lay through the midst of it, for on each
side the waves pounded violently against the jagged cliffs which so
closely hemmed them in. Men might climb up to the top of the granite
and find their way around the obstruction, one thousand feet above it,
descending again a mile or two down, but they could not take the boats
over such a road. They must, therefore, run the place, a fall of about
eighty feet in the third of a mile, or give up the descent. So they got
into their boats and started on the smooth waters, so soon shattered
into raging billows. Though filled with water, the boats all rode
successfully and came out below crowned with success. Often a rapid is
greatly augmented by enormous boulders which have been washed into the
river from some side canyon, and, acting like a dam, block the water
up and cause it to roar and fret tenfold more. Black and dismal is this
granite gorge; sharp and terrible the rapids, whose sheeted foam becomes
fairly iridescent by contrast. The method of working around some of the
worst places is illustrated well by the following extract:

"We land and stop for an hour or two to examine the fall. It seems
possible to let down with lines, at least part of the way, from point
to point, along the right-hand wall. So we make a portage over the first
rocks, and find footing on some boulders below. Then we let down one
of the boats to the end of her line, when she reaches a corner of the
projecting rock, to which one of the men clings and steadies her, while
I examine an eddy below. I think we can pass the other boats down by us,
and catch them in the eddy. This is soon done and the men in the boats
in the eddy pull us to their side. On the shore of this little eddy
there is about two feet of gravel beach above water. Standing on this
beach, some of the men take a line of the little boat and let it drift
down against another projecting angle. Here is a little shelf on which
a man from my boat climbs, and a shorter line is passed to him, and he
fastens the boat to the side of the cliff. Then the second one is let
down, bringing the line of the third. When the second boat is tied up,
the two men standing on the beach above spring into the last boat, which
is pulled up alongside ours. Then we let down the boats, for twenty-five
or thirty yards, by walking along the shelf, landing them again in
the mouth of a side canyon. Just below this there is another pile of
boulders, over which we make another portage. From the foot of these
rocks we can climb to another shelf, forty or fifty feet above the
water. On this bench we camp for the night. We find a few sticks, which
have lodged in the rocks. It is raining hard, and we have no shelter,
but kindle a fire and have our supper. We sit on the rocks all night,
wrapped in our ponchos, getting what sleep we can."

At this season of the year there is a good deal of cloudy and rainy
weather in the Grand Canyon region, and this makes the gorge decidedly
gloomy when one is compelled to stay in it and descend the river. The
next morning with two hours of similar manoeuvring the rapid was passed.
The same day they found a stretch where the river was so swift the boats
were tossed from side to side like feathers, entirely unmanageable. Here
they met with another rapid and two of the boats were in such a position
they could not escape running it. But they went through without damage.
Then the third crew tried to reach land, and succeeded, only to find
that there was no foot-hold. They pushed out again, to be overwhelmed by
a powerful wave which filled the boat full. She drifted helpless through
several breakers and one of these capsized her. The men hung to the
side, the only thing to do in the Colorado unless one has on a life
preserver (and even then it is advisable), as she drifted down to the
other boats, where she was caught and righted. It has always seemed
strange to me that Powell on this crucial expedition did not provide
himself and his men with cork life-jackets, a precaution that suggests
itself immediately in such an undertaking. No one ought ever to attempt
a descent without them.

The next day they reached a clear little stream coming in through a
deep canyon on the right, and because they had honoured the devil by
conferring his name on a river higher up, Powell concluded to honour the
good spirits by calling this Bright Angel River. In its narrow valley
ruined foundations of houses and fragments of pottery were discovered.
There were also indications of old trails by which the builders had
made their way about. By the 17th of August, the rations were reduced
to musty flour enough for ten days, a few dried apples, and plenty of
coffee. The bacon had spoiled and was thrown away. Now the problem of
food was a paramount consideration. Should they be detained by many bad
places, they might be forced by the food question to abandon the river,
if possible, and strike for the Mormon settlements lying to the north.
The barometers were rendered useless, so that they could not determine
the altitude to see what proportion of descent still remained ahead.
They hoped, however, that the worst was behind. They now carefully
divided evenly among the boats the little stock of flour, so that, in
case of disaster, all of it should not be lost at once. Notwithstanding
all the difficulties and the dark outlook, Powell never failed in his
wonderful poise of mind and balance of nerve. But he was anxious, and
he sang sometimes as they sailed along till the men, he once told me,
he believed thought he had gone crazy. Of course the singing was more or
less a mask for his real feelings.

On the 19th the pioneer boat, running some distance ahead of the others,
was again upset by a wave. As usual the men succeeded in clinging to the
upturned craft, the closed compartments always keeping the boat afloat,
and were carried down through another rapid. The companion boats were
detained by whirlpools and could not quickly go to the rescue, but when
they finally did reach the Dean, she was bailed out, the men climbed on
board of her again, and they all went on without even trying to land.
The next day, in one hour, they ran on a wild dashing river ten miles
without stopping, and, what was to them most important, they ran out of
the granite. The bright colours of the sedimentary rocks put new cheer
into them. On they ran, down the narrow canyon, now about three thousand
feet deep, always on swift water, but for a time there were no bad
rapids. On August 25th they reached a fall where the river was once
dammed up for a great height by an overflow of lava from craters on and
near the brink. One of the craters was plainly visible from below. The
canyon appeared to have been once filled by the lava to the depth of
fifteen hundred feet. They named the descent Lava Falls and made a
portage. Not far below this they found a garden which had been planted
by the Shewits Pai Utes living on the plateau above. The corn was not
ripe, though some squashes were, and helping themselves to a few of
these they ran on to a comfortable place and had a feast.

So well did they now get on, running rapids and making fine time, that
they began to look forward with great hope to a speedy termination of
the canyon. When therefore the river took an unexpected turn towards the
south and the lower formations once more began to appear, till the black
granite, dreaded and feared, closed again threateningly about them,
they were considerably disheartened. At the very beginning they were
compelled to make a portage. Then they reached a place which appeared
worse than anything they had yet seen. This was partly due to the
condition of the men and it was partly a fact. They could discover no
way to portage or to let down, and Powell believed running it meant
certain destruction. They climbed up and along on the granite for a mile
or two, but there appeared no hope for success. In trying to secure an
advantageous position from which to view the fall Powell worked
himself into a position where he could neither advance nor retreat. His
situation was most precarious. The men were obliged to bring oars from
the boats four hundred feet below, to brace into the rocks in order
to get him safely back. The absence of his right arm made climbing
sometimes very difficult for him. This was on the side opposite their
first landing. Descending, they recrossed the river and spent the whole
afternoon trying to decide on a plan. At last Powell reached a decision.
It was to lower the boats over the first portion, a fall of eighteen or
twenty feet, then hug the right cliff to a point just above the second
drop, where they could enter a little chute, and having passed this
point they were to pull directly across the stream to avoid a dangerous
rock below. He told the men his intention of running the rapid the next
morning, and they all crossed the river once more to a landing where it
was possible to camp.

New and serious trouble now developed. The elder Howland remonstrated
with Powell against proceeding farther by the river and advised the
abandonment of the enterprise altogether. At any rate, he and his
brother and William Dunn would not go on in the boats. Powell sat up
that night plotting out his course and concluded from it that the mouth
of the Virgen could not be more than forty-five miles away in a straight
line. Calculating eighty or ninety miles by the river, and allowing for
the open country he knew existed below the end of the Grand Canyon, he
concluded that they must soon reach the mouth and be able to find the
Mormon settlements about twenty miles up the Virgen River. Then he
awoke Howland and explained the situation, and they talked it over. The
substance of this talk is not stated, but Howland went to sleep again
while Powell paced the sand till dawn, pondering on the best course to
take. The immediate danger of the rapid he thought could be overcome
with safety, but what was below? To climb out here, even were it
possible, was to reach the edge of a desert with the nearest Mormon town
not less than seventy-five miles distant, across an unknown country. So
heavily did this situation weigh upon him that he almost concluded to
abandon the river and try the chance on the top, but then he says: "For
years I have been contemplating this trip. To leave the exploration
unfinished, to say that there is a part of the canyon which I cannot
explore, having already almost accomplished it, is more than I am
willing to acknowledge, and I determine to go on." So he awoke Walter
Powell and explained to him Howland's decision. Walter agreed to stand
by him, and so did Sumner, Hawkins, Bradley, and Hall. The younger
Howland wished to remain, but would not desert his brother. O. G.
Howland was determined to leave the river, and Dunn was with him.

I have never met any of the men of this party except Powell and his
brother Walter, so I have no other account of the affair than the one
just stated, which is from Powell's Report, and is the same that he gave
me orally before that Report was printed. Walter Powell never mentioned
the subject, or in any way suggested to me that there was anything
behind the version of Powell. But others have. They have said that the
real cause of the break was an incompatibility between Powell and the
elder Howland. It is quite possible that Powell may have discovered
Howland persona non grata, but had this been as serious as some have
said, Howland would not have waited, it seems to me, till they came to a
particularly bad-looking place to take his departure. At any rate, that
was a long night for Powell, and whatever the main cause of Howland's
leaving was, it was a trying ordeal for the leader. Howland's obligation
certainly was to go on as if he were an enlisted soldier, and he
evidently failed in this duty. When daylight finally came a solemn
breakfast was prepared and eaten. No one had much heart. The river was
then crossed again to the north side. The decision of the three men to
leave rendered one boat useless, and the poorest, the Dean, which was a
pine boat, was left behind. Two rifles and a shotgun were given to the
men who were leaving, but their share of the rations they refused to
take, being sure they could secure all the game they required. Their
calculations were correct enough, and they would have arrived at the
settlements had not an unforeseen circumstance prevented. When the river
party were ready to start the three deserters helped lift the two boats
over a high rock and down past the first fall. Then they parted. Powell
wrote a letter to his wife which Howland took, Sumner gave him his watch
with directions that it be sent to his sister in the event of the river
party being annihilated, and the duplicate records of the trip were
separated, one set being given to Howland, who at the last begged them
not to go on down the river, assuring them that a few miles more of
such river as that now ahead of them would consume the last of the scant
rations and then it would be too late to try to escape. In fact each
party thought the other was taking the more desperate chance. By a
mistake the duplicate records were wrongly divided, each party having
portions of both sets. This afterwards made gaps in the river data below
the Paria as far as Catastrophe Rapid. Powell entered the Maid of the
Canyon and pulled away while the departing men stood on an overhanging
crag looking on. Both boats succeeded in going through without accident,
and it was then apparent that the place was not so bad as it looked and
that they had run many that were worse. Down below it they waited for a
couple of hours hoping the men would change their minds, take the Dean,
and come on. But they were never seen again by white men. They climbed
up the mighty cliffs to the summit of the Shewits Plateau, about
fifty-five hundred feet, and that it is a hard climb I can testify, for
I climbed down and back not far above this point. At length they were
out of the canyon, and they must have rejoiced at leaving those gloomy
depths behind. Northward they went, to a large water-pocket, a favourite
camping-ground of the Shewits, a basin in the rocky channel of an
intermittent stream, discharging into the Colorado. The only story of
their fate was obtained from these Utes. Jacob Hamblin of Kanab learned
it from some other Utes and afterwards got the story from them. They
received the men at their camp and gave them food. During the night
some of the band came in from the north and reported certain outrages by
miners in that country. It was at once concluded that these whites were
the culprits and that they never came down the Colorado as they claimed.
In the morning, therefore, a number secreted themselves near the edge
of the water-pocket. The trail to the water leads down under a basaltic
cliff perhaps thirty or forty feet high, as I remember the spot, which I
visited about six years later. As the unfortunate men turned to come
up from filling their canteens, they were shot down from ambush. In
consequence I have called this the Ambush Water-pocket.* The guns,
clothing, etc., were appropriated by the Shewits, and I believe it
was through one of the watches that the facts first leaked out. I have
always had a lurking suspicion that the Shewits were glad of an excuse
(if they had one at the time) for killing the men. When I was there they
were in an ugly mood and the night before I got to the camp my guide, a
Uinkaret, and a good fellow, warned me to be constantly on my guard or
they would steal all we had. There were three of us, and probably we
were among the first whites to go there. Powell the autumn after the men
were killed went to the Uinkaret Mountains, but did not continue over to
the Shewits Plateau. Thompson went there in 1872.

    *I have since been told that these men were killed near Mt.
Dellenbaugh, but my version is as I remember Jacob Hamblin's statement
to me in 1872. He was the first to get the story.

Meanwhile the boat party dashed safely on through a succession of rapids
till noon, when they arrived at another very bad place. In working
through this by means of lines, Bradley was let down in one of the boats
to fend her off the rocks, and finding himself in a serious predicament
started to cut the line, when the stern of the boat pulled away and he
shot down alone. He was a powerful man, and snatching up the steering
oar, with several strong strokes he put her head down stream and
immediately boat and all disappeared amidst the foaming breakers. But he
came out unharmed, and in time to render service to Powell's boat, which
was badly shaken up in the passage. The other men of Bradley's boat,
left behind, were obliged to make a long and difficult climb before they
were able to rejoin their craft. By night they had run entirely out of
the granite, and at noon the next day, without encountering any more
serious trouble, they emerged at last from the depths of the giant
chasm. They were at the mouth of the Grand Wash. The Dragon of Waters
was vanquished. Not that the Dragon would not fight again just as
before, but those who attacked him in future would understand his
temper. Below this point Powell was guided by a manuscript journal which
Jacob Hamblin and two other Mormons, Miller and Crosby, had kept on a
boat journey a few years earlier from the Grand Wash to Callville. Ives
and others having been up to Callville, the exploration of the Colorado
was now complete. There was no part of it unknown; and Powell's feat
in descending through the long series of difficult canyons stands
unrivalled in the annals of exploration on this continent. "The relief
from danger and the joy of success are great," he writes. "Ever before
us has been an unknown danger, heavier than immediate peril. Every
waking hour passed in the Grand Canyon has been one of toil." His chief
concern now was the fate of the men who had deserted him, but this was
not revealed till the next year. Had they remained with the others, they
probably would have gone safely through, but had they died, it would
have been properly and gloriously, in the battle with the fierce river.
In the history of expeditions, it is usually those who depart from
the original plan who suffer most, for this plan is generally well
considered beforehand, whereas any subsequent change is mainly based
on error or fear. Running on through a couple of small canyons, they
discovered on the bank some Pai Utes, who ran away, but a little farther
down they came to another camp where several did not run. Nothing could
be learned from them about the whites, yet a short distance below this
they came upon three white men and a native hauling a seine. They had
reached the goal! It was the mouth of the Virgen River! The men in the
boat had heard that the whole party was lost and were on the lookout
for wreckage. They were a father and his sons, named Asa, Mormons from a
town about twenty miles up the Virgen. The total stock of food left the
explorers was ten pounds of flour, fifteen of dried apples, and about
seventy of coffee. Powell and his brother here said farewell to their
companions of the long and perilous journey. They went to the Mormon
settlements, while the others continued down the river in the boats to
Yuma where Hawkins and Bradley left. Sumner and Hall continued to the
Gulf which they reached before the end of September.

This expedition, by hard labour, with good boats had, accomplished in
about thirty working days the distance from the mouth of Grand River
down, while White claimed to have done it on a clumsy raft in eleven!
And where White professed to find smooth sailing in his imaginary
voyage, Powell had discovered the most dangerous river of all.

Of his companions on this extraordinary journey, Powell says "I was a
maimed man, my right arm was gone; and these brave men, these good men,
never forgot it. In every danger my safety was their first care, and
in every waking hour some kind service was rendered me, and they
transfigured my misfortune into a boon."


Powell's Second Attack on the Colorado--Green River City--Red Canyon
and a Capsize--The Grave of Hook--The Gate of Lodore--Cliff of the
Harp--Triplet Falls and Hell's Half-Mile--A Rest in Echo Park.

Though Powell had demonstrated the possibility of passing alive through
the thousand-mile stretch of canyons on the Green and Colorado, the
scientific results of his hazardous voyage were not what he had desired.
Owing to the numerous disasters many of the instruments had been lost,
and he had been prevented by this, as well as by other circumstances,
from fully accomplishing his intention. On this account he concluded to
continue his labours in this direction, and determined to make another
descent if he could secure the pecuniary aid of the Government. His
application was favourably considered, as it certainly deserved to be,
and Congress appropriated a sum for a second expedition that should also
examine the adjacent country for a distance of twelve miles on each side
of the river. To insure certainty of food supplies for the continuance
of the work, Powell visited the region in 1870 for the purpose of
examining the feasibility of having rations taken in by pack-trains
at several points. He concluded this could be done at the mouth of
the Uinta River, at the mouth of the Dirty Devil, at the Ute Ford
or Crossing of the Fathers, and at the mouth of the Paria, where
he expected to retire from the river for the winter, to conduct
explorations in the surrounding mountains. It was on this occasion that
he went to the Uinkaret Mountains (September, 1870) and investigated the
cause of the disappearance of the Howlands and Dunn. Returning then to
Kanab, at that time the farthest frontier settlement of the Mormons, he
visited the Moki Towns, across the Colorado, and went back to the East
to finish his preparations. In the winter of 1871-72 Congress made an
additional appropriation for this expedition. The supervision was vested
in that noble character, Joseph Henry, then Secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution. Professor Henry was entirely favourable and sympathetic,
and his approval was of the highest value. He secured some instruments
for the work and lent his aid in every possible manner. A privilege of
drawing rations at the Western army posts was also again granted, and
this saved a great deal of expense.

Through a friend who was an old army acquaintance of Powell's I secured
an interview in Chicago, whither I went for the purpose. Its character
was a good illustration of the explorer's quick decision. As I advanced
towards him he rose to his feet, surveyed me with a lightning glance,
and said heartily, "Well, Fred, you'll do." These words constituted me
a member of his party, and I began my preparations forthwith. Dozens of
men applied to join the expedition, but no more were taken, the party
being now full.

The boats for this trip were modelled on those used on the former
descent, with such changes and improvements as experience had suggested.
They were honestly and thoroughly constructed by a builder named Bagley,
who had a yard where he turned out small craft, at the north end of the
old Clark Street bridge, and we often felt a sense of gratitude to him
for doing his work so well. They were three in number, of well-seasoned,
clear-grained, half-inch oak, smooth-built, double-ribbed fore and aft,
square-sterned, and all practically the same, the former trip having
shown the needlessness of taking any smaller or frailer boat for
piloting purposes. These were each twenty-two feet long over all, and
about twenty on the keel. They were rather narrow for their length, but
quite deep for boats of their size, drawing, if I remember correctly,
when fully laden, some fourteen or sixteen inches of water. This depth
made it possible to carry a heavy load, which was necessary, and at the
same time which acted as ballast to keep them right side up amidst the
counter-currents and tumbling waters. A rudder being entirely out of
place in the kind of navigation found in the canyons, a heavy rowlock
was placed at the stern to hold a strong, eighteen-foot steering oar.
The boats were entirely decked over on a level with the gunwales,
excepting two open spaces left for the rowers. These open spaces, or
standing-rooms, were separated from the decked portions by bulkheads,
thus forming under the decks three water-tight compartments or cabins,
that would not only protect the cargoes and prevent loss in the event of
capsize, but would also serve to keep the boats afloat when loaded
and full of water in the open parts. The rowlocks were of iron, of the
pattern that comes close together at the top, so that an oar must either
be slipped through from the handle end or drawn up toward the thin part
above the blade to get it out. By attaching near the handle a rim of
hard leather, there was no way for the oar to come out accidentally, and
so well did this arrangement work that in a capsize the oars remained in
the rowlocks. To any one wishing to try the descent of the Colorado, I
commend these boats as being perhaps as well adapted to the work as
any that can be devised; though perhaps a pointed stern would be an
improvement. Iron construction is not advisable, as it is difficult to

When I went the first, time to look at the boats lying on Bagley's
wharf, their ominous porpoise-like appearance gave me a peculiar
sensation. I had expected rough-water, but this was the first
understanding I had that the journey was to be more or less amphibian.
On a day when the waves on Lake Michigan were running high we took them
out for trial. The crews were filled out by Bagley's men, our party not
all being present, and with some reporters and a cargo of champagne and
cigars our course was laid for the open sea. The action of the boats was
all that could be desired, and, in the great billows it was so constant
that our reportorial friends found some difficulty in obtaining their
share of the refreshments. We were satisfied that the boats could ride
any sea, and they were accordingly placed on a car and sent by way of
the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy and the Union Pacific railways to
Green River Station. These companies charged nothing for this service
and also transported all the men and baggage on the same terms. On the
29th of April we alighted at Green River and found the boats already
there. This place, when the railway was building, had been for a
considerable time the terminus, and a town of respectable proportions
had grown up, but with the completion of the road through this region,
the terminus had moved on, and now all that was to be seen of those
golden days was a group of adobe walls, roofless and forlorn. The
present "city" consisted of about thirteen houses, and some of these
were of such complex construction that one hesitates whether to describe
them as houses with canvas roofs, or tents with board sides. The
population consisted of a few whites, a number of Chinese railway
labourers, an occasional straggling miner, native, or cattleman, and
last but not least, at the small railway-station eating-house, honoured
by the patronage of emigrant-trains, his highness Ah Chug, the cook,
whose dried-apple pies, at twenty-five cents apiece, I have never ceased
to enjoy, for they were the ladder by which I was able to descend from
a home table to the camp fare of bacon and beans. I then despised these
ruder viands, but now I desire to pay my tribute to them by saying that
as a basis for campaigning they are the very best. In hot weather you
eat more beans and less bacon, and when the weather is cold your diet is
easily arranged in the reverse order.

The boats were speedily launched upon the swift current at the bridge
and steered down to a little cove on the left, a few hundred yards
below, where they were hauled out on a beach to give them the finishing
touches of preparation, like attaching canvas covers to the cabins, and
so forth. Nearby, amongst the willows, we established our first camp--a
place of real luxury, for Mr. Field, who had an outfitting house
here, lent us a table and two benches. Andy set up some crotches and a
cross-bar, to hang his kettles on, and with a cast-iron bake oven--one
of the kind like a flat, iron pot, in which, after it is stood upon a
bed of hot coals, the bread is placed, and then the cast-iron cover is
put on, and laden with hot coals--began his experiments in cookery, for
it was a new art to him. In the beginning he was rather too liberal with
his salaratus, but the product gave us the pleasant delusion of having
reached a land of gold nuggets. Andy soon improved, and we learned to
appreciate his rare skill to such an extent that the moment he took his
old hat and with it lifted the coffee-pot off the fire, and then placed
beside it the bread and bacon with the pleasing remark: "Well, now,
go fur it, boys!" we lost not a moment in accepting the invitation. As
bread must be made for every meal, Andy's was no easy berth, for his
work on the river was the same as that of the rest of us. It was only
when we were engaged in a portage near dinner or supper time that he
was permitted to devote his entire attention to the preparation of
our elaborate meals. Bean soup, such as Andy made, is one of the most
delicious things in the world; and Delmonico could not hold a candle to
his coffee. Our three boats bore the names Emma Dean, after Mrs. Powell,
Nellie Powell, after Major Powell's sister, Mrs. Thompson, and Canonita.
The men and their assignment to the boats were these: J. W. Powell,
S. V. Jones, J. K. Hillers; F. S. Dellenbaugh--the Emma Dean; A. H.
Thompson, J. F. Steward, F. M. Bishop, F. C. A. Richardson--the Nellie
Powell; E. O. Beaman, W. C. Powell, A. J. Hattan--the Canonita.

Jones had been a teacher in Illinois. He went as a topographer. Hillers
was a soldier in the Civil War, and was at first not specially assigned,
but later, when the photographer gave out, he was directed to assist
in that branch, and eventually became head photographer, a position
he afterwards held with the Geological Survey for many years. A large
number of the photographs from which this volume is illustrated were
taken by him and they speak for themselves. Thompson was from Illinois.
He also had been a soldier in the war, and on this expedition was
Powell's colleague, as well as the geographer. To his foresight, rare
good judgment, ability to think out a plan to the last minute detail,
fine nerve and absolute lack, of any kind of foolishness, together
with a wide knowledge and intelligence, this expedition, and indeed the
scientific work so admirably carried on by the United States Survey of
the Rocky Mountain region and the Geological Survey for three decades in
the Far West, largely owe success. Steward was an old soldier, was from
Illinois, and went with us as geologist, assisting Powell himself in
this line. Bishop had been a captain in the war, had been shot through
and through the left lung, and was an enthusiast in Western exploration.
He was one of the topographers. Richardson was from Chicago and was
general assistant to the geologists and topographers. Beaman was from
New York. He was photographer; and W. C. Powell, from Illinois, and a
nephew of Major Powell, was his assistant. Hattan was a Virginian, but
had lived long in Illinois. He had been a soldier in the war, and went
with us as cook, because he wanted the trip, and there was no other post
open to him. I hailed from Buffalo, was the youngest of the party,
and served as artist to the geologists, and later was placed on the
topographical work. Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Thompson spent several days
at Green River and rendered much assistance, the latter presenting each
boat with a handsome flag made by her own hands.

An arm-chair obtained from Field was arranged so that it could be
strapped on the deck of the middle cabin of our boat, as a seat for
Powell, to enable him to be comfortable and at the same time see well
ahead. This had a tendency to make the Dean slightly top-heavy, but only
once did serious consequences apparently result from it, and I am not
sure that the absence of the high load would have made any difference.
Though Powell had descended before, he could not remember every detail
and kept a sharp lookout always. The provisions--everything, in fact,
except the bacon, which was too greasy--were put in rubber sacks that,
when closed, were absolutely water-tight. These bags were encased in
cotton sacks and gunny bags to protect the rubber. Each man was allowed
one hundred pounds of baggage, including his blankets, and was given two
rubber bags to stow it in. When the time came to load up we found we had
a formidable pile of things that must go. The photographic apparatus
was particularly bulky, for neither the dry-plate nor film had yet been
invented. The scientific instruments were also bulky, being in wooden,
canvas-covered cases; and there were eleven hundred pounds of flour in
twenty-two rubber sacks.

On the 22d of May, 1871, all being ready, and the boats finally packed,
we prepared to push off. To save time, breakfast was taken at Field's
place, which, owing to the kindness of himself and his charming family,
had seemed very much like home to us. Then the populace to the number
of about fifteen--the Chinamen refusing to countenance any outfit
harbouring such a terrible engine of the devil as a photographic
apparatus--assembled on the beach to give us God-speed. The cheerful
conception of this service on the part of a deaf-mute was to fill the
air with violent gestures to indicate--and it was vivid enough--that
we could not possibly escape destruction. One of his series represented
with uncomfortable clearness a drowning man vainly striving to climb
up a vertical wall. This pantomime was the last thing I saw from my
position at the oars as we turned a bend and left the "city" behind.

We were much better provided for than the first party. We had a guide,
our boats were superior, our plan for supplies was immeasurably better,
both as to caring for what we took along and what we were to receive
at the several indicated places--mouth of the Uinta, mouth of the
Dirty Devil, Crossing of the Fathers, and the Paria. We also had rubber
life-preservers to inflate at the more dangerous points. Mine did me
little good, as I soon found it was in my way and I never wore it; nor
did Hillers wear his. As we handled the oars of our boat we concluded
it would be safer to do it in the best manner possible, and not be
encumbered by these sausages under our elbows, but we always placed them
behind us at bad places, ready for use; all the others, however,
wore theirs and seemed to find no objection to them in the way of
interference. A cork jacket could be worn easier when rowing, and I
would recommend it, but the thing of first importance is to have the
right kind of boats, and know how to handle them. An humble spirit
is also a great safeguard. After starting, the usual number of slight
accidents occurred, but there was nothing to interfere with our steady
progress into the silent, lonely land, where the great Dragon, whose
tail we were now just touching, tore the air to tatters with his
writhings. Our light oars were snapped like reeds, but luckily we had
plenty of extras, and some ten-foot ones were cut down to eight, and
these proved to be strong enough. On the morning of the 23d we were
treated to a snow-storm and the air was very cold. It soon cleared,
however; and the sun shone again bright and warm, and we went on
rejoicing. The next day we reached the mouth of Black's Fork, and after
this the river was deeper and we were less troubled by grounding, the
boats being only three inches out of water at the gunwales. The
area between Black's Fork and the Green was strewn with beautiful
moss-agates. I longed to secure a quantity, but this was out of the
question. Geese and ducks floated on the water around us, but with our
rifles it was difficult to get any. There was not a shot-gun in the
party. We soon came in sight of the superb snow-covered Uinta range,
extending east and west across the land, and apparently an effectual
barrier to any progress of the river in that direction, but every day
we drew nearer to it. Some of our men shot three deer, and we had fresh
meat for a day or two, "jerking" all we could not consume in that time.
There was plenty of game along the river here and for a long distance
down, but we were not skilled hunters, nor did we have time to follow
game or manoeuvre for it, so our diet was mainly confined to what Andy
could produce by his manipulation of the supplies we carried. The day
following the one that gave us the deer, the river became very winding,
and a fearful gale blew across it, carrying sand into our eyes and some
water into our boats. In the late afternoon we bore down on a ridge,
about one thousand feet high, which extended far in both directions
athwart our course. It was the edge of the Uinta Mountains. At its very
foot the river seemed to stop. It could be seen neither to right nor, to
left, nor could any opening be detected in the mountain, except high
up where Powell pointed out to us a bare patch of brilliant red rocks
saying it was the top of Flaming Gorge, the beginning of the canyon
series. Passing the mouth of Henry's Fork on the right, the river
doubled suddenly to the left between two low cliffs, where there was a
small whirlpool, which I take to be the "Green River Suck" of Ashley and
the early trappers. Around another point we swept and found ourselves
floating on the tranquil waters of Flaming Gorge. A fine grove of deep
green cottonwoods stood out on the left in contrast to the rough red
rocks. There were moored the other boats, which on this occasion had
preceded us, and the ever-faithful Andy was engaged in preparing dinner.
The next and first real canyon was the one called Horseshoe, a short and
beautiful gorge some sixteen hundred feet in depth, and containing rapid
"Number One," a very mild affair, but particularly noticeable because
it is the first of the six hundred, great and small, we had the
satisfaction of vanquishing in our war against the falling waters. We
had already descended something over one hundred and fifty of the five
thousand feet we expected to go down, but there had been only swift
water at that stage of flood; nothing that, on the Colorado, would be
considered a serious rapid.

Every morning the cabins of the boats were packed like so many trunks.
The blankets were rolled up and put in their rubber cases, all bags of
supplies were securely tied and stowed away, in short, every article was
placed in the cabins and the hatches firmly buttoned in place, with the
canvas cover drawn snugly over the deck. Only a grand smash-up could
injure these things. Nothing was left out but such instruments as were
hourly needed, the guns, life-preservers, and a camp-kettle in each
boat for bailing purposes. On each of two boats there was a topographer,
whose duty was to sight the direction of every bend of the river and
estimate the length of the stretch. Thompson, on his boat, also kept a
similar record. The sighting was done with a prismatic compass, and one
of these was rendered more interesting by bearing on the leather case
the name of George B. McClellan, written by the future general when he
was a lieutenant of engineers. There was seldom much discrepancy between
the different estimates made during the day, as men grow very accurate
in such matters, but a check on all estimates was obtained by frequent
observations for latitude and longitude.

The third canyon is also a short one, the three aggregating less than
ten miles. Because of the many kingfishers flying about it was called
Kingfisher Canyon, and a point where they were especially numerous was
named Bee-hive. At the foot of this third short canyon the rocks ran
together in a forbidding manner, and out of the depths beyond came
a roar, just as one outside of the jungle might hear the lion's note
within. On a bright Friday morning we were ready to try our fortune, and
with all made snug, pulled in between the cliffs where in a moment we
beheld a wild sea of descending foam. Rapid quickly followed rapid and
immediately we had some exciting work. Our boat was swept so near the
right-hand cliff that one of the after rowlocks was torn off, and at
about the same time the Nellie Powell, following but signalled to
keep to the left, was seen to strike rocks near the opposite side and
capsize. The next instant we were borne out of sight. Hillers, with only
one rowlock, could not use his oars, so the work devolved entirely on
me. The boat was heavy for one pair of oars, and we were being carried
down stream at a terrific pace. On the left was a little beach where
we might land, and I pulled for this with all my power. At length to my
great relief I felt the keel touch bottom. We were still about fifteen
feet from the beach, but the water was not any deeper than the grating
of the keel indicated, so we were overboard in a moment and pulled her
to the bank. At the same instant the Canonita ran in, dashing up like
a horse finishing a race. The crew reported the other boat upside down,
but they were unable to stop to help her. They thought the crew were
safe, and we hoped with all our hearts they were. There was nothing we
could do but wait for some sign from above, and in about three
quarters of an hour the boat came rushing down with all hands safe and
exceedingly happy over claiming the distinction of the first capsize.
Now many rapids fell to our lot, and we were kept busy every moment. On
the 4th of June we passed the wrecks of some boats half-buried in
the sand, and on landing we discovered a grave on a little knoll some
distance back from the water, with a pine board stuck up at its head
bearing the name of Hook. The rapid that had apparently caused the
disaster told by these objects we easily ran. The unfortunates had
attempted the descent in flat-bottomed boats, that shipped much water
and toppled over with the slightest provocation. They had followed
Powell on his former trip, declaring that if he could go down the river
so could they, but they learned their mistake and paid dearly for the
experience. The leader, whose bones lie in these splendid depths of Red
Canyon, was said to have been the first mayor of Cheyenne. Many more
rapids we ran with a current of from six to twelve or fifteen miles per
hour, and we made many "let-downs," which means working a boat along
the edge of a rapid by the aid of lines, without removing the cargo.
We called this process, when we removed the cargo, a "line portage," as
distinguished from a complete portage where the boats were taken out of
the water.

Shortly after dinner one day we heard a deep roaring, which implied that
we were approaching a violent fall, and hugging the left-hand bank,
we drifted slowly down to within a rod or two of the drop and easily
landed. It was Ashley Falls. In the centre of the river protruded an
immense rock, twenty-five feet square, and the river rushed by on each
side making a sudden descent of about eight feet. It would have been
nothing to run had it been free from rocks; but it was in reality the
rocks which formed it. They had fallen from the left-hand wall within
some comparatively recent time, and acted as a dam. Many more were piled
up against the left-hand cliff. The river, averaging about two hundred
and fifty feet wide, had been narrowed by about one-third and a rapid
had thus been changed into a fall. We made a portage here with the
first and third boats. The second we allowed to run through with lines
attached, but as she got several severe knocks we deemed it unsafe to
risk the other. Our camp was on a small level place among some pine
trees, almost over the fall, and I think I never saw a more romantic
spot. The moon shone down into the canyon with surpassing brilliancy,
and this, in contrast to our lavish camp-fire and extremely comfortable
surroundings, made a combination ever to be remembered. See pages 113
and 112.

It was on one of the huge rocks above the river on the left that
Ashley wrote his name. This was in black letters, sheltered by a slight
projection of the rock which acted as a cornice. Thus it had remained
distinct, except one figure of the date, for forty-six years, having
been done in 1825. The portage around Ashley Falls was laborious as we
were obliged to climb with everything about fifty feet above the river,
but labour is better than disaster, and it was on such points as these
that Powell and Thompson always exhibited good sense. Smaller men would
have been unable to resist the temptation to run everything, for there
comes an exhilaration in this work that is subtle and dangerous. Below
this the declivity was very great, but as there were few rocks our boats
were able to go down flying. The walls were two thousand to twenty-five
hundred feet high, but not vertical. Suddenly we ran out into a
beautiful little valley on the right known to trappers as Little Brown's
Hole, and renamed by our party Red Canyon Park. Here we camped for a day
and then went on between high walls over a number of rapids, to emerge
into Brown's Park. This place, I take it, was the end of Ashley's
journey down the river. Sailing along on a quiet current in a valley six
miles wide, we ran upon a camp of cattle herders, where Richardson
left us, as Powell decided that he was not able to stand the work. He
regretfully went back with some of the cattlemen to Green River Station.

The temperature was now often 99 degrees F. in the shade, and rowing
on the slow current was irksome, so we lashed the boats together and
drifted along while the Major in his armchair read aloud selections from
Scott, Emerson, and others, whose condensed poetical works and a couple
of Bibles were all the literature to be found in the party, as books
are heavy and weight was to be avoided. At times some of the men amused
themselves by diving under the boats, swimming around and ahead of
them, or surprised a coyote on the bank with a rifle-shot, and otherwise
enjoyed the relaxation we had well earned by our toil in Red Canyon. The
river was smooth and deep and about six hundred to eight hundred feet
wide. At the very foot of the valley we made a camp under the shadow of
that magnificent and unrivalled portal, the Gate of Lodore, which had
been visible to us for many miles; the dark cleft two thousand feet
high, through which the river cuts into the heart of the mountains,
appearing as solemn and mysterious as the pathway to another world. From
an eminence we could peer into its depths for some distance, and
there was no sign of a rapid, but we were not deceived, having posted
ourselves by extracts from Jack Sumner's diary, whose description of
"how the waters come down at Lodore" was contained in the frequent
repetition of the words, "a hell of foam." Lodore, indeed, is almost
one continuous rapid for the whole twenty miles of its length, and the
passage through it will tax the endurance of any man. The declivity is
the greatest of the whole river with the exception of the First Granite
Gorge of the Grand Canyon and a portion of Cataract Canyon. A diagram
of it is given on page 57. I have space only to describe one or two
characteristic incidents. The current of the river was extraordinarily
swift; it must have been in some places nearly twenty miles an hour.
The stream averaged about three hundred feet wide. The boats in a rapid
fairly flew along amidst the foam, plunging and rearing in the "tails"
of waves which always terminate rapids of this class. One day about noon
we came shooting down over one of these places, having just run a rather
bad rapid, when we saw only a few hundred yards below an ugly looking
fall. The left wall came down very straight into the water and threw a
deep shadow over it so that we could not tell exactly what was there.
Opposite was a rocky wooded point, and between the two the river bodily
fell away. Altogether it was a beautiful, though a startling picture.
The whole set of the current was towards this drop with headlong fury.
There were no eddies, no slack water of any kind. But we could not do
such a foolhardy thing as to go into it without knowing what it was and
therefore a landing was imperative. Accordingly we headed for the right
bank, and laid to our oars till they bent like straws. We almost reached
the shore. It was only a few feet away, but the relentless current was
hurling us, broadside on, toward the dark rocks where the smooth water
was broken and torn and churned to shreds of snowy foam. There was only
one thing for us to do, if we did not want to run upon the rocks, and
that was to leap overboard, and trust to bringing the boat to a stop by
holding on to the bottom, here not so far down. This was done, and the
depth turned out to be about to our waists; but for a little time the
boat sped on as before. Planting our shoes firmly against the boulders
of the bottom as we slid along, we finally gained the upper hand, and
then it was an easy matter to reach the shore. Hardly had we done this
when the Nell came tearing down in the same fashion. We rushed into the
water as far as we dared, and they pulled with a will till they came to
us, when they all jumped into the water and we tugged the boat ashore,
just in time to plunge in again and help the Canonita in the same
way. Dinner over, the rapid was examined and it was discovered that by
pulling straight out into it clear of the rocks, we could easily get
through. This was accordingly done and one after the other the boats
sped down as if towed by an express train. Then we ran a number of
smaller ones with no trouble, and toward evening arrived at a place
where the entire river dropped into a sag, before falling over some very
bad rapids. We avoided the sag by keeping close to the left bank, and
rounded a little point into a broad eddy, across which we could sail
with impunity. Then we landed on a rocky point at the head of the first
bad plunge, the beginning of Disaster Falls, where the No-Name was
wrecked two years before. At this place we camped for the night. The
descent altogether here is about fifty feet. In the morning all the
cargoes were taken over the rocks to the foot of the first fall, and the
boats were cautiously worked down along the edge to where the cargoes
were, where they were reloaded and lowered to the head of the next
descent, several hundred yards. Here the cargoes were again taken out
and carried over the rocks down to a quiet bay. This took till very late
and everyone was tired out, but the boats were carried and pushed on
skids up over the rocks for twenty or thirty yards, past the worst of
the fall, and then lowered into the water to be let down the rest of the
way by lines. Two had to be left there till the following day. We had
found a one hundred pound sack of flour lying on a high rock, where it
had been placed at the time of the wreck of the No-Name, and Andy that
day made our dinner biscuits out of it. Though it was two years old the
bread tasted perfectly good; and this is a tribute to the climate, as
well as to the preservative qualities of a coating of wet flour.
This coating was about half an inch thick, and outside were a cotton
flour-sack and a gunny bag. The flour was left on the rock, and may be
there yet. Not far below this we came to Lower Disaster Falls, which
a short portage enabled us to circumnavigate and go on our way. The
current was so swift all the time that objects on shore flitted past as
they do when one looks from a window of a railway train. Just opposite
our camp on this night the cliff was almost perpendicular from the
water's edge to the height of about twenty-five hundred feet. The walls
seemed very close together, only a narrow strip of sky being visible.
As we sat after supper peering aloft at this ribbon of the heavens,
the stars in the clear sky came slowly out like some wonderful
transformation scene, and just on the edge of the opposite wall,
resembling an exquisite and brilliant jewel, appeared the constellation
of the Harp. Immediately the name "Cliff of the Harp" suggested itself
and from that moment it was so called. Here and there we discovered
evidences of the former journey, but nothing to indicate that human
beings had ever before, that been below Disaster Falls. There we saw the
same indications of an early disaster which Powell had noticed on the
first trip, a rusty bake-oven, some knives and forks and tin plates, in
the sand at the foot of the second fall. The day after the Cliff of the
Harp camp we began by making a line-portage around a very ugly place,
which took the whole morning. In the afternoon there was another similar
task, so that by night we had made only three or four miles, and camped
at the beginning of a decidedly forbidding stretch. Just below us were
three sharp rapids which received the name of Triplet Tails. A great
deal of work was required to pass these, and then we ran three or four
in good style, which brought us, in the late afternoon, to where the
whole river spread out amongst innumerable rocks and for more than half
a mile the water was a solid sheet of milky foam, sending up the usual
wild roar, which echoed and echoed again and again amongst the cliffs
around and above us. Some one proposed the name of "Hell's Half-Mile"
for this terrible place and the idea was at once adopted, so appropriate
did it seem. The turmoil of the dashing waters was almost deafening,
and, even when separated by only a few feet, we could only communicate
with each other by shouting at the top of our lungs. It was a difficult
task to get our little ships safely below this half-mile, but it was
finally accomplished, and on we went in search of the next dragon's
claw. At our camp the fire in some way got into a pine grove and soon
was crackling enough to rival the noise of the rapid. The lower region
seemed now to be sending its flames up through the bottom of the gorge
and the black smoke rolled into the sky far above the top of the walls.
Many and varied were our experiences in this magnificent canyon, which
for picturesqueness and beauty rivals even the Grand Canyon, though not
on such a giant scale. Its passage would probably be far easier at low
water. At last, one evening, as the soft twilight was settling into
the chasm, a strange, though agreeable silence, that seemed almost
oppressive, fell around us. The angry waters ceased their roaring. We
slid along on a smooth, even river, and suddenly emerged into a pretty
little park, a mile long, bounded by cliffs only some six hundred feet
high. Running our boats up into the mouth of a quiet river entering
from the left we tied them up and were quickly established in the most
comfortable camp since Brown's Park. We were at the mouth of Yampa
River. From a wonderful echo which repeated a sentence of ten words,
we called the place Echo Park. Such an echo in Europe would be worth a
fortune. The Echo Rock is shown on page 203.

Here a stop was made for several days, and one evening some of us took
a boat and went up the Yampa a little distance. The walls were vertical
and high, and the shadows thrown by the cliffs as we floated along their
base were fairly luminous, so bright was the moon. A song burst from the
rowers and was echoed from wall to wall till lost in the silence of the
night-enveloped wilderness. Nothing could have been more beautiful, and
the tranquillity was a joy to us after the days of turmoil in Lodore.


An Island Park and a Split Mountain--The White River Runaways--Powell
Goes to Salt Lake--Failure to Get Rations to the Dirty Devil--On the
Rocks in Desolation--Natural Windows--An Ancient House--On the Back of
the Dragon at Last--Cataracts and Cataracts in the Wonderful Cataract
Canyon--A Lost Pack-Train--Naming the Echo Peaks.

With one of the boats from the camp in Echo Park Powell went up the
Yampa to see what might be there. Though this stream was tranquil at its
mouth, it proved to be rough farther up, and the party, in the four
days they were gone, were half worn out, coming back ragged, gaunt, and
ravenous, having run short of food. The Monday following their return,
our boats were again carefully packed, life-preservers were inflated,
and we went forth once more to the combat with the rapids. A few
minutes' rowing carried us to the end of Echo Rock, which is a narrow
tongue of sandstone, about half a mile long and five hundred or six
hundred yards thick, and turning the bend we entered Whirlpool Canyon;
the cliffs, as soon as the other side of Echo Rock was passed, shooting
up into the air and enfolding us again in a canyon embrace. The depth
was quickly a couple of thousand feet with walls very close together
till, in three or four miles, we came to a violent rapid. A landing was
easily made and the boats lowered by lines. Below this the canyon was
much wider, and the rapids were not difficult. By the time the camping
hour came, we had put behind seven miles with five rapids and the extra
bad one where the boats were lowered. No whirlpools were encountered,
the stage of water not being favourable for them. As previously
noted, every stage of water produces different conditions, so that the
navigator on this river can never be certain of what he will find. Our
course through Whirlpool was neither difficult nor dangerous, as we
were able to make landings at the few bad places and ran the rest of
the rapids without damage of any kind. Only one camp was made in this
beautiful gorge, and there we slept, or tried to sleep, for two nights.
Myriads of ants swarmed over the spot and made every hour more or less
of a torment. They extended their investigations into every article
brought out of the boats. During the whole time their armies marched
and countermarched over, around, and through ourselves and everything we
possessed. We saw a number of mountain sheep in this canyon, but owing
to the quickness of the sheep, and the difficulty of pursuing them over
the wild cliffs, which they seemed to know well, we were unable to bring
any down.

Our second day's run was uneventful through a superb gorge about
twenty-four hundred feet deep, and at a late hour in the afternoon, just
after we had run our worst rapid in fine style, we perceived the great
walls breaking away, and they soon melted off into rounded hills,
exquisitely coloured, as if painted by Nature in imitation of the
rainbow. The river spread out, between and around a large number of
pretty islands bearing thick cottonwood groves. The shallowness of
the water caused our keels to touch occasionally, but the current was
comparatively slow and we were not disturbed over it. Powell hesitated
as to calling this place Rainbow or Island Park, the choice eventually
falling to the latter. The valley is only three or four miles long in
a straight line. Shortly before sunset we had the disappointment of
reaching the end of it, and immediately below the place where we camped
the rocks closed sharply together once more. Here Powell determined that
he would push ahead of the main party, in order to make his way, as soon
as possible, to the Uinta Ute Agency, in order to communicate with the
outer world and ascertain if his plans for supply-trains were moving on
to success. He took the Dean, but Bishop was put in my place because
of his considerable experience in the Western country, for there was
no telling what they might encounter. On the morning of July 7th, at
daybreak, therefore, they were off, and speedily disappeared from
our sight within the rocks that arose below our camp. A number of the
remaining men climbed to the top of the left-hand side of the "gate,"
an altitude of about three thousand feet above camp, and from there were
able to see the Emma Dean for a long distance, working down through the
rapids. The view from that altitude over the surrounding country and
into the canyon was something wonderful to behold. A wild and
ragged wilderness stretched out in all directions, while down in the
canyon--more of a narrow valley than a canyon after the entrance was
passed--the river swept along, marked, here and there, by bars of white
we knew to be rapids. Crags and pinnacles shot up from every hand, and
from this circumstance it was at first uncertain whether to call the
canyon Craggy or Split-Mountain. The latter was decided on, as the river
has sawed in two a huge fold of the strata--a mountain split in twain.
When we entered it with our boats to again descend, we had gone but a
little distance before massive beds of solid rock came up straight out
of the water on both sides and we were instantly sailing in a deep,
narrow canyon, the beds at length arching over, down stream, high above
our heads. It was an extraordinary sight. While we were looking at the
section of the great fold, we discovered some mountain sheep far up
the rocks. Though we fired at them the circumstances were against our
hitting, and they scampered scornfully away from crag to crag, out of
our sight. Then the canyon widened at the top, and at the same time
rapids appeared. They came by dozens, but there were none that we
could not master with certainty by hard work. Wet from head to foot we
continued this labour for three days, and then the rocks, the "Ribbon
Beds," turned over and disappeared beneath the water just as they
had come out of it above. The low stage of the river made this canyon
difficult, so far as exertion was concerned, and the rapids would
perhaps be far easier during the spring flood.

We were now in Wonsits Valley, the longest expansion of the walls above
Black Canyon. Near our camp, which was on a soft, grassy bank beside
smooth-flowing waters, some picture writings were found, the first
indications, since the wreckage at Disaster Falls, outside of occasional
signs of Powell's other party, that human beings had ever been in the
country. The tail-piece at the end of the preface to this volume is a
reduction of a drawing I made of the largest figure, which was about
four feet high. The river now flowed gently between low banks covered in
many places with cottonwoods, and it required hard labour of a different
kind to get the boats along. Signs of Utes began to appear, and one
morning a fine fellow, gaily dressed, and mounted on a splendid horse,
rode into camp with a "How--how!" Farther on we came to him again, with
his squaw, a good-looking young woman, very well dressed in a sort
of navy blue flannel, and wearing numerous ornaments. We ferried them
across the river, and afterwards found they were runaways from White
River,--an elopement in reality.

After a good deal of hard rowing we finally reached the mouth of the
Uinta. Thompson went up to the Agency, about forty miles away, and found
that Powell had gone out to Salt Lake. When the latter came back to the
Agency it was to direct Thompson to go on with our party, while Powell
went out again to see about the ration-supply at the mouth of the Dirty
Devil. The men sent there had been unable to find the place, or, indeed,
to get anywhere near it. Powell was to meet us again at the foot of
Gray Canyon, about one hundred and fifty miles farther down. When
our supplies had been brought from the Agency and all was ready, we
proceeded on our way, passing the elopers near the end of the valley,
where they were very happy in a good camp with a fresh deer and plenty
of vermilion, which they used liberally their faces. Below this the
river was full of beaver, and had Pattie or some of the early trappers
been there, they could have reaped a rich harvest. The current was slow,
and Thompson read Emerson aloud as we drifted. Gradually the hills began
to grow rocky, and then distinct low cliffs appeared, till finally we
discovered ourselves fairly within the walls of another canyon,
which from the barren character of its cliffs is called the Canyon of
Desolation. It is ninety-seven miles long, and immediately at its foot
is Gray Canyon, thirty-six miles long. Then comes Gunnison Valley, and
it was there that Powell was to return to us. The first indication of
descending waters was a slight swiftness, the river having narrowed up
to its canyon-character. At one place it doubled back on itself, forming
in the bend a splendid amphitheatre which was called after Sumner of
the former party. This beautiful wall, about one thousand feet high,
was carved and sculptured by the forces of erosion in a most wonderful
manner. It is shown on page 205. After a few miles between such walls we
began to expect rapids, and hardly had the expectation been formed when
it was gratified. An increasing roar came to our ears, and as we rounded
a bend three were discovered before us within the space of half a mile.
The water had been continually falling till now it was so low that
these rapids exhibited a startling number of rocks amidst the foam. We
believed we could run them, and we did. The first was cleared easily. In
the second the Nell struck a submerged rock, but glanced over it without
damage, while our boat landed squarely on the top, for it could not be
seen from above, and, after a momentary quiver, hung there as the wave
which lifted us upon it receded. The water roared and boiled furiously
about us, but did not quite come into the boat. It was impossible to
dip the oars from the stationary boat on account of the force of the
current. At last Hillers perceived that the sticking point was almost
under the extremity of the keel. Getting out cautiously over the stern
he succeeded in touching the top of the rock, and, thus lightened, the
Dean shot forward, though not before Hillers, who had not let go of
the stern rowlock, was able to leap on board. The Canonita fared still
worse. Following us too close, she tried to pass, but struck another
rock, crushing in her side, though floating down nevertheless. An hour
and a half spent on her put her in good order again, and away we went,
running a third and a fourth with no trouble. The walls were now about
two thousand feet high and we felt quite at home. Through some of
the upper narrow promontories of sandstone there were large holes, or
arches, some of them probably a hundred or more feet in diameter. They
were similar to the Hole in the Wall, shown in the cut on page 41, only
on a much larger scale. The next day, before stopping for dinner, we
ran nine rapids with no accident. The river was wider than in the upper
canyons, and while the low state of the water made harder work and
pounded the boats more, I believe that on the whole it was an advantage.
The current was less fierce and consequently the boats were always more
controllable. Yet when the water falls below a certain point the danger
of striking rocks is so much increased that a rapid which, at a little
higher stage would be easy to run must be avoided entirely by a portage
or a let-down. The waves at low water are also smaller and hence less
likely to upset a boat.

In many places we would lower a boat by lines near the shore, with two
men in her, and when a rock appeared they fended her off, or jumped into
the water and eased the craft along, touching bottom where they could.
This worked very well for this place and the stage of water, though
on this river one must ever be ready to adapt himself to differing
conditions. Rapids were very numerous, but we succeeded in passing them
in one way or another without seriously injuring the boats. The walls
grew to magnificent proportions. At one camp we could see, on the very
top of the cliff opposite, an object that from our position was the
counterpart of a log cabin. Tall pines grew around it and the deception
was complete. The cliff being twenty-four hundred feet high, the
"cabin" must, in reality have been of huge size; but we applied the name
"Log-Cabin Cliff" to the place. At a heavy descent, where the Emma
Dean of the first expedition was swamped, we took no chances and made a
careful let-down; a little farther on we did the same thing again. This
method of passing a rapid is not romantic, but our object was not
to perform spectacular feats but to accomplish the work in hand; so
wherever there was any doubt as to the safety of running a rapid we
adopted the prudent course. It was difficult to decide sometimes just
where to draw the line; in one rapid we tried to go through, the Nell
struck a rock, knocking Thompson out and nearly capsizing, but no real
harm was done. The walls increased to nearly three thousand feet, and
the rapids followed each other in quick succession every day. At one
point we saw, a couple of thousand feet above on the right a gigantic
example of the natural arches. Beyond this the walls began to grow
somewhat lower. Our life through this gorge, as well as through some
others, might be described by the monotonous phrase, "Got up, ran
rapids, went to bed." There was no time to do anything else. At night we
were always sleepy and tired. Fortunately there were here fine places to
camp--plenty of room, with smooth sand to sleep on. As soon as we halted
for the night we would don our dry clothes from the rubber bags, and,
when supper was over, would prepare a bed. If any kind of boughs or
willows were to be had, we cut a quantity and, laying them in
regular order near together, formed a sort of mattress which was very
comfortable. If these were not to be had, the softest spot of sand was
the next choice. In putting the river suit on in the morning, there was
often something of a shock, for it was not always thoroughly dry. At
length the welcome end of Desolation came, indicated by a lowering of
the walls and a break, where we were surprised to see a solitary lame
horse, but the next canyon, Gray, formed immediately. This was at first
called Lignite Canyon, but was afterwards renamed on account of the grey
colour of the walls; an unusual feature. The work here was similar to
that in Desolation, and we were not sorry when we came to the foot of
it, there going into camp to await the return of Powell. One of our
flags was planted at the end of an island below the canyon mouth, so
that he might see it. Opposite our camp was a very striking pinnacle
then called Cathedral Butte, but later changed to Gunnison. Here we took
the boats out and gave them a good overhauling, which they badly needed.
The descent through Desolation and Gray had been nearly six hundred

Fishing one evening, Hillers thought his hook had caught in a snag, but
he was greatly surprised after carefully pulling in his line, to find on
the end of it a sluggish fish four feet long, and as large around as a
stovepipe. We were to wait here till the 3d of September for Powell, but
on the 29th of August three shots were heard in the valley outside; the
Major's signal. W. C. Powell and I were sent to investigate. We found
him, with a companion, on the other bank, opposite the flag we had put
up. Arriving near our station, a man was sent to take their horses down
to their camp, about five miles below, and they went with us on the
boats. Hamblin, the man with Powell, was not altogether comfortable in
some of the swift places. As we cleared the high butte marking the end
of Gray Canyon, we perceived, stretching away to the westward from it, a
beautiful line of azure-blue cliffs, wonderfully buttressed and carved.
At first these were called the Henry Cliffs, but afterward Henry was
applied to some mountains and the cliffs were called Azure. At the camp
we found another man, like the first a Mormon and, as we learned later
by intimate acquaintance, both of fine quality and sterling merit. The
supplies Powell had brought were three hundred pounds of flour, some
jerked beef, and about twenty pounds of sugar, from a town on the Sevier
called Manti, almost due west of our position about eighty miles in an
air line. The pack-train having failed to reach the mouth of the Dirty
Devil, these additional rations were to carry us on to the next station,
the Crossing of the Fathers; but they were not enough. The other man
with Hamblin was a cousin of the same name, and when they rode away
one evening as the sun was going down, we were sorry to part with them.
Their course lay through a wild, desolate country, but we learned later
that they had no trouble, though the day after leaving us they ran upon
a large camp of Utes. Fortunately the Utes were friendly.

For our part, we pushed off in our boats and headed for the Crossing of
the Fathers with some misgivings on the food question. A large amount of
mail had been brought in, and we enjoyed the newspapers, although they
were weeks old. Some monthly magazines were a great boon. For a time the
stream was placid, allowing us to tie the boats together and drift again
for a little while. Thompson and the Major read aloud from Whittier, the
men sang "Sweet Evelina," and all appreciated the opportunity for this
brief relaxation. Here and there evidences of crossings were noted, for
it was in this valley that Gunnison went over on the trip that proved
fatal to him, and here for years the Old Spanish Trail, which Wolfskill
inaugurated, led many eastward and westward, while Utes and other
Amerinds had used it long before that. Indeed, as before mentioned, it
was for a long time the first locality, coming up from the Grand Wash,
where the stream could easily be crossed; a distance of about six
hundred miles. Many strangely eroded cliffs and buttes appeared as we
descended, and one of these, near the mouth of the San Rafael, was named
after me. At one place we saw some springs bubbling up from the bottom
of an inlet, one of which was remarkable because of its size and power.
Its jet was five or six inches in diameter, and rose six or eight inches
above the surface, the water being two or three feet in depth. They were
called Undine Springs. At the San Rafael a heavy rainstorm came up, and
presently we detected a loud roaring we could not account for. At last,
however, it was discovered to arise from the accumulated rain-water
which was pouring over a near-by cliff in a muddy torrent. The whole
country was extremely bare and barren, mostly rock, and the rain
gathered as on the roof of a house. The river had narrowed up before we
reached the San Rafael and had entered low, broken walls. The current
was rather swift, but there were no rapids. As we went on, the sight
of the rain cascades falling with varying volume and colour, some
chocolate, some amber, was very beautiful. They continued for a time
after the rain had ceased, and then, as if the flood-gates had been
closed, they vanished, to reappear every time it began to rain afresh.
Before long the cliffs had reached one thousand feet in altitude, and we
were fairly within Labyrinth Canyon, which begins its existence at the
mouth of the San Rafael. Many of the rain cascades in the afternoon of
this day were perfectly clear, and often fell several hundreds of feet,
vanishing in spray, and presenting varied and exquisite effects in
combination with the rich tones of the wet brown sandstone, and the
background of dark grey sky. They ever increased in number, and directly
opposite that night's camp one fell straight down for about two hundred
feet, disappeared in mist to gather again on a ledge below, and shot out
once more, a delicate silvery thread against the dark mass of the cliff.
The next day we passed a group of three canyons entering at one point,
to which the name Trinalcove was given, as they appeared from the river
like alcoves rather than canyons. The river was now very winding with
walls frequently vertical. There were no rapids, though the water as a
rule moved somewhat swiftly. The days were growing short, and the night
air had an autumnal chill about it that made the camp-fire comforting.
At the end of sixty-two miles the walls broke up into buttes and
pinnacles, thousands of them, suggesting immense organs, cathedrals, and
almost anything the imagination pictured. One resembling a mighty cross
lying down was in consequence called the "Butte of the Cross."* This was
practically the end of Labyrinth Canyon, and sweeping around a beautiful
bend, where the rocks again began to come together, we were in the
beginning of the next canyon of the series, two years before named
Stillwater. At the suggestion of Beaman, the bend was called Bonito.
On leaving our camp at this place the walls rapidly ran up, the current
grew swifter, but the river remained smooth. The canyon was exceedingly
"close," the rocks rising vertically from the edge of the water. There
were few places where a landing could be made, but luckily no landing
was necessary, except for night. The darkness fell before we found
a suitable camp-ground. Some of our supplies had now to be used with
caution, for it became evident that we would run short of food before we
could get any more.

    * Actually a pinnacle and a butte--not a single mass.{See page 275}.

Long ago, no one knows how long, we might have been able to purchase of
the natives who, a few miles below this camp, had tilled a small piece
of arable land in an alcove. Small huts for storage were found there in
the cliffs, and on a promontory, about thirty feet above the water, were
the ruins of stone buildings, one of which, twelve by twenty feet in
dimensions, had walls still standing about six feet high. The canyon
here was some six hundred feet wide; the walls about nine hundred feet
high, though the top of the plateau through which the canyon is carved
is at least fifteen hundred feet above the river. We discovered the
trail by which the old Puebloans had made their way in and out. Where
necessity called for it, poles and tree-trunks had been placed against
the rocks to aid the climbers. Some of our party trusted themselves
to these ancient ladders, and with the aid of a rope also, reached the

Beyond this place of ruins, the river flowed between walls not over four
hundred and fifty feet apart at the top. The current was about three
miles an hour, with scarcely a ripple, though it appeared much swifter
because of the nearness of the cliffs. At the end of seven miles of
winding canyon, there came a sharp turn to the east, which brought into
view, at the other end, another canyon of nearly equal proportions and
similar appearance. In the bottom of this flowed a river of almost the
same size as the Green. The waters of the two came together with a
good deal of a rush, the commingling being plainly visible. Neither
overwhelmed the other; it was a perfect union, and in some respects it
is quite appropriate that the combined waters of these streams should
have a special name to represent them. The new tributary was Grand
River, and when our boats floated on the united waters, we were at
last on the back of the Dragon. Away sped the current of the Colorado,
swirling along, spitefully lashing with its hungry tongue the narrow
sand-banks fringing the rugged shores, so that we scarcely knew where to
make a landing. Finally we halted on the right, constantly watching the
boats' lines lest the sand should melt away and take our little ships
with it. Along the bases of the cliffs above the high waters were narrow
strips of rocky soil, supporting a few stunted cottonwoods and hackberry
trees, which, with some stramonium bushes in blossom, were the sum total
of vegetation. In every way the Junction is a desolate place. It is the
beginning of Cataract Canyon, and forty-one miles must be put behind us
before we would see its end--forty-one miles of bad river, too. From
a point not far up the Green, which we easily reached with a boat, a
number climbed out by means of a cleft about fifty feet wide, taking
the photographic outfit along. The country above was a maze of crevices,
pinnacles, and buttes, and it seemed an impossibility for any human
being to travel more than a few hundred yards in any direction. The
character of the place may best be illustrated by stating that Steward,
who had gone up by a different route, was unable to reach us, though
we could talk to him across a fissure. Many of these breaks could be
jumped, but some of them were too wide for safety. The surface was
largely barren sandstone, only a patch of sand here and there sustaining
sometimes a bush or stunted cedar. It is the Land of Standing Rocks, as
the Utes call it.

The supplies were now gone over and carefully and evenly divided,
so that an accident to one boat should not cripple us any more than
possible, and on Tuesday, the 19th of September, our bows were headed
down the Colorado. A few miles below the Junction, a trail was seen
coming down a canyon on the left, showing that the Utes have always
known how to find the place. If Macomb had been properly guided he could
have reached it. The familiar roar of rapids soon came to our ears, and
thenceforth there was no respite from them. The first was so ugly that
the boats were lowered by lines, the second was much the same, and then
we reached a third which was even worse. The water was now growing cold,
and as one's clothes are always wet when running rapids or portaging on
the Colorado, we felt the effects of the deep shadows, combined with
the cold drenchings. Our dinners were quickly prepared, for we were
on allowance and Andy was not bothered with trying to satisfy our
appetites; he cooked as much as directed, and if there were hungry men
around it was not his fault. We all felt that short rations were so much
ahead of nothing that there was no grumbling. The volume of water was
now nearly double what it had been on the Green, and the force of the
rapids was greatly augmented. Huge boulders on the bottom, which the
Green would have turned over only once or twice, here were rolled along,
when they started, for many yards sensible to not the eye but to the
ear. This was a distinct feature of Cataract Canyon and shows the
declivity to be very great and the boulders to be well worn. The
declivity for a few miles is greater than in Lodore, perhaps the
greatest on the river. Sometimes in Cataract the rumble of these
boulders was mistaken for distant thunder. At one rapid I remember that
a rock many feet square was swaying from the current. After dinner, the
boats were lowered over the rapid, fall, cataract, or whatever it might
be called, before which we had paused, and then in short order over four
more tremendous ones. When we had run a fifth, in which we received a
violent shaking-up, we went into camp on the left bank at the head of
another roarer, or pair of them, and hastened to throw off our saturated
clothes and put on the dry from out the friendly rubber sacks. I never
before understood the comfort of being dry. The topographers recorded a
good day's work: nine miles and eight powerful cataracts. Cataract, we
decided was the proper name for these plunges, for though they were by
no means vertical, they were more violent than what is ordinarily called
a rapid. This was one part of the canyons where White, in his imaginary
journey, found an easy passage! The next day Powell took me with him
on a climb to the top. We had little trouble in getting out. On the
way back the Major's cut-off arm was on the rock side of a gulch we
had followed up, and I found it necessary, two or three times, to place
myself where he could step on my knee, as his stump had a tendency to
throw him off his balance. Had he fallen at these points the drop would
have been four hundred or five hundred feet. I mention this to show how
he never permitted his one-armed condition to interfere with his doing
things. The walls here were eighteen hundred feet, a gain of three
hundred feet over the Junction. While we were away the men below had
lowered the boats over two rapids, in one of which the Nell broke loose
and went down alone with her cargo on board. As good fortune will have
it, there is frequently an eddy or two at the foot of a rapid and into
one of these she ran. By a desperate exertion of Hillers in swimming she
was regained.

A boat must never be allowed to move without men aboard or lines
attached. This would seem to go without saying, but for fear it does not
I mention it for the sake of any who may want to try their skill at
this work. In the morning there was a pleasant smooth stretch for some
distance, but it was soon passed, and cataract followed cataract till
we counted ten. Seven we ran with exhilarating speed; the other three
demanding more respectful treatment, we lowered the boats by lines, when
the noon hour was at hand and a halt was made for refreshments, five
miles from the starting-point of the morning. As soon as we had consumed
the allowance of bread, bacon, and coffee, we took up our task by making
two very difficult and tiring let-downs; that is, manoeuvring the boats
in and out, among and over, the rocks alongshore by lines, with one or
two men aboard, always on the lookout to prevent being caught by outer
currents. This brought us face to face with a furious fall, but one that
seemed free from obstructions, and the order was to run it. Accordingly,
over we went, the boats shipping the great seas below and each one
tapping the keel on a submerged rock at the start. Owing to the trend
of the canyon, and the lateness of the season, the sun now passed early
from sight, the walls throwing the bottom of the gorge into deep shadow
with a wintry chill that was quickly perceptible to us in our wet
clothing. The result was that our teeth chattered in spite of all we
could do to stop the uncomfortable performance, and our lips turned
blue. To be soaked all day long near the end of September, in our
climate, is not an agreeable condition. Though less than seven miles
was made this day we were forced to stop when the shadow fell and make a
camp at the first opportunity. It was only half-past three o'clock, but
it had been sunset to us for half an hour. Thus each working day was
sadly shortened, for even where the bends were most favourable, the
warm sun shone upon us only for the middle hours. The walls were close
together and very straight; they grew higher and more threatening with
every mile of progress, so that it seemed as if another day or two would
shut out the sun from the bottom altogether. On account of our limited
larder, if for no other reason, we were obliged to push ahead as rapidly
as possible. The next day we were at it early, easily running the first
cataract, but just below it an immediate landing was imperative at the
head of another which no man in his senses would think of running. Some
hard work put us below that, and then came one far worse. The morning
was gone before we saw its foam receding behind us. The following day,
on summing up, after much severe toil, and stopping to repair boats,
it was found that we had gone only a mile and a half! At this rate, we
thought, when would we see the end of this gorge? But in the morning our
wet clothes were put on without a murmur from any one, and once more
we renewed the attack. The worst fall the next day was a drop of about
twenty feet in twenty yards; a sharp plunge of the river in one mass.
As it seemed free from rocks in the middle a run was decided on. We
therefore pulled squarely into it. On both sides the river was beaten
to solid foam amongst the rocks, but in the middle, where we were,
there was a clean chute, followed by a long tail of ugly waves. We
were entirely successful, though the waves broke over my head till they
almost took my breath away. The walls reached a height of twenty-five
hundred feet, seeming to us almost perpendicular on both sides. It was
the narrowest deep chasm we had yet seen, and beneath these majestic
cliffs we ourselves appeared mere pigmies, creeping about with our
feeble strength to overcome the tremendous difficulties. The loud
reverberation of the roaring water, the rugged rocks, the toppling
walls, the narrow sky, all combined to make this a fearful place, which
no pen can adequately describe. Another day the Major and I climbed out,
reaching an altitude, some distance back from the brink, 3135 feet
above the river. The day after this climb the walls ran up to about
twenty-seven hundred feet, apparently in places absolutely vertical,
though Stanton, who came through here in 1890, said he did not think
they were anywhere perpendicular to the top. The tongue of a bend we
found always more or less broken, but in the curve the cliffs certainly
had all the effect of absolute perpendicularity, and in one place I
estimated that if a rock should fall from the brink it would have struck
on or near our boat. This shows, at any rate, that the walls were very
straight. The boats seemed mere wisps of straw by comparison, and once
when I saw one which had preceded ours, lying at the end of a clear
stretch, I was startled by the insignificance of the craft on which our
lives depended. Beaman tried to take some photographs which should
give this height in full, but the place was far beyond the power of any
camera. In this locality there seemed to be no possibility of a man's
finding a way to the summit. I concluded that at high water this part of
Cataract Canyon would probably annihilate any human being venturing into
it, though it is possible high water would make it easier. Where
there was driftwood it was in tremendous piles, wedged together in
inextricable confusion; hundreds of tree-trunks, large and small,
battered and cut and limbless, with the ends pounded into a spongy lot
of splinters. The interstices between the large logs were filled with
smaller stuff, like boughs, railroad-ties, and pieces of dressed timber
which had been swept away from the region above the Union Pacific
Railway. Picture this narrow canyon twenty-seven hundred feet deep, at
high water, with a muddy booming torrent at its bottom, sweeping along
logs and all kinds of floating debris, and then think of being in there
with a boat!

We proceeded as best we could with all caution. Every move was planned
and carried out with the exactness of a battle; as if the falls were
actual enemies striving to discover our weakness. One practice was to
throw sticks in above them, and thus ascertain the trend of the chief
currents, which enabled us to approach intelligently. The river here
was not more than four hundred feet wide. As we continued, the canyon
finally widened, and at one place there was a broad, rocky beach on the
left. The opposite wall was nearly three thousand feet high. Beaman, by
setting his camera far back on the rocks, was able to get a view to the
top, with us in it by the river, while we were trying to work the boats
past a rapid. This photograph is reproduced on this page {285}, and the
figures, though very small, may be plainly seen. Not far below this the
walls closed in again. Powell and Thompson tried to climb out, but they
failed on the first trial and had no time to make a fresh start. They
came back to camp and as soon as an early supper was over we started
on--about five o'clock. The walls ran close together and at the water
were perfectly vertical for a hundred feet or so, then there was
a terrace. As we sailed down, the river was suddenly studded with
pinnacles of rock, huge boulders or masses fallen from the heights.
By steering carefully we could pass among these and, keeping in the
dividing line of the current, make for the head of a rocky island, on
each side of which the waters plunged against the cliffs with great
force as they dropped away to a lower level. The danger lay in getting
too far over either way, and it was somewhat difficult to dodge the
pinnacles and steer for the island at the same time. The Canonita went
on the wrong side of one, and we held our breath, for it seemed as if
she could not retrieve her position in the dividing current, but she
did. As we approached the head of the island our keel bumped several
times on the rocks, while the current changed from the simple dividing
line and ran everywhere. At length we reached the shallow water, and
as the keel struck gently on a rock we were overboard, soon pulling the
boat on the island, where the others quickly followed. By hauling the
craft down the right-hand side for about half the island's length, we
were able to pull directly across the tail of waves from the right-hand
rapid, and avoid being swept against the cliff on the left where the
whole river set. So close did every boat go that the oars on that side
could not be used for a moment or two; and then we were past. At a
higher stage of water this place would be much simpler. The river became
serene; night was falling; we drifted on with the current till a roar
issuing from the darkness ahead admonished us to halt. Some broken rocks
on the right gave a footing and there we remained till morning. In the
night it rained, and the rain continued into the daylight till cascades
came leaping and plunging from everywhere into the canyon. Two of these
opposite our camp were exceedingly beautiful. One was about two feet
wide and the other five. For one thousand feet they made a clear plunge,
then vanished in spray, feathery and beautiful. These rain cascades are
a delightful feature of the country and some day will be famous. Soon
Millecrag Bend, marking the end of Cataract Canyon, came in sight. The
walls were only broken by a deep canyon valley coming in on the left,
and the next canyon. Narrow, then began, but it was not one with
difficult waters, and, being only nine miles in length, we were soon
through it. At its foot was the mouth of the Dirty Devil and the
beginning of Mound Canyon, which was later combined with Monument under
the name of Glen.

Our rations were now very low. For some time, each man had been allowed
for a meal, only a thin slice of bacon, a chunk of bread about the size
of one's fist, and all the coffee he desired. At long intervals a pot
of Andy's rare bean-soup was added to the feast. It was necessary,
therefore, to push on with all haste, or we would be starving. The
Canonita was consequently taken out and "cached" under a huge rock which
had fallen against the cliff, forming a natural house. Filling her with
sand to keep her from "drying" to pieces we left her, feeling sure the
party which was to come after her the next spring would find her safe.
She was forty feet above low water. We now went ahead with good speed,
leaving as much work as possible for the prospective Canonita party
to perform. All through Glen Canyon we found evidences of Puebloan
occupation: house ruins, storage caves, etc. The river was tame,
though the walls, about one thousand to sixteen hundred feet high,
were beautiful, and often, in places, vertical. The low stage of water
rendered progress somewhat difficult at times, but nevertheless we
made fairly good time and on the 5th of October passed the San Juan, a
shallow stream at this season, entering through a wide canyon of about
the same depth as that of the Colorado, that is, about twelve hundred or
fourteen hundred feet. A short distance below it we stopped at the Music
Temple, where the Rowlands and Dunn had carved their names. Reaching
the vicinity of Navajo Mountain, Powell thought of climbing it, but an
inquiry as to the state of the larder received from Andy the unpleasant
information that we were down to the last of the supplies; two or three
more scant meals would exhaust everything edible in the boats. So no
halt was made. On the contrary, the oars were plied more vigorously, and
on the 6th we saw a burned spot in the bushes on the right,--there were
alluvial bottoms in the bends,--and though this burned spot was not
food, it was an indication that there were human beings about; we hoped
it indicated also our near approach to the Crossing of the Fathers.
Horses and men had recently been there. Noon came and the surroundings
were as silent, unbroken, untrodden as they had been anywhere above
the burned spot. Though there was little reason for it, we halted for
a dinner camp, and Andy brought out a few last scraps for us to devour.
Hillers threw in a line baited with a small bit of bacon and pulled out
a fish, then a second and several. It was the miracle of the loaves and
fishes over again!

Bend after bend was turned and left behind, and still no Crossing, but
late in the afternoon a shot was heard; then we saw a white rag on a
pole; then we landed and beheld a large pile of rations, in charge
of three men. These men, Dodds, Bonnemort, and Riley, as we were
days overdue, had about made up their minds we were lost, and had
contemplated departing in the morning and leaving the rations to their
fate. Riley and Bonnemort were prospectors, who remained only to see us
and make some inquiries about the river above. They told me afterward
we were the roughest-looking set of men they had ever seen. Our clothes
were about used up.

Powell prepared to go to Salt Lake, about five hundred miles away,
to make preparations for our winter's mountain work, and we all wrote
letters to send out. On the 10th of October they left us, Hillers going
with Powell, while we were to run down thirty-five miles farther to
the mouth of the Paria, and there cache the two boats for the winter.
Steward was now taken sick, and though some Navajos who came along
kindly offered to carry him with them to Kanab, he preferred to stay
with us, so we stretched him out, during our runs, on one of the cabins.
This was not entirely comfortable for him, but the river was smooth and
easy as far as the Paria, so there was no danger of spilling him off,
and he got on fairly well. At the Paria, Jones, who had made a misstep
in one of the boats at the Junction and injured one leg, developed
inflammatory rheumatism in it, and also in the other. Andy at Millecrag
Bend had put on his shoe with an unseen scorpion in it, the sting of
which caused him to grow thin and pale. Bishop's old wound troubled him;
Beaman and W. C. Powell also felt "under the weather," so that of the
whole party left here, Thompson and I were the only ones who remained
entirely well. Arriving at the Paria, we hid the boats for the winter,
and waited for the pack-train that was to bring us provisions, and take
us out to Kanab, which would be headquarters. The pack-train, however,
was misled by a man who pretended to be acquainted with the trail,
and we ate up all the food we had before it arrived. It came over an
extraordinary path. Lost on top of the Paria Plateau, it was only able
to reach us by the discovery of a singular old trail coming down the
two-thousand-foot cliffs three miles up the Paria. While waiting we had
examined the immediate neighbourhood and had climbed to the summit of
some sandstone peaks on the left, where the wall of Glen Canyon breaks
away to the southward. The view was superb. Mountains, solid and
solitary, rose up here and there, and lines of cliffs, strangely
coloured, stretched everywhere across the wide horizon, while from our
feet, like a veritable huge writhing dragon, Marble Canyon zigzagged its
long, dark line into the blue distance, its narrow tributaries looking
like the monster's many legs. I took it into my head to try to shoot
from there into the water of Glen Canyon beneath us, and borrowed
Bishop's 44-calibre Remington revolver for the purpose. When I pulled
the trigger I was positively startled by the violence of the report, a
deafening shock like a thousand thunder-claps in one; then dead silence.
Next, from far away there was a rattle as of musketry, and peal after
peal of the echoing shot came back to us. The interval of silence was
timed on another trial and was found to be exactly twenty seconds.*
The result was always the same, and from this unusual echo we named the
place Echo Peaks.

    * Should be twenty-four seconds.

I had made Jones a pair of crutches, by means of which he was able to
hobble painfully around, and by the time the pack-train was ready to
start for the settlement, about one hundred miles away, he could bear
being lifted upon a horse. Steward, also, was able to ride, and with a
number of us walking we left the Paria behind.

November's sharp days were upon us. We had only the remains of
our summer clothing and few blankets, so that when the thermometer
registered 11 degrees F. above zero we did not dispute it.


Into the Jaws of the Dragon--A Useless Experiment--Wheeler Reaches
Diamond Creek Going Up-stream--The Hurricane Ledge--Something about
Names--A Trip from Kanab through Unknown Country to the Mouth of the
Dirty Devil.

While our party, in September, was battling with the cataracts, another,
as we afterwards learned, was starting from Camp Mohave on a perilous,
impracticable, and needless expedition up the Colorado. How far this
party originally expected to be able to proceed against the tremendous
obstacles I have never understood, but the after-statement mentions
Diamond Creek as the objective point. That such a wild, useless, and
costly struggle should have been allowed by the War Department, which
authorised it, seems singular, more particularly as little new was or
could be, accomplished by it. The War Department must have known that
Powell, two years before, had descended the river from Wyoming to the
mouth of the Virgen, and that he was now more than half-way down the
river on his second, more detailed exploration, authorised and paid
for by the Government. Lieutenant Ives had also years before completely
explored as high as the Vegas Wash, and there were therefore only the
few miles, about twenty-five, between that Wash and the mouth of the
Virgen, which might technically be considered unexplored, though only
technically, for several parties had passed over it. Then why was this
forlorn hope inaugurated? What credit could any one expect to obtain
by bucking for miles up the deep, dangerous gorge filled with difficult
rapids, which Powell had found hazardous and well-nigh impossible,
coming down with the current? The leader of this superfluous endeavour
was Lieutenant Wheeler, of the Topographical Engineers, who had been
roaming the Western country for several years with a large escort.
For some reason, Wheeler seems to have been disinclined to give Powell
credit for his masterly achievement. On the map published in his Report,
under the date 1879, TEN YEARS AFTER POWELL'S TRIUMPH, he omits his name
entirely, and he also fails to give Ives credit on the river, though he
records his land trail. In the text I fail to find any mention of Powell
in the regular order, and only towards the end of the volume under a
different heading. As the book gives an admirable and detailed review of
explorations in the West, one is completely at a loss to understand the
omission of credit to two of the most distinguished explorers of all.
Wheeler accepted White's story because one of his men who knew White at
Camp Mohave, "corroborated" it. How could a man who knew nothing about
the canyons give testimony worth consideration, for or against? Wheeler
had also been informed by O. D. Gass, who, with three others, had worked
his way up the Grand Canyon some few miles in 1864, that in his opinion
it was impossible to go farther than he had gone. Yet White had reported
this whole gorge as having only smooth water; his difficulties had all
ended at the mouth of the Little Colorado. Gass's experience was worth
a good deal as a gauge of White's story, and it proved the story false.
But Wheeler did not so consider it, and therefore prepared to make the
attempt to go beyond Gass. The latter was about right in considering it
impossible to go above his highest point, but when Wheeler found himself
trapped in the chasm, he was desperate, and, being at the time favoured
by a low stage of water, he finally managed to get through.

Wheeler's boats were built in San Francisco and sent by way of the
mouth of the Colorado to Camp Mohave. No details are given of their
construction, but from Dr. Gilbert I learn that they were flat-bottomed.
They were apparently about eighteen feet long. See page 302. There
were three, and in addition a barge was taken from the quartermaster's
department at Camp Mohave. There were two land parties with supplies,
and the river party, the latter composed of the following persons:
First Lieutenant George M. Wheeler, U. S. Topographical Engineers; G. K.
Gilbert, geologist; W. J. Hoffman, naturalist; P. W. Hamel, topographer;
T. H. O'Sullivan, photographer; E. M. Richardson, assistant topographer
and artist; Frank Hecox, barometrical assistant; Frederick W. Loring,
general assistant; six boatmen, six soldiers (one sergeant and five
privates from Co. G, 12th Infantry, stationed at Mohave) and "Captain"
Asquit, and thirteen other Mohaves--in all thirty-four. It was the fate
of three of these, after escaping from the dangers of the great chasm,
to be killed by an attack of Apaches on the Wickenburg stage. These were
Loring, Hamel, and Salmon. Loring was a brilliant young literary man
from Boston, whose career was thus sadly ended.

The boats appear not to have been regularly named, though two of them,
at least, received titles before long, one, the boat Gilbert was in,
being called the Trilobite, and the other, the photographic boat,
was termed the Picture. Leaving Mohave on September 16th (1871) they
proceeded with little difficulty by towing and rowing, as far as Ives
had taken the Explorer, to the foot of Black Canyon. From here the
work was harder, but by the 18th they had arrived in the heart of this
canyon. The rapids were now more severe, but as Ives had gone up easily,
and also Johnson with his steamboat, and Rodgers with his, there
was nothing to prevent the ascent of this party. On the tenth day,
therefore, they passed Fortification Rock and reached Las Vegas Wash,
the termination of the Ives exploration. From here to the mouth of
the Virgen was the stretch that had, technically, never been explored,
though it had been traversed, at least, several times. There is one
small canyon in the distance, called Boulder. Passing the mouth of the
Virgen, Wheeler entered the canyon through the Virgen Mountains, and
this he named Virgin Canyon because, as he says, it was his "first
canyon on entirely new ground." I am at a loss to understand his
meaning. If he intended to convey the impression that he was the first
to traverse this portion, it is an unwarranted assumption, and must be
emphatically condemned. Powell had descended as far as the Virgen, and
thus Wheeler was simply following his course backwards.

Passing through another small unnamed canyon, to which he applied
the term Iceberg on account of the contour of its northern walls, he
finally, on October 3d, came to the Grand Wash. On the next day the
Ute Crossing near the beginning of the Grand Canyon was reached. Two or
three days before this he could see what seemed to be a high range of
mountains apparently perpendicular, which was, as he surmised, the
foot of the Grand Canyon. Progress was now very slow, for the river was
swifter than it had been below. Perceiving the impossibility of taking
such a craft farther, the barge was left behind at the Crossing, to form
a base of supplies in case the difficulties of ascending necessitated
falling back. Relief parties from the rendezvous at Truxton Springs
were to go, one to the mouth of the canyon and the other to the mouth of
Diamond Creek, about thirty-five miles distant from the Springs, but the
situation was complicated by these parties having no orders to wait at
these points. Putting all of his land force who were at the canyon mouth
on the south side of "this turbid, unmanageable stream," and picking
three crews of nine persons each, with rations for fifteen days, he
was ready to go ahead with this unwise enterprise, "imagining," as he
admits, "but few of the many difficulties that were to be met." It was
on October 7th that they entered the mouth of the great gorge. At length
"a full view, magnificent beyond description, of the walls of the Grand
Canyon" was had, and they were fairly on the road; as rough a road,
going down, as one can well imagine, but going up in the teeth of the
torrential rapids, hemmed in by close granite walls, it is about as near
the impossible as anything that is not absolutely so could be. Wheeler
certainly deserves credit for one thing in this haphazard affair, and
that is for a splendid courage and abundant nerve, in which he was well
supported by Gilbert's cool fortitude and indomitable spirit. Once, when
I was discussing this journey with Stanton, who, at a later period, came
down the gorge, he would hardly admit that Wheeler actually did reach
Diamond Creek: he thought the ascent impossible. The second day in the
canyon five rapids were passed within two miles, and, on the next, nine
were overcome before noon, and before sunset, fifteen, showing that the
party were working with all the nerve and muscle they possessed. On
this day they passed the monument Gass and his companions had erected at
their farthest point in 1864. The rapids were now "more formidable"
than any yet seen, and Wheeler was "satisfied" that no one had ever gone
higher. This was true, and it is probable no one will ever try to go up
this portion again. The way to make the passage is from above, the work
being less and the danger no greater. Wherever a portage can be made
going up it can also be made going down. The river was compressed to
seventy-five feet in one place on this day. On the 10th they made about
five miles, and met with a serious accident: two of the boats were
carried back over a rapid, but were luckily secured again without having
suffered damage. The declivity was now very great, and the stream
flowed along between solid granite, where footing was both difficult and
dangerous, and pulling the boats up over the rocks taxed the combined
strength of the crews. Everything had to be unloaded at one bad place
and the first boat was nearly swamped. All could not be taken up before
dark, so a "dreary camp is made among the debris of the slopes, where,
cuddled up Indian-fashion, the weary hours of the night are passed." The
labour was tremendous, and two of the party became ill: one, a Mohave,
who was badly bruised by being thrown upon the rocks. Wheeler now
began to despair of reaching Diamond Creek, and well he might, but he
concluded that he could get there if the men and the boats would but
hold together. The next day, another series of rapids was surmounted,
and then came a particularly bad-looking one. The first boat was filled
instantly with water, swamped, and thrown back against the rocks "almost
a perfect wreck, and its contents were washed down below the overhanging
rocks." A package of Wheeler's valuable papers was lost, also a lot of
expensive instruments, the astronomical and meteorological observations,
and the entire cargo of rations. This was a discouraging disaster, and
came near compelling the retreat of the whole party. Darkness came on,
and they were obliged to drop back about half a mile to make a camp.
Wheeler was weary and dispirited, though he maintained an outward show
of cheerfulness toward the men, and the next morning the Dragon was
faced again. They tried to find some remnant of the lost cargo, but it
had completely vanished. Everything had been swept away forever. All the
party were despondent, one boat was badly damaged, and the diminution of
the rations made the outlook gloomy. The damaged boat was therefore sent
with a crew back to the place at the mouth of the canyon where the barge
had been left. With the exception of Wheeler and Gilbert none of the
party believed the cataracts now ahead could be surmounted.

"Mr. Gilbert and myself," writes Wheeler, "propose to reassure the men
by taking the first boat across the rapids. Portage of the stores is
made to the wash at the head of the rapids, which consumes the greater
share of the day, and half an hour before twilight a rope is stretched
and the emergency prepared for. The entire force is stationed along the
line, and the cast-off is made. In five minutes the worst part of the
rapid is over, and just as the sun sinks gloomily behind the canyon
horizon, the worst rapid is triumphantly passed amid the cheers and
exultations of every member of the party."

The following day, October 13th, they reached the narrowest part of the
river, a channel less than fifty feet wide, but the canyon on top is, of
course, very broad. With many portages and other arduous toil the party
slowly climbed up the river, sometimes making less than three miles,
sometimes a little more. The rapids grew worse and worse, and the smooth
stretches in between shorter and shorter. On the 15th Gilbert's boat
broke away, and he and Hecox were swept so far down the stream that the
rest could not reach them. They were obliged to remain where they were
through the night with nothing to eat. The main camp was at a place
where there was barely room for the men to sleep amongst the rocks. They
were all gloomy enough, and starvation was beginning to show its dreaded
shadow amidst the spray. On the 16th they were compelled to carry
the tow-line fully a hundred feet above the water to get it ahead. At
another portage the rope broke and the boat was instantly thrown out
into the rapid by the fierce current. Fortunately she was not capsized,
and they managed again to secure her and make a second attempt, which
succeeded. Climbing to the top of the granite they discovered it was
comparatively level, and they believed they could travel over it, if
necessary, as far as Diamond Creek. The rations for some time had to be
dealt out on allowance, and at night, for safety, Wheeler put the entire
stock under his head as a pillow. On the 17th they met with particularly
bad rapids, one with a fall of ten and a half feet where the river was
only thirty-five feet wide. The force of such pent-up waters may be
imagined. The party had here one advantage over the river farther north,
at this season; it was much warmer in this part of the Grand Canyon.

"Each day," writes Wheeler of this portion, "seems like an age, and the
danger of complete disaster stares one so plainly in the face that a
state of uneasiness naturally prevails." On the 18th, at one of the
descents, a boat was again torn loose, and Gilbert and Salmon were
thrown into the raging waters. They fortunately succeeded in getting
out, and the party pushed ahead, making three and one-half miles. The
boats were now in a dilapidated condition, leaking badly. On October
19th two messengers were started, by way of the summit of the granite,
to Diamond Creek to catch the relief party there, and return with some
food. Meanwhile Wheeler planned, if no relief came, to abandon the river
on the 22nd, but on the evening of that same day, having made six miles
up the river, the party had the joy of finally reaching Diamond Creek
with the two boats. Wheeler had succeeded in a well-nigh hopeless task.
"The land party had left at ten in the morning," so Gilbert writes me,
"and their camp was reached by our messengers on foot at 1 p.m. These
facts were announced to us by a note one of our messengers sent down the
river on a float." A number of the boat party were then sent out to the
rendezvous camp, while the remainder turned about and began the perilous
descent, having now to do just what would have been necessary if the
start had been made from Diamond Creek. Mohave was reached in safety ON
THE EVENING OF THE FIFTH DAY, whereas it had required about four weeks
of extremely hard work to make the same distance against the current.
This is all the comment necessary on the two methods. The whole party
that reached Diamond Creek was as follows: Lieutenant Wheeler, G. K.
Gilbert, P. W. Hamel, T. H. O'Sullivan, E. M. Richardson, Frank Hecox,
Wm. George Salmon, R. W. James, Thos. Hoagland, George Phifer, Wm.
Roberts, Privates Drew, Flynn, and Keegan, and six Mohaves, making
twenty in all.

"The exploration of the Colorado River," says Wheeler, "may now be
considered complete." The question may fairly be asked, Why was the
exploration now any more complete than it was before Wheeler made this
unnecessary trip? Powell, two years before, had been through the part
ascended, and Wheeler, so far as I can determine, added little of value
to what was known before. If he thought Powell had not completed the
work of exploration, as his words imply, the exploration was still not
complete, for there remained the distance to the Little Colorado, and
to the Paria, and so on up to the source of the river, which Wheeler had
not been over. If he accepted Powell's exploration ABOVE Diamond Creek,
why did he not accept it below? His nerve and luck in accomplishing the
ascent to Diamond Creek deserve great praise, but the trip itself cannot
be considered anything but a needless waste of energy.

Meanwhile, as noted in the last chapter, our own party had passed the
Crossing of the Fathers, had arrived at the mouth, of the Paria, and,
according to our plans, had cached our boats there for the winter while
we proceeded to inaugurate our land work of triangulation. A number of
us were left for a while in camp in a valley lying between the Kaibab
Plateau, then called Buckskin Mountain, and what is now called Paria
Plateau, at a spring in a gulch of the Vermilion Cliffs. Two large rocks
at this place had fallen together in such a way that one could crawl
under for shelter. This was on the old trail leading from the Mormon
settlements to the Moki country, travelled about once a year by Jacob
Hamblin and a party on a trading expedition to the other side of the
river. Somebody on one of these trips had taken refuge beneath this
rock, and on departing had written, in a facetious mood, along the top
with a piece of charcoal, "Rock House Hotel." Naturally, in referring
to the spring it was called, by the very few who knew it, Rock House
Spring, and then the spring where the House Rock was, or House Rock
Spring. From this came House Rock Valley, and the name was soon a
fixture, and went on our maps. And thus easily are names established
in a new country. All around were evidences of former occupation by the
Puebloans, and I became greatly interested in examining the locality. At
length, we were ordered across the Kaibab to the vicinity of Kanab, and
I shall never fail to see distinctly the wonderful view from the summit
we had of the bewildering cliff-land leading away northward to the Pink
Cliffs. The lines of cliffs rose up like some giant stairway, while to
the south-eastward the apparently level plain was separated by the dark
line of Marble Canyon. On top of the plateau, which was covered with a
fine growth of tall pines, we came about camping time to a shallow, open
valley, where we decided to stay for the night. As it was on the top of
the mountain Bishop recorded it in his notes as Summit Valley, and so it
ever afterward remained. There was no spring, but a thin layer of snow
eked out the water we had brought in kegs on the packs, and we and the
animals were comfortable enough. The trail had not been travelled often,
and was in places very dim, but we succeeded in following it without
delay. The Kaibab, still frequently called the Buckskin Mountain,
must have received this first name from its resemblance to a buckskin
stretched out on the ground. The similarity is quite apparent in the
relief map opposite page 41. As it was the home of the Kaibab band of
Pai Utes, Powell decided to rename it after them. We arrived within
eight miles of Kanab, where we made a headquarters camp at a fine
spring, and trips from here and from a camp made later nearer Kanab were
extended into the surrounding country. The Mormons had a year or two
before come out from the St. George direction and established this new
settlement of Kanab, composed then of a stockaded square of log
houses and some few neat adobe houses outside; about fifty in all. The
settlement was growing strong enough to scatter itself somewhat about
the site marked off for the future town. One of the first things the
Mormons always did in establishing a new settlement was to plant fruit
and shade trees, and vines, and the like, so that in a very few
years there was a condition of comfort only attained by a non-Mormon
settlement after the lapse of a quarter of a century.

In the valley below Kanab a base line was measured nine miles long,
and from this starting-point our work of triangulating the country was
carried on. Trips with pack-trains to establish geodetic stations and
examine the lay of the land were made in all directions. Of course the
reader understands that up to this time no map had been made of this
vast region north of the Colorado, and that many parts of it were
entirely unknown. The Mormons had traversed certain districts, but they
only knew their own trails and roads and had as yet not had time
to carry on any unnecessary examinations away from the lines they
travelled. Some of our experiences were interesting, but I have not the
space here for recording many of them. It was my first winter out
of doors, and sleeping in snow-storms and all kinds of weather was a
novelty, though the climate is fine and dry. It was only in the higher
regions that we encountered much snow, yet the temperature in the
valleys was quite cold enough. In leading the open-air life from summer
to winter and to summer again, the system becomes adjusted, and one does
not suffer as much as at first glance would seem probable; in fact, one
suffers very little if any, provided there are plenty of good food and
warm clothing.

On one occasion, when we were coming away from a snowy experience in
the Uinkaret Mountains, we were enveloped in a severe flurry one morning
soon after starting. When we had gone about a mile and a half, the whole
world seemed to terminate. The air was dense with the fast-falling,
snowflakes, and all beyond a certain line was white fog, up, down, and
sideways. A halt was imperative, as we knew not which way to turn except
back, and that was not our direction. Descending from our horses we
stepped out in the direction of the illimitable whiteness, only to find
that there was nothing there to travel on. The only thing to do was to
camp, which we did forthwith. By our holding up a blanket at the four
corners, and chopping some dry wood out of the side of a dead tree, Andy
was able to a start a fire, and we waited for atmospheric developments.
Presently there were rifts in the white, and as we looked we could
discern, far, far below our position, another land. As the storm broke
away more and more, it was seen that we had arrived at the edge of a
cliff with a sheer drop of one thousand feet. At last we were able to go
on and hunted for a way to descend, which we did not find. Consequently
we continued northwards and finally, on the second day, met with a
waggon-track which we followed, reaching at last the edge where the
cliff could be descended by way of a waggon-road the Mormons had cut
out of the face for a mile and a quarter. This was the Hurricane Ledge,
which extends across the country northwards from the Uinkaret Mountains
to the Virgen River. Its course is well seen on the map opposite page
41, and also on the one on page 37. As the traveller comes to Hurricane
Hill, the northern limit, from which the whole cliff takes its name, he
has before him one of the most extraordinary views in all that region,
if not in the world. Even the Grand Canyon itself is hardly more
wonderful. To the right and below us lay the fair green fields of
Toquerville, on the opposite side of the Virgen, and all around was such
a labyrinth of mountains, canyons, cliffs, hills, valleys, rocks, and
ravines, as fairly to make one's head swim. I think that perhaps, of
all the views I have seen in the West, this was one of the weirdest and
wildest. From Berry Spring in this valley a party of us returned to the
Uinkaret district by following the country to the west of the Hurricane
Ledge. On this occasion we again climbed Mt. Trumbull and some of
the others of the group; and Dodds and I descended at the foot of the
Toroweap to the river at the rapid called Lava Falls. It was a difficult

In triangulating I often had occasion to take the bearings of two large
buttes lying to the north-west, and in order that my recorder could put
down the readings so that I might identify them later I was obliged to
give him titles for these. They had no names in our language, and I did
not know the native ones, so, remembering that at the foot of one I
had found some ant-hills covered with beautiful diamond-like quartz
crystals, I called it Diamond Butte, and the other, having a dark,
weird, forbidding look, I named on the spur of the moment Solitaire
Butte. These names being used by the other members of the corps, they
became fixtures and are now on all the maps. I had no idea at that time
of their becoming permanent. This was also the case with a large butte
on the east side of Marble Canyon, which I had occasion to sight to from
the Kaibab. It stood up so like a great altar, and, having in my mind
the house-building Amerinds who had formerly occupied the country, and
whom the Pai Utes called Shinumo, I called it Shinumo Altar, the name it
now bears. Probably there are people who wonder where the altar is from
which it was named. It was the appearance that suggested the title,
not any archaeological find. Once when we were in the Uinkaret country,
Powell came in from a climb to the summit of what he named Mt. Logan,
and said he had just seen a fine mountain off to the south-west which he
would name after me. Of course I was much pleased at having my name thus
perpetuated. The mountain turned out to be the culminating point of the
Shewits Plateau. None of us visited it at that time, but Thompson went
there later, and I crossed its slopes twice several years afterward. On
the summit is a circular ruin about twenty feet in diameter with walls
remaining two feet high.

It will be remembered that we had left one of our boats near the mouth
of the Dirty Devil River. A party was to go overland to that point
and bring this boat down to the Paria, and on the 25th of May (1872)
Thompson started at the head of the party to try to explore a way in to
the mouth of the Dirty Devil, at the same time investigating the country
lying in between and examining the Unknown or Dirty Devil Mountains
which had been seen from the river, just west of the course of the Dirty
Devil River, now named Fremont River. We went west to a ranch called
Johnson after the owner, thence north-westerly, passing the little
Mormon settlement of Clarkson, and then struck out into the wilderness.
Keeping a north-westerly course we crossed the upper waters of the Paria
and made our way to the head of a stream flowing through what was called
Potato Valley, and which the party of the previous year had followed
down, endeavouring to find a trail by which to bring rations to us,
under the impression that it was the head of the Dirty Devil. We also
turned our course down it with the same idea. We had taken with us a Pai
Ute guide whom we called Tom, but as we advanced into this region so far
from his range, Tom got nervous and wanted to go back, and we saw him no
more till our return. Six years before a Mormon reconnoitring party had
penetrated as far as this, and in one place en route we passed the
spot where one of their number who had been killed by the Utes had been
buried. The grave had been dug out by the wolves, and a few whitened
bones lay scattered around. It was a place where there was no water and
we could not stop to reinter them. Several days after this we reached
a point where progress seemed to be impossible in that direction, and
Thompson and Dodds climbed up on high ground to reconnoitre. When they
came back they said we were not on the headwaters of the Dirty Devil
at all, and would be obliged to change our course completely. The Dirty
Devil entered the Colorado on the other side of the Unknown Range and
the stream we were on joined it on this side, the west, therefore it was
plain that we had made a mistake. Accordingly, our steps were retraced
to a point where we managed to ascend to the slopes of what is now
called the Aquarius Plateau. Three men were sent back to Kanab after
more rations, while Thompson with the other six pushed on around the
slopes, trying to find a way to cross the labyrinth of canyons to the
Unknown Mountains. On the 9th of June we were at an altitude of ten
thousand feet above sea-level, with all the wilderness of canyons,
cliffs, and buttes between us and the Colorado spreading below like
a map, or rather like some kaleidoscopic phantasm. The slopes we were
crossing were full of leaping torrents and clear lakes. They were
so covered with these that the plateau afterwards was given the name
Aquarius. Beaman, who had been photographer on our river trip, had left
us, and we now had a new man from Salt Lake, named Fennemore. He was a
frail man and the trip was almost too much for him. Down below we saw
the smokes of native fires in several places, but we could not tell by
what tribe they were made. At last we came to a point where the plateau
broke back to the north, and we paused to search for a way to continue.
I was sent out in one direction with one man, and Thompson went in
another. I had not gone half a mile before I found an old trail which
had very recently been travelled by natives, and when I had followed it
far enough to get its trend, and as far as I dared, for I feared running
on the camp at any point, I returned to report. Thompson decided to take
this trail. It led us across strange country, and in one place for a
long distance over barren sandstone into a peculiar valley. Here we
camped about three miles from a great smoke, and the next morning ran
right on top of a Ute encampment. At first we expected trouble, but
there were only seven of the warriors, and they were, as we learned
later, out of powder, so when they sighted us they disappeared. At last
they returned, and we had a talk with them, trying to induce one to go
with us as guide. They described the trails, but refused to go along.

We camped one night near them, and then went on, arriving finally, after
a great deal of trouble at the Unknown Mountains, since called the Henry
Mountains, having taken a wrong trail. At one place we were obliged to
take the whole packtrain up a cliff fifteen hundred feet high, making
a trail as we went. On the top were some water-pockets. We watered the
stock at one of these the next morning, when we were obliged fairly
to lift the horses out of the gulch by putting our shoulders to their
haunches. At last, however, we got to the mountains, and though it was
now the 17th of June water froze one half inch thick in the kettles in
our camp about fifteen hundred feet up the slopes. Thompson climbed one
of the mountains, and I started up another, but my companion gave out.
We crossed through a pass, and on the 22d, after pursuing a winding and
difficult road through canyons, succeeded in getting the whole train
down to the Colorado a short distance below the mouth of the Dirty
Devil. The Colorado was high, and swept along majestically. We found it
had been up as far as the Canonita, and had almost washed away one of
the oars. We soon ran her down to our camp, and there put her in order
for the journey, which from here to the Paria could be nothing more
than a pleasure trip. Thompson, Dodds, and Andy left the rest of us
and returned on the trail towards Kanab. Those left for the boat's crew
besides myself were Hillers, Fennemore, the photographer, and W. D.
Johnson. The latter was from Kanab, and was a Mormon, as was also the
photographer, and both were fine fellows. The river was at flood and
we had an easy time of it so far as travelling was concerned. Our
investigations and photographing sometimes consumed half a day, but
in the other half we made good progress, eight or nine miles without
trying. The rations were limited in variety, but were abundant of their
kind, being almost entirely bread and black coffee. When we tried, we
made great runs, one day easily accomplishing about forty miles. The
San Juan was now a powerful stream, as we saw on passing. At the
Music Temple we camped, and I cut Hillers's and my name on the rocks.
Fennemore made a picture of the place, given on page 215. On the 13th
of July, we reached the Paria, where we expected to find several of our
party, but they were not there. We discovered that someone had come in
here since our last visit, and built a house. It proved to be John D.
Lee, of Mountain Meadow Massacre notoriety, who had established a home
here for one of his two remaining wives. He called the place Lonely
Dell, and it was not a misnomer. It is now known as Lee's Ferry. Mrs.
Lee proved to be an agreeable woman, and she and her husband treated
us very kindly, inviting us, as we had nothing but bread and coffee,
to share their table, an offer we gladly accepted. Here Johnson and
Fennemore left us, going out with Lee to Kanab, and two days later
we were relieved to see some of our men arrive with a large amount of
supplies and mail. We then waited for the coming of Powell and Thompson
with the others, when we were to cast off and run the gauntlet of the
Grand Canyon.


A Canyon through Marble--Multitudinous Rapids--Running the
Sockdologer--A Difficult Portage, Rising Water, and a Trap--The Dean
Upside Down--A Close Shave--Whirlpools and Fountains--The Kanab Canyon
and the End of the Voyage.

By referring to the relief map opposite page 41, the mouth of the Paria
is seen a trifle more than half-way up the right-hand side. The walls of
Glen Canyon here recede from the river and become on the south the Echo
Cliffs, taking the name from the Echo Peaks which form their beginning,
and on the north the Vermilion Cliffs, so called by Powell because of
their bright red colour. The latter, and the canyon of the Paria, make
the edges of the great mesa called the Paria Plateau, and, running on
north to the very head of the Kaibab uplift, strike off south-westerly
to near Pipe Spring, where they turn and run in a north-west direction
to the Virgen River. Between the receding lines of these cliffs, at the
Paria, is practically the head of the Grand Canyon. The river at once
begins an attack on the underlying strata, and the resulting canyon,
while at first not more than two hundred feet deep, rapidly increases
this depth, as the strata run up and the river runs down. The canyon
is narrow, and seen from a height resembles, as previously mentioned, a
dark serpent lying across a plain. As the formation down to the Little
Colorado is mainly a fine-grained grey marble, Powell concluded to call
this division by a separate name, and gave it the title it now bears,
Marble Canyon. There is no separation between Marble Canyon and the
following one, the Grand Canyon, except the narrow gorge of the Little
Colorado, so that topographically the chasm which begins at the Paria,
ends at the Grand Wash, a distance of 283 miles, as the river runs, the
longest, deepest, and altogether most magnificent example of the canyon
formation to be found on the globe. With an average depth of about four
thousand feet, it reaches for long stretches between five thousand and
six thousand. At the Paria (Lee's Ferry) the altitude above the sea is
3170 feet, while at the end of the canyon, the Grand Wash, the elevation
is only 840 feet. The declivity is thus very great (see the diagram
on page 57, which gives from the Little Colorado down), the total fall
being 2330 feet. Further comment on the character of the river within
this wonderful gorge is unnecessary. Powell had been through it on his
first expedition, and was now to make the passage again, to examine
its geological and geographical features more in detail. Meanwhile, as
recorded in the last chapter, Lieutenant Wheeler had made an effort,
apparently to forestall this examination, and had precariously succeeded
in reaching Diamond Creek, which is just at the south end of the Shewits
Plateau, lower left-hand corner of the map facing page 41. Powell and
Thompson arrived at our camp at the mouth of the Paria on the 13th of
August (1872) accompanied by Mrs. Thompson, who had been at Kanab all
the previous winter, and had pluckily made several trips with Thompson
into the mountains, and Professor De Motte. They had come in by way of
the south end of the Kaibab, and it was on this occasion that the valley
on the southern part of the summit was named De Motte Park. Preparations
for our descent through the great chasm were immediately begun. The
boats had been previously overhauled, and as the Nellie Powell was found
unseaworthy from last season's knocks, or at least not in condition to
be relied on in the Grand Canyon, she was abandoned, and Lee kept her
for a ferry-boat. Perhaps she might have been repaired, but anyhow
we had only men enough to handle two boats. Steward's trouble had not
sufficiently improved to warrant his risking further exposure, so he had
returned to his home in Illinois. Bishop was in a similar plight, and
went to Salt Lake to regain his health, and Beaman had started off to
carry on some photographic operations of his own. He came to the river
and crossed on his way to the Moki country, while we were preparing to
depart from the Paria. Johnson and Fennemore, who had been with us part
of the winter, were too ill to think of entering the great canyon, with
all the uncertainties of such a venture, and as before noted they,
too, had left. Our party, then, consisted of seven: Powell, Thompson,
Hillers, Jones, W. C. Powell, Hattan, and Dellenbaugh, all from the
first season's crew. No one else was available, as the trip was regarded
in that region as extremely desperate. On the 14th, the boats, Emma Dean
and Canonita, were in readiness, and we loaded and took them down a mile
and a half to the point near where the road came in from Kanab, whence
our final departure would be made as soon as Powell, who needed a little
extra time for arranging his papers and general affairs, should say the
word. Everything was carefully attended to, as if we were preparing our
last will and testament, and were never to be seen alive again, and I
believe this was the firm conviction of most of those not going with
the boats. Those who were going had abundant respect for the dragon, and
well knew that no holiday excursion was before them. Their spirit was
humble, and no precaution was to be neglected; no spirit of bravado
permitted to endanger the success of the undertaking. Mrs. Thompson and
De Motte ran down with us through two small rapids that exist at
the mouth of the Paria, and which we had to pass to reach the camp
mentioned. Mrs. Thompson would willingly have gone all the way through
if her husband had consented to it.

On the 15th it was "all ashore not going"; we said our farewells to
those leaving for Kanab, and turned our attention to the river. We would
see no one after starting till we arrived at the mouth of the Kanab,
where we had discovered, during the winter, that a pack-train, with some
difficulty, could be brought in with supplies. It was not till the 17th
that we were able to leave, as the boats needed some further attention.
On that day, about nine o'clock, we cast off and went down some five
miles, running one little rapid and another of considerable size before
we halted for dinner. The walls were still not high, only about five
hundred feet, and I climbed out to secure a farewell glance at the
open country. On starting again we had not gone far before we came to a
really bad place, a fall of about eighteen feet in seventy-five yards,
where it was deemed respectful to make a portage. This accomplished,
another of the same nature, with an equally fierce growl, discovered
itself not far below, and a camp was made where we landed at its head.
This was ten miles below our starting-point, and seemed to be the
spot where a band of ten mining prospectors were wrecked about a month
before. They had gone in to the mouth of the Paria on a prospecting
trip, and concluded they would examine the Grand Canyon. Consequently
they built a large raft, and after helping themselves to a lot of our
cooking utensils and other things from some caches we had made when
we went out from the river for our winter's work, they sailed, away,
expecting to accomplish wonders. Ten miles, to the first bad rapids, was
the extent of their voyage, and there they were fortunate to escape
with their lives, but nothing else, and by means of ladders made from
driftwood, they reached once more the outer world, having learned the
lesson the Colorado is sure to teach those who regard it lightly. We
made a portage at the place and enjoyed a good laugh when we looked at
the vertical rocks and pictured the prospectors dismally crawling out of
the roaring waters with nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Our
opinion was, they were served just right: first, because they had stolen
our property, and, second, because they had so little sense. The walls
had rapidly grown in altitude, and near the river were vertical so that
climbing out at this place was a particularly difficult undertaking. The
river was still very high, but not at the highest stage of this year,
which had been passed before the Canonita party had come down to the
Paria from Fremont River. But the canyon was even yet uncomfortably full
and we were hoping the water would diminish rapidly, for high tide in
such a place is a great disadvantage. The stream was thick with red mud,
the condition from which it derived its name, and it swept along with
a splendid vigour that betokened a large reserve flood in the high
mountains. The marble composing the walls of this canyon for most of its
length is of a greyish drab colour often beautifully veined, but it must
not be supposed that the walls are the same colour externally, for they
are usually a deep red, due to the discoloration of their surface by
disintegration of beds above full of iron. Except where high water
had scoured the walls, there was generally no indication of their real
colour. In places the friction of the current had brought them to a
glistening polish; the surface was smooth as glass, and was sometimes
cut into multitudinous irregular flutings as deep as one's finger. The
grinding power of the current was well shown in some of the boulders,
which had been dovetailed together till the irregular line of juncture
was barely perceptible.

The next day was begun by accomplishing the portage over the rapid which
had punished the prospectors for their temerity and for their lack of
proper morals, and then we made most excellent progress, successfully
putting behind us eleven lively rapids free from rocks before we were
admonished to pause and make a let-down. Then camp was established for
the night with the record of ten and three-eighths miles for our day's
work. At one place we passed a rock in the water so large that it almost
blocked the entire stream, which had averaged about two hundred feet in
width, though narrowing at many places to no more than seventy-five. The
current was always extremely swift, while many whirlpools added their
demands, though they gave us no serious trouble. It is exasperating,
however, to be turned around against one's will. The canyon at the top
for a considerable distance was not over three-quarters of a mile wide.
The depth was now from fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred feet. There
were always rapids following quickly one after another, but so often
they were free from rocks, the dangerous part of most rapids, that we
were able to sail through them in triumph. On the 20th, out of thirteen
sharp descents, we easily ran twelve, all in a distance of less
than seven miles. The average width of the river was one hundred and
twenty-five feet, while the walls rose to over two thousand feet, and at
the top the canyon was about a mile and a quarter from brink to brink.
This brought us to Vasey's Paradise, so named after a botanist friend of
his, by Powell on the first descent. It was only a lot of ferns, mosses,
and similar plants growing around two springs that issued from the
cliffs on the right about seventy-five feet above the river, and rippled
in silver threads to the bottom, but as it was the first green spot
since leaving the Paria its appearance was striking and attractive
to the eye that had been baffled in all directions except above, in a
search for something besides red. Now the narrow, terraced canyon, often
vertical on both sides for several hundred feet above the water,
grew ever deeper and deeper, two thousand, twenty-five hundred, three
thousand feet and more, as the impetuous torrent slashed its way down,
till it finally seemed to me as if we were actually sailing into the
inner heart of the world. The sensation on the first expedition, when
each dark new bend was a dark new mystery, must have been something to
quite overpower the imagination, for then it was not known that, by
good management, a boat could pass through this Valley of the Shadow of
Death, and survive. Down, and down, and ever down, roaring and leaping
and throwing its spiteful spray against the hampering rocks the terrible
river ran, carrying our boats along with it like little wisps of straw
in the midst of a Niagara, the terraced walls around us sometimes
fantastically eroded into galleries, balconies, alcoves, and Gothic
caves that lent to them an additional weird and wonderful aspect, while
the reverberating turmoil of the ever-descending flood was like some
extravagant musical accompaniment to the extraordinary panorama flitting
past of rock sculpture and bounding cliffs.

The 22d was a day to be particularly remembered, for the walls, though
more broken at the water's edge, were now some thirty-five hundred feet
high and seemed to be increasing by leaps and bounds, for at one place,
through a side gorge on the right, we could discern cliffs so far above
our heads that tall pine trees looked no larger than lead pencils. It
was the end of the Kaibab, whose summit was more than five thousand feet
higher than the river at this point. Cataract followed rapid and rapid
followed cataract as we were hurled on down through the midst of the
sublimity, which, parting at our advance, closed again behind like some
wonderful phantasmagoria. At times in the headlong rush the boats
could barely be held in control. Once, a wild mass of breakers appeared
immediately in the path of our boat, from which it was impossible to
escape, even though we made a severe effort to do so. We thought we were
surely to be crushed, and I shall not forget the seconds that passed as
we waited for the collision which never came, for when the boat dashed
into the midst of the spray, there was no shock whatever; we glided
through as if on oil,--the rocks were too far beneath the surface to
harm us. So constant was the rush of the descending waters that our oars
were needed only for guidance.

Late in the day there came a long straight stretch, at the bottom of
which the river appeared to vanish. Had any one said the course was
now underground from that point onward, it would have seemed entirely
appropriate. In the outer world the sun was low, though it had long been
gone to us, and the blue haze of approaching night was drawing a veil
of strange uncertainty among the cliffs, while far above, the upper
portions of the mighty eastern walls, at all times of gorgeous hue, were
now beautifully enriched by the last hot radiance of the western sky.
Such a view as this was worth all the labour we had accomplished. When
the end of this marvellous piece of canyon was reached a small river was
found to enter on the left through a narrow gorge like the main canyon.
It was the Little Colorado, and beside it on a sand-bank we stopped for
the night, having ended one of the finest runs of our experience, about
eighteen miles with but a single let-down; yet in this distance there
were eighteen rapids, one of which was about two and one half miles
long. It was a glorious record, and I do not recall another day which
was more exhilarating. We had arrived at the end of Marble Canyon and
the beginning of the Grand Canyon, there being nothing to mark the
division but the narrow gorge of the Little Colorado. In Marble Canyon
we had found sixty-nine rapids in the sixty-five and one half miles,
with a total descent of 480 feet. Of these we ran sixty, let down by
lines five times, and made four portages. Here at the mouth of the
Little Colorado was the place where White's imagination pictured
overwhelming terrors and his worst experience in a whirlpool opposite.
But in reality the Colorado at this particular point is very tame, and
when we were there the Little Colorado was a lamb.

Now the Grand Canyon, as named by Powell on his former trip, was before
us, and soon we were descending through the incomparable chasm. Three
or four miles below the Little Colorado the walls break away, and the
canyon has more the appearance of a valley hemmed in by beetling cliffs
and crags which rise up in all directions over 5000 feet, distant from
the line of the river five or six miles. On the right were two minor
valleys within the canyon called Nancoweap and Kwagunt, named by Powell
after the Pai Utes, who have trails coming down into them.*

    * Kwagunt was the name of a Pai Ute who said he owned this
valley--that his father, who used to live there, had given it to him.

As we went on, the canyon narrowed again, becoming wilder and grander
than ever, and on the 28th, late in the day, we came to the first bad
fall in this division, where a portage was necessary, and we made a
camp. A short distance below this camp the granite ran up. To any one
who has been in this chasm with a boat, the term "the granite runs
up" has a deep significance. It means that the First Granite Gorge is
beginning, and this First Granite Gorge, in the Kaibab division of the
canyon, less than fifty miles in length as the stream runs, contains the
wildest, swiftest, steepest piece of river on this continent except a
portion in Cataract Canyon. The declivity is tremendous. Between the
Little Colorado and the Kanab the total fall is 890 feet, and the bulk
of this drop occurs in the granite. In one stretch of ten miles the
descent is 210 feet. All through this granite the character of the river
is different from anything above. The falls are short and violent, while
the stretches in between are smooth and not always swift. But the moment
a break occurs the turbulence and commotion are instantly very great.
The summer is the wet season here, and to add to our troubles we were
treated to frequent rains. The next day toward noon, as we were
sailing along between the black walls, on a rather sluggish current, a
deep-toned roar was borne up to our ears. Nothing could be seen of the
cause of it, but a complete disappearance of the river from our sight
warned us to make a landing as soon as possible. Some broken rocks
protruding a few feet above the water at the base of the right-hand
wall afforded the desired opportunity, and running in we stepped out and
mounted them. The cause of the roaring was immediately apparent. For a
third of a mile the river was a solid mass of huge waves and foam and
plunges, and on each side the granite came down so precipitously that
a footing was impossible. It took no second glance to tell us that, at
least with this stage of water, there was but one course, and that was
to run the place. There is nothing like having the inner man fortified
for exertion, therefore with a few bits of driftwood a fire was built,
by means of which Andy prepared dinner. When this had been disposed of
operations were begun. The Canonita was to remain here till our boat was
well through. In case we smashed up they would have a better chance, as
they might profit by our course, and if we went through safely, we would
be prepared to pick them up should disaster overtake them. At last we
were ready. The crew of the Canonita placed themselves where they could
carefully watch our fortunes, and we pulled up the river very close to
the right-hand wall in slack current, for about a quarter of a mile,
when we turned the bow out and struck for the middle, heading there
straight for the descent. I pulled the bow oars, and my back was toward
the terrific roar which, like the voice of some awful monster, grew
louder as we approached. It was difficult to refrain from turning
round to see what it looked like now, but as everything depended on the
promptness with which Hillers and I handled our oars in obedience to
Powell's orders, I waited for the plunge, every instant ready to execute
a command. We kept in the middle of the stream, and as we neared the
brink our speed began to accelerate. Then of a sudden there was a
dropping away of all support, a reeling sensation, and we flew down the
declivity with the speed of a locomotive. The gorge was chaos. The boat
rolled and plunged. The wild waters rolled over us, filling the open
spaces to the gunwale. With the camp kettles that were left out of
the cabins for that purpose, Hillers and I bailed as hard as we could,
letting the boat go with the current, but it seemed to do little good,
for every moment the waves broke over the craft from end to end, and
our efforts might as well have been made with a teaspoon, though in many
other rapids the kettles had proved effective. Here and there, as we
shot down, I could look back under a canopy of foam and see the head
of a great black rock. Fortunately we safely cleared everything, and in
probably less than a minute we were at the bottom, lying to in an eddy,
bailing fast and watching for the other boat. No sign of any living
thing could be discovered as we peered up the rapid, which from below
had the appearance of an almost vertical fall. Presently at the top of
the foam a white speck moved, clearly seen against the dark background.
It was the Canonita on the edge of the fall. I can see her yet, pausing
for an instant, apparently, and then disappearing completely amidst the
plunging waters. A minute later she reappeared at the bottom and ran
alongside of us in good order. Owing to the large amount of water there
seemed to be not much danger of striking a rock, and our boats did not
capsize easily. After the plunge was begun we did not try to guide the
boats--it would have been useless. The fall here was about forty feet
in a third of a mile. Some of the men called it the Sockdologer.
The picture of it from above, on page 219, does not give a correct
impression, as the plate was too slow, but it was the best that could
be done at the time. The canyon continued very narrow at the bottom, the
river averaging about one hundred and fifty feet. Late in the afternoon
we arrived at a much worse place than the Sockdologer, though the fall
was not so great. Landing on the left on some broken rocks, we saw no
chance of getting around the rapid there, so we crossed to the right and
landed on another little pile of rocks in a small alcove. The walls rose
vertically, or nearly so, from the water's edge. We saw the only thing
to do was to lower one boat, with two men on board, by her line for some
distance (a hundred feet of best Manila rope were attached to each boat
by a strong iron ring; in the stern was also an iron ring), and from the
stern let the other cautiously down to the very head of the fall, where
there was a second pile of rocks which received the boat between them
and held her fast. The upper boat was then pulled back to where we had
remained, the line from the second being tied to her stern. Entering
her we clung to projections of the wall with our hands, to prevent the
current from swinging the boat out, while the men who were in the lower
boat carefully hauled on the stern line till at last we also reached the
rocks. With a great deal of labour we then worked both boats from
these rocks to some others nearer the right wall, from which they were
manoeuvred across to a pile about two hundred feet away against the foot
of the cliff, This ended our struggle for the day, as night was upon us.
The black rocks towering so far above made the gorge darken early, and
rain began to fall. A little damp driftwood was collected with which a
fire was started in order that Andy might prepare supper. When this
was almost ready peal after peal of thunder suddenly crashed among the
cliffs, which seemed to collapse and fall down upon us, and a flood from
the sky descended. The fire died without a sputter, everything not in
rubber was soaked, and all we could do was to stand in the darkness,
cold and hungry, and wait for the deluge to cease. At last we were able
to start the fire once more, and had a half-cooked supper before hunting
the soft sides of the rocks for beds. The next day it required hard work
till one o'clock to get the boats down two hundred yards farther. At one
place to keep the bow in, I was in one of the boats, being lowered along
the wall, while the other men were a hundred feet above my head, holding
the end of two hundred feet of rope, as they clambered along a ledge.
The situation all around was rather precarious, but we had no accident.
This brought us to a small alcove where there was a limited talus. The
boats were so much bruised that we were obliged to halt on these rocks
for repairs, instead of starting out again into the current as we
intended. This work took so long that darkness approached before all was
done. At the same time we discovered that the river was rising rapidly,
at the rate of three or four feet an hour, submerging the rocks.
Fortunately, about twenty feet up the cliff was a narrow shelf, and to
this the rations were passed to guard them from the rising waters. Then
there was danger of the boats pounding to pieces, as the space they were
on was rapidly decreasing, and waves from the rapid swept into the cove,
so it was decided to raise them up on the side of the wall as far as
necessary. By means of the ropes we succeeded in swinging them at a
height of about six feet and there made them fast for the night.
There was not room on the ledge for a camp, but by going out around a
projection a talus was available, though there was a dearth of wood and
level spots. I managed to find enough half-dead mesquite bushes for a
fire, and Andy did his best on the supper. One hundred feet above the
river I found driftwood. To add to the discomfort of the occasion the
rain began again, and the river continued its rise. Through the night
a watch was kept on the boats, so that they could be lifted farther if
necessary. The morning of August 31st was wet and gloomy in the black
gorge. Some of the rocks were still above water, against the wall. When
the boats were lowered they pounded about at a frightful rate on the
surges that swept into the alcove. Then it was found that a hole in the
Dean had been forgotten or overlooked, and she was leaking badly in
the middle compartment. But there was no chance to stop longer here
for repairs, as the river seemed to be still rising. A bag of flour was
jammed against the hole, the boat was loaded, the hatches were battened
down, we grasped our oars, and while the Canonita crew held our stern to
give us a fair start we pulled straight out as hard as we could to clear
a huge rock just below, upon which the current was fiercely dashing. Our
boat was so wet and full of water that the gunwales were barely above
the surface as we rolled heavily along through large waves. I felt very
uncertain as to whether or not she would remain afloat till we could
make a landing, but luckily she did, and we halted at the first
opportunity. This was at a talus on the right where the entire cargo was
spread out on the rocks to dry in the sun which now cheered us by its
warm rays, and the leak in the boat was stopped. The Canonita soon came
down safely. She was of a slightly better build than the Dean, and, with
one less man in her, was able to ride more buoyantly. It was after four
o'clock before we were ready to go on, and we started once more with a
fairly tight boat, dry inside. Then we had a wild ride. The descent was
steady. For eight miles there was a continuous rapid, accentuated by
eight heavy falls. The boats sped along at high speed, but the way
being clear we did not often stop, passing two places where the former
expedition made portages. We had a glimpse of a creek coming in on the
right which looked interesting, but it was left behind in a moment as
the boats shot along between the dark granite walls. At a quarter past
five we ran up to a sand-bank where a lone willow tree was growing.
Here we made a camp. The canyon spread a little and the wide sand-bank
appeared to our eyes like a prairie. Just below our camp there came in
a muddy stream, which on the other trip was clear and was then named
Bright Angel to offset the application of Dirty Devil to the river at
the foot of Narrow Canyon.

It was now the beginning of September, but the water and the air were
not so cold as they had been the year before in Cataract Canyon, and we
did not suffer from being so constantly saturated. Running on the next
day following the Bright Angel camp, we found the usual number of large
rapids, in one of which a wave struck the steering oar and knocked Jones
out of the boat all but his knees, by which he clung to the gunwale,
nearly capsizing us. We found it impossible to help him, but somehow
he got in again. The river was everywhere very swift and turbulent. One
stretch of three and a half miles we ran in fifteen minutes. There were
numerous whirlpools, but nothing to stop our triumphant progress. On the
2d of September there were two portages, and twenty rapids run, in the
fifteen miles made during the day. Many of these rapids were very heavy
descents. That night we camped above a bad-looking place, but it was
decided to run it in the morning. Three-quarters of a mile below camp
there was a general disappearance of the waters. We could see nothing
of the great rapid from the level of the boats, though we caught an
occasional glimpse of the leaping, tossing edges, or tops, of the huge
billows rolling out beyond into the farther depths of the chasm. About
eight o'clock in the morning all was ready for the start. The inflated
life-preservers, as was customary in our boat, were laid behind the
seats where we could easily reach them. The Major put his on, a most
fortunate thing for him as it turned out, but we who were at the oars
did not for the reason before mentioned,--that they interfered with the
free handling of the boat. The men of the Canonita took positions
where they could observe and profit by our movements. Then out into
the current we pushed and were immediately swept downward with
ever-increasing speed toward the centre of the disturbance, the black
walls springing up on each side of the impetuous waters like mighty
buttresses for the lovely blue vault of the September sky, so serenely
quiet. Accelerated by the rush of a small intervening rapid, our
velocity appeared to multiply till we were flying along like a railway
train. The whole width of the river dropped away before us, falling some
twenty-five or thirty feet, at least, in a short space. We now saw that
the rapid was of a particularly difficult nature, and the order was
given to attempt a landing on some rocks at its head, on the left. At
the same instant this was seen to be impossible. Our only safety lay
in taking the plunge in the main channel. We backwatered on our oars to
check our speed a trifle, and the next moment with a wild leap we went
over, charging into the roaring, seething, beating waves below. Wave
after wave broke over us in quick succession, keeping our standing-rooms
full. The boat plunged like a bucking broncho, at the same time rolling
with fierce violence. As rapidly as possible we bailed with our kettles,
but the effort was useless. At length, as we neared the end, an immense
billow broke upon our port bow with a resounding crack. The little craft
succumbed. With a quick careen she turned upside down, and we were in
the foaming current. I threw up my hand and fortunately grasped a spare
oar that was fastened along the outside of the boat. This enabled me to
pull myself above the surface and breathe. My felt hat had stuck to my
head and now almost suffocated me. Pushing it back I looked around. Not
a sign of life was to be seen. The river disappeared below in the dark
granite. My companions were gone. I was apparently alone in the great
chasm. But in a moment or two Powell and Hillers, who had both been
pulled down by the whirlpool that was keeping all together, shot up like
rockets beside me, and then I noticed Jones clinging to the ring in the
stern. As we told Powell, after this experience was over, he had tried
to make a geological investigation of the bed of the river, and this was
not advisable. Hillers and I climbed on the bottom of the upturned boat,
and by catching hold of the opposite gunwale, and throwing ourselves
back, we brought her right-side up. Then we two climbed in, an operation
requiring nice calculation, for she rolled so much with the load of
water that her tendency was to turn over again on slight provocation. We
bailed with our hats rapidly. There was need for expeditious work, for
we could not tell what might be around the corner. Presently enough
water was out to steady the boat, and we then helped Powell and Jones to
get in. Our oars had fortunately remained in the rowlocks, and grasping
them, without waiting to haul in the hundred feet of line trailing in
the current, we made for the left wall, where I managed to leap out on
a shelf and catch the rope over a projection, before the Canonita,
unharmed, dashed up to the spot; her only mishap was the loss of a
rowlock and two oars.

Starting once more on the swift current, we found rapids sometimes so
situated that it was difficult to make a landing for examination. At one
of these places, towards evening, a good deal of time was spent working
down to the head of an ugly looking spot which could not be fairly seen.
An enormous rock lay in the very middle at the head of the descent.
There was no landing-place till very near the plunge, and in dropping
down when we came to the point where it was planned that I should jump
out upon a projecting flat rock, a sudden lurch of the boat due to what
Stanton afterwards called fountains, and we termed boils, caused me,
instead of landing on the rock, to disappear in the rushing waters.
The current catching the boat, she began to move rapidly stern foremost
toward the fall. Powell and Jones jumped out on rocks as they shot past,
hoping to catch the line, but they could not reach it, and Jones had
all he could do to get ashore. Meanwhile I had come to the surface,
and going to the boat by means of the line which I still held, I fairly
tumbled on board. Hillers handed me one of my oars which had come loose,
and we were ready to take the fall, now close at hand, albeit we were
stern first. As we sped down, the tide carried us far up on the huge
rock, whose shelving surface sank upstream below the surging torrent,
and at the same moment turned our bow towards the left-hand bank.
Perceiving this advantage we pulled with all our strength and shot
across the very head of the rapid, running in behind a large rock on the
brink, where the boat lodged till I was able to leap ashore, or rather
to another rock where there was a footing, and make fast the line. It
was a close shave. The Canonita, forewarned, was able to let down
to this place, from whence we made a portage to the bottom the next
morning. When once started again, we found ourselves in a very narrow
gorge, where for four or five miles it was impossible to stop on account
of the swift current which swept the boats along like chaff before a
gale, swinging them from one side to the other, and often turning them
round and round in the large whirlpools despite every effort we made
to prevent this performance. In fact, we had no control of the craft in
this distance, and it was fortunate that there was nothing worse to be
here encountered. The whirlpools were the most perfect specimens I ever
saw. Usually they were about twenty feet in diameter, drawing evenly
down toward the vortex, the centre being probably about eighteen inches
to two feet below the rim. The vortex at the top was about six to ten
inches in diameter, diminishing in five or six feet to a mere point at
the bottom. Our boats were twenty-two feet long, and as they were turned
around in these whirls they about reached across them, while we could
look over the side and see the vortex sucking down every small object.
The opposite of these was the fountains, or boils, where the surface was
exactly the reverse of the whirls: a circular mass of water about twenty
feet in diameter would suddenly lift itself a foot or two above the
general surface with a boiling, swirling movement. As I remember them
they were usually the forerunners of the whirlpools.

The river was still on the rise, scoring at the last camp another three
feet. With such a dashing current the time we made where we were not
compelled to move cautiously was admirable. On this day fourteen miles
were traversed, we ran twenty-three rapids, and, what pleased us most,
we saw the granite disappear, and the comfortable-looking red strata
were again beside us. The river widened somewhat, and was now about
two hundred and fifty feet. A cascade was passed on the 7th, which we
recognized as one Beaman, who had climbed up to it during the winter,
from the mouth of the Kanab, had photographed. From here to the Kanab
was ten miles, and we sailed along with lightened hearts, knowing
that our sadly depleted and half-ruined stock of rations would soon
be replenished, and that mail from the world would be delivered by the
pack-train we expected to find there. Late in the afternoon we arrived
at the narrow cleft, and our men, who had waited long, were overjoyed to
greet us once more, for, as we were several days overdue, they had been
filled with forebodings, and had made up their minds they would never
see us again.

From the Little Colorado we had travelled over ninety difficult miles,
run one hundred and thirty-one rapids, made seven portages, and let down
six times. The water had now fallen again some three feet, but it was
still so high that it had backed up into the side canyon, where we ran
the boats on account of an excellent camping-place. Sunday was spent
resting here, and Thompson took observations for time. On Monday morning
we expected to pack up again and proceed down the gorge, but Powell,
instead of directing this course, announced that he had decided to end
the river work at this point on account of the extreme high water, which
would render impassable the rapid where the Rowlands and Dunn had left.
In addition, word was brought that the Shewits were in a state of war
and had resolved to ambush us as we came down, a plot that had been
revealed by a friendly member of the tribe to Jacob Hamblin. The ambush
plan did not disturb us much, however, but the stage of water for the
beginning of the Second Granite Gorge was another matter, and there was
no telling when it would fall. It had been demonstrated by our winter's
explorations that it would not be absolutely necessary for us to
continue below this point so far as perfecting the topographic work
was concerned, and as we were there for geographic purposes and not for
adventure, the decision was against unnecessary risk. This decision then
was, and ever since has been, a matter of great disappointment to me,
for I was ready to finish up the Grand Canyon. It was with mingled
feelings of regret and relief that I helped unload the boats, those
faithful friends, which had carried us safely over so many miles of
turbulent river, and from the constant hourly association had almost
taken on a personality, till they seemed like members of the party.
Sadly I turned my back on their familiar lines and followed the
pack-train up the narrow gorge in the direction of Kanab.


A Railway Proposed through the Canyons--The Brown Party, 1889,
Undertakes the Survey--Frail Boats and Disasters--The Dragon Claims
Three--Collapse of the Expedition--Stanton Tries the Feat Again,
1889-90--A Fall and a Broken Leg--Success of Stanton--The Dragon Still

The topographic, geologic, and geodetic work of the survey did not cease
with our departure from the river, but was continued in the remarkable
country shown in the relief map opposite page 41, till the relationships
and distances of the various features were established and reduced to
black and white. That autumn, while we were engaged in these labours,
Wheeler, with an elaborate outfit, entered the region, pursuing his
desultory operations; and, drifting along the north side of the Grand
Canyon for a little distance, he proceeded to the neighbourhood of St.
George. The following year, for some unknown purpose, he crossed
the Colorado at the Paria, though he knew that Powell's parties had
previously mapped this area. When the winter of 1872-73 had fairly set
in we established a permanent camp at Kanab, where, under Thompson's
always efficient direction, our triangulations and topographic notes
were plotted on paper, making the first preliminary map of that country.
When this was ready, Hillers and I took it, and crossing the southern
end of the High Plateaus, then deep with snow, we rode by way of the
Sevier Valley to Salt Lake, where the map was sent on by express to
Washington, whither Powell had already gone.

Seventeen years passed away before any one again tried to navigate the
Colorado. The settling of the country, the knowledge of it Powell had
published, the completion of the Southern Pacific Railway to Yuma in
1877, and of the Atlantic and Pacific from Isleta to The Needles, in
1880-83, and of the Rio Grande Western across the Green at Gunnison
Valley, simplified travel in the Basin of the Colorado. A new railway
was then proposed from Grand Junction, Colorado, down the Colorado
River, through the Canyons to the Gulf of California, a distance of
twelve hundred miles. At that time coal was a difficult article to
procure on the Pacific Coast, and it was thought that this "water-level"
road, crossing no mountains, would be profitable in bringing the coal of
Colorado to the Golden Gate. At present coal in abundance is to be had
in the Puget Sound region, and this reason for constructing a Grand
Canyon railway is done away with. There is nothing to support a railway
through the three hundred miles of the great gorge (or through the other
two hundred miles of canyon to the Junction), except tourist travel and
the possible development of mines. These are manifestly insufficient at
the present time to warrant even a less costly railway, which, averaging
about four thousand feet below the surface of the surrounding country,
would be of little service to those living away from its immediate line,
and there is small chance to live along the line. In addition the
floods in the Grand Canyon are enormous and capricious. Sometimes heavy
torrents from cloudbursts plunge down the sides of the canyon and these
would require to be considered as well as those of the river itself. To
be absolutely safe from the latter the line would probably require, in
the Grand Canyon, to be built at least one hundred and twenty feet
above low water, so that for the whole distance through the Marble-Grand
Canyon there would seldom be room beside the tracks for even a station.
But Frank M. Brown had faith, and a company for the construction of the
Denver, Colorado Canyon, and Pacific Railway was organised. Brown was
the president, and in 1889 he formed an expedition to Survey the line.

On March 25th the preliminary party, consisting of F. M. Brown, F. C.
Kendrick, chief engineer, and T. P. Rigney, assistant engineer, left
Denver for Grand Junction, a station on the Rio Grande Western (near the
C of Colorado, State name on map, p. 51), and the next morning set the
first stake for the new railway which was to cost the president so dear.
Then they bought a boat from the ferryman, and after repairing it laid
in a supply of rations, engaged some men, and ran a half-mile down Grand
River. Brown then left to go East in order to perfect his arrangements
for this attempt to survey a railway route through the dangerous
canyons. The boat party continued down Grand River to the head of the
canyon, twenty-four miles, and then more slowly descended over rougher
water, averaging five or six miles a day. At a distance of forty-three
miles from the start the rapids grew very bad, and at one place they
were forced to make a portage for twelve miles. At the end of one
hundred miles they came to the little Mormon settlement of Moab. From
here to the Junction of the Grand and Green was a distance of sixty
miles, and the water was the same as it is just above the Junction,
in the canyons of the Green, Stillwater, and Labyrinth, that is,
comparatively smooth and offering no obstacles except a rather swift
current. Nowhere had the cliffs risen above one thousand feet, and the
river had an average fall of five feet to the mile. This was the first
party on record to navigate, for any considerable distance, the canyons
of Grand River. From the Junction they proceeded up the Green, towing
the boat, desiring to reach the Rio Grande Western Railway crossing,
one hundred and twenty miles away. By this time their rations were
much diminished and they allowed themselves each day only one-half
the ordinary amount, at the same time going on up the river as fast as
possible, yet at the end of about eight days, when still thirty
miles from their destination, they were reduced to their last meal.
Fortunately they then arrived at the cabin of some cattlemen, Wheeler
Brothers, who, discovering their plight, put their own ample larder,
with true Western hospitality, at the surveyors' disposal. Thus
opportunely fortified and refreshed, the men reached the railway
crossing the following night.

In reviewing all the early travels through this inhospitable region, one
is struck by the frequent neglect of the question of food-supplies. In
such a barren land, this is the item of first importance, and yet many
of the leaders treated it apparently as of slight consequence. Great
discomfort and suffering and death often followed a failure to provide
proper supplies, or, when provided, to take sufficient care to preserve

On the 25th of May, 1889, Brown's party was ready and started from
the point where the Rio Grande Western crosses Green River. There were
sixteen men and six boats. Five of the boats were new; the sixth was
the one Kendrick and Rigney had used on the Grand River trip. The chief
engineer of the proposed railway was Robert Brewster Stanton, and that
he was not in the very beginning given the entire management was most
unfortunate, for Brown himself seems not to have had a realisation of
the enormous difficulties of the task before him. But the arrangements
were completed before Stanton was engaged. All the men were surprised,
disappointed, dismayed, at the character of the boats Brown had provided
for this dangerous enterprise, and Stanton said his heart sank at the
first sight of them. They were entirely inadequate, built of cedar
instead of oak, only fifteen feet long and three feet wide, and weighed
but one hundred and fifty pounds each. They would have been beautiful
for an ordinary river, but for the raging, plunging, tumultuous Colorado
their name was suicide. Then not a life-preserver had been brought. This
neglect was another shock to the members of the party and their friends.
Stanton was urged to take one for himself, but he declined to provide
this advantage over the other men. Since then he has been disposed to
blame Powell for not telling Brown that life-preservers are a necessity
on the Colorado. It was also said that Powell declared to Brown that
they were not imperative and consequently he is censured for the
subsequent disasters. There was certainly a misunderstanding in this,
for Powell, knowing the situation from such abundant experience, never
could have said life-preservers were not necessary, though on his first
trip there was but one. In this connection Thompson writes me: "The
Major sent for me at once when Mr. Brown called at the office. I think
we talked--we three, I mean--for half an hour, then the Major said,
'Professor Thompson knows just as much about the river as I do, and more
about what is necessary for such a trip; you talk with him.' I took Mr.
Brown to my room and we had a long talk. I think the next day Mr. Brown
came again. I had two interviews with him alone. I told him distinctly
that life-preservers were necessary. I probably told him we did not
wear them all the time, but I told him we put them on at every dangerous
rapid, and I showed him the picture in the Major's Report where we were
wearing them. I clearly remember telling him to have one arm above and
one below the preserver. I am positive about this, for after we
received word of the loss of Brown we talked it over and I recalled the
conversation. He impressed me as thinking we exaggerated the dangers of
the river. He made a memorandum of things I said. I think he also
talked with Hillers, and I have no doubt the latter told him to take
life-preservers. But he had the Report, and there is no excuse for his
neglecting so indispensable an article of the outfit. He was warned over
and over again to neglect no precaution. I distinctly remember that the
Major told him in so many words, 'not to underestimate the dangers of
the river, and to never be caught off guard.'" On a previous page I have
remarked that proper boats and a knowledge of how to handle them are
more important than life-preservers, but that does not mean that a party
should leave the life-preservers behind. In descending the Colorado
every possible precaution must be taken. The first of these is the right
kind of boats, second, proper arrangement as to food-supplies, and,
third, life-preservers, etc. The New York Tribune, after the collapse of
this Brown expedition, quotes Powell in an interview as saying that he
would not have ventured in the boats Brown selected and that he thought
Brown "failed to comprehend the significant fact that nothing can get
through the Colorado Canyon that cannot float. Boats are repeatedly
upset and inferior boats are mashed like egg-shells." Brown,
undoubtedly, was rather inclined to look upon the descent somewhat
lightly. Being a brave, energetic man it was hard for him to believe
that this river demanded so much extra prudence and caution, when Powell
had successfully descended it twice without, so far as the water was
concerned, losing a man. However, the ill-fated expedition went on its

The boats were named the Ward, the Mason, after Brown's sons, the Mary
after his wife, and the Denver and the Colorado. On arriving they were
recalked. The bottoms were covered with copper. The party consisted
of the following persons: Frank M. Brown, president; Robert Brewster
Stanton, chief engineer; John Hislop, first assistant engineer; C. W.
Potter, T. P. Rigney, E. A. Reynolds, J. H. Hughes, W.H. Bush, Edward
Coe, Edward ----, Peter Hansborough, Henry Richards, G. W. Gibson,
Charles Potter, F. A. Nims, photographer, and J. C. Terry. The baggage
of each man was limited to twenty-five pounds. The cargoes were packed
in tight, zinc-lined boxes three feet long, with one of which each boat
was provided, but these were found to be cumbersome and heavy, the boats
being down to within one inch of the gunwales in the water, so they were
taken out and all lashed together, forming a sort of raft. This carried
about one-third of all the supplies, and all the extra oars and rope, a
most unwise arrangement from every point of view. The nondescript craft
hampered their movements, could not be controlled, and if once it got
loose everything was sure to be lost. It would have been better to throw
these boxes away at once and take what the boats could carry and no
more, but this was apparently not thought of. All things considered, it
is a wonder this party ever got through Cataract Canyon alive. At some
little rapid, after leaving the railway crossing, the first boat stove
a hole in her side, but this was readily repaired and the party ran
without further accident over the smooth stretches of river preceding
the Junction, arriving at this latter point in four days. They were now
on the threshold of Cataract Canyon. Stopping to adjust instruments and
repair boats for a day, they proceeded to the battle with the cataracts
on May 31st. For forty-one miles they would now have their courage,
muscle, and nerve put to the full test. Stanton records seventy-five
rapids and cataracts, fifty-seven of them within a space of nineteen
miles, with falls in places of sixteen to twenty feet. This, then, was
what they were approaching with these frail craft. Two miles down they
heard the roar of falling water and the place was reconnoitred, with
the result that a large rapid was found to bar the way. The raft of
provisions, and the boat that had towed it, were on the opposite side
of the river, which afforded no chance for a camp or a portage, and
a signal was made for the party to come over. A half mile intervened
between this boat and the head of the rapid, but with the encumbering
raft it was drawn down so dangerously near the descent that, to save
themselves, the rope holding the raft was cut. Thus freed the boat
succeeded in landing just at the head of the fall, but the raft went
over, and that was the end of it. The sections were found scattered all
the way through the canyon. The next twenty-eight miles were filled with
mishaps and losses. Twelve miles farther down, the boat in which Brown,
Hughes, and Reynolds were running a rapid capsized. The men clung to her
for a mile and a half and then succeeded in getting ashore. The rapids
in this part are very close together, and to these men it seemed like
one continuous cataract, which it very nearly is. On the same day
another boat containing the cooking outfit struck a rock and went to
pieces. The provisions she carried were, most of them, contributed to
the maw of the dragon to follow those of the unfortunate raft. Sometimes
the boats got away from the men altogether, running wild, finally
lodging somewhere below to be found again with the contents missing.
Soon they had so many large holes in them that one, No. 3, had to be
broken up to obtain materials for repairing the others. Thus the party,
by the time they had fairly arrived at the deepest and worst portion of
this splendid chasm, were in a sad plight, but a plight mainly due
to the original bad planning and mismanagement, and not necessary in
navigating this gorge. They seldom attempted to cross the river, working
down along one side and never entering the boats at all except where
absolutely necessary.* Thus they were greatly hampered in their
movements. With our boats we never gave the crossing of the river
a thought, and were in them continually, except where a portage was
demanded. We could therefore always choose our course with as much
freedom as is possible. But it must not be forgotten that the Brown
party were in Cataract Canyon about the time of high water, while we
passed through at a lower stage. This would make a difference, low water
being in all the canyons far safer, though the work is harder on the men
and the boats. By the 15th of June all provisions had disappeared except
a sack and a half of flour, presumably one hundred pounds to the sack,
a little coffee, some sugar, and condensed milk. The flour was all
baked and divided equally, each man receiving two and one half pounds of
bread, one pound of sugar, and four ounces of coffee. At one point they
fortunately found a barrel of cut loaf-sugar amongst the driftwood. This
had been lost from some army-supplies crossing at Gunnison Valley up
the Green, or up Grand River, and they also found, a little below
this, pieces of a waggon with the skeleton of a man. These also had,
of course, come from at least a hundred miles above the Junction on the
Green, or sixty miles up the Grand, as no waggon could get to the river
at any place nearer to Cataract Canyon. The waggon-box had probably
acted as a raft, bearing its gruesome passenger all these long miles
into the heart of the mighty gorge, where the dragon stored his prize,
and for many a year treasured it among the deep shadows.

    * Mr. Stanton has called my attention to the fact that as he was
running a railway survey DOWN ONE SIDE, he wanted to keep to that side
the left side.

They had still fifteen miles of Cataract Canyon and the ten miles of
the more kindly Narrow before them, and Brown was now to hurry along and
attempt to reach some placer mines at Dandy Crossing, near the mouth of
Fremont River, where there were a few miners and where some food might
be obtained. Ancient dwellings were seen all along the gorge in the side
canyons, some completely ruined, others in a fair state of preservation,
but the inhabitants had gone long ago, and no help could be hoped for in
this direction. Most of the men now became thoroughly discouraged at
the dismal prospect and wished to abandon immediately and entirely the
enterprise, but Stanton was not of that mind. The difficulties showed
him how hard it would be to do this part over again, and he resolved to
stay and finish the work as far as possible now. His first assistant,
Hislop, G. W. Gibson, the coloured cook, and the coloured steward, H. C.
Richards, volunteered to stand by him, and the next morning the eleven
others pushed on, leaving a boat for these five to follow with. For six
days this determined little crew worked along at the rate of about four
miles a day, with a ration of one small scrap of bread, a little coffee,
and some condensed milk for breakfast and supper, and three lumps of
sugar for dinner. Stanton says there was not a murmur of discontent from
the men "carrying the survey over the rocks and cliffs on the side of
the canyon, and handling the boat through the rapids of the river. At
night, when they lay down on the sand to sleep, after a meal that
was nine-tenths water and hope and one-tenth bread and coffee, it was
without complaint." Relief was had on the sixth day, when they met a
boat being towed up with provisions. This was near the end of Narrow
Canyon. At one point in the lower part of Cataract they passed a place
where, on a rock surface about six feet above the level of the water,
they saw the inscription, "D. JULIEN--1836." They thought it could have
been cut only from a boat or raft, and concluded that it was done by a
party of Canadians which they heard had tried to explore this country at
that early day. This inscription occurs also in two other known places,
near the lower part of Stillwater Canyon (four or five miles above
mouth of Grand River), and farther up, about the middle of Bowknot Bend,
Labyrinth Canyon, Green River. (See cut, page 352.) At Dandy Crossing,
the party rested a few days, the boats were repaired, and fresh supplies
of food purchased. They met near here Jack Sumner, of Powell's first
party. From this place to the head of Marble Canyon, the mouth of the
Paria, it is plain and easy going, at least for any one who has been
through Cataract Canyon. Brown and Stanton went ahead with six men, the
others coming along later with the survey.

At Dandy Crossing three of the party left the river--J. N. Hughes, J.
C. Terry, and T. P. Rigney. One man joined the party, Harry McDonald, a
frontiersman and an experienced boatman. At Lee Ferry, Reynolds left
and Brown went to Kanab for supplies, for Dandy Crossing was not a
metropolis, and more rations were needed before venturing to enter the
Grand Canyon. Only one transit instrument was left, and it was decided
that Brown, Stanton, Hislop, McDonald, Hansborough, Richards, Gibson,
and Nims, the photographer, should form the party to proceed, making
an examination, taking notes and photographs, but not attempting an
instrumental survey. Brown returned from Kanab by July 9th, and an
immediate start was made with the three boats,--boats entirely unfitted
for the work in Cataract Canyon, and tenfold more inadequate for the
giant gorge, with its terrible descents, now before them. It seems a
pity they did not realise this and leave the continuation of the
work till proper boats could be had, but it appears as if they again
underestimated the dangers of the river. At any rate they went bravely
forward with a courage that deserved a better reward. The first ugly
rapids in Marble Canyon are the two near together about ten miles below
Lee's Ferry, where the prospectors met their punishment early in July,
1872. These the Brown party reached safely, and made the necessary
portages, camping at the foot of the Soap Creek or lower fall. Brown
appeared to feel lonely and troubled, and asked Stanton to come and sit
by his bed and talk. They smoked and talked till a late hour about home
and the prospect for the next day. Brown's wife and two children were at
this time travelling in Europe and probably the thought of them so far
away made him somewhat blue. Then, if he had before thought that this
canyon would be easy, the nature of the rapids around him served
to undeceive his mind. The deepening gorge, inadequate boats, and
increasingly bad rapids probably affected his nerves, for that night he
dreamed of the rapids, and this troubled him so much that he mentioned
it to Stanton in the morning. Breakfast over, they went on. We had
camped at the head of the Soap Creek Rapids, and this party at the
foot. In the first rapid below, which was one of five that we easily
ran before stopping for dinner, Brown's boat was capsized. He and his
oarsman McDonald, were thrown out on opposite sides, McDonald into the
current and Brown unfortunately into the eddy, where he was drawn under
by one of the whirlpools numerous in this locality, and was never seen
again. A half-minute later Stanton's boat passed the spot, but all he
saw was the lost leader's note-book on the surface of the angry waters
which had so suddenly swallowed up its owner. The whole day long the
party sat sadly watching the place to see if the treacherous river
would give up the dead, but darkness fell in the gorge, and the
Colorado dashed along toward the sea as if no boat had ever touched its
relentless tide. What was one man more or less to this great dragon's
maw! For three days after the others battled their way along without
further disaster, and then came Sunday, when they rested. On Monday,
while Stanton and Nims were making notes and photographs, the men were
to finish up the lower end of the second of two very bad rapids where
portages were made. Stanton's boat, containing Hansborough and Richards,
was following the first boat, which had made the stretch with difficulty
because the current set against the left-hand cliff. The second boat was
driven against the foot of this wall under an overhanging shelf, and in
the attempt to push her off she was capsized and Hansborough never
rose again. Richards, who was a strong swimmer, made some distance
down-stream, but before the first boat could reach him he sank, and
that was the end for him. This terrible disaster, added to the death of
Brown, and the foolhardiness of proceeding farther with such boats
as they had, forced the decision which should have been made at Lee's
Ferry. Stanton resolved to leave the river, but with the determination
to return again to battle with the dragon at the earliest opportunity.
The next thing was to get out of the canyon. They searched for some side
canyon leading in from the north, by means of which they might return to
the world, and just above Vesey's Paradise they found it and spent their
last night in Marble Canyon at that point. From the rapid where Brown
was lost, to Vesey's Paradise, my diary records that on our expedition
of 1872 we ran twenty-six rapids, let down four times, and made two
portages, all without any particular difficulty. I mention this merely
to show the difference proper boats make in navigating this river,
for the season was nearly the same; Brown was there in July and we in
August, both the season of high water. The night passed by Stanton and
his disheartened but courageous band at Vesey's Paradise was long to be
remembered, for one of the violent thunderstorms frequent in the canyon
in summer, came up. The rain fell in floods, while about midnight the
storm culminated in a climax of fury. Stanton says that in all his
experience in the Western mountains he never heard anything like it.
"Nowhere has the awful grandeur equalled that night in the lonesome
depths of what was to us death's canyon." The next day was fair, and
by two in the afternoon, July 19th, they were on the surface of the
country, twenty-five hundred feet above the river, and that night
reached a cattle ranch.

By November 25th of the same year (1889) the indefatigable Stanton
had organised a new party to continue the railway survey. He still had
confidence in the scheme, and he refused to give up. And this time the
boats were planned with some regard to the waters upon which they were
to be used. McDonald was sent to superintend their building at the
boatyard of H. H. Douglas & Co., Waukegan, Illinois. There were three,
each twenty-two feet long, the same as our boats, four and one-half feet
beam, and twenty-two inches deep, and each weighed 850 pounds. They
were built of half-inch oak, on plans furnished by Stanton, with ribs
one-and-one-half by three-quarters of an inch, placed four inches
apart, all copper fastened. Each boat had ten separate air-tight
galvanised-iron compartments running around the sides, and they were so
arranged that the canned goods could be put under the foot-boards for
ballast. There was a deck fore and aft, and there were life-lines
along the sides. They were certainly excellent boats, and while in
some respects I think our model was better, especially because the two
transverse bulkheads amidships in ours tended to make their sides very
strong and stiff, yet these boats of Stanton's were so good that the
men would be safe as long as they handled them correctly. Cork
life-preservers of the best quality were provided, and the order was for
each man to wear his whenever in rough or uncertain water. All stores
and provisions were packed in water-tight rubber bags, made like ocean
mail-sacks, expressly for the purpose. The expedition was thus well

From the railway* the boats were hauled on waggons to the mouth of
Crescent Creek near Fremont River, so as to avoid doing Cataract Canyon
over again. There were twelve men, of whom four had been with the Brown
party. They were R. B. Stanton, Langdon Gibson, Harry McDonald, and
Elmer Kane, in boat No. 1, called the Bonnie Jean, John Hislop F. A.
Nims, Reginald Travers, and W. H. Edwards in boat No. 2, called the
Lillie; and A. B. Twining, H. G. Ballard, L. G. Brown, and James Hogue,
the cook, in the Marie, boat No. 3. Christmas dinner was eaten at Lee's
Ferry, with wild flowers picked that day for decoration. On the 28th
they started into the great canyon, passed the old wreck of a boat and
part of a miner's outfit, and on the 31st reached the rapid where Brown
was lost. It was now the season of low water, and the rapid appeared
less formidable, though on entering it the place was seen to be in
general the same, yet the water was nine feet lower. The next day Nims,
the photographer, fell from a ledge a distance of twenty-two feet,
receiving a severe jar and breaking one of his legs just above the
ankle. The break was bandaged, and one of the boats being so loaded that
there was a level bed for the injured man to lie on, they ran down about
two miles to a side canyon coming in from the north. By means of this
Stanton climbed out, walked thirty-five miles to Lee's Ferry, and
brought a waggon back to the edge. Nims was placed on an improvised
stretcher, and carried up the cliffs, four miles in distance and
seventeen hundred feet in altitude. At half-past three in the afternoon
the surface was reached. Twice the stretcher had to be swung along by
ropes where there was no footing, and twice had to be perpendicularly
lifted ten or fifteen feet. No one was injured. Nims was taken to Lee's
Ferry and left with W. M. Johnson, who had been a member of our land
parties during the winter of 1871-72, and who had come with the Canonita
party through Glen Canyon. Nims was in good hands. After this accident
Stanton was obliged to assume the duties of photographer and took some
seven hundred and fifty views without previous experience.

    * The Rio Grande Western. The route was west of the river.

By January 13th they had arrived at Point Retreat, where the canyon had
before been abandoned, and here they found the supplies and blankets
they had cached in a marble cave in perfect condition. The new boats
were so well suited to the river work that they were able to run most of
the rapids just as we had done, often going at the rate of fifteen miles
an hour, and sometimes by actual measurement, twenty. Ten miles below
Point Retreat, and twenty-five miles above the Little Colorado, when
they were going into camp one evening they discovered the body of Peter
Hansborough. The next morning, with a brief ceremony, they buried the
remains at the foot of the cliff, carving his name on the face of the
rock, and a point opposite was named after the unfortunate man. From
Point Hansborough the canyon widens, "the marble benches retreat, new
strata of limestone, quartzite, and sandstone come up from the river,"
writes Stanton, "and the debris forms a talus equal to a mountain slope.
Here the bottoms widen into little farms covered with green grass and
groves of mesquite, making a most charming summer picture, in strong
contrast with the dismal narrow canyons above." They then passed the
Little Colorado and entered the Grand Canyon proper, meeting with a lone
prospector in the wide portion just below the Little Colorado, the only
person they had seen in any of the canyons traversed.

Arriving at the First Granite Gorge (Archaean formation), they were
at the beginning of the wildest stretch of river of all, perhaps the
wildest to be found anywhere, the fall in the first ten miles averaging
twenty-one feet to the mile, the greatest average except in Lodore and
a portion of Cataract, and as this descent is not spread over the ten
miles, but occurs in a series of falls with comparatively calm water
between, it is not hard to picture the conditions. Stanton also
pronounces these rapids of the First Granite Gorge the most powerful he
saw, except two in the Second Granite Gorge. On January 29th they had
cautiously advanced till they were before the great descent some of our
party had called the Sockdologer, the heaviest fall on the river, about
eighty feet in a third of a mile. They proceeded all along in much the
same careful fashion as we had done, and as everyone who hopes to make
this passage alive must proceed. The water being low, they were able
to let their boats by line over the upper end of the Sockdologer with
safety, but, in attempting to continue, the Marie was caught by a
cross-current and thrown against the rocks, turned half over, filled
with water, and jammed tightly between two boulders lying just beneath
the surface. In winter, the air in the canyon is not very cold, but the
river coming so swiftly from the far north is, and the men with lines
about their waists who tried to go through the rushing waist-deep water
found it icy. Taking turns, they succeeded with a grappling-hook in
getting out the cargo, losing only two sacks of provisions, but though
they laboured till dark they were not able to move the boat. Giving her
up for lost, they tried to secure a night's rest on the sharp rocks. Had
a great rise in the river occurred now the party would have been in a
terrible predicament, but though it rose a few days later it spared them
on this occasion. It came up only two feet, and this was a kindness, for
it lifted the Marie so that they were able to pull her out of the vise.
When they saw her condition, however, they were dismayed for one side
was half gone, and the other was smashed in. The keel remained whole. By
cutting four feet out of the centre and drawing the ends together, five
days' hard work made practically another boat. They were then able to
proceed, and, going past Bright Angel Creek, arrived on February 6th at
what Stanton describes as "the most powerful and unmanageable rapid"
on the river. This, I believe, was the place where we were capsized.
Thompson at that time, before we ran it, declared it looked to him
like the worst rapid we had encountered but at the stage of water then
prevailing we could not get near it. Stanton wisely made a portage, of
the supplies and let the boats down by lines. His boat, the Bonnie Jean,
played all sorts of pranks, rushing out into the current, ducking
and diving under water, and finally floating down sideways. Then they
thought they would try what Stanton calls Powell's plan of shooting a
boat through and catching it below. Such a harum-scarum method was never
used on our expedition, and I never heard Powell suggest that it was on
the first. Stanton cites as authority one of Powell's statements in the
Report. At any rate in this instance it was as disastrous as might have
been expected. The poor Marie was again the sufferer, and came out below
"in pieces about the size of toothpicks." The Lillie was then carried
down and reached the river beyond in safety. A day or two after this
McDonald decided to leave the party, and started up a little creek
coming in from the north, to climb out to the plateau, and make his way
to Kanab. This he succeeded in doing after several days of hard work
and tramping through the heavy snow on the plateau. The other ten men
concluded to remain with Stanton and they all went on in the two boats.
Several days later they passed the mouth of the Kanab. The terrible
First Granite Gorge was well behind them. But now the river began to
rise. Before reaching the Kanab it rose four feet and continued to rise
for two days and nights, altogether some ten or twelve feet. A little
below the Kanab, where the canyon is very narrow, they came upon a
peculiar phenomenon. They heard a loud roar and saw breakers ahead.
Thinking it a bad rapid, they landed immediately on some rocks, and,
going along these to examine the place, the breakers had disappeared,
but as they stood in amazement there suddenly arose at their feet the
same huge waves, twelve or fifteen feet high and one hundred and fifty
feet long, across the river, "rolling down-stream like great sea waves,
and breaking in white foam with a terrible noise." These waves, as was
later ascertained, were the result of a cloudburst on the headwaters of
the Little Colorado, and indicate what might be expected in here in the
event of a combination of such waves with the highest stage of water.
The next day they were diminished, and the river fell somewhat, but it
was still so powerful they could barely control the boats and had a wild
and tumultuous ride, sometimes being almost bodily thrown out of the
boats. By this time their rations were getting low, but by pushing on as
fast as possible they reached Diamond Creek on March 1st, where supplies
were planned to meet them. Remaining there ten days to recuperate they
went on with only eight men, three concluding to leave at this place.
The Second Granite Gorge begins about eighteen miles above Diamond
Creek, and is about thirty miles long. It is much like the First Granite
Gorge, being the same formation, excepting that it is shorter and that
the declivity of the river is not so great. From Diamond Creek down to
the end of the canyon is about fifty miles. It is a bad stretch, and
contains some heavy falls which, as the river was still somewhat high,
were often impossible to get around, and they were obliged to run them.
The stage of water in both these Granite Gorges makes a great difference
in the character of the falls. For example, in the Second Gorge, when
Wheeler made his precarious journey in 1871, he was able, coming from
below, to surmount the rapids along the sides with two of his boats,
because the water happened to be at a stage that permitted this, whereas
Stanton found it impossible to pass some of them without running, and
Powell found the one that split his party the same way. So it appears
that one day finds these gorges easier or harder than another; but at
their easiest they are truly fearful places. At one of the worst falls
Stanton's boat suddenly crashed upon a rock that projected from the
shore, and there she hung, all the men being thrown forward. The boat
filled and stuck fast, while the great waves rolled over her and her
crew. Stanton tried to straighten himself up, and was taken in the back
by a breaker and washed out of the craft altogether into a whirlpool,
and finally shot to the surface fifty feet farther down. He had on his
cork jacket and was saved, though he was ducked again and carried along
swiftly by the tremendous current. The second boat had better luck and
came through in time to pick Stanton up. The damaged boat was gotten off
with a hole in her side ten by eighteen inches, which was closed by
a copper patch, at the first chance, the air chambers having kept the
craft afloat. After this the bad rapids were soon ended, and on the
morning of March 17th (1890) the party emerged into an open country
and upon a peaceful, quiet river. Continuing down through Black and the
other canyons, and through the intervening valleys, they reached, on the
26th of April, the salt tide where Alarcon, three and a half centuries
earlier, had first put a keel upon these turbulent waters, the only
party thus far to make the entire passage from the Junction to the sea.
And as yet no one has made the complete descent from Green River Valley
to the counter-current of the Tidal Bore, so if there is any reader who
desires to distinguish himself here is a feat still open to him. Stanton
deserves much praise for his pluck and determination and good judgment
in carrying this railway survey to a successful issue, especially after
the discouraging disasters of the first attempt. He holds the data and
believes the project will some day be carried out. From the foregoing
pages the reader may judge the probabilities in the case.

Since the Stanton party several descents successful and unsuccessful
have been made. The first was the "Best party," representing the
Colorado Grand Canyon Mining and Improvement Company, with eight men and
two boats similar to those used by Stanton. The expedition left Green
River, Utah, July 10, 1891. The members were James S. Best, Harry
McDonald, John Hislop, William H. Edwards, Elmer Kane, L. H. Jewell, J.
H. Jacobs, A. J. Gregory, and J. A. McCormick. Four of these, Hislop,
McDonald, Kane, and Edwards had been with Mr. Stanton, to whom I
am indebted for this information. The men had cork life-jackets. In
Cataract Canyon one boat was wrecked but no one was lost, and they made
their way to Lee Ferry with the remaining boat and there abandoned the

In 1891, a steam launch, the Major Powell, thirty-five feet long, with
two six-horsepower engines driving twin screws was brought out in the
summer from Chicago by way of the Rio Grande Western Railway to the
crossing of Green River, and there launched in September of that year.
A screw was soon broken, and the attempt to go down the river abandoned.
In 1892 another effort was made, but this also was given up after a few
miles. But in 1893, W. H. Edwards, who had been with the Stanton party,
together with L. H. Johnson and some others, took the Major Powell down
to the Junction and back, making a second trip in April. The round trip
took fourteen days. They also went up the Grand some distance. Entering
the jaws of Cataract Canyon they went to the head of the first rapid. On
trying to return the current proved almost too much for the power. With
block and tackle to help the engines they finally got above the swift
water, and had no further serious trouble. Mr. Johnson says the launch
came near being wrecked. Several other steam craft were later put on the
river, the Undine being the most pretentious (see cut, page 390). She
was wrecked trying to run up a rapid on Grand River above Moab. In 1894
Lieut. C. L. Potter made an unsuccessful attempt to go from Diamond
Creek to the mouth of the Virgin, September 20th, 1895, N. Galloway and
William Richmond started from Green River, Wyoming, and went down in
flat, bottomed boats to Lee Ferry. September, 1896, they started again
from Henry's Fork, Wyoming, and went to the Needles reaching there
February 10, 1897. Since that time Galloway has made several successful
descents. In August, 1896, George F. Flavell and a companion left Green
River, Wyoming, and successfully descended to Yuma in flat-bottomed
boats, reaching there December, 1896.

In 1907, three miners, Charles Russell, E. R. Monett, and Albert Loper,
with three steel boats each sixteen feet long, left Green River, Utah,
September 20th, to make the descent. Loper and one damaged boat were
left at Hite near the mouth of Fremont river, while Russell and Monett
proceeded. In the beginning of the Grand Canyon they lost a boat, but
with the remaining one after various disasters, they finally made their
exit from the Grand Canyon, January 31, 1908. Their boats of steel were
about the most unsuitable of any ever put on the river. They carried a
copy of this volume all the way through and found it of value.

A view of the Grand Canyon may now be had without risk or discomfort
of any kind, as the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway runs trains
direct to Hotel Tovar at the very edge of the gorge at one of the
grandest portions, opposite Bright Angel Creek. There are several trails
in this region leading down to the river besides the one from the hotel.
It is always a hard climb for those unaccustomed to mountaineering. From
the north, for any who are fond of camping, an interesting trip may be
made from Modena on the Salt Lake to Los Angeles Railway via St. George
to the Toroweap and the Kaibab country, though this is a matter of
several weeks, and necessitates an outfit.

The Grand Canyon may be crossed at two points, Bright Angel Trail and
Bass's Trail, and the heights of the north rim gained in that manner
though it is not an easy trip.

In a general way we have now traced the whole history of the discovery
and exploration of this wonderful river, which after nearly four
centuries still flings defiance at the puny efforts of man to cope with
it, while its furious waters dash on through the long, lonely gorges,
as untrammelled to-day as they were in the forgotten ages. Those who
approach it respectfully and reverently are treated not unkindly, but
woe and disaster await all others. The lesson of these pages is plain,
and the author commends it to all who hereafter may be inspired to add
their story to this Romance of the Colorado River.

Agreement made by Major Powell with men of his first expedition. From a
copy in the handwriting of one of the party.

(COPY) This agreement made this twenty-fifth day of February,
eighteen-hundred-and-sixty-nine, between J. W. Powell, party of the
first part, and J. C. Sumner, W. H. Dunn, and O. G. Howland, party of
the second part, witnesseth, that the said party of the second part
agree to do the following work, respectively, for the party of the first
part, namely: J. C. Sumner agrees to do all necessary work required
with the sextant; W. H. Dunn to make barometrical observations night
and morning of each day, when required, also to make observations when
needed for determining altitude of walls of the Canon, also to make not
more than sixty-two hourly series of not more than eight days each, he
to have the aid of an assistant for the last two mentioned classes
of observations; O. G. Howland to make a topographical drawing of the
course of the rivers. The above and foregoing work to be performed
during the proposed exploration of the Green River, from Green River
City, Wyoming Territory, to the Colorado River, and of the Colorado
River from that point to Callville, (blank space left here evidently
for the insertion of the name of the territory in which Callville was
situated. F.S.D.) ------; the party of the second part to perform the
foregoing work to the best of their ability; the party of the second
part also agreeing to do a fair proportion of the work necessary
in getting supplies and boats safely through the channels of the
aforementioned rivers, for use of the expedition; and also agreeing to
save for specimens for stuffing, for the party of the first part, all
suitable skins of animals which they may collect while engaged in the
above exploration of the Green and Colorado rivers, J. W. Powell, party
of the first part, agreeing to allow the party of the second part five
days at one time for prospecting for gold and silver, if not too often;
also to allow thirty days to the party of the second part for hunting
and trapping between the first day of September and the first day of
December, eighteen-hundred-and-sixty-nine, and sixty days
between the first day of January and the first day of June,
eighteen-hundred-and-seventy; the party of the first part also agreeing
to pay to the party of the second part, respectively, twenty-five
dollars each per month for the time employed in all such service,
and also agreeing to pay in addition the annexed prices for all skins
procured for him by the party of the second part; J. W. Powell, the
party of the first part, to furnish boats, supplies, ammunition, etc.,
sufficient for the use of the expedition. This agreement to go into
effect the first day of June eighteen-hundred-and-sixty-nine, and not to
continue over one year.

Should it be necessary to proceed on the journey, without delay on
account of disaster to boats or loss of rations, then the time specified
for hunting may not be required by either party, nor shall it be deemed
a failure of contract to furnish supplies should such supplies be lost
in transit.

   J. C. Sumner               J.W. Powell
   William H. Dunn            In Charge of Col. River Ex.
   O. G. Howland

   Deer . .  $1.25 each  Martin .$1.50 each  Weasel                $.35 each
   Sheep .    1.25  "    Otter    3.50  "    Bear (grown grizzly) 10.00  "
   Antelope   1.00  "    Beaver   1.00  "    " cub   . . .         1.00  "
   Elk . .    2.00  "    Wildcat   .50  "    grown cinnamon        5.00  "
   Wolf (grey)1.00  "    Porcupine .50  "    " cub   . . .         1.00  "
   "  coyote   .50  "    Squirrel  .35  "    grown black . .       3.00  "
   Fox (cross)1.50  "    Rabbit    .35  "    " cub  . . .          1.00  "
   " red .  .  .75  "    Woodchuck .35  "
   Mink. .    1.50  "    Badger    .50  "

   and all other skins at proportionate rates.


Major Powell had kindly consented to write an introduction to this
volume wherein I have inadequately presented scenes from the great
world-drama connected with the Colorado River of the West, but a
prolonged illness prevented his doing any writing whatever, and on
September 23, 1902, while, indeed, the compositor was setting the last
type of the book, a funeral knell sounded at Haven, Maine, his summer
home, and the most conspicuous figure we have seen on this stage, the
man whose name is as inseparable from the marvellous canyon-river as
that of De Soto from the Mississippi, or Hendrik Hudson from the placid
stream which took from him its title, started on that final journey
whence there is no returning. A distinguished cortege bore the remains
across the Potomac, laying them in a soldier's grave in the National
Cemetery at Arlington. Thus the brave sleeps with the brave on the banks
of the river of roses, a stream in great contrast to that other river
far in the West where only might be found a tomb more appropriate within
sound of the raging waters he so valiantly conquered.

In the history of the United States the place of John Wesley Powell is
clear.* A great explorer, he was also foremost among men of science
and probably he did more than any other single individual to direct
Governmental scientific research along proper lines. His was a character
of strength and fortitude. A man of action, his fame will endure as much
by his deeds as by his contributions to scientific literature. Never a
seeker for pecuniary rewards his life was an offering to science, and
when other paths more remunerative were open to him he turned his back
upon them. He believed in sticking to one's vocation and thoroughly
disapproved of wandering off in pursuit of common profit. The daring
feat of exploring the canyons of the Colorado was undertaken for no
spectacular effect or pecuniary reward, but was purely a scientific
venture in perfect accord with the spirit of his early promise. As G.
K. Gilbert remarks in a recent number of Science** it was "of phenomenal
boldness and its successful accomplishment a dramatic triumph. It
produced a strong impression on the public mind and gave Powell a
national reputation which was afterwards of great service, although
based on an adventurous episode by no means essential to his career
as an investigator." The qualities which enabled him so splendidly
to perform his many self-imposed tasks were an inheritance from his
parents, who possessed more than ordinary intelligence. Joseph Powell,
his father, had a strong will, deep earnestness, and indomitable
courage, while his mother, Mary Dean, with similar traits possessed also
remarkable tact and practicality. Both were English born, the mother
well educated, and were always leaders in the social and educational
life of every community where they dwelt. Especially were they prominent
in religious circles, the father being a licensed exhorter in the
Methodist Episcopal Church. Both were intensely American in their love
and admiration of the civil institutions of the United States and both
were strenuously opposed to slavery, which was flourishing in America
when they arrived in 1830. For a time they remained in New York City and
then removed to the village of Palmyra whence they went to Mount Morris,
Livingston County, New York, where, on March 24, 1834, the fourth of
their nine children, John Wesley, was born. Because of the slavery
question Joseph Powell left the Methodist Episcopal Church on the
organisation of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and became a regularly
ordained preacher in the latter. It was in this atmosphere of social,
educational, political, and religious fervor that the future explorer
grew up. When he was four or five years old the family moved to Jackson,
Ohio, and then, in 1846, went on westward to South Grove, Walworth
County, Wisconsin, where a farm was purchased. They were in prosperous
circumstances, and the boy was active in the management of affairs,
early exhibiting his trait for doing things well. His ploughing,
stack-building, and business ability in disposing advantageously of the
farm products and in purchasing supplies at the lake ports received the
commendation of the countryside.

    *I am indebted to Major Powell's brother-in-law, Prof. A. H.
Thompson, for many of the facts herein stated, and for revision of dates
to his brother Prof. W. B. Powell.

    ** October 10, 1902.

His early education was such as the country schools provided. He later
studied at Janesville, Wisconsin, earning his board by working nights
and mornings. His parents ever held before him the importance of
achieving the highest education possible. Thus he continually turned
to books, and while his oxen were eating or resting, he was absorbed in
some illuminating volume. In 1851 his family removed to Bonus Prairie,
Boone County, Illinois, where a larger farm had been purchased. About
1853 the Wesleyan College was established at Wheaton, Illinois, and the
family removed there in order to take advantage of the opportunities
afforded. The father became one of the trustees and Powell entered the
preparatory classes. With intervals of teaching and business pursuits,
he continued here till 1855, when, largely through the influence of the
late Hon. John Davis, of Kansas, he entered the preparatory department
of Illinois College at Jacksonville, Illinois. Thus far he had shown no
special aptitude for the natural sciences, though he was always a close
observer of natural phenomena. His ambition at this period, which was
also in accord with the dearest wishes of his parents, was to complete
his college course and enter the ministry. Illinois College not
possessing a theological atmosphere after a year spent there he
departed, and in 1857 began a course of study at Oberlin College, Ohio.
Among his studies there was botany, and in this class Powell at last
discovered himself and his true vocation--the investigation of natural
science. He became an enthusiastic botanist and searched the woods and
swamps around Oberlin with the same zeal and thoroughness which always
characterised his work. He made an almost complete herbarium of the
flora of the county, organising the class into a club to assist in its
collection. In the summer of 1858, having returned to Wheaton, Illinois,
where the family had settled in 1854, he joined the Illinois State
Natural History Society, then engaged in conducting a natural history
survey of the State through the voluntary labour of its members. To
Powell was assigned the department of conchology. This work he entered
upon with his usual application and made the most complete collection of
the mollusca of Illinois ever brought together by one man. Incidentally,
botany, zoology, and mineralogy received attention, and in these lines
he secured notable collections. With the broad mental grasp which was a
pronounced trait, he perceived that these studies were but parts of the
greater science of geology, which he then announced, to at least one
of his intimate friends, was to be the science to which he intended
to devote his life. The next year was given to study, teaching, and
lecturing, usually on some topic connected with geology.

In the spring of 1860, on a lecturing tour, he visited some of the
Southern States, and while there closely observed the sentiment of the
people on the subject of slavery, with the result that he expressed the
conviction that nothing short of war could settle the matter. In the
summer of 1860 he became principal of the public schools of Hennepin,
Illinois. These he organised, graded, and taught with a vigour which was
characteristic, yet never forgetting his geological investigations in
the neighbouring country, where, on Saturdays and at other times when
the schools were not in session, he made botanical and zoological

Convinced that war was inevitable, the winter of 1860-61 found him
studying military tactics and engineering. When the call came for
troops, he was the first man to enroll, and largely through his efforts
Company H of the 20th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, was raised in Putnam
County. When the regiment was organised at Joliet, Illinois, he was
appointed sergeant-major, and in this capacity went to the front.
When the force was sent to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, his prescience in
studying military engineering made him invaluable. He was practically
given charge of planning and laying out and constructing the
fortifications at that place, a work he executed so well that it
received the unqualified commendation of General Fremont. The second
lieutenant of Company H resigning, Powell was elected to fill the
vacancy. After a service of a few weeks with his company he was put in
charge of the fortifications he had constructed, being retained in this
post after the departure of his regiment. In the early winter of 1861-62
he recruited a company of artillery, largely from loyal Missourians.
This company was mustered into service as Battery F, 2d Illinois
Artillery, John Wesley Powell, Captain. After drilling a few weeks he
was ordered to proceed with his battery to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee,
where he arrived the latter part of March, 1862. The battery took
part in the battle of Shiloh, April 6th of that year, and during the
engagement, as Powell raised his arm, a signal to fire, a rifle ball
struck his hand at the wrist glancing toward the elbow. The necessary
surgery was done so hastily that later a second operation was
imperative, which left him with a mere stump below the elbow-joint.
Never for long at a time afterward was he free from pain and only a few
years ago a third operation was performed which brought relief.

As soon as the original wound was healed he went back to his command,
assisting as Division Chief of Artillery in the siege of Vicksburg.
After the fall of this place he took part in the Meridian Raid. Then
he served on detached operations at Vicksburg, Natchez, and New Orleans
until the summer of 1864, when he was re-assigned to the former command
in the Army of the Tennessee. In all the operations after the fall of
Atlanta he bore an active part, and when Sherman commenced the march to
the sea, Powell was sent back to General Thomas at Nashville, in command
of twenty batteries of artillery. At the battle of Nashville he served
on the staff of Thomas and continued with this command till mustered
out in the early summer of 1865. As a soldier his career was marked by a
thorough study and mastery not only of the details of military life, but
of military science. Especially was he apt in utilising material at hand
to accomplish his ends--a trait that was also prominent in his civil
life. Bridges he built from cotton-gin houses, mantelets for his guns
from gunny bags and old rope, and shields for his sharpshooters from the
mould-boards of old ploughs found on the abandoned plantations. All this
time wherever possible he continued his studies in natural science. He
made a collection of fossils unearthed in the trenches around Vicksburg,
land and river shells from the Mississippi swamps, and a large
collection of mosses while on detached duty in Illinois. He also
familiarised himself with the geology of regions through which the
armies passed to which he was attached. Time and again he was commended
for his services and declined promotion to higher rank in other arms of
the service. "He loved the scarlet facings of the artillery, and there
was something in the ranking of batteries and the power of cannon,"
writes Thompson, "that was akin to the workings of his own mind."

In 1862 he was married to his cousin, Miss Emma Dean, of Detroit, who
still lives in Washington with their daughter, an only child. Mrs.
Powell was often his companion in the army and early Western journeys.
Upon the return of Powell to civil life in 1865 he was tendered a
nomination to a lucrative political office in Du Page County, Illinois,
and at the same time he was offered the chair of geology in the Wesleyan
University, a struggling Methodist College at Bloomington, Illinois.
There was no hesitation on his part. He declined the political honour
and its emoluments and accepted the professorship, which he retained
two years. At the session of the Illinois Legislature in 1867 a bill was
passed, largely through his effort, creating a professorship of geology
and natural history in the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois,
with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars and an appropriation of one
thousand dollars annually to increase the geological and zoological
collections. He was elected to this chair and at about the same time was
also chosen curator of the Illinois State Natural History Society,
whose collections were domiciled in the museum of the Normal University.
Attracted by the Far West as a field for profitable scientific research,
the summer of 1867 found him using his salary and the other available
funds to defray the expense of an expedition to the then Territory
of Colorado for the purpose of securing collections. He organised and
outfitted at Plattsmouth, Nebraska. All his assistants were volunteers
except the cook. A. H. Thompson, afterwards so closely associated with
him in the detailed exploration of the Colorado and in subsequent survey
work, was the entomologist of the party. They crossed the plains with
mule teams to Denver, worked along the east slope of the Front Range,
climbed Pike's Peak, and went westerly as far as South Park. Without
realising it, apparently, Powell was all these years steadily
approaching the great exploit of his life, as if led on and prepared by
some unseen power. Now the project of exploring the mysterious gorges of
which he heard such wonderful tales dawned upon him. It was as near
an inspiration as can be imagined. Henceforth his mind and energy were
directed irresistibly toward the accomplishment of this conception.
Again in 1868 he was in the field with the same financial backing,
to which was added a small allotment from the Illinois Industrial
University at Champaign, Illinois, a State school. All but Mrs. Powell
and his brother Walter, of this 1868 party, returned East on the
approach of autumn, while with these and several trappers and hunters,
among whom were the two Rowlands, William Dunn, and William Rhodes
Hawkins, afterwards of his party to explore the canyons, he crossed the
range to White River and wintered there near the camp of Chief Douglass
and his band of Utes. When spring came in 1869 he went out to Granger,
on the Union Pacific Railway, and there disposed of his mules and
outfit, proceeding immediately to Washington, where he induced Congress
to pass a joint resolution endorsed by General Grant authorising him
to draw rations from Western army posts for a party of twelve men
while engaged in making collections for public institutions. Never was
assistance better deserved. Then he returned to Illinois and obtained
from the trustees of the Normal University permission to again divert
his salary and the other funds to Western work. The trustees of the
Illinois Industrial University allotted him five hundred dollars, and
the Chicago Academy of Sciences, through the influence of Dr. Andrews,
the curator, also contributed two hundred and fifty or five hundred
dollars. In addition some personal friends contributed small sums.

The object proposed was to make collections in natural history to be
shared accordingly with the contributing institutions. While these
collections were one of Powell's objects, others were the examination
of the geology, and particularly the solution of the greatest remaining
geographical problem of the United States, the canyons of the Green and
Colorado rivers. The Green, as has been explained in preceding pages,
was known as far as the Uinta Mountains, and here and there at widely
separated points on down to about Gunnison Valley. But there were long
gaps, and below Gunnison Crossing as far as the Grand Wash the knowledge
of the canyons as already pointed out was vague in the extreme. The
altitude of Green River Station, Wyoming, was known to be about six
thousand feet above sea level, and that of the mouth of the Virgen
less than one thousand. How the river made up this difference was
not understood and this problem was what Powell now confronted. His
fortitude, nerve, courage, and war experience served him well in this
endeavour upon which he started, as previously described, in the spring
of 1869. The War Department and perhaps the Smithsonian Institution,
furnished some instruments. This expedition met with so many disasters
that Powell deemed a second descent in the interest of science
desirable, and for a continuation of his explorations, Congress voted
in 1870 an appropriation of ten thousand dollars. This second expedition
was successful, performing its work in the years 1871-72-73. At the
Session of 1871-72 another appropriation was made by Congress for
proceeding with the topographical and geological survey of the country
adjacent to the river. These appropriations were expended under the
supervision of the Smithsonian Institution and were continued annually
for work under the titles, Exploration of the Colorado River and its
Tributaries, and Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, up to 1879, when
the work was consolidated largely through Powell's endeavour, with two
other surveys, Hayden's and Wheeler's. The latter thought all this work
ought to be done by the War Department, but Powell believed otherwise
and his view prevailed. Out of these grew by the consolidation the
Geological Survey, of which Clarence King was made director, Powell,
because of the earnest efforts he had made to bring about the
consolidation, refusing to allow his name to be presented. The new
Geological Survey was under the Interior Department, and in 1881, when
King resigned the directorship, Powell was immediately appointed in his
place. The results of Powell's original field-work were topographic maps
of a large part of Utah, and considerable portions of Wyoming, Arizona,
and Nevada, constructed under the direction of Powell's colleague, Prof.
A. H. Thompson. There were also many volumes of reports and monographs,
among them the account of the expedition of 1869, entitled The
Exploration of the Colorado River of the West, 1869 to 1872; The Geology
of the Uinta Mountains, by Powell; Lands of the Arid Region by Powell;
Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah, by C. E. Dutton of the Ordnance
Department, U.S.A.; Geology of the Henry Mountains, by G. K. Gilbert;
and four volumes of Contributions to North American Ethnology, one of
which contained Lewis H. Morgan's famous monograph on "Houses and House
Life of the American Aborigines." Early in his Western work Powell
became interested in the native tribes. In the winter of 1868, while
on White River, he studied language, tribal organisation, customs, and
mythology of the Utes and from 1870 to 1873 he carried on studies among
the Pai Utes, the Moki, etc., being adopted into one of the Moki clans.
On his journeys during these periods he often took with him several of
the natives for the purpose of investigating their myths and language.
Eventually he became the highest authority on the Shoshonean tribes. In
1874 he was one of the commissioners to select and locate the Southern
Pai Utes on a reservation in south-eastern Nevada.

North American archaeology also claimed his interest and about the time
of the consolidation of the Surveys Powell proposed the establishment of
a Bureau of Ethnology to carry on investigations in this field as well
as the ethnologic. This was done and the Bureau was attached to the
Smithsonian Institution with Powell as director, an office that he held
without salary till his resignation as head of the Geological Survey
in 1894. After this he received a salary as chief of the Bureau of
Ethnology in which office he remained till his death. The widely
known extensive series of valuable volumes published by the Bureau,
constituting a mine of information, attest the efficacy of his
supervision. He contributed much to these and also wrote numerous papers
on anthropological subjects and made many addresses. His labours as
a pioneer in and organiser of the science of ethnology have been
recognised by learned institutions and societies throughout the world.
The results of his direction of the Geological Survey are seen in the
maps, reports, bulletins, and monographs, constituting an imperishable
monument to his ability as an organiser and administrator.

He delivered many lectures and once, when he appeared on the platform at
the University of Michigan, an incident occurred which illustrates his
tact and his faculty for seizing means at hand to accomplish his end. At
this time it was the habit of the students at public lectures to guy
the speaker, even Charles Sumner having been a victim. Powell had been
warned of this practice. As he advanced in evening dress a voice called
out "How are your coat tails?"--a greeting which was repeated from
all parts of the house. During a momentary lull he exclaimed with the
peculiar squinting of the eyes and the half-laugh his friends so
well remember: "Your greeting reminds me of Dave Larkins's reply when
criticised for wearing a wamus* in July. Dave said, with his slow drawl,
'If you don't like my wamus I can take it off.'" The suggestion took
with the students and when the laughter had ceased, cries of "You'll
do--go on," came from everywhere. The incident roused Powell, and he has
often said he never talked better nor had a more attentive audience. He
was rewarded with enthusiastic applause. With his closing sentence he
said: "I have given you the finest account of the exploration of the
Colorado River my command of language permits. I have been as dramatic
and as eloquent as I thought this occasion demanded. If any one wishes a
plain statement regarding the exploration, I will be happy to give it to
him at my hotel." There was a hush for a moment as the students grasped
the implication and cries of "Sold!" burst from them. A large number did
call the next morning to discover whether he had actually stated facts,
which of course he had.

    * A wamus in old times was a very heavy woollen garment.

He possessed absolute independence of thought and never accepted what
was-told him unless he could demonstrate its accuracy. Often in his
explorations he was told he could not travel in certain places, but he
went on just the same to find out for himself. He had a rare faculty of
inducing enthusiasm in others, and by reposing complete confidence in
the individual, impelled him to do his very best. Thus he became the
mainspring for much that was never credited to him, and which was really
his in the germ or original idea. Gilbert truly says, "it is not easy
to separate the product of his personal work from that which he
accomplished through the organisation of the work of others. He was
extremely fertile in ideas, so fertile that it was quite impossible
that he should personally develop them all, and realising this, he gave
freely to his collaborators. The work which he inspired and to which
he contributed the most important creative elements, I believe to be
at least as important as that for which his name stands directly

    * Science, Oct. 10,1902. See also "John Wesley Powell," edited by G.
K. Gilbert, reprinted from The Open Court, 1903.

In the field of geology he was particularly facile in the invention of
apt descriptive terms, and indeed he was never at a loss for words to
express new meanings, coining them readily where none had existed that
were appropriate. Some of his ideas have been developed by younger men,
till they have become distinct divisions of the larger science to which
they belong. His greatest work in the Geological Survey, that which was
more the result of his personal effort, may be summed up under
three heads: First, the development of a plan for making a complete
topographic map of the United States; second, the organisation of a
Bureau for the collection of facts and figures relating to the mineral
resources of the country; and third, his labours to preserve for the
people the waters and irrigable lands of the Arid Region. It is hard to
say which of these is greater or which was nearer his heart. Together
they constitute a far-reaching influence in the development of the
country such as no one man heretofore has contributed. His Studies and
recommendations with regard to the arid lands of the West are of the
greatest importance to that district and to the country at large and the
nearer they can be carried out the better will it be for posterity. He
perceived at once that the reservation of sites for storage reservoirs
was of the first importance and this was one of the earliest steps he
endeavoured to bring about.

Of late years when he might have relaxed his labours, he turned his
attention to the field of psychology and philosophy, working till his
malady, sclerosis of the arteries, produced his last illness. The result
was two treatises in this line. Truth and Error, published in 1899,
and "treating of matter, motion, and consciousness as related to the
external universe or the field of fact," as Gilbert describes it,
and Good and Evil, running as a series of essays in the American
Anthropologist, treating of the same factors as related to humanity or
to welfare. A third volume was planned to deal with the emotions, and he
had also woven these ideas into a series of poems, of which only one
has been published. Few understand these later products of Powell. Many
condemn them; but Gilbert expresses his usual clear, unbiassed view
of things and says (and I can do no better than to quote him, a man of
remarkably direct thought, and for many years very close to Powell):
"His philosophic writings belong to a field in which thought has ever
found language inadequate, and are for the present, so far as may be
judged from the reviews of Truth and Error, largely misunderstood.
Admitting myself to be of those who fail to understand much of his
philosophy, I do not therefore condemn it as worthless, for in other
fields of his thought events have proved that he was not visionary, but
merely in advance of his time."

One inexplicable action in his career, to my mind, was his complete
ignoring in his report of the men and their work, of his second river
expedition, particularly of his colleague, Prof. Thompson, whose skill
and energy were so largely responsible for the scientific and practical
success of the second expedition. The report embodied all the results
achieved by this expedition and gave no credit to the men who with
unflagging zeal, under stress and difficulties innumerable accumulated
the data. This has ever appeared to me unjust, but his reasons for it
were doubtless satisfactory to himself. The second expedition is put on
record, for the first time in this volume, except for a lecture of mine
printed some years ago in the Bulletin of the American Geographical

The life of Powell is an example of the triumph of intelligent,
persistent endeavour. Long ago he had formulated many of his plans and
as far back as 1877, and even 1871, as I understood them, he carried
them out with remarkable precision. Before the authorisation of the
Bureau of Ethnology, its scope was developed in his mind and he saw
completed the many volumes which have since been published. His power to
observe the field ahead, standing on the imperfections of the present,
was extraordinary. As a soldier he was a patriot, as an explorer he was
a hero. As a far-seeing scientific man, as an organiser of government
scientific work, as a loving, friendly, and a delightful comrade whether
by the camp-fire or in the study, and as a true sympathiser with the
aspirations and ambitions of subordinates or equals, there has seldom
been his superior.


In the Marble and Grand Canyons the fall is as follows.* The vertical
dotted lines of diagram on page 57 give these divisions, beginning at
the left with 2.

    * After Dutton, Tertiary History, p. 240.

                                             DISTANCE   FALL   FALL
                                             IN         IN     IN
                                             MILES      FEET   FEET PER
   I. Marble Canyon...........................65.2-----510-----7.82
   2. Little Colorado to the Granite..........18.2-----110-----6.04
   3. Granite Falls...........................10-------210----21.
   4. To Powell's Plateau in the Granite......26.4-----320----12.13
   5. Around western base of Powell's Plateau.10.8-----100-----9.26
   6. Head of Kanab Division..................4.0-------50----10.42
   7. Main Kanab and Uinkaret Division........65.2-----310-----4.75
   8. Shewits Division to Granite.............12--------70-----5.83
   9. Granite to Diamond Creek................ 8-------210----11.66
   10. Granite below Diamond Creek............ 7.2------25-----3.47
   ll. Granite below Diamond Creek............10.8-----100-----9.26
   12. Shewits Granite to End of Canyon.......35-------175-----5.

   From Little Colorado to Kaibab Division.....9.6------60-----6.25
   Kaibab Division............................58-------700----12.07
   Kanab Division.............................47.6-----240-----5.01
   Uinkaret Division..........................19.2-----100-----5.21
   Shewits Division...........................84-------540-----6.43

The exact number of rapids cannot be given, as in some portions of
Lodore, Cataract, Marble, and the Grand Canyon it is difficult to divide
the almost continuous fall into parts. The number also varies with the
stage of water, a high stage covering up some of the smaller rapids.
I count 62 rapids in Cataract Canyon. but Stanton makes it 75. The
discrepancy arises in the way of dividing some of the descent in the
worst portions. Lodore for a large part of its length is so nearly one
continuous rapid that it is difficult to count the special drops. In
Marble Canyon I counted 63, and in the distance from the Little Colorado
to the mouth of the Kanab, 131. We counted about 600 from Green River
Valley to the Kanab Canyon, and Stanton's party counted 520 large rapids
from Fremont River to the Grand Wash, or about 600 from the Junction.
From Green River Valley to the foot of Black Canyon something over 1000
would be a near estimate of the total number of rapids. The velocity
is always tremendous. The width of the river varies according to the
locality. Green River is from 250 to 400 feet in the canyons, and 800
to 1000 in the valleys. The Colorado is from 75 to 400 or 500 in the
canyons and from 1200 to 1500 in the valleys. In the Granite Gorges
there are points where the distance between the buttresses at the water
is no more than 50 feet. In Marble Canyon there are a dozen places where
the width is not over 60 to 75 feet. The depth varies from several feet
to an unknown quantity in the narrow parts. There is also a variation
of depth with the year and the season. Years when the high mountains
receive an abnormal snow-fall the river rises to abnormal heights and
at such times the depth of water in the Grand Canyon is enormous and the
velocity appalling. Ordinarily the current varies from three miles per
hour to twenty or mere.

Our method of navigating was to go with caution. A landing was made
above every rapid where possible, and the rapid inspected. Sticks were
thrown in when practicable and watched to find the set of the main
current which was the one we tried to follow. If it dashed against a
cliff, our plans were laid accordingly.

We went into a rapid with as little headway as possible, and often
executed "back-water" to retard the boat. The steering oar was used to
throw the boat one way or another in rapids, but it was mainly on the
side oars that we relied for steering.

In our boat Powell looked ahead, and gave orders "left" or "right,"
referring not to the direction in which he wished to go but to the
oar which we were to pull with reference to our left or right not his.
"Steady" meant to let the boat take her course.

N. Galloway, who has since made several descents, goes through rapids
stern foremost. He can thus see how to guide with the oars.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Romance of the Colorado River - The Story of its Discovery in 1840, with an Account of the Later Explorations, and with Special Reference to the Voyages of Powell through the Line of the Great Canyons" ***

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