By Edward Dolnick
0n may possibly 24, 1869, a one-armed Civil struggle veteran named John Wesley Powell and a ragtag band of 9 mountain males launched into the final nice quest within the American West. not anyone had ever explored the fabled Grand Canyon; to adventurers of that period it was once a quarter nearly as mysterious as Atlantis -- and as perilous.
The ten males set out down the strong Colorado River in wood rowboats. Six survived. Drawing on not often tested diaries and journals, Down the nice Unknown is the 1st ebook to inform the whole, real story.
Read or Download Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon PDF
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Additional info for Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon
At twelve thousand toes, together with his males ravenous and their mules frozen to demise, the storms that had bedeviled the journey all alongside unexpectedly grew even worse. The snow lay in drifts as deep as thirty toes. the lads have been so determined for nutrients that they ate their candles and the soles in their moccasins. a few of the survivors cannibalized their useless partners. finally, ten participants of the thirty-three-man social gathering died; one other fifteen have been rescued on the aspect of loss of life by way of the heroic scout Alexis Godey. None of this fazed Frémont, who declared the mission’s final result “entirely passable. ” And but even he paled on the risks of the fairway and the Colorado. It was once unquestionably real that these untamed rivers awarded “many scenes of untamed grandeur” and “many temptations” ordinarily, Frémont wrote, yet he conceded that neither he nor a person else sought after any a part of them. “No trappers were stumbled on daring enough,” he wrote, “to adopt a voyage which has so sure a prospect of a deadly termination. ” bankruptcy 5 PARADISE If Frémont had noticeable Powell and his males on June 2, 1869, he may need taken again his phrases of caution. That excellent spring day marked maybe the excessive element of the complete Powell day trip, and the hours among 11 o’clock and 3 marked the simplest a part of the easiest day. the boys had comprehensive lining the boats and wrestling the shipment previous Ashley Falls through overdue morning—“had dinner and smoked all round,” Sumner stated contentedly—and then back to the river. They have been secure and at the movement and all used to be bliss. “Beautiful river, that raises its pace as we go away the autumn . . . yet away from sunken rocks,” Sumner famous with glee. “So we run throughout the waves at show pace; made seventeen miles via pink Stone canyon in under an hour operating time, the boats bounding in the course of the waves like a faculty of porpoise. ” Sumner’s boat, smaller and lighter than the 3 “freight” boats, bounded much more than the others. “The Emma being very mild is tossed approximately in a manner that threatens to shake her to items, and is almost as tough to trip as a Mexican pony. We plunge alongside making a song, yelling, like drunken sailors, all feeling that such rides don't come each day. ” Sumner ran via his stories looking for an analogous thrill and eventually hit on a comparability. “It was,” he wrote, “like sparking a black-eyed girl—just risky sufficient to be intriguing. ” all of sudden the sandstone canyon opened out right into a appealing little valley. This was once the easiest land they'd visible but, the low, grass-covered hills a welcome switch from the towering cliffs and naked rocks they'd grown to anticipate. the boys made camp at approximately 3 within the afternoon, unfold the bedding out to dry, and got down to shoot dinner or flung themselves at the flooring to leisure, counting on how formidable they felt. The hunters finally back empty-handed, with the exception of Powell, who may wield a pistol yet now not a rifle and had controlled to shoot grouse. Sumner used to be in too stable a temper to be dismayed via the meager haul.