A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell by Donald Worster

By Donald Worster

If the notice "hero" nonetheless belonged within the historian's lexicon, it is going to definitely be utilized to John Wesley Powell. Intrepid explorer, cautious scientist, gifted author, and devoted conservationist, Powell led the day trip that placed the Colorado River on American maps and printed the Grand Canyon to the realm. Now comes the 1st biography of this towering determine in nearly fifty years--a booklet that captures his lifestyles in all its heroism, idealism, and ambivalent, ambiguous humanity. In A River working West, Donald Worster, considered one of our top Western historians, tells the tale of Powell's nice adventures and describes his ancient importance with compelling readability and ability. Worster paints a vibrant portrait of ways this guy emerged from the early nineteenth-century global of immigrants, fervent faith, and rough-and-tumble rural tradition, and infrequently survived the Civil conflict conflict at Shiloh. the center of Worster's biography is Powell's epic trip down the Colorado in 1869, a story of harrowing reports, deadly injuries, and breathtaking discoveries. After years within the area amassing rocks and fossils and studying to talk the neighborhood local American languages, Powell again to Washington as an eloquent suggest for the West, one in all America's first and so much influential conservationists. yet after all, he fell sufferer to a clique of Western politicians who driven for unfettered financial improvement, relegating the getting older explorer to a quiet lifetime of anthropological contemplation. John Wesley Powell embodied the power, optimism, and westward impulse of the younger usa. A River operating West is a gorgeously written, magisterial account of this nice American explorer and environmental pioneer, a real tale of undaunted braveness within the American West.

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Extra resources for A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell

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Early in that year of frenzied mobility, one thousand six hundred Mormons crossed the frozen Mississippi to set up temporary headquarters for an immense migration into the Great Salt Lake basin. By fall, as the Powells were getting resettled, twelve thousand more of the Mormons had gathered at Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, waiting for the coming spring to begin their move. Joseph Smith was dead, killed two years earlier by an angry mob in Illinois. His successor, Brigham Young, a poorly educated carpenter, had no fewer than thirty-five thousand Latter-day Saints to lead west, away from their oppressors and into Mexican territory.

He began visiting them regularly, sitting in the kitchen for long theological debate, arguing against their Arminian doctrine of universal salvation and in favor of predestination. Undoubtedly they discussed politics, slavery, history, and ethics as well. Wes sat in their midst, listening to the often intense debates and finding his mother, still a reader of Swedenborg, to be the most sensible and persuasive of the party. More and more, though, he was captivated by this large old man who knew so much about the outdoors, who could identify the trees along the creek, who knew the songs of birds, who was excited by rocks.

The Powells, however, chose not to move out into those environs. They were used to a more urban life, closer to the center of activity, though this village was far less urban or active than Hull, Birmingham, or even Mount Morris. 32 Their residence was located near the edge of the plateau, and below they could see the tangled riverine forest of Little Salt Creek, which flows west to the Little Scioto, which enters the Ohio River about fifty miles away. ”33 But wildlife and humans had long come here looking for that very practical necessity after which the stream was called — salt.

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