Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/406

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upper tributaries and lower portion were alone known to civilized man. That such an unexplored region should exist within the limits of the United States seemed to him almost a reproach to the boasted enterprise of our people, and he began to lay plans for its exploration.

In the summer of 1868 he organized a party of men, some of whom were mountaineers, and, starting from Middle Park, followed down the Grand River to the head of Cedar Cañon, thence over the Park Range through Gore's Pass to the White River, one hundred and twenty miles above its mouth. Here the party went into winter-quarters, and during the winter made reconnaissances, and completed their preparations for an early expedition in the spring.

Proceeding, in the spring of 1869, to Green River station, on the 25th of May the expedition launched its four small craft in Green River, the largest of the tributaries of the Colorado.

We have not space to follow them through their perilous voyage of over three months' duration, or to describe the succession of hardships, disasters, and hair-breadth escapes, by which almost every day of this period was characterized. All this has been written by the hero of the expedition. We can only say here that it was not until the 20th of July that the brave party reached the junction of the Grand and Green, or the head of the Colorado River proper; that on the 13th of August they entered the Grand Cañon, from which they did not emerge until the 29th; and that on the 30th of that month they at last arrived at the mouth of the Rio Virgen, where, for the first time, they saw the faces of white men.

After having been two weeks in the Grand Cañon, already for some time reduced to half-rations, three of the men refused to go farther, and endeavored to induce Major Powell to turn back. He explained to them that they were very near the end of their journey, but was himself almost tempted, in view of the scarcity of provisions, and the probable nearness of Mormon settlements, to yield to their arguments. He passed a sleepless night, and expresses the result of his reflections in the following words: "But for years I have been contemplating this trip. To leave the exploration unfinished, to say that there is a part of the canon which I can not explore, having already almost accomplished it, is more than I am willing to acknowledge, and I determine to go on." The three men undertook to reach the settlements by a journey across the country, and were murdered by Indians; the boatmen emerged the next day in safety from their granite prison.

This daring voyage was not a barren adventure. In many respects it was a scientific expedition, and as many instruments as could be taken were carried, and determinations were made wherever practicable, the accurate records of which were kept in duplicate, so that one set was safely brought through. The importance of Professor Powell's labors, and their thorough and scientific character, made it apparent that they should be followed up, while their national bearing sug-