Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/407

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393
PROFESSOR JOHN W. POWELL.

gested to Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, the propriety of asking the Government to lend its assistance.

Accordingly, a topographical and geological survey of the Colorado River of the West and its tributaries was inaugurated by Congress and placed under Professor Powell's direction.

With these added facilities the exploration was pushed from year to year with great energy and success, and a systematic survey was conducted, until all the streams, mountains, plateaus, and other physical features of the Colorado Valley, embracing an area of nearly one hundred thousand square miles, have become thoroughly known topographically and geologically, and there is no longer an unexplored region within the confines of the United States. In 1875 Professor Powell published some important chapters "On the Physical Features of the Valley of the Colorado," which, while dealing largely in the physical geography of the country, were in the main geological, and set forth for the first time the fundamental principles that underlie the structural formation of a large part of the Rocky Mountain region. The next year appeared his "Geology of the Uintah Mountains," which is likewise a model of clearness, and consists in a careful analysis of the laws which have operated in the formation of these masses; while much of the consistent reasoning from the closely observed phenomena of this region is equally applicable to all parts of the West.

So great was the general interest at this time in acquiring an accurate acquaintance with the Western portion of the country, that no less than four authorized surveys were operating simultaneously in the different Territories. These were: 1. The special survey of the fortieth parallel, under the War Department, in charge of Mr. Clarence King, organized in 1867; 2. Dr. F. V. Hayden's geological and geographical survey of the Territories, organized and operating under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior since 1867; 3. A military and topographical survey, conducted by Lieutenant G. M. Wheeler, under instructions from the Chief of Engineers of the War Department, organized in 1869; and 4, and last in chronological order, that of Major Powell, which received its first national aid in the year 1870, although, as we have seen, it had been in the field as a private enterprise since 1868.

These various expeditions became to a great extent rivals, and, being not only independent of each other, but conducted by different departments of the Government, it was impossible to avoid the duplication of much of the work, or to prevent the growth of discordant methods. Occasional collisions occurred between parties of different surveys in the field, bitter feelings were engendered, and the two departments under which the parties were serving found themselves called upon to defend their jurisdiction and claims to the right of conducting public surveys.

The attention of Congress was called to the matter, and on the 15th