Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and its Tributaries


Magnificent Congressional publication detailing the geologic expeditions of John Wesley Powell.

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This tremendous travel volume details the explorations led by John Wesley Powell down the Colorado River between 1869 and 1872. Powell, a Civil War veteran who lost most of his right arm after the Battle of Shiloh, led the first expedition in 1869, when 10 men descended the Colorado and were the first (Americans) to travel through the Grand Canyon by boat.

A subsequent trip was made between 1871-72 and in 1875, Powell compiled his reports for publication under the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. The resulting 295 page volume contains 80 various illustrations; including landscape views, geologic profiles, portraits of Native Americans, and everyday scenes along the trail.

Two folding maps also accompany the report in a pocket in the back which detail the first leg of the trip, from the Green River to the mouth of the Colorado. The first emphasizes topographic detail from the jumping off point at Green River station, Wyoming, situated on the recently completed Transcontinental Railroad, to the confluence with the Uinta and White Rivers in northeastern Utah. The second sheet is a comparative profile view, with the upper half showing the route described on the first map and the lower half detailing the same information between Pittsburgh and Vicksburg.

Carl Wheat writes, referencing this work, in “Mapping the Transmississippi West, 1850-1861,” “As a narrative of adventure, this book of 1875 is one of the most justly celebrated documents in the literature of exploration.”

Map Details

Publication Date: 1875

Author: J.W. Powell

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Quarto sized volume bound in full, original calf leather. The binding is worn, the spine heavily, with the covers nearly detached. Contents remain good to very good, with light scattered soiling and two damp stains on the edges that affects a majority of the sheets. 295 pages, including all 80 plates. Accompanied by two folding maps. Green River from the Union Pacific Railroad to the Mouth of the White River measures 21.75" x 29.9" and is in near fine condition, with light creasing and small pinholes at the fold intersections. The profile view is 22" x 19" and in similarly good condition.


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