Colorado Plateau River Guides
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Colorado Plateau River Guides
CPRG History
January 10, 2001

Grand Canyon Science

1857 - Grand Canyon is scientifically and topographically examined by an expedition of the US Army of Topographical Engineers under the command of Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives. The expedition traveled by horseback and access the river bottom via Diamond Creek in western (lower) Grand Canyon. The geologist of the expedition is John Strong Newberry, who will later become a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ives declares the Grand Canyon will forever remain undeveloped and unvisited.

1861- Ives and Newberry transmit to Congress their professional paper called Report Upon the Colorado River of the West. Scenes of the landscape were sketched by the official artist, Heinrich Balduin von Mollhausen (example), and topographer Frederick W. von Egloffstein (example).

1869 - John Wesley Powell, a geologist, explores the Colorado River through Grand Canyon on a three month trip in boats that launched in Wyoming at the Green River railroad station. Unlike the first trip, Powell's second trip in 1872 will have a photographer, artist, and topographer.

- The first photographs of the Grand Canyon were exposed by Timothy O'Sullivan (photo) during an expedition of the US Army Corps of Topographical Engineers under the command of George M. Wheeler. The trip is accomplished by rowing and towing boats upstream from Camp Mojave, Nevada. The party exits the river's lower gorge at Diamond Creek. The geologist of the expedition was Grove Karl Gilbert, who will later leave Wheeler to join Powell's land survey of the Colorado Plateau. Probably for reasons of Wheeler's poor performance at publishing contributions to science.

1875 - John Wesley Powell transmits his report to Congress, called Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Tributaries, and in the following year transmits his professional paper, The Geolgy of the Eastern Portion of the Uinta Mountains.

1877 - Grove Karl Gilbert transmits his report to Congress. It is called The Geology of the Henry Mountains . The book is probably the most gifted contribution to understanding the geology of the Colorado Plateau.

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