Imagine being the first person to go down the Colorado River and explore the Grand Canyon. That feat was accomplished by John Wesley Powell, a one-armed, former Civil War general. This article by New Mexico author Rich Holzin first appeared in The Daily Kos.
For those who are interested in late 19th Century Western history, today begins an abridged account of one of America’s most outstanding explorers of the Colorado Plateau’s canyon country, and with the proviso a man who certainly was ensnarled with allegations of duplicity given his role in his surveys of the canyon country defined by the Green and Colorado rivers. I am not a typical Powell biographer in the sense I defend the man’s character by turning a blind eye to the charges that were later levied against him by some of his 1869 crew members and the public who, some of them, felt betrayed by his writings. Still, I rise to his defense in some ways, while acknowledging, as he did in his later years, some rather glaring mistakes that he made.