Until Powell's exploration, little was known of the Grand Canyon, its surrounding plateaus, or the long reaches of river above it. Legends told of expeditions that had tried to pass through the canyon only to perish in unknown rapids or on lonely rock shores. If any of these early expeditions did get through, they left no record behind. Even the official view of the United States Government was discouraging. Lieutenant Joseph C. Ives, who in 1857 was sent by the War Department to explore the river, traveled by steamer from the mouth of the river as far upstream as Black Canyon. In his report he said:
But neither legends, Indian warnings, nor the Ives report discouraged Powell. In his own report on the expedition, published in 1870, Powell wrote:
By spring of 1869, Powell was ready to start. The Illinois Natural History Society and Illinois Industrial University supplied funds. Congress authorized Powell to draw rations from Army posts for a party of 25 men and the Smithsonian Institution provided him with scientific instruments. Personal expenses were borne by the individual members of the party.
The four boats for the trip, the Emma Dean, the Kitty Clyde's Sister, the No Name, and the Maid of the Canyon, waited at Green River Station, Wyoming Territory, where the party was to embark. The boats had been built according to Powell's specifications. Three were made of oak, were 21 feet long, and were equipped with compartments for storing food, ammunition, tools, and scientific instruments. The fourth was of identical design but only 16 feet long and of white pine. Being lighter "with a sharp cutwater and every way built for fast rowing," it served as the lead boat.
Four men of the party had served as guides and assistants to Powell the year before: Jack Sumner, O. G. Howland, Bill Dunn, and Billy Hawkins. Sumner was a Civil War veteran who operated a small trading post in Middle Park, west of Denver. Abandoning the trading post, he joined Powell and enlisted the services of Howland, Dunn, and Hawkins. Howland was a printer and editor from Denver, and Hawkins was a Union Army veteran who was suspected by Powell's party of being a fugitive from justice. Little is known of Dunn. In addition, there were Seneca Howland, a Civil War veteran and brother of O. G. Howland; Captain Walter H. Powell, the Major's brother, who had been imprisoned during the war; G. Y. Bradley, a veteran of the Civil War and later a sergeant in the Regular Army, who had been discharged to accompany Powell on the trip; Frank Goodman, a young English adventurer; and Andy Hall, an 18-year-old mule driver and Indian scout.
Last Updated: 28-Mar-2006