A Canyon Voyage
by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
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The North-Americans of Yesterday

A Comparative Study of North-American Indian Life, Customs, and Products, on the Theory of the Ethnic Unity of the Race. 8. Fully illustrated. net, $4.00

The Romance of the Colorado River

A Complete Account of the Discovery and of the Explorations from 1540 to the Present Time, with Particular Reference to the Two Voyages of Powell through the Line of the Great Canyons.

8. Fully illustrated. net, $3.50

Breaking the Wilderness

The Story of the Conquest of the Far West, from the Wanderings of Cabeza de Vaca to the First Descent of the Colorado by Powell, and the Completion of the Union Pacific Railway, with Particular Account of the Exploits of Trappers and Traders.

8. Fully illustrated. net, $3.50

A Canyon Voyage

The Narrative of the Second Powell Expedition down the Green-Colorado River from Wyoming, and the Explorations on Land in the Years 1871 and 1872.

8. Fully illustrated. net, $3.50


A Canyon Voyage

The Narrative of the Second Powell Expedition down the Green-Colorado River from Wyoming, and the Explorations on Land, in the Years 1871 and 1872


Frederick S. Dellenbaugh Artist and Assistant Topographer of the Expedition

"Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still. How fearful And dizzy 't is to cast one's eyes so low!" King Lear.

With Fifty Illustrations

G. P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1908


The Knickerbocker Press, New York



This volume presents the narrative, from my point of view, of an important government expedition of nearly forty years ago: an expedition which, strangely enough, never before has been fully treated. In fact in all these years it never has been written about by any one besides myself, barring a few letters in 1871 from Clement Powell, through his brother, to the Chicago Tribune, and an extremely brief mention by Major Powell, its organiser and leader, in a pamphlet entitled Report of Explorations in 1873 of the Colorado of the West and its Tributaries (Government Printing Office, 1874). In my history, The Romance of the Colorado River, of which this is practically volume two, I gave a synopsis, and in several other places I have written in condensed form concerning it; but the present work for the first time gives the full story.

In 1869, Major Powell made his famous first descent of the Green-Colorado River from the Union Pacific Railway in Wyoming to the mouth of the Virgin River in Nevada, a feat of exploration unsurpassed, perhaps unequalled, on this continent. Several of the upper canyons had been before penetrated, but a vague mystery hung over even these, and there was no recorded, or even oral, knowledge on the subject when Powell turned his attention to it. There was a tale that a man named James White had previously descended through the great canyons, but Mr. Robert Brewster Stanton has thoroughly investigated this and definitely proven it to be incorrect. Powell's first expedition was designed as an exploration to cover ten months, part of which was to be in winter quarters; circumstances reduced the time to three. It was also more or less of a private venture with which the Government of the United States had nothing to do. It became necessary to supplement it then by a second expedition, herein described, which Congress supported, with, of course, Major Powell in charge, and nominally under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution, of which Professor Henry was then Secretary and Professor Baird his able coadjutor, the latter taking the deeper interest in this venture. Powell reported through the Smithsonian; that was about all there was in the way of control.

The material collected by this expedition was utilised in preparing the well-known report by Major Powell, Exploration of the Colorado River of the West, 1869-1872, the second party having continued the work inaugurated by the first and enlarged upon it, but receiving no credit in that or any other government publication.

As pointed out in the text of this work, a vast portion of the basin of the Colorado was a complete blank on the maps until our party accomplished its end; even some of the most general features were before that not understood. No canyon above the Virgin had been recorded topographically, and the physiography was unknown. The record of the first expedition is one of heroic daring, and it demonstrated that the river could be descended throughout in boats, but unforeseen obstacles prevented the acquisition of scientific data which ours was specially planned to secure in the light of the former developments. The map, the hypsometric and hydrographic data, the geologic sections and geologic data, the photographs, ethnography, and indeed about all the first information concerning the drainage area in question were the results of the labours of the second expedition. Owing, perhaps, to Major Powell's considering our work merely in the line of routine survey, no special record, as mentioned above, was ever made of the second expedition. We inherited from the first a plat of the river itself down to the mouth of the Paria, which, according to Professor Thompson, was fairly good, but we did not rely on it; from the mouth of the Paria to Catastrophe Rapid, the point below Diamond Creek where the Howlands and Dunn separated from the boat party, a plat that was broken in places. This was approximately correct as far as Kanab Canyon, though not so good as above the Paria. From the Kanab Canyon, where we ended our work with the boats, to the mouth of the Virgin we received fragments of the course owing to the mistake made in dividing the notes at the time of the separation; a division decided on because each group thought the other doomed to destruction. Thus Howland took out with him parts of both copies which were destroyed by the Shewits when they killed the men. After Howland's departure, the Major ran in the course to the mouth of the Virgin. Professor Thompson was confident that our plat of the course, which is the basis of all maps to-day, is accurate from the Union Pacific Railway in Wyoming to Catastrophe Rapid, for though we left the river at the Kanab Canyon, we were able by our previous and subsequent work on land to verify the data of the first party and to fill in the blanks, but he felt ready to accept corrections below Catastrophe Rapid to the Virgin.

For a list of the canyons, height of walls, etc., I must refer to the appendix in my previous volume. While two names cover the canyon from the Paria to the Grand Wash, the gorge is practically one with a total length of 283 miles. I have not tried to give geological data for these are easily obtainable in the reports of Powell, Dutton, Gilbert, Walcott, and others, and I lacked space to introduce them properly. In fact I have endeavored to avoid a mere perfunctory record, full of data well stated elsewhere. While trying to give our daily experiences and actual camp life in a readable way, I have adhered to accuracy of statement. I believe that any one who wishes to do so can use this book as a guide for navigating the river as far as Kanab Canyon. I have not relied on memory but have kept for continual reference at my elbow not only my own careful diary of the journey, but also the manuscript diary of Professor Thompson, and a typewritten copy of the diary of John F. Steward as far as the day of his departure from our camp. I have also consulted letters that I wrote home at the time and to the Buffalo Express, and a detailed draft of events up to the autumn of 1871 which I prepared in 1877 when all was still vividly fresh in mind. In addition, I possess a great many letters which Professor Thompson wrote me up to within a few weeks of his death (July, 1906), often in reply to questions I raised on various points that were not clear to me. Each member of the party I have called by the name familiarly used on the expedition, for naturally there was no "Mistering" on a trip of this kind. Powell was known throughout the length and breadth of the Rocky Mountain Region as "the Major," while Thompson was quite as widely known as "Prof." Some of the geographic terms, like Dirty Devil River, Unknown Mountains, etc., were those employed before permanent names were adopted. In my other books I have used the term Amerind for American Indian, and I intend to continue its use, but in the pages of this volume, being a narrative, and the word not having been used or known to us at that time, it did not seem exactly appropriate.

Some readers may wish to provide themselves with full maps of the course of the river, and I will state that the U. S. Geological Survey has published map-sheets each 20 by 16-1/2 inches, of the whole course of the Green-Colorado. These sheets are sent to any person desiring them who remits the price, five cents the sheet, by post-office money order addressed: "Director U. S. Geological Survey, Washington, D. C.," with the names of the sheets wanted. The names of the seventeen sheets covering the canyoned part are: Green River(?), Ashley, Yampa,(?) Price River, East Tavaputs, San Rafael, La Sal, Henry Mountains, Escalante, Echo Cliffs, San Francisco Mountains, Kaibab, Mount Trumbull, Chino, Diamond Creek, St. Thomas, and Camp Mohave.

Several parties have tried the descent through the canyons since our voyage. Some have been successful, some sadly disastrous. The river is always a new problem in its details, though the general conditions remain the same.

Major Powell was a man of prompt decision, with a cool, comprehensive, far-reaching mind. He was genial, kind, never despondent, always resolute, resourceful, masterful, determined to overcome every obstacle. To him alone belongs the credit for solving the problem of the great canyons, and to Professor Thompson that for conducting most successfully the geographic side of the work under difficulties that can hardly be appreciated in these days when survey work is an accepted item of government expenditure and Congress treats it with an open hand.

I am indebted to Mr. Robert Brewster Stanton, who completed the Brown Expedition triumphantly, for valuable information and photographs and for many interesting conversations comparing his experiences with ours; to the Geological Survey for maps and for the privilege of using photographs from negatives in the possession of the Survey; and to Mr. John K. Hillers for making most of the prints used in illustrating this book. My thanks are due to Brigadier-General Mackenzie, U. S. Engineers, for copies of rare early maps of the region embraced in our operations, now nearly impossible to obtain.

In 1902 when I informed Major Powell that I was preparing my history of the Colorado River, he said he hoped that I would put on record the second trip and the men who were members of that expedition, which I accordingly did. He never ceased to take a lively interest in my affairs, and the year before he wrote me: "I always delight in your successes and your prosperity, and I ever cherish the memory of those days when we were on the great river together." Professor Thompson only a month before he died sent me a letter in which he said: "You are heir to all the Colorado material and I am getting what I have together." These sentiments cause me to feel like an authorised and rightful historian of the expedition with which I was so intimately connected, and I sincerely hope that I have performed my task in a way that would meet the approval of my old leader and his colleague, as well as of my other comrades. One learns microscopically the inner nature of his companions on a trip of this kind, and I am happy to avow that a finer set of men could not have been selected for the trying work which they accomplished with unremitting good-nature and devotion, without pecuniary reward. Professor Thompson possessed invaluable qualities for this expedition: rare balance of mind, great cheerfulness, and a sunny way of looking on difficulties and obstacles as if they were mere problems in chess. His foresight and resourcefulness were phenomenal, and no threatening situation found him without some good remedy.

Some of the illustrations in Powell's Report are misleading, and I feel it my duty to specially note three of them. The one opposite page 8 shows boats of the type we used on the second voyage with a middle cabin. The boats of the first expedition had cabins only at the bow and stern. The picture of the wreck at Disaster Falls, opposite page 27, is nothing like the place, and the one opposite page 82 gives boats in impossible positions, steered by rudders. A rudder is useless on such a river. Long steering sweeps were used.

Time's changes have come to pass. You may now go by a luxurious Santa Fe train direct to the south rim of the greatest chasm of the series, the Grand Canyon, and stop there in a beautiful hotel surrounded by every comfort, yet when we were making the first map no railway short of Denver existed and there was but one line across the Rocky Mountains. Perhaps before many more years are gone we will see Mr. Stanton's Denver, Colorado Canyon, and Pacific Railway accomplished through the canyons, and if I then have not "crossed to Killiloo" I will surely claim a free pass over the entire length in defiance of all commerce-regulating laws.

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh. Cragsmoor, August, 1908



A River Entrapped—Acquaintance not Desired—Ives Explores the Lower Reaches—Powell the Conqueror—Reason for a Second Descent—Congressional Appropriation—Preparation—The Three Boats—The Mighty Wilderness—Ready for the Start 1


Into the Wilderness—The Order of Sailing—Tobacco for the Indians Comes Handy—A Lone Fisherman and Some Trappers—Jack Catches Strange Fish—The Snow-clad Uintas in View—A Larder Full of Venison—Entrance into Flaming Gorge 9


The First Rapid—Horseshoe and Kingfisher Canyons—A Rough Entrance into Red Canyon—Capsize of the Nell—The Grave of a Bold Navigator—Discovery of a White Man's Camp—Good-bye to Frank—At the Gate of Lodore 19


Locked in the Chasm of Lodore—Rapids with Railway Speed—A Treacherous Approach to Falls of Disaster—Numerous Loadings and Unloadings—Over the Rocks with Cargoes—Library Increased by Putnam's Magazine—Triplet Falls and Hell's Half Mile—Fire in Camp—Exit from Turmoil to Peace 34


A Remarkable Echo—Up the Canyon of the Yampa—Steward and Clem Try a Moonlight Swim—Whirlpool Canyon and Mountain Sheep—A Grand Fourth-of-July Dinner—A Rainbow-Coloured Valley—The Major Proceeds in Advance—A Split Mountain with Rapids a Plenty—Enter a Big Valley at Last 49


A Lookout for Redskins—The River a Sluggard—A Gunshot!—Someone Comes!—The Tale of a Mysterious Light—How, How! from Douglas Boy—At the Mouth of the Uinta—A Tramp to Goblin City and a Trip down White River on a Raft—A Waggon-load of Supplies from Salt Lake by Way of Uinta Agency—The Major Goes Out to Find a Way In 61


On to Battle—A Concert Repertory—Good-bye to Douglas Boy—The Busy, Busy Beaver—In the Embrace of the Rocks Once More—A Relic of the Cliff-Dwellers—Low Water and Hard Work—A Canyon of Desolation—Log-cabin Cliff—Rapids and Rapids and Rapids—A Horse, whose Horse?—Through Gray Canyon to the Rendezvous 72


Return of the Major—Some Mormon Friends—No Rations at the Elusive Dirty Devil—Captain Gunnison's Crossing—An All-night Vigil for Cap. and Clem—The Land of a Thousand Cascades—A Bend Like a Bow-knot and a Canyon Labyrinthian—Cleaving an Unknown World—Signs of the Oldest Inhabitant—Through the Canyon of Stillwater to the Jaws of the Colorado 94


A Wonderland of Crags and Pinnacles—Poverty Rations—Fast and Furious Plunging Waters—Boulders Boom along the Bottom—Chilly Days and Shivering—A Wild Tumultuous Chasm—A Bad Passage by Twilight and a Tornado With a Picture Moonrise—Out of One Canyon into Another—At the Mouth of the Dirty Devil at Last 115


The Canonita Left Behind—Shinumo Ruins—Troublesome Ledges in the River—Alcoves and Amphitheatres—The Mouth of the San Juan—Starvation Days and a Lookout for Rations—El Vado de Los Padres—White Men Again—Given up for Lost—Navajo Visitors—Peaks with a Great Echo—At the Mouth of the Paria 135


More Navajos Arrive with Old Jacob—The Lost Pack-train and a Famished Guide—From Boat to Broncho—On to Kanab—Winter Arrives—Wolf Neighbours too Intimate—Preparing for Geodetic Work—Over the Kaibab to Eight-mile Spring—A Frontier Town—Camp below Kanab—A Mormon Christmas Dance 152


Reconnoitring and Triangulating—A Pai Ute New Year's Dance—The Major Goes to Salt Lake—Snowy Days on the Kaibab—At Pipe Spring—Gold Hunters to the Colorado—Visits to the Uinkaret County—Craters and Lava—Finding the Hurricane Ledge—An Interview with a Cougar—Back to Kanab 174


Off for the Unknown Country—A Lonely Grave—Climbing a Hog-back to a Green Grassy Valley—Surprising a Ute Camp—Towich-a-tick-a-boo—Following a Blind Trail—The Unknown Mountains Become Known—Down a Deep Canyon—To the Paria with the Canonita—John D. Lee and Lonely Dell 195


A Company of Seven—The Nellie Powell Abandoned—Into Marble Canyon—Vasey's Paradise—A Furious Descent to the Little Colorado—A Mighty Fall in the Dismal Granite Gorge—Caught in a Trap—Upside Down—A Deep Plunge and a Predicament—At the Mouth of the Kanab 215


A New Departure—Farewell to the Boats—Out to the World Through Kanab Canyon—A Midnight Ride—At the Innupin Picavu—Prof. Reconnoitres the Shewits Country—Winter Quarters in Kanab—Making the Preliminary Map—Another New Year—Across a High Divide in a Snow-storm—Down the Sevier in Winter—The Last Summons 242

Index 269



The Grand Canyon Frontispiece

Looking south from the Kaibab Plateau, North Rim, near the head of Bright Angel Creek, the canyon of which is seen in the foreground. The San Francisco Mountains are in the distance. On the South Rim to the right, out of the picture, is the location of the Hotel Tovar. The width of the canyon at top in this region is about twelve miles, with a depth of near 6000 feet on the north side, and over 5000 on the south. Total length, including Marble Canyon division, 283 miles.

Sketch made in colour on the spot by F. S. Dellenbaugh, June 4, 1903.

The Toll 1

Unidentified skeleton found April, 1906, by C. C. Spaulding in the Grand Canyon 300 feet above the river, some miles below Bright Angel trail. There were daily papers in the pocket of the clothes of the early spring of 1900.

Photograph by Kolb Bros. 1906, Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Red Canyon 6

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Before the Start at Green River City, Wyoming 9

The dark box open. Andy, Clem, Beaman, Prof. Steward, Cap., Frank, Jones, Jack, the Major, Fred, Canonita, Emma Dean, Nellie Powell.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Flaming Gorge 17

The beginning of the Colorado River Canyons, N. E. Utah.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Horseshoe Canyon 21

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Red Canyon 25

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Red Canyon 28

Ashley Falls from below.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

In Red Canyon Park 29

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

The Head of the Canyon of Lodore 34

Just inside the gate.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Canyon of Lodore 37

Low water.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, 1874.

The Heart of Lodore 40

F. S. Dellenbaugh.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Canyon of Lodore—Dunn's Cliff 43

2800 feet above river.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Canyon of Lodore 44

Jones, Hillers, Dellenbaugh.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Echo Park 49

Mouth of Yampa River in foreground, Green River on right.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Whirlpool Canyon 54

Mouth of Bishop Creek—Fourth of July camp.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Split Mountain Canyon 59

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Canyon of Desolation 81


Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Colorado River White Salmon 98

Photograph by the Denver, Colorado Canyon and Pacific Railway Survey under Robert Brewster Stanton, 1889.

Dellenbaugh Butte 102

Near mouth of San Rafael.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Labyrinth Canyon—Bowknot Bend 108

The great loop is behind the spectator.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Stillwater Canyon 110

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Cataract Canyon 119

Clement Powell.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Cataract Canyon 128

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Narrow Canyon 133

Photograph by Best Expedition, 1891.

Mouth of the Fremont River (Dirty Devil) 135

Photograph by the Brown Expedition, 1889.

Glen Canyon 140

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

Looking Down Upon Glen Canyon 142

Cut through homogeneous sandstone.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, U. S. Colo. Riv. Exp.

Tom 147

A typical Navajo. Tom became educated and no longer looked like an Indian.

Photograph by Wittick.

Glen Canyon 149

Sentinel Rock—about 300 feet high.

Photograph by E. O. Beaman, 1871.

The Grand Canyon 162

From Havasupai Point, South Rim, showing Inner Gorge.

From a sketch in colour by F. S. Dellenbaugh, 1907.

The Grand Canyon 168

From South Rim near Bright Angel Creek.

The Grand Canyon 174

From part way down south side above Bright Angel Creek.

Winsor Castle, the Defensive House at Pipe Springs 186

Photograph by H. Arthur Pomroy, 1903.

Little Zion Valley, or the Mookoontoweap, Upper Virgin River 186

Photograph by H. Arthur Pomroy, 1903.

In the Unknown Country 195

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, 1872.

Navajo Mountain From Near Kaiparowits Peak 201

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, 1872.

Tantalus Creek 206

Tributary of Fremont River.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers.

Example of Lakes on the Aquarius Plateau 211

Photograph by J. K. Hillers.

The Grand Canyon 215

Near mouth of Shinumo Creek. The river is in flood and the water is "colorado."

Sketch made in colour on the spot by F. S. Dellenbaugh, July 26, 1907.

Marble Canyon 219


Photograph by J. K. Hillers, 1872.

Canyon of the Little Colorado 222

Photograph by C. Barthelmess.

The Grand Canyon 224

From just below the Little Colorado.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers, 1872.

The Grand Canyon 227

Running the Sockdologer.

From a sketch afterwards by F. S. Dellenbaugh.

The Grand Canyon 232

From top of Granite, south side near Bright Angel Creek.

The Grand Canyon 238

Character of river in rapids.

Photograph by F. S. Dellenbaugh, 1907.

The Grand Canyon 242

At a rapid—low water.

The Grand Canyon 248

At the bottom near foot of Bass Trail.

The Grand Canyon 254

From north side near foot of Toroweap Valley, Uinkaret District.

Photograph by J. K. Hillers.

The Grand Canyon 258

Storm effect from South Rim.


A. Map by the U. S. War Department, 1868. Supplied by the courtesy of General Mackenzie, U. S. A., showing the knowledge of the Colorado River basin just before Major Powell began operations. The topography above the junction of the Green and Grand is largely pictorial and approximate. The white space from the San Rafael to the mouth of the Virgin is the unknown country referred to in this volume which was investigated in 1871-72-73. Preliminary maps B, C, and D at pages 244-46, and 207 respectively, partly give the results of the work which filled in this area. 95

B. Preliminary map of a portion of the southern part of the unknown country indicated by blank space on Map A, at page 95, showing the Hurricane Ledge, Uinkaret and Shewits Mountains and the course of the Grand Canyon from the mouth of Kanab Canyon to the Grand Wash. The Howlands and Dunn left the first expedition at Catastrophe Rapid at the sharp bend a few miles below the intersection of the river and longitude 113 deg. 30', climbed out to the north and were killed near Mt. Dellenbaugh. 244

C. Preliminary map of a portion of the central part of the unknown country indicated by the blank space on Map A, at page 95, showing the Kaibab Plateau, mouth of the Paria, Echo Peaks, House Rock Valley and the course of part of Glen Canyon and of Marble Canyon and the Grand Canyon to the mouth of the Kanab Canyon. El Vado is at the western intersection of the 37th parallel and the Colorado River, and Kanab is in the upper left-hand corner of the map—just above the 37th parallel which is the boundary between Utah and Arizona. The words "Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles" near El Vado were added in Washington and are incorrect. The old Spanish trail crossed at Gunnison Crossing far north of this point which was barely known before 1858. 246

D. Preliminary map of a portion of the northern part of the unknown country indicated by the blank space on Map A, at page 95, showing the course of part of Glen Canyon, the mouth of the Fremont (Dirty Devil) River, the Henry (Unknown) Mountains, and the trail of the first known party of white men to cross this area. The Escalante River which was mistaken for the Dirty Devil enters the Colorado just above the first letter "o" of Colorado at the bottom of the map. The Dirty Devil enters from the north at the upper right-hand side. 207

E. Showing results of recent re-survey of part of the Grand Canyon near Bright Angel Creek by the Geological Survey with ample time for detail. Compare with Map C at page 246—the south end of Kaibab Plateau. 250



A River Entrapped—Acquaintance not Desired—Ives Explores the Lower Reaches—Powell the Conqueror—Reason for a Second Descent—Congressional Appropriation—Preparation—The Three Boats—The Mighty Wilderness—Ready for the Start.

The upper continuation of the Colorado River of the West is Green River which heads in the Wind River Mountains at Fremont Peak. From this range southward to the Uinta Mountains, on the southern boundary of Wyoming, the river flows through an open country celebrated in the early days of Western exploration and fur trading as "Green River Valley," and at that period the meeting ground and "rendezvous" of the various companies and organisations, and of free trappers. By the year 1840 the vast region west of the Missouri had been completely investigated by the trappers and fur-hunters in the pursuit of trade, with the exception of the Green-and-Colorado River from the foot of Green River Valley to the termination of the now famous Grand Canyon of Arizona. The reason for this exception was that at the southern extremity of Green River Valley the solid obstacle of the Uinta Range was thrown in an easterly and westerly trend directly across the course of the river, which, finding no alternative, had carved its way, in the course of a long geological epoch, through the foundations of the mountains in a series of gorges with extremely precipitous sides; continuous parallel cliffs between whose forbidding precipices dashed the torrent towards the sea. Having thus entrapped itself, the turbulent stream, by the configuration of the succeeding region, was forced to continue its assault on the rocks, to reach the Gulf, and ground its fierce progress through canyon after canyon, with scarcely an intermission of open country, for a full thousand miles from the beginning of its entombment, the entrance of Flaming Gorge, at the foot of the historical Green River Valley. Some few attempts had been made to fathom the mystery of this long series of chasms, but with such small success that the exploration of the river was given up as too difficult and too dangerous. Ashley had gone through Red Canyon in 1825 and in one of the succeeding winters of that period a party had passed through Lodore on the ice. These trips proved that the canyons were not the haunt of beaver, that the navigation of them was vastly difficult, and that no man could tell what might befall in those gorges further down, that were deeper, longer, and still more remote from any touch with the outer world. Indeed it was even reported that there were places where the whole river disappeared underground. The Indians, as a rule, kept away from the canyons, for there was little to attract them. One bold Ute who attempted to shorten his trail by means of the river, shortened it to the Happy Hunting Grounds immediately, and there was nothing in his fate to inspire emulation.

The years then wore on and the Colorado remained unknown through its canyon division. Ives had come up to near the mouth of the Virgin from the Gulf of California in 1858, and the portion above Flaming Gorge, from the foot of Green River Valley, was fairly well known, with the Union Pacific Railway finally bridging it in Wyoming. One James White was picked up (1867) at a point below the mouth of the Virgin in an exhausted state, and it was assumed that he had made a large part of the terrible voyage on a raft, but this was not the case, and the Colorado River Canyons still waited for a conqueror. He came in 1869 in the person of John Wesley Powell, a late Major[1] in the Civil War, whose scientific studies had led him to the then territory of Colorado where his mind became fired with the intention of exploring the canyons. The idea was carried out, and the river was descended from the Union Pacific Railway crossing to the mouth of the Virgin, and two of the men went on to the sea. Thus the great feat was accomplished—one of the greatest feats of exploration ever executed on this continent.[2]

Circumstances had rendered the data collected both insufficient and incomplete. A second expedition was projected to supply deficiencies and to extend the work; an expedition so well equipped and planned that time could be taken for the purely scientific side of the venture. This expedition was the first one under the government, the former expedition having been a more or less private enterprise. Congress made appropriations and the party were to start in 1870. This was found to be inexpedient for several reasons, among which was the necessity of exploring a route by which rations could be brought in to them at the mouth of what we called Dirty Devil River—a euphonious title applied by the men of the first expedition. This stream entered the Colorado at the foot of what is now known as Narrow Canyon, a little below the 38th parallel,—the Fremont River of the present geographies. Arrangements for supplies to be brought in to the second expedition at this place were made by the Major during a special visit to southern Utah for the purpose.

By great good fortune I became a member of the second expedition. Scores of men were turned away, disappointed. The party was a small one, and it was full. We were to begin our voyage through the chain of great canyons, at the same point where the first expedition started, the point where the recently completed Union Pacific Railway crossed Green River in Wyoming, and we arrived there from the East early on the morning of April 29, 1871. We were all ravenous after the long night on the train and breakfast was the first consideration, but when this had re-established our energy we went to look for the flat car with our boats which had been sent ahead from Chicago. The car was soon found on a siding and with the help of some railroad employes we pushed it along to the eastern end of the bridge over Green River and there, on the down side, put the boats into the waters against whose onslaughts they were to be our salvation. It was lucky perhaps that we did not pause to ponder on the importance of these little craft; on how much depended on their staunchness and stability; and on our possible success in preventing their destruction. The river was high from melting snows and the current was swift though ordinarily it is not a large river at this point. This season had been selected for the start because of the high water, which would tide us over the rocks till tributary streams should swell the normal volume; for our boats were to be well loaded, there being no chance to get supplies after leaving. We had some trouble in making a landing where we wanted to, in a little cove on the east side about half a mile down, which had been selected as a good place for our preparatory operations. Here the three boats were hauled out to receive the final touches. They were named Emma Dean, Nellie Powell, and Canonita. A space was cleared in the thick willows for our general camp over which Andy was to be master of ceremonies, at least so far as the banqueting division was concerned, and here he became initiated into the chemistry necessary to transform raw materials into comparatively edible food. But it was not so hard a task, for our supplies were flour, beans, bacon, dried apples, and dried peaches, tea and coffee, with, of course, plenty of sugar. Canned goods at that time were not common, and besides, would have been too heavy. Bread must be baked three times a day in the Dutch oven, a sort of skillet of cast iron, about three inches deep, ten or twelve inches in diameter, with short legs, and a cast-iron cover with a turned-up rim that would hold hot coals. We had no other bread than was made in this oven, or in a frying-pan, with saleratus and cream of tartar to raise it. It was Andy's first experience as a cook, though he had been a soldier in the Civil War, as had almost every member of the party except the youngest three, Clem, Frank, and myself, I being the youngest of all.

For sleeping quarters we were disposed in two vacant wooden shanties about two hundred yards apart and a somewhat greater distance from the cook-camp. These shanties were mansions left over, like a group of roofless adobe ruins near by, from the opulent days of a year or two back when this place had been the terminus of the line during building operations. Little remained of its whilom grandeur; a section house, a railway station, a number of canvas-roofed domiciles, Field's "Outfitting Store," and the aforesaid shanties in which we secured refuge, being about all there was of the place. The region round about suggested the strangeness of the wild country below, through the midst of which led our trail. Arid and gravelly hills met the eye on all sides, accentuated by huge buttes and cliffs of brilliant colours, which in their turn were intensified by a clear sky of deep azure. In the midst of our operations, we found time to note the passing of the single express train each way daily. These trains seemed very friendly and the passengers gazed wonderingly from the windows at us and waved handkerchiefs. They perceived what we were about by the sign which I painted on cloth and fastened across the front of our house, which was near the track: "Powell's Colorado River Exploring Expedition." Above this was flying our general flag, the Stars and Stripes.

The white boats were thoroughly gone over with caulking-iron and paint. Upon the decks of the cabins, canvas, painted green, was stretched in such a way that it could be unbuttoned at the edges on three sides and thrown back when we wanted to take off the hatches. When in place this canvas kept the water, perfectly, out of the hatch joints. Each boat had three compartments, the middle one being about four feet long, about one-fifth the length of the boat, which was twenty-two feet over the top. Two places were left for the rowers, before and abaft the middle compartment, while the steersman with his long oar thrust behind was to sit on the deck of the after-cabin, all the decks being flush with the gunwale, except that of the forward cabin the deck of which was carried back in a straighter line than the sheer of the boat and thus formed a nose to help throw off the waves. It was believed that when the hatches were firmly in place and the canvases drawn taut over the decks, even if a boat turned over, as was expected sometimes might be the case, the contents of these cabins would remain intact and dry. As so much depended on keeping our goods dry, and as we knew from Powell's previous experience that the voyage would be a wet one, everything was carefully put in rubber sacks, each having a soft mouth inside a double lip with a row of eyelets in each lip through which ran a strong cord. When the soft mouth was rolled up and the bag squeezed, the air was forced out, and the lips could be drawn to a bunch by means of the cord. When in this condition the bag could be soaked a long time in water without wetting the contents. Each rubber bag was encased in a heavy cotton one to protect it; in short, we spared no effort to render our provisions proof against the destroying elements. At first we put the bacon into rubber, but it spoiled the rubber and then we saw that bacon can take care of itself, nothing can hurt it anyhow, and a gunny-sack was all that was necessary. Though the boats were five feet in the beam and about twenty-four inches in depth, their capacity was limited and the supplies we could take must correspond. Each man was restricted to one hundred pounds of baggage, including his blankets. He had one rubber bag for the latter and another for his clothing and personal effects. In the provision line we had twenty-two sacks of flour of fifty pounds each. There was no whiskey, so far as I ever knew, except a small flask containing about one gill which I had been given with a ditty-bag for the journey. This flask was never drawn upon and was intact till needed as medicine in October. Smoking was abandoned, though a case of smoking tobacco was taken for any Indians we might meet. Our photographic outfit was extremely bulky and heavy, for the dry plate had not been invented. We had to carry a large amount of glass and chemicals, as well as apparatus.

The numerous scientific instruments also were bulky, as they had to be fitted into wooden cases that were covered with canvas and then with rubber. Rations in quantity were not obtainable short of Salt Lake or Fort Bridger, and we had Congressional authority to draw on the military posts for supplies. The Major and his colleague, Professor Thompson, went to Fort Bridger and to Salt Lake to secure what was necessary, and to make further arrangements for the supplies which were to be brought in to us at the three established points: the mouth of the Uinta, by way of the Uinta Indian Agency; the mouth of the Dirty Devil; and the place where Escalante had succeeded in crossing the Colorado in 1776, known as the Crossing of the Fathers, about on the line between Utah and Arizona.

Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Powell, who had come out on the same train with us, had gone on to Salt Lake, where they were to wait for news from the expedition, when we should get in touch with the Uinta Agency at the mouth of the Uinta River, something over two hundred miles further down. At length all was provided for and the Major and Prof. returned to our camp from Salt Lake bringing a new member of the party, Jack Hillers, to take the place of Jack Sumner of the former party who was unable to get to us on account of the deep snows in the mountains which surrounded the retreat where he had spent the winter trapping. Prof. brought back also an American flag for each boat with the name of the boat embroidered in the field of blue on one side while the stars were on the other. We all admired these flags greatly, especially as they had been made by Mrs. Thompson's own hands.

We had with us a diary which Jack Sumner had kept on the former voyage, and the casual way in which he repeatedly referred to running through a "hell of foam" gave us an inkling, if nothing more, of what was coming. Our careful preparations gave us a feeling of security against disaster, or, at least, induced us to expect some degree of liberality from Fortune. We had done our best to insure success and could go forward in some confidence. A delay was caused by the non-arrival of some extra heavy oars ordered from Chicago, but at length they came, and it was well we waited, for the lighter ones were quickly found to be too frail. Our preparations had taken three weeks. Considering that we were obliged to provide against every contingency that might occur in descending this torrent so completely locked in from assistance and supplies, the time was not too long. Below Green River City, Wyoming, where we were to start, there was not a single settler, nor a settlement of any kind, on or near the river for a distance of more than a thousand miles. From the river out, a hundred miles in an air line westward, across a practically trackless region, would be required to measure the distance to the nearest Mormon settlements on the Sevier, while eastward it was more than twice as far to the few pioneers who had crossed the Backbone of the Continent. The Uinta Indian Agency was the nearest establishment to Green River. It was forty miles west of the mouth of the Uinta. In southern Utah the newly formed Mormon settlement of Kanab offered the next haven, but no one understood exactly its relationship to the topography of the Colorado, except from the vicinity of the Crossing of the Fathers. Thus the country through which we were to pass was then a real wilderness, while the river itself was walled in for almost the entire way by more or less unscalable cliffs of great height.

Finally all of our preparations were completed to the last detail. The cabins of the boats were packed as one packs a trunk. A wooden arm-chair was obtained from Field and fastened to the middle deck of our boat by straps, as a seat for the Major, and to the left side of it—he had no right arm—his rubber life-preserver was attached. Each man had a similar life-preserver in a convenient place, and he was to keep this always ready to put on when we reached particularly dangerous rapids. On the evening of the 21st of May nothing more remained to be done. The Second Powell Expedition was ready to start.


[Footnote 1: Powell had received an appointment as Colonel before he left the Volunteer Service, but he was always called Major.]

[Footnote 2: For the history of the Colorado River the reader is referred to The Romance of the Colorado River, by F. S. Dellenbaugh.]


Into the Wilderness—The Order of Sailing—Tobacco for the Indians Comes Handy—A Lone Fisherman and Some Trappers—Jack Catches Strange Fish—The Snow-clad Uintas in View—A Larder Full of Venison—Entrance into Flaming Gorge.

The 22d of May, 1871, gave us a brilliant sun and a sky of sapphire with a sparkling atmosphere characteristic of the Rocky Mountain Region. The great buttes near the station, which Moran has since made famous, shone with a splendour that was inspiring. To enable us to pick up the last ends more easily and to make our departure in general more convenient, we had breakfast that morning at Field's outfitting place, and an excellent breakfast it was. It was further distinguished by being the last meal that we should eat at a table for many a month. We were followed to the cove, where our loaded boats were moored, by a number of people; about the whole population in fact, and that did not make a crowd. None of the Chinamen came down, and there were no Indians in town that day. The only unpleasant circumstance was the persistent repetition by a deaf-mute of a pantomimic representation of the disaster that he believed was to overwhelm us. "Dummy," as we called him, showed us that we would be upset, and, unable to scale the cliffs, would surely all be drowned. This picture, as vividly presented as possible, seemed to give him and his brother great satisfaction. We laughed at his prophecy, but his efforts to talk were distressing. It may be said in excuse for him, that in some paddling up the river from that point, he had arrived at perhaps an honest conviction of what would happen to any one going below; and also, that other wise men of the town predicted that we would never see "Brown's Hole," at the end of Red Canyon.

At ten o'clock we pushed out into the current. There were "Good-bye and God-speed" from the shore with a cheer, and we responded with three and then we passed out of sight. The settlement, the railway, the people, were gone; the magnificent wilderness was ours. We swept down with a four-mile current between rather low banks, using the oars mainly for guidance, and meeting no difficulty worse than a shoal, on which the boats all grounded for a few moments, and the breaking of his oar by Jones who steered our boat. About noon having run three miles, a landing was made on a broad gravelly island, to enable Andy to concoct a dinner. A heavy gale was tearing fiercely across the bleak spot. The sand flew in stinging clouds, but we got a fire started and then it burned like a furnace. Andy made another sample of his biscuits, this time liberally incorporated with sand, and he fried some bacon. The sand mainly settled to the bottom of the frying pan, for this bacon was no fancy breakfast table variety but was clear fat three or four inches thick. But how good it was! And the grease poured on bread! And yet while at the railway I had scorned it; in fact I had even declared that I would never touch it, whereat the others only smiled a grim and confident smile. And now, at the first noon camp, I was ready to pronounce it one of the greatest delicacies I had ever tasted! They jeered at me, but their jeers were kind, friendly jeers, and I recall them with pleasure. In warm-hearted companionship no set of men that I have ever since been associated with has been superior to these fellow voyageurs, and the Major's big way of treating things has been a lesson all my life. We had all become fast true friends at once. With the exception of the Major, whom I had first met about two months before, and Frank whom I had known for a year or two, I had been acquainted with them only since we had met on the train on the way out.

In the scant shelter of some greasewood bushes we devoured the repast which the morning's exercise and the crisp air had made so welcome, and each drank several cups of tea dipped from the camp-kettle wherein Andy had boiled it. We had no formal table. When all was ready, the magic words, "Well go fur it, boys," which Andy uttered stepping back from the fire were ceremony enough. Each man took a tin plate and a cup and served himself. Clem and Frank were sent back overland to the town for a box of thermometers forgotten and for an extra steering oar left behind, and the Canonita waited for their return.

During the afternoon, as we glided on, the hills began to close in upon us, and occasionally the river would cut into one making a high precipitous wall, a forerunner of the character of the river banks below. The order of going was, our boat, the Emma Dean, first, with Major Powell on the deck of the middle cabin, or compartment, sitting in his arm-chair, which was securely fastened there, but was easily removable. S. V. Jones was at the steering oar, Jack Hillers pulled his pair of oars in the after standing-room, while I was at the bow oars. The second in line was the Nellie Powell, Professor A. H. Thompson steering, J. F. Steward rowing aft, Captain F. M. Bishop forward, and Frank Richardson sitting rather uncomfortably on the middle deck. The third and last boat was the Canonita, which E. O. Beaman, the photographer steered, while Andrew Hattan, rowed aft, and Clement Powell, assistant photographer, forward. This order was preserved, with a few exceptions, throughout the first season's work. It was the duty of Prof. and Jones to make a traverse (or meander) of the river as we descended. They were to sight ahead at each bend with prismatic compasses and make estimates of the length of each sight, height of walls, width of stream, etc., and Cap was to put the results on paper. The Major on his first boat, kept a general lookout and gave commands according to circumstances. He remembered the general character of the river from his former descent, but he had to be on the qui-vive as to details. Besides every stage of water makes a change in the nature of the river at every point. In addition to this outlook, the Major kept an eye on the geology, as he was chief geologist; and Steward, being assistant geologist did the same. Richardson was assistant to Steward. Jack was general assistant and afterwards photographer. I was artist, and later, assistant topographer also. It was my duty to make any sketch that the geologists might want, and of course, as in the case of everybody, to help in the navigation or anything else that came along. Each man had a rifle and some had also revolvers. Most of the rifles were Winchesters.[3] We had plenty of ammunition, and the rifles were generally kept where we could get at them quickly.

In this order, and with these duties, we ran on down the Green, and so far at least as I was concerned, feeling as if we had suddenly stepped off into another world. Late in the afternoon we were astonished to discover a solitary old man sitting on the right bank fishing. Who he was we did not know but we gave him a cheer as we dashed by and were carried beyond his surprised vision. As the sun began to reach the horizon a lookout was kept for a good place for camp. I, for one, was deeply interested, as I had never yet slept in the open. At length we reached a spot where the hills were some distance back on the right leaving quite a bottom where there were a number of cottonwood trees. A deserted log cabin silently invited us to land and, as this was cordial for the wilderness, we responded in the affirmative. The sky had a look of storm about it and I was glad of even this excuse for a roof, though the cabin was too small to shelter our whole party, except standing up, and the beds were all put down on the ground outside. The night was very cold and the fire which we made for Andy's operations was most comforting. We had for supper another instalment of bacon, saleratus-bread, and tea, which tasted just as good as had that prepared at noon. Sitting on rocks and stumps we ate this meal, and presently the raw air reminded some of the smokers that, while they had thrown their tobacco away there was, in the boats, the quite large supply designed for our Red friends, should we meet any. Of course we had more than was absolutely necessary for them, and in a few minutes the pipes which had been cast away at Green River appeared well filled and burning. Perhaps we had pipes for the Indians too! I had not thrown my pipe away for it was a beautifully carved meerschaum—a present. I knew just where it was and lighted it up, though I was not a great smoker. The Indians did not get as much of that tobacco as they might have wished.

To make our blankets go farther we bunked together two and two, and Jones and I were bed-fellows. It was some time before I could go to sleep. I kept studying the sky; watching the stars through the ragged breaks in the flying clouds. The night was silent after the gale. The river flowed on with little noise. The fire flickered and flickered, and the cottonwoods appeared dark and strange as I finally went to sleep. I had not been long in that happy state before I saw some men trying to steal our boats on which our lives depended and I immediately attacked them, pinning one to the ground. It was only Jones I was holding down, and his shouts and struggles to reach his pistol woke me, and startled the camp. He believed a real enemy was on him. There was a laugh at my expense, and then sleep ruled again till about daylight when I was roused by rain falling on my face. All were soon up. The rain changed to snow which fell so heavily that we were driven to the cabin where a glorious fire was made on the hearth, and by it Andy got the bread and bacon and coffee ready for breakfast, and also for dinner, for the snow was so thick we could not venture on the river till it stopped, and that was not till afternoon.

The country through which we now passed was more broken. Cliffs, buttes, mesas, were everywhere. Sometimes we were between high rocky banks, then we saw a valley several miles wide, always without a sign of occupation by white men, even though as yet we were not far from the railway in a direct course. Very late in the afternoon we saw something moving in the distance on the right. Our glasses made it out to be two or three men on horseback. A signal was made which they saw, and consequently stopped to await developments, and a bag of fossils, the Major had collected, was sent out to them with a request to take it to Green River Station, in which direction they were headed. They proved to be a party of prospectors who agreed to deliver the fossils, and we went on our way.

The mornings and evenings were very cold and frosty, but during the day the temperature was perfectly comfortable, and this was gratifying, for the river in places spread into several channels, so that no one of them was everywhere deep enough for the boats which drew, so heavily laden, sixteen or eighteen inches. The keels grated frequently on the bottom and we had to jump overboard to lighten the boats and pull them off into deep water. We found as we went on that we must be ready every moment, in all kinds of water, to get over into the river, and it was necessary to do so with our clothes on, including our shoes, for the reason that the rocky bottom would bruise and cut our feet without the shoes, rocks would do the same to our legs, and for the further reason that there was no time to remove garments. In the rapids further on we always shipped water and consequently we were wet from this cause most of the time anyhow. We had two suits of clothes, one for wear on the river in the day time, and the other for evening in camp, the latter being kept in a rubber bag, so that we always managed to be dry and warm at night. On making camp the day suit was spread out on rocks or on a branch of a tree if one were near, or on a bush to dry, and it was generally, though not always, comfortably so, in the morning when it was again put on for the river work. Sometimes, being still damp, the sensation for a few moments was not agreeable.

We snapped several of the lighter oars in the cross currents, as the boats were heavy and did not mind quickly, and to backwater suddenly on one of the slender oars broke it like a reed. Some of the longer, heavier oars were then cut down to eight feet and were found to be entirely serviceable. The steering oars were cut down from eighteen to sixteen feet. Extra oars were carried slung on each side of the boats just under the gunwales, for the Major on the former journey had been much hampered by being obliged to halt to search for timber suitable for oars and then to make them. There was one thing about the boats which we soon discovered was a mistake. This was the lack of iron on the keels. The iron had been left off for the purpose of reducing the weight when it should be necessary to carry the boats around bad places, but the rocks and gravel cut the keels down alarmingly, till there was danger of wearing out the bottoms in the long voyage to come.[4]

Jack was a great fisherman, and it was not long before he tried his luck in the waters of the Green. No one knew what kind of fish might be taken—at least no one in our party—and he began his fishing with some curiosity. It was rewarded by a species of fish none of us had ever before seen, a fish about ten to sixteen inches long, slim, with fine scales and large fins. Their heads came down with a sudden curve to the mouth, and their bodies tapered off to a very small circumference just before the tail spread out. They were good to eat, and formed a welcome addition to our larder. We were all eager for something fresh, and when we saw a couple of deer run across the bluffs just before we reached our fourth camp, our hopes of venison were roused to a high degree. Camp number four was opposite the mouth of Black's Fork at an altitude above sea level of 5940 feet, a descent of 135 feet from the railway bridge. After this the channel was steadier and the water deeper, Black's Fork being one of the largest tributaries of the upper river. We now came in view of the snowy line of the Uinta Range stretching east and west across our route and adding a beautiful alpine note to the wide barren array of cliffs and buttes. It was twenty or thirty miles off, but so clear was the air that we seemed to be almost upon it.

As we were drifting along with a swift current in the afternoon, the day after passing Black's Fork, one of the party saw a deer on an island. A rifle shot from our boat missed, and the animal dashing into the river swam across and disappeared in the wide valley. But another was seen. A landing was made immediately, and while some of the men held the boats ready to pick up a prize, the others beat the island. I was assigned to man our boat, and as we waited up against the bank under the bushes, we could hear the rifles crack. Then all was still. Suddenly I heard a crashing of bushes and a hundred yards above us a superb black-tail sprang into the water and swam for the east bank. My sensation was divided between a desire to see the deer escape, and a desire to supplant the bacon with venison for a time. My cartridges were under the hatches as it chanced, so I was unable to take action myself. With deep interest I watched the animal swim and with regret that our fresh meat was so fortunate, for it was two-thirds of the way across, before a rifle cracked. The deer's efforts ceased instantly and she began to drift down with the current. We ran our boat out and hauled the carcass on board. At the same time as we were being carried down by the swift current we got a view of the other side of the island where Cap. up to his arms in the stream was trying to pull another deer ashore by the horns. It looked as if both deer and Cap. would sail away and forever, till another boat went to his rescue. Presently the third boat came down bearing still another deer. The successful shots were from Prof., Andy, and Steward. Our prospects for a feast were bright, and we had it. The deer were speedily dressed, Frank displaying exceptional skill in this line. Had we been able to stay in this region we would never have been in want of fresh meat, but when we entered the canyons the conditions were so different and the task of pursuing game so baffling and exhausting that we never had such success again. The whole of the next day we remained in a favourable spot at the foot of a strangely tilted ledge, where we jerked the venison by the aid of sun and fire to preserve it. Near this point as observations showed later we passed from Wyoming into Utah.

About dusk we were surprised to discover a small craft with a single individual aboard coming down the river. Then we saw it was a raft. We watched its approach with deep interest wondering who the stranger could be, but he turned out to be Steward who had gone geologising and had taken this easier means of coming back. He tried it again farther down and met with an experience which taught him to trust to the land thereafter.

The next day our boat was held back for some special work while the others proceeded toward a high spur of the Uintas, directly in front of us. We followed with a fierce and blinding gale sweeping the river and filling our eyes with sharp sand. Nevertheless we could see high up before us some bright red rocks marking the first canyon of the wonderful series that separates this river from the common world. From these bright rocks glowing in the sunlight like a flame above the grey-green of the ridge, the Major had bestowed on this place the name of Flaming Gorge. As we passed down towards the mountain it seemed that the river surely must end there, but suddenly just below the mouth of Henry's Fork it doubled to the left and we found ourselves between two low cliffs, then in a moment we dashed to the right into the beautiful canyon, with the cliffs whose summit we had seen, rising about 1300 feet on the right, and a steep slope on the left at the base of which was a small bottom covered with tall cottonwood trees, whose green shone resplendent against the red rocks. The other boats were swinging at their lines and the smoke of Andy's fire whirling on the wind was a cheerful sight to the ever-hungry inner-man. Constant exercise in the open air produces a constant appetite. As long as we could protect our cargoes, and make our connections with our supplies as planned, we would surely not have to go hungry, but we had to consider that there was room for some variation or degree of success. There was at least one comforting feature about the river work and that was we never suffered for drinking water. It was only on side trips, away from the river that we met this difficulty, so common in the Rocky Mountain Region and all the South-west.

When the barometrical observations were worked out we found we had now descended 262 feet from our starting-point. That was four and a quarter feet for each mile of the sixty-two we had put behind. We always counted the miles put behind, for we knew they could not be retraced, but it was ever the miles and the rapids ahead that we kept most in our minds. We were now at the beginning of the real battle with the "Sunken River." Henceforth, high and forbidding cliffs with few breaks, would imprison the stream on both sides.

A loss of our provisions would mean a journey on foot, after climbing out of the canyon, to Green River (Wyoming) to Salt Lake City or to the Uinta Indian Agency. There was a trail from Brown's Hole (now Brown's Park) back to the railway, but the difficulty would be to reach it if we should be wrecked in Red Canyon. We did not give these matters great concern at the time, but I emphasise them now to indicate some of the difficulties of the situation and the importance of preventing the wreck of even one boat.


[Footnote 3: Two were of the original Henry pattern.]

[Footnote 4: For further description of these boats the reader is referred to The Romance of the Colorado River, page 236, by F. S. Dellenbaugh.]


The First Rapid—Horseshoe and Kingfisher Canyons—A Rough Entrance into Red Canyon—Capsize of the Nell—The Grave of a Bold Navigator—Discovery of a White Man's Camp—Good-bye to Frank—At the Gate of Lodore.

Prof. now took observations for time and latitude in order to fix with accuracy the geographical location of the camp in Flaming Gorge, and to check the estimates of the topographers as they sighted the various stretches of the river. It has been found that estimates of this kind are quite accurate and that the variation from exactness is generally the same in[5] the same individual. Hence one man may underestimate and another may overestimate, but each will always make the same error, and this error can be readily corrected by frequent observations to determine latitude and longitude. A series of barometrical observations was kept going whether we were on the move or not. That is, a mercurial barometer was read three times a day, regularly, at seven, at one, and at nine. We had aneroid barometers for work away from the river and these were constantly compared with and adjusted to the mercurials. The tubes of mercury sometimes got broken, and then a new one had to be boiled to replace it. I believe the boiling of tubes has since that time been abandoned, as there is not enough air in the tube to interfere with the action of the mercury, but at that time it was deemed necessary for accuracy, and it gave Prof. endless trouble. The wind was always blowing, and no tent we could contrive from blankets, and waggon sheets (we had no regular tents), sufficed to keep the flame of the alcohol lamp from flickering. Nevertheless, Prof. whose patience and dexterity were unlimited, always succeeded. The mercurial barometers were of the kind with a buckskin pocket at the bottom of the cistern with a screw for adjusting the column of mercury to a fixed point.

Most of the men climbed out in various directions and for various objects. Prof. reached a high altitude whence he obtained a broad view of the country, a grand sight with the quiet river below and snow-capped mountains around, with rolling smoke and leaping flame, for there were great mountain fires not far off. The Major and Steward went geologising. Steward was rewarded by discovering a number of fossils, among them the bones of an immense animal of the world's early day, with a femur ten inches in diameter, and ribs two inches thick and six inches wide. These bones were much exposed and could have been dug out, but we had no means of transporting them.

Flaming Gorge is an easy place to get in and out of, even with a horse, and doubtless in the old beaver-hunting days it was a favourite resort of trappers. I am inclined to think that the double turn of the swirling river where it enters Flaming Gorge is the place known at that time as the Green River Suck. Our camp under the cottonwoods was delightful. We took advantage of the halt to write up notes, clean guns, mend clothes, do our washing, and all the other little things incident to a breathing spell on a voyage of this kind. It was Sunday too, and when possible we stopped on that account, though, of course, progress could not be deferred for that reason alone.

Monday morning we left the pleasant camp in the grove and went on with the tide. The river was rough from a heavy gale, but otherwise offered no obstacle. At a sudden bend we cut to the left deeper into the mountain till on both sides we were enclosed by almost perpendicular precipices of carboniferous formation, limestone, about 1600 feet high. The canyon was surprisingly beautiful and romantic. The river seemed to change its mood here, and began to flow with an impetus it had exhibited nowhere above. It swept on with a directness and a concentration of purpose that had about it something ominous. And just here, at the foot of the right hand wall which was perpendicular for 800 feet, with the left more sloping, and clothed with cedar shrubs, we beheld our first real rapid, gleaming like a jewel from its setting in the sunlight which fell into the gorge, and it had as majestic a setting as could be desired. For myself I can say that the place appeared the acme of the romantic and picturesque. The rapid was small and swift, a mere chute, and perhaps hardly worthy of mention had it not been the point where the character of the river current changes making it distinguished because of being the first of hundreds to come below. The river above had held a continual descent accelerating here and retarding there with an average current of two and a half miles an hour, but here began the quick drops for which the canyons are now famous. There was one place where Prof. noted a small rapid but it was not like this one, and I did not count it at all.

The gorge we ran into so suddenly was short and by dinner-time we had emerged into a wider, more broken place, though we were still bound in by tremendous heights. We saw that we had described a complete horseshoe and this fact determined the canyon's name—number two of the series. When we landed for dinner, an examination was made of the locality from that base before we dropped down a little distance to the mouth of a fine clear creek coming in from the right. This was a fascinating place. The great slopes were clothed with verdure and trees, and the creek ran through luxuriant vegetation. A halt of a day was made for observation purposes. The air was full of kingfishers darting about and we immediately called the creek by their name.

I was sent with Steward on a geological expedition out over the right or western cliffs. We consumed two hours in getting out, having to climb up about 1000 feet over a difficult way. After a good deal of going up and down across rough ridges, we finally worked our way around to the head of Flaming Gorge. Here we reckoned up and found that eight steep ridges intervened between us and camp by the way we had come, and we concluded that we could get back easier through Flaming Gorge and thence by climbing over the tongue or base of the horseshoe which was lower than the end. Steward grew decidedly weary and I felt my legs getting heavy too. Rain had fallen at intervals all day and we were wet as well as tired and famished. We struck an old trail and followed it as long as it went our way. Then it became too dark to see which way it went and we climbed on as best we could. It was about half-past eight when we reached our camp to find a splendid fire burning and a good supper waiting for us.

The new canyon which closed in the next day had walls about 1500 feet in height, that being the general height of the spur of the Uintas through which we were travelling. The changes from one canyon to another were only changes in the character of the bounding mountain walls, for there was no break into open country. The name of Kingfisher we gave to the new gorge for the same reason we had called the creek at our camp by that name, and so numerous were these birds at one rounded promontory that there was no escape from calling it Beehive Point, the resemblance to a gigantic hive being perfect. Kingfisher Canyon like its two predecessors was short, all three making a distance by the river of only about ten miles. Flaming Gorge is the gateway, Horseshoe the vestibule, and Kingfisher the ante-chamber to the whole grand series. At the foot of Kingfisher the rocks fell back a little and steep slopes took their place. Where the rocks closed in again, we halted on the threshold of the next gorge, in a fine grove of cottonwoods. A significant roar came to us out of the gate to Red Canyon, rolling up on the air with a steady, unvarying monotony that had a sinister meaning. It was plain that we were nearing something that was no paltry gem like the rapid we had so much admired in Horseshoe Canyon.

The remainder of that day and all the next, which was June 1st, we stayed at this camp completing records, investigating the surroundings, and preparing for rough work ahead. On Friday morning the cabins were packed carefully, the life preservers were inflated, and we pulled out into the current. The cliffs shot up around us and rough water began at once. The descent was almost continuous for a considerable distance, but we divided it into three rapids in our notes, before we reached a sharp turn to the right, and then one just as sharp to the left, with vertical walls on both sides and a roaring torrent, broken by rocks, whirling between. Our boat shot down with fierce rapidity and would have gone through without a mishap had not the current dashed us so close to the right-hand wall that Jack's starboard row-lock was ripped off by a projection of the cliff as we were hurled along its rugged base. At the same moment we saw the Nell upsetting against some rocks on the left. Then we swept out of view and I was obliged to pull with all my strength, Jack's one oar being useless. We succeeded in gaining a little cove on the left, and jumped out as soon as shallow enough, the Major immediately climbing the cliffs to a high point where he could look down on the unfortunate second boat. Prof., it seems, had misunderstood the Major's signal and had done just what he did not think he ought to do. He thought it meant to land on the left and he had tried to reach a small strip of beach, but finding this was not possible he turned the boat again into the current to retrieve his former position, but this was not successful and the Nell was thrown on some rocks projecting from the left wall, in the midst of wild waters, striking hard enough to crush some upper planks of the port side. She immediately rolled over, and Frank slid under. Prof. clutched him and pulled him back while the men all sprang for the rocks and saved themselves and the boat from being washed away in this demoralised condition. With marvellous celerity Cap. took a turn with a rope around a small tree which he managed to reach, while Steward jumped to a position where he could prevent the boat from pounding. In a minute she was righted and they got her to the little beach where they had tried to land. Here they pulled her out and, partially unloading, repaired her temporarily as well as they could. This done they towed up to a point of vantage and made a fresh start and cleared the rapid with no further incident. Meanwhile the Canonita had come in to where we were lying, and both boats were held ready to rescue the men of the other. After about three-quarters of an hour the unfortunate came down, her crew being rather elated over the experience and the distinction of having the first capsize.

Setting out on the current again we passed two beautiful creeks entering from the right, and they were immediately named respectively, Compass and Kettle creeks, to commemorate the loss of these articles in the capsize. At the mouth of Kettle Creek, about a mile and a half below the capsize rapid, we stopped for dinner. Then running several small drops, we arrived at a long descent that compelled careful action. We always landed, where possible, to make an examination and learn the trend of the main current. Our not being able to do this above was the cause of the Nell's trouble. We now saw that we had here landed on the wrong side and would have to make a somewhat hazardous crossing to the opposite, or right bank. Our boat tried it first. In spite of vigorous pulling we were carried faster down towards the rapid than to the objective landing. When we reached water about waist deep we all sprang overboard, and I got to shore with the line as quickly as I could. We were able to turn and catch the Nell as she came in, but the Canonita following ran too far down. We all dashed into the stream almost at the head of the rapid, and there caught her in time. The load was taken out of our boat and she was let down by lines over the worst part. Loading again we lowered to another bad place where we went into camp on the same spot where the Major had camped two years before. We unloaded the other boats and got them down before dark, but we ate supper by firelight. The river averaged about 250 feet wide, with a current of not less than six miles an hour and waves in the rapids over five feet in vertical height. These waves broke up stream as waves do in a swift current, and as the boats cut into them at a high velocity we shipped quantities of water and were constantly drenched, especially the bow-oarsmen. The cliffs on each side, wonderfully picturesque, soon ran up to 1200 or 1500 feet, and steadily increased their altitude. Owing to the dip of the strata across the east and west trend of the canyon the walls on the north were steeper than those on the south, but they seldom rose vertically from the river. Masses of talus, and often alluvial stretches with rocks and trees, were strung along their base, usually offering numerous excellent landings and camping places. We were able to stop about as we wished and had no trouble as to camps, though they were frequently not just what we would have preferred. There was always smooth sand to sleep on, and often plenty of willows to cut and lay in rows for a mattress. It must not be imagined that these great canyons are dark and gloomy in the daytime. They are no more so than an ordinary city street flanked with very high buildings. Some lateral canyons are narrow and so deep that the sun enters them but briefly, but even these are only shady, not dark.

We remained on the Major's old camp ground a day so that Jones and Cap. could climb to the top of the cliff to get the topography. The next morning though it was Sunday was not to be one of rest. We began by lowering the boats about forty rods farther and there pulled out into the stream and were dashed along by a fierce current with rapid following rapid closely. The descent was nearly continuous with greater declivities thrown in here and there. As usual we took in a good deal of water and were saturated. We were growing accustomed to this, and the boats being built to float even when the open parts were full, we did not mind sitting with our legs in cold water till opportunity came to bail out with the camp kettle left in each open space for the purpose. One rapid where Theodore Hook, of Cheyenne, was drowned in 1869, while attempting to follow the first party, gave us no trouble. We sailed through it easily. Hook had declared that if Powell could descend the river he could too, and he headed a party to follow.[6] The motive I believe was prospecting. I do not know how far they expected to go but this was as far as they got. Their abandoned boats, flat-bottomed and inadequate, still lay half buried in sand on the left-hand bank, and not far off on a sandy knoll was the grave of the unfortunate leader marked by a pine board set up, with his name painted on it. Old sacks, ropes, oars, etc., emphasised the completeness of the disaster.

Not far below this we made what we called a "line portage," that is, the boats were worked along the edge of the rapid, one at a time, in and out among the boulders with three or four men clinging to them to fend them off the rocks and several more holding on to the hundred-foot hawser, so that there was no possibility of one getting loose and smashing up, or leaving us altogether. It was then noon and a camp was made for the remainder of the day on the left bank in a very comfortable spot. We had accomplished three and a half miles, with four distinct rapids run and one "let-down." I went up from the camp along a sandy stretch and was surprised to discover what I took to be the fresh print of the bare foot of a man. Mentioning this when I returned, my companions laughed and warned me to be cautious and give this strange man a wide berth unless I had my rifle and plenty of ammunition. It was the track of a grizzly bear. I saw many tracks on this expedition and on others afterwards but I have never seen a bear yet, except in captivity. The grizzly seemed to shun me; but I believe they will not often attack a man unprovoked, and will lie perfectly still while one may pass within a few feet of their hiding-place.

Three or four deer were seen but with no opportunity to get a shot. All through these upper canyons there was then a great abundance of game of every description, and had our object been to kill for sport, we undoubtedly could have made a pile of carcasses. One or two deer would have been welcome but we had no time to pursue them. Steward came in towards night from his geologising with a splendid bouquet of wild flowers which was greatly admired. Prof. and the Major climbed west of camp to a height of 1200 feet where they obtained a wide outlook and secured valuable notes on the topography. The view was superb as it is anywhere from a high point in this region. When they came back, the Major entertained us by reading aloud The Lay of the Last Minstrel, thus delightfully closing a beautiful Sunday which every man had enjoyed.

In the morning soon after leaving this camp a dull roar ahead told of our approach to Ashley Falls, for which we were on the lookout. The left bank was immediately hugged as closely as possible and we dropped cautiously down to the head of the descent. An immense rock stuck up in the middle of the river and the water divided on this and shot down on each side in a sharp fall of about eight feet. Each was a clear chute and not dangerous to look at, but the effect of so sudden a plunge on one of our loaded boats was too much of a problem for trial. A portage was decided on. The left bank where we were was a mass of enormous broken rocks where it seemed next to impossible to haul a boat. A foot trail was first built which led up some fifty feet above the river, and over, under and around huge boulders to a place down below where it was proposed to carry the boats on skids. The cargoes were first taken over on our backs and when this was done we were about tired out. Our united strength was required to work the Dean down to the selected haven without injury. This was such extremely hard work that the Major and Prof. concluded to shoot the Canonita through, light, with no men in her, but controlled by one of our hundred-foot hawsers attached to each end. She was started down and went through well enough, but filling with water and knocking on hidden rocks. Prudence condemned this method and we resorted to sliding and carrying the Nell over the rocks as we had done with the Dean, certain that sleep and food would wipe out our weariness, but not injury to the boats which must be avoided by all means in our power. By the time we had placed the Nell beside the other boats at the bottom it was sunset and too late to do anything but make a camp. Just above the head of the fall was a rather level place in a clump of pines at the very edge of the river forming as picturesque a camp-ground as I have ever seen. A brilliant moon hung over the canyon, lighting up the foam of the water in strong contrast to the red fire crackling its accompaniment to the roar of the rapid. A lunar rainbow danced fairy-like in the mists rising from the turmoil of the river. The night air was calm and mild. Prof. read aloud from Hiawatha and it seemed to fit the time and place admirably. We had few books with us; poems of Longfellow, Whittier, Emerson, and Scott, are all I remember, except a Bible my mother had given me. I suppose Cap. had a Bible also, as he was very religious.

The huge boulders which dammed the river had fallen from the cliffs on the left within a comparatively recent time, transforming an ordinary rapid into the fall; actually damming the water till it is smooth for half a mile above. The largest block of stone is the one in the middle. It is about twenty five feet square. The only white men on record to reach this place except the Major's other party, was General Ashley, the distinguished fur trader with a number of trappers. In his search for fresh beaver grounds he led his party in rude buffalo-skin boats through this canyon in 1825. They had a hard time and nearly starved to death as they depended for food on finding beaver and other game, in which they were disappointed. On one of my trips over the rocks with cargo I made a slight detour on the return to see the boulder where the Major had discovered Ashley's name with a date. The letters were in black, just under a slight projection and were surprisingly distinct considering the forty-six years of exposure. The "2" was illegible and looked like a "3." None of our party seemed to know that it could have been only a "2" for by the year 1835 Ashley had sold out and had given up the fur business in the mountains. Considering his ability, his prominence, his high character, and his identification with the early history of the West, there ought to be greater recognition of him than there has been.

Below Ashley Falls the declivity of the river was very great with a correspondingly swift current, in one rapid reaching a velocity of at least fifteen miles an hour, and with waves that tossed our heavy boats like feathers. These were the most violent rapids we had yet met, not excepting the ones we had portaged. The cliffs, about 2500 feet high, of red sandstone, were often almost perpendicular on both sides, or at least they impressed us so at the time. There was much vegetation, pine, spruce, willow-leaved cottonwood, aspens, alder, etc., which added to the beauty and picturesqueness of the wild scenery. Beaman stopped each day where possible and desirable to take photographs, and at these times the others investigated the surroundings and climbed up side canyons when they existed. Late in the afternoon we came out suddenly into a small valley or park formerly called Little Brown's Hole, a noted rendezvous for trappers, and which we rechristened Red Canyon Park. This was a beautiful place bounded by round mountains, into which our great cliffs had temporarily resolved themselves, particularly on the right, the left side remaining pretty steep. Our camp was pitched under two large pine trees and every one was prepared, in the intervals of other duties, to take advantage of this respite to patch up clothing, shoes, etc., as well as to do what laundering was necessary. The river ran so quietly that we felt oppressed after the constant roaring since we had entered Red Canyon. I remember climbing up at evening with one of my companions, to a high altitude where the silence was deathlike and overpowering. Prof. and some of the others climbed to greater heights for topographical purposes, easily reaching an altitude of about 4000 feet above the river in an air-line distance of about five miles. Here they obtained a magnificent panorama in all directions, limited on the west by the snowy chain of the Wasatch, and on the north by the Wind River Range like white clouds on the horizon 200 miles away, and they could trace the deep gorges of the river as they cleave the mountains from distance to distance.

Here we saw signs of abundant game, elk, deer, bear, etc., but we had no time to go hunting as a business and the game refused to come to us. Each man had his work to accomplish so that we could get on. It was impracticable to go wandering over the mountains for game, much as we would have enjoyed a change from our bacon and beans. One day, only, was spent here for all purposes, geologising, topographic climbing, and working out the notes from up the river, making repairs and all the other needful things that crowded upon us. Here it was that I did my first tailoring and performed a feat of which I have ever since been proud; namely, transferring some coattails, from where they were of no use, to the knees and seat of my trousers where they were invaluable.

On June 8th, we left this "Camp Number 13" regretfully and plunged in between the cliffs again for about eight miles, running five rapids, when we emerged into a large valley known as Brown's Hole, where our cliffs fell back for two or three miles on each side and became mountain ranges. Pulling along for a couple of miles on a quiet river we were surprised to discover on the left a white man's camp. Quickly landing we learned that it was some cattlemen's temporary headquarters (Harrell Brothers), and some of the men had been to Green River Station since our departure from that place, the distance by trail not being half that by river. They were expecting us and had brought some mail which was a glad sight for our eyes. These men had wintered about 2000 head of Texas cattle in this valley, noted for the salubrity of its winter climate since the days of the fur-hunters, and were on their way to the Pacific coast. We made a camp near by, with a cottonwood of a peculiar "Y" shape, more stump than tree, to give what shade-comfort it could, and enjoyed the relaxation which came with the feeling that we had put twenty-five miles of hard canyon behind, and were again in touch, though so briefly and at long range, with the outer world. As some of these men were to go out to the railway the following Sunday and offered to carry mail for us, we began to write letters to let our friends know how we were faring on our peculiar voyage. This "Brown's Hole" was the place selected by a man who pretended to have been with the former party, for the scene of that party's destruction which he reported to the newspapers. He thought as it was called a "hole" it must be one of the worst places on this raging river, not knowing that in the old trapper days when a man found a snug valley and dwelt there for a time it became known as his "hole" in the nomenclature of the mountains. The Major did not think this a satisfactory name and he changed it to "Brown's Park" which it now bears. I met an "old timer" on a western train several years afterward, who was greatly irritated because of this liberty which the Major took with the cherished designation of the early days. Fort Davy Crockett of the fur-trading period was located somewhere in this valley.

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