Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey Through the Grand Canyon

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Softcover, 365 Pages.

Drawing on rarely examined diaries and journals, Down the Great Unknown is the first book to tell the full, dramatic story of the Powell expedition.

On May 24, 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran, John Wesley Powell and a ragtag band of nine mountain men embarked on the last great quest in the American West. The Grand Canyon, not explored before, was as mysterious as Atlantisand as perilous. The ten men set out from Green River Station, Wyoming Territory down the Colorado in four wooden rowboats. Ninety-nine days later, six half-starved wretches came ashore near Callville, Arizona.

Lewis and Clark opened the West in 1803, six decades later Powell and his scruffy band aimed to resolve the West’s last mystery. A brilliant narrative, a thrilling journey, a cast of memorable heroesall these mark Down the Great Unknown, the true story of the last epic adventure on American soil.

Using his background as a journalist, Edward Dolnick, hot on a journey over one hundred and thirty years old, breathes new life into the story of John Wesley Powell by focusing his pen almost exclusively on the perils of the Colorado River Exploring Expedition. Dolnick's commentary is at turns informative, poetic, and humorous. The historical background with contrasting current day facts help give perspective and appreciation, as do the scientific explanations of geology, river formation, boats, and the bizarre functioning of river rapids.

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