John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell ( born March 24, 1834 in Mount Morris, Livingston County, New York, † September 23, 1902 in Haven, Maine) was an American scientist and leader of the expedition of exploration of the Colorado River and ultimately the Grand canyons.


After his school and college education to Powell made ​​a number of expeditions, including by Wisconsin and on the Mississippi River. He participated as a member of the Union army on the American Civil War in part, lost thereby his right forearm and ended his service eventually as a major.

After traveling to the Rocky Mountains, he set out with nine men to his most famous expedition on 24 May 1869. The starting point was the Green River in Wyoming, Powell and his companions by boat first to the confluence with the Grand River (at that time was the Colorado River above the confluence of so called ) near the present town of Moab followed. From the confluence of the river as the Colorado River was (Spanish for "colored" ) because the tributaries enter reddish mud of the surrounding rock formations. The expedition followed the Colorado through the gorge of the Grand Canyon to the mouth of the Virgin River ( lost in today's Lake Mead ), which was reached after nearly three months and a distance of more than 1500 km. The expedition two years later was repeated once more to make an accurate mapping of the region and further scientific investigations. This expedition took 18 months and brought in addition to numerous scientific knowledge, the first photographs from the Canyon.

John Wesley Powell came not only as a soldier, explorer, cartographer and writer to fame. Self-taught, brought it up to a professorship in geology and in 1881 director of the Geological Survey of the United States (United States Geological Survey) appointed and held that position until 1894. In addition, Powell always tried to understand the culture of the indigenous people and therefore brought several Indian languages ​​in, which meant that he was also appointed director of the Federal Office of Ethnology (Bureau of Ethnology ), a company founded in 1879 institution for the study of language and culture of the Indians.

Many parts of the country explored by him were named by him as Dirty Devil, Glen Canyon, Bright Angel, Desolation Canyon, Marble Canyon, Flaming Gorge and Lava Falls. In the U.S., many streets, squares and mountain views, a museum on the Green River, and especially the large reservoir Lake Powell to the pioneer and his most significant achievement, the Colorado expedition and the exploration of the Grand Canyon remember.

JW Powell was on 13 January 1888 the founding members of the National Geographic Society.