Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
John Wesley Powell fought in the Civil War and it cost him an arm. But it didn't stop him from exploring the American West.
Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell...more
John Wesley Powell gained fame as the first man to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He was so much more than that. His career spanned the late 1860s when he mapped the Colorado region to 1894 when some Senators finally pushed him out of his work with the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Irri ...more
The narrative of the trip down the Colorado was dramatic, especially compared to the descriptions of failed attempts by contemporaries. I was amazed that they traveled all the way down the river with only flour, dried apples, bacon and a few other supplies for food. They were obviously better foragers than people are today. Well an ...more
Mr. Stegnor should have stuck to his wonderful fiction. Despite all the desperate situations the Colorado River crew lead by Powell faced, Stegnor's prose is flat and has a "ho hum, ODTAA (one darn thing after another), here-we-go-again-our-lives-are threatened" quality about it. As terrifying as drowning, or falling from a cliff to one's death is, the reader is barely moved the first time it happens. The simple fact of its repetition oddly ...more
I was born and raised in the SF Bay area, (San Mateo,Ca. 1947). On my mother's father's side, my ancestors came to SF in 1846, from England, to sell arms to Mexico. My dad migrated from Arkansas in the late 30's from a very rural area. So I am vested in the West.
This book has so much history and educational information that it could be used as an expanded text for an undergrad degree about the West hundreds if not thousands of years ago to und ...more
Powell's story in and of itself seems like the stuff of legend -- a one-armed Civil War veteran takes a ragtag group of amateur scientists down the Colorado River to map the Grand Canyon for the first time, then founds the USGS, lays the groundwork for the American system of public lands, and proposes an ingenious and responsible land management syst ...more
Stegner is occasionally chuckle-aloud funny, but not enough to break the aridity of the Washington, D.C chapters. Here are two favorite passages. From page 152, describing Po ...more
John Wesley Powell is responsible for much of the development of the American west. He led the first geographical survey of a huge area, stretching from Utah down the Colorado River into Arizona. His reports ...more
Stegner's book, now over 60 years since publication, is a worthy read on several counts. First, the writing is terrific. I had not read any works by Stegner, known for mainly his western fiction, but this writer is one of the most skilled in literature; I will read more of his works. Second, the book uses John Wes ...more
The first third is a riveting account of Powell's exploration of the Colorado River and as the first non-native American down the Grand Canyon; not just a great outdoor tal ...more
This has been on my must read list for a long time, and I’ve finally gotten around to it. Stegner was one of our best writers, in general, and especially so when he was writing about the West. In addition to his great reserves of knowledge, he also was a rabid preservationist – a fact which is obvious in this work. John Wesley Powell was an ethnologist and geologist who explored the ...more