The Promise of the Grand Canyon
John Wesley Powell's Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American West
By John F. Ross
Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki /
A timely new account of the first complete exploration of the Grand Canyon and Powell's subsequent career as a pioneer of sustainable development in the West-- a classic of American historical adventure that also lays the path for the environmental issues still with us today.
When John Wesley Powell became the first person to navigate the entire Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon, he completed what Lewis and Clark had begun nearly 70 years earlier--the final exploration of continental America. The son of an Ohio abolitionist preacher, a Civil War hero (who lost an arm at Shiloh), and a passionate naturalist and geologist, in 1869 Powell tackled its last uncharted feature-- the vast and dangerous gorge carved by the Colorado River and known today (thanks to Powell) as the Grand Canyon.
John Ross recreates Powell's expedition in all its glory and terror, but it was his second career as a scientist, bureaucrat, and land-management pioneer that concerns us today, advocating vociferously (and unsuccessfully) for sustainable development of the West. Powell was the first to ask: how should the development of the west be shaped? How much could the land support? What was the role of the government and private industry in all of this? He began a national conversation about stewardship of the new land when most everyone else still looked upon it as simply an inexhaustibly exploitable resource. Though he supported irrigation and dams, his prescient warnings forecast the 1930s dustbowl and the growing water scarcities of today. Practical, yet visionary, his path reflects this nation's hard journey toward embracing a balance of growth with sustainability. Powell didn't have all the answers, but was first to ask the right questions.