Raul Jusinto

Powell Expedition

John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell (1834-1902). John W. Powell with Tau-gu, Chief of the Southern Paiutes overlooking the Virgin River. Circa 1871-1874.

Nevada Historical Marker 37 reads:

On August 30, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell landed at the mouth of the Virgin River, about twelve miles south of here [Echo Bay], thus ending the first expedition through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

The expedition left Green River City, Wyoming Territory, on May 24, 1869. For three months, Powell and his men endured danger and hunger to explore, survey, and study the geology of the canyons along the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Exhausted and near starvation, the Powell party was fed by the Mormons of St. Thomas, a small farm settlement about eleven miles north of here.

The waters of Lake Mead flooded original sites of St. Thomas and the junction of the Virgin and Colorado rivers.

Powell’s work stimulated interest in the water conservation problems of the Southwest.

National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Lake Mead National Recreation Area marker reads:

On September 1, 1869, a weary but triumphant Major John Wesley Powell rode paste here [Echo Bay] en route to St. Thomas, about 10 miles north. He had just survived a three-month scientific expedition, sweeping through the heretofore unknown canyons of the turbulent Green and Colorado Rivers.

Three days earlier Powell and five crewmen had emerged from the Grand Canyon into the Grand Wash Valley of the Colorado River. Their supplies were exhausted. Only two of four boats remained. Four men had quit along the way; three of them disappeared and were never found.

When Powell's boats reached a Mormon settlement at the mouth of the Virgin River, 12 miles south of here [Echo Bay], their adventure was over, the river downstream was well known. Four crewmen continued downriver with the boats, while Powell and one other traveled with Mormon settlers via wagons past here [Echo Bay] to St. Thomas.

But Major Powell would be back for more.

Event Location: Present-day Lake Mead National Recreation Area.