Thursday, February 6, 2003

Ohio Moments

Local valleys inspired Grand Canyon explorer


On Feb. 6, 1938, a memorial to John Wesley Powell - a geologist who was the first to navigate the Colorado River all the way through the Grand Canyon - was completed in Jackson, Ohio, his boyhood home. Powell was born in Mount Morris, N.Y., in 1834. Four years later, his father, a Methodist minister, moved the family to Jackson. After the senior Powell delivered a speech against slavery, his two sons were pelted with stones at school. George L. Crookham, an educator who offered his services only to the children of abolitionists, invited John and his brother to attend classes. Crookham took the children on field trips to local hills and valleys in search of geological and archaeological specimens, instilling in John a love of geology. The Powell family moved to Wisconsin in 1846, but John's interest in geology continued. His studies at Oberlin College included botany. Powell served in the Civil War, where he lost part of his right arm. After the war, he explored the uncharted waters of the Colorado River. He went on to serve as director of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology. Lake Powell, which was formed by the Glen Canyon Dam, is named in his honor.

Rebecca Goodman

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