Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The one-armed man!

Green River, Wyoming, has a fairly notable geo-historical claim to fame. It was the launching point for one of the most grueling, dangerous, and all-around craziest projects ever: The Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons, undertaken by none other than J.W. Powell. Ol’ Powell and nine other guys, all with limited boating experience, set out in four boats from Green River, and boated through uncharted rapids, climbed mountains, and were nearly drowned and starved many, many, many times (seriously, like once a week, it seemed…). And all in the name of SCIENCE (well, that, and expanding American influence into the southwest…).

But what is important to remember, is that Maj. Powell had only ONE DAMN ARM to do all this with.

The picture above is of an almost ridiculously heroic statue of ol’ Powell in the town of Green River, right outside Sweetwater County Museum, which is actually a surprisingly nice little museum with some nifty stuff on display. Anyway, Powell lost his arm at the battle of Shiloh, in the Civil War. For those unfamiliar with the history of the battle of Shiloh, let me sum it up: it kind of sucked to be at Shiloh.

Anyway, despite getting his arm blasted off, ol Powell went on to a successful career as a geologist, the high point of his career (and the general stamp that earned him the title of “Chief Badass”) being the Colorado expedition. Despite only having one arm, Powell would ramble up and down mountains, climb up cliffs, and carry out successful geological and mapping surveys. He also had numerous brushes with death, and still would write in his diary about what a great time he was having.

I’m sure we’ve all known folks who like to act like they’re Dr. Hardcore in the field, and heck, some of us might even think we’re the damn Delta Force when we’re out there; but, in all honesty, can’t no one hold a candle to Wes Powell. He was one bad motha-

Watch your mouth!

Just bloggin’ about John Wesley Powell…

We can dig it!


Silver Fox said...

Yeah, and yeah, and yeah. One BA MF! Great musical reference.

And brings back a piece of my past, Shiloh The Movie from 1963.

Andrew Alden, Oakland Geology blog said...

Powell was bigger than life, and a best-selling author to boot. Finally, he ran the USGS for a while, which surely felt like keeping that little band of Colorado boaters together sometimes. In Powell, Clarence King, and John Muir we used to have men to match the mountains, and we need people like that today.