one day at a time…
Friday, 26 September 2003

Pix Of The Day: Gruesome Gift To Aid Researchers
CREDITS: © Bruce Dale/National Geographic
Thumbnails links to source pages; [T] to feature text page; [P] to full picture.

Powell's Brain © Bruce Dale & national Geographic SocietyOn 26 September 2002 (repeated below in the next item), we published the third, and final part of a trilogy respecting the life and work of John Wesley Powell. In his will Powell left his brain to researchers, and it is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. The picture comes from the NGS (National Geographic Society) feature POD (Photo of the Day) for 2 Feb [T] [P] 2002.

One day earlier on 1 Feb [T] [P] 2002, the NGS featured POD was Powell's favorite spot, Dutton Point in the Grand Canyon, a magnificent viewing platform that may be seen in our second picture. As Powell is quoted as saying, "You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted ", and if anyone should know that, then it would be Powell.

Dutton Point © Bruce Dale & national Geographic SocietyAll four ODAAT articles in this series have now been gathered together for convenience in a John Wesley Powell archive. The articles appear in chronological order (ie the reverse of this presentation). We have only skimmed the surface of the available Powell information, and barely scratched the arid surface of the issues raised by his work. Below are some links that readers may like to follow to learn more: the order does not indicate excellence or importance.

Click the appropriate blue bullet point to visit any of these web resources:

The Powell Museum in Page, Arizona
DesertUSA.com web site presentation
Songbird.com web site presentation
University of North Texas - repository of fascinating resources in PDF format
Canyon-Country.com web site presentation
NPR feature 'The Vision of John Wesley Powell'
One of Susannah Abbey's 'Explorer Heroes' on the MyHero.com web site
Margaret S. Bearnson's article on the 'Utah History To Go' web site
PBS feature 'Lost in the Grand Canyon', part of 'American Experience'
Grand Canyon National Park photo gallery on Powell
Epilogue from 'The Romance Of The Colorado River' by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
Burial details from the Arlington National Cemetery web site
Smithsonian presentation '150 Years of Adventure, Discovery, and Wonder'
Photo portrait of Powell on the 'American Memory' web site
Powell section of 'Grand Canyon Explorer' on Kaibab.org

What if we could only choose one item? Our personal selection is the resource created by Luke Griffin, currently maintained by Valerie Glenn, on the University of Texas web site. Though not instantly accessible as web pages, the downloadable PDF 8.8Mb file 'Images from Exploration of the Colorado' contains a wide selection of contemporary illustrations that we thought gave a connection to those times: although relatively low resolution, in some ways this adds to their effect.

On This day In 2002: JWP's Bitter Harvest - Thu, 26 Sep 2002

JWP with Tau-ruv © Smithsonian InstitutionJWP with Native American © Smithsonian InstitutionThere are a number of pictures of John Wesley Powell to be found on the web. Earlier pictures show him as a young soldier with the extravagant whiskering of the day. Later pictures show him as a late 19th century administrator with a grizzled beard. However, these are my two favorite pictures of Powell. He was a driving force behind the institution that eventually became the 'Bureau of American Ethnography'. Lasting from 1879 to 1965 the Bureau was established under the Smithsonian Institution to sponsor and publish research about Native Americans. Powell must have met many Native Americans, and these two pictures seem to sum that up nicely. Both pictures, 'The Mirror Case' with Powell talking with a Ute woman Tau-ruv in the Uintah Valley, UT in 1873 or 1874 taken by John K. Hillers, and Powell on horseback speaking to a Native American, are courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1893 John Wesley Powell, addressing the International Irrigation Congress, said, "I tell you gentlemen you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over the water rights for there is no sufficient water to supply the land." The man who had measured the water flows, determined that an acre-foot of water was needed to support a family of four, was saying there was not enough to go round. The audience rose to boo and jeer at the man who was telling them something they did not want to hear. You may read and hear on the NPR website historian and land manager William deBuys talking about Powell's legacy, and how his work is relevant today. The Missoulian has an interview with deBuys about his book 'Seeing Things Whole: The Essential John Wesley Powell', a reassessment of Powell's life and work.

The Arizona Republic has a whole section devoted to drought topics. There are declared emergencies in several states, but still the spirit of free enterprize demands that restrictions are not placed into legislation. Instead the authorities 'turn up the volume' on public service messages. Charles F. Hutchinson is a professor in the Office of Arid Land Studies, College of Agriculture, the University of Arizona, and has a page on the Cosmos Club website (Powell was a founding member) about the legacy of the rush to exploit the arid west. The Biography of America website tells how the 1862 'Homestead Act' spurred on the notion of 'Manifest Destiny' so that Powell's warnings were ignored, leading to his retirement, a defeated man.

In 'A River No More: the Colorado River and the West'
(1981, now out of print) author Philip L. Fradkin had this to say:

"The Canyon Ditch is the first diversion of water from the Green River. It is the highest man-made interference with the natural flow of the Colorado River system and thus of great, although virtually unnoticed, significance to the seven states in the watershed. From the headgate of the ditch, it is almost 1,700 miles to the last diversion of water from the river - the headgate of a similarly unlined ditch the Mexicans have dug through the sands of the delta to divert the last flow of the river north into Laguna Salada. Between these two ditches, dug with the same knowledge available to ancients - that water runs safely downhill if the incline is steady but slight - is gathered the most technically complex assemblage of waterworks in the world, run by such complex gadgetry as computers and laser beams and all girdled by a dense network of treaties, laws, and administrative decisions of such talmudic proportions that they are known only to a few."

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)