Washington: Government Printing Office, 1875.
First Edition. Hardcover. Near fine. Quarto, pp xi, 291, with 80 wood-engraved illustrations on 72 plates. 291 pp, handsomely rebound in full light brown leather with black spine label. New endpapers and new archival pocket on rear pastedown, containing the map and profile. Text and plates very clean, map has browning and a few tiny losses along one fold. Described by Wheat (Trans-Mississippi West 1261) as "one of the most justly celebrated documents in the literature of exploration," this is Powell's first-hand account of his now-legendary journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the length of the Grand Canyon. Others before had tried to explore the length of the Colorado, but all had failed. What began as a scientific reconnaissance of uncharted territory soon turned into a harrowing quest for survival. The party of 11 men in four boats had the best equipment available at the time, but nothing like modern river-running gear or supplies. They had no firm information on the perilous topography, nor the hostile attitudes of the native inhabitants they would encounter. Midway through the Canyon, some of the party judged the situation hopeless and received permission to abandon the river, climb out of the Canyon, and attempt to reach a civilized outpost from which they could send help to rescue the rest of the group. As soon as these men reached the top of the Canyon walls and started across the desert, they were killed by local natives. The remainder of the group, still on the water, worked their way slowly downriver and all survived, having traveled more than 900 miles from start to finish. Powell’s party discovered and named the Henry Mountains and the Dirty Devil River in what had been terra incognita. They passed through or by such landmarks as the Gates of Lodore, Cataract Canyon, Desolation Canyon, Gypsum Rapids, Glen Canyon – where they explored the Moqui ruins now drowned under Lake Powell, Dark Canyon, and more. “It was in this report that [Powell] made one bold appeal for immortality as a geologist by calling attention to the fact that the Uinta canyons were gorges of corrosion and due to the action of rivers upon rocks which were undergoing gradual elevation. As he expressed it, the rivers preserved their level, but the mountains were lifted up... The idea was not wholly new, but it had remained for Powell to bring it forward in all its effectiveness... With this report his geological work practically ceased, though in 1874 and 1875 he gave much attention to the land laws of the western states” (DAB). Graff 3336, Howes P-528, Flake 6429, Fraquhar 42, Sabin 64753.