Welcome to the Powell150 education and outreach site!
2019 Expedition, Then and Now
For information about the 1869 and 2019 Colorado River Exploring Expeditions, follow this link.
USGS Science Today
To learn more about the science USGS is doing today, including experiments along the route, click here.
Lessons and Activities
For lessons and activities that are related to rivers and John Wesley Powell, click here.
The USGS continues to do important science along this river system today, and to contribute information to decision-makers who are working to manage the river basin as a resource for water, recreation, and power in Western states. The focus of the education and outreach efforts surrounding the Powell150 Expedition is to inform and engage the public around the geology and ecology of rivers in general and this river system in particular and to raise public awareness of the natural resources of the Colorado River Basin and USGS science.
While the USGS marked this occasion as an opportunity to highlight the science of the Colorado River Basin, it’s important to note that indigenous people have inhabited the area for over 15,000 years, and tribes in the 19th century had a great deal of knowledge about the river and ecosystems of their homeland. Western migration by white settlers brought conflict and devastating consequences to Native peoples and their natural and cultural resources. In acknowledgment of this, we listened to Native American perspectives on river science, including traditional cultural practices, during community outreach events and discussions throughout the expedition.
The 150th anniversary of the 1869 Powell expedition—USGS participation in the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition and reflections from the ~1,000-mile journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers
Status and trends of the Grand Canyon population of Humpback Chub
The United States Geological Survey: 1879-1989
The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell: soldier, explorer, scientist
The rapids and the pools - Grand Canyon: Chapter D in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)
Stratified rocks of the Grand Canyon: Chapter B in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)
John Wesley Powell: Pioneer statesman of federal science: Chapter A in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)
The 150th anniversary of the 1869 Powell expedition—USGS participation in the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition and reflections from the ~1,000-mile journey down the Green and Colorado RiversIn 1869, John Wesley Powell completed the first well-recorded scientific river journey to explore an extensive region of the Colorado River Basin. Powell later helped to establish the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and served as its second director (1881–94), cementing his position in the folklore of the Survey. In 2019, the USGS marked the 150th anniversary of Powell’s first expedition with a broa
Status and trends of the Grand Canyon population of Humpback ChubThe Colorado River Basin supports one of the most distinctive fish communities in North America, including the federally endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha). One of only six remaining populations of this fish is found in Grand Canyon, Arizona. U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their cooperators are responsible for monitoring the Grand Canyon population. Analysis of recently collected data in
The United States Geological Survey: 1879-1989The United States Geological Survey was established on March 3, 1879, just a few hours before the mandatory close of the final session of the 45th Congress, when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the bill appropriating money for sundry civil expenses of the Federal Government for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1879. The sundry civil expenses bill included a brief section establishing a new a
The Colorado River region and John Wesley PowellA century ago John Wesley Powell-teacher, scientist, and veteran of the Civil War-set out to explore the unknown reaches of the Colorado River. He emerged from the forbidding canyons with a compelling interest in the nature of the western lands and how they could be developed for the greatest benefit to the Nation. A man gifted with imagination, yet always tempered by the scientist's appreciation
John Wesley Powell: soldier, explorer, scientistOne hundred years ago John Wesley Powell and nine adventure-seeking companions completed the first exploration of the dangerous and almost uncharted canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers. By this trip, Powell, a 35-year old teacher of natural history, apparently unhampered by the lack of his right forearm (amputated after the Battle of Shiloh) opened up a large unknown part of continental Unite
The rapids and the pools - Grand Canyon: Chapter D in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)Through the Grand Canyon the Colorado drops in elevation about 2,200 feet in 280 miles; most of this drop occurs in rapids that account for only 10 percent of the distance. Despite the importance of rapids, there are no waterfalls. Depth measurements made at 1/10-mile intervals show that the bed profile is highly irregular, but the apparent randomness masks an organized alternation of deeps and sh
Stratified rocks of the Grand Canyon: Chapter B in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)The record of the earth's history in the walls of the Grand Canyon has been deciphered through hard work by many people during the past 100 years. Much still remains unsolved. John Wesley Powell's contributions were of a pioneering type, though he was not the first to discuss the rocks of the Grand Canyon. Far more important than his own observations and deductions in the field of stratigraphic ge
John Wesley Powell: Pioneer statesman of federal science: Chapter A in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)In the middle decades of the 19th century, American science matured rather rapidly. The general scholar with an interest in natural history gave place to the specialist in a particular science, and the various sciences themselves became distinct from each other and from the general body of knowledge. The geological sciences made especially rapid progress in America because of the opportunity and t