Geology And Ecology Of National Parks

Flaming Gorge, Green River and Red Canyon

Historic Photographs of Powell Survey 2nd Expedition 1871-2 



Major John Wesley Powell's first voyage down the Green and Colorado rivers in 1869 was more of an adventure -- the trip was named the First Expedition. The Second Expedition (1871 and 1872) was dedicated to mapping and scientific exploration. It was on the Second Expedition that the Powell hired photographer, E. O. Beaman, to take landscape photography (including stereoscopy). He also hired his cousin, Clement (Clem) Powell to help on the expedition with the understanding that he would learn photography, but Clem never mastered it. Beaman quit the survey in January 1872 and Powell hired another photographer, James Fennemore. Powell also hired an oarsman, John (Jack) K. Hillers who volunteered as an assistant to both photographers. Hillers learned the techniques of photography in the field and went on to complete the photographic mission of what became known simply as the Powell Survey. The Powell Survey (1870-1879) was formally known as the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories - Second Division. It was also known as the Rocky Mountain Survey. Powell served as director of the reorganized U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) until 1894. Powell's friend and associate J. K. Hillers continued to work as a USGS photographer until he retired in 1908.

Powell's Second Expedition left "Green River City" [Green River, Wyoming] on May 22, 1871, where the First Expedition had left on May 24th, 1869. Powell had special "dory" boats constructed and shipped to Green River via the recently completed Central Pacific (Transcontinental) railroad. The first month of both expeditions were spent traversing canyons of the Green River around eastern end of the Uinta Mountains (also spelled "Uintah"). During this first stage of both voyages, they passed through Flaming Gorge (named after the brilliant, red sandstone exposed in the cliffs), and three other canyons Powell named Horseshoe Canyon, Kingfisher Canyon, and Red Canyon.