Powell150

150th Anniversary of the Powell Expedition

Welcome to the Powell150 education and outreach site!  Learn about John Wesley Powell's historic expedition of the Green and Colorado Rivers below, and check in with this year's modern day expedition that mirrors the original.

Story Map

Story Map

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Educational Resources

Educational Resources

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Fun and Games

Fun and Games

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The U.S. Geological Survey and partnering organizations are marking the 150th anniversary of the Powell Expedition, an exploration of the Green and Colorado Rivers that ended in the Grand Canyon. Led by scientist and Civil War amputee John Wesley Powell, a team of 10 men in four small wooden boats departed Green River Wyoming on May 24, 1869. Only six men and two boats completed the 95-day journey, but the expedition succeeded in recording some of the earliest known maps, data, topographic measurements, geology, and local Native American culture, for much of the treacherous Colorado River that runs through modern-day Grand Canyon National Park.

Powell later became the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey as well as the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first director of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution, and a co-founder of the National Geographic Society.

The USGS continues to do important science along the river 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.

Follow along with this year's 70-day, 1,000-river-mile expedition by University of Wyoming-based Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE)! 

  • See where SCREE is on this map and send the crew your questions for real-time answers from camp! 
  • Read blog posts from the SCREE crew, including USGS scientists, at www.powell150.org/news
  • Follow the USGS Youth and Education in Science Instagram (@USGS_YES) for images of USGS data collection on the river, Find a Feature Challenges relating to the Green and Colorado Rivers, and Paper Powell pictures
  • Follow tweets from Major Powell himself (@MajorJWPowell) and from this year's crew (@Powell150)

 

Check back after the expedition for lesson plans and other resources relating to the data that is being collected during the river journey!  Learn about some of the USGS science programs that relate to the Green and Colorado Rivers and elsewhere: