John Wesley Powell

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Powell, John Wesley


Born Mar. 24, 1834, in Mount Morris, N.Y.; died Sept. 23, 1902, in Haven, Me. American geologist and geomorphologist.

Educated at Illinois, Wheaton, and Oberlin colleges, Powell was a professor of geology at Illinois Wesleyan College in Bloomington from 1865 to 1868. He was one of the organizers of the US Geological Survey and served as its director from 1881 to 1894.

The first man to explore the Grand Canyon, Powell established the close relationship between the geological structure of the territory and the forms of relief. His major works played an important part in shaping the theoretical views of the American school of geomorphology, particularly those of W. Davis. Powell held that large stratigraphic units should be distinguished according to lithologic features rather than according to paleontological data.

Powell also studied the way of life of American Indians and proposed a classification of their languages.


Stegner, W. Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West. Boston, 1954.
Davis, W. M. Biographical Memoir of John Wesley Powell (1834–1902). Washington, D.C., 1915.
Hunt, C. B. “John Wesley Powell: His Influence on Geology.” Geotimes, 1969, issue 14, no. 5.


References in periodicals archive ?
The author invokes John Wesley Powell for the notions of
During his historic exploration of the Grand Canyon in 1869, John Wesley Powell wrote in his diary, "The thought grew in my mind that the canyons of this region would be a Book of Revelations in the rock-leaved bible of geology.
Released last summer and not to be missed are The Oregon Trail, by Francis Parkman ($14); and The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, by John Wesley Powell ($14).
Three other titles have been re-released thus far - ``Travels in West Africa'' by Mary Kingsley, ``The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons'' by John Wesley Powell and ``The Oregon Trail'' by Francis Parkman.
John Wesley Powell is best known as the man who led the first expedition to successfully navigate the Colorado River from one end of the Grand Canyon to the other.
These lonely critics, prophets of doom in some cases, like John Wesley Powell and John Muir, early on decried the wrongheaded policies on water and public lands and said we had to do things differently.
It features selections from 22 authors, including notables such as Mark Twain, Thoreau, and Hemingway; explorer-writers like John Wesley Powell, William Bartram, and Meriwether Lewis; and several exciting new writers.
The first half of Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West (Penguin, 1954) is devoted to the gripping account of Powell's two trips through the beautiful canyon country.
The strongest advocate for the survey, John Wesley Powell, had been a college professor, then became the director of the U.
Three centuries later, Major John Wesley Powell, a one-armed adventurer and geologist, led the first recorded boat expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.
Included are books on early explorers of the West, such as Lewis and Clark and John Wesley Powell, as well as individual books on each of the historic Pony Express, Oregon, California, Santa Fe and Mormon trails.