John Wesley Powell

(redirected from Major Powell)
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1869 a one-armed civil war veteran, Major Powell, braved the rapids of the Grand Canyon.
Finally the twins are brought back to the train station by the suspendered Major Powell, and their parents ask how they liked the tour.
Evelyn, a "resting" actor, enlists the help of shady Major Powell to dispose of his identical twin in order to assume his persona and inherit his wealth.
Major Powell's own account was published in 1875 as one of the geological surveys he edited for the government, hefty large volumes illustrated with masterfully executed wood engravings and splendid maps in color.
Stegner deliberately focused on Powell's career and ignored the man's personal life: "I will wrench chronology as much as seems necessary, and I will continue to ignore the home life, bathroom habits, and other minutiae of Major Powell" (Benson, 1996, 203).
Like Major Powell, 19-year-old Ron Rudy had his left arm amputated above the elbow.
Marble Gorge, named by Major Powell for the beauty of the canyon's walls, has some of the best rapids: House Rock, Roaring Twenties, Hance, Sockdolager.
Though the one-armed Major Powell had viewed this country two years earlier, much remained unknown, and Dellenbaugh's account relays all the excitement of venturing into a blank patch on the map.