Major John Wesley Powell in his office, c. 1886
John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was born with a keen interest in science and nature. Beginning in early childhood, he studied botany, zoology and geology without the aid of a teacher. As a youth, he went on many collecting and exploring trips throughout the Midwest. After serving in the Civil War, Powell became a museum curator and lecturer on natural history. But despite having lost an arm in the war, he declined a permanent appointment in favor of exploration of the American West. In 1869, Powell embarked on his first voyage down the Colorado River to explore the Grand Canyon. Powell surveyed and mapped the region while naming many of its features.
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