Powell, John Wesley

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  • Perhaps best known for his 1869 waterborne exploration of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, John Wesley Powell (1834–1902), a one-armed Civil War veteran, served to broaden the nation's comprehension of the geology and ethnology of the Southwest. Born on March 24, 1834, in Mount Morris, New York, Powell moved with his family to Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois, where he attended, but never graduated from, college. His self-taught knowledge of natural history and interest in botany, zoology, and geology inspired him to make several extensive exploratory field trips down the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois rivers in the 1850s.

    Elected secretary of the Illinois Natural History Society in 1859, Powell's dedication to studying the natural environment was curtailed by the outbreak of the American Civil War. ...

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