Grand Canyon History

(From: River Runners of the Grand Canyon, David Lavender, 1985)

(1) John Wesley Powell May 24, - August 4, 1869 Green River, Wyoming

(2) John Wesley Powell May 22, 1871

Invited only Jack Sumner of the original crew. High snow in the Rockies prevented Sumner from joining. Powell chose Jack Hailers, a hard working teamster who eventually took over the photographic work and became one of the great photographers of the American West. Another member was Frederick Delenbaugh, who was ambitious to become an artist. Early on, Powell left for 39 days to be with his pregnant wife in Salt Lake City. The first segment ended on October 23 at the Paria River.

Two craft and seven men left Lee’s Ferry on August 17, 1872. They reached Kanab Creek on September 7. They met a pack train, and were told that the Paiutes and Shivwits were restive, and they risked an ambush downstream. They made they decision to leave the Canyon, in what was a decided anticlimax. Powell turned in no official report about the second trip. Under pressure from Congressman James Garfield, he reluctantly wrote a purported account of the 1869 trip, introducing event from the 1871/72 trip without acknowledgement. He never mentioned the second expedition or gave credit to its participants, but it remains one of the best-written accounts of a run down the Colorado.

(3) Robert Brewster Stanton Green river, Utah to the Gulf, 1889

The next people down the river had no grand designs.

(4) George Flavell and Ramon Montez Green River, Wyoming April 27, 1896

Flavell built a sharp-prowed, square-sterned, flat-bottomed boat, the Panthon, 15.5’ x 5’. They were the first to run rapids facing forward, pushing the oars. Montez dropped out at Needles, CA. Flavell continued and reached Yuma, Arizona, and January 9, 1897.

(5) Nathaniel Galloway and William Richmond

Circumstantial evidence indicates that Galloway first used the stern-first, face forward technique on upper stretches of the Colorado. He started with his 17 year old son Parley from Henry’s Fork on the Green. At the head of Lodore Canyon they met prospectors Frank Leland and William Richmond. Richmond agreed to accompany them on a trapping trip through the Grand Canyon. Parley dropped out, and the pair essentially started at Green River, UT, where they outfitted the boats with cargo compartments. In November, 1896, an Indian named Mouse murdered two prospectors near the mouth of the Virgin River. Galloway and Richmond were prevailed upon to take their bodies to Needles, which they reached on February 10, 1897.

(6) Benjamin (Hum) Wooley

Hired by Madame Schell to do assessment work on her gold claims near, Quartzite, AR. Wooley, puzzlingly, parleyed this into a trip down the Grand Canyon. He hired John King and Arthur Sanger as helpers. He built an 18’ boat in Madam Schell’s back yard. They reassembled it Lee’s Ferry, and departed on September 1, 1903. They reached Grand Wash Cliffs toward the end of September. They picked up a prospector, Charles Bolster (probably by pre arrangement), who accompanied them 225 miles the landing at Ehrenberg. From there they hiked to Madame Schell’s claims. The details of the story only came much later from Sanger. There is no other information from Hum Wooley.

(7) Julius Stone

Than Galloway had been hired by Stanton’s gold dredging company in Glen Canyon. He was befriended by Stone, the company president. The mining venture failed, Stone corresponded with Galloway from Ohio, and arranged another trip in 1907. In Detroit with his four year old daughter he designed and supervised the building of four flat bottomed boats of Michigan pine. They were 16.5’ x 4’ with a 10" rake, but weighed only 243 lbs. Stone signed on an expert photographer, his brother-in-law Raymond Cogswell. As a helper was added 27 year old Seymour Sylvester Dubendorf, a handyman at Verna’s Weekly newspaper. He had literary ambitions, and could help put a book together. Five men and four boats left Green River, WY on September 15, 1909. At Hite in Glen Canyon, guest CC Sharp dropped out, and they abandoned his boat. At Lee’s Ferry, supplies they ordered were not there. The new ferryman, Ray Rider, gave them a few dried apples, and they ran for Bright Angel on November 3. On Nov. 8, Dubie capsized in high waves of an unnamed rapid. Gashing his head on the gunwale, he rode the current 300 yards before climbing out. In 1923, the USGS survey party named the rapid after Dubendorf. The upper canyon was named Galloway, the lower one Stone. They reached Needles on Nov. 19.

Galloway was first to have run the Canyon twice. Another trip was planned for 1910, but Dubendorf’s sudden death of Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever ended the plan. Galloway’s book project never materialized. He died in 1913. Stone wrote "Canyon Country," illustrated with Cogswell’s photos, published in 1932.

(8) Charles Russell Silver, Edwin Monett, Albert Loper Green River UT September 20, 1907

Loper, who had gone to Hite to retrieve a repaired camera, missed the rendezvous at Lee’s Ferry, and the other two continued without him on Dec. 13 (a Friday). Their boat got away from them while lining at Hermit Rapids (unnamed then). They went to nearest shelter, in Boucher Canyon, owned by Louis "the Hermit" Boucher. They reached Needles on Feb. 8, 1908.

(9) Ellsworth and Emery Kolb Green River, WY September 8, 1911

This was a picture taking expedition for the Kolbs. (They ran a small photo operation for the tourists on the South Rim. Since there was no natural water on the Rim, Emery would dash down to Indian Gardens with the film, develop it, then back up with the pictures.) When they reached Bright Angel, Emery rushed his sick wife to Los Angeles. They returned to the river on Dec, 19, and reached Needles on Jan. 18, 1912. Ellsworth completed the traverse to the Gulf, The resulting film and book helped make the Grand Canyon on the best known natural wonders on earth.

(10) Charles Russell and Bert Loper Green river, UT July 19, 1914

Russell saw the Kolb film and decided to do it better. He hired Bert Loper. They wrecked a boat in Cataract Canyon, and left to start again. Loper built the Ross Wheeler, which Russell appropriated after he and Loper had a falling out. After many trials, Russell abandoned the boat and left the canyon up the Bass Trail (below Saphire, Ruby, & Serpentine). The boat was hoisted above the waterline by a prospector. Still there?\

Bert Loper took his last trip on July 8, 1949. He evidently had a heart attack in the big rapid at M 24.5. His boat flipped and his body wasn’t recovered. They found his boat 16 miles downstream, and painted a memorial on it’s bow. On April 2, 1975, a hike found a human skeleton near the mouth of Cardenas Creek, 47 miles from the rapid where Loper overturned. At N. Arizona U. at Flagstaff, the bones were tentatively identified as Bert Loper’s. They were sent to Utah for internment beside his wife Sandy, who died on Feb. 8, 1975, less than two months before the hiker made his discovery.

(11) USGS Topographic Dam Survey Lee’s Ferry, August 1, 1923

See Book

(12) June 22, 1927(?) Clyde Eddy and guide Parley Galloway, Nathaniel’s 41 year old son went on a filmmaking trip. Then Eddy went to Lee’s Ferry to help in a purported rescue of the Pathe-Bray party.

(13) November 11, 1927 Pathe-Bray Movie Company, with Eugene LaRue, with many trials, to Hermit creek, to make a feature film (never released).

(15) Newlyweds Bessie Haley Hyde and Glen left Green River, UT. on October 10, 1928 They disdained life jackets. They left Hermit on November 18, and were never seen again.


Julius Stone hired James Chalfant to polish those parts of Robert Stanton’s account dealing with Powell and James White, and in 1932 published Colorado River Controversies.

(14) Clyde Eddy July 19, 1934, on another trip from Lee’s Ferry. It was historic because they discovered the split-twig figurines in Stanton cave, dated to 3-4,000 years before present.

Norm Nevills opened the watery part of the Canyon to tourists. Of the first 100 people through the Canyon, a figure reached in 1949, nearly one third went under Nevill’s leadership in boats designed for that purpose. He and his wife Doris died on Sept. 19, 1949, when a plane he was piloting lost its engine on takeoff and crashed.

Harry Aleson began campaigning for his Colorado Upriver Expedition in 1941. In June of 1945, he and Georgie White were the first to (purposely) run rapids in life jackets. White was the first woman to handle oars all the way through the Grand Canyon.

In June, 1948 Ed Hudson and Otis "Dock" Marsten attempted the first serious upriver run in the Esmerelda II with a 75 hp motor. They reached M 217 before (hitting a log) and punched a hole in the boat. On June 12, 1949, they made the first motorized run from Lee’s Ferry to Pearce. In the spring of 1960, Marsten finally led a round trip, down and up from Lee’s Ferry, in jet boats. This was a costly trip, but it resulted in the first successful upriver run. The trip up, as with the others, had the most trouble at Lava Falls. In the observation party were Fran Belknap, and she and Bill’s 16 year old son Buzz.

On June 12, 1951, Marston led a convoy of five craft, two with outboards, down through the Canyon.

Jim and Bob Rigg set a speed record in a wooden cataract boat of two and a half days for the 280 mile run.

In 1954 Georgie White experimented with lashing three 14’ rafts together, and with pontoon rafts, for added stability. The next year she tied two 28’ pontoons on either side of one 33’ long raft. This became known as the G-rig.

April 10, 1955 — Bill Beer and John Daggett were the first to float through the Canyon. They wore life jackets, and towed rubber duffels with equipment. They arrived at Pearce on May 5. This has not been repeated??

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