The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 118
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and mapping the entire Colorado Plateau country from the Uinta
Mountains to St. George, Utah, during which time Powell explored
present-day Zion National Park. Most of these activities he integrated
into his exciting narrative of 1875, implying that they all took place
on that first trip in 1869. He did this, of course, to make a better story,
but also for the purpose of dramatizing the whole region with all its
grandiose beauties and the countless opportunities it afforded for
insight into the problems of structural geology, river erosion, and
aridity which he saw as the key to southwestern life. In this he was
eminently successful, so much so that when, in 1878, he published his
most important, but certainly less readable, work, Report Upon the
Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States, it was read with great
attention everywhere, and from it grew the sentiment for the forma-
tion of the United States Geological Survey in 1879. Out of his adven-
tures on the river and on the Colorado Plateau country, Powell had
formulated a view of the West which became the basis for all modern
thinking about irrigation and scientific reclamation.
It was only fitting, then, that in 1969, the centennial year of Powell's
great feat, the story of his adventures, told in his own words,
should be a dramatic production that has a purpose beyond commem-
orating Powell. Both the author of the foreword, Don D. Fowler, and
the author of the epilogue, Eliot Porter, seem intent on pointing up
the tragic loss of natural beauty that resulted from the recent construc-
tion of Glen Canyon Dam and the corresponding inundation of Glen
Canyon which has now become Lake Powell-a place for droves of
noisy tourists with motorboats rather than the few quiet nature-lovers
who enjoy timeless solitude. Indeed, nothing illustrates Fowler and
Porter's point better than Porter's splendid color photographs which
focus on the small, intimate beauties to be found deep in the canyons
rather than the grand picture-postcard panoramas to be seen from
the rim perspective. Theirs is a far different canyon country-much
closer to Powell's than that seen by the average tourist. The reader
is thus inevitably forced to choose between the Sierra Club values
of preserving the wilderness in as pristine and perhaps inaccessible
a fashion as possible and the utilitarian demands of thousands of
Americans for more recreational space and more, if less perfect and
intimate, access to nature's marvels in the West. This is a fundamental
American dilemma going back at least as far as the works of James
Fenimore Cooper, and by raising the question once again in the
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/130/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.