By Kristy McCaffrey
|John Wesley Powell with a Paiute Indian|
in the Grand Canyon.
“It is a region more difficult to traverse than the Alps or the Himalayas, but if strength and courage are sufficient for the task, by a year’s toil a concept of sublimity can be obtained never again to be equaled on the hither side of Paradise.”
~ John Wesley Powell, referring to Grand Canyon
In May of 1869, Powell led a 10-man expedition along the Green River in Wyoming to the Colorado River, becoming the first group to navigate the Grand Canyon. A second expedition in 1871-72 yielded a plethora of data and images and Powell published his findings in 1875 in a book originally titled Report of the Exploration of the Columbia River of the West and Its Tributaries.
Born in 1834 in Mount Morris, New York, and the son of a New England abolitionist preacher, Powell lost most of his right arm serving under Ulysses S. Grant at the battle of Shiloh when he was struck by a minié ball (a muzzle-loading rifle bullet) while giving an order to fire. This wound would continue to cause him pain for the remainder of his life.
Powell had long held a deep interest in natural phenomena. Early on, he set out on trips of exploration and studied botany, zoology, and geology without the aid of a teacher. Throughout the late 1850’s, he undertook several self-financed expeditions along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, where he collected fossils and studied the natural history and geology of the regions.
|Illustration of Powell's wooden|
dories used on his Grand Canyon
Powell was a great believer in land preservation and conservation. He created Illinois State University’s first Museum of Anthropology—called the finest in all of North America at the time.
He died in 1902 at his family’s vacation cottage in Maine and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Powell Plateau—a butte in Grand Canyon National Park—is named after him, along with Lake Powell, a huge lake that formed on the Colorado River behind Glen Canyon Dam after its completion in 1963. Powell Mountain in Kings Canyon National Park in California also bears the explorer’s name.
“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.”
~ John Wesley Powell
|John Wesley Powell|
In THE SPARROW, my heroine Emma attempts to follow in the path of John Wesley Powell.
In 1877, Emma Hart comes to Grand Canyon—a wild, rugged, and, until recently, undiscovered area. Plagued by visions and gifted with a second sight, she searches for answers about the tragedy of her past, the betrayal of her present, and an elusive future that echoes through her very soul. Joined by her power animal Sparrow, she ventures into the depths of Hopi folklore, forced to confront an evil that has lived through the ages.
Texas Ranger Nathan Blackmore tracks Emma Hart to the Colorado River, stunned by her determination to ride a wooden dory along its course. But in a place where the ripples of time run deep, he’ll be faced with a choice. He must accept the unseen realm, the world beside this world, that he turned away from years ago, or risk losing the woman he has come to love more than life itself.
2012 Winter Rose WINNER ~ Excellence in Romantic Fiction, Historical Division
“Readers will love the story…” ~ RT Book Reviews
“Ancient Hopi and Havasupai legends have a new voice in McCaffrey. Her inspired writing made her main character’s mystical journey into another realm entirely believable and kept the pages turning long into the night.” ~ Melanie Tighe, City Sun Times (Arizona)
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