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If I didn t appreciate Wallace Stegner so much I wouldn t have bought the book, and I probably wouldn t have finished it either Stengner is an awesome writer When describing Powell s intellect, Stegner writes, He learned from every book, acquanintance, experience facts stuck in his mind , and not like stray flies on fly paper but like orderly iron filings around magnetic poles That kind of writing made the description of Powell s expedition down the Colorado River a quick read That kind o If I didn t appreciate Wallace Stegner so much I wouldn t have bought the book, and I probably wouldn t have finished it either Stengner is an awesome writer When describing Powell s intellect, Stegner writes, He learned from every book, acquanintance, experience facts stuck in his mind , and not like stray flies on fly paper but like orderly iron filings around magnetic poles That kind of writing made the description of Powell s expedition down the Colorado River a quick read That kind of writing made the account of Powell s career with the U.S Geological survey tolerable Barely At times as dry as the land it discusses this book isa biography of John Wesley Powell, or perhaps hagiography Powell was the one armed amateur scientist who quickly morphed into a selfless, skilled bureaucrat whose vision for the American West was denied by Congress and the settlers of the West The first part of the book concentrates on Powell s expeditions and the latter part on his work in DC managing numerous surveys and agencies Surprisingly the second part is very instructive and At times as dry as the land it discusses this book isa biography of John Wesley Powell, or perhaps hagiography Powell was the one armed amateur scientist who quickly morphed into a selfless, skilled bureaucrat whose vision for the American West was denied by Congress and the settlers of the West The first part of the book concentrates on Powell s expeditions and the latter part on his work in DC managing numerous surveys and agencies Surprisingly the second part is very instructive and interesting,so than the tedious recounting of every mile of the discovery trips Congress in the 1880 s and 1890 s sounds just like today s Congress Lots of talk of anti science and government encroachment into the state s rights and the right of the individual to just be If they had listened to Powell the American West would be very different This took me over two months to read It s one of those books you are glad to have read but you re not going to revisit However, it s essential in any library on the American West Stegner s prose is inviting and Powell was obviously one of his heroes Powell set the stage for Teddy Roosevelt and Gordon Pinchot but he was just one man against a sea of selfish and impatient interests He was an interesting man who is almost saint like in this retelling Sadly his contributions to reclamation are overshadowed by his explorer status He was also a cultural anthropologist and a philosopher Beyond the 100th Meridian John Wesley PowellI had to have something to listen to while I drove around Long Island, so I happened upon the audio CD Beyond the 100th Meridian John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West written by Wallace Stegner and read by Mark Bramhall Bramhall did better than Stegner on this project, although not by much Both were dry presenters Stegner wrote as if the US Government had commissioned him to do so, and Bramhall narrated it as instructed Well, th Beyond the 100th Meridian John Wesley PowellI had to have something to listen to while I drove around Long Island, so I happened upon the audio CD Beyond the 100th Meridian John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West written by Wallace Stegner and read by Mark Bramhall Bramhall did better than Stegner on this project, although not by much Both were dry presenters Stegner wrote as if the US Government had commissioned him to do so, and Bramhall narrated it as instructed Well, then why did I read this dry history Two reasons One, I wanted to see if John Wesley Powell was related to my Great Great Great Great Grandfather, Charles Powell no kidding , but I was not able to establish that relationship Two, knowing that he was an ethnographer as well as an explorer, I wanted to hear what he had to say about the Indians of the West Not nearly as much as I had hoped This is Stegner s fault, not Powell s who did a lot of work on the American Indian, but Stegner just didn t seem that interested Stegner seemed to delight in depicting the beauty of the mountains and the canyons that he and his fellow explorers observed while braving the rapids of the Colorado and other rivers That s nice if you re into wetsuits and ways to keep your matches dry, but really I want to hear about the Indians, not all this Boy Scout stuff and macho men on rafts.Stegner spent way, way too much time explaining how bureaux and departments were set up within the Government, how Powell dealt with his river crews and how unfair his detractors and critics were.There s no doubt that Powell was a superlative amateur but dedicated scientist, kind of like Teddy Roosevelt, gaining honorary degrees from prestigious American universities and publishing important landmark papers on a myriad of subjects There s no doubt that he was a brave and determined patriot convinced that the West needed to be developed properly through scientific farming and irrigation If Stegner had had the talent, he could have transformed all his learned research into a great American novel about how the West was really won and how Powell had married a wonderful woman who underwent the same deprivations with her husband and, as far as I know, stayed true to him throughout The conflicts with fellow explorers could have been dramatized and might have created a flywheel ofstories from this exciting, thrilling chapter in American history So far I ve read two Wallace Stegner novels and this, and this book about geography, cartography, ethnology, and American politics is by far the best of the three I discovered my surprising weakness for geology writing after reading Basin and Range during my student days, and still regret feverishly selling it in order to buy ramen noodles.John Wesley Powell emerged one armed from the Civil War serving under Grant and gathered up a motley crew in order to traverse the Colorado River It had b So far I ve read two Wallace Stegner novels and this, and this book about geography, cartography, ethnology, and American politics is by far the best of the three I discovered my surprising weakness for geology writing after reading Basin and Range during my student days, and still regret feverishly selling it in order to buy ramen noodles.John Wesley Powell emerged one armed from the Civil War serving under Grant and gathered up a motley crew in order to traverse the Colorado River It had been done before, but casually, withexploratory than scientific aims in mind Powell was a self taught scientist and university professor In fact he would traverse the Colorado twice under U.S government aegis the first expedition had so many mishaps, overturned and destroyed boats in the rapids during which food supplies, clothing, oars, scientific instruments, and notes and diaries were lost , and near drownings, that its data gathering was severely hampered.Powell with his one arm, and a Paiute Indian, with his two.These two photos show one of the boats used in the second expedition, with an armchair bolted to the center.Not really having any idea whether the Colorado had rapids, or how bad they might be, Powell designed his boats blind for the first expedition They turned out to be quite unsuitable, too heavy and lacking maneuverability At times the going was so rough the boats had to be recaulked and repaired every night.Care for a ride down the rapids in an armchair Before the very last set of rapids on the first expedition, the men were extremely anxious The concern was that this set would be untraversable, and they would lose their lives Their food supplies were nearly depleted, their bacon and most of their flour gone bad they were eating biscuits the consistency of sandstone now Powell gave the men a choice of riding the final set of rapids and finishing the journey, or hiking up and out of the canyon and quitting the expedition, no hard feelings Three of the 10 or so men chose to hike up and out, whereupon the remaining men bounced their way down the river Sadly, once the three hikers reached the top of the canyon, they were mistaken for three white men who had recently molested a Shivwit squaw and were shot with arrows as they slept Later, not a man to hold a grudge, Powell met with the Shivwits and smoked a peace pipe in order to find out what had happened to his men He used the time productively, recording Shivwit vocabularies, as he did repeatedly for other tribes If I m not mistaken, he ended up with some 700 or so vocabularies Along with mapping, ethnology was one of his favorite pursuits.The next chapter in Powell s life entailed trying to persuade the U.S government and the western states that west of the 100th meridian a line through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas the lands were arid, and that the homesteading law should be changed The standard 160 acres that a homesteader could acquire for farming could in no way be arable unless irrigated and once it was irrigated, it would takethan one family to farm it Land for pasturage was in a different category and could be owned or disbursed in much huger chunks since it didn t require irrigation Powell battled with Congress repeatedly, both in trying to obtain funds for his scientific researches, and trying to persuade Western congressmen that their states were indeed arid Much like today, the Congressmen of the 1870s 1890s did not always believe in science, or only when it suited them It didn t suit them to believe that their state only got X amount of annual rainfall If they had once seen a lush green farm somewhere in the west, that was proof to them lush green farms could exist everywhere at every time in the west we ve got two feet of snow and it s 20 F, global warming can t possibly exist.I already knew the fallacy of this reasoning from reading The Worst Hard Time The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl Together these two books have me wanting to know everything there is to know about homesteading, irrigation, farming, and water rights in the western two fifths of the U.S.As an example of Stegner s nonfiction writing, this paragraph is about as perfect as it gets In the West the winter of 1886 clenched and loosened and clenched in blizzard and cold snap and January thaw, cold again, blizzard again Sometimes after sundown the sky was the clear green of forty below, and sometimes wind reached down out of the north to whine across the flats Snow moved before it, dry as sand, light as smoke, shifting in long ropy trails, and white coned against clumps of grass and the broken clods of fields, long cone and dark hollow formed in furrows and the ruts of wagon trails, and deeply, with edges like scimitars, around the corners of shacks and soddies In some of the shacks, after five days, a week, two weeks, a month, of inhuman weather, homesteaders would be burning their benches and tables and weighing the chances of a desperate dash to town lonely, half crazed Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, Americans, pioneers of the sod house frontier Sometimes they owned a team, a cow, a few chickens just as often they had nothing but a pair of hands, a willingness to borrow and lend, a tentative equity in 160 acres of Uncle Sam s free soil, a shelf full or partly full or almost empty of dried applies, prunes, sardines, crackers, coffee, flour, potatoes, with occasionally a hoarded can of Copenhagen snus or a bag of sunflower seeds More than one of them slept with his spuds to keep them from freezing More than one, come spring, was found under his dirty blankets with his bearded grin pointed at the ceiling, or halfway between house and cowshed where the blizzard had caught him. Beyond the Hundredth Meridian deserves its iconic status it is a work of both scholarship and poetry It relates the life of a unique, talented, and farsighted man it also portrays that man s attempt to save the Western United States from its worst myths and preconceptions about itself One can come away saddened that then, as now, facts and science can be ignored by selfish, greedy, narrow interests However, one can also be heartened by the way in which finally, reality tends to vindicate th Beyond the Hundredth Meridian deserves its iconic status it is a work of both scholarship and poetry It relates the life of a unique, talented, and farsighted man it also portrays that man s attempt to save the Western United States from its worst myths and preconceptions about itself One can come away saddened that then, as now, facts and science can be ignored by selfish, greedy, narrow interests However, one can also be heartened by the way in which finally, reality tends to vindicate those who have eyes to see This should have been muchboring than it was Other than Part I, which covers Powell s exploration of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the majority of this book centers on Powell s career leading the US Geological Survey In that role, Powell essentially held the ultimate power in determining how the West would be opened up to settlement The second half of this book covers his futile struggle with politicians who fought against his general plan Why is this such an interesting This should have been muchboring than it was Other than Part I, which covers Powell s exploration of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the majority of this book centers on Powell s career leading the US Geological Survey In that role, Powell essentially held the ultimate power in determining how the West would be opened up to settlement The second half of this book covers his futile struggle with politicians who fought against his general plan Why is this such an interesting read Stegner s dry wit and powerful writing are on full display, and his passion for the West bleeds through the passages He is not afraid to attack those disillusioned optimists who supported blind homesteading Sam Adams, Gilpin and Stewart are particularly lambasted and Stegner clearly believes that Powell was on the right track This is not an objective work, and Stegner does not attempt to make it seem so He is a Powell supporter and wants to make it clear that Powell is a forgotten name who deserves remembering.Informative and well written Excellent read Essential reading for people who, like me, who feel at home in the American West Masterfully written it s Stegner, after all it includes important reminders about water in the West, especially as it becomesscarce It also argues convincingly that this second opening of the West required collective action I could say socialism if I wanted to be provocative on a scale that had never been seen before in the U.S Those are the big federal water projects, without which we could not hav Essential reading for people who, like me, who feel at home in the American West Masterfully written it s Stegner, after all it includes important reminders about water in the West, especially as it becomesscarce It also argues convincingly that this second opening of the West required collective action I could say socialism if I wanted to be provocative on a scale that had never been seen before in the U.S Those are the big federal water projects, without which we could not have settled the West in anything like the way we actually did.Lovely, lovely book The high desert, red rock canyon country of south east Utah was the last part of the contiguous United States to be mapped, and with good reason That country is harsh, blistering, and difficult to navigate by foot, horse, boat, or, frankly, jeep Powell is the first white explorer to attempt this country and try to map the rivers and mountains and plateaus This book is that history and follows Powell s political career for several decades as he tries to convince Congress and the public so ho The high desert, red rock canyon country of south east Utah was the last part of the contiguous United States to be mapped, and with good reason That country is harsh, blistering, and difficult to navigate by foot, horse, boat, or, frankly, jeep Powell is the first white explorer to attempt this country and try to map the rivers and mountains and plateaus This book is that history and follows Powell s political career for several decades as he tries to convince Congress and the public so hot for the Homestead Act that agricultural farming just will not work in vast areas of the arid, desert West He failed, and it wasn t until decades later that the US Government started to understand his points The subsequent water war that has lasted and heightened in the last 15 or 20 years was predicted by Powell over 150 years ago, he knew exactly what would happen to the lands of the West if farming and ranching were left unchecked and the water resources were not protected.The most exciting part of this book is the first 150 pages where Powell and a small group of adventurers run the Green River from Wyoming down through the Uintas and eastern Utah, finally meeting up with the Grand Colorado River and continuing on through southeast Utah and northern Arizona, running the Grand Canyon, and ending up in the tip of Nevada His descriptions are fantastic and, in many ways, a love letter to the red rock country I hold so dear The rest of the book ispolitical and details the history of homesteading and immigration through the western United States, bits of the wars and treaties and decimation of the Native American tribes, and a lot of congressional arguments and acts and vetoes that led to the opening and settlement of the West Stegner wrote this in the 1950 s and it is fascinating how much still holds true 75 years later on the fight for water and other sustaining resources in the hot desert mesas and mountains This book is not an easy read It was written in the 1950s and is a scholarly work That said it is not difficult to read, just slow if you want to think about what is packed into this book.John Wesley Powell gained fame as the first man to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon He was so muchthan that His career spanned the late 1860s when he mapped the Colorado region to 1894 when some Senators finally pushed him out of his work with the U S Geological Survey USGS and Irri This book is not an easy read It was written in the 1950s and is a scholarly work That said it is not difficult to read, just slow if you want to think about what is packed into this book.John Wesley Powell gained fame as the first man to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon He was so muchthan that His career spanned the late 1860s when he mapped the Colorado region to 1894 when some Senators finally pushed him out of his work with the U S Geological Survey USGS and Irrigation Survey.Powell grew up much as John Muir did and gained an education in much the same manner Both men had itchy feet and went off exploring Powell loved the Plateau area of the West He was concerned that people thought it was something it wasn t and their mistaken ideas too often ended in tragedy His career was centered on trying to give people a better understanding of the arid regions beyond the hundredth meridian.Central to Powell s plan was the topographical mapping of the entire U.S This was still only 60% done in 1952 Yet, his influence did create the USGS and set it on a course to map the country.A major concern was that the country had formed its ideas and beliefs about farming in the eastern part of the country where rainfall was enough to make farming profitable The land laws were written for this type of farming A school of thought promoted the idea rain followed the plow so all homesteaders had to do was stake a claim and put in a crop.During the wet years in the 1870s this worked Then came the dry decades preceded by a terrible winter leaving people frozen in their homes, cattle frozen by the hundreds in their pastures And over 90% of homesteaders failed sometimes fatally There was even a dust bowl in the 1890s.I highly recommend this book It takes a good hard look at why western policies are the way they are, where the water wars came from and how politics can both help or destroy the solutions Those western myths and legends are hard to deal with but must be understood for what they are before a solution to the arid west can be found and implemented With the west becoming even drier and the population growing, these questions must be faced and do affect the entire country `DOWNLOAD KINDLE ⇵ Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West ↠ John Wesley Powell fought in the Civil War and it cost him an arm But it didn t stop him from exploring the American West Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell s struggle against western geography and Washington politics We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell s distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West