Old West Lifestyle & Stories


Today’s story is a lesson about quitting.

Back in 1869 John Wesley Powell took an expedition of 11 men and 4 wooden boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It was an under-financed project, and virtually every day the expedition was on the verge of destruction.

On this date, near the lower end of the canyon, the party saw a giant rapids. They spent the night on the shore. Powell wrote, “The billows are huge and I fear our boats could not ride them…There is discontent in the camp tonight and I fear some of the party will take to the mountains but hope not.”

The next day, convinced the rapids were impassable, three of Powell’s men did leave. On this day in 1869, Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland, and William H. Dunn said goodbye to Powell and the other men and began the long climb up out of the Grand Canyon.

The remaining members of the party steeled themselves, climbed into boats, and pushed off into the wild rapids. Amazingly, all of them survived and the expedition emerged from the canyon the next day.

When Powell reached the nearest settlement, he learned the three men who left had been less fortunate–they encountered a war party of Indians and were killed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *