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Canyons of the Colorado by J. W. Powell

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Produced by Eric Eldred




Formerly Director of the United States Geological Survey. Member of the
National Academy of Sciences, etc., etc.


First published 1895


On my return from the first exploration of the canyons of the Colorado,
I found that our journey had been the theme of much newspaper writing. A
story of disaster had been circulated, with many particulars of hardship
and tragedy, so that it was currently believed throughout the United
States that all the members of the party were lost save one. A good
friend of mine had gathered a great number of obituary notices, and it
was interesting and rather flattering to me to discover the high esteem
in which I had been held by the people of the United States. In my
supposed death I had attained to a glory which I fear my continued life
has not fully vindicated.

The exploration was not made for adventure, but purely for scientific
purposes, geographic and geologic, and I had no intention of writing an
account of it, but only of recording the scientific results. Immediately
on my return I was interviewed a number of times, and these interviews
were published in the daily press; and here I supposed all interest in
the exploration ended. But in 1874 the editors of Scribner's Monthly
requested me to publish a popular account of the Colorado exploration in
that journal. To this I acceded and prepared four short articles, which
were elaborately illustrated from photographs in my possession.

In the same year--1874--at the instance of Professor Henry of the
Smithsonian Institution, I was called before an appropriations committee
of the House of Representatives to explain certain estimates made by the
Professor for funds to continue scientific work which had been in
progress from the date of the original exploration. Mr. Garfield was
chairman of the committee, and after listening to my account of the
progress of the geographic and geologic work, he asked me why no history
of the original exploration of the canyons had been published. I
informed him that I had no interest in that work as an adventure, but
was interested only in the scientific results, and that these results
had in part been published and in part were in course of publication.
Thereupon Mr. Garfield, in a pleasant manner, insisted that the history
of the exploration should be published by the government, and that I
must understand that my scientific work would be continued by additional
appropriations only upon my promise that I would publish an account of
the exploration. I made the promise, and the task was immediately

My daily journal had been kept on long and narrow strips of brown paper,
which were gathered into little volumes that were bound in sole leather
in camp as they were completed. After some deliberation I decided to
publish this journal, with only such emendations and corrections as its
hasty writing in camp necessitated. It chanced that the journal was
written in the present tense, so that the first account of my trip
appeared in that tense. The journal thus published was not a lengthy
paper, constituting but a part of a report entitled "Exploration of the
Colorado River of the West and its Tributaries. Explored in 1869, 1870,
1871, and 1872, under the direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution." The other papers published with it relate to the
geography, geology, and natural history of the country. And here again I
supposed all account of the exploration ended. But from that time until
the present I have received many letters urging that a popular account
of the exploration and a description of that wonderful land should be
published by me. This call has been voiced occasionally in the daily
press and sometimes in the magazines, until at last I have concluded to
publish a fuller account in popular form. In doing this I have revised
and enlarged the original journal of exploration, and have added several
new chapters descriptive of the region and of the people who inhabit it.
Realizing the difficulty of painting in word colors a land so strange,
so wonderful, and so vast in its features, in the weakness of my
descriptive powers I have sought refuge in graphic illustration, and for
this purpose have gathered from the magazines and from various
scientific reports an abundance of material. All of this illustrative
material originated in my work, but it has already been used elsewhere.

Many years have passed since the exploration, and those who were boys
with me in the enterprise are--ah, most of them are dead, and the living
are gray with age. Their bronzed, hardy, brave faces come before me as
they appeared in the vigor of life; their lithe but powerful forms seem
to move around me; and the memory of the men and their heroic deeds, the
men and their generous acts, overwhelms me with a joy that seems almost
a grief, for it starts a fountain of tears. I was a maimed man; my right
arm was gone; and these brave men, these good men, never forgot it. In
every danger my safety was their first care, and in every waking hour
some kind service was rendered me, and they transfigured my misfortune
into a boon.

To you--J. C. Sumner, William H. Dunn, W. H. Powell, G. Y. Bradley, O.
G. Howland, Seneca Howland, Prank Goodman, W. E. Hawkins, and Andrew
Hall--my noble and generous companions, dead and alive, I dedicate this



I. The Valley of the Colorado

II. Mesas and, Buttes

III. Mountains and Plateaus

IV. Cliffs and Terraces

V. From Green River City to Flaming Gorge

VI. From Flaming Gorge to the Gate of Lodore

VII. The Canyon of Lodore

VIII. From Echo Park to the Mouth of the Uinta River

IX. From the Mouth of the Uinta River to the Junction of the Grand and

X. From the Junction of the Grand and Green to the Mouth of the Little

XI. From the Little Colorado to the Foot of the Grand Canyon

XII. The Rio Virgen and the Uinkaret Mountains

XIII. Over the River

XIV. To Zuni

XV. The Grand Canyon





The Colorado River is formed by the junction of the Grand and Green.

The Grand River has its source in the Rocky Mountains, five or six miles
west of Long's Peak. A group of little alpine lakes, that receive their
waters directly from perpetual snowbanks, discharge into a common
reservoir known as Grand Lake, a beautiful sheet of water. Its quiet
surface reflects towering cliffs and crags of granite on its eastern
shore, and stately pines and firs stand on its western margin.

The Green River heads near Fremont's Peak, in the Wind River Mountains.
This river, like the Grand, has its sources in alpine lakes fed by
everlasting snows. Thousands of these little lakes, with deep, cold,
emerald waters, are embosomed among the crags of the Rocky Mountains.
These streams, born in the cold, gloomy solitudes of the upper mountain
region, have a strange, eventful history as they pass down through
gorges, tumbling in cascades and cataracts, until they reach the hot,
arid plains of the Lower Colorado, where the waters that were so clear
above empty as turbid floods into the Gulf of California.

The mouth of the Colorado is in latitude 31 degrees 53 minutes and
longitude 115 degrees. The source of the Grand River is in latitude 40
degrees 17' and longitude 105 degrees 43' approximately. The source of
the Green River is in latitude 43 degrees 15' and longitude 109 degrees
54' approximately.

The Green River is larger than the Grand and is the upper continuation
of the Colorado. Including this river, the whole length of the stream is
about 2,000 miles. The region of country drained by the Colorado and its
tributaries is about 800 miles in length and varies from 300 to 500
miles in width, containing about 300,000 square miles, an area larger
than all the New England and Middle States with Maryland, Virginia and
West Virginia added, or nearly as large as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa,
Illinois, and Missouri combined.

There are two distinct portions of the basin of the Colorado, a desert
portion below and a plateau portion above. The lower third, or desert
portion of the basin, is but little above the level of the sea, though
here and there ranges of mountains rise to an altitude of from 2,000 to
6,000 feet. This part of the valley is bounded on the northeast by a
line of cliffs, which present a bold, often vertical step, hundreds or
thousands of feet to the table-lands above. On the California side a
vast desert stretches westward, past the head of the Gulf of California,
nearly to the shore of the Pacific. Between the desert and the sea a
narrow belt of valley, hill, and mountain of wonderful beauty is found.
Over this coastal zone there falls a balm distilled from the great
ocean, as gentle showers and refreshing dews bathe the land. When rains
come the emerald hills laugh with delight as bourgeoning bloom is spread
in the sunlight. When the rains have ceased all the verdure turns to
gold. Then slowly the hills are brinded until the rains come again, when
verdure and bloom again peer through the tawny wreck of the last year's
greenery. North of the Gulf of California the desert is known as
"Coahuila Valley," the most desolate region on the continent. At one
time in the geologic history of this country the Gulf of California
extended a long distance farther to the northwest, above the point where
the Colorado River now enters it; but this stream brought its mud from
the mountains and the hills above and poured it into the gulf and
gradually erected a vast dam across it, until the waters above were
separated from the waters below; then the Colorado cut a channel into
the lower gulf. The upper waters, being cut off from the sea, gradually
evaporated, and what is known as Coahuila Valley was the bottom of this
ancient upper gulf, and thus the land is now below the level of the sea.
Between Coahuila Valley and the river there are many low, ashen-gray
mountains standing in short ranges. The rainfall is so little that no
perennial streams are formed. When a great rain comes it washes the
mountain sides and gathers on its way a deluge of sand, which it spreads
over the plain below, for the streams do not carry the sediment to the
sea. So the mountains are washed down and the valleys are filled. On the
Arizona side of the river desert plains are interrupted by desert
mountains. Far to the eastward the country rises until the Sierra Madre
are reached in New Mexico, where these mountains divide the waters of
the Colorado from the Rio Grande del Norte. Here in New Mexico the Gila
River has its source. Some of its tributaries rise in the mountains to
the south, in the territory belonging to the republic of Mexico, but the
Gila gathers the greater part of its waters from a great plateau on the
northeast. Its sources are everywhere in pine-clad mountains and
plateaus, but all of the affluents quickly descend into the desert
valley below, through which the Gila winds its way westward to the
Colorado. In times of continued drought the bed of the Gila is dry, but
the region is subject to great and violent storms, and floods roll down
from the heights with marvelous precipitation, carrying devastation on
their way. Where the Colorado River forms the boundary between
California and Arizona it cuts through a number of volcanic rocks by
black, yawning canyons. Between these canyons the river has a low but
rather narrow flood plain, with cottonwood groves scattered here and
there, and a chaparral of mesquite bearing beans and thorns. Four
hundred miles above its mouth and more than two hundred miles above the
Gila, the Colorado has a second tributary--"Bill Williams' River" it is
called by excessive courtesy. It is but a muddy creek. Two hundred miles
above this the Rio Virgen joins the Colorado. This river heads in the
Markagunt Plateau and the Pine Valley Mountains of Utah. Its sources are
7,000 or 8,000 feet above the sea, but from the beautiful course of the
upper region it soon drops into a great sandy valley below and becomes a
river of flowing sand. At ordinary stages it is very wide but very
shallow, rippling over the quicksands in tawny waves. On its way it cuts
through the Beaver Mountains by a weird canyon. On either side
grease-wood plains stretch far away, interrupted here and there by
bad-land hills.

The region of country lying on either side of the Colorado for six
hundred miles of its course above the gulf, stretching to Coahuila
Valley below on the west and to the highlands where the Gila heads on
the east, is one of singular characteristics. The plains and valleys are
low, arid, hot, and naked, and the volcanic mountains scattered here and
there are lone and desolate. During the long months the sun pours its
heat upon the rocks and sands, untempered by clouds above or forest
shades beneath. The springs are so few in number that their names are
household words in every Indian rancheria and every settler's home; and
there are no brooks, no creeks, and no rivers but the trunk of the
Colorado and the trunk of the Gila. The few plants are strangers to the
dwellers in the temperate zone. On the mountains a few junipers and
pinons are found, and cactuses, agave, and yuccas, low, fleshy plants
with bayonets and thorns. The landscape of vegetal life is weird--no
forests, no meadows, no green hills, no foliage, but clublike stems of
plants armed with stilettos. Many of the plants bear gorgeous flowers.
The birds are few, but often of rich plumage. Hooded rattlesnakes,
horned toads, and lizards crawl in the dust and among the rocks. One of
these lizards, the "Gila monster," is poisonous. Rarely antelopes are
seen, but wolves, rabbits, and sundry ground squirrels abound.

The desert valley of the Colorado, which has been described as distinct
from the plateau region above, is the home of many Indian tribes. Away
up at the sources of the Gila, where the pines and cedars stand and
where creeks and valleys are found, is a part of the Apache land. These
tribes extend far south into the republic of Mexico. The Apaches are
intruders in this country, having at some time, perhaps many centuries
ago, migrated from British America. They speak an Athapascan language.
The Apaches and Navajos are the American Bedouins. On their way from the
far North they left several colonies in Washington, Oregon, and
California. They came to the country on foot, but since the Spanish
invasion they have become skilled horsemen. They are wily warriors and
implacable enemies, feared by all other tribes. They are hunters,
warriors, and priests, these professions not yet being differentiated.
The cliffs of the region have many caves, in which these people perform
their religious rites. The Sierra Madre formerly supported abundant
game, and the little Sonora deer was common. Bears and mountain lions
were once found in great numbers, and they put the courage and prowess
of the Apaches to a severe test. Huge rattlesnakes are common, and the
rattlesnake god is one of the deities of the tribes.

In the valley of the Gila and on its tributaries from the northeast are
the Pimas, Maricopas, and Papagos. They are skilled agriculturists,
cultivating lands by irrigation. In the same region many ruined villages
are found. The dwellings of these towns in the valley were built chiefly
of grout, and the fragments of the ancient pueblos still remaining have
stood through centuries of storm. Other pueblos near the cliffs on the
northeast were built of stone. The people who occupied them cultivated
the soil by irrigation, and their hydraulic works were on an extensive
scale. They built canals scores of miles in length and built reservoirs
to store water. They were skilled workers in pottery. From the fibers of
some of the desert plants they made fabrics with which to clothe
themselves, and they cultivated cotton. They were deft artists in
picture-writings, which they etched on the rocks. Many interesting
vestiges of their ancient art remain, testifying to their skill as
savage artisans. It seems probable that the Pimas, Maricopas, and
Papagos are the same people who built the pueblos and constructed the
irrigation works; so their traditions state. It is also handed down that
the pueblos were destroyed in wars with the Apaches. In these groves of
the flood plain of the Colorado the Mojave and Yuma Indians once had
their homes. They caught fish from the river and snared a few rabbits in
the desert, but lived mainly on mesquite beans, the hearts of yucca
plants, and the fruits of the cactus. They also gathered a harvest from
the river reeds. To some slight extent they cultivated the soil by rude
irrigation and raised corn and squashes. They lived almost naked, for
the climate is warm and dry. Sometimes a year passes without a drop of
rain. Still farther to the north the Chemehuevas lived, partly along the
river and partly in the mountains to the west, where a few springs are
found. They belong to the great Shoshonian family. On the Rio Virgen and
in the mountains round about, a confederacy of tribes speaking the Ute
language and belonging to the Shoshonian family have their homes. These
people built their sheltering homes of boughs and the bast of the
juniper. In such shelters, they lived in winter, but in summer they
erected extensive booths of poles and willows, sometimes large enough
for the accommodation of a tribe of 100 or 200 persons. A wide gap in
culture separates the Pimas, Maricopas, and Papagos from the
Chemehuevas. The first were among the most advanced tribes found in the
United States; the last were among the very lowest; they are the
original "Digger" Indians, called so by all the other tribes, but the
name has gradually spread beyond its original denotation to many tribes
of Utah, Nevada, and California.

The low desert, with its desolate mountains, which has thus been
described is plainly separated from the upper region of plateau by the
Mogollon Escarpment, which, beginning in the Sierra Madre of New Mexico,
extends northwestward across the Colorado far into Utah, where it ends
on the margin of the Great Basin. The rise by this escarpment varies
from 3,000 to more than 4,000 feet. The step from the lowlands to the
highlands which is here called the Mogollon Escarpment is not a simple
line of cliffs, but is a complicated and irregular facade presented to
the southwest. Its different portions have been named by the people
living below as distinct mountains, as Shiwits Mountains, Mogollon
Mountains, Pinal Mountains, Sierra Calitro, etc., but they all rise to
the summit of the same great plateau region.

The upper region, extending to the headwaters of the Grand and Green
Rivers, constitutes the great Plateau Province. These plateaus are
drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries; the eastern and
southern margin by the Rio Grande and its tributaries, and the western
by streams that flow into the Great Basin and are lost in the Great Salt
Lake and other bodies of water that have no drainage to the sea. The
general surface of this upper region is from 5,000 to 8,000 feet above
sea level, though the channels of the streams are cut much lower.

This high region, on the east, north, and west, is set with ranges of
snow-clad mountains attaining an altitude above the sea varying from
8,000 to 14,000 feet. All winter long snow falls on its mountain-crested
rim, filling the gorges, half burying the forests, and covering the
crags and peaks with a mantle woven by the winds from the waves of the
sea. When the summer sun comes this snow melts and tumbles down the
mountain sides in millions of cascades. A million cascade brooks unite
to form a thousand torrent creeks; a thousand torrent creeks unite to
form half a hundred rivers beset with cataracts; half a hundred roaring
rivers unite to form the Colorado, which rolls, a mad, turbid stream,
into the Gulf of California.

Consider the action of one of these streams. Its source is in the
mountains, where the snows fall; its course, through the arid plains.
Now, if at the river's flood storms were falling on the plains, its
channel would be cut but little faster than the adjacent country would
be washed, and the general level would thus be preserved; but under the
conditions here mentioned, the river continually deepens its beds; so
all the streams cut deeper and still deeper, until their banks are
towering cliffs of solid rock. These deep, narrow gorges are called

For more than a thousand miles along its course the Colorado has cut for
itself such a canyon; but at some few points where lateral streams join
it the canyon is broken, and these narrow, transverse valleys divide it
into a series of canyons.

The Virgen, Kanab, Paria, Escalante, Fremont, San Rafael, Price, and
Uinta on the west, the Grand, White, Yampa, San Juan, and Colorado
Chiquito on the east, have also cut for themselves such narrow winding
gorges, or deep canyons. Every river entering these has cut another
canyon; every lateral creek has cut a canyon; every brook runs in a
canyon; every rill born of a shower and born again of a shower and
living only during these showers has cut for itself a canyon; so that
the whole upper portion of the basin of the Colorado is traversed by a
labyrinth of these deep gorges.

Owing to a great variety of geological conditions, these canyons differ
much in general aspect. The Rio Virgen, between Long Valley and the
Mormon town of Rockville, runs through Parunuweap Canyon, which is often
not more than 20 or 30 feet in width and is from 600 to 1,500 feet deep.
Away to the north the Yampa empties into the Green by a canyon that I
essayed to cross in the fall of 1868, but was baffled from day to day,
and the fourth day had nearly passed before I could find my way down to
the river. But thirty miles above its mouth this canyon ends, and a
narrow valley with a flood plain is found. Still farther up the stream
the river comes down through another canyon, and beyond that a narrow
valley is found, and its upper course is now through a canyon and now
through a valley. All these canyons are alike changeable in their
topographic characteristics.

The longest canyon through which the Colorado runs is that between the
mouth of the Colorado Chiquito and the Grand Wash, a distance of 217 1/2
miles. But this is separated from another above, 65 1/2 miles in length,
only by the narrow canyon valley of the Colorado Chiquito.

All the scenic features of this canyon land are on a giant scale,
strange and weird. The streams run at depths almost inaccessible,
lashing the rocks which beset their channels, rolling in rapids and
plunging in falls, and making a wild music which but adds to the gloom
of the solitude. The little valleys nestling along the streams are
diversified by bordering willows, clumps of box elder, and small groves
of cottonwood.

Low mesas, dry, treeless, stretch back from the brink of the canyon,
often showing smooth surfaces of naked, solid rock. In some places the
country rock is composed of marls, and here the surface is a bed of
loose, disintegrated material through which one walks as in a bed of
ashes. Often these marls are richly colored and variegated. In other
places the country rock is a loose sandstone, the disintegration of
which has left broad stretches of drifting sand, white, golden, and
vermilion. Where this sandstone is a conglomerate, a paving of pebbles
has been left,--a mosaic of many colors, polished by the drifting sands
and glistening in the sunlight.

After the canyons, the most remarkable features of the country are the
long lines of cliffs. These are bold escarpments scores or hundreds of
miles in length,--great geographic steps, often hundreds or thousands of
feet in altitude, presenting steep faces of rock, often vertical. Having
climbed one of these steps, you may descend by a gentle, sometimes
imperceptible, slope to the foot of another. They thus present a series
of terraces, the steps of which are well-defined escarpments of rock.
The lateral extension of such a line of cliffs is usually very
irregular; sharp salients are projected on the plains below, and deep
recesses are cut into the terraces above. Intermittent streams coming
down the cliffs have cut many canyons or canyon valleys, by which the
traveler may pass from the plain below to the terrace above. By these
gigantic stairways he may ascend to high plateaus, covered with forests
of pine and fir.

The region is further diversified by short ranges of eruptive mountains.
A vast system of fissures--huge cracks in the rocks to the depths
below--extends across the country. From these crevices floods of lava
have poured, covering mesas and table-lands with sheets of black basalt.
The expiring energies of these volcanic agencies have piled up huge
cinder cones that stand along the fissures, red, brown, and black, naked
of vegetation, and conspicuous landmarks, set as they are in contrast to
the bright, variegated rocks of sedimentary origin.

These canyon gorges, obstructing cliffs, and desert wastes have
prevented the traveler from penetrating the country, so that until the
Colorado River Exploring Expedition was organized it was almost unknown.
In the early history of the country Spanish adventurers penetrated the
region and told marvelous stories of its wonders. It was also traversed
by priests who sought to convert the Indian tribes to Christianity. In
later days, since the region has been under the control of the United
States, various government expeditions have penetrated the land. Yet
enough had been seen in the earlier days to foment rumor, and many
wonderful stories were told in the hunter's cabin and the prospector's
camp--stories of parties entering the gorge in boats and being carried
down with fearful velocity into whirlpools where all were overwhelmed in
the abyss of waters, and stories of underground passages for the great
river into which boats had passed never to be seen again. It was
currently believed that the river was lost under the rocks for several
hundred miles. There were other accounts of great falls whose roaring
music could be heard on the distant mountain summits; and there were
stories current of parties wandering on the brink of the canyon and
vainly endeavoring to reach the waters below, and perishing with thirst
at last in sight of the river which was roaring its mockery into their
dying ears.

The Indians, too, have woven the mysteries of the canyons into the myths
of their religion. Long ago there was a great and wise chief who mourned
the death of his wife and would not be comforted, until Tavwoats, one of
the Indian gods, came to him and told him his wife was in a happier
land, and offered to take him there that he might see for himself, if,
upon his return, he would cease to mourn. The great chief promised. Then
Tavwoats made a trail through the mountains that intervene between that
beautiful land, the balmy region of the great west, and this, the desert
home of the poor Numa. This trail was the canyon gorge of the Colorado.
Through it he led him; and when they had returned the deity exacted from
the chief a promise that he would tell no one of the trail. Then he
rolled a river into the gorge, a mad, raging stream, that should engulf
any that might attempt to enter thereby.



From the Grand Canyon of the Colorado a great plateau extends
southeastward through Arizona nearly to the line of New Mexico, where
this elevated land merges into the Sierra Madre. The general surface of
this plateau is from 6,000 to 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. It
is sharply defined from the lowlands of Arizona by the Mogollon
Escarpment. On the northeast it gradually falls off into the valley of
the Little Colorado, and on the north it terminates abruptly in the
Grand Canyon.

Various tributaries of the Gila have their sources in this escarpment,
and before entering the desolate valley below they run in beautiful
canyons which they have carved for themselves in the margin of the
plateau. Sometimes these canyons are in the sandstones and limestones
which constitute the platform of the great elevated region called the
San Francisco Plateau. The escarpment is caused by a fault, the great
block of the upper side being lifted several thousand feet above the
valley region. Through the fissure lavas poured out, and in many places
the escarpment is concealed by sheets of lava. The canyons in these lava
beds are often of great interest.

On the plateau a number of volcanic mountains are found, and black
cinder cones are scattered in profusion. Through the forest lands are
many beautiful prairies and glades that in midsummer are decked with
gorgeous wild flowers. The rains of the region give source to few
perennial streams, but intermittent streams have carved deep gorges in
the plateau, so that it is divided into many blocks. The upper surface,
although forest-clad and covered with beautiful grasses, is almost
destitute of water. A few springs are found, but they are far apart, and
some of the volcanic craters hold lakelets. The limestone and basaltic
rocks sometimes hold pools of water; and where the basins are deep the
waters are perennial. Such pools are known as "water pockets."

This is the great timber region of Arizona. Not many years ago it was a
vast park for elk, deer, and antelope, and bears and mountain lions were
abundant. This is the last home of the wild turkey in the United States,
for they are still found here in great numbers. San Francisco Peak is
the highest of these volcanic mountains, and about it are grouped in an
irregular way many volcanic cones, one of which presents some remarkable
characteristics. A portion of the cone is of bright reddish cinders,
while the adjacent rocks are of black basalt. The contrast in the
colors is so great that on viewing the mountain from a distance the red
cinders seem to be on fire. From this circumstance the cone has been
named Sunset Peak. When distant from it ten or twenty miles it is hard
to believe that the effect is produced by contrasting colors, for the
peak seems to glow with a light of its own.

In centuries past the San Francisco Plateau was the home of
pueblo-building tribes, and the ruins of their habitations are widely
scattered over this elevated region. Thousands of little dwellings are
found, usually built of blocks of basalt. In some cases they were
clustered in little towns, and three of these deserve further mention.

A few miles south of San Francisco Peak there is an intermittent stream
known as Walnut Creek. This stream runs in a deep gorge 600 to 800 feet
below the general surface. The stream has cut its way through the
limestone and through series of sandstones, and bold walls of rock are
presented on either side. In some places the softer sandstones lying
between the harder limestones and sandstones have yielded to weathering
agencies, so that there are caves running along the face of the wall,
sometimes for hundreds or thousands of feet, but not very deep. These
natural shelves in the rock were utilized by an ancient tribe of Indians
for their homes. They built stairways to the waters below and to the
hunting grounds above, and lived in the caves. They walled the fronts of
the caves with rock, which they covered with plaster, and divided them
into compartments or rooms; and now many hundreds of these dwellings are
found. Such is the cliff village of Walnut Canyon. In the ruins of these
cliff houses mortars and pestles are found in great profusion, and when
first discovered many articles of pottery were found, and still many
potsherds are seen. The people were very skillful in the manufacture of
stone implements, especially spears, knives, and arrows.

East of San Francisco Peak there is another low volcanic cone, composed
of ashes which have been slightly cemented by the processes of time, but
which can be worked with great ease. On this cone another tribe of
Indians made its village, and for the purpose they sunk shafts into the
easily worked but partially consolidated ashes, and after penetrating
from the surface three or four feet they enlarged the chambers so as to
make them ten or twelve feet in diameter. In such a chamber they made a
little fireplace, its chimney running up on one side of the wellhole by
which the chamber was entered. Often they excavated smaller chambers
connected with the larger, so that sometimes two, three, four, or even
five smaller connecting chambers are grouped about a large central room.
The arts of these people resembled those of the people who dwelt in
Walnut Canyon. One thing more is worthy of special notice. On the very
top of the cone they cleared oif a space for a courtyard, or assembly
square, and about it they erected booths, and within the square a space
of ground was prepared with a smooth floor, on which they performed the
ceremonies of their religion and danced to the gods in prayer and

Some twelve or fifteen miles farther east, in another volcanic cone, a
rough crater is found, surrounded by piles of cinders and angular
fragments of lava. In the walls of this crater many caves are found, and
here again a village was established, the caves in the scoria being
utilized as habitations of men. These little caves were fashioned into
rooms of more symmetry and convenience than originally found, and the
openings to the caves were walled. Nor did these people neglect the
gods, for in this crater town, as in the cinder-cone town, a place of
worship was prepared.

Many other caves opening into the canyon and craters of this plateau
were utilized in like manner as homes for tribal people, and in one cave
far to the south a fine collection of several hundred pieces of pottery
has been made.

On the northeast of the San Francisco Plateau is the valley of the
Little Colorado, a tributary of the Colorado River. This river is formed
by streams that head chiefly on the San Francisco Plateau, but in part
on the Zuni Plateau. The Little Colorado is a marvelous river. In
seasons of great rains it is a broad but shallow torrent of mud; in
seasons of drought it dwindles and sometimes entirely disappears along
portions of its course. The upper tributaries usually run in beautiful
box canyons. Then the river flows through a low, desolate, bad-land
valley, and the river of mud is broad but shallow, except in seasons of
great floods. But fifty miles or more above the junction of this stream
with the Colorado River proper, it plunges into a canyon with limestone
walls, and steadily this canyon increases in depth, until at the mouth
of the stream it has walls more than 4,000 feet in height. The contrast
between this canyon portion and the upper valley portion is very great.
Above, the river ripples in a broad sheet of mud; below, it plunges with
violence over great cataracts and rapids. Above, the bad lands stretch
on either hand. This is the region of the Painted Desert, for the marls
and soft rocks of which the hills are composed are of many
colors--chocolate, red, vermilion, pink, buff, and gray; and the naked
hills are carved in fantastic forms. Passing to the region below,
suddenly the channel is narrowed and tumbles down into a deep, solemn
gorge with towering limestone cliffs.

All round the margin of the valley of the Little Colorado, on the side
next to the Zuni Plateau and on the side next to the San Francisco
Plateau, every creek and every brook runs in a beautiful canyon. Then
down in the valley there are stretches of desert covered with sage and
grease wood. Still farther down we come to the bad lands of the Painted
Desert; and scattered through the entire region low mesas or smaller
plateaus are everywhere found.

On the northeast side of the Little Colorado a great mesa country
stretches far to the northward. These mesas are but minor plateaus that
are separated by canyons and canyon valleys, and sometimes by low sage
plains. They rise from a few hundred to 2,000 or 3,000 feet above the
lowlands on which they are founded. The distinction between plateaus and
mesas is vague; in fact, in local usage the term mesa is usually applied
to all of these tables which do not carry volcanic mountains. The mesas
are carved out of platforms of horizontal or nearly horizontal rocks by
perennial or intermittent streams, and as the climate is exceedingly
arid most of the streams flow only during seasons of rain, and for the
greater part of the year they are dry arroyos. Many of the longer
channels are dry for long periods. Some of them are opened only by
floods that come ten or twenty years apart.

The region is also characterized by many buttes. These are plateaus or
mesas of still smaller dimensions in horizontal distance, though their
altitude may be hundreds or thousands of feet. Like the mesas and
plateaus, they sometimes form very conspicuous features of a landscape
and are of marvelous beauty by reason of their sculptured escarpments.
Below they are often buttressed on a magnificent scale. Softer beds give
rise to a vertical structure of buttresses and columns, while the harder
strata appear in great horizontal lines, suggesting architectural
entablature. Then the strata of which these buttes are composed are of
many vivid colors; so color and form unite in producing architectural
effects, and the buttes often appear like Cyclopean temples.

There is yet one other peculiarity of this landscape deserving mention
here. Before the present valleys and canyons were carved and the mesas
lifted in relief, the region was one of great volcanic activity. In
various places vents were formed and floods of lava poured in sheets
over the land. Then for a time volcanic action ceased, and rains and
rivers carved out the valleys and left the mesas and mountains standing.
These same agencies carried away the lava beds that spread over the
lands. But wherever there was a lava vent it was filled with molten
matter, which on cooling was harder than the sandstones and marls
through which it penetrated. The chimney to the region of fire below was
thus filled with a black rock which yielded more slowly to the
disintegrating agencies of weather, and so black rocks rise up from
mesas on every hand. These are known as volcanic necks, and, being of a
somber color, in great contrast with the vividly colored rocks from
which they rise and by which they are surrounded, they lend a strange
aspect to the landscape. Besides these necks, there are a few volcanic
mountains that tower over all the landscape and gather about themselves
the clouds of heaven. Mount Taylor, which stands over the divide on the
drainage of the Rio Grande del Norte, is one of the most imposing of the
dead volcanoes of this region. Still later eruptions of lava are found
here and there, and in the present valleys and canyons sheets of black
basalt are often found. These are known as coulees, and sometimes from
these coulees cinder cones arise.

This valley of the Little Colorado is also the site of many ruins, and
the villages or towns found in such profusion were of mueh larger size
than those on the San Francisco Plateau. Some of the pueblo-building
peoples yet remain. The Zuni Indians still occupy their homes, and they
prove to be a most interesting people. They have cultivated the soil
from time immemorial. They build their houses of stone and line them
with plaster; and they have many interesting arts, being skilled potters
and deft weavers. The seasons are about equally divided between labor,
worship, and play.

A hundred miles to the northwest of the Zuni pueblo are the seven
pueblos of Tusayan: Oraibi, Shumopavi, Shupaulovi, Mashongnavi,
Sichumovi, Walpi, and llano. These towns are built on high cliffs. The
people speak a language radically different from that of the Zuni, but,
with the exception of that of the inhabitants of Hano, closely allied to
that of the Utes. The people of Hano are Tewans, whose ancestors moved
from the Rio Grande to Tusayan during the great Pueblo revolt against
Spanish authority in 1680-96.

Between the Little Colorado and the Rio San Juan there is a vast system
of plateaus, mesas, and buttes, volcanic mountains, volcanic cones, and
volcanic cinder cones. Some of the plateaus are forest-clad and have
perennial waters and are gemmed with lakelets. The mesas are sometimes
treeless, but are often covered with low, straggling, gnarled cedars and
pifions, trees that are intermediate in size between the bushes of sage
in the desert and the forest trees of the elevated regions. On the
western margin of this district the great Navajo Mountain stands, on the
brink of Glen Canyon, and from its summit many of the stupendous gorges
of the Colorado River can be seen. Central in the region stand the
Carrizo Mountains, the Lukachukai Mountains, the Tunitcha Mountains, and
the Chusca Mountains, which in fact constitute one system, extending
from north to south in the order named. These are really plateaus
crowned with volcanic peaks.

But the district we are now describing, which stretches from the Little
Colorado to the San Juan, is best characterized by its canyons. The
whole region is a labyrinth of gorges. On the west the Navajo Creek and
its tributaries run in profound chasms. Farther south the Moencopie with
its tributaries is a labyrinth of gorges; and all the streams that run
west into the Colorado, south into the Little Colorado, or north into
the San Juan have carved deep, wild, and romantic gorges. Immediately
west of the Chusca Plateau the Canyon del Muerta and the Canyon de
Chelly are especially noticeable. Many of these canyons are carved in a
homogeneous red sandstone, and their walls are often vertical for
hundreds of feet. Sometimes the canyons widen into narrow valleys, which
are thus walled by impassable cliffs, except where lateral canyons cut
their way through the battlements.

In these mountains, plateaus, mesas, and canyons the Navajo Indians have
their home. The Navajos are intruders in this country. They belong to
the Athapascan stock of British America and speak an Athapascan
language, like the Apaches of the Sierra Madre country. They are a
stately, athletic, and bold people. While yet this country was a part of
Mexico they acquired great herds of horses and flocks of sheep, and
lived in opulence compared with many of the other tribes of North
America. After the acquisition of this territory by the United States
they became disaffected by reason of encroaching civilization, and the
petty wars between United States troops and the Navajos were in the main
disastrous to our forces, due in part to the courage, skill, and
superior numbers of the Navajos and in part to the character of the
country, which is easily defended, as the routes of travel along the
canyons present excellent opportunities for defense and ambuscade. But
under the leadership and by the advice of Kit Carson these Indians were
ultimately conquered. This wily but brave frontiersman recommended a new
method of warfare, which was to destroy the herds and flocks of the
Navajos; and this course was pursued. Regular troops with volunteers
from California and New Mexico went into the Navajo country and shot
down their herds of half-wild horses, killed hundreds of thousands of
sheep, cut down their peach orchards which were scattered about the
springs and little streams, destroyed their irrigating works, and
devastated their little patches of corn, squashes, and melons; and
entirely neglected the Navajos themselves, who were concealed among the
rocks of the canyons. Seeing the destruction wrought upon their means of
livelihood, the Navajos at once yielded. More than. 8,000 of them
surrendered at one time, coming in in straggling bands. They were then
removed far to the east, near to the Texas line, and established on a
reservation at the Bosque Redondo. Here they engaged in civilized
farming. A great system of irrigation was developed; but the
appropriations necessary for the maintenance of so large a body of
people in the course of their passage from savagery to civilization
seemed too great to those responsible for making grants from the
national treasury, and just before 1870 the Navajos were permitted to
break up their homes at the Bosque Redondo and return to the canyons and
cliffs of their ancient land. Millions were spent in conquering them
where thousands were used to civilize them, so that they were conquered
but not civilized. Still, they are making good progress, and have once
more acquired large flocks and herds. It is estimated that they now have
more than a million sheep. Their experience in irrigation at the Bosque
Redondo has not been wholly wasted, for they now cultivate the soil by
methods of irrigation greatly improved over those used in the earlier
time. Originally they dwelt in hogans, or houses made of poles arranged
with much skill in conical form, the poles being covered with reeds and
the reeds with earth; now they are copying the dwelling places of
civilized men. They have also acquired great skill in the manufacture of
silver ornaments, with which they decorate themselves and the trappings
of their steeds.

Perhaps the most interesting ruins of America are found in this region.
The ancient pueblos found here are of superior structure, but they were
all built by a people whom the Navajos displaced when they migrated from
the far North. Wherever there is water, near by an ancient ruin may be
found; and these ruins are gathered about centers, the centers being
larger pueblos and the scattered ruins representing single houses. The
ancient people lived in villages, or pueblos, but during the growing
season they scattered about by the springs and streams to cultivate the
soil by irrigation, and wherever there was a little farm or garden
patch, there was built a summer house of stone. When times of war came,
especially when they were invaded by the Navajos, these ancient people
left their homes in the pueblos and by the streams and constructed
temporary homes in the cliffs and canyon walls. Such cliff ruins are
abundant throughout the region, intimately the ancient pueblo peoples
succumbed to the prowess of the Navajos and were driven out. A part
joined related tribes in the valley of the Bio Grande; others joined the
Zuni and the people of Tusayan; and stall others pushed on beyond the
Little Colorado to the San Francisco Plateau and far down into the
valley of the Gila.

Farther to the east, on the border of the region which we have
described, beyond the drainage of the Little Colorado and San Juan and
within the drainage of the Rio Grande, there lies an interesting plateau
region, which forms a part of the Plateau Province and which is worthy
of description. This is the great Tewan Plateau, which carries several
groups of mountains. The western edge of this plateau is known as the
Nacimiento Mountain, a long north-and-south range of granite, which
presents a bold facade to the valley of the Puerco on the west.
Ascending to the summit of this granite range, there is presented to the
eastward a plateau of vast proportions, which stretches far toward Santa
Fe and is terminated by the canyon of the Rio Grande del Norte. The
eastern flank of this range as it slowly rose was a gentle slope, but as
it came up fissures were formed and volcanoes burst forth and poured out
their floods of lava, and now many extinct volcanoes can be seen. The
plateau was built by these volcanoes--sheets of lava piled on sheets of
lava hundreds and even thousands of feet in thickness. But with the
floods of lava came great explosions, like that of Krakatoa, by which
the heavens were filled with volcanic dust. These explosions came at
different times and at different places, but they were of enormous
magnitude, and when the dust fell again from the clouds it piled up in
beds scores and hundreds of feet in thickness. So the Tewan Plateau has
a foundation of red sandstone; upon this are piled sheets of lava and
sheets of dust in many alternating layers. It is estimated that there
still remain more than two hundred cubic miles of this dust, now
compacted into somewhat coherent rocks and interpolated between sheets
of lava. Everywhere this dust-formed rock is exceedingly light. Much of
it has a specific gravity so low that it will float on water. Above the
sheets of lava and above the beds of volcanic dust great volcanic cones
rise, and the whole upper region is covered with forests interspersed
with beautiful prairies. The plateau itself is intersected with many
deep, narrow canyons, having walls of lava, volcanic dust, or tufa, and
red sandstone. It is a beautiful region. The low mesas on every side are
almost treeless and are everywhere deserts, but the great Tewan Plateau
is booned with abundant rains, and it is thus a region of forests and
meadows, divided into blocks by deep, precipitous canyons and crowned
with cones that rise to an altitude of from 10,000 to 12,000 feet.

For many centuries the Tewan Plateau, with its canyons below and its
meadows and forests above, has been the home of tribes of Tewan Indians,
who built pueblos, sometimes of the red sandstones in the canyons, but
oftener of blocks of tufa, or volcanic dust. This light material can be
worked with great ease, and with crude tools of the harder lavas they
cut out blocks of the tufa and with them built pueblos two or three
stories high. The blocks are usually about twenty inches in length,
eight inches in width, and six inches in thickness, though they vary
somewhat in size. On the volcanic cones which dominate the country these
people built shrines and worshiped their gods with offerings of meal and
water and with prayer symbols made of the plumage of the birds of the
air. When the Navajo invasion came, by which kindred tribes were
displaced from the district farther west, these Tewan Indians left their
pueblos on the plateau and their dwellings by the rivers below in the
depths of the canyon and constructed cavate homes for themselves; that
is, they excavated chambers in the cliffs where these cliffs were
composed of soft, friable tufa. On the face of the cliff, hundreds of
feet high and thousands of feet or even miles in length, they dug out
chambers with stone tools, these chambers being little rooms eight or
ten feet in diameter. Sometimes two or more such chambers connected.
Then they constructed stairways in the soft rock, by which their cavate
houses were reached; and in these rock shelters they lived during times
of war. When the Navajo invasion was long past, civilized men as Spanish
adventurers entered this country from Mexico, and again the Tewan
peoples left their homes on the mesas and by the canyons to find safety
in the cavate dwellings of the cliffs; and now the archaeologist in the
study of this country discovers these two periods of construction and
occupation of the cavate dwellings of the Tewan Indians.

North of the Rio San Juan another vast plateau region is found,
stretching to the Grand River. The mountains of this region are the La
Plata Mountains, Bear River Mountains, and San Miguel Mountains on the
east, and the Sierra El Late, the Sierra Abajo, and the Sierra La Sal on
the west, the latter standing near the brink of Cataract Canyon, through
which the Colorado flows immediately below the junction of the Grand and
Green. Throughout the region mountains, volcanic cones, volcanic necks,
and coulees are found, while the mountains themselves rise to great
altitudes and are forest-clad. Some of the plateaus attain huge
proportions, and between the plateaus labyrinthian mesas are found.
Buttes, as stupendous cameos, are scattered everywhere, and the whole
region is carved with canyons.

Grand River heads on the back of Long's Peak, in the Front Range of the
Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. At the foot of the mountain lies
Grand Lake, a sheet of emerald water that duplicates the forest standing
on its brink. Out of the lake flows Grand River, gathering on its way
the many mountain streams whose waters fill the solitude with perennial
music--a symphony of cascades. In Middle Park boiling springs issue from
depths below and gather in pools covered with con-fervae. Leaving
Middle Park the river goes through a great range known as the Gore's
Pass Mountains; and still it flows on toward the Colorado, now through
canyon and now through valley, until the last forty miles of its course
it finds its way through a beautiful gorge known as Grand River Canyon.
In its principal course this canyon is a bright red homogeneous
sandstone, and the walls are often vertical and of great symmetry.
Farther down, its walls are rugged and angular, being composed of

The principal tributaries from the south are the Blue, which heads in
Mt. Lincoln, and the Gunnison, which heads in the Wasatch Mountains.
These streams are also characterized by deep canyons and plateaus, and
mesas abound on every hand. Between the Grand River and the White River,
farther to the east, the Tavaputs Plateau is found. It begins at the
foot of Gore's Pass Range and extends down between the rivers last
mentioned to the very brink of Green River, which is in fact the upper
Colorado. Between the Grand River and the foot of this plateau there is
a low, narrow valley with mesas and buttes. Then the country suddenly
rises by a stupendous line of cliffs 2,000 or 3,000 feet high. These
cliffs are composed of sand stones, limestones, and shales, of many
colors. The stratification in many places is minute, so that they have
been called the Book Cliffs.

From the cliffs many salients are projected into the valleys, and within
deep re-entering angles vast amphitheaters appear. About the projected
salients many towering buttes, with pinnacles and minarets, are found.
The long, narrow plateau is covered with a forest along its summit, and,
though it rises abruptly on the south side from Grand River Valley, it
descends more gently toward the White River, and on this slope many
canyons of rare beauty are seen. Plateaus and mesas and canyons and
buttes characterize the region north of White River and stretch out to
the Yampa. The Yampa itself has an important tributary from the
northwest, known as Snake River. Just below the affluence of the Snake
with the Yampa a strange phenomenon is observed. Right athwart the
course of the river rises a great dome-shaped mountain, with valley
stretches on every side, and through this mountain the river runs,
dividing it by a beautiful canyon, through which it flows to its
junction with the Green. This canyon is in soft, white sandstone,
usually with vertical walls varying from 500 to 2,000 feet in height,
and the river flows in a gentle winding way through all this stretch. To
the east of this plateau region, with its mesas and buttes and its
volcanic mountains, stand the southern Rocky Mountains, or Park
Mountains, a system of north-and-south ranges. These ranges are huge
billows in the crust of the earth out of which mountains have been
carved. The parks of Colorado are great valley basins enclosed by these
ranges, and over their surfaces moss agates are scattered. The mountains
are covered with dense forests and are rugged and wild. The higher peaks
rise above the timber line and are naked gorges of rocks. In them the
Platte and Arkansas rivers head and flow eastward to join the Missouri
River. Here also heads the Rio Grande del Norte, which flows southward
into the Gulf of Mexico, and still to the west head many streams which
pour into the Colorado waters destined for the Gulf of California.
Throughout all of this region drained by the Grand, White, and Yampa
rivers, there are many beautiful parks. The great mountain slopes are
still covered with primeval forests. Springs, brooks, rivers, and lakes
abound, and the waters are filled with trout. Not many years ago the
hills were covered with game--elk on the mountains, deer on the
plateaus, antelope in the valleys, and beavers building their cities on
the streams. The plateaus are covered with low, dwarf oaks and many
shrubs bearing berries, and in the chaparral of this region cinnamon
bears are still abundant.

From time immemorial the region drained by the Grand, White, and Yampa
rivers has been the home of Ute tribes of the Shoshonean family of
Indians. These people built their shelters of boughs and bark, and to
some extent lived in tents made of the skins of animals. They never
cultivated the soil, but gathered wild seeds and roots and were famous
hunters and fishermen. As the region abounds in game, these tribes have
always been well clad in skins and furs. The men wore blouse, loincloth
leggins, and moccasins, and the women dressed in short kilts. It is
curious to notice the effect which the contact of civilization has had
upon these women's dress. Even twenty years ago they had lengthened
their skirts; and dresses, made of buckskin, fringed with furs, and
beaded with elk teeth, were worn so long that they trailed on the
ground. Neither men nor women wore any headdress except on festival
occasions for decoration; then the women wore little basket bonnets
decorated with feathers, and the men wore headdresses made of the skins
of ducks, geese, eagles, and other large birds. Sometimes they would
prepare the skin of the head of the elk or deer, or of a bear or
mountain lion or wolf, for a headdress. For very cold weather both men
and women were provided with togas for their protection. Sometimes the
men would have a bearskin or elkskin for a toga; more often they made
their togas by piecing together the skins of wolves, mountain lions,
wolverines, wild cats, beavers, and otters. The women sometimes made
theirs of fawnskins, but rabbitskin robes were far more common. These
rabbitskins were tanned with the fur on, and cut into strips; then cords
were made of the fiber of wild flax or yucca plants, and round these
cords the strips of rabbitskin were rolled, so that they made long ropes
of rabbitskin coils with a central cord of vegetal fiber; then these
coils were woven in parallel strings with cross strands of fiber. The
robe when finished was usually about five or six feet square, and it
made a good toga for a cold day and a warm blanket for the night.

The Ute Indians, like all the Indians of North America, have a wealth of
mythic stories. The heroes of these stories are the beasts, birds, and
reptiles of the region, and the themes of the stories are the doings of
these mythic beasts--the ancients from whom the present animals have
descended and degenerated. The primeval animals were wonderful beings,
as related in the lore of the Utes. They were the creators and
controllers of all the phenomena of nature known to these simple-minded
people. The Utes are zootheists. Each little tribe has its Shaman, or
medicine man, who is historian, priest, and doctor. The lore of this
Shaman is composed of mythic tales of ancient animals. The Indians are
very skillful actors, and they represent the parts of beasts or
reptiles, wearing masks and imitating the ancient zoic gods. In temples
walled with gloom of night and illumed by torch fires the people gather
about their Shaman, who tells and acts the stories of creation recorded
in their traditional bible. When fever prostrates one of the tribe the
Shaman gathers the actors about the stricken man, and with weird
dancing, wild ululation, and ecstatic exhortation the evil spirit is
driven from the body. Then they have their ceremonies to pray for the
forest fruits, for abundant game, for successful hunting, and for
prosperity in war.



Green River has its source in Fremont's Peak, high up in the Wind River
Mountains among glacial lakes and mountain cascades. This is the real
source of the Colorado River, and it stands in strange contrast with the
mouth of that stream where it pours into the Gulf of California. The
general course of the river is from north to south and from great
altitudes to the level of the sea. Thus it runs "from land of snow to
land of sun." The Wind River Mountains constitute one of the most
imposing ranges of the United States. Fremont's Peak, the culminating
point, is 13,790 feet above the level of the sea. It stands in a
wilderness of crags. Here at Fremont's Peak three great rivers have
their sources: Wind River flows eastward into the Mississippi; Green
River flows southward into the Colo-orado; and Gros Ventre River flows
northwestward into the Columbia. From this dominating height many ranges
can be seen on every hand. About the sources of the Platte and the Big
Horn, that flow ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico, great ranges stand
with their culminating peaks among the clouds; and the mountains that
extend into Yellowstone Park, the land of geyser wonders, are seen. The
Yellowstone Park is at the southern extremity of a great system of
mountain ranges, the northern Rocky Mountains, sometimes called the
Geyser Ranges. This geological province extends into British America,
but its most wonderful scenery is in the upper Yellowstone basin, where
geysers bombard the heavens with vapor distilled in subterranean depths.
The springs which pour out their boiling waters are loaded with quartz,
and the waters of the springs, flowing away over the rocks, slowly
discharge their fluid magma, which crystallizes in beautiful forms and
builds jeweled basins that hold pellucid waters.

To the north and west of Fremont's Peak are mountain ranges that give
birth to rivers flowing into the great Columbia. Conspicuous among these
from this point of view is the great Teton Range, with its towering
facade of storm-carved rocks; then the Gros Ventre Mountains, the Snake
River Range, the Wyoming Range, and, still beyond the latter, the Bear
River Range, are seen. Far in the distant south, scarcely to be
distinguished from the blue clouds on the horizon, stand the Uinta
Mountains. On every hand are deep mountain gorges where snows accumulate
to form glaciers. Below the glaciers throughout the entire Wind River
Range great numbers of morainal lakes are found. These lakes are
gems--deep sapphire waters fringed with emerald zones. From these lakes
creeks and rivers flow, by cataracts and rapids, to form the Green. The
mountain slopes below are covered with dense forests of pines and firs.
The lakes are often fringed with beautiful aspens, and when the autumn
winds come their golden leaves are carried over the landscape in clouds
of resplendent sheen. The creeks descend from the mountains in wild
rocky gorges, until they flow out into the valley. On the west side of
the valley stand the Gros Ventre and the Wyoming mountains, low ranges
of peaks, but picturesque in form and forest stretch. Leaving the
mountain, the river meanders through the Green River Plains, a cold
elevated district much like that of northern Norway, except that the
humidity of Norway is replaced by the aridity of Wyoming. South of the
plains the Big Sandy joins the Green from the east. South of the Big
Sandy a long zone of sand-dunes stretches eastward. The western winds
blowing up the valley drift these sands from hill to hill, so that the
hills themselves are slowly journeying eastward on the wings of arid
gales, and sand tempests may be encountered more terrible than storms of
snow or hail. Here the northern boundary of the Plateau Province is
found, for mesas and high table-lands are found on either side of the

On the east side of the Green, mesas and plateaus have irregular
escarpments with points extending into the valleys, and between these
points canyons come down that head in the highlands. Everywhere the
escarpments are fringed with outlying buttes. Many portions of the
region are characterized by bad lands. These are hills carved out of
sandstone, shales, and easily disintegrated rocks, which present many
fantastic forms and are highly colored in a great variety of tint and
tone, and everywhere they are naked of vegetation. Now and then low
mountains crown the plateaus. Altogether it is a region of desolation.
Through the midst of the country, from east to west, flows an
intermittent stream known as Bitter Creek. In seasons of rain it carries
floods; in seasons of drought it disappears in the sands, and its waters
are alkaline and often poisonous. Stretches of bad-land desert are
interrupted by other stretches of sage plain, and on the high lands
gnarled and picturesque forests of juniper and pinon are found. On the
west side of the river the mesas rise by grassy slopes to the westward
into high plateaus that are forest-clad, first with juniper and pinon,
and still higher with pines and firs. Some of the streams run in canyons
and others have elevated valleys along their courses. On the south
border of this mesa and plateau country are the Bridger Bad Lands, lying
at the foot of the Uinta Mountains. These bad lands are of gray, green,
and brown shales that are carved in picturesque forms--domes, towers,
pinnacles, and minarets, and bold cliffs with deep alcoves; and all are
naked rock, the sediments of an ancient lake. These lake beds are filled
with fossils,--the preserved bones of fishes, reptiles, and mammals, of
strange and often gigantic forms, no longer found living on the globe.
It is a desert to the agriculturist, a mine to the paleontologist, and a
paradise to the artist.

The region thus described, from Fremont's Peak to the Uinta Mountains,
has been the home of tribes of Indians of the Shoshonean family from
time immemorial. It is a great hunting and fishing region, and the
vigorous Shoshones still obtain a part of their livelihood from mesa and
plain and river and lake. The flesh of the animals killed in fall and
winter was dried in the arid winds for summer use; the trout abounding
in the streams and lakes were caught at all seasons of the year; and the
seeds and fruits of harvest time were gathered and preserved for winter
use. When the seeds were gathered they were winnowed by tossing them in
trays so that the winds might carry away the chaff. Then they were
roasted in the same trays. Burning coals and seeds were mixed in the
basket trays and kept in motion by a tossing process which fanned the
coals until the seeds were done; then they were separated from the coals
by dexterous manipulation. Afterwards the seeds were ground on
mealing-stones and molded into cakes, often huge loaves, that were
stored away for use in time of need. Raspberries, chokecherries, and
buffalo berries are abundant, and these fruits were gathered and mixed
with the bread. Such fruit cakes were great dainties among these people.

In this Shoshone land the long winter night is dedicated to worship and
festival. About their camp fires scattered in forest glades by brooks
and lakes, they assemble to dance and sing in honor of their
gods--wonderful mythic animals, for they hold as divine the ancient of
bears, the eagle of the lost centuries, the rattlesnake of primeval
times, and a host of other zoic deities.

The Uinta Range stands across the course of Green River, which finds its
way through it by series of stupendous canyons. The range has an
east-and-west trend. The Wasatch Mountains, a long north-and-south
range, here divide the Plateau Province from what is known among
geologists as the Basin Range Province, on the west. The latter is the
great interior basin whose waters run into salt lakes and sinks, there
being no drainage to the sea. The Great Salt Lake is the most important
of these interior bodies of water.

The Great Basin, which lies to the west of the Plateau Province, forms a
part of the Basin Range Province. In past geological times it was the
site of a vast system of lakes, but the climate has since changed and
the water of most of these lakes has evaporated and the sediments of the
old lake beds are now desert sands. The ancient lake shores are often
represented by conspicuous terraces, each one marking a stage in the
height of a dead lake. While these lakes existed the region was one of
great volcanic activity and many eruptive mountains were formed. Some
burst out beneath the waters; others were piled up on the dry land.

From the desert valleys below, the Wasatch Mountains rise abruptly and
are crowned with craggy peaks. But on the east side of the mountains the
descent to the plateau is comparatively slight. The Uinta Mountains are
carved out of the great plateau which extends more than two hundred
miles to the eastward of the summit of the Wasatch Range. Its mountain
peaks are cameos, its upper valleys are meadows, its higher slopes are
forest groves, and its streams run in deep, solemn, and majestic
canyons. The snows never melt from its crowning heights, and an undying
anthem is sung by its falling waters.

The Owiyukuts Plateau is situated at the northeastern end of the Uinta
Mountains. It is a great integral block of the Uinta system. A beautiful
creek heads in this plateau, near its center, and descends northward
into the bad lands of Vermilion Creek, to which stream it is tributary.
"Once upon a time" this creek, after descending from the plateau, turned
east and then southward and found its way by a beautiful canyon into
Brown's Park, where it joined the Green; but a great bend of the
Vermilion, near the foot of the plateau, was gradually enlarged--the
stream cutting away its banks--until it encroached upon the little
valley of the creek born on the Owiyukuts Plateau. This encroachment
continued until at last Vermilion Creek stole the Owiyukuts Creek and
carried its waters away by its own channel. Then the canyon channel
through which Owiyukuts Creek had previously run, no longer having a
stream to flow through its deep gorge, gathered the waters of brooks
flowing along its course into little lakelets, which are connected by a
running stream only through seasons of great rainfall. These lakelets in
the gorge of the dead creek are now favorite resorts of Ute Indians.

South of the Uinta Mountains is the Uinta River, a stream with many
mountain tributaries, some heading in the Uinta Mountains, others in the
Wasatch Mountains on the west, and still others in the western Tavaputs

The Uinta Valley is the ancient and present home of the Uinta Indians, a
tribe speaking the Uinta language of the Shoshonean family. Their
habits, customs, institutions, and mythology are essentially the same as
those of the Ute Indians of the Grand River country, already described.
In this valley there are also found many ruins of ancient
pueblo-building peoples--of what stock is not known.

The Tavaputs Plateau is one of the stupendous features of this country.
On the west it merges into the Wasatch Mountains; on the north it
descends by wooded slopes into the Uinta Valley. Its summit is
forest-clad and among the forests are many beautiful parks. On the south
it ends in a great escarpment which descends into Castle Valley. This
southern escarpment presents one of the most wonderful facades of the
world. It is from 2,000 to 4,000 feet high. The descent is not made by
one bold step, for it is cut by canyons and cliffs. It is a zone several
miles in width which is a vast labyrinth of canyons, cliffs, buttes,
pinnacles, minarets, and detached rocks of Cyclopean magnitude, the
whole destitute of soil and vegetation, colored in many brilliant tones
and tints, and carved in many weird forms,--a land of desolation,
dedicated forever to the geologist and the artist, where civilization
can find no resting-place.

Then comes Castle Valley, to describe which is to beggar language and
pall imagination. On the north is the Tavaputs; on the west is the
Wasatch Plateau, which lies to the south of the Wasatch Mountains and is
here the west boundary of the Plateau Province; on the south are
indescribable mesas and mountains; on the east is Grand River, a placid
stream meandering through a valley of meadows. Within these boundaries
there is a landscape of gigantic rock forms, interrupted here and there
by bad-land hills, dominated with the towering cliffs of Tavaputs, the
bold escarpment of the Wasatch Plateau, and the volcanic peaks of the
Henry Mountains on the south. It is a vast forest of rock forms, and in
its midst is San Rafael Swell, an elevation crowned with still more
gigantic rock forms. Among the rocks pools and lakelets are found, and
little streams run in canyons that seem like chasms cleft to nadir hell.
San Rafael River and Fremont River drain this Castle land, heading in
the Wasatch Plateau and flowing into the Grand River. Along these
streams a few narrow canyon valleys are found, and in them Ute Indians
make their winter homes. The bad lands are filled with agates, jaspers,
and carnelians, which are gathered by the Indians and fashioned into
arrowheads and knives; along the foot of the canyon cliffs workshops can
be discovered that have been occupied by generations from a time in the
long past, and the chips of these workshops pave the valleys. South of
the Wasatch Plateau we have the Fish Lake Plateau, the Awapa Plateau,
and the Aquarius Plateau, which separate the waters flowing into the
Great Basin from the waters of the Colorado, which here constitute the
boundary of the Plateau Province. Awapa is a Ute name signifying "Many

All three of these plateaus are remarkable for the many lakelets found
on them. To the east are the Henry Mountains, a group of volcanic domes
that rise above the region. The rocks of the country are limestones,
sandstones, and shales, originally lying in horizontal altitudes; but
volcanic forces were generated under them and lavas boiled up. These
lavas did not, however, come to the surface, but as they rose they
lifted the sandstones, shales, and limestones, to a thickness of 2,000
or 3,000 feet or more, into great domes. Then the molten lavas cooled in
great lenses of mountain magnitude, with the sedimentary rocks domed
above them. Then the clouds gathered over these domes and wept, and
their tears were gathered in brooks, and the brooks carved canyons down
the sides of the domes; and now in these deep clefts the structure of
the mountains is revealed. The lenses of volcanic rocks by which the
domes were upheaved are known as "laccolites," _i. e.,_ rock lakes.

Looking southwestward from the Henry Mountains the Circle Cliffs are
seen. A great escarpment, several thousand feet in height and 70 or 80
miles in length, faces the mountain. It is the step to the long, narrow
plateau. The streams that come down across these cliffs head in great
symmetric amphitheaters, and when first seen from above they present a
vast alignment of walled circles. The front of the cliffs, seen from
below, is everywhere imposing. On the southwest the Escalante River
holds its course. It heads in the Aquarius Plateau and flows into the
Colorado. Its course, as well as that of all its many tributaries, is in
deep box-canyons of homogeneous red sandstone, often with vertical walls
that are broken by many beautiful alcoves and glens. Much of the region
is of naked, smooth, red rock, but the alcoves and glens that break the
canyon walls are the sites of perennial springs, about which patches of
luxuriant verdure gather.

The Kaiparowits Plateau is an elevated table-land on the southwestern
side of the Escalante River. It is long and narrow, extending from the
northwest to the southeast approximately parallel with the Escalante. It
rises above the red sandstone of the Escalante region from 2,000 to
4,000 feet by a front of storm-carved cliffs. From the southeastern
extremity of this plateau, at an altitude of 7,500 feet, an instructive
view is obtained. One of the great canyons of the Colorado River can be
seen meandering its way through the red-rock landscape. In the distance,
and to the north, the Henry Mountains are in view, and below, the
canyons of the Escalante and the red-rock land are in sight. Across the
Colorado are the canyons of the San Juan, and below the mouth of the San
Juan is the great Navajo Mountain. Still to the south the Grand Canyon
of the Colorado is in view, and in the west a vast mesa landscape is
presented with its buttes and pinnacles. Still to the southward Paria
River is seen heading in a plateau on the margin of the province and
having a course a little east of south into the Colorado.

The region of country which has been thus described, from the Tava-puts
Plateau to the Paria River, was the home of a few scattered Ute Indians,
who lived in very small groups, and who hunted on the plateau, fished in
the waters, and dwelt in the canyons. There was nominally but one tribe,
but as the members of this tribe were in very small parties and
separated by wide distances the tribal bonds were very weak and often
unrecognized. The chief integrating agency was religion, for they
worshiped the same gods and periodically joined in the same religious
ceremonies and festivals. A country so destitute of animal and vegetal
life would not support large numbers, and the few who dwelt here gained
but a precarious and scant subsistence. To a large extent they lived on
seeds and roots. The low, warm canyons furnished admirable shelter for
the people, and their habitual costumes were loincloths, paints, and
necklaces of tiny arrowheads made of the bright-colored agates and
carnelians strung on snakeskins.

When the Mormon people encroached on this country from the west, and
when the Navajos on the east surrendered to the United States, a few
recalcitrant Navajos and the Utes of this region combined. They had long
been more or less intimately associated, and a jargon speech had grown
up by which they could communicate. Finally, the greater number of these
Utes and renegade Navajos took up their homes permanently on the eastern
bank of the Colorado River between the Grand and the San Juan rivers.
The Navajos are the dominant race, yet they live on terms of practical
equality and affiliate without feuds. These are the great Freebooters of
the Plateau Province--the enemies of other tribes and of the white men.
In their canyon fortresses they have been able to hold their ground in
spite of their enemies on every hand.

Throughout the region and the plateaus by which it is surrounded and the
mountains by which it is interrupted, everywhere ruins of pueblos and
many cliff dwellings are found. None of these ancient pueblos are on a
large scale. The houses were usually one or two stories high and the
hamlets rarely provided shelter for more than two dozen people. Some of
the houses are of rather superior architecture, having well-constructed
walls with good geometric proportions. Their houses were plastered on
the inside, and sometimes on the outside, and covered with flat roofs of
sun-dried mud. The real home of the people in their waking hours was on
their housetops.

The rocks of the mountain are etched with many picture-writings
attesting the artistic skill of this people. The predominant form is the
rattlesnake, which is found in the crevices of the rocks on every hand.
It is inferred that the people worshiped the rattlesnake as one of their
chief deities, a god who carried the spirit of death in his mouth.



There is a great group of table-lands constituting a geographic unit
which have been named the Terrace Plateaus. They ex-tend from the Paria
and Colorado on the east to the Grand Wash and Pine Mountains on the
west, and they are bounded on the south by the Grand Canyon of the
Colorado, and on the north they divide the waters of the Colorado from
the waters of the Sevier, which flows northward and then westward until
it is lost in the sands of the Great Desert. It is an irregular system
of great plateaus with subordinate mesas and buttes separated by lines
of cliffs and dissected by canyons.

In this region all of the features which have been described as found in
other portions of the province are grouped except only the cliffs of
volcanic ashes, the volcanic cones, and the volcanic domes. The volcanic
mountains, cinder cones, and coulees, the majestic plateaus and
elaborate mesas, the sculptured buttes and canyon gorges, are all found
here, but on a more stupendous scale. The volcanic mountains are higher,
the cinder cones are larger, the coulees are more extensive and are
often sheets of naked, black rock, the plateaus are more lofty, the
cliffs are on a grander scale, the canyons are of profounder depth; and
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the most stupendous gorge known on the
globe, with a great river surging through it, bounds it on the south.

The east-and-west cliffs are escarpments of degradation, the
north-and-south cliffs are, in the main, though not always, escarpments
of displacement. Let us understand what this means. Over the entire
region limestones, shales, and sandstones were deposited through long
periods of geologic time to the thickness of many thousands of feet;
then the country was upheaved and tilted toward the north; but the
Colorado River was flowing when the tilting commenced, and the upheaval
was very slow, so that the river cleared away the obstruction to its
channel as fast as it was presented, and this is the Grand Canyon. The
rocks above were carried away by rains and rivers, but not evenly all
over the country; nor by washing out valleys and leaving hills, but by
carving the country into terraces. The upper and later-formed rocks are
found far to the north, their edges standing in cliffs; then still
earlier rocks are found rising to the southward, until they terminate in
cliffs; and then a third series rises to the southward and ends in
cliffs, and finally a fourth series, the oldest rocks, terminating in
the Grand Canyon wall, which is a line of cliffs. There are in a general
way four great lines of cliffs extending from east to west across the
district and presenting their faces, or escarpments, southward. If these
cliffs are climbed it is found that each plateau or terrace dips gently
to the northward until it meets with another line of cliffs, which must
be ascended to reach the summit of another plateau. Place a book before
you on a table with its front edge toward you, rest another book on the
back of this, place a third on the back of the second, and in like
manner a fourth on the third. Now the leaves of the books dip from you
and the cut edges stand in tiny escarpments facing you. So the
rock-formed leaves of these books of geology have the escarpment edges
turned southward, while each book itself dips northward, and the crest
of each plateau book is the summit of a line of cliffs. These cliffs of
erosion have been described as running from east to west, but they
diverge from that course in many ways. First, canyons run from north to
south through them, and where these canyons are found deep angles occur;
then sharp salients extend from the cliffs on the backs of the lower
plateaus. Each great escarpment is made up more or less of minor
terraces, or steps; and at the foot of each grand escarpment there is
always a great talus, or sloping pile of rocks, and many marvelous
buttes stand in front of the cliffs.

But these east-and-west cliffs and the plateaus which they form are
divided by north-and-south lines in another manner. The country has been
faulted along north-and-south lines or planes. These faults are breaks
in the strata varying from 1,000 or 2,000 to 4,000 or 5,000 feet in
verticality. On the very eastern margin the rocks are dropped down
several thousand feet, or, which means the same thing, the rocks are
upheaved on the west side; that is, the beds that were originally
horizontal have been differentially displaced, so that on the west side
of the fracture the strata are several thousand feet higher than they
are on the east side of the fracture. The line of displacement is known
as the Echo Cliff Fault. West of this about twenty-five miles, there is
another fault with its throw to the east, the upheaved rocks being on
the west. This fault varies from 1,500 to 2,500 feet in throw, and
extends far to the northward. It is known as the East Kaibab Fault.
Still going westward, another fault is found, known as the West Kaibab
Fault. Here the throw is on the west side,--that is, the rocks are
dropped down to the westward from 1,000 to 2,000 feet. This fault
gradually becomes less to the northward and is flexed toward the east
until it joins with the East Kaibab Fault. The block between the two
faults is the Kaibab Plateau. Going westward from 60 to 70 miles, still
another fault is found, known as the Hurricane Ledge Fault. The throw is
again on the west side of the fracture and the rocks fall down some
thousands of feet. This fault extends far northward into central Utah.
To the west 25 or 30 miles is found a fault with the throw still on the
west. It has a drop of several thousand feet and extends across the Rio
Colorado far to the southwest, probably beyond the Arizona-New Mexico
line. It also extends far to the north, until it is buried and lost
under the Pine Valley Mountains, which are of volcanic origin.

Now let us see what all this means. In order clearly to understand this
explanation the reader is referred to the illustration designated
"Section and Bird's-Eye View of the Plateaus North of the Grand Canyon."
Starting at the Grand Wash on the west, the Grand Wash Cliffs, formed by
the Grand Wash Fault, are scaled; and if we are but a few miles north of
the Grand Canyon we are on the Shiwits Plateau. Its western boundary is
the Grand Wash Cliffs, its southern boundary is the Grand Canyon, and
its northern boundary is a line of cliffs of degradation, which will be
described hereafter. Going eastward across the Shiwits Plateau the
Hurricane Cliffs are reached, and climbing them we are on the Uinkaret
Plateau, which is bounded on the south by the Grand Canyon and on the
north by the Vermilion Cliffs, that rise above its northern foot. Still
going eastward 30 or 40 miles to the brink of the Kanab Canyon, the West
Kanab Plateau is crossed, which is bounded by the Toroweap Fault on the
west, separating it from the Uinkaret Plateau, and by the Kanab Canyon
on the east, with the Grand Canyon on the south and the Vermilion Cliffs
on the north. Crossing the Kanab, we are on the East Kanab Plateau,
which extends about 30 miles to the foot of the West Kaibab Cliffs, or
the escarpment of the West Kaibab Fault. This canyon also has the Grand
Canyon on the south and the Vermilion Cliffs on the north. Climbing the
West Kaibab Fault, we are on the Kaibab Plateau. Now we have been
climbing from west to east, and each ascent has been made at a line of
cliffs. Crossing the Kaibab Plateau to the East Kaibab Cliffs; the
country falls down once more to the top of Marble Canyon Plateau.
Crossing this plateau to the eastward, we at last reach the Echo Cliff
Fault, where the rocks fall down on the eastern side once more; but the
surface of the country itself does not fall down--the later rocks still
remain, and the general level of the country is preserved except in one
feature of singular interest and beauty, to describe which a little
further explanation is necessary.

I have spoken of these north-and-south faults as if they were fractures;
and usually they are fractures, but in some places they are flexures.
The Echo Cliffs displacement is a flexure. Just over the zone of flexure
a long ridge extends from north to south, known as the Echo Cliffs. It
is composed of a comparatively hard and homogeneous sandstone of a later
age than the limestones of the Marble Canyon Plateau west of it; but the
flexure dips down so as to carry this sandstone which forms the face of
the cliff (presented westward) far under the surface, so that on the
east side rocks of still later age are found, the drop being several
thousand feet. The inclined red sandstone stands in a ridge more than 75
miles in length, with an escarped face presented to the west and a face
of inclined rock to the east. The western side is carved into beautiful
alcoves and is buttressed with a magnificent talus, and the red
sandstone stands in fractured columns of giant size and marvelous
beauty. On the east side the declining beds are carved into pockets,
which often hold water. This is the region of the Thousand Wells. The
foot of the cliffs on the east side is several hundred feet above the
foot of the cliffs on the west side. On the west there is a vast
limestone stretch, the top of the Marble Canyon Plateau; on the east
there are drifting sand-dunes.

The terraced land described has three sets of terraces: one set on the
east, great steps to the Kaibab Plateau; another set on the west, from
the Great Basin region to the Kaibab Plateau; and a third set from the
Grand Canyon northward. There are thus three sets of cliffs: cliffs
facing the east, cliffs facing the west, and cliffs facing the south.
The north-and-south cliffs are made by faults; the east-and-west cliffs
are made by differential degradation.

The stupendous cliffs by which the plateaus are bounded are of
indescribable grandeur and beauty. The cliffs bounding the Kaibab
Plateau descend on either side, and this is the culminating portion of
the region. All the other plateaus are terraces, with cliffs ascending
on the one side and descending on the other. Some of the tables carry
dead volcanoes on their backs that are towering mountains, and all of
them are dissected by canyons that are gorges of profound depth. But
every one of these plateaus has characteristics peculiar to itself and
is worthy of its own chapter. On the north there is a pair of plateaus,
twins in age, but very distinct in development, the Paunsagunt and
Markagunt. They are separated by the Sevier River, which flows
northward. Their southern margins constitute the highest steps of the
great system of terraces of erosion. This escarpment is known as the
Pink Cliffs. Above, pine forests are found; below the cliffs are hills
and sand-dunes. The cliffs themselves are bold and often vertical walls
of a delicate pink color.

In one of the earlier years of exploration I stood on the summit of the
Pink Cliffs of the Paunsagunt Plateau, 9,000 feet above the level of the
sea. Below me, to the southwest, I could look off into the canyons of
the Virgen River, down into the canyon of the Kanab, and far away into
the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. From the lowlands of the Great Basin
and from the depths of the Grand Canyon clouds crept up over the cliffs
and floated over the landscape below me, concealing the canyons and
mantling the mountains and mesas and buttes; still on toward me the
clouds rolled, burying the landscape in their progress, until at last
the region below was covered by a mantle of storm--a tumultuous sea of
rolling clouds, black and angry in parts, white as the foam of cataracts
here and there, and everywhere flecked with resplendent sheen. Below me
spread a vast ocean of vapor, for I was above the clouds. On descending
to the plateau, I found that a great storm had swept the land, and the
dry arroyos of the day before were the channels of a thousand streams of
tawny water, born of the ocean of vapor which had invaded the land
before my vision.

Below the Pink Cliffs another irregular zone of plateaus is found,
stretching out to the margin of the Gray Cliffs. The Gray Cliffs are
composed of a homogeneous sandstone which in some places weathers gray,
but in others is as white as virgin snow. On the top of these cliffs
hills and sand-dunes are found, but everywhere on the Gray Cliff margin
the rocks are carved in fantastic forms; not in buttes and towers and
pinnacles, but in great rounded bosses of rock.

The Virgen River heads back in the Pink Cliffs of the Markagunt Plateau
and with its tributaries crosses one of these plateaus above the Gray
Cliffs, carving a labyrinth of deep gorges. This is known as the Colob
Plateau. Above, there is a vast landscape of naked, white and gray
sandstone, billowing in fantastic bosses. On the margins of the canyons
these are rounded off into great vertical walls, and at the bottom of
every winding canyon a beautiful stream of water is found running over
quicksands. Sometimes the streams in their curving have cut under the
rocks, and overhanging cliffs of towering altitudes are seen; and somber
chambers are found between buttresses that uphold the walls. Among the
Indians this is known as the "Rock Rovers' Land," and is peopled by
mythic beings of uncanny traits.

Below the Gray Cliffs another zone of plateaus is found, separated by
the north-and-south faults and divided from the Colob series by the Gray
Cliffs and demarcated from the plateaus to the south by the Vermilion
Cliffs. The Vermilion Cliffs that face the south are of surpassing
beauty. The rocks are of orange and red above and of chocolate,
lavender, gray, and brown tints below. The canyons that cut through the
cliffs from north to south are of great diversity and all are of
profound interest. In these canyon walls many caves are found, and often
the caves contain lakelets and pools of clear water. Canyons and
re-entrant angles abound. The faces of the cliffs are terraced and
salients project onto the floors below. The outlying buttes are many.
Standing away to the south and facing these cliffs when the sun is going
down beyond the desert of the Great Basin, shadows are seen to creep
into the deep recesses, while the projecting forms are illumined, so
that the lights and shadows are in great and sharp contrast; then a
million lights seem to glow from a background of black gloom, and a
great bank of Tartarean fire stretches across the landscape.

At the foot of the Vermilion Cliffs there is everywhere a zone of
vigorous junipers and pinons, for the belt of country is favored with
comparatively abundant rain. When the clouds drift over the plateaus
below from the south and west and strike the Vermilion Cliffs, they are
abruptly lifted 2,000 feet, and to make the climb they must unload their
burdens; so that here copious rains are discharged, and by such storms
the cliffs are carved and ever from age to age carried back farther to
the north. In the Pink Cliffs above and the Gray Cliffs and the
Vermilion Cliffs, there are many notches that mark channels running
northward which had their sources on these plateaus when they extended
farther to the south. The Rio Virgen is the only stream heading in the
Pink Cliffs and running into the Colorado which is perennial. The other
rivers and creeks carry streams of water in rainy seasons only. When a
succession of dry years occurs the canyons coming through the cliffs are
choked below, as vast bodies of sand are deposited. But now and then,
ten or twenty years apart, great storms or successions of storms come,
and the channels are flooded and cut their way again through the
drifting sands to solid rock below. Thus the streams below are
alternately choked and cleared from period to period.

To the south of the Vermilion Cliffs the last series or zone of plateaus
north of the Grand Canyon is found. The summits of these plateaus are of
cherty limestone. In the far west we have the Shiwits Plateau covered
with sheets of lava and volcanic cones; then climbing the Hurricane
Ledge we have the Kanab Plateau, on the southwest portion of which the
Uinkaret Mountains stand--a group of dead volcanoes with many black
cinder cones scattered about. It is interesting to know how these
mountains are formed. The first eruptions of lava were long ago, and
they were poured out upon a surface 2,000 feet or more higher than the
general surface now found. After the first eruptions of coulees the
lands round about were degraded by rains and rivers. Then new eruptions
occurred and additional sheets of lava were poured out; but these came
not through the first channels, but through later ones formed about the
flanks of the elder beds of lava, so that the new sheets are imbricated
or shingled over the old sheets. But the overlap is from below upward.
Then the land was further degraded, and a third set of coulees was
spread still lower down on the flanks, and on these last coulees the
black cinder cones stand. So the foundations of the Uinkaret Mountains
are of limestones, and these foundations are covered with sheets of lava
overlapping from below upward, and the last coulees are decked with

Still farther east is the Kaibab Plateau, the culminating table-land of
the region. It is covered with a beautiful forest, and in the forest
charming parks are found. Its southern extremity is a portion of the
wall of the Grand Canyon; its western margin is the wall of the West
Kaibab Fault; its eastern edge is the wall of the East Kaibab Fault; and
its northern point is found where the two faults join. Here antelope
feed and many a deer goes bounding over the fallen timber. In winter
deep snows lie here, but the plateau has four months of the sweetest
summer man has ever known.

On the terraced plateaus three tribes of Indians are found: the Shiwits
("people of the springs"), the Uinkarets ("people of the pine
mountains"), and the Unkakaniguts ("people of the red lands," who dwell
along the Vermilion Cliffs). They are all Utes and belong to a
confederacy with other tribes living farther to the north, in Utah.
These people live in shelters made of boughs piled up in circles and
covered with juniper bark supported by poles. These little houses are
only large enough for half a dozen persons huddling together in sleep.
Their aboriginal clothing was very scant, the most important being
wildcatskin and wolfskin robes for the men, and rabbitskin robes for the
women, though for occasions of festival they had clothing of tanned deer
and antelope skins, often decorated with fantastic ornaments of snake
skins, feathers, and the tails of squirrels and chipmunks. A great
variety of seeds and roots furnish their, food, and on the higher
plateaus there is much game, especially deer and antelope. But the whole
country abounds with rabbits, which are often killed with arrows and
caught in snares. Every year they have great hunts, when scores of
rabbits are killed in a single day. It is managed in this way: They make
nets of the fiber of the wild flax and of some other plant, the meshes
of which are about an inch across. These nets are about three and a half
feet in width and hundreds of yards in length. They arrange such a net
in a circle, not quite closed, supporting it by stakes and pinning the
bottom firmly to the ground. From the opening of the circle they extend
net wings, expanding in a broad angle several hundred yards from either
side. Then the entire tribe will beat up a great district of country and
drive the rabbits toward the nets, and finally into the circular snare,
which is quickly closed, when the rabbits are killed with arrows.

A great variety of desert plants furnish them food, as seeds, roots, and
stalks. More than fifty varieties of such seed-bearing plants have been
collected. The seeds themselves are roasted, ground, and preserved in
cakes. The most abundant food of this nature is derived from the
sunflower and the nuts of the pinon. They still make stone arrowheads,
stone knives, and stone hammers, and kindle fire with the drill. Their
medicine men are famous sorcerers. Coughs are caused by invisible winged
insects, rheumatism by flesh-eating bugs too small to be seen, and the
toothache by invisible worms. Their healing art consists in searing and
scarifying. Their medicine men take the medicine themselves to produce a
state of ecstasy, in which the disease pests are discovered. They also
practice dancing about their patients to drive away the evil beings or
to avert the effects of sorcery. When a child is bitten by a rattlesnake
the snake is caught and brought near to the suffering urchin, and
ceremonies are performed, all for the purpose of prevailing upon the
snake to take back the evil spirit. They have quite a variety of mythic
personages. The chief of these are the Enupits, who are pigmies dwelling
about the springs, and the Rock Rovers, who live in the cliffs. Their
gods are zoic, and the chief among them are the wolf, the rabbit, the
eagle, the jay, the rattlesnake, and the spider. They have no knowledge
of the ambient air, but the winds are the breath of beasts living in the
four quarters of the earth. Whirlwinds that often blow among the
sand-dunes are caused by the dancing of Enupits. The sky is ice, and the
rain is caused by the Rainbow God; he abraids the ice of the sky with
his scales and the snow falls, and if the weather be warm the ice melts
and it is rain. The sun is a poor slave compelled to make the same
journey every day since he was conquered by the rabbit. These tribes
have a great body of romance, in which the actors are animals, and the
knowledge of these stories is the lore of their sages.

Scattered over the plateaus are the ruins of many ancient stone pueblos,
not unlike those previously described.

The Kanab River heading in the Pink Cliffs runs directly southward and
joins the Colorado in the heart of the Grand Canyon. Its way is through
a series of canyons. From one of these it emerges at the foot of the
Vermilion Cliffs, and here stood an extensive ruin not many years ago.
Some portions of the pueblo were three stories high. The structure was
one of the best found in this land of ruins. The Mormon people settling
here have used the stones of the old pueblo in building their homes, and
now no vestiges of the ancient structure remain. A few miles below the
town other ruins were found. They were scattered to Pipe's Springs, a
point twenty miles to the westward. Ruins were also discovered up the
stream as far as the Pink Cliffs, and eastward along the Vermilion
Cliffs nearly to the Colorado River, and out on the margin of the Kanab
Plateau. These were all ruins of outlying habitations be-longing to the
Kanab pueblo. From the study of the existing pueblos found elsewhere and
from extensive study of the ruins, it seems that everywhere tribal
pueblos were built of considerable dimensions, usually to give shelter
to several hundred people. Then the people cultivated the soil by
irrigation, and had their gardens and little fields scattered at wide
distances about the central pueblo, by little springs and streams and
wherever they could control the water with little labor to bring it on
the land. At such points stone houses were erected sufficient to
accommodate from one to two thousand people, and these were occupied
during the season of cultivation and are known as rancherias. So one
great tribe had its central pueblo and its outlying rancherias.
Sometimes the rancherias were occupied from year to year, especially in
time of peace, but usually they were occupied only during seasons of
cultivation. Such groups of ruins and pueblos with accessory rancherias
are still inhabited, and have been described as found throughout the
Plateau Province except far to the north beyond the Uinta Mountains. A
great pueblo once existed in the Uinta Valley on the south side of the
mountains. This is the most northern pueblo which has yet been
discovered. But the pueblo-building tribes extended beyond the area
drained by the Colorado. On the west there was a pueblo in the Great
Basin at the site now occupied by Salt Lake City, and several more to
the southward, all on waters flowing into the desert. On the east such
pueblos were found among mountains at the headwaters of the Arkansas,
Platte, and Canadian rivers. The entire area drained by the Rio Grande
del Norte was occupied by pueblo tribes, and a number are still
inhabited. To the south they extended far beyond the territory of the
United States, and the so-called Aztec cities were rather superior
pueblos of this character. The known pueblo tribes of the United States
belong to several different linguistic stocks. They are far from being
one homogeneous people, for they have not only different lan^ guages but
different religions and worship different gods. These pueblo peoples are
in a higher grade of culture than most Indian tribes of the United
States. This is exhibited in the slight superiority of their arts,
especially in their architecture. It is also noticeable in their
mythology and religion. Their gods, the heroes of their myths, are more
often personifications of the powers and phenomena of nature, and their
religious ceremonies are more elaborate, and their cult societies are
highly organized. As they had begun to domesticate animals and to
cultivate the soil, so as to obtain a part of their subsistence by
agriculture, they had almost accomplished the ascent from savagery to
barbarism when first discovered by the invading European. All the
Indians of North America were in this state of transition, but the
pueblo tribes had more nearly reached the higher goal.

The great number of ruins found throughout the land has often been
interpreted as evidence of a much larger pueblo population than has been
found in post-Columbian time. But a careful study of the facts does not
warrant this conclusion. It would seem that for various reasons tribes
abandoned old pueblos and built new, thus changing their permanent
residence from time to time; but more frequent changes were made in
their rancherias. These were but ephemeral, being moved from place to
place by the varying conditions of water supply. Most of the streams of
the arid land are not perennial, but very many of the smaller streams of
the pueblo region discharge their waters into the larger streams in
times of great flood. Such floods occur now here, now there, and at
varying periods, sometimes fifty years apart. When dry years follow one
another for a long series, the channels of these intermittent streams
are choked with sand until the streams are buried and lost. Under such
circumstances the rancherias were moved from dead stream to living
stream. In rare instances pueblos themselves were removed for this
cause. Other pueblos, and the rancherias generally, were abandoned in
time of war; this seems to have been a potent cause for moving. When
pestilence attacked a pueblo the people would sometimes leave in a body
and never return. The cliff pueblos and dwellings, the cavate dwellings,
and the cinder-cone towns were all built and occupied for defensive
purposes when powerful enemies threatened. The history of some of the
old ruins has been obtained and we know the existing tribes who once
occupied them; others still remain enshrouded in obscurity.



In the summer of 1867, with a small party of naturalists, students, and
amateurs like myself, I visited the mountain region of Colorado
Territory. While in Middle Park I explored a little canyon through which
the Grand River runs, immediately below the now well-known watering
place, Middle Park Hot Springs. Later in the fall I passed through Cedar
Canyon, the gorge by which the Grand leaves the park. A result of the
summer's study was to kindle a desire to explore the canyons of the
Grand, Green, and Colorado rivers, and the next summer I organized an
expedition with the intention of penetrating still farther into that
canyon country.

As soon as the snows were melted, so that the main range could be
crossed, I went over into Middle Park, and proceeded thence down the
Grand to the head of Cedar Canyon, then across the Park Range by Gore's
Pass, and in October found myself and party encamped on the White River,
about 120 miles above its mouth. At that point I built cabins and
established winter quarters, intending to occupy the cold season, as far
as possible, in exploring the adjacent country. The winter of 1868-69
proved favorable to my purposes, and several excursions were made,
southward to the Grand, down the White to the Green, northward to the
Yampa, and around the Uinta Mountains. During these several excursions
I seized every opportunity to study the canyons through which these
upper streams run, and while thus engaged formed plans for the
exploration of the canyons of the Colorado. Since that time I have been
engaged in executing these plans, sometimes employed in the field,
sometimes in the office. Begun originally as an exploration, the work
was finally developed into a survey, embracing the geography, geology,
ethnography, and natural history of the country, and a number of
gentlemen have, from time to time, assisted me in the work.

Early in the spring of 1869 a party was organized for the exploration of
the canyons. Boats were built in Chicago and transported by rail to the
point where the Union Pacific Railroad crosses the Green River. With
these we were to descend the Green to the Colorado, and the Colorado
down to the foot of the Grand Canyon.

_May 24, 1869.--_The good people of Green River City turn out to see us
start. We raise our little flag, push the boats from shore, and the
swift current carries us down.

Our boats are four in number. Three are built of oak; stanch and firm;
double-ribbed, with double stem and stern posts, and further
strengthened by bulkheads, dividing each into three compartments. Two of
these, the fore and aft, are decked, forming water-tight cabins. It is
expected these will buoy the boats should the waves roll over them in
rough water. The fourth boat is made of pine, very light, but 16 feet in
length, with a sharp cutwater, and every way built for fast rowing, and
divided into compartments as the others. The little vessels are 21 feet
long, and, taking out the cargoes, can be carried by four men.

We take with us rations deemed sufficient to last ten months, for we
expect, when winter comes on and the river is filled with ice, to lie
over at some point until spring arrives; and so we take with us abundant
supplies of clothing, likewise. We have also a large quantity of
ammunition and two or three dozen traps. For the purpose of building
cabins, repairing boats, and meeting other exigencies, we are supplied
with axes, hammers, saws, augers, and other tools, and a quantity of
nails and screws. For scientific work, we have two sextants, four
chronometers, a number of barometers, thermometers, compasses, and other

The flour is divided into three equal parts; the meat, and all other
articles of our rations, in the same way. Each of the larger boats has
an axe, hammer, saw, auger, and other tools, so that all are loaded
alike. We distribute the cargoes in this way that we may not be entirely
destitute of some important article should any one of the boats be lost.
In the small boat we pack a part of the scientific instruments, three
guns, and three small bundles of clothing, only; and in this I proceed
in advance to explore the channel.

J. C. Sumner and William H. Dunn are my boatmen in the "Emma Dean"; then
follows "Kitty Clyde's Sister," manned by W. H. Powell and G. Y.
Bradley; next, the "No Name," with O. G. Howland, Seneca Howland, and
Frank Goodman; and last comes the "Maid of the Canyon," with W. E.
Hawkins and Andrew Hall.

Sumner was a soldier during the late war, and before and since that time
has been a great traveler in the wilds of the Mississippi Valley and the
Rocky Mountains as an amateur hunter. He is a fair-haired,
delicate-looking man, but a veteran in experience, and has performed the
feat of crossing the Rocky Mountains in midwinter on snowshoes. He spent
the winter of 1886-87 in Middle Park, Colorado, for the purpose of
making some natural history collections for me, and succeeded in killing
three grizzlies, two mountain lions, and a large number of elk, deer,
sheep, wolves, beavers, and many other animals. When Bayard Taylor
traveled through the parks of Colorado, Sumner was his guide, and he
speaks in glowing terms of Mr. Taylor's genial qualities in camp, but he
was mortally offended when the great traveler requested him to act as
doorkeeper at Breckenridge to receive the admission fee from those who
attended his lectures.

Dunn was a hunter, trapper, and mule-packer in Colorado for many years.
He dresses in buckskin with a dark oleaginous luster, doubtless due to
the fact that he has lived on fat venison and killed many beavers since
he first donned his uniform years ago. His raven hair falls down to his
back, for he has a sublime contempt of shears and razors.

Captain Powell was an officer of artillery during the late war and was
captured on the 22d day of July, 1864, at Atlanta and served a ten
months' term in prison at Charleston, where he was placed with other
officers under fire. He is silent, moody, and sarcastic, though
sometimes he enlivens the camp at night with a song. He is never
surprised at anything, his coolness never deserts him, and he would
choke the belching throat of a volcano if he thought the spitfire meant
anything but fun. We call him _"_Old Shady."

Bradley, a lieutenant during the late war, and since orderly sergeant in
the regular army, was, a few weeks previous to our start, discharged, by
order of the Secretary of War, that he might go on this trip. He is
scrupulously careful, and a little mishap works him into a passion, but
when labor is needed he has a ready hand and powerful arm, and in
danger, rapid judgment and unerring skill. A great difficulty or peril
changes the petulant spirit into a brave, generous soul.

O. G. Howland is a printer by trade, an editor by profession, and a
hunter by choice. When busily employed he usually puts his hat in his
pocket, and his thin hair and long beard stream in the wind, giving him
a wild look, much like that of King Lear in an illustrated copy of
Shakespeare which tumbles around the camp.

Seneca Howland is a quiet, pensive young man, and a great favorite with

Goodman is a stranger to us--a stout, willing Englishman, with florid
face and more florid anticipations of a glorious trip.

Billy Hawkins, the cook, was a soldier in the Union Army during the war,
and when discharged at its close went West, and since then has been
engaged as teamster on the plains or hunter in the mountains. He is an
athlete and a jovial good fellow, who hardly seems to know his own

Hall is a Scotch boy, nineteen years old, with what seems to us a
"secondhand head," which doubtless came down to him from some knight who
wore it during the Border Wars. It looks a very old head indeed, with
deep-set blue eyes and beaked nose. Young as he is, Hall has had
experience in hunting, trapping, and fighting Indians, and he makes the
most of it, for he can tell a good story, and is never encumbered by
unnecessary scruples in giving to his narratives those embellishments
which help to make a story complete. He is always ready for work or play
and is a good hand at either.

Our boats are heavily loaded, and only with the utmost care is it
possible to float in the rough river without shipping water. A mile or
two below town we run on a sandbar. The men jump into the stream and
thus lighten the vessels, so that they drift over, and on we go.

In trying to avoid a rock an oar is broken on one of the boats, and,
thus crippled, she strikes. The current is swift and she is sent reeling
and rocking into the eddy. In the confusion two other oars are lost
overboard, and the men seem quite discomfited, much to the amusement of
the other members of the party. Catching the oars and starting again,
the boats are once more borne down the stream, until we land at a small
cottonwood grove on the bank and camp for noon.

During the afternoon we run down to a point where the river sweeps the
foot of an overhanging cliff, and here we camp for the night. The sun is
yet two hours high, so I climb the cliffs and walk back among the
strangely carved rocks of the Green River bad lands. These are
sandstones and shales, gray and buff, red and brown, blue and black
strata in many alternations, lying nearly horizontal, and almost without
soil and vegetation. They are very friable, and the rain and streams
have carved them into quaint shapes. Barren desolation is stretched
before me; and yet there is a beauty in the scene. The fantastic
carvings, imitating architectural forms and suggesting rude but weird
statuary, with the bright and varied colors of the rocks, conspire to
make a scene such as the dweller in verdure-clad hills can scarcely

Standing on a high point, I can look off in every direction over a vast
landscape, with salient rocks and cliffs glittering in the evening sun.
Dark shadows are settling in the valleys and gulches, and the heights
are made higher and the depths deeper by the glamour and witchery of
light and shade. Away to the south the Uinta Mountains stretch in a long
line,--high peaks thrust into the sky, and snow fields glittering like
lakes of molten silver, and pine forests in somber green, and rosy
clouds playing around the borders of huge, black masses; and heights and
clouds and mountains and snow fields and forests and rock-lands are
blended into one grand view. Now the sun goes down, and I return to

_May 25._--We start early this morning and run along at a good rate
until about nine o'clock, when we are brought up on a gravelly bar. All
jump out and help the boats over by main strength. Then a rain comes on,
and river and clouds conspire to give us a thorough drenching. Wet,
chilled, and tired to exhaustion, we stop at a cottonwood grove on the
bank, build a huge fire, make a cup of coffee, and are soon refreshed
and quite merry. When the clouds "get out of our sunshine" we start
again. A few miles farther down a flock of mountain sheep are seen on a
cliff to the right. The boats are quietly tied up and three or four men
go after them. In the course of two or three hours they return. The cook
has been successful in bringing down a fat lamb. The unsuccessful
hunters taunt him with finding it dead; but it is soon dressed, cooked,
and eaten, and makes a fine four o'clock dinner.

"All aboard," and down the river for another dozen miles. On the way we
pass the mouth of Black's Fork, a dirty little stream that seems
somewhat swollen. Just below its mouth we land and camp.

_May 26.--_To-day we pass several curiously shaped buttes, standing
between the west bank of the river and the high bluffs beyond. These
buttes are outliers of the same beds of rocks as are exposed on the
faces of the bluffs,--thinly laminated shales and sandstones of many
colors, standing above in vertical cliffs and buttressed below with a
water-carved talus; some of them attain an altitude of nearly a thousand
feet above the level of the river.

We glide quietly down the placid stream past the carved cliffs of the
_mauvaises terres,_ now and then obtaining glimpses of distant
mountains. Occasionally, deer are started from the glades among the
willows; and several wild geese, after a chase through the water, are
shot. After dinner we pass through a short and narrow canyon into a
broad valley; from this, long, lateral valleys stretch back on either
side as far as the eye can reach.

Two or three miles below, Henry's Fork enters from the right. We land a
short distance above the junction, where a _cache_ of instruments and
rations was made several months ago in a cave at the foot of the cliff,
a distance back from the river. Here they were safe from the elements
and wild beasts, but not from man. Some anxiety is felt, as we have
learned that a party of Indians have been camped near the place for
several weeks. Our fears are soon allayed, for we find the _cache_
undisturbed. Our chronometer wheels have not been taken for hair
ornaments, our barometer tubes for beads, or the sextant thrown into the
river as "bad medicine," as had been predicted. Taking up our _cache,_
we pass down to the foot of the Uinta Mountains and in a cold storm go
into camp.

The river is running to the south; the mountains have an easterly and
westerly trend directly athwart its course, yet it glides on in a quiet
way as if it thought a mountain range no formidable obstruction. It
enters the range by a flaring, brilliant red gorge, that may be seen
from the north a score of miles away. The great mass of the mountain
ridge through which the gorge is cut is composed of bright vermilion
rocks; but they are surmounted by broad bands of mottled buff and gray,
and these bands come down with a gentle curve to the water's edge on the
nearer slope of the mountain.

This is the head of the first of the canyons we are about to explore--an
introductory one to a series made by the river through this range. We
name it Flaming Gorge. The cliffs, or walls, we find on measurement to
be about 1,200 feet high.

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