In 1871 at the age of 17, Fred Dellabaugh joined Major John Wesley Powell's second expedition to explore the mighty Colorado and the Grand Canyon. Once believed lost, his drawings of the river are published here along with dramatic archival photos. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (2)
A story of one among a group of really remarkable men
I read Dellenbaugh's reprinted "Canyon Voyage" (the much abbreviated title) as a young man in the flatlands of western Kansas in the 1960's. The romance of the period of Dellenbaugh's youth, and the PowellExpeditions in particular (1869-72), stimulated in me an ongoing interestin the history of the region.I have read the edited and published diariesof most of the participants of the two expeditions, and continue to investin an array of scholarly and coffee table books that even remotely addressthe subject.My annual crossings of the Colorado and Dirty Devil rivers topursue research interests in southeastern Utah never fail to regenerate myown wish to have participated in such an epic adventure.Thus, when I sawthe notice of publication of Maurer's book about Dellenbaugh on the secondPowell expedition, with the expression in the title "the true adventures,"I was expecting something on the order of D.D. Fowler's book about JackHiller's, another expedition participant.That is, a pretty seriousbiography of the man and a pretty faithful reproduction of the daily diarykept during his time in the field.Well, it might be the former, but it iscertainly not the latter. Unlike the other expeditioners who keptdiaries, Dellenbaugh's original diary has never been published.Perhapsthis is because his 1908 "Canyon Voyage" was a timeline-based(albeit compressed) narrative and researchers may have believed there wasnothing more of value in the original diary.While Maurer read the diariesof all the participants, including Dellenbaugh's, as well as Dellenbaugh's"Canyon Voyage" and the earlier "Romance of the ColoradoRiver," Maurer's timeline is even more compressed than Dellenbaugh's. Consequently the book lacks the rich detail of Dellenbaugh's diary andearlier publications. For example, unlike the present book, the consecutivedaily diary entries of "Looked for the Major today but of course he did notcome; carried the rations over," "Looked for the Major again," and "Stillwaiting,"conveys a real sense of frustration at being in the same camp, onthe bank of the Colorado, day after day, laying up under a boat to avoidthe oppressive August heat, with nothing to do, waiting for the Major andProf to come in so the party can continue the trip down the river throughthe Grand Canyon. Maurer acknowledged that in the writing of thebook he "sometimes resorted to the methods of historical fiction to fleshout some of the stories" and that "footnotes would be out of place in abook like this."Thus despite having the best possible materials at handfrom which to draw, this book was never intended as a scholarly work.Inthat context, the writing was a success.Maurer did locate some greathistorical photographs and drawings not published elsewhere, and that aloneis an important contribution.More than that, though, the book was areally entertaining read.I can well imagine some person, like me once,never having heard of either Powell or Dellenbaugh, picking up the book andjust marveling at what they did.And, interest aroused, they have anavocation.
An Excellent Read!
Richard Maurer's new book chronicles Powell's second expedition through the eyes, words, and illustrations of Fred Dellenbaugh - a 17-year-old boy from Buffalo, NY who, along with some rowing experience on the turbulentNiagara River and a facility for drawing, had the gumption to make hisdream come true. This story is very well written and quite compelling andwill appeal to those who love adventure stories set in the Old West.Thephotographs and illustrations are remarkable. My hats off to the author!
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