Historical association unveils John Wesley Powell exhibit in Hot Sulphur | SkyHiNews.com

Historical association unveils John Wesley Powell exhibit in Hot Sulphur

John Wesley Powell (right) stands with Tau-gu, a member of the Southern Paiute Tribe while retracing the steps of his original expedition in a second trip down the Colorado River in the 1870s.
Courtesy photo

There are few citizens of the Rocky Mountain west who are not familiar with the name John Wesley Powell, the famed explorer who led the first expeditions into the far western reaches of the Colorado River.

In 1869 Powell and a small cadre of nine other men set out on an adventure that would take them down the Green and Colorado Rivers, through the Grand Canyon, to what is now present day Lake Mead. Along the way the expedition would pass through what would one day become the second largest man made reservoir in the United States and the water body that would go on to bear the name of the expedition’s leader, Lake Powell.

Powell’s historic journey through the canyon filled plateaus of the western US was not his first venture into the Rockies though. Over the years just prior to his 1869 expedition down the Colorado, Powell would lead a series of other expeditions and scientific research outings into Colorado and much of his time was spent in Middle Park. When Powell set out on his journey west five members of the 10-man crew were then residents of Middle Park.

In honor of Grand County’s deep connection to John Wesley Powell and his famed expedition of the southwest Grand County’s Historical Association has spent the last several months working to construct a large exhibit at the Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs. According to museum officials work on the display began in January of this year and continued through early June. The exhibit was unveiled to the public for the first time last weekend for the annual Hot Sulphur Days event.

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The John Wesley Powell Expedition exhibit at the Pioneer Village Museum includes a series of miniaturized models depicting famous scenes from Powell’s 1869 journey west.
Lance Maggart / lmaggart@skyhinews.com

As part of their efforts to develop the Powell exhibit Grand County’s Historical Association was able to connection with a descent of the Powell expedition Ph.D. candidate Ray Sumner, great-great grandson of Powell’s expedition guide Jack Sumner. Sumner was an Iowa native and former Civil War Union sharpshooter who moved to Grand County shortly before Powell’s expedition. Sumner’s modern day descendent Ray helped produce the museum exhibit by writing the informational text that accompanies the exhibit materials.

You can check out the Powell exhibit by visiting the Pioneer Village Museum in Hot Sulphur Springs.

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