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Expedition Team Retraces 150-Year-Old Colorado River Voyage To Map River's Future

Oct 16, 2019

Members of the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE) moving through the rapids of the Grand Canyon.
Credit Tom Minckley / SCREE

A group of 63 scientists, artists, journalists and students spent part of the summer traveling 1,000 miles down the Colorado River to inform strategies to protect the future of the river. The expedition’s leader will speak at Basalt High School Wednesday about their adventure and observations.

John Wesley Powell’s Colorado River Exploring Expedition team traveled down the Colorado River in May 1869 to explore the unknown west, take scientific measurements, and map the region with the rest of the country. 

The expedition’s findings shaped western migration of the late 1800s, and the west today.

Dr. Tom Minckley, the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition leader, and his team traveled the same path as Powell’s expedition to discover different parts of the river, just like he did. 

Photo of Dr. Tom Minckley during the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition.
Credit Bailey Russel

Powell said “we are about to enter the great unknown” as he traveled to discover the west. Minckley said that is what his expedition did too, but now, the great unknown is the future.

“What we wanted to do is take Powell’s approach down the river and bring people together to talk about the future from a number of perspectives,” he said. 

Minckley’s presentation will start at 6 p.m. at Basalt High School. He will discuss the findings from the voyage and how the river has changed since Powell’s expedition, and how it might change in the future.