Grand Canyon Expedition – Past and Present

Hi!  Winnie Griggs here.

Later this month, members of my extended family and I (about 12 of us in all) are taking a family vacation, and one of the places we plan to visit is the Grand Canyon.  I’m soooooo excited!!  That’s one of the top places on my wish list of places to visit ‘one day’.

And of course, as soon as I found out we were going, I had to do some research into some of the history of the area.  One of the things I discovered was the story of the 1869 expedition of Major John Wesley Powell and nine other men into the Grand Canyon. 

The journey they took would involve traveling for three months to traverse nearly 1000 miles through previously uncharted canyons.  And when they finally emerged at the mouth of theVirgin River, there were only six men remaining of the original ten.

Major Powell, the leader of this expedition, was a veteran of the Civil War, who had lost and arm during the battle of Shiloh.  He returned to service as soon as he was able and only ‘mustered out’ when the war had ended.  After the war he took the position of Professor of Geology and museum curator at the Wesleyan University at Bloomington Illinois.  During this time he took several field trips out west and began to consider the feasibility of exploring theGrand Canyon.

Powell eventually recruited nine men to make the trip with him, and the ten set out from Green River Station in the Wyoming Territory on May 24 1869 with a cheering send off from a crowd of onlookers.

Early into their trip, however, disaster struck.  One of their boats was lost at a rapids they appropriately christened Disaster Falls, and with it went many crucial supplies and provisions.  Less than a month later, Frank Goodman, an Englishman and skilled boathandler who had joined the expedition looking for adventure, declared that he had had enough.  He walked away and it is thought he spent the next several years living among the Indians in eastern Utah. 

Later, three other men, fearful that they would perish if they continued to face the treacherous rapids, decided to leave the expedition together.  Unfortunately, they did not fare as well as Goodman – they were killed by Indians who mistook them for a band of marauders.  It was only two days later, on July 29, that Powell and the remaining men reached the mouth of theVirgin River.  Powell had succeeded in what he set out to do – explore the length of the Grand Canyon and see its wonders for himself.

There are many other interesting stories surrounding the Grand Canyon, and I can’t wait to see the place for myself – or at least a part of it.  I plan to take LOTS of pictures, so look for them on my facebook page later this month.


If you’ve been paying attention, then  you know the Fillies are having a contest and giving away a Grand Prize of  a $100 gift certificate to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, along with gift cards worth $25 to two other lucky winners. Don’t forget to comment to get your name in the pot.

And here’s my contribution to the compilation of P&P Trivia: The brand spanking new header on our website is composed mostly of photos contributed by the Fillies themselves.  My contribution is that picture on the left that shows the frilly lace skirt and cowboy boots.  Its actually a cropped shot from one of my daughter’s wedding pics.  I’ve attached the full shot for you below.

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

67 thoughts on “Grand Canyon Expedition – Past and Present”

  1. Winnie,great post again,,love that picture of the dress an boots,my brother had a western wedding an it was nice ,thanks for another great post

  2. I stayed at the North Rim this past August. GORGEOUS! If you go there take the scenic drive that goes around to the East and stop at all the points. Awesome views! You’ll be amazed by all the stars at night. The whole sky is filled with light.

    Thanks for all the info.

  3. Winnie, you’ll love the Grand Canyon. Be sure to take photos at different times of the day. The canyon changes color and it’s a sight to behold. Do you plan to stand on the glass bridge? I’m not brave enough to do that.

    Have a great trip!

  4. Love the wedding photo, Winnie! Your daughter is so beautiful.

    A few years ago I took a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch and then hiked out to the South Rim (killer hike). Powell’s presence was felt.
    You will love the Grand Canyon. So glad you get to go!

  5. The Grand Canyon is our next domestic trip. We decided it was the opposite of the Swiss Alps. Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

    LOVE the wedding shot, btw.

    Peace, Julie

  6. The Grand Canyon sounds amazing! It’s one of the place I would also like to visit one day.
    I love that picture of the dress and the boots!! I had already asked myself where it came from… I think it fits very nice with the name of the blog. 😀

  7. Winnie, I’ve been to the Grand Canyon a few times in my life and never tire of seeing it! You will love it! It’s awe-inspiring! Have a great trip! Thanks for the post! Although I have heard the story before, having grown up in the West and taken all the “social studies” in my youth, it was nice to be reminded of all the sacrifices people made to be the “first” to do things!

  8. Winnie, you’re going to love the Grand Canyon. It truly is something to see. God really gave us something magnificent and breathtaking to enjoy. Looking forward to your observations and pictures!

    Thanks for providing us with that great picture of the boots and wedding dress. I didn’t know that was from your daughter’s wedding!! Wow!

  9. Vickie – Hi! Glad you enjoyed the post!

    Laurie – Ooooh, you’re making me even more eager to get there and see it in person!

    Margaret – Thanks for the tip on the picture taking. I have a brand new camera and plan to take lots of shots!

  10. I enjoy all the informative and interesting posts at P & P. So special. Today’s was great. Have a wonderful time at Grand Canyon.

  11. I’ve so enjoyed these recent posts… lovely dress for your daughter!!! You will be stunned by the Grand Canyon…don’t just ‘do the tourist’ stuff… (which I’m sure you weren’t!)… Go to the National Parks website and see what all is available… there’s some wonderful lectures, wildlife, geology, history… When I went [back in the dark ages] I remember reading a statistic that of all the people who come thru the park gates, 98% just do the ‘Overlook Opportunities’ and move on…

  12. Elizabeth – Wow, a rafting trip, that must have really been fabulous!!

    Cathy – Hi! I’m rather proud of how she looked myself 🙂

    Julie – LOL on the GC being the opposite of the Alps. I’ve been following your facebook posts – that was quite a trip!

  13. Hi Winnie! My family visited the Grand Canyon many years ago. I would like to go back sometime to see how much it has changed. Your story of Major Powell and his expedition was very interesting.

  14. Stefanie – Hello. Thanks for your kind words on the dress-and-boots shot. I asked my daughter’s permission of course before I used it and she thought it was a fun idea.

    Amy C – here’s hoping you get your ‘one day’ wish as well!

  15. Hi Winnie, we visited the Grand Canyon a few Octobers ago. The weather was lovely and crisp…we’d sit on a bench and just watch the canyon as evening fell. I don’t know if you’re doing the antique train trip from Williams, but it’s great fun. “Armed bandits” and everything! Have a wonderful time.

    Oh, and LOVE your daughter’s wedding attire! xo

  16. What a coincidence! I am going to the Grand Canyon later this month too AND also am looking very forward to it as well! Maybe I will run into you there, Winnie. I will be on the lookout for you.

  17. Winnie – that’s the one place on earth that I’ve been that I can honestly say, pictures won’t do it justice. Once you’ve seen the Grand Canyon with your own eyes, the scope and magnificence of the place will astound you. Take time to really look and commit to memory. It’s beautiful and amazing.
    *** Love the wedding picture!!

  18. Jan- Glad I could provide you with some info about your home state! 🙂

    Valri – Thanks, I’m really looking forward to it!! And awe-inspiring is exactly how I’m picturing it!

  19. Hi Linda! I haven’t talked to anyone yet who was disappointed with the Grand Canyon :). I plan on bringing an extra SD card for my camera to make sure I can get lots of shots.

    Diane – Hi! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

  20. Oh, the perils they faced! Rapids, and mother in nature can be just as scary as the threat of Indians protecting the land too.

  21. I have not visited the Grand Canyon yet… did not know about all of the animals that call it home… amazing! Enjoyed the post! Love the pic from your daughter’s wedding! 🙂

  22. Hi Tanya – good to know about the weather. That antique train ride sounds like such fun – will have to look into it!

    Tammy – You better watch out or I’ll think you’re stalking me. Didn’t I see you on my last trip – the one to Pensacola? 🙂

  23. What a great photo of your daughter and how special to use it in the header! Makes me curious as to the stories behind the rest of the shots.

  24. Hi anon1001 -thanks!

    Charlene – I’ve heard that as well. It’s one of the (many) reasons I can’t wait to see it for myself.

    CrystalGB – You’re welcome and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you can make your own trip there as well.

  25. Minna – here’s hoping you get your wish!

    NaS – you’re right. I’m afraid I wasn’t cut out to be an wilderness explorere but I sure do enjoy reading about them!

  26. Colleen – yes, that list surprised me as well. I always thought of the Grand Canyon as mostly devoid of wildlife.

    JudyH – Using our own photos did make the header much more special to us. I’m sure the other Fillkies who contributed can be coaxed to give you their stories as well. 🙂

  27. Enjoyed reading the comments.
    Living here in Arizona, I have visited the Grand Canyon several times. One needs to see it at different times of the day and at different times of the year. It really is unique and awe-inspiring. As an artist, I see the rocks and strata differently than most people-I see the lengthening shadows, the variety of colors, and the intensity of the light. Occasionally, it snows there and that gives an even different scenic look for the canyon.
    Do try to visit the North Rim since there are less visitors and things are not as crowded.

  28. Winnie-
    what a precious picture of your daughter!!
    The Grand Canyon is on my bucket list of places to visit. I’m sooooo jealous you’re going. (Can you squeeze me in your suitcase?)
    Unfortunately, the dh is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud about travel. He’s happy on our couch and doesn’t see the need to explore the world. (Pout.)
    Have a great time, Beth C

  29. Winnie- I am so jealous! LOL! I have wanted to visit the Grand Canyon since I was a little girl. My husband refuses to take me because he says that I would never come back home and he would never see me again…maybe some truth to that. I loved your story on Major John Powell, what an exciting, but scary, trip that must have been. I hope you have an awesome time in the Canyon, and please share some pictures with us when you get back. I would love to see them. 🙂

  30. Beth – LOL I have a feeling my suitcase is going to be stuffed to the limits!! Maybe you can talk your dh into making this trip someday (look how long I had to wait!!)

  31. I got to visit once but it was quite a while ago. I would have loved to have stayed more than an afternoon but we were with my in-laws who couldn’t do the walking. What I did see was gorgeous and I’d love to go back some day.

  32. I have always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. Hope you have fun! Love your daughter’s wedding photo.

  33. The wedding photo with the cowboy boots is so cute AND so in style right now.

    I have been to the GC, and it is an awesome sight!!!

  34. I have never been to the Grand Canyon but then again I don’t travel much. I didn’t travel much years ago because I worked all the time and didn’t have time to. Now we just can’t afford to travel.

  35. Hi Winnie,
    Well, that is one place I would love to go. I have been pretty close, but no cigar.
    I live in California and it took me quite a few years just to get to Yosemite!!! (And it is just over the mountains from me).

  36. I would love to visit the Grand Canyon, but I suffer from Virtigo and I am now sure it would be wise.. But oh how I wish I was going with you. What a fantastic time you will have.
    Love the picture. What a beautiful bride your Daughter made.

  37. Hi Chey – thanks!

    Kathleen – so sorry about the vertigo. You could probably still visit the Grand Canyon, though – just not get close to the rim. I understand the vistas would still be gorgeous!

  38. Love all the information that I glean from this blogsite besides all the good books I learn about.

    The Grand Canyon is a place I have never visited but would like to. My daughter plans to hike from one side to the other to raise money for the Kromen foundation. Last year she hiked to the top of Pikes Peak and back down.

    Love the picture from your daughter’s wedding.

  39. Oh how sweet! Love the picture of your daughter’s boots under her wedding dress!

    Winnie, you’ll have a fabulous time visiting the Grand Canyon. Our family made that trip a few years ago. Look forward to your pictures. 🙂

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