John Wesley Powell Memorial
Located in the John Wesley Powell Memorial Plaza, the John Wesley Powell Memorial is dedicated to the one time Jackson resident and geologist. The building contains artifacts pertaining to Powell, who was the first American to navigate the length of the Colorado River and explore the Grand Canyon in 1869. Powell moved with his family from New York to Jackson in 1838 when he was four years old and lived in Jackson until 1846. As a child, Powell was tutored by Jackson resident George Crookham, a salt boiler, educator, and abolitionist. Later in life, Powell remembered to credit Crookham as the person that inspired his interest in geology.
Backstory and Context
After the outbreak of the Civil War, John joined the Union Army and held the rank of Lieutenant in the 20th Illinois Infantry. In 1862 he fought along with Generals Grant and Sherman at the battle of Shiloh where he lost his right arm. In 1869 he led a nine-man expedition on the first full-length exploration of the Colorado River, including exploration of the Grand Canyon. In 1871 Powell led another expedition that again led him to the Grand Canyon. Powell was a professor of geology at Illinois Wesleyan University and helped to found the U.S. Geological Survey. He was the organization's director from 1881 to 1894.