Q: This group of guys that he chose to go with, what kind of a group was this. Was
it a good choice? Did he put together a good crew? Who were these guys?|
MG: Powell chose a crew and it was chosen in part with what he could pay, and I think in
part, with what he might choose to endure for
the anticipated ten months of exploration. And, he's been criticized to a
degree because he chose all frontier's men, all ex-civil war trappers, traders,
mountain men, and so on. He had a crew with expertise in the wilderness, but no
expertise in science or exploration. There were
jacks of all trade who made their living on the frontier, people who traded with
Indians, who trapped for beaver, who panned for gold, who bulwarked, who, you know,
shot the bad guys off the wagons. They were eight guys from the old west. And, these were his
workers, so to speak, the troops he would use, drawing upon his
Civil War experience as an officer, he now had a new platoon and these guys were all
wilderness men -- not scientists, not explorers.
And, when they were along on this trip, they were there because, not just to brave the
unknown but maybe find the jackpot, that one stream, full of placid gold or that one
stretch of river, full of fat beaver, and you could collect the pellets. So, they were
along to see what there was to find, but, also, to maybe do well at it -- come out
the other end, wealthy men. And, the adventure was a big part of the lure, but, also,
being jacks of all trade and thinking of everything the frontier could offer, in terms
of rewards. They were not above seeking something that paid off. They were hoping
for some score.
Q: How did that pan out?
MG: All these guys dragged along their dozens and dozens of beaver traps and
their gold pans and so on, and Powell's early agreement with them was that they
should have time to pan streams and they should have time to trap beaver, although specified
exactly when this time would occur and, what happened after the wreck of "The No Name" is,
their trip became telescoped in. This free time and the leisure to go seek what
treasure might lie in these canyons became unaffordable. So, the trip itself became more of
a campaign to make it down the river and less of an exploring expedition to see what kind of
rewards might lie along the way. They had to make it and they couldn't afford the luxury of
panning for gold everywhere -- still they tried.
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