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| Michael Ghiglieri on: The Expedition Crew
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Michael Ghiglieri on: The Expedition Crew
Michael Ghiglieri 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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