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Dinosaur National Monument Region

Historic 3D Photographs of Powell Survey 2nd Expedition 1871-2

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Map of Dinosaur National Monument Powell's Second Expedition (1871) through the Dinosaur National Park region was relatively uneventful by comparison to the First Expedition (1869). Both Powell expeditions reached Browns Park in early June (the "park" or "hole" was named after an employee of the Hudson Bay Company who had been there 40 years earlier). The survey photographers took advantage of stops in Canyon of Lodore, Echo Park, Island Park (all now part of Dinosaur National Monument), and at the mouth of Ashley Creek (near Vernal). Both expeditions reached the mouth of the Uinta River by the end of June (now named the Duchense River where it joins the Green River near Ouray). This staging point was along a major route between Denver and Salt Lake City.

Many river canyons in the Rocky Mountains cut through mountain ranges rather than flowing around their lower flanks. Observations by Powell and his crew led to debates about whether the river system existed before or after the uplift of the mountains and plateaus [particularly Dutton's (1882) theory of the "Great Denudation" of the Rocky Mountain region and Colorado Plateau]. In mid-Tertiary time many of the ranges in the Rocky Mountain region were "buried in their own sediments" derived from erosion of mountain ranges formed during the Laramide Orogeny which began in the Late Cretaceous (about 70 million years ago). An ancient river system drained toward the midcontinent well into late Eocene time - about 40 million years ago. However, the "modern" canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers have formed since late Miocene time (roughly within the past 10 million years; Lucchitta, 2003). The region is still continuing to rise as rivers carve downward, exhuming preexisting structures of the earlier Laramide Orogeny. Observable field evidence suggests that nearly a mile (or more) thickness of rock material has been eroded from much of the region since the modern river system developed, with most erosion occurring in the Quaternary Period (over the last 2 million years).


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Browns Park

"Fantastic Rock," foot of Browns Park, Vermillion Creek. Colorado
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00486

The Second Expedition (1871) took more time than the First (1869) to traverse the Green River section around the Uinta Mountains and through Dinosaur National Monument, taking time to explore side canyons, collect fossils, observe wildlife and plants, and photograph.

Browns Park


The Tower on Vermillion Creek, Browns Park. Colorado
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital files: hjk00487 and hjk0048

Vermillion Creek drains into the Green River near the eastern end of the Uinta Range. John C. Fremont's expedition passed eastward through the Vermillion Valley in route to the mountain "park" valleys of Colorado in 1842.

Canyon of Lodore James C. Pilling in the Canyon of Lodore, Green River, just within the entrance. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital files: hjk00505 and hjk0505a

Upon seeing the rapids at the entrance of an unnamed chasm of the Green River, a crew member of the First Expedition (1869), Andy Hall, recited part of a childhood poem that Major Powell knew well ("Cataract of Lodore" by Robert Southey, 1774-1843). Powell named Canyon of Lodore, after the poem. Canyon of Lodore is at the western end of Dinosaur National Monument. In 1909, paleontologist, Earl Douglass, made a spectacular discovery of dinosaur bone beds at the western end of Split Mountain. Initial excavations were conducted by the Carnegie Museum. Publicity led to the establishment of an 80-acre national monument in 1915. The monument was expanded in 1938 to preserve over 200,000 acres in Utah and Colorado. The modern park encompasses four major river canyons: Canyon of Lodore, Whirlpool Canyon, Split Mountain Canyon, and the Yampa River Canyon. The northern mouth of the canyon is called the Gate of Lodore where the Green River leaves the softer sedimentary and volcanic bedrock of Tertiary age and enters a canyon carved in more resistant and more ancient bedrock.
Canyon of Lodore Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital files: hjk00500 and hjk0500a

The Canyon of Lodore cuts through an uplifted plateau, exposing strata of the Uinta Mountain Group (dense sandstone and quartzite of late Precambrian age, about 1 billion years old). Downstream the river canyon cuts through progressively younger strata including the Lodore Formation (Cambrian sandstone, about 525 to 505 million years old) and strata consisting of limestone, sandstone, and shale of late Paleozoic Age (about 350 to 250 million years old). The dinosaur-fossil bearing strata of Mesozoic age (250 to 65 million years old) crop out along the southern and western margins of this uplifted region and along the Yampa River (but not in the vicinity of Canyon of Lodore). The mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountain region (including the uplift of the Uinta Arch) occurred in multiple stages of Laramide Orogeny (roughly 70 to 20 million years ago), and uplift is still proceeding in the region. Younger sedimentary deposits derived from the surrounding Laramide uplifts cap many of the mesas and uplifted areas throughout the park region.
Canyon of Lodore Heart of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00501


Canyon of Lodore


A rapid in the Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00502

The washed-out character of this image shows the difficulty of getting the right exposure. Experience and a trained eye were necessary for getting the right lighting of landscape features balanced with the right photographic exposure and processing.

Canyon of Lodore


Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00503

Note about anaglyphic images: the red color is associated with the left image, the cyan color is associated with the right. In this case the "left" side of plate was broken, causing the cyan to stand out where part of the plate is missing (both images were typically burned onto a single plate negative in the camera equipped with dual lenses). When red and cyan are combined in the images, the result is a gray-scale palette (white to black). The aged original photographs also had brownish tones that come through in many of the images. Unusual shaped patches of red or cyan color are usually imperfections in the original negative plates, either scratches or where the coating may of rubbed off or were perfectly prepared before exposure. Considering the time constrains, methods involved, and circumstances required to take and transport the glass plates, cameras, and photographs supplies, the survival of so many scenes is a reflection of the remarkable dedication to the photographic aspects of the expedition.

Canyon of Lodore
Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00504

On the First Expedition (1869), crew member, George Bradley, noted that the Canyon of Lodore was practically one long series of rapids compared to the canyons upstream.
Canyon of Lodore

Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00539

Canyon of Lodore
Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00562

Canyon of Lodore
View across Green River in Canyon of Lodore. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871. Negative cracked.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital files: hjk00571 and hjk0571a

Canyon of Lodore

Green River in the Canyon of Lodore. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00575

Canyon of Lodore


Disaster Falls in Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 18, 1871. Photo by E. O. Beaman.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00577

In 1869, the First Expedition's loss of one of three boats (the "No Name") at Disaster Falls on June 7th, 1869. One whole boatload of rations, equipment, and the boat crew's guns and clothing were lost, although some of the instruments and rations were later salvaged. A three-gallon keg of whiskey smuggled onto the boat without Powell's knowledge was also recovered, which Powell shared, at first reluctantly, with his men to rebuild morale. It would take them several days to portage the rapids and to dry out their rations. Shortly afterward, a camp fire burned out of control and caused additional damage and alarm. However, despite their losses (no one was seriously injured), the voyage continued into what Powell described as some of the most spectacular scenery of the journey. With success in hunting and fishing, their spirits soon recovered. In 1871, the crew of the Second Expedition found remnants of the No Name along the river two miles below the rapids where it had been lost.

Canyon of Lodore
Disaster Rapids in Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk0580a

At Disaster Rapids, the river drops 35 feet through a 0.6 mile section of the canyon.
Canyon of Lodore

Near view of The Haystack, Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00588

Canyon of Lodore
Some of Powell's party in boats in Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument Moffat County, Colorado. 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital files: hjk00590 and hjk0590a
Canyon of Lodore

Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00593


Canyon of Lodore
Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00601



Canyon of Lodore Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00604



Canyon of Lodore Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00610
Canyon of Lodore Rapid at Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Head of Hell's Half Mile. Jones, Hillers, and Dellenbaugh in the Emma Dean at foot of rapid. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00612
Canyon of Lodore Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. 1871. Photo by E. O. Beaman.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00628
Canyon of Lodore

Angel's Whisper, a side canyon of Lodore Canyon. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00630



Canyon of Lodore Dunn's Cliff (2700 feet high), Canyon of Lodore, Green river. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00620

Dunn's Cliff is named in honor of one of the men reported to have been killed by Indians near the end of Powell's First Expedition in 1869.
Canyon of Lodore Nearer view of Dunn's Cliff, Canyon of Lodore, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. June 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00621

Most of the cliffs in the Canyon of Lodore are sandstones of the Precambrian Uinta Mountain Group. However, sedimentary rocks of Cambrian and Mississippian age crop out along the upper part of Dunn's Cliff (the light-colored upper portion of this view). The Lodgepole Limestone (Mississippian) forms the top of the cliff. Juniper and pinyon-pine forests grow on the the slopes and crevasses throughout the mountainsides.
Canyon of Lodore


The original caption for this stereo photograph was incorrect. It was originally "Canyon of Lodore, near lower end" Green River... Moffat County, Colorado. June 27, 1871. (USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00649).

Bruce R. Julian (USGS), however, has identified the location as Warm Springs rapid on the Yampa River. Hillers and others did go on frequent scouting mission throughout the voyage. Bruce wrote:

"This picture is particularly important because it was the site of a major (~1000 year) flash flood/debris flow on June 10, 1965. I know because I was there, and was nearly killed. (The next day a professional boatman WAS killed by the rapid.)"

Echo Park Echo Park, looking down from upper end. Yampa River in the foreground. Green River enters from the right. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00645

Echo Park is a wide bottom at the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. Cliffs along this section of the canyon consist of Weber Sandstone (Pennsylvanian and Permian age). Powell named the area for the tremendous echoes his crew could produce off the cliffs. Members of the First Expedition had already been to down the Yampa River valley. After the trials of the Canyon of Lodore the expedition's morale was improved knowing that they were camping in a familiar location. Downstream of Echo Park, the Green River enters Whirlpool Canyon.
Echo Park
Echo Park from upper end. Yampa River in foreground coming from the left. Green River enters from the right. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. July 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00600
Island Park Island Park, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. July 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00681

At the downstream end of Whirlpool Canyon, the bedrock changes from Paleozoic age to Mesozoic age. Cliffs of cross-bedded sandstone of the Glen Canyon Formation (Late Triassic to Early Jurassic) crop out around the broad cove at Island Park.
Island Park, Green River Island Park, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. July 1871 (Photo by E. O. Beaman)
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00684
Split Mountain Canyon

View from small cave in Split Mountain Canyon, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Moffat County, Colorado. July 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00545

Split Mountain Canyon General view of Green River in Split Mountain Canyon from above (3000 feet) at entrance. Looking downstream. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. July 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00687
Split Mountain Canyon Green River. Split Mountain Canyon. Not far from entrance to canyons. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. July 10, 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00690

The Green River cuts through a great anticlinal structure at Split Mountain, exposing rocks of Paleozoic age.
Split Mountain Canyon Boats on Green River in Split Mountain Canyon. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. 1871. Negative broken.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00698
Split Mountain Canyon


Rock pinnacles in Split Mountain Canyon, Green River. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah. July 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00700

Cliffs of Weber Sandstone (Pennsylvanian and Permian age) form the canyon rim throughout the Split Mountain.

Split Mountain Canyon

Split Mountain. Dinosaur National Monument. Uintah County, Utah.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00674

This view looking downstream toward the lower canyon where cliffs of Weber Sandstone (Pennsylvanian and Permian age) crop out high on the mountainsides. Downstream of the lower gorge the Green River crosses through hogbacks of steeply dipping strata of Mesozoic age that crop out along the south side of the Split Mountain anticline.

Ashley Creek
Mouth of Ashley Creek. Uintah County, Utah. July 4, 1871.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00672

Ashley Creek is about 21 miles downstream of the lower end of Split Canyon (about 13 miles south of the park). Ashley Creek enters the Green River from the west. These photos are probably a section of the stream where the creek carves a canyon in Late Cretaceous Mesaverde Sandstone.
Ashley Creek "Twin Pinnacles," on Ashley Creek, Green River. Uintah County, Utah.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00489
Ashley Creek
Rock Pinnacle on Ashley Fork. Uintah County, Utah.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00490
Ashley Creek
Rocky gorge of Brush Creek, on Ashley Fork, Green River. Uintah County, Utah.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00491
Ashley Creek

Rocky gorge of Brush Creek, on Ashley Fork, Green River. Uintah County, Utah.
USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive digital file: hjk00495

On the First Expedition (1869), Powell's party camped near the mouth of Ashley Creek while the Major's boat proceeded downstream to the Uintah [Duchense] River -- the next tributary to the south where a overland route between Denver and Salt Lake City crosses the Green River. At the crossroads, Powell and his companions continued 40 miles west to the Uintah Ute Agency to collect and send mail, ship fossils, and purchase more food for the journey. The remaining men trailed behind hunting, fishing, and exploring the river valley, waiting for the Major's return near the confluence of the Duchense and Green Rivers. They reported having had a miserable experience dealing with mosquitoes waiting for Powell's return a week later. They then departed downstream into uncharted territory along the Green River: the Desolation Canyon wilderness.

On the Second Expedition (1871) Powell left at Ashley Creek to be with his child-bearing wife, Emma, in Salt Lake City and to troubleshoot problems for the rest of the journey. Powell turned the command over to his brother-in-law "Prof" Almon Harris "Harry" Thompson to lead the expedition downstream. Powell rejoined the Second Expedition in at "Gunnison Crossing" (Green River, Utah) on September 3rd.

Click here to continue to the "Desolation Canyon" page.

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