George Y. Bradley’s Story of the Fire on the First Powell Expedition


Green River

Green River Story

On June 17, 1869, according to Bradley’s journal, the First Powell Expedition was camped in Lodore Canyon about 25 miles above the confluence with the Yampa River. After a hard day of portages and rapids the boats were leaking badly. The group camped in a thicket of pines where they could gather some pitch to repair their boats. Here is Bradley’s account of what happened next:

“We camped for this night on a little point where the mountain pine and sage-brush
was very thick and the cook built his fire and had supper on the way when the fire
spread to the pines. At first we took little notice of it but soon a whirlwind swept
through the canon and in a moment the whole point was one sheet of flames. We seized
whatever we could and rushed for the boats and amid the rush of wind and flames we
pushed out and dropped down the river a few rods. May handkerchief was burned that I
had tied around my neck, and my ears and face badly scorched. We had hardly landed
before the fire was again upon us and we were forced to run a bad rapid to escape it.
We got through safe, however, and are all right tonight except that we lost most of
our mess-kit.”

When the second Powell Expedition came through this section a couple years later they found the mess kit and other camp ware.

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