Library Ladies: Tales from the Colorado River
Special to the Courier
Originally Published: December 4, 2007 8:22 p.m.
In Arizona, "the River" usually refers to the Colorado, particularly in its course through the Grand Canyon. Draining over 240,000 square miles in seven states, the Colorado, with its main tributary, the Green River, is the primary river system of the Southwest. Whether you prefer to journey vicariously, or want to enjoy a reminder of your own river-running adventure, you will find historical accounts, first-person narratives, scientific studies and fiction to suit. For an in-person adventure, enjoy "Tales of the Colorado" with longtime river man Brad Dimock tomorrow evening, December 6, at 7 p.m. at Prescott Public Library."A Colorado River Reader," edited by Richard F. Fleck. 2000Fleck has collected 17 wondrous writings that flow with the power and poetry of the Colorado River. Included, in chronological order, are a Native American creation myth, explorers' observations and river runners' tales. When R.B. Stanton's foot slipped between two boulders during a railway survey in 1889, his mind feared not a quick death but a slow lingering death in a desolate canyon. John McPhee describes eating watercress that was growing around plunge pools all surrounded by unrelenting desert. Soaring canyon walls, roiling rapids, an eternity of desert, native flora; the variety of selections all revere the Colorado River. - Anna Smith"Downcanyon: A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon," by Ann Haymond Zwinger. 1995.We are fortunate that this award-winning writer took the opportunity to run the Colorado River several times a year, capturing it through all the seasons in the company of a wide variety of river-runners. Whether counting bald eagles at Nankoweap Creek, monitoring humpback Chub at the mouth of the Little Colorado or considering the effect of Glen Canyon Dam, Zwinger's remarkable and poetic eye for detail brings the river alive. Includes extensive notes and useful appendices. - Sharon Seymour"Hell or High Water: James White's Disputed Passage Through Grand Canyon, 1867," by Eilean Adams. 2001.According to popular wisdom, John Wesley Powell and his party were the first people to pass through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River in 1869. But two years before Powell's expedition, a young prospector named James White washed up in a small Colorado River town and recounted a harrowing trip down the river, through the canyon. Eilean Adams, White's granddaughter, combines careful detective work with a passion for the subject to revive this long forgotten story. - Amadee Ricketts"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain. Originally published 1884.This may be the most popular story of running a river ever published. Twain's depiction of life along the Mississippi is vividly detailed, in part because of his daring use of dialect, shocking and the time. Huck and Jim, with their passengers, encounter the physical challenges of any river voyage: weather, storms, sandbars and snags, as well as human issues of family, friendship, loyalty and faith. - Sharon SeymourThe Library Ladies are on the staff of Prescott Public Library.