Exploring, Painting, and Protecting: Frederick S. Dellenbaugh and the Colorado River

Authors: Michael Pretes*, University of North Alabama
Topics: Historical Geography, Environment, United States
Keywords: Exploration, Colorado River, John Wesley Powell, national parks
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Ambassador Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh (1853-1935) was an American explorer, artist, and geographer. He was (at the age of 17) a member of John Wesley Powell’s second expedition down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, and was the first person to draw and paint the canyon from the river. Dellenbaugh was also part of the expedition party that set out to explore southern Utah, and that group (led by Almon Thompson) was the first to explore and name the last unnamed mountains and river in the United States. Dellenbaugh later painted the Grand Canyon and Zion and wrote about them, helping to promote these places as potential national parks. This paper examines Dellenbaugh’s contributions to painting, exploration, and geography with a particular focus on his legacy in the conservation of natural areas. Dellenbaugh’s work still resonates today in the context of disputes over land uses and protected status in the Colorado River region of Utah and Arizona.

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