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Expanded UW Program Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Powells Launch in Green River

Patrick Kikut, Dan McCool, Thomas Minckley and Jason Robison

Several activities are scheduled May 22-24 to note the 150th anniversary of explorer John Wesley Powell’s expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers from Green River in the Wyoming Territory.

The celebration notes Powell’s pioneering expedition, which launched May 24, 1869. Events will focus on the expedition’s impacts on the West’s development, and contemplate the future of the Colorado River Basin and its communities.

Parts of the two-day event are an expansion of the University of Wyoming’s popular Saturday University program that features UW faculty and guest lecturers discussing timely topics.

All events later this month are sponsored by Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE), UW’s Saturday University program, Wyoming History Day, the city of Green River and the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

Saturday University lectures are Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, and Thursday evening.

The highlight of the week is SCREE, which will embark on a 70-day rafting trip to commemorate Powell’s famous expedition. Read more here.

The three-day celebration’s events will take place at the Expedition Island Pavilion. The schedule of events is:

Wednesday, May 22

-- 5:30 p.m.: Opening reception and light dinner.

-- 6-7:15 p.m.: “John Wesley Powell and the Future of the Colorado Catastropolis?” Dan McCool, University of Utah Department of Political Science professor emeritus.

McCool says social institutions provide order and stability, and they adapt well when only slow, incremental and linear change takes place.

“But, what happens to them when faced with sudden, dramatic change? The Colorado River Basin is facing just such a crisis as climate change brings further drought to its headwaters, reducing rainfall and snowfall,” McCool says. “Will this change result in a ‘catastropolis’ -- the sudden decline of cities due to severe water shortages? Or, can our governing institutions develop new ways of allocating and paying for water?”

McCool will suggest how citizens might accomplish that goal and avoid a “catastropolis.”

Thursday, May 23

-- 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Cleanup of the Green River.

-- 11:30 a.m.: Lunch at Expedition Island Pavilion after river cleanup.

-- Noon-1 p.m.: “Powell’s ‘Grand Canyon’: A Centennial Perspective,” Jason Robison, UW College of Law associate professor.

Robison says 2019 is a rich year, marking not only the 1869 Powell Expedition's sesquicentennial, but also Grand Canyon National Park's centennial.

“Alongside Powell's naming of it, what other milestones fall within the Grand Canyon's history, and what light do they shed on how environmental and natural resources laws shape Western landscapes?” he asks.

Robison will offer a centennial perspective in his discussion.

-- 1-2 p.m.: “The Artwork of SCREE,” Patrick Kikut, UW Department of Visual Arts associate lecturer.

In his talk, Kikut will discuss his approach to art making and his role as lead artist in SCREE; the important role Tomas Moran's oil paintings and engravings had in helping John Wesley Powell "sell" his vision of the West to Congress; and SCREE artists’ role in dialogue and questions surrounding the Colorado River Basin.

“The Colorado is a wet river in a dry landscape, and therein lies the difficulty and the opportunity,” Kikut says. “Art communicates that. SCREE is an art experience, as exhibits of recent works in four museums along the route make clear.”

Kikut will introduce the artworks and discuss the impetus for their creation.

-- 4-5 p.m.: “USGS National Youth and Education in Science Program, YES!” Eleanor Snow, National Youth and Education in Science Program manager and office of Science Quality and Integrity for the U.S. Geological Survey, and John Kilpatrick, director of the Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center.

Thursday, May 23, Evening Program

-- 5 p.m.: Doors open for a light dinner before the evening’s discussions.

-- 5:45-6:30 p.m.: “An Introduction to SCREE -- The Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition,” Thomas Minckley, UW Department of Geography associate professor.

Minckley will discuss the 150th anniversary expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers as it relates to the legacy of John Wesley Powell, the history of the basin and a look to the future in this region.

Minckley also will discuss the landscapes of sacrifice and conflict that define the arid West today.

-- 6:30-8:30 p.m.: “John Wesley Powell & the Colorado River Basin's Past, Present and Future.” Panel of experts from universities in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Friday, May 24

-- 8-9 a.m.: Launch of the SCREE trip, preceded by a light breakfast.

-- 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Family art, nature and history activities. Food and beverage vendors will be on-site.

-- 10 a.m.: “Journey into the Great Unknown,” documentary screening.

-- 1 p.m.: “Lost Canyons of the Green River,” presentation by Roy Webb.

-- 3:30 p.m.: Disney’s “Ten Who Dared” film screening.



Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)