Wallace Stegner’s biograph of John Wesley Powell was a great read, reviewed in more detail here. It also contained some very interesting facts:

  • The three types of geologic drainage (antecedent, consequent, and superimposed) were first developed by Powell and are considered fundamental today (p. 153).
  • For the depth of its imprint on America’s autobiography, only 400,000 families successfully obtained land under the Homestead Act (less than five percent of the population; p. 220).
  • Powell estimated that mapping the territory of the United States would take 24 years and cost $18 million in 1884. By 1952 only about 60 percent of the country had been mapped, at a cost of $100 million (p. 280).

See also: All the Wild That Remains and Angle of Repose.