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FOREWORD Once in a blue moon we come upon almost un
believable beauty. Such was my reaction at my first sight of Lake Powell and its setting of incomparable grandeur. Lake Powell holds working water, but it also is a new and major national recreation area.
. The blue waters and the sculptured shore hold something for all—the fun and excitement of fishing, boating, and water sports, or healing solitude in the midst of natural beauty.
President and Mrs. Johnson have challenged us with an exciting new concept of conservation: Creation of new beauty to amplify the beauty which is our heritage as well as creation of more places for outdoor recreation. In this magnificent lake we have made such accomplishments. Welcome to Lake Powell.
---STEWART L. UDALL, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
The River, page
1 The Plan, page 5 The Dam, page 9 The Lake, page 15 The Future, page 27
The mighty Colorado River is as essential to a great seven-State area in the West as the Great Lakes are to the industrial heartland of America. Without it, much of that Western land as we know it today would be desolate and unsettled—a barren waste unfit for habitation.
The Colorado is an ancient river. Its bedrock granite dates back to the Archean Age-oldest in known geological time.
The river springs to life high on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains' Continental Divide in northern Colorado—then begins its 1,400-mile journey to the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. Its tributaries extend into seven Western States. It drains one-twelfth the area of the continental United States.
Through the eons, as the great plateaus of Utah rose from the sea, this great land carver gouged the mesa rocks to gorge and chasm along its path. It dug great canyons, their rims towering thousands of feet above the river's bed.
Fifteen thousand years ago, the Colorado coursed through a land generously blessed with rainfall and green with vegetation. Eleven thousand years ago, a great cycle of aridity began. This reached its height 4,000 years before Christ. Ancient Indian civilization died for lack of understanding how to use the river's water to alleviate great drought. In that age, the West became as we see it today.
Not long after Columbus discovered the New World, Spanish conquistadors discovered the lower Colorado. They gave the silt-laden river its name -Colorado-Spanish for red.
In 1869, John Wesley Powell was the first man to navigate 1,000 miles of the Colorado River and live to tell the tale.
Later, it became “Big Red” to the settlers—a wild, unbridled river that was both blessing and curse. It gave them that breath of Western life—water—but its disastrous floods ravaged and destroyed. And its annual low-flow cycle discouraged attempts to fit the river into a plan of permanent economic development.
Not until the 20th century did man begin to tame the outlaw riverto store its precious water and regulate its flow.