FROM POWELL TO POWER

By MARSTON, OTIS REED

ISBN 9780990527022

Price $30.00

From Powell To Power: A Recounting of the First 100 River Runners Through the Grand Canyon
By Otis “Dock” Marston

Grand Canyon enthusiasts will most likely know of legendary historian and early river runner Otis “Dock” Marston. Much less known is that Marston began to write a short history of the first 100 Grand Canyon river runners in 1947.

Within a few months, Marston realized what had been previously written was both incorrect and incomplete. He resolved to compile as thorough a recounting of the first 100 river runners through the Grand Canyon as he possibly could. Instead of the six months he originally expected the writing to take, he was still working on it when he died in 1979.

In the late 1940’s, many of the pioneering river runners from the late 1800s and early 1900s were still alive. Over the next thirty years, Marston amassed a huge collection of first-person accounts of these river runners, from James White on a log raft in 1867 to the first powerboat runs of 1949 through 1951.

An accomplished river runner himself, Marston made his first cruise through Grand Canyon in 1942. In the next thirty years, he would boat on the lowest and highest flows on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. He also ran many types of watercraft from a one-man Sportyak, through sadiron cataract boats, a decked dory, and a variety of power boats.

Combining his research material with his river experiences, Marston wrote with a critical eye, relying on as many sources as he could find for each river trip he recounted. While one person may have written a glowing trip report, another might not be so flattering. He used it all, and the result is a prickly, wet and muddy recounting of what the first 100 river runners in Grand Canyon went through.

Ten years after his death, Marston’s son gave the unfinished manuscript to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, with the explicit restriction that the manuscript not be cited until 2012.

Grand Canyon author Tom Martin began negotiations with the Huntington to publish the manuscript in book form in 2010. Permission to publish was granted and, along with a team of river runners, he edited the Marston manuscript into the book From Powell To Power: A Recounting of the First 100 River Runners Through the Grand Canyon.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10, 1909: Business with Pleasure, where Marston described Seymour Sylvester Dubendorff’s eventful run of the rapid that now bears his name:

"Having successfully run the primeval fury without a boat, Dubendorff crawled out near the foot and came down to help bail. He “…looked like Hell.” Blood was streaming down over his face from a 1½-inch gash where the boat had hit him on the forehead and he had sprained a knee. Gritty as a flapjack rolled in sand, he exclaimed, “I’d like to try that again. I know I can run it.” Nature had surely wrapped Dubendorff’s skin around a real man."

This soft cover book of 532 pages includes Marston’s list of the first 200 river runners through Grand Canyon, an exhaustive list of Marston’s publications, and an index.