Galloway Stone Expedition

Galloway in a boat running Disaster Falls
Nathaniel Galloway guided most of the expedition's boats through the difficult rapids in the Canyon of Lodore

Marriott Library University of Utah Special Collections

Nathaniel Galloway, or "Than" to his friends, was a trapper and part time prospector from Vernal. He may have been floating on the Green River as early as 1891. His resume included a float from Green River, WY through the Grand Canyon to Needles, CA during 1896-1897, along with the first known voyage down the Yampa River with his son in the spring of 1909.

However, his most well-known adventure was guiding the Galloway/Stone expedition on a repeat of his earlier exploit down the Green all the way through the Grand Canyon. Galloway caught the attention of Julius Stone, a wealthy financier from Ohio, while working for the Hoskaninni Mining Company in 1899. Stone proposed they take this trip of a life time: the first known descent of the Green and Colorado Rivers for pure sport, though some historians ascribe this feat to George Flavell.
 
Fish Caught in Jones Creek
The expedition went fishing when they camped at the mouth of Jones Creek catching a total of 98 fish.

J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

On September 12, 1909, Stone, Galloway, C. C. Sharp, Seymour Dubendorff, and Raymond Cogswell, the expedition’s photographer and likely Stone’s brother in law, set out from Green River WY in four boats. Galloway oversaw the construction of these boats that were built to specification based on his earlier designs. Unlike John Wesley Powell’s bulky craft, his boats were flat bottomed and maneuverable, thus allowing the party to run rapids more easily.

Many of the rapids in the Canyon of Lodore proved difficult for the inexperienced oarsmen. So the boats were unloaded and portaged around while Galloway ran the rapids on his own. The expedition marveled at the beauty of the canyons including Steamboat Rock and stopped for a fishing trip at Jones Creek, where they caught 98 fish.
 
Galloway rowing his boat in Split Mountain
Nathaniel Galloway displaying his stern first technique with Split Mountain in the background.

Grand Canyon National Park archival photo

The expedition completed their voyage on November 19, 1909 in just over five weeks. This was a very fast time, and the party only encountered minor problems along the way when Dubendorff flipped his boat in a rapid that still bears his name. It was probably the first voyage where most of the rapids were run and not lined as they had been in the past. Galloway was also consulted by many later adventurers such as the Kolb Expedition because of his boat building style.

Galloway’s most impressive achievement was probably the way he navigated rivers. Instead of rowing with his back to the rapid as Powell had done, he simply turned around and rowed stern first into rapids allowing him to look straight on into danger and to have great control over the boat. This simple change revolutionized river running and laid the foundation for current rafting techniques.
 
Julius Stone's Boat
Julius Stone rowed this boat on the 1909 expedition. It was manufactured in Detroit under Galloway's specific instruction. This style of boat would dominate river running until the invention of inflatable rafts. This boat is now in the Grand Canyon Archival Collection.

American Southwest Virtual Museum

 

Last updated: October 5, 2018

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