Powell’s Surveyors at Pipe Spring

Powell’s Surveyors at Pipe Spring

Many high places you see jutting out along the Vermilion Cliffs had to be climbed by this team of federal surveyors in winter 1872–73. Explorer John Wesley Powell often camped and resupplied at Pipe Spring. From here the survey team set up triangulation stations on ridges and summits with clear lines of sight. The detailed canyon country maps that Powell’s men made established a key base line for the territorial survey. Their triangulations revealed Pipe Spring to be in Arizona Territory, not in Utah Territory, as previously thought.

I have prided myself on being able to grasp and retain in my mind the topography of a country; but these Indians put me to shame. . . . They know every rock and every ledge, every gulch and canyon, and just where to wind among these to find a pass; and their knowledge is unerring.
-John Wesley Powell, United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories

Kaibab Paiute leader Chuarrumpeak

Kaibab Paiute leader Chuarrumpeak
(left) lived near Kanab Creek. He often guided Powell (right) through these plateaus and canyons. Most of the names Powell recorded for landscape features in this area are Paiute names.

Major Powell

Major Powell
John K. Hillers’ photographs of the 1872–73 survey sold widely back East as stereopticon views. Although highly staged, his popular images gave many Americans their first glimpses of Kaibab Paiute life.


Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Pipe Spring National Monument
HC 65 Box 5
406 Pipe Springs Road

Fredonia, AZ 86022


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