Back of Beyond Books has issued Rare Book Catalogue No. 11. Back of Beyond specializes in books from the American Southwest, the four corner states in particular, but their catalogues usually carry an assortment of fiction and other material. This time they also have a selection of Arctic books, the polar opposite, so to speak, of the Southwest. They recently obtained a collection of Arctic material, so more from the far north (and far south) will be available in the near future. Here are a few of the books available this month.
One of the earliest looks at the Grand Canyon by those other than Native Americans came from the Ives expedition of 1858. Ives traveled up the Colorado as far as the Grand Canyon, later traveling overland to Fort Defiance in today's Colorado. Joseph Ives' book is Report Upon the Colorado River of the West, published in 1861. They explored the terrain, plants and animals, and gathered information on the Indians who lived in the area. It is the first recorded expedition to visit the canyon's floor. Powell would not reach the area until a decade later. Item 37. Priced at $2,500.
The best known of the journeys along the Colorado River to the Grand Canyon came in 1869, an expedition headed by John Wesley Powell. Powell came from the other direction, floating down the Green and Colorado Rivers into the heart of the canyon. At the time, most of the route down had not been explored. Powell issued a report about his journeys in 1875, but 20 years later, he wrote a more complete account of the trips, including more about the native people who lived along the rivers. It was released in 1895, a small run on a private press in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Item 39 is a copy of Canyons of the Colorado, and this copy comes with the very scarce prospectus that was issued prior to publication. $9,000.
Next we turn to another journey down the Colorado River, but a very different one from the previous two. Item 28 is Down the World's Most Dangerous River, from 1929. Clyde Eddy's account would later be republished as “A Mad, Crazy River.” As Back of Beyond explains it, “Eddy was interested in proving that 'pink-wristed' college boys were able to take on the same challenges as seasoned explorers. Along with his inexperienced crew, Eddy took along a dog and a bear cub.” One wonders whether it was really the river that was mad and crazy. $200.
We will take one more trip down the rivers, a 1940 book entitled A Journey Down the Green and Colorado Rivers. This is one of 300 copies, signed by the 31-year-old author, Barry Goldwater. Twenty-four years later, Barry Goldwater would run for President and receive one of the greatest shellackings of any presidential candidate in history, but he is probably the only one to make the long journey down the Green and Colorado. Item 32. $675.
This one comes from one of the last places to be explored in the continental United States - southeastern Utah: Rainbow Bridge: Circling Navajo Mountain and Explorations in the Bad Lands of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Author Charles Bernheimer circled Navajo Mountain and said he was the one to discover the trail to Rainbow Bridge (though he was not the first to see it). Item 87. $250.
Now we will move to one of those much colder of journeys: A Narrative of the Discovery of the Fate of Sir John Franklin and His Companions, by Francis McClintock, published in 1859. Sir John Franklin set out from England in 1845 in hopes of finding the Northwest Passage, never to return. After three years without word, British authorities began to send search missions. Rewards were offered to find Franklin. As the years went by, Lady Franklin outfitted more missions to find her missing husband. In 1857, Francis McClintock took command of a ship on behalf of Lady Franklin. Using earlier reports brought back from natives of a ship having been abandoned, he searched likely locations and interviewed natives of the area for more information. In 1859, he obtained some strong leads, which finally led to discovery of some artifacts, a few bodies, and a letter left behind. The mystery was solved. The Franklin Expedition had become trapped in the ice, and in time, all aboard either had starved or frozen. Item 11. $350.